Annie Dugan and Janaki Fisher-Merritt are two of the most fascinating individuals I’ve ever met. When considering that they are forged together in the partnership of marriage, farming, and as catalysts of unique art, the combined effect is like lightning captured in a bottle. Duluth is beyond fortunate to have them influencing our lives in unique and whimsical ways. Learn about the masterminds behind the Food Farm, Free Range Film Festival, the Duluth Art Institute, and more, here.
Some vivid reminders this week that memorials can take many forms- anything from the solemn to the absurd. It’s good to recall our histories, our milestones, and our experiences with due reverence at times, and at others with some humor and an ironic distance.
The Duluth Superior Film Festival needs a 12/15/18-passenger vehicle for use during the festival. Every year the fabulous Riki McManus of the Upper Minnesota Film Office takes filmmakers and guests around the area and shows them all the great locations the area has to offer in an effort to get them to come back and shoot their next film here. In the past, we rented the vehicles, or got great help from the Duluth Experience. TDE is booked this year, and some weird liability change has taken all the rentals out of the market. Do you have (I’m looking at you, local bands) or know of anyone who could let us use one of these types of vehicles? We have money! Dates of use would just be a few hours on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6. Please contact richard @ ds-ff.com if you know of anyone who could help. Thank you! Come see some free films!
My quest to network and develop friendships within our local community of artists continues. In advance of Adam Swanson’s upcoming opening reception at the Great Lakes Aquarium later this week, read more about this fascinating local artist here.
In an age of dire news the term “permaculture” may seem optimistic. Still, what might have been the province of raving hair-shirts not long ago now looks to be among our sanest alternatives to hegemony. Permaculture is an organizing principle of practices that assert systemic, creative approaches to the reuse of natural resources to sustain both people and native animals on a local scale. The Arrowhead is fortunate to have a concentration of people at the forefront of this movement, and the attached links are well-worth following.
Hey! A little late here with the news, but The Duluth Grill Cookbook has been picked up by Barnes & Noble in all Minnesota and Wisconsin stores. This is fun. My favorite news appearance was in Madison, not the least because they told me right at the last minute they’d love to see a cooking demo. I was not prepared for a cooking demo.
I recently saw the the work of Duluthian Shannon Hickok Cousino, including this piece.
My first thought is that I am drawn to it because it reminds me of other, iconic imagery — like the paintings of Ophelia (paintings by Millais and Waterhouse, below). These are the “tragic woman” of literature rendered as a beautiful tragedy. Almost so beautiful they are hard to imagine as tragic. Without a doubt, we have aestheticized the suffering of Ophelia, of women, repeatedly.
“Now we Float” makes no attempt to aestheticize the tragedy (at least, if by that, we mean erase suffering and replace it with flowers and outstretched hands).
Even as she floats, the figure in “Now we Float” does not break the surface. The surface weighs upon her. A friend of mine called it “weight of insurmountable pressure” — the kinds of pressures that crush someone, inside or out. I am remembering here the Pipher books about Ophelia that were so powerful in the 1990s.
But is the woman in Cousino’s work tragic? “Now we Float,” as a title, speaks to a kind of agency, even in death. As opposed to the scene captured on film (perhaps a scene of floundering, struggling, drowning, beneath those pressures), now, we float. Now, we simply rise to the surface. There is a simple clarity in that title, one that both underscores and undermines the tragedy, I think. No longer struggling, she floats. No longer struggling, though, she fails, still, to break the surface.
Oft sought, seldom found, more often induced. Still, when genuine… It might not be apparent, but our lead image this week by Aaron Reichow was shot at the circus. Amazing that amidst all of the tumult that this child managed to tune all else out. There’s something axiomatically spiritual in that, I think.
It is time again for the Duluth Superior Film Festival’s call for volunteers. This is an international film festival, and June 3-7 will be the sixth year of bringing independent film, musical events, performances, parties and art to the Duluth area. To keep the fun running smoothly, we depend on the help of volunteers.
I was warned what a wrecking ball of mirth this Homegrown fest can be, so I should count myself fortunate to have emerged merely psychologically disfigured. Hope you’ve all managed to retain some vestige of the life that pre-existed this marathon, and god willing we’ll see y’all next year.
Some new work this week, and favorites from seven months of moderating this virtual agora. Next week’s theme will be “whadya’ do last week” because I’ve heard there’s some sort of festival hereabout; “homespun,” “homeslice…” something like that.