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Selective Focus Posts

Selective Focus: Matthew Olin

Matt Olin is one of those artists whose work is impossible to have not seen. We get a look at some of his other creations as well as the sense of humor that finds its way into many of his projects.

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Please tell us about the medium you work in and how you came to work in your style.
I typically work in Birkenstocks. Most people would refer to wearing Birkenstocks year-round in Duluth as a stylistic choice, so I guess you could say I come to work everyday in my style. When at work, I teach Interactive Design at UMD and create both self-initiated and client-based design solutions in my Birkenstocks.

Selective Focus: Five Friday Fun Fotos tagged in Duluth

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Selective Focus: Paul LaJeunesse

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Paul LaJeunesse was recently chosen to be the Duluth Art Institute’s first Lincoln Park Craft District Artist-in-Residence. He talks about his work and his plans for the Lincoln Park project.

P.L.: My easel paintings are tempera and oil on canvas and the mural project will be acrylic on a substrate called PolyTab. The easel painting process is one I learned from Patrick Betaudier at the Atelier Neo Medici, which is often called Technique Mixte, which is just German for Mixed Technique. It’s a description coined by Max Doerner to describe the process used by the Northern European Renaissance painters, particularly in the Van Eyck studio. It uses alternating layers of achromatic, tempera paint with color, oil glazes. This layering can be repeated any number of times to create very luminous paintings that reflect light from within the painting. The mural process is one developed by Mural Arts in Philadelphia where the painting is created on the polytab cloth in a studio and adhered to the wall using acrylic binder, as opposed to creating the painting on site.

Selective Focus: Sarah Brokke

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Sarah Brokke certainly stays busy making and teaching art, but the past few weeks seem to have been especially busy. She is featured in the documentary “Portrait of an Artist,” which debuted at Zinema 2 last weekend (available online soon) and hosted an opening at the Zeitgeist Arts Cafe on Feb. 27. She has also been collaborating on a mural with Harbor City International School students that will be unveiled in April at the College of St. Scholastica, and she is the cover artist for the upcoming Homegrown Music Festival Field Guide.

S.B.: I am a painter who works primarily in oil, and my style and means of working have been a progression over the past 17 years. I’m a process-oriented artist who responds primarily to my personal experiences through my work, in an attempt to understand the complexities and contradictory nature of life. While entrenched in personal dissection, I hope for my work to also address contemporary socio-political constructs. I often explore this through the utilization of the figure, symbols, and references to art history.

Selective Focus: Stack Prints

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Please tell us about the medium you work in, and how you came to work in your style.
Stack Prints is a pizza-eating boy band of four Duluth-based graphic designers, Cody, Taylor, Stephen, & Tyler. We run an online store, pull squeegees in our screen print shop, and advocate for art & design education. We’re kinda like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

Selective Focus: Hansi Johnson

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For years, Hansi Johnson has worked as an advocate for outdoor recreation in our region, and his photography shows the rest of the world how lucky we are to live here.

H.J.: I am a photographer and I generally shoot full frame DSLR. However I am not married to any one camera, aspect ratio or format. I have published photos from my Iphone, my cropped camera as well.

I am generally considered an action photographer but like all labels that description is not quite right. My style is more around environmental photographs but instead of shots that only show landscapes I love to position a person interacting in that space as well, generally enjoying some form of adventurous outdoor recreation.

Selective Focus: Ivy Vainio

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Ivy Vainio is a self-taught photographer and this week she talks about how she got started, how her photography has grown, and where she would like to take it.

I.V.: I started taking photographs in about 2001 when the office that I work in got a Olympus SLR camera to help document our programs and events. With time, I became better at taking photographs and started to have a yearning to try this art form outside of the University. My husband surprised me, in 2011, and bought me a Canon Rebel camera from a local pawn shop in Duluth one day and that is all I needed to fuel my passion for digital photography. I took that camera out in our woods, and played around with it. It was in the summer of 2011 when I got my big break. I was at a powwow with my camera and I got a call from Jana Peterson of the Pine Journal newspaper in Cloquet. She heard that I was at the powwow and she asked if I would take a couple photographs for the newspaper. I told her yes and I have been taking photographs ever since with more intent of getting the perfect shot.