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Brian Barber Posts

Selective Focus: Hemlocks Leatherworks

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This week, a little bit of fashion in Selective Focus. We hear from Candace Lacosse who operates Hemlocks Leatherworks.

C.L.: I am primarily a shoemaker (which is a cordwainer, not a cobbler), but I love designing and making just about anything out of leather and waxed canvas: bags, purses, wallets, leather-bound journals, really just about anything.

Selective Focus: Shawna Gilmore

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Shawna Gilmore has had a busy year, with four shows in eight months, so chances are you’ve seen her sometimes surreal combinations of nature, kids and animals around town. This week in Selective Focus, she talks about her work and what she’ll do with a little bit of down time.

S.G.: I am a visual artist painting primarily in acrylics on wood panels. I occasionally use graphite and paper, my first artistic love. My style is ever-evolving. . . but my current illustrative style came about from a piece I did 3 or so years ago called “Beneath Her Feet” Everything about that piece made sense to me, from the starry sky and trees/roots, to the vintage woman and her farmhouse. It was really a lightbulb piece for me. I had been experimenting with people in my work, women’s faces mostly, but only the vintage characters rang true for me. Somehow their timelessness and history add the genuineness I need for my more narrative images to transcend current times. I also realized I was most interested in telling stories through surrealistic scenarios in my paintings.

Selective Focus: Ryan LeMahieu

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This week in Selective Focus, we hear from Ryan LeMahieu. If you click the images for a bigger view, you can better see the intricate line work in his drawings.

R.L.: my name is ryan lemahieu. i work mostly in mixed media but have a tendency to gravitate towards the black pen. you are nearly always able to find a pen and paper which is nice because art is how i deal with severe social anxiety with roots deep in depression. it is my release. i also think everything is better in black and white.

i wish i could purchase a t.v. that was black and white. does anyone know where i can find a black and white t.v. ?

i have been working on developing a “style’ for close to 20 years. i feel like i maybe finally figuring it out.

Selective Focus: Ryan Tischer

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This week in Selective Focus, we feature photographer Ryan Tischer. Tomorrow (Saturday, September 3) Lakeside Gallery will host an opening of Ryan’s work, and he will be the featured artist there through September.

R.T.: I do landscape and nature photography of North America, with a concentration in our Lake Superior region. My goal as an artist is to capture the emotional essence of a scene. Like many, I feel a strong spiritual connection to nature. I use this connection to guide my artistic choices when considering a scene behind the lens. Composition, exposure, filters, and so forth are all essential considerations, but the one variable in outdoor photography that cannot be forced or overtly manipulated is the light. For this reason I find myself waiting for hours at a given location and often returning time and time again until I find something magical in the light that finally makes the image. As in life and photography, light is everything. Without light from our sun we would not have life on this planet and I would certainly not be around to take pictures! I try to keep that in mind when making images and hope it comes through in my work.

Selective Focus: Mary Plaster

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Mary Plaster is best known As a papier-mâché artist, and for the Duluth All Souls Night celebration she has led. She tells about her work and the challenges of putting on an event like Duluth All Souls Night.

M.P.: I am a self-employed artist and facilitator, working in a variety of mixed media for 35 years. I paint, sculpt, do graphics, and photography. Fresh out of Missoula, MT High School art classes, I attended Minneapolis College of Art and Design and worked at Children’s Theatre Company in the properties department. I saw my first MayDay Parade in the late 1970s and fell in love with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HoBT). I also attended a mask and physical theatre school near San Francisco.

Selective Focus: Flo Matamoros

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Tonight (Friday, August 19) at Prove Gallery, there’s an opening of a collaboration between Flo Matamoros and Brian Ring called “The things they carried.” Flo Matamoros tells how her spontaneous, flowing style came to be.

F.M: My creative background is one that has been shaped by obsessive curiosity through the tool box that Art History is and the amount of creative mentors I have had since a child.
I was fortunate enough to receive around 7 years of classical painting training from age 7 until 14 in El Salvador (thanks mom!). So, I had to paint a lot of what I consider boring shit. Still life, landscape, flowers, etc. My professor said I had to master all that “boring shit” before I was allowed to paint the human form. So it took me until my freshman year at St. Scholastica (I started my higher education as a Chemistry Major because I thought that painting was bogus and Art was meh) to get over myself.

Selective Focus: Richard Colburn

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This week, we look at the quiet, fascinating photography of Richard Colburn.

R.C.: As a photographer I am interested in the social landscape, the idea that a photograph is drawn from life and engages, however eccentrically, being human and alive. There is a wonderful circularity in this way of working in that the photograph originates in the world and through carefully viewing of that photograph we see the world with fresh eyes. That refreshed vision is the result of carefully considering not only the subject but also how the photographer employs the language of photography. That language includes a photographer’s knowledge of materials and processes and history of the medium.
It may be asking a lot for a viewer to make such an effort when we live in a world clotted with easily made and circulated images that are consumed in an instant.

Selective Focus: Adam Swanson

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This week we hear from one of the area’s most prolific and recognizable painters, Adam Swanson. Adam has an opening reception tonight (Friday, Aug. 5) at the Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center.

A.S.: I work primarily with acrylic paints on tempered hardboard panels. In my youth and studies I experimented with a wide variety of media and techniques. Though I’ve always rallied against specialization, I accidentally grew to love acrylic painting.

Selective Focus: Dave Kirwan

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This week, we profile the multi-talented Dave Kirwan, an illustrator, animator, designer and film buff. Dave talks about how he got to the point where people pay him to draw silly pictures and the changing industry.

DK: I am today what I have been for the past forty-nine years, a commercial illustrator. People pay me to draw pictures that tell a story.

My first professional gig began on my sixteenth birthday when I was asked to augment my main duties as a cut and paste keyliner on a small weekly shopper with original cartoons and illustrations. Later on I worked at television stations, printers, publishers, was even a partner in an prominent Twin Ports ad agency for eighteen years. Yet despite official job titles of graphic designer or creative director, I have always pursued my primary avocation… I’m the guy who draws little men with big noses. Print ads, animation, even a couple of stints at national syndicated cartooning, I’ve always had a pencil in hand ready to sketch out the next idea.

Selective Focus: Tami LaPole Edmunds

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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.

Selective Focus: Moheb Soliman

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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.

Selective Focus: Plein Air Duluth-Paint Du Nord

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Next week the Duluth Art Institute will be hosting its second annual outdoor painting festival, Plein Air Duluth: Paint du Nord, from July 10 – 16, 2016.

Selective Focus: Tim White

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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.

Selective Focus: Tim Kaiser

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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.

Selective Focus: Joel Cooper

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I’ve been fascinated by screenprinting for a long time, because I’ve done it, and I know how difficult and frustrating the process can be. Joel Cooper tells us about his process for this week’s Selective Focus.

JoelCooperJC: I am a silkscreen printer. I became interested in this medium when attending a workshop at the Duluth Art Institute in the late ’80s. I guess the whole process appeals to me. It fits my personality … It is slow. Each color is drawn with black ink on acetate using a pen or brush, exposed to a screen, and using oil based ink squeeged to sheets of archival paper. The colors are layered one on top of the other starting with the lightest and ending usually with black. Most prints take well over a month start to finish. I take a lot of photos to get ideas in the summer and save the printing for our long cold winters. My style would be considered representational.