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Pornography, or, “Worst First Dates”

Anna Tennis Saturday EssayIn 1999, my ex-husband gave me a computer. I was pretty glad to get it. I had mastered emailing, and was ready to move on to the really exciting things, like AOL and internet porn.

Let’s get this clear right away: I’m not a huge porn fan. My porn experience at that point was limited to the following:

1. A couple of magazines unearthed by a 13-year-old me, in ~1985 in my mom’s friend’s attic. They were evidently from the 1970s. My suspicion was based largely on the unusual prevalence of mustaches and floppy boobies. (Throw in a headshot of Spiro Agnew and my argument is airtight.) They were disturbingly graphic and unaltered. Sans digital enhancement, the naked people all looked like slabs of pork tenderloin. With mustaches and floppy boobies.

2. A porn movie a boyfriend rented to watch with me. Everyone seemed really, really angry in it. With the volume down, their sexing faces all looked like they were watching Newt Gingrich pole dance in assless chaps and an American flag tank top. (He has bootstraps tattooed on his inner thighs, by the way. Interesting tidbit.)

3. My parents’ copy of The Joy of Sex, which was hidden under some sweaters in my dad’s closet. Finding that book in that spot was the single best abstinence education any parent could possibly provide. The idea of my disgusting parents contorting their old disgusting bodies into those disgusting and inexplicable configurations was enough to keep me from so much as holding hands until I was 16 years old.

A Winter Downpour: Oh, This Pleasant Lake singles

New singles from A Winter Downpour’s album Oh This Pleasant Lake — “Forever” and “Wake Up Drunk.” Thanks to Arrowhead Regional Arts Council for support of the album.

Find it at: SpotifyBandcamp | CD Baby

Selective Focus: Heidi Ash

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This week’s Selective Focus subject is our most delicious one yet. Heidi Ash has made chocolate her medium of choice.

H.A.: My goal is to make life more beautiful and delicious one truffle at a time. I work with French chocolate, hand-made caramel sauces, and the best ingredients possible. What gets left out is just as important: preservatives, corn syrup and RBST from the whipping cream and butter.

185Chocolat is a culmination of passions. The 185 represents the number of my heart transplant at the Mayo Clinic, which not only saved my life but altered the quality of it for the better in ways I could not imagine.

Selective Focus: Carrie Schaefer

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Carrie Schaefer is a Duluth graphic designer, illustrator and screen printer. She tells us how she started selling her own products with her designs on them.

C.S.: I’ve been doing all kinds of design work since 2008 (marketing materials, illustrations and logo design). A couple years ago, I got the itch to learn screen-printing. My husband, who is also a graphic designer, taught me a little bit about the process and I was able to pick it up pretty quickly. It soon became a fun and exciting craft for me. My processes starts with an illustration on paper, moves to digital, then to a negative on a transparency, transferred to a silk screen using emulsion, and finally ink is drawn across the screen to yield a printed image.

Duluth MakerSpace in full swing

Duluth MakerSpaceDuluth’s 10,000+ sq. ft. cooperative member workshop is in full swing this month. Duluth MakerSpace offers a different class or event every night in February — everything from welding to electronics to soap making. Wednesday nights are also free demo nights with a different demonstration each week. 

Paid membership is not necessary to take classes or attend demo nights.

Selective Focus: Jeff Lemke

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Jeff Lemke operates a web site, Twin Ports Rail History, and Flickr account where he posts photos he has taken as well as photos he has collected documenting the history of the rail business in Duluth and Superior. We are showing a very small sample of the images here, but you really need to check out the collection he has, as well as read his descriptions for each photo. If you are so inclined, you can also donate to keep the project going. It really is an impressive historical collection.

J.L: Most people look at my site and think it is about trains. Perception is reality in most cases. But for those who actually look closer and read the details of each image that I post, they discover that it’s really a developing story in pictures about the people who worked for the railroads and the industries that those railroads collectively served. The locomotives, railroad cars, and facilities that each railroad used were in a constant state of flux—right from the beginning. During the late 1880s railroads like the Northern Pacific and Great Northern established strongholds of land in Duluth and Superior respectively, on which they built their inland-port empires. Other railroads came along, prospered too, but to a much lesser degree.

Hell of a View

Saturday Essay - Dave SorensenNot having grown up in Duluth, I missed the purported crosstown rivalry. My tribe lives next door, across the border: the People of the Cheese.

Duluth: “Where rail meets sail.” Where rustic meets rustbelt. Where woodtick meets moonbeam, and uphill meets down. You’re a microcosmic casserole, a dichotomous hotdish, Duluth, where stone meets water, and water meets sky. Actually, between water and sky is a thin slice of Wisconsin, appearing blue because of the way light scatters across the distance, and sometimes distance is good. You see, people often end a sentence with the phrase, “but there’s always Wisconsin,” as in, “we can’t get no drunker here, but there’s always Wisconsin,” or, “we don’t make lampshades from human skin, but there’s always
Wisconsin,” and so on, lending a certain comfort to the color blue, and the distance it conveys.

Driving into downtown from the west feels like entering an architect’s model, as the street burrows between stubby office buildings along the table of land between harbor and hill. When I moved here, freeway and mall had already drawn and quartered the business district, and it was the nadir of the Reagan recession. The industrial boomtown started busting as the high-grade ore played out in the 1950s, and by the late ’70s competition from abroad arrived, along with bumper stickers reading, “ Eat Your Foreign Car.” While the early ’80s were cloaked in a campaign slogan touting, “Morning in America,” around here we wondered if there was a bottom to this freefall, which might at least afford a dead-cat bounce.

Schweiger takes People’s Choice Award at DAI membership show

Annie Schweiger and The WinstonThe People’s Choice Award at the Duluth Art Institute’s 2017 Membership Exhibition on Thursday went to Annie Schweiger for her oil painting titled “The Winston.” The award recognizes the audience’s favorite work out of more than 175 on view in the Great Hall of the Duluth Depot.

Schweiger hails from Anoka, and moved to Duluth as a transfer student to attend the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She majored in graphic design and minored in studio art. Shortly after graduation she was hired by HTK Marketing as a graphic designer. She continues to work in the fine arts during her free time, and is available for commissions.

Her winning painting, “The Winston,” is a portrait of a long-haired Chihuahua, Winston, which her colleague Mike Scholtz brings to work every day. The pet portrait captures the dog’s sly glance and features the animal formally attired in a crimson beret with gold trim, a starched ruff and a jacket. The whimsy of the scene is countered by the photorealistic skill of the depiction and a subdued color palette.

The “2017 Annual Membership Exhibition” is on view through Feb. 24.

Selective Focus: Shawn Thompson

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Shawn Thompson has been creating breathtaking images of Lake Superior and the surrounding area for several years. He talks about how he got into photography and getting up early for the perfect shot.

S.T.: I am mainly a digital photographer, but I also enjoy shooting film. Film is a recent endeavor for me. Both have their perks. Digital is fantastic for the instant gratification and ease of making an exposure in just about any condition.

Selective Focus: Gallery of Duluth Mayor Portraits

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Happy Inauguration Day. Let’s celebrate peaceful transfers of power with a retrospective view of the portraits of Duluth’s Mayors. For many years, these portraits hung in the hallways of City Hall, but were recently taken down to be cleaned, maintained, digitized and cataloged. The images used here are taken from the Minnesota Digital Library. More information about each mayor is available at the site.

Don Ness says portraits are traditionally done 2-3 years after a mayor leaves office, and he anticipates his portrait will be added to the collection some time this year. So scroll backward through time with us and enjoy the virtual gallery of Duluth mayors.

Selective Focus: Ashley Kolka

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Ashley Kolka is a collage artist who makes small-scale pieces, mostly about small towns and rural settings.

A.K.: I make miniature cut paper collages from recycled magazines. My best one-line summary of what I do is that I make small works about small places. My logic for working small is both philosophical and practical. Small works create a sense of intimacy with the viewer and can be purchased at an accessible price. Most people in the Duluth art community know me in my role as the grants manager at Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. That job takes most of my time; working small fits the space in my life that I have for art making!

The amazing sensation of being airborne

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Mary Netta Abe‎ tagged Perfect Duluth Day on Facebook with this image. She was born in Duluth, but her family moved away.

“I still have dreams with the old, familiar images of my childhood,” she writes. “I have flying dreams, which are my favorite; I can feel the amazing sensation of being airborne. In one dream, I soared over the Aerial Bridge! As an artist, I used that dream as an inspiration for this drawing! I will always love Duluth!”

Selective Focus: Kristina Estell

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For the first Selective Focus of 2017, we start off with Kristina Estell’s sculpture and installations which depend on form and material but are also defined by their locations around the world.

K.E.: I studied sculpture in undergrad at Herron School of Art and in graduate school at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Very early in my art education, I knew I was interested in making serial sculptural work that interacted with architectural and outdoor spaces as opposed to singular traditional forms that lived on pedestals. In recent years, I have become primarily an installation artist who creates dimensional work with a variety of materials, processes and spaces. My work is often site-specific or site-responsive … making projects that consider a particular location and/or context. Silicone molding rubber, natural stones, fabric, live plants and gold leaf are a few of my favorite mediums. In between larger projects, I love taking up the process of watercolor painting and have an ongoing series based on bubble wrap packaging material.

Saturday Essay: Select gems from 2016

Saturday Essay logo genericLast week we highlighted the five most-read pieces from the first year of Perfect Duluth Day’s “Saturday Essay” series. This week’s focus is on five essays of similar quality that might have been missed by readers who were cleaning their attics, fixing their hot rods or relaxing at the cabin on the particular Saturdays these stories were originally posted.

The first 50 essays in our series showcased the work of 16 different writers; we hope to expand that roster in 2017. Anyone who has an original piece of literary excellence that seems to fit (or appropriately defy) the established format should email paul @ perfectduluthday.com to get involved.

And now a few select gems from season one, in random order …

Selective Focus: Harry Welty

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Every winter, at least when the conditions are right, Harry Welty turns his front yard into a sculpture garden of sorts, making huge snow sculptures on the side of his very steep hill at 21st Avenue East and Fourth Street. Here’s how it all started.

H.W.: I am a snow sculptor. Like every kid in Minnesota I started by making snow men and snow forts. My ideal work environment is a field of snow on a sunny day in the thirties – the kind that makes for perfect snowballs. If I had a muse it was my Mother who, as a baby boomer Mom, wanted me to be the artist she aspired to be. I was more interested in politics although I always thought being a political cartoonist sounded like a great occupation.