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Brian Barber Posts

Selective Focus: #galesofnovember

A handful of posts remembering the 42nd anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking (November 10, 1975), and honoring the power in the big lake.

Selective Focus: Phil Davidson

Phil Davidson is a designer who co-owns Creative Arcade, a design and marketing studio with Jeff Ruprecht (featured previously). He talks about what makes him eager to get to work every day, and how their company is growing.

PD: As a business owner, I have to wear many hats, but at my core I’m a graphic designer. As a graphic designer I get to work in mediums ranging from print to web/digital to motion graphics/video and beyond. To me, the variety of work and mediums is what makes this industry so exciting. Professionally, I’ve been working as a designer for over fifteen years.

Selective Focus: Bailey Aro Hutchence

Bailey Aro Hutchence is a photographer who uses her sense of composition and color and attention to detail to create specialized gift boxes. She talks about the overlap between her two businesses, and heading into her first holiday retail season.


B.A.H.:
I own two creative businesses: White Spruce Market, where I create beautifully-curated gift boxes, and Bailey Aro Photography, where I capture full-of-life wedding, boudoir, and branding images. A creative soul to my core, I also have a strong entrepreneurial heart, and love bringing big visions to life.

Selective Focus: Joellyn Rock

Multimedia artist and digital art professor Joellyn Rock has been combining traditional graphic art techniques, classical imagery and storytelling, and video and digital technology to create animations, interactive installations and other experiments. Her art takes advantage of and blends quickly evolving technical opportunities, and her curiosity draws her into constant new challenges.

J.R.: My creative medium has shifted dramatically over the years, evolving from traditional art forms like painting, drawing and ceramics to digital media formats such as web narrative, experimental video and interactive installation. One thread of continuity: I seek new ways to tell old tales. I often borrow from fairy tales and mythology, choosing to update an old story with social commentary or a revisionist spin. For me, old tales provide an anchor when working in digital media, offering the viewer a cozy narrative, reinvented for the distress of our digital age. I use a visual vocabulary that harkens back to the storytelling on ancient pottery or vintage children’s books … graphic compositions, intense colors, set off by crisp silhouettes of characters in action. Those familiar forms get remixed, layered with historical references or contemporary ephemera, juxtaposing ancient story with modern dilemma, part comfortingly old-school, part shock of the new.

PDD Halloween Banners

Got any spooky, silly or stupid Halloween photos you’d like to share with the world? It’s time for our annual call for Halloween banners for the top of the page. 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 put them in rotation in the next few days.

Selective Focus: Eric Dubnicka

Eric Dubnicka is an artist working in multiple materials with fascinating abstractions and textures. It’s always fun and surprising to see what pops up on his Instagram feed.

E.D.: Currently my artworks are focused on the energy that exists and interacts between two people, which has been a fun challenge to conceptualize and the result is a series of paintings of ephemeral core bodies with a carved sculptural element demonstrating the connection between them. I’m fascinated by the process of abstraction and my works have run the gamut of sardonic caricatures to field color paintings, but the underlying concept is the energy that drives us as individuals or in relationships. The forms I’m working with currently lean heavily on the biomorphic lines, have a human anatomical subtext and are relatable to microscopic snapshots that can be found in nature or among the stars. I enjoy allowing for broad interpretations of my work and allow the materials to speak and interact, creating surfaces that are tactile, textured and carry an aesthetic strength that allow accessibility.

Selective Focus: Reggie Asplund

Reggie Asplund recently moved his business out of his basement and into a new studio. But it’s not like moving any business, he’s working with hundred-year-old printing presses. He’s one of a handful of people in town bringing the huge heavy manual presses back to life and making unique art with them.

R.A.: Middle school was most likely the first time I worked with printmaking, somehow a traced woodpecker comes to mind, but that was about it for a good six years. While I found art interesting and an occasional hobby, my interests and education lead me to end up as an undergraduate studying civil engineering. While a sophomore in undergrad I was approached by an old friend to apply as an intern to her aunt’s letterpress studio in Minneapolis. Desperate for a break from thermodynamics and load-bearing structures, I hastily applied and was offered a position. It didn’t take long to realize how much more I enjoyed the process of printmaking and as a blend of art, mechanical troubleshooting, and hands-on labor, it kept all sides of my brain content. After moving to Duluth to finish up my degree I acquired my first printing press and under the guidance of the stellar Kenspeckle Letterpress crew began the plunge into the addiction to ink, metal and paper.

Selective Focus: Kathy McTavish

Kathy McTavish is a multimedia artist who has been blending technology with art through performance, installations, sound, projections, musical instruments and coding and data input. She has several shows opening this fall. She talks about those shows and the work.

K.M.: I am a trans / media installation artist ::: a cross-sensory composer. Most of my current work is generative / algorithmic ::: multi-threaded code orchestrations. I’m a time-based artist that works with physical spaces.

chance screen recording ::: all sketches ::: 2017.06.05


Selective Focus: Makers Mercantile

A new shop has opened in West Duluth’s Spirit Valley area selling locally made goods. Makers Mercantile will host its Grand Opening on Saturday, Sept. 30, from 3 to 7 p.m. Owners Sara and Scott Clifton talk about opening and what they see for the future of the shop.

M.M.: Scott and I moved up to Duluth for college, and it didn’t take long for us to feel right at home. We love the people, the businesses, and everything the beautiful North Shore has to offer. We are creators and dreamers. Through observations and many discussions around the dinner table, our crafting ideas moved beyond creating products ourselves into creating a platform for local makers. We love the creativity and craftsmanship in our region, but started noticing that locally made goods were more difficult to find than expected, unless you went to a craft show or knew a specific maker to buy from. This observation spurred on an idea — to combine the values of handcrafted and local. We spent the last few years mulling over this idea, and decided this past winter to start pursuing it. Makers Mercantile just opened, and it is all about local, handmade goods.

Selective Focus: Karen Owsley Nease

Karen Owsley Nease paints large images of waves, capturing the characteristics of the water and its shapes with layers of transparent oils. She is hosting an opening of the work at the UWS Kruk Gallery on Oct. 5.

Tell us about the medium you work in, and how you came to work in your style.

K. O. N.: I am a visual artist whose primary medium is paint. My most recent works are oil paintings built up with numerous layers of thinly applied glazes. This particular method of painting dates from very early in the history of painting and I employ it because the rich luminosity I can achieve within the paintings from its use. My current series of paintings are intensely observed close- ups of breaking waves. This subject matter lends itself to explorations on many levels, both formally and intellectually.

Selective Focus: #BWCA

Selective Focus: Northern Lights

We sure do love our auroras up here. There are predictions of moderate activity tonight and Saturday according to the internet experts and local astronomical legend Astro Bob.

The week of Sept. 17-23, Night Sky Week will be taking place in Duluth. Click here for more information and a schedule of events. The project is organized by Starry Skies Lake Superior, a group raising awareness of the effects of light pollution.

One of the main events will be a showing of the movie Skyglow. The trailer below is pushing some product pretty hard, but there are stunning images in it.

Selective Focus: Bryan Hansel

Bryan Hansel lives in Grand Marais, working as a photographer and educator. His photos have been published in many national magazines including National Geographic, and his classes take students to sites in the region and across the country to National Parks.

B.H.: I could say I developed my style from years of practice starting with three years of black & white photography in high school — I graduated in 1989. But, that’s not really how I came to do what I do. About ten or so years ago, I decided I needed to make my photos eye-catching and worked toward a style that accomplished that. Then about six years ago while reading a book on haiku I had an “aha” moment. I was reading about juxtaposition in poetry and it occurred to me I could do the same thing with photography. After messing around with the approach, I started teaching it at my photography workshops. Basically, it’s all about using simplicity to create flow and relationships in an image. Now I approach all my photos that way.

Selective Focus: CSS Mural Initiative Project 2017

This winter and spring, Sarah Brokke Erickson from the College of St. Scholastica headed up a the art department’s 2nd collaborative mural project, with artist Shawna Gilmore, students from CSS, students from Harbor City International School, and Safe Haven. This short documentary shows the planning and process of the art. The finished murals will hang at Harbor City International School and in the Safe Haven shelter.

Selective Focus: Erika Mock


Erika Mock is a textile artist and arts activist who uses recycled materials to make zero-waste artwear. On Thursday, Aug. 24, she will be co-hosting a Pop-Up Shop and Open Studio along with Kristina Estell (previously featured in Selective Focus).

E.M.: I create textiles for body and soul; free-spirited sculpted art to wear to wake your body and perceptions. Most are richly colored accessories (wraps, eco-scarves, skinnies, wings, feathers, talismans, and tendrils), both organic in shape and elegant … a kind of sensitive chaos juiced with symbolism and surprise.