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Art Posts

Two Boulders

Shortly after my daughter was born I watched the movie 127 Hours and had a totally revelatory experience. I’m probably not the only person to have a 127 Hours revelation — the movie is pretty impactful. In it, Aron Ralston, a lone-wolf mountaineer, is forced to cut off his own arm to save his life. It’s memorable, even if you’re not nursing a newborn.

At the time, I was profoundly sleep deprived in the way only new parents and cannery workers can be. I was probably legally crazy. Plus, it was before James Franco got busted attempting to hook up with high school girls. It actually was a time-delayed revelation — a kind of revelation landmine that I stepped on much later, when I reread an essay written by Albert Camus about Sisyphus — a Saturday Essay of sorts, I guess. (“Camus on Sisyphus” sounds like either the awesomest or absolute worst pro-wrestling matchup of all time.)

We all know the Sisyphus story, in part or in parcel, right? Sisyphus angers the Gods (he’s Greek) and they punish him by condemning him to an eternity spent laboriously pushing a gigantic boulder up a mountain.

Selective Focus: Midnight Oil

The work from Allison & Jonathan Metzger – aka Midnight Oil Studio – has been popping up around the area at galleries and art fairs. They even do live screen printing demos. Here they talk about how they got into screen printing and where they hope to take the medium and their business.

M. O.: We make fine art, original silk-screen prints on paper; our imagery is based on Midwestern landscapes, Nature, retro-and contemporary Pop-Culture, and American Inventions. We have a lot of fun with our pieces and enjoy making work that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

We both earned our Master’s degrees in Fine Art from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS – Jonathan in Printmaking and Allison in Textiles – so the silk-screen technique is a fantastic crossover between the two disciplines. Also, creating silk-screen prints does not require much more than a spare room, a darkroom, and a little know-how, whereas other printmaking techniques often require large, expensive and HEAVY equipment. The silk-screen process took a little getting use to, but we really enjoy the challenges it brings.

Selective Focus: Michelle Bennett

Photographer Michelle Bennett specializes in portraits and makes fascinating images of the artists and musicians from our area.

M.B.: My medium is photography. My subject of choice is people, particularly women. It started when I was in 6th grade when I went to summer camp and my mom would pack a disposable camera in my overnight pack. One year instead of firing away all 36 frames on the camera in the first night I decided to take portraits of my friends and set up each shot with intention. Later on in high school I had an incredible photography teacher. By the end of that school year I was hooked so my dad gifted me his old Pentax Asahi Spotmatic- fifteen years later it’s a paper weight, but I bought the same one once it gave out. In college my professors encouraged me to apply for grant money and was awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant two years in a row. The grants allowed me to explore analog cameras while road tripping across the country which ended up being hugely influential to my subject matter.

Sinclair Lewis’ Perfect Duluth Day

Excerpt of a letter from Sinclair Lewis to Marcella Powers, included in the book Minnesota Diaries:

What a day — the first in Duluth this year completely of the type known to meteorologists as a p.d., or “absolutely perfect day” — cool, the air sweet, sky ringing blue except for lovely lazy clouds, as idyllic and indolent as a Grecian glade, yet full of energy for people from Chicago … the lake a mirror of many kinds of blue and gray glass, some sleek, some delicately wrinkled …

Dylan musical set in Duluth

Perfect Duluth Day reported in early May that a new musical play written and directed by Conor McPherson with music and lyrics by Bob Dylan was scheduled to open at the Vic Theater in London in July. What wasn’t known at the time is the play is set in Duluth.

Audio clips of two tracks recorded as part of a workshop for Girl from the North Country can be heard in the PDD post from May. Three reports verifying the setting of the play are listed below.

From the BBC New story “Bob Dylan: Conor McPherson on writing the musical“:

Conor McPherson has set the play in a guesthouse in Dylan’s birthplace of Duluth in Minnesota. It is called Girl from the North Country, after a track Dylan wrote in 1963.

“Colder than the surface of Mars”

Poet Dora Malech gets all Duluthy in a poem published in the May 29 issue of The New Yorker. It’s more that a reference — the poem is basically set in Duluth.

The text of “I Now Pronounce You” is available online, along with an audio track of the poet reading it.

Malech grew up in Bethesda, Md., and now lives in Baltimore. Her connection to Duluth is unknown, unless it’s as simple as the first line of the poem: “Our friends are getting married in Duluth.”

Bob Monahan Naked

Well, it was a thing for a day, but now the privates are private. Apparently it was a limited-time Father’s Day offering.

Selective Focus: Patricia Canelake

Patricia Canelake is a painter and teacher who creates large, colorful paintings that combine figurative drawing with the spontaneous drips, layers and other effects of paint.

P.C.: My aesthetic is an aesthetic of attraction — both obvious and mysterious. Simple figurative, and animal subjects, leashed and unleashed, are the subjects of my work. That push and pull are recognizable experiences. My painting style is a fine balance between storytelling and the rough elegance of form, line and color.

Duluth artist Russell Gran dead at 81

Russell V. Gran, a Duluth native best known for his acrylic paintings and role as the unofficial “patriarch” of the Washington Studios Artist Cooperative, died June 14 of an apparent heart attack. He was 81.

“Endlessly curious and driven to create, his curmudgeonly exterior was merely a facade for a wonderfully humorous, sensitive and loving being,” fellow artist and friend Eric Dubnicka wrote on Facebook.

Former Coffee Shop (now vending area) Artists Salute

This is a small salute to the artists who created the art on the walls of what used to be a coffee shop in the St. Louis County Courthouse, now a vending machine area with beautiful walls.

If the creators of these clever paintings want to take a bow by offering their names, please do.

Selective Focus: Like He

Inspired by other landscape photographers, Like He went from snapping family photos to composing stunning landscapes of our area.

L.H.: My earliest exposure to digital photography started in 2004, when I purchased my first digital camera, a Canon A95 to take photos of my 2 year old daughter. I didn’t become serious until almost 10 years later, when by accident I became a member of a photo competition website, 500px.com, where I was shocked and awed by the beautiful landscape photos posted by the talented photographers throughout the world. I wanted to be one of them. I started to learn how to use my DSLR camera, ND filters, long exposures, Lightroom and Photoshop.

Goodbye, Peter Pestalozzi

Peter Pestalozzi lived outside Ely, but his art was often seen in the Duluth Art Institute and in local galleries. Peter passed away, and I lost someone who was distant but important to me.

A Full-body Cry

The UMD Romano Gymnasium men’s lavatory can handle a lot of traffic if it needs to. A small entryway opens into a room of eight or ten sinks and a couple big mirrors; that room adjoins one with five or six stalls and as many urinals. Those numbers might be a bit off but you get the gist; it’s a fairly big space. Every surface except the ceiling is porcelain, glass, metal, or ceramic.

For a few minutes on a June or July weekday afternoon in 1996 I occupied one of those men’s room stalls. I was working on the UMD student grounds crew while on summer break from studying for my master’s degree in English. We were mowing grass or planting flowers or doing some other grounds-crewy thing close to the Sports and Health Center that day.

I was in the M.A. program and doing the on-campus job because they were available and I’ve never been clever or courageous enough to be what I actually want to be. That’s a whole other essay. Not really, though. It’s part or most of every adorable little essay I’ve written and will write. My navel brims with mesmerizing regret, and I feel compelled to type it up publicly.

Selective Focus: Derick Cich Makeup Artistry

This week we take a look at a different form of visual art with Derick Cich, a makeup artist specializing in weddings, fashion, and commercial clients.

D.C.: I am a freelance makeup artist with a background in both skincare and painting. I’ve been involved in the visual arts my entire life (drawing, sculpting, painting) and went to school for skincare. Makeup artistry is essentially a natural blend of both of those elements for me.

A Certain Kind of Nerd: Wrestling, Art, Politics, Nerds, Games

It’s Nerd High Culture in Duluth this week.