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Brian Barber Posts

Selective Focus: #duluth

A few images of people recently Duluthing.

Selective Focus: Travis Novitsky

When you get away from city lights and can look at a clear night sky, it’s remarkable how much is up there. Travis Novitsky takes this experience even further with his photography, showing the amazing detail of stars, the milky way and auroras that shine down on our world every night.

TN: I have been making photographs for over 25 years, specializing in images of Lake Superior and the Minnesota North Woods with a passion for the night sky. A self-taught photographer, my knowledge about photography has come primarily from reading books on the subject and from countless hours of experimentation with the camera. I “got my start”, I guess you could say, early on in high school. My first camera was a very basic point-and-shoot Pentax film camera. After that I graduated to a Minolta X-700 SLR film camera which I used until purchasing my first digital camera in 2001. Since then I have used a variety of camera brands including Olympus, Canon, Nikon and Sony. All have helped me create unforgettable imagery. What’s more important than what camera you use, however, is your way of looking at the world around you. How you interact with that world and how you choose to photograph what is around you.

Selective Focus: Daniel Benoit


If you were out and about during Homegrown 2018 and saw the giant chicken on the front of the Blacklist Beer / Solve Entertainment building, you’ve seen some of Daniel Benoit’s work. He pulls together design, video, animation, projections, and all kinds of technology to create immersive art. He tells about how he started working with this relatively new and experimental medium.

DB: I work in multiple digital mediums, but lately my focus has been projection design for theatre and immersive design for escape rooms. The path to getting here has been long and winding. The short version is that my love of filmmaking, theatre, and graphic design all happened to converge in 2012 when I created projections for my friend Davey T Steinman’s play Bagman at Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis. Davey introduced me to the software I still use today, Isadora, and that was it, I was hooked.

Selective Focus: Ed Newman

Ed Newman is a prolific artist, writer and supporter of the arts in our area. His frequent blog posts at “Ennyman’s Territory” cover the work of other artists, events and issues around town. You can almost always count on seeing him at openings, and he’s also very involved with this week’s Duluth Dylan Fest. He talks about how all these passions and interests come together for him.

EN: I work in a variety of media. About four decades ago I re-defined myself as a “creative person” which opened up all kinds of channels for creative expression beyond painting and drawing. I became serious about my writing at that time, and have always been drawing and making art in the background of what has primarily been a career in advertising.

Selective Focus: Nick Wroblewski

Nick Wroblewski gets beautiful layers of color and detail from his woodcut printing process. You may have seen his work in local galleries and shops, and you might also be seeing it in your refrigerator on 6-packs of Earth Rider beer. Simpler, limited-color versions of his art are being used on the Earth Rider packaging. Be sure to check out the video at the end of the post to see how he builds up the layers of color for some stunning effects. He will be talking about the work for Earth Rider tonight (Friday, 5/18) at the Cedar Lounge, and doing a demonstration tomorrow (Saturday, May 19) at Zeitgeist Art’s “Spirit of the Times” event.

NW: The medium I am working in is called woodcut printmaking, and it’s been my primary medium for about 15 years. All the images that I make are printed from the inked surface of a carved block of wood. This technique is an ancient method used to create multiples of a single image. I was first drawn to this technique because of the way that it combined elements of drawing and painting with sculpture and woodworking.

Selective Focus: David Barthel


This week, photographer David Barthel talks about building a career from his art, how his photography evolved from a hobby and curiosity as a kid, the turning point of a job loss, and some of his inspirations from our area.

DB: I’ve been photographing the natural world for over fifteen years, with a primary focus on the North Shore of Lake Superior and a secondary emphasis on the vast and rugged American West. I’m often asked how long I’ve been involved with photography, a question that would seemingly demand a concise answer. The reality is, my journey into photography didn’t result from any single moment of epiphany, but rather the gradual development of a long-held hobby.

Selective Focus: Run Smelt Run

Sunday, May 13, is the annual Run Smelt Run Parade. If you’ve never witnessed or been a part of the parade, it’s a blend of art, absurdity, puppets, community, ecology, humor, music, dancing and things that sparkle.

The festivities begin at 3:30 p.m. near the Aerial Lift Bridge and north pier, on the lawn in front of the Maritime Museum. Look for the people on stilts.

Call for Homegrown photo banners

It’s time for our annual call for Homegrown banners for the top of the page. We’re looking for bands, friends, events, or general shenanigans. Keep in mind, the photos get cropped to extreme horizontal proportions. If you want to crop ’em yourself and send them, that’s fantastic, or you can send them uncropped and I’ll do my best to make them fit.

Click here for complete submission guidelines, but the basics are: 1135 pixels wide by 197 pixels high, e-mail them to [email protected]. We’ll get them in the rotation during the Homegrown Music Festival, starting this weekend.

Selective Focus: Lydia Noble


Lydia Noble is an artist who loves making comics, and is also branching out into printed products like shirts and bags. She talks about finding work right after school, investing in her own career, and staying motivated to build her own business.

LN: I graduated a few years ago with a BFA in Entertainment Design with a concentration of Comics in Sequential Art. Nothing makes me happier than making comics. Comics is a way I can express my wildly varying emotions with my love of illustration. The comics I’ve made have varied from one panel digital comics to a 50-page water colored graphic novel. Lately I’ve been working exclusively with my tablet drawing digitally. When I moved back to the Twin Ports I was told to invest in myself as an artist, so I bought a large Wacom tablet. I draw on the tablet and it pops up on Photoshop, where I can swiftly change colors, draw and re-draw lines, experiment with fonts and textures. It makes the process of drawing and illustrating much more effective- especially when working with clients and doing freelance work.

Selective Focus: Ten Years of Homegrown Music Video Festival

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Homegrown Music Festival and 10 years of the Homegrown Music Video Festival. Participants in the video fest are assigned a random song by a local band and usually have a few weeks to put together a video. Over the past ten years, there have been videos with found footage, lip-synced performances, dolls, puppets, pets, animation, just about anything goes.

Selective Focus: Brenna Jordan

Brenna Jordan has nice handwriting. But she doesn’t just get complimented on it, she gets paid for it. And she’s a member of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting. This week, Brenna fills us in on the art of calligraphy and how she works a very analog art into the digital world.

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”
-James Michener

BJ: When I’m not out enjoying Duluth’s many natural wonders, I work as a calligrapher/hand lettering artist in my home studio that officially opened in 2014. I use an assortment of inks, gouache, watercolors, chalk and colored pencils, and have lettered on all kinds of surfaces, including wood, rock, pressed leaves, canvas, walls, and even boats! I have been in love with letters and great quotes for as long as I can remember, and started learning traditional calligraphy as a teenager. Teachers and coaches hired me to do lettering on certificates and awards, which gave me a lot of practice. While I didn’t formally study art in college, I continued doing calligraphy for events on campus, along with wedding calligraphy for family and friends. For many years, calligraphy was more of a hobby, with occasional commissioned projects.

Selective Focus: Joe Klander

Joe Klander can definitely be called a multimedia artist. He paints, he sculpts, he puts opponents in a full nelson. His art show last year at the Duluth Art Institute was called “Strongman” ond explored his heroes and influences as a kid. He will appear on the upcoming season of America’s Got Talent, and a documentary about him is currently making the rounds at Film Fests, opening last weekend at the Fargo Film Fest.

JK: From what I’ve been told I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, and watching pro wrestling not long after that. Mike Scholtz’s documentary “Kinderchomper” hit on my childhood-like arts and crafts art exhibit I was working on and my life as a pro wrestler father and husband. I am constantly reaching back to my boyhood imagination and dreams for inspiration and for some reason always ask myself the question “Would me at the age of 10 think this is pretty awesome?”

Selective Focus: William Garnett

William Garnett is a teacher at East High School, and an avid supporter of the sports and other programs there. He uses his photography skills to provide the student athletes with some amazing Sports Illustrated-level images through his Instagram and Facebook feeds.

WG: I do photography, mostly sports. I began by taking photographs to document the activities of an organization I was the adviser for at East High School and progressed to photographing a variety of activities from sports to theater. I have been called the school photographer and I guess that fits.

Selective Focus: Ingeborg von Agassiz


Ingeborg von Agassiz is a multimedia artist who writes and performs music, paints and draws, creates videos and also teaches music. She just released her album “O Giver of Dreams” and hosted a combination release show / art show at the Red Herring. Her art will be up into the month of April at the Herring. In December, she and her students worked with PDD on a video for “Oh, the Hillside,” a song from the new album. Her music embraces technology with looping vocals, synths and effects, while her paintings are distinctly handmade with bold lines, shapes and strokes.

IVA: I work as both a musician and visual artist. I’ve shared my visual art publicly under another name for over a decade and once I launched my musician project as Ingeborg von Agassiz, I decided to use that name for all the art that I make. I make acrylic paintings on canvas and also pen & marker drawings on paper. And sometimes I use watercolors and also typewriter text on paper. I’ve created a couple of zines with drawings, doodles, essays, song lyrics.

Selective Focus: Found Art – The Squirrels

This week we look at a mysterious collection found at an estate sale. There are 36 pieces of yellow cardboard with photos of squirrels, and typed-out captions glued to the boards. All are numbered on the back, and some have additional handwritten notes on the back. Some of the handwritten notes also appear as typed captions on the front of other cards.