Russell V. Gran is the oldest (age 74) artist residing at Washington Studios Artists’ Co-op, but is certainly not the least eccentric. The door to his apartment at Washington is adorned with various quotations and newspaper clippings, with most of them involving some sort of commentary on the aging process.
“In my head I figure I have 30-40 more good years, though I doubt my body will hold out that long,” said Gran. Russ enjoys the many friendships he has with younger people. “Young people are better looking and have energy and fresh, new ideas. That gives me inspiration in my paintings and life. They also understand my humor much better.”
A certain strangeness dwells in most of Gran’s paintings; he works primarily in acrylics. “I don’t understand it, the style just came to me. I don’t think it can be taught,” he said. Gran greatly admires the work of Robert Crumb, though he insists his work is far more humble. “I am, and always have been, intrigued by the unusual. I enjoy freedom of expression and crude humor at times.” These traits are evident throughout much of Gran’s exhibit, Favorite Son.
The exhibit involves the narrative of a Norwegian boy named Lars, as he grows up in northern Minnesota. Though according to Gran the character is fictitious, he admits some parallels to his own upbringing in West Duluth. The narrative ends in tragedy, after Lars decides to join the military to pay for college. “The story is about killing off the fruit of the nation, just as it begins to ripen. We are in two totally worthless wars.” Gran concluded by stating, “I think everyone can benefit from being exposed to a certain degree of strangeness.”
Favorite Son opens Friday, June 11 from 6-8 pm at Washington Gallery and shows Saturday and Sundays from 1-5 pm (or by appointment) through June 27. Washington Gallery is located at 315 N. Lake Ave. in Duluth. For more information call (218) 723-1308 or visit wsacduluth.info.
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