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Selective Focus: Iconoclasts

Mike Scholtz

Mike Scholtz, untitled

Being an iconoclast means more than seeming stereotypically outré, a fringe figure, or intentionally marginal. This week features the ordinary people among us who get things done by merely digressing from convention; age, gender, and appearance have little to do with the capacity to shift the discourse, and affect communities — though a dash of eccentricity, sometimes humor doesn’t hurt. Difference is also a mental state; taking the road less traveled or asserting a dissenting view (as in Ann Klefstad’s piece, or Bryan French’s image from the Berlin Wall).

Ferryboat in Harbor at Duluth, Minn.

Ferryboat in Harbor at Duluth Minn

The Story of Iron and Steel

Loading iron ore into steamer at a Duluth ore dock 1919 sepia photogravure

We have arrived in Duluth and our hats are impeccable

Duluth Hat Family Postcard

Would anyone like to take a stab at translating the message on the back of this postcard? It was mailed from Duluth to Miss Lillian Carlson of Minneapolis at some point during the era of one-cent postcard postage and fancy hats. The postmark date is not readable.

Selective Focus to join the “One River, Many Stories” project

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeIn April, Perfect Duluth Day’s weekly Selective Focus feature will devote two themes to the “One River, Many Stories” project, which asks for tales of your relationship to the St. Louis River. I’m drawn to it’s dualistic character as a forum for both contemplation and recreation, so April 1’s theme will foreground the river’s natural beauty, and April 8 will spotlight its possibilities for play. Feel free to send images as soon as you’re able to tim @ perfectduluthday.com, and follow the “One Rivers” project at onerivermn.com

Selective Focus: Artistic Kids

Cheryl Reitan

Cheryl Reitan, “Black Cat”

Many thoughtful people have rightfully lamented the gutting of funding for arts education to privilege more “useful” studies. But there are also the limitations we impose on ourselves, and the diminishment of what many of us once so much enjoyed (“I loved to paint and draw as a kid…”). Art too often becomes something we let go to follow well-rutted roads, to conform, and to not stand apart.

Selective Focus: Dirty Snow

Hugh Reitan

Hugh Reitan, “Snowmen”

We’ve had prettier Selective Focus features, but there can be an unusual beauty in ugliness, even humor, as Hugh Reitan’s image above demonstrates (or there’s just abject horror as with Aaron Reichow’s current submission).

Selective Focus: Simple

Paul McIntyre

Paul McIntyre, untitled

Who would have that thought simplicity should be so difficult? What we leave out of a picture says volumes over that which we cram into one, at least according to my aesthetic principles. Given the visual clutter I’m daily exposed to, my preferences would seem to be in the minority, so it was gratifying to see some consonant souls this week.

Selective Focus: Elders

Christine Dean

Christine Dean, “Shuffleboard”

Last year my folks moved into senior housing. While it must have been traumatic to leave a home of 45 years, to abandon treasures from a lifetime of travels, and to part with thousands of photographs, they’ve created a miniature version of the life they knew, and found friends who were similarly diminished — but not lain low.

Review: Ken Bloom’s Public Domain

Zushi fishmonger, January 1977

Should we think about these photographs or their subjects? Yes. Do we consider the art of them or the culture they depict?  Yes, both.  And perhaps composition or feeling?  Again, yes.

Ken Bloom’s exhibition Public Domain: Street Photographs of Japan 1976-78 at the Duluth Art Institute shows three years of his work from the mid-1970s in city areas of Japan. Most are black and white; a few later ones are in color. The compositions are tight. The subject is people in their time and environment. Movement (striding, shopping, riding, jumping, talking, gazing) and waiting (for the ferries, for the trains, for the kids, for the work day to begin) are the subjects of many.

Drain Duluth

rp_Dripping-Dropshaft-CSUBSTREET.jpgThis is fascinating and frightening. Check out “Draining Zenith City” a blog entry by Dan Turner, a photographer, urban explorer and historian. The name of his blog is Substreet. The picture here is Chester Creek, somewhere under the Rose Garden. Turner has also documented other places around Duluth and Superior, and industrial and abandoned spaces across the country.

Where in Duluth?

clock

Selective Focus: Sweet

Sarah Jean

Sarah Jean, untitled

Given our theme, this week’s images could easily have veered into cloying territory. Thankfully I received many uniquely interpreted shots, and some that are even exceptionally moving. I’m grateful how this feature included our older loved ones; a population often disregarded in visual art. Let’s remedy that next week by dedicating a theme to our “elders.”

Selective Focus: Clean

Sharon Mollerus

Sharon Mollerus , “Crown Fountain, Chicago”

Clean is a construct; an aspiration more than an actuality, demanding as much scrutiny as that which we deem dirty. Each term requires criticality, and attempting to understand the world from broader contexts. Likewise, while we could use more rituals like the Roman’s annual Februa purification festival (from which I drew our theme) we could well abandon their plutocratic, militaristic ways.

Selective Focus: Portrait

Aaron Reichow

Aaron Reichow, untitled

I thought this week’s theme would be simple, though it did raise some discussion as to what exactly constitutes a portrait. My belief is that a portrait is anything which somehow conveys a being or beings- even non-sentient ones; though sentience itself is a contestable construct (doesn’t our region’s Spirit Tree seem capable of feeling, and perception?). I will leave any thoughts more esoteric than that to you, and the comments section below.