Selective Focus Posts

Selective Focus: Duluth

Tamara Jones

Tamara Jones, “Full moon over the Lake”

There is no way to comprehensively describe Duluth with an inane little photo feature, but I do think this week’s image’s alternations between grandeur and ruin say something about this place; what we value, what we’ve let moulder. Duluth is a place where our failures aren’t hidden. Its broken roads and crumbling industries, all set on that capricious gem of a lake impress the psychic landscape, and inform our present strivings.

Selective Focus, “Community”

Ashley L. Behrens

Ashley L. Behrens, “The Joys of Color”

Even though we might not feel a part of it, or intentionally cast ourselves to the margins, we live- without choice- within communities. What we do to broaden, to expand that meaning defines us; how many and of what sort we’ll include. Let’s celebrate here the pulling together, the belonging, and the recognition that no one, as was said, is an island.

Selective Focus: Fringe

Jason Linus

Jason Linus, untitled

Where’d we be without the square pegs, the odd ducks, and the outliers? Blaine, probably. Feels like I’ve landed somewhere that not only appreciates, but cultivates individuality. Not eccentricity for its own sake or ostentatious outrageousness; still, there is a climate of mutual support here, and a community that values unconventional ways of approaching life, accommodating people and schemes that yield weird, unanticipated, often gratifying things.

Selective Focus: Harvest

Annie Dugan

Annie Dugan, untitled

Harvest is the time to reap what we’ve sewn, and to stow our goods for the difficult days ahead. It’s the time to decide what merits entry into our sod huts, and what is left to the elements. Often this is based on a degree of conformity to norms, on a willingness to fit in, and to play along. We decide what’s suitable to sustain us, cede diversity to the predictable, and leave the rest to wither on the vine.

Selective Focus: Our Way to Fall

Aaron Reichow

Aaron Reichow, untitled

Last week’s steep drop in temperatures had me thinking, overeagerly, of Fall. It has always been my favorite season for its paradoxical combination of things reaching fruition, then brilliantly flaming out. With luck we’ll see a harvest, survive the Winter on what we’ve stowed, and celebrate another Spring. Without luck, well, we’ll have joined the grand circle.

Selective Focus: Tangible

Hattie Peterson

Hattie Peterson, untitled

I would rather see a photograph of pencil shavings than a high resolution Hubble space telescope image of some distant star cluster. Maybe that’s because I am already profoundly aware of my own insignificance, and therefore hold the inconsequential beauty of ordinary things closely. Reality doesn’t require hypermediation, and I would dearly miss all that’s sensual in what is close at hand if I were somehow, someday deprived of it.

Selective Focus: Impermanence

Aaron Reichow

Aaron Reichow, untitled

My grandpa Mohrbacher moved to Duluth in 1928 and was a tenant at the Traphagen home, which was gutted by arson the week before I arrived here. I was lamenting this loss to a sauerkraut maker I’d met at a cider pressing who told me he’d lived there in the 70s when the home became the Redstone Apartments, and that he had some interior photos. They were beautiful. I could picture my grandpa in the same sun room, occupied by a new friend over 50 years later.

Selective Focus: Summer

Kip Praslowicz

Kip Praslowicz, “divers-diving”

Judging from friend’s accounts, this has been an atypical, consistently beautiful summer here. It is my least favorite season; too immoderate, languid, febrile. Still, I had my first (ever) swim in Superior, took in ballet outside the library, saw a film at a farm about Japanese dwarves, and laid in lots of grass. Best summer I’ve had since boyhood, though I’ve yet to do my annual roll down a steep hill- Leif Erikson, Chester Bowl?

Selective Focus: Anniversaries

Kip Praslowicz

Kip Praslowicz, “Crowd. 4th of July Parade. Superior, WI”

This was a tough theme, and it’s gratifying to see how each of you broadened it: Richard’s 50th Anniversary of the Wright gas station in Cloquet and the 25th Beargrease, Kip’s shots from the 4th of July, or Kyle celebrating a month of Jane’s being cancer free. I went conventional, with my folks’ belated anniversary honeymoon. We mark time in many ways.

Selective Focus: Color

Brandon Wagner

Brandon Wagner , “Hawaiian Punch”

Paul wins the horse race from the 30 or so photogs who snapped Kip’s birthday shots last week. And I’ve included a black and white photo, because as Van Gogh asserted, they’re colors too; though pedants would argue that in a subtractive color space, white is the absence of color. I bristle.

Selective Focus: Silence

Bente Soderlind

Bente Soderlind, untitled

As a Catholic in exile, I am grateful to have found  a far less-dogmatic refuge in Quaker meetings, where silence is a central tenet. These suited the syncretic nature of my beliefs, and afforded somewhere to weekly “center;” to hear that inner voice, or to just mutely chant the Meow Mix jingle (“I want tuna, I want chicken, Meow Mix flavors keep me lickin…”). But as is evident this week, there are many ways to calm the din, and places to find quiet.

Selective Focus: Music

Aaron Reichow

Aaron Reichow, untitled

Many very good submissions this week, and I’m especially happy with all the unusual vantages points:  Brian’s empathetic portrait, or that lovely flower in Gaelynn’s hair.  I was also moved by the shots of crowds, after all music is as much about how it is received as it is about how it is made.

Selective Focus: The Human Comedy

Jeremiah Brown

Jeremiah Brown, “Heiko”

Mirthful man that he was, Nietzsche wrote “it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.” There’s a recognition there that being human is a difficult endeavor, and that taking ourselves too seriously is one of the ways we compound the difficulty. Thanks to all who braved letting down their stoic fronts this week.

Selective Focus: Open Theme

Eric Dubnicka

Eric Dubnicka, “Slop Bucket”

Glad that I called a random theme because it let me catch up with recent doings I’ve missed. Emily finished a marathon, Ed had a great opening (and buffet), Zach made it to Grand Marais, Aaron’s son finished 1st grade, and Richard snuck in a ‘lifty.’ Follow the links for more happenings, like the progress of Annie’s root cellar, or Brian’s contributuions to “Made Here” in the cities (which could flourish in the Twin Ports too).

Selective Focus: Zen

Bryce Kastning

Bryce Kastning, untitled

I did not anticipate needing this theme to the degree that I did; sometimes, you can be overwhelmed by the coarse, the squalid, the noisy, and the negative. Photography often affords me a psychic reprieve, and I’m grateful now to live in a place where one can so easily step into a placid physical place when the madness gets too far inside. Sufficient? Time will tell.