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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.

Welcome to Clough Island

Clough-1

Selective Focus: The Great Indoors

Lars Wästfelt

Lars Wästfelt, untitled

Due to a near total lack of submissions this week, I had to bring in some pinch hitters. For the past 5 years I’ve managed a photography collective called “You are not a dinosaur” which features vernacular images from around the world, and I was compelled to draw from this pool for our current theme. See more here: www.flickr.com/groups/notadinosaur/pool/

Selective Focus: Gelid

Frank Sander

Frank Sander, untitled

It is hard to not feel a bit inadequate when a friend will schlep 4 miles for groceries when it’s 15 below, and my biggest concerns are where’s my Zhivago DVD, and do I have enough cloves to stud a lemon for a hot whiskey. That said, Winter is my favorite season — not as some endurance test, but as a time to heed nature’s insistence that we “lie low to the wall until the bitter weather passes over” (John O’Donohue).

Selective Focus: Cabin Fever

Aaron Reichow

Aaron Reichow, untitled

While it has been too warm to be stuck inside contracting the negative strain of cabin fever (Winter will no doubt find us), this week we can emphasize the phrase’s positive connotations. Such retreats represent our desires to simplify, to get away from the dissonance and clutter of what we ordinarily deem important. They foreground necessity and diminish the superfluous, and manifest our plainest requirements for dwelling; heat, light, a water source, a welcoming entry, maybe a window to gaze from or peer into.