Tami LaPole Edmunds has taken her art — repurposing clothing, jewelry and accessories — and made a successful career out of it. Art in the Alley now has two locations in Duluth.
TLE: I have been upcycling jewelry and clothing since we opened Art in the Alley 8 years ago. I love taking apart an existing garment and using it to create a totally different piece. It is like putting together a puzzle…without knowing what the final outcome will look like.
I used to think I could be a writer. It was adorable.
I’m 45. From 20 until almost 40, I harbored delusional aspirations of someday publishing in prominent venues such as Spin, Sports Illustrated, Outside, and the New Yorker. In my 20s I neither enjoyed nor did well in a few full-time print and online journalism jobs. Throughout my 30s I taught writing (which I still do); I also spent a lot of time pitching Minnesota magazine and website pieces and a little time actually getting to write them; I took a short break from teaching in Duluth to see if I could hang with music journalists in Minneapolis (spoiler: nope); I made some stupid decisions I still cringe-blush about (I think I’ve now sent Alan Sparhawk five or six apology emails about a 2005 Minnesota Monthly piece about him I wrote and the magazine’s editors kind of ruined); I got fired from a few freelance jobs and submitted some work that sucked; I did some OK stuff and some pretty good stuff; I realized being able to arrange words well does not make me a writer and even if I ever become what I believe a writer is I’ll never refer to myself as one.
This week we stretch the boundaries of Selective Focus — both geographically and conceptually. Moheb Soliman is a poet who will be installing his writing in the form of very official looking signs throughout Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the four other major Great Lakes national parks at trails, vistas, and beaches as part of the National Park Service centennial celebration. Some of the installations are already done and this month he will be finishing up at Isle Royale National Park.
I found this poem on my desk — you step away for a week, and everything you see when you come back is bright and new. These are just the last stanzas, because I want to honor copyright and because they move me:
My contribution to the collaborative “Alluvial” photo project. Brainchild of Duluth artist Tina Fox, two local photographers (Leah Beltz and myself) took photos of her in different natural settings in different seasons. “Nature is my church.”
Impressionist painter Knute Heldner lived in Duluth for a good part of his career. The book Minnesota Prints and Printmakers, 1900-1945 dates his etching of Duluth’s Waterfront as “circa 1925.”
He was born in Sweden; differing accounts online put his birth year as 1875, 1877 and 1886. According to Hiro Fine Art he emigrated to Duluth in 1902 and “began working as a cobbler, miner, and lumberjack.” (Askart.com indicates he was a “lumber camp cook” and also notes he arrived in the United States “first in Boston” and later moved “to the Great Lakes region.”)
We were at the graduation ceremony for the Harbor City International School in Duluth, and the commencement address was by Gaelynn Lea Tressler. She is the winner of the 2016 National Public Radio Tiny Desk Concert series and she knows about and exemplifies overcoming hardships and truly appreciating the things we take for granted. She is beautiful and eloquent and she speaks from a position only she can speak from. She sings and she plays her violin from somewhere deep in her soul.
She talked to the graduating high school seniors and she talked to our son and she reminded them to always enrich their own lives and to enrich the lives of others. She talked to them of pursuing their dreams and never giving up. She played her violin and she sang to them and the crowd was speechless and the auditorium was silent as her last notes were fading. Below is an excerpt from her NPR Tiny Desk concert performance. Please don’t pass it up; it’s five minutes and six seconds you will never regret. You have time to watch this:
This week in Selective Focus, we feature Tim White, who curated the previous iteration of Selective Focus – photo submissions based on a weekly theme. Tim is a photographer, writer, and proponent of the arts, and has worked on several collaborative projects in his short time in Duluth.
TW: I’ve been making photographs for about the past seven years, having lost my previous practice as a painter to solvent exposure. There were a few dormant years during this time that followed a series of personal crises, and I recently returned to photography after moving to Duluth almost two years ago. I appreciate filmic images (both moving and still), but work mostly — due to the chemistry — with digital capture, then mediate these until they better reflect what I felt when taking the initial shot. I don’t believe in pursuing a personal “style,” though I’m glad when viewers note a poetic quality to my pictures. I admire poetry’s ability to employ elements with conventional meanings (words) toward more ephemeral ends, and hope in a similar way that my work isn’t limited by the literality of the objects I depict.
Learning lessons in love from my parents’ relationship was nearly impossible. They were a couple if ever in love, fell out of love long before the sperm hit the egg that created me.
But my father Steve, a very logical accounting professor, taught me much about love. That it is a force of nature, learned through our adventures in woods and canyons. If you get caught up in a storm, make sure you have a sturdy Hefty trash bag to wear, a flashlight, and wait it out in a cave. Always carry toilet paper because you never know when you will have to clean up the crap you’ve created. In other words, like nature, love is unpredictable; he thought it best to prepare logically.
This brings me to Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World,” a song which deeply perplexes my father. As I was growing up, every time this song came on the radio my father would begin a conversation. I was unsure if he was speaking to Sam, God, the Universe, or me. My father has a tendency to think aloud, usually the same string of comments or questions sparked by the same stimulus. “Wonderful World” is one of those stimuli that baffle him.
Years ago, I was having a nerdy discussion about theremins with a friend, who informed me that there was a guy in Duluth who built them. He sent me Tim Kaiser’s website address. It was filled with photos of crazy sci-fi contraptions that made all kinds of even crazier noises. Evil mad science happening in a basement right here in Duluth. This week in Selective Focus, Tim Kaiser explains his combination of audio and visual art.
TK: I create experimental “music” with non-traditional instrumentation. Because I am less concerned with normal conceptions of melody and rhythm, I require different tools to create sonic atmospheres. This led me to design and build my own instruments and devices. I started out as a typical frustrated guitarist, but was drawn to more and more avant garde music and finally put the guitar away.
My concern as the instructor is multiple families have asked me about funding assistance for their children to attend. The camp is $90 (DAI members) and $110 (non-members) for the week. I would like to make this camp more accessible to all community members so I’m wondering if anyone has ideas of camp assistance or programs in Duluth for low-income families?
Thanks for any tips or ideas of local resources! I’m going to do whatever I can to promote zines and youth zines in our community. You’re help is much appreciated to keep young artists inspired.