Art is defined by the space it creates, not the space it occupies.

The Window of Prøve Gallery

The Window of Prøve Gallery

The above photograph is a view from the inside of Prøve Gallery, located in the Sons of Norway building on Lake Ave. in Downtown Duluth. I love it precisely because it is the art’s (and the artist’s) vantage point on Duluth — the steep slope that is Lake Avenue as it runs down the hillside, spilling its contents over I-35 and into Canal Park. Prøve is situated at the spot that joins the most densely populated areas of Duluth with the most touristy of playgrounds, the joint that places the banks and the exotic pizzas and the homeless shelters in a contact zone.

As an experiment of an art gallery, then, Prøve becomes an opportunity to explore the relationship between art and space. Too often, we presume that place defines art: the rock pile on the Lakewalk is sculpture, while the rock pile in my back yard is at best a mess, or if I’m lucky, “folk art.” If it’s hanging in the Duluth Art Institute, it must be art.

Prøve lets us test another hypothesis: Art is not defined by the space we find it in (institutional spaces or public spaces). Rather, art is defined by the space it creates.

Artwork from Prøve opening on January 13

Artwork from Prøve opening on January 13

In this series, for example, the works themselves are not sufficient to be art. In a certain way, what makes this piece art is the way it redefines the wall on which it is hung.

Nowhere is this clearer than in Zach Gorr’s piece (his second piece in a Prøve show): “Cairn 1-5.”

Cairn 1-5.1

Cairn 1-5.1

Cairn 1-5.2

Cairn 1-5.2

In this piece, Gorr’s work is not quite a flat wall-hanging, redefining the wall on which it is hung as if the wall were a canvas. The sculpture grows from the wall, as if organically, stepping into the space we share with it. The light and color of these shapes change the space they occupy.

You don’t hang Gorr’s “Cairn 1-5” — you share space with it, and the space you share is the product of art.

Come share this space on Friday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m., at Prøve Gallery.

13 Comments

wingsofjudas

about 11 years ago

Art certainly is subjective. 

I dig the concept but dislike that is has to be explained, versus pieces that you can just look at and comprehend (or feel) something from... Does Duluth have any classic art to view?

TimK

about 11 years ago

What does "classic art" mean (to you)? -classic as in classical- which I think means ancient Greece. If so, there's a statue in front of the Civic Center (though that's really more an homage to ancient Rome). Or perhaps the statue of Jay Cooke would fit the bill. Upon close inspection, there is a certain impressionism to the work, but that could just be poor foundry quality. Wait a minute- did you mean classic as in Classic Rock? If so, you are stuck with Led Zeppelin album jackets and whatnot.

wingsofjudas

about 11 years ago

I thought impressionism was a style of painting, like what Monet did?

Art you can comprehend by looking at without needing an explanation.

Maybe traditional is the proper term? Anything not so abstract as to be inherently meaningless. I don't care if it looks like a Rembrandt painting or a Chris Monroe drawing, if it's a painting of the Lift Bridge or a neon fuzzy monster. Stuff that looks like stuff.

This has an aesthetic quality to be sure, I'd just love to see variety.

Dave P

about 11 years ago

Um, yeah...I think the Tweed Museum at UMD has what you're looking for.

Tor Johnson®

about 11 years ago

What a waste of capacitors. I used less than that to restore a 1936 Zenith in a beautiful wood cabinet. I can still remember "The Shadow Knows" coming from a similar radio when growing up in West Duluth in the 1940s and '50s.

Damn kids!

TimK

about 11 years ago

Oh, it is so hard to keep my New Year's resolution.

vicarious

about 11 years ago

I tend to agree with Wingsofjudas; art, as experienced, does not need context and explanation. That's why I usually loathe "artist's statements" - forced context distracts from, and dilutes the immediacy. 

"In this series, for example, the work in themselves are not sufficient to be art."

"You don't hang Gorr's "Cairn 1-5″ — you share space with it, and the space you share is the product of art."

Oy vey.

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

If I created the impression that the work at Pr0ve needed my little language, I regret that.  

There are days when I chew my food, there are days when I savor it, and there are days when I inhale it. My food remains the same.

I'll be inhaling some Luce before I savor some of this very cool art.

consuelo

about 11 years ago

Cool stuff. Obviously people here think the write up is a bit pretentious, and to me clearly the whole thing is a product of art school - which is not the most authentic type of art by any means. I think you guys are doing great to be putting work like this out in Duluth, keep it up!

vicarious

about 11 years ago

I didn't mean to sound snarky. Sorry about that. 

My friends and I used to have goofy "conversations," half-jokingly debating, "what is art?"

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

I accept " pretentious."

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