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Art Posts

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.

Multiple sclerosis as a catalyst from being a burnt out cubicle jockey to self-taught artist and entrepreneur

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Perhaps you’ve wondered what it takes to open your own retail space. Here is the formula that worked for one of my neighbors: intense physical pain + $7,200 in startup costs + burnout and restlessness + a debilitating medical diagnosis + a whole lot of elbow grease = one art gallery. And that’s about all it takes.

The story of Lakeside Gallery, Aaron Kloss’s new venture, is incredible. Check it out at Ed’s Big Adventure.

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.

Some Notes on the St. Louis

Ryan Vine - Saturday EssayMark in his blue jeans and cowboy boots back flipping off the Fond du Lac Bridge. Each of us following him but never brave enough to flip. Tee holding his breath for as long as he could when he hit, so we’d all run across 23 to hang over the opposite railing and wait for him to come up and shake the water from his black hair. Nearly every kid in the neighborhood soaring and only occasionally thinking of what our mothers said: ok, you know how deep it is. But do you have a map of all the swimming turtles? The tourists stopping to snap pictures of the Flying River Rats. What did we know of pollution? We’d smear the foamy river on our faces and call each other Brown Beard. Yar, we’d yell and plunge again into the water.

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I have friends who love mountains more than rivers and lakes. I don’t trust them.

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.

The Duluth Quantum Computing Project

20160804_150728So I attended the first meeting of the Duluth Quantum Computing Project designed and taught by Kathy McTavish, local cellist and multimedia artist. The series of workshops and mentored projects continues into the month of August. There, Kathy will bring what she described as a hybrid of fine arts, of high technology, and the ingenuity of the spirit of the MakerSpace in Duluth. As Kathy put it in last night’s class, “simple materials such as HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript, a text editor and a web browser will be our tools in creating new work.”

According to McTavish, “artists have been leveraging this space to explore new forms.” But the workshop is not only of value for creativity — McTavish believes using these tools will grow economic opportunity. “These technologies are of high value in the today’s market. In other regions of the country, coding classes provide artists with creative tools and career opportunities.”

Duluth Photography Exhibit: Let’s See What You See

Juror Ivy Vainio asked the crowd (as more shuffled in) to raise a hand if they had never had work featured in an exhibition before.

Juror Ivy Vainio asked the crowd (as more shuffled in) to raise a hand if this was the first time they’d been a part of an exhibit. Photo by Ivy Vainio.

It’s been a few weeks since the opening of the Let’s See What You See Duluth photography exhibit, and already it’s time for the photos to come down from the wall and for the American Indian Community Housing Organization to start planning its next function. The exhibit was a huge success, garnering hundreds of cellphone photo submissions and attracting over 200 people in a line that extended out onto the sidewalk and down the street shortly after 6 p.m.

Stage Stop food tastes just like shit

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayTwenty years ago, fresh out of college, I began my career in journalism. Everything was about to change in the industry, but it hadn’t changed yet. Print was king, profits were good and the prospect of any local news organization developing a website was the subject of a conversation that started and ended with the phrase “probably next year.”

I was hired as news editor at the Duluth Budgeteer Press, a weekly community paper that produced just enough news content to avoid being considered a “shopper.” Actually, for many years it was considered a shopper, but then another paper came along that was more of a shopper, and the Budge started to be considered a newspaper.

Manny’s Shopper was the weekly coupon rag that lowered the bar and lifted the Budgeteer to prominence. Although no one these days seems to know who Manny was or much else about what became of his shopper, one thing was important 20 years ago: it had committed what is probably not the biggest, but quite likely is the most hilarious, print media blunder northern Minnesota has ever known.

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.

Teen for God

Heather JacksonThe summer I turned sixteen the swelter at camp was relentless. Each afternoon the temperature peaked — 101, 102, even rising past 103 degrees — and campers dropped like flies from the heat. Or like grasshoppers, really. Have you ever seen a grasshopper before it keels over under a body-blistering sun? It jumps erratically, its center of balance overridden by an instinct of perpetual motion, and then it just stops, still and stiffening as its body bakes. The kids were like that — frantic in the sports field with Frisbees and soccer balls, fueled by mediocre mess hall food — and then they crumpled to the ground, unmoving until the nurse came to time their pulses and brace them for the walk to the infirmary.

The heatstroke hit the girls almost exclusively, until the nurse’s station was out of cots and they had to clear space in the back of the gym for a makeshift second infirmary. The rest of us were told to drink water and to sit in the shade as often as possible. We rolled up the legs of our pants and tucked the arms of our shirts up over our shoulders. Camp rules for girls: No tank tops, no two-piece bathing suits, no shorts shorter than an inch above the knee. Modesty always.

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.

Duluthian paints France

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Duluth artist Kenneth Marunowski is in France, painting, and sends his regards to friends left behind, like me.

Two Harbors Chalk.a.Lot

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Amongst these magnificent works of sidewalk art from the Two Harbors Chalk.a.Lot this weekend is a tribute to Cloud Cult. Visit Sunday if you can. The art will still be awesome.

Word Jerk

Chris Godsey Saturday EssayI used to think I could be a writer. It was adorable.

I’m 45. From 20 until almost 40, I harbored delusional aspirations of someday publishing in prominent venues such as Spin, Sports Illustrated, Outside, and the New Yorker. In my 20s I neither enjoyed nor did well in a few full-time print and online journalism jobs. Throughout my 30s I taught writing (which I still do); I also spent a lot of time pitching Minnesota magazine and website pieces and a little time actually getting to write them; I took a short break from teaching in Duluth to see if I could hang with music journalists in Minneapolis (spoiler: nope); I made some stupid decisions I still cringe-blush about (I think I’ve now sent Alan Sparhawk five or six apology emails about a 2005 Minnesota Monthly piece about him I wrote and the magazine’s editors kind of ruined); I got fired from a few freelance jobs and submitted some work that sucked; I did some OK stuff and some pretty good stuff; I realized being able to arrange words well does not make me a writer and even if I ever become what I believe a writer is I’ll never refer to myself as one.

I grew up in a word incubator. Mom reads constantly, Dad taught English then worked as a library director, and they have big, agile vocabularies. They started reading to and conversing with me when I was in the womb. Before I was out of kindergarten, the words and images in The Magic Carousel, Cranberry Christmas and Cranberry Thanksgiving, I Wonder if Herbie’s Home Yet, Diggy Takes his Pick, Never Tease a WeaselOld Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon, I Wonder What’s Under, The Ice-Cream Cone Coot and other Rare Birds, and a bunch other Parents’ Magazine Press books, Arch books, Little Golden books, and Dr. Seuss books (especially I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Solew) were forming my lifetime perspective at least as powerfully (and for just as much bad and good) as Sesame Street, Zoom, Captain Kangaroo, and the Electric Company were.