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Selective Focus Posts

Selective Focus: Justin Christopher Ayd

Justin Christopher Ayd has a close relationship with movies and film. He is working on a feature documentary project shot on the North Shore on super 8 and 16mm film, and explains why in a very digital age, celluloid is the right medium for this project. If you’d like to help out with the project, links are included below.

JCA: I work professionally in two fields simultaneously – filmmaking and film projection. Both aspects of film were introduced to me at a young age, filmmaking and the exhibition side, and by 1992 I knew I wanted to not only make movies, but be the person in the shadows running motion picture film for audiences.

Selective Focus: The People’s Free Skate Rink Freakout

Images from the largest freshwater skating rink in the world, featuring Friday night’s performance by the Spin Collective.

Selective Focus: WTF!

Opening tonight (Friday, March 8) at Prøve Gallery is the 3rd Annual WTF! (What the Feminist) art exhibit. Organizer Stacie Renne gives us a preview and some background on the show.

SR: WTF! is an exhibition of thought-provoking works of art that advocate for social justice, community action, and civic engagement centered on womxn’s rights and related concerns. Wide-ranging in form from traditional media such as painting, printmaking, drawing, and sculpture to quilting, clothing, photography, embroidery, installation, illustration, graphic design, and protest materials, the purpose of this exhibit is to commemorate International Women’s Day by bringing visual awareness to feminist issues.

Selective Focus: Duluth

According to Instagram, here’s what’s been happening in Duluth, MN.

Selective Focus: Shelley Breitzmann

Shelley Breitzmann is a landscape painter who like many artists in the area, draws inspiration from Lake Superior. From her website: “It’s hard to live near Lake Superior and not be fascinated with its weather and how it impacts the life around it. To try to get that feeling on canvas is pretty compelling.” Her paintings feel huge and vast, and while she works, she pushes and pulls things in and out of the misty, foggy atmosphere of the paintings.

SB: I’ve been working with acrylic on canvas for about 10 years, after working primarily with watercolor since high school. The change really resuscitated my connection with art and the painting process. Since acrylic dries fast, it’s probably not the best medium to achieve the soft, foggy landscapes I’m drawn to, but blending and manipulating it is a challenge I really enjoy. The change in humidity from summer to winter alters the painting process pretty drastically and is something to adjust to throughout the year.

Selective Focus: Super Snow Moon on Lake Superior

Selective Focus: Steph Anderson


Stephanie Anderson is an illustrator working as The Hillside Creative. She enjoys making detailed, textured drawings with simple tools. And if you’re looking for a pet portrait, she’s ready to help you out.

SA: Ink and watercolor is my medium. There is something that I love about the harsh, black lines of the ink pens in contrast with the free-flowing, vibrant watercolor brush strokes.

Selective Focus: Max Mileski

Selective Focus has been a series mostly about visual arts, but there is an undeniable link between music and visuals. This week Max Mileski talks about making music, creating a band and the work that goes into building the sound and the aesthetic that goes with it.

MM: My name is Max Mileski, I work under the nom de plume – Sadkin. I merrily toil with contemporary music as a multi-instrumentalist who writes and records songs in a self contained, d.i.y. manner. Two years ago I released the first collected works of Sadkin, Élan Vital. In speaking more specifically with regards to style, the music is categorized first as Alternative. Within that, there are certainly some subdivisions which help describe the sound ~ Artpop, New Wave, New Romantic, Synthrevival. Most recently and with the help of 4 other inspired souls in Duluth, I’ve been able to take Sadkin to the stage as a live show. The performances have been unquestionably invigorating and has more recently pushed Sadkin into new arenas, exploring deliberate visual components closely tied to the music.

Selective Focus: Yarrow Mead

Yarrow Mead is a metal smith who works with Northern Minnesota “gems” including local stones, agates and seaglass. The pieces she creates proudly show tool marks and uneven, organic shapes that reflect the North Shore.

YM:
I am a silver and gold smith working with primarily local stones, beach glass, and American sourced metal. I was trained in jewelry by Stephen Hoglund, who is a very talented smith out of Grand Marais, as well as through my time working as a Props Master at the Hamline University Theater Department, under Theater Director Bill Wallace. My personal style has been influenced by both of these men, as well as my childhood on the North Shore of Minnesota. I am greatly inspired by the shapes and textures along the shores of Lake Superior, as well as my personal Nordic heritage.

Selective Focus: Duluth Polar Vortex 2019

Selective Focus: Mike Scholtz

Mike Scholtz makes movies about odd little things that no one seems to know about, but after watching them, you think, “Why didn’t I know about that?” Also, these are not little things, they are big parts of some people’s lives. The world premiere of his latest film “Riplist” at the Fargo Film Fest was just announced today. Mike talks about what drives him to dig into these stories and presents some trailers from his work.

I’m a documentary filmmaker who enjoys making funny films about serious subjects. Or serious films about funny subjects. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure which. But I do like to sneak up on an audience with a few laughs before I hit them with the soul-crushing realization that we’re all going to die in a cold, uncaring universe.

That’s how I approached my latest film, Riplist. It’s about a group of friends from Fargo who compete in a celebrity deadpool. It’s a contest where players draft celebrities they think might die in the next year, like fantasy football but with elderly presidents and ailing musicians. I hope people are as morbidly fascinated with this hobby as I am, because it’s premiering at the Fargo Film Festival in March. I suspect it will play at some other festivals in the area shortly after that. If you like your comedy as black as your soul, I think you’ll like this film.

Selective Focus: Esther Piszczek

This week, Esther Piszczek talks about her journey from attorney and doodler to artist and teacher. Be sure to check out the beautiful documentary produced by Lola Visuals toward the end of the post to see in real-time how she makes her intricate artwork.

EP: I am a pattern artist specializing in the Zentangle® method of pattern drawing. The Zentangle method, created by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts in Massachusetts, uses a .01 Sakura micron pen and pencil shading on a 3.5 x 3.5 inch paper tile to create intricate, beautiful, non-representational art. The method is contemplative and founded on the principle that there are no mistakes, only opportunities to create something unexpected.

Selective Focus: Amber Burns

Amber Burns is a true advocate for the arts. She has worked as a dancer, choreographer, painter, teacher and is now Artistic Director of the Duluth Playhouse Family Theatre. This week she talks about her love of many types of expression, and how she builds the work of other people as well as the many disciplines of her own.

AB: When I think about my medium I more like to think about what I love to create, which is visual movement, whether it is through my choreography, directing, through sculpture or on a canvas. Sometimes my medium is paint and sometimes it is physical bodies. I am a dancer, actor, director, choreographer, and visual artist. When I was just three years old I started dancing at a studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota and when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I said, “I already am a dancer!” As I got older I developed passions for many other things, including drawing and painting. When it was time to pick a career and go to college I decided to b become an art teacher, and graduated from UMD in 2011 with a BFA in Art Education, all the while I was still dancing and teaching dance classes. At UMD I also received a minor in dance, and this is where I was introduced to the theater world.

Selective Focus: Erin Tope

We kick off 2019 with a profile of dancer and choreographer Erin Tope, who as her stage persona Miss Tallulah Creant, keeps busy with the Duluth Dolls and other burlesque groups, is a member of the band Red Mountain, teaches, and works to make dance of all kinds more accessible to audiences and those interested in participating.

I am a dancer, choreographer, performer, and dance teacher. My mother was a dancer and dance teacher so she put me in creative movement classes at age three. By age six, I was in ballet at Minnesota School of Ballet here in Duluth. While at Minnesota Ballet I also studied Jazz and Modern dance. At age eight I started figure skating with Duluth Figure Skating Club and continued to competitively skate until age 16, when I was accepted into Perpich Center for Arts Education. There I finished my junior and senior year of high school in their Dance Department, studying Modern Dance, Ballet, Dance Composition and Dance History extensively. I moved back to Duluth after graduating and began Performing with Over The Top dance company, with a focus on Latin Ballroom Dance, mainly Salsa. With that group I was lucky enough to attend and perform at Chicago International Salsa Congress as well as learn the inner workings of producing shows. I learned most of my production, technical, and backstage lessons in those days and that has definitely shaped who I am and what I am capable of today. After the Director of Over The Top Dance moved to Minneapolis in 2011, I started dancing with Grace Holden and through her got connected with Rebecca Katz Harwood at UMD.

Selective Focus: Snizzle Storm 2018