Quantcast

Art Posts

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Preparations

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayAt some point in the 1990s, I started hearing about the Superior Hiking Trail, a new footpath designed for hikers to see the sexiest peaks and rivers in the wilderness along the North Shore of Lake Superior. It didn’t come up very often in conversation until the year 2000, which is when it began to annoy me that I had never hiked a speck of it — other than maybe wandering away from the waterfalls at Gooseberry and noticing markings that told me I was on the not-yet famous trail I’d been hearing about.

It was April 2000 when an upstart Duluth newspaper called the Ripsaw began publishing weekly and I stepped up to be its managing editor. The paper had a weekly “Adventure” article and I suddenly found myself around people who had taken on parts of the SHT and heard stories about a handful of souls who had through-hiked the whole thing, which at the time meant trekking from Two Harbors to the Canadian border.

There was a rumor going around that Dusty Olson ran the whole trail in two days, which I found almost but not quite believable. The notion that such a feat could be close to true at least led me to believe I could do it in fewer than two weeks. Then I heard the first documented person to conquer the trail had a fused spine and partially paralyzed legs, and hiked with forearm crutches. That made it hard for me to think I wasn’t physically up to the task.

Selective Focus: Hemlocks Leatherworks

sf-teaser-hemlock

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.

Sixteen years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Introduction

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayThe yearning for adventure is a pretty common human trait, along with the practical good sense to not get into a situation you can’t handle. The old Scout Motto is “be prepared,” a creed intended to make one think practically and plan ahead for potential disaster. There’s a colorful expression for those who are not ready for life’s misfortunes; they find themselves “up Shit Creek without a paddle.”

Not wanting to drift helplessly in liquid feces, people often put off serious adventure and plan to check their dreams off a “Bucket List” at some point between the impractical now and the day before it becomes physically impossible. When a Bucket List goes as planned, it’s a beautiful thing. More often than not, of course, it ends up being a list of unfulfilled wishes. That’s generally preferable to premature death in pursuit of pretty scenery, so lament accordingly.

There are also those perfect people in the primes of their lives, dressing up in expensive wingsuits and gliding majestically down from the world’s most spectacular cliffs. Are they the sons and daughters of the obscenely wealthy or did they persuade a gear manufacturer to sponsor them? Maybe both. Don’t be jealous. You probably wouldn’t take that leap if you could. I know I wouldn’t.

Selective Focus: Shawna Gilmore

sf-shawnagilmore

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.

International Indigenous Beadwork Gathering: A Cultural Exchange

Visiting artists Petrona Guaillas, Victoria Sarango and Paulina Gonzalez said that visiting with beadwork artists from the Northland was the highlight of their stay. Photo by Caitlin Nielson.

Visiting artists Petrona Guaillas, Victoria Sarango and Paulina Gonzalez said that visiting with beadwork artists from the area was the highlight of their stay. Photo by Caitlin Nielson.

September is shaping up to be a busy month at the American Indian Community Housing Organization. This past Thursday a trio of indigenous beadwork artists from Saraguro, Ecuador visited. They are members of the cooperative Las Mujeres de Teresa de Calcuta and widely known for their netted necklaces.

Surly Knard 41

Chris Godsey Saturday EssayResponses to a piece I posted here a while ago suggest at least a few Perfect Duluth Day Saturday Essay readers ride bicycles somewhat “seriously.” Makes sense, I suppose; long cycling sojourns, solo or with accomplices, can foster a deep contemplation similar to one spending time with prose can evoke. It’s also true that riding bikes and reading words can both be nothing more than hardcore reality avoidance posing as time spent admirably. We all have our drugs, don’t we? — mostly ones we tell ourselves aren’t drugs so we can believe we’re better human beings than folks who used to hang out in front of Last Place on Earth.

But whatever. That’s not what this essay is about.

I ride a lot, slowly and clumsily (like a middle-aged oaf whose formative fitness years were spent playing tight end and fearing exercise-induced pain), mostly alone, and with intentions driven by equal desires to sit with and avoid my general mental state. Since 2002 I’ve owned a lot of different mountain, road, and commuting bicycles. After thousands of hours spent poring over Sheldon Brown’s website and mtbr.com forums, tinkering in my back-yard shed, and pestering real mechanics — just mercilessly badgering them with, “How does this work?” and “How do I put this back together?” and “Hey, can I come down and interrupt what you’re working on, ask a bunch of dumb questions, borrow some tools, and inevitably force you to stop what you’re doing and help me?” — I know enough to credibly build and maintain my own bikes. Sometimes I fix friends’ bikes, if they have low expectations. I go through nerdy periods of constantly trying to figure out the “best” way to set up a certain bike for a certain purpose, which means I’ve researched, bought, installed, un-installed, broken, replaced, and perseverated on hundreds of components ranging from whole frames to single 5mm bolts.

But even that’s not what this essay is about.

The Rumpus Interview with Connie Wanek

Connie WanekIn an interview for The Rumpus, an online magazine focused on culture, Duluth poet Connie Wanek discusses her latest book, the challenge of looking back at older poems, and what prioritizing writing looks like.

Link: The Rumpus Interview with Connie Wanek

Connie Wanek said that she only started writing poetry seriously in her late thirties, but since then, she’s been published in Poetry and the Atlantic Monthly, has received a Witter Bynner Fellowship at the Library of Congress, and been named a George Morrison Artist of the Year, among her many other honors. Her fourth book, Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems, was released by the University of Nebraska Press this year, and makes the argument that she is one of contemporary America’s great poets.

Selective Focus: Ryan LeMahieu

SF-TeaserRyanLemahieu

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.

Small Business

Mary Tennis - Saturday EssayScrolling through files on my computer at work, I can pretty much trace the progression of the business through spreadsheets, price labels and photographs (candid and professional) of events, company parties, and breaks in the action behind the counter. Families have grown, ex-staffers have gone to rehab, become police officers, found god, and earned master’s degrees, prices have more than quintupled, and previously experimental recipes have been honed into lexicon. When I say “progression,” I mean pile: an amorphous mass of guesswork, troubleshooting and triage that has taken shape and could be temporarily (like for the purposes of this essay) deemed linear.

I work for Northern Waters Smokehaus, a small business gone large. The retail side of the enterprise started out 15 years ago with the idea that we were going to offer a small, specialized service (smoked fish and imported cheese) to a specialized audience (those with the monetary means coupled with the proper palettes). We had five employees counting the owner himself, who took care of pretty much everything besides front-line sales (though he did that as well from time to time, and was utterly expert at it — I think a dozen bored housewives fell in love with him that first year we were open, charmed irresistibly by his earnest and passionate obsession for good food).

How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse with a Special Needs Baby

Heather JacksonImmeasurable amounts of Internet memes and quizzes have confirmed that I’m far from alone in daydreaming about my personal preparedness for a full-blown zombie takeover. I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m Doomsday Preppers-level obsessed with the subject, but I do regularly have Z-Day strategy conversations with my husband (which I’m keeping under wraps because we have a legitimately solid plan of operation and I can’t have other survivors flocking to the same rendezvous points or utilizing the same resources.)

These fun and hypothetical talks have evolved over the years as we’ve moved locations from our tiny college town in Western New York, to cities in between, and our ultimate settlement in Duluth. With the birth of our oldest daughter in 2011, the well-worn subjects of head-smashing weaponry, classification of zombies, and go-bag contents expanded to include comfortable long-distance child wearing techniques and fail-proof ways to keep a kid quiet. Unfortunately, we can’t even manage that last one in this current, zombie-free reality.

Then last year I gave birth to our second daughter. Would two kids slow us down? Yes, almost certainly. But we couldn’t leave them behind because that would be totally inhumane, and if we strip ourselves of our humanity, then what is left to separate us from the zombies we might face? (Plus, we’re their parents and stuff so … responsibilities, ya know?)

Selective Focus: Mary Plaster

SF-TeaserMaryPlaster
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.

Hop In

Saturday Essay - Dave SorensenWhen I was nineteen my parents dropped me off on US Highway 2. I had a pack, tent and sleeping bag, a couple hundred dollars in one pocket, a polished agate for a lucky charm in another, and a cardboard sign that said “Seattle.” I’d soon learn it’s better to have a sign that says “west” than the name of a specific city almost two-thousand miles away.

The first person I met was another hitchhiker, a distinguished fellow, grey at the temples, traveling the country playing piano in nursing homes for his meals. Though he carried a miniature book of musical scores to lighten his pack, the odd thing was, as he stood along the road waiting for rides, he lifted weights. About fifty pounds worth. He couldn’t see leaving them at home. Maybe it was a ploy to weed out the wrong drivers, some sort of immediate ultimatum: love me, love my barbells. Those fearful of excess baggage need not engage.

A local woman had us throw our gear into the back of her truck and got us out of town. Then, straight out of my youthful road-trip dreams, I was picked up by a semi and rode high in the cab all the way to North Dakota. I spent the night in the open on a bit of scruffy highway median, sleeping in the dew.

Selective Focus: Flo Matamoros

SF-TeaserFloMatamoros
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.

Culture Through Digital Storytelling: AICHO and In Progress

On Day 2, the kids were sent on a scavenger hunt that encouraged them utilize different camera techniques.

On Day 2, the kids were sent on a scavenger hunt that encouraged them utilize different camera techniques.

Kids were broken up into teams; they learned not only how to use the cameras, but how to teach others as well.

The kids were broken up into teams; they learned not only how to use the cameras, but how to teach each other.

Those who visited Brighton Beach last Thursday might have spotted the group of the kids playing in the waves of Lake Superior. They may have also noticed some touting high-end DSLR cameras and bright colored notebooks, wandering the shoreline with eager faces. That’s because, last week, the American Indian Community Housing Organization partnered with a St. Paul-based nonprofit, In Progress, to host culturally specific photography and storytelling workshops for Native American youth.

Lesson facilitator Kristine Sorenson made the journey up from the cities to the Gimaajii location to teach kids ages 8-12 how to use professional camera equipment (ranging in price from $800 to $6,000 per camera) and document the beauty in their lives. The results of their adventures couldn’t have been more inspiring.

A good number of photos featured here were taken by both myself and the participating youth and volunteers; however, at first glance, I’m willing to bet that no one would be able to distinguish who took which of the images here!

Bug Ear

Anna Tennis Saturday EssayOne time, I got a bug stuck in my ear. Which is a funny coincidence, since I have always wanted to never have a bug in my ear.

It happened in early summer, and I was fast asleep. At some point around 4 a.m., I was awakened by the sound of a helicopter crash-landing inside my head. I, like all humans on the planet, have experienced bug fly-bys of my ears on many occasions. Bees, for example, seem to really like my ears. They enjoy repeatedly buzzing up behind me, like fat, airborne playground bullies, chasing me around the swingset. Their dumptrucky buzzing is a nice reminder that a bee is almost in my ear. I like to run around my yard, waving my hands around my head and saying, “You won’t even fit in there! And I’ll probably kill you if you try, which I really don’t want to do because you’re the future! You’re the future!” I bet this is pretty funny to my neighbors.

Generally, I dislike flying insects. It seems like they get an unfair advantage. They are already bitey and stingy and too-many-leggy and wearing chitinous exoskeletal armor over their loathsome, malevolent silhouettes. If any bug were as big as a person, we would all freak the fuck out, even if it had a lovely personality. It would take a lot of paradigm adjustment and acceptance, not to mention furniture and undergarment redesign. Twenty percent of all meditation would be to gain control of involuntary shuddering.