Saturday, March 30, 2013

Principle of Cognitive Dissonance Illustrated by Dylan’s Simple Twist

In modern psychology cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort one has when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel "disequilibrium", out of balance, off kilter.

The phrase was coined by Leon Festinger in his 1956 book When Prophecy Fails, which chronicled the followers of a UFO cult as reality clashed with their fervent belief in an impending apocalypse, a scenario that has played out quite frequently over the past half century. Festinger subsequently published a book called A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance in which he outlines the theory. Cognitive dissonance is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

There are numerous situations which, as they play out, leave us at odds with ourselves. Sometimes there is a dissonance between how we see ourselves and our behavior. Sometimes the dissonance is with regard to our desires and our convictions. In Dylan’s A Simple Twist of Fate, which I wrote about in December, the most telling line is, “He told himself he didn’t care.”

It’s a small dismissive line that is filled with ever so much. It’s clear that he is lying to himself. He cares immensely, but the reality is so foreign from what he wants and he knows it is an impossibility, so he lies to himself. He tells himself he doesn’t care. He’d hoped to find her there when he woke, because he wants to be near her. But this is not a girl friend. It’s a “working woman” whose occupation involves men down by the waterfront.

The gulf between his life and hers is immense. We don’t know what that life is, but we see plainly what hers is. They meet, go to a dingy hotel and she goes on to her next client.

The dissonance is apparent in the opening stanza as well.

They sat together in the park 
As the evening sky grew dark 
She looked at him and he felt a spark tingle to his bones 
’Twas then he felt alone and wished that he’d gone straight 
 And watched out for a simple twist of fate

"Wished that he’d gone straight" indicates his recognition that he’s playing a game with his own mind. He initially hopes for this encounter, but once set in motion he is immediately aware this relationship was inappropriate and untenable. Maybe he sees her as a human being and believes he can rescue her. Maybe she’s been down this path so many times that she knows he’s smoking too much dope.

But dissonance can be over principles like patriotism and war. Many people have strong convictions about the value and importance of patriotism while being at odds with the behavior of their country in its relations to the larger world, or its own citizens. I am opposed to American militarism and have pacifist convictions yet see that in a world where there are Hitlers and Stalins it would not be in our national interest to disarm our military forces. Would that everything were black and white, but... it's not.

For a more in depth introduction to this principle, it's history and related psychological themes, a good place to start is Wikipedia.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Do Athletic Programs Help Fund the Arts?

Here’s an interesting story that ought to make people bonkers but seems not to have garnered the least nibble of broad media attention. Please correct me if I am wrong on this.

Students at Kent State University recently released the results of a study that revealed the manner in which student tuitions were being used and, specifically, how the university’s sports programs were being funded. Their research focused on colleges in Ohio, one of them being my alma mater, Ohio University.

Many of our college experiences remain vivid throughout our lives, in part because they are so new at the time and in part because in our youth there is less competition for real estate on that grey matter landscape between our ears. In my case, I well remember one specific incident that was singularly striking.

I was in my second year at O.U., living in the experimental coed dorm on the South Green. One of the fellows on my floor section had a friend on the Bobcat football team, a big guy who played guard and lived in the Convocation Center with the other football players. For the sake of this story we’ll call him Spacer, though his real name was far more interesting.

One evening while Spacer was visiting our dorm, primarily for the purpose of obtain something to inhale, I listened to him talk about his math class, for which he was getting several credits toward a degree. I discovered that he was learning things I’d learned in sixth grade, math problems which a halfway intelligent adult could probably figure out with no instruction whatsoever. The reason this made an impression was that I had, with considerable anguish, struggled through advanced calculus and differential equations while in high school and in order to go further in my studies on that lofty plateau I would have to take even higher math or receive no credits at all.

This seemed unfair on the face of it, but it gets worse. Our football program was a joke. I know for certain that one year we were pretty poor and if you go to Wikipedia you'll see that they avoid mentioning our record during the four years I attended. What I remember, again vividly, is that the cheerleading was so excessively vulgar that Sports Illustrated weighed in with measured shock and awe. This did article did contribute to my attending at least one game when I was in college. The students who went to these games knew how to rhyme some very colorful words.

So, on to my point. We have a weak math student who is starting guard for a college football team with a zero and ten (0-10) record, receiving a scholarship to play sports… and we never stopped to ask who’s footing the bill? Who pays for all these stadiums, sports programs and that zither-full of scholarships? I’d always been told—and believed it!—that the sports programs helped pay for every other facet of campus life, helped defray expenses for other students, maybe even raised money for new buildings. Is that what you thought? If so, you’d be wrong.

By means of a story titled Examining the University Bill, I discovered just how out of balance everything is getting these days. “Student journalists at Kent State University went after something they wouldn't have to if universities were more transparent in their billing, a breakdown of student fee charges. Why aren't universities providing line-item charges so students and parents can see where the money is going?”

And what did they learn? At my school, Ohio U, 81% of the athletic budget comes from student fees. That's quite a kick. To be fair to other schools, O.U. is the highest of the bunch that were willing to open their books.

The Kent State journalism students know well that numbers can lie so they sliced the information at a different angle to make sure we got the picture. What percentage of student fees go to fund the athletic programs? In other words, how is our tuition being used these days?

At Ohio University, 48 cents on every dollar goes to fund the athletic programs. Whether you went to school for literature, engineering or philosophy, half your tuition is being siphoned to make sure we have our sports programs.

To be fair, not all schools fund their athletic programs in this manner. And to be equally fair, this use of student fees likely contributed to the Bobcats starting their season with six wins in their first six games last year, nothing like anything I saw as a student. But then I didn't see much as I was usually elsewhere. And to be further fair, I am well aware that athletics programs can teach many good lessons that prepare one for life. Still, doesn't it seem like things are a tad out of balance?

We live in a country where arts programs are being cut to the bone because of their lack of perceived value, while it’s almost impossible to get a teaching job in some high schools unless you can also do double duty as a sports coach. You have a passion for teaching literature? You better know where the three-point line is located.Or the Red Zone.

Do athletic programs help fund the arts? Kudos to the kids who went digging for the details. It would appear the truth in some cases is the other way around.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tilda Swinton's Most Current Performance Is Definitely a Maybe

I heard a joke recently about an agnostic who upon dying finds himself at the pearly gates where he meets St. Peter standing there. "Well," says the agnostic. "Do I get to go in?" Peter replies, "I'm not sure."

This little story came to mind as I read the reviews of Tilda Swinton's current performance as art, or art performance, or maybe an artsy conceptual piece involving performace called The Maybe. Maybe you've heard about it. It's a 2013 show at the Museum of Modern Art  (MoMA) in New York.

Essentially, The Maybe is a reprise of a similar performance she did in 1995 at London's Serpentine Gallery, and then again later in Rome at the Museo Barracco. Evidently there is a large glass box that looks like a large aquarium with a mattress, pillow and some drinking water. On certain days she will show up unannounced and while away the hours inside the glass cage. I assume that spectators who are lucky enough to see her will take away meaning from this encounter/experience, though a certain amount of meaning can be extracted from looking at the box when it is empty is well, I am sure.

The Maybe has no schedule, no artist statement as regards it's aims or importance or what the heck it's about. The glass box will also be moved to random locations around the MoMA so if you saw it March 25 and want to see it again, you'll have to find it somewhere else next time. Good luck, as it may or may not be there.

My first thoughts about The Maybe went like this.
1. Why not give the sleeping space to a homeless person?
This was before I saw the size of the aquarium-display case. To force a homeless person into that space would be deemed something on the order of cruel and unusual punishment. There would most certainly be lawsuits.

2. Is The Maybe making a statement about celebrity?
The Scottish actress Tilda Swinton is a superstar for sure, has been stellar in a number of great films. She plays an amazing White Witch in the Narnia films, and is equally icy in Michael Clayton. My guess about the performance piece was taken for a loop when I saw that it was conceived and performed almost two decades ago, long before her superstar status. But then, when I notice how much her appearance corresponds with the superceleb David Bowie, it makes me think that maybe it's a statement about celebrity after all. It might be even more interesting if on one or two of the occasions it really was David Bowie in the box instead of Swinton.

Actually, my next line of inquiry has to do with how the whole thing came to be in the first place. I suppose Swinton's agent submitted a proposal. The MoMA reviewed it and said, "Ah, this is one way to keep the museum stocked with visitors." Or maybe her Rome show got rave reviews and the MoMA had to bring her to the Big Apple so American audience could get their measure of aesthetic pleasure from the experience.

What is the ultimate aim of this performance? Is The Maybe an effort to convert people who are agnostic in their beliefs about modern art to become believers? I'm not sure.

Is it a modern concept or post-modern? Maybe.

Is it a serious work of art? Could be.

Are you sure? Maybe.

What if the work were performed in an office building? That could be interesting. Would it be art if it were performed in a subway terminal? What if smaller towns had boxes like these where they hire big-name celebrities to show up unannounced and without explanation to spend a day sleeping, on display? Maybe we can get one in Duluth. What if we just made the glass box with mattress and pillow and announced that a super-big-name celebrity was going to show up unannounced sometime in the coming year? 

Then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Four-Letter Word

It is a much hated four letter word that begins with the letter F. Many people try to say that this word is not part of their vocabulary. It is usually synonymous with pain and no one likes to experience it. Yet it is a part of life and we all have to deal with it. The word is Fail.

Failure is one of life’s most challenging experiences, and how we react afterwards has a large bearing on what we will become.

Failure can run along a wide range of lines. For many reasons kids fail in school, some because of inadequate preparation, and other times perhaps due to personal handicaps that cause them to get behind and not have the support they need. They are lost in the shuffle, possibly shy, not a fighter for the teacher’s ear, blaming themselves instead of understanding that it could be circumstances set against them.

I knew a girl in college for whom a biology degree was out of reach because she failed chemistry class twice. Her dream went up in smoke, though maybe down the road something good came of it later. The experience was hard, and disheartening.

Failure in the job scene comes in a range of guises. Failure to get the job, failure to succeed in the job and that ultimate indignity of being dismissed from a job, these are just a few painfully harsh experiences. And such failures do an inner work on us that can distort our vision of ourselves. When we most need affirmation, that sting of rejection has an especially harsh edge.

I had an older friend years ago who used to sell real estate in the late sixties. He was the sole breadwinner in his family and the economy had taken a downturn. Selling houses was not easy, so he was under a lot of pressure. He said that women were entering the field who were not breadwinners, who were doing it for social reasons as well as income, but as a second income. The selling situation for them was free and easy, light and breezy. Buyers preferred doing business with these women because of the atmosphere created, as opposed to the repressed anxiety he was unable to conceal. This new variable ultimately resulted in his becoming a failure in real estate sales and he had to change careers.

An article called "Failure", Ode magazine October 2007, details how J.K.Rowling’s early failures became a springboard for her future success. Many other other high profile failures are cited, such as Henry Ford who went bankrupt numerous times before his car company found traction.

Good relationships, whether with friends, lovers or everything in between, can be one of the most rewarding things in life… and also the most painful when things turn. Finding a way to deal with the pain once a relationship falls apart is hard. First off, we do not have a clear picture of what is going on within us at the time. Second, the rejection is such a personal assault on our self esteem.

Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes takes place in a small town where a travelling circus arrives, and its evil is palpable. In one scene the father of one of the main characters goes into the House of Mirrors late in the story and is stuck there, for what he sees are not distortions of himself, but rather images of his life, his failures. He is overcome with regret.

Regret is a great snare. While looking into the chasm that is our past, we must be careful not to become so hypnotized that we become paralyzed like this man in the Hall of Mirrors.

Failure is not an end, but a beginning. And there is no one who has ever achieved great things without at some point along the way coming to grips with it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

“The truth? You can’t handle the truth.”
~Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men

“There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity!”
~Burl Ives as Big Daddy

Last week I watched Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives in the powerful Tennessee Williams drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Whoa, what a scorcher.


Burl Ives is Big Daddy, and he’s coming home to celebrate his 65th birthday.. He’s just finished having a medical exam to find out what was ailing him, and lo, he got a clean bill of health, so now he’s smiling. He's ready to live large once again. The problem, from the start, is a problem of mendacity.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is one of numerous Hollywood productions of Tennessee Williams plays and Williams introduces its theme early.

Mendacity: the quality of being mendacious; untruthfulness; tendency to lie.

Brick (Paul Newman) is an alcoholic failed football star who has gone away and remained distant from his family; Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) the wounded wife pushed away by consequences she’d never anticipated. Newman had “big time” written all over him, but it wasn't to be as he now deals with his disillusionments. Gooper, his brother, became a lawyer and did all the right things to earn Big Daddy’s blessing, but the story is complicated and Williams is brilliant at skimming off the layers of the onion to reveal the story’s heart.

Big Daddy is a self-absorbed, insensitive modern day (1950’s) plantation owner who has more wealth than he knows what to do with. The situation that takes place in the space of a day tells the story of all their lives. Brick, who seems despicable at the first, is actually sees clearly how distorted the family dynamics are, and he wants nothing to do with any of it. His brother Gooper and his wife Mae are determined, as the good son and daughter-in-law, to get the blessing and all the goods that come with it. They've been faithfully producing potential heirs to the “Big Daddy” throne and waste no amount energy kowtowing and sucking up.

In contrast, Maggie’s womb is barren, though not because of her desire that it be so. Brick has emotionally cast her away because of an incident that occurred in a hotel room involving Maggie and his best friend Skipper, who committed suicide afterwards. Brick shuts her out so that Maggie never has a chance to tell her side of what happened. The root incident, in keeping with the theme, turns out to be that Skipper couldn’t face the truth either.

The pivotal theme is mendacity. Big Daddy is definitely going to die and he doesn’t know it, yet. This fact, which initially only the doc is aware of, begins to seep through the family and we see, one by one, the various ways in which the characters respond. Ultimately Brick lets it slip. Big Daddy is stunned.

The film sets up Brick’s character in the opening scene where at three in the morning he tries to run the hurdles, while booze-plastered. We see a brash young man who drinks too much, is careless and breaks his ankle in a foolish manner. The broken ankle serves as an external metaphor for the internally crippled man who deals with his pain through rivers of whiskey.

As the film progresses the scales begin to come off the characters’ eyes. What Williams does so effectively is to enable the audience to see who these characters are before they each discover for themselves who they really are. It’s a Hitchcock device, except instead of a gun in the drawer that only the audience is aware of, it’s our knowledge that at some point Big Daddy’s going to discover the truth (that his cancer is incurable) that creates tension. Like Brick’s broken ankle, Big Daddy’s cancer is likewise symbolic of his inner condition. Unlike Brick, whose ankle will heal, Big Daddy’s condition is terminal.

They’ve all been living lies in one way or another. Ultimately we learn the root beliefs that formed the motivational drive in each character, with the ultimate revelation coming in the final basement scene with Brick and Big Daddy. It’s a moment of truth that flows from the story yet of which the audience has know foreknowledge.

This is not a film formulated strictly to entertain. It is a story designed to unveil uncomfortable truths, to enlighten. I have no doubt Williams’ aim is for viewers to leave the theater introspectively, asking themselves how much mendacity and self-deceit they themselves live with.

If you hear echoes of the parable of the prodigal son, you’re probably not far off from the impetus for the original play.

As for the acting, it’s first-rate throughout. Newman, Taylor, Ives and the supporting cast are stellar.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Handwriting Matters

This blog entry is a chapter from my upcoming book, tentatively titled, Writing Exercises: How to Teach Writing and Prepare Your Favorite Students for College, Life and Everything Else. Grace Moores, who is assisting me with the book, prepared the initial draft of this chapter

Handwriting Matters

Handwriting is a skill that is arguably in the process of being lost in our modern society. With the advent of online news forums and digital books, print and concrete handwriting skills are beginning to seem unnecessary. The computer is taking the place of the pen.

Developing good handwriting, however, is still important for a variety of reasons. Good handwriting is courteous for the person reading what you’re writing. It’s also something of a necessity when filling out a job application. And if the teacher can’t read the pupil’s work then there's going to be a problem when going over it together.

Without even harping on it, as you work with the student to improve her story telling abilities, the handwriting will improve on its own, for two reasons. First, handwriting is a motor skill that improves with use. Second, by being interested in helping her communicate more effectively, the student will take greater care to write more clearly. After all, she may be quite proud of the stories or ideas she is attempting to share and won’t intentionally aim to have the handwriting be an impediment.

Since the beginning of literacy, the skill of handwriting has developed and changed with along with changes in society and technology. Some forms of handwriting are artistic, for example calligraphy or graffiti. Others are more utilitarian such as the near-illegible scrawl used in a doctor’s office. All handwriting, being the medium in which a message is conveyed, is affected by both the writer and the reader. For example, a dinner invitation written in pristine calligraphy will be received differently than one written in a sloppy scrawl. Each note will elicit a different response. While one note may imply a formal dinner with suit and tie, the latter indicates that jeans and a t-shirt will be adequate. In this way, it is important to be aware of handwriting and the affect that it has on others.

Furthermore, it is courteous for handwritten messages to be easily legible to the recipient. Your student will likely one day secure a job in which written notes may be a necessity Handwritten notes are still an important form of communication in most employment settings. One such example is found in the experience of a clothing store employee. Every week, he orders more supply based on notes left by the other employees. All goes well until he processes the list left by one employee in particular. In order to ensure the accuracy of the order, he usually has to call the employee to confirm the list. This is a waste of everyone’s time and may result in costly errors when legible handwriting would have fixed the problem. Developing good handwriting throughout an academic career could be very important in future careers.

Developing good handwriting is also useful in developing linear thinking. When using a computer, it is easy to edit the format of sentences and whole paragraphs with a series of clicks. Word order is entirely flexible. Conversely, handwriting with pen and paper requires the mind to sequentially order the thoughts and plan further ahead when writing, sharpening positive thinking skills. This type of brain development is not present when solely typing on a computer.

At the same time, maintaining good handwriting forces students to be disciplined in writing out their ideas. While computers maintain pristine uniformity with absolutely no effort on the part of the writer, precision in handwriting requires both attention and discipline. (This is not to imply that good writing using a computer is effortless. It only resolves the legibility issue.)

In these ways, it is easy to see that handwriting is an important skill to develop in the student. Some tips to improving handwriting are as follows:
1. Practice. Print out a bunch of handwriting practice sheets. The most important thing about the paper is that it has wide lines. It is easy to see lack of uniformity and other inconsistencies when the letters are really big.
2. Develop good handwriting muscles. The muscles that should primarily be used in handwriting are muscles in the forearm and back. Too much finger muscle use in handwriting will develop really small, cramped handwriting as the writer painstakingly draws each letter individually.
3. Strive for uniformity. The key to good handwriting is consistency. Practice each letter until you can easily maintain a uniform shape for each.

In short… if you want to improve, write on.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Greatest Hits Volume 3

Picture of the Day
Based on 1994 cover art, Greatest Hits Volume 3

Eleven Interesting Dylan-related Details

1. "That way lies madness," is a quote from Shakespeare's King Lear. It is from the same passage
 that the title of Dylan's most recent album was probably extracted.

2. Steve Jobs was asked in an interview, "If you were put on a desert island and had to choose between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones whose collection to have on your iPod, which would you choose." Jobs said that was an easy decision. He would choose the Fab Four. "But," he replied, "if you had asked me to choose between the Beatles and Dylan, that would not have been such an easy decision."

3.Blonde on Blonde is right up there as one of the all time great albums. The foundation throughout is the manner in which Dylan's lyric Bard-spirit has bee unleashed. Who but Dylan would write, "Jewels and binoculars hand from the head of the mule..."? Who but Dylan was writing lines like this: "The ghost of 'lectricity howls in the bones of her face / Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place." Who, but Dylan?

4. Dylan recorded a cover of the song Blue Moon on his Self-Portrait album. The song must have meant something to him because he performed it live at least a dozen times, the first being in Wellington, New Zealand in 1986 and the last in 1999 at Charlotte, North Carolina.

5. Somewhere around 1990 I'd heard that Dylan was already the most re-recorded song writer of all time.

6. Bob Dylan's first album cost $402 to record. I just that today from an article titled 20 Things You Might Not Know About Bob Dylan's Debut Album that was posted on

7. When Like a Rolling Stone came out in 1965, it was the longest-playing 45 at our junior high school dances at Hillside School in Bridgewater. I always liked when the DJ played it because it was the longest slow song in the pile, so it gave me a chance to get close to Nancy Black who I never talked to in real life because I was too shy. But she said "Yes" when I asked her to dance with me. Go figure.

8. Tempest was released on 9/11, a nice birthday present (for me) to compensate for the 9/11 that rocked the world eleven years earlier.

9. The song Mississippi, which first appears on Dylan's album Love and Theft, is also recorded in a number of other versions, two of which appear on his Bootleg Album #8. Sheryl Crow later recorded the song in her Globe Sessions.

10. The album Desire, Dylan's 17th studio album, features virtuoso violin support from the talented Scarlet Rivera, who accompanied Dylan with a caravan carnival of musicians weaving in and out on his much-lauded Rolling Thunder Revue. Scarlet will be performing a benefit concert with Gene LaFond and the Wild Unknown here in Duluth in May.

11. Countless visual artists have found inspiration from Dylan and his music, I among them

Enjoy your weekend. And be sure to catch John Bushey tonight on KUMD's Highway 61 Revisited.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Eight Minutes with Painter Alison Price

Alison Price is one of several artists whose work was being celebrated February 21 in the current round of Phantom Galleries Superior called THAW. Her exhibition-theme is aptly titled Allusions and her use of color easily draws one in. A Minneapolis artist, she is currently studying in the arts program at University of Wisconsin-Superior.

EN: Your artist statement begins with a quote from Aristotle about art's aim to represent the inner things. I believe Kandinsky made similar comments 100 years ago. Who have been your biggest influences in this use of color?

Alison Price: Playing with color has always been an inextricable part of me. From sitting under a bubbled glass patio table, and watching the play of color and light, to taking Kleenex, and immediately after a rain, patting the tissue into the gutters along the street, and dripping food coloring onto the wet tissue, watching it bloom and merge into wonderful colors and patterns. Collecting these, I put them in the sun to dry on the sidewalk. I was perhaps 3 or 4 years old. I haven't changed!

As I got older, maybe 6-7, I remember critiquing corporate color choices thinking the orange and blue combination of Howard Johnson's was vaguely shabby, and the brown, orange and red tiles at Burger King generally unpleasant, and the red and turquoise of the ubiquitous K-mart logo not attractive. And on the opposite hand, I found the non-rainbow of Apple very happy, oh! and the NBC peacock? Loved!

I cannot remember a time when I didn't love and appreciate color. The influences are and have been everything around me, always.

EN: It seems like the Twin Cities art scene is really vibrant right now. What are the main drivers there?

AP: The Twin Cities have been fortunate to have very generous arts benefactors since the times of J.J. Hill, T.B. Walker and Tyrone Guthrie. With the contributions of these arts advocates in place, the fantastic Minnesota State Arts Board, the McKnight and Jerome Foundations, as well as numerous others, the Twin Cities is an incredible place to be an artist.

The areas blooming now are the Northeast Arts District in NE Minneapolis, and the Lowertown area of St. Paul. Just over a decade ago, both areas were run down, tired, and in desperate need of revitalization. Organizations such as ArtSpace, NEMAA, the supportive landlords, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have come to the rescue, combining these resources with the passions of artists and the organizations listed above have made NE Minneapolis and Lowertown hot "must see" destinations.

EN: What prompted you to create your Mosaic Soul series?

AP: Ah! Such a very personal question. The Mosaic Soul series refers to the tiny squares which make up my images. Each square represents a person and their energy. Whether they interact with me and my energy dictates the composition of the painting. Each square is a resonating, vibrant opportunity for a connection. Some connections happen, while others do not.

EN: Your "Allusions" series appears to be about color and nature. What's the story behind the title of this exhibit?

AP: Allusions (noun) 1. An expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.

I felt as if this word summed up art, most specifically, abstract or non representational, art. What is the feeling a work inspires in the viewer? What connections and emotions are stimulated?

Each piece in the Allusions collection is about our connection to each other, our immediate environment and our place, essentially, in existence. Beginning with Mitochondrial and Hypothesis, this pair of paintings speak to our race's fascination with science, the question "Where do we come from?", and the answers we have discovered thus far and the new questions those answers have unearthed.

Guardian, Willow Weeps and Wisdom Shared tell the tale of Cold Water Spring, a 10,000 year old spring in Minneapolis which has been a sacred gathering place for humans for hundreds of years, and the site of gentle, caring cohabitation of the earliest settlers and the Native population. This series speaks to the fragility of our eco and social systems, and the importance of respect for culture and our planet.

Detail from larger piece from Allusions series.
Sending My Love, Joyful, and Buoyant are perhaps the most esoteric of the collection. The colorful bubbles represent our energy as we send it out to our loved ones and those needing emotional support. We begin as colorful tendrils which readily ball up, and travel where needed. Ah, a bit too "arty"? I liken this to those times when one thinks, out of the blue, of a dear friend, and says to oneself, "Yes! I must call them right away," and then, the phone rings... it is your friend. Energy, being 'pinged' across the universe. So many connections.

EdNote: To see Alison Price's exhibit space visit 1112 Tower Avenue. You can see more of Alison's work at her online gallery Alison Price Studios or her Facebook page Alison Price Art.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

TPAA Announces the North X North Music and Arts Experience

The March 12 meeting of the Twin Ports Arts Align (TPAA) began with much anticipation as Crystal Pelkey introduced Mike Malone of Swim Creative who was on hand to present a logo and a name for a newly designated arts month. The well-attended meeting filled the DAI board room.

Malone began by stating that he had been contacted by Mayor Ness and asked to consider helping this group, the Twin Ports Arts Align. After several weeks of brainstorming and deliberations involving key players with the TPAA and staff from Swim Creative, Malone was able to announce, “Tonight, we have a name and a logo.”

The young agency exec explained that there are two different audiences we are seeking to communicate to, the folks in the arts community and the folks who are outside the community. The name that ultimately emerged was:


Next, Malone unveiled the logo. I'd managed to get a sneak preview of the name (by promising not to blog it here) but had not yet seen the logo. It seemed to be an immediate hit and was presented to the general public by means of a press conference in the Zeitgeist Arts Atrium Wednesday, the first day of spring here in Duluth. For the most part this announcement was the result of a prolonged period of sustained enthusiasm and another step toward fertilizing (organically) our local arts culture that it might flourish.

What is North x North?
North x North is a music & arts experience that takes place throughout Duluth and Superior, the end of April through early June 2013, and is a project of Twin Ports Arts Align. The North x North experience begins with the Homegrown Music Festival, followed by Gallery Week, then theater/ballet/symphony week, Dylan Days, and ultimately ending with the Duluth/Superior Film Festival. The NXN brings together more than four dozen arts organizations from the Twin Ports community along with hundreds of individual artists of all genres and mediums from music and theater to poetry, publishing, sculpture and other visual arts.

The Homegrown Music Festival has blossomed to involve close to 200 bands, and that doesn't include everyone yet. The visual arts week will feature 20 galleries on both sides of the bridge, and every theater will have something going on.

The beauty of the region and downtown development has turned Duluth-Superior into a major tourist destination, but much of that activity takes place between Memorial Day and mid-September when autumn splendor is at its peak. North x North aims to lengthen and strengthen the tourist season. The kickoff celebration will be April 23, a scant five weeks away.

What is Twin Ports Arts Align?
In January, as TPAA entered its second year, they developed the following statement of purpose:

Twin Ports Arts Align is a network of art administrators and artists in all disciplines that serve as a catalyst to incubate and stimulate a vibrant, sustainable arts culture in the Twin Ports. Through our synergy we aim to educate, inspire and support the spirit and economy of our region.

This group is a result of the Arts Align seminar at the Sheraton/Zeitgeist on February 4, 2012. Sponsored by UMD's School of Fine Arts, they currently meet the second Tuesday of every month. Social media has also played a role in this renewed surge of interest in building an arts culture in the Twin Ports with a dedicated Facebook page serving as a hub for the ongoing conversation.

For more about this announcement check out Christa Lawler's The Twin Ports' answer to South by Southwest? published online noon yesterday in the Duluth News Tribune. The piece begins, "You call it May, but if art supporters have their way, the fifth month will get a new identity: the North By North Music & Arts Experience."

Though questions remain, I for one am eager to see where it all goes. If nothing else it's a good excuse to keep us all talking about how the arts can enrich our community.

In the meantime, art goes on all around you. Open your eyes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

7 Things We Learned About ePublishing

On April 12, just over three weeks from now, there will be a publishing conference at UMD. The event has been dubbed “21st-Century Publishing: Industry, Media, and the Future of Print." Having dipped my toe into the shallow end of the ePublishing pool, I'm looking forward to catching a close up peek at where publishing is today and where it's headed tomorrow

My first foray into ePublishing was in 2011. I'd determined that year to publish some of my stories and The Red Scorpion, a novel I'd labored over for the course of many years and failed to find a home for. Enter TJ Lind, a high school sophomore who became jazzed at the notion of starting a ePublishing business. By November four books were now available on Kindle, Nook and in the Apple store. 

Here are some of the lessons we learned from that experience.  

1. Conversion software can be frustrating.
Writing a book using your favorite word processing program is only the beginning. You still need to convert the manuscript into a specialized form for eBook readers, and it isn't quite as easy as it looks. For a couple of the books we launched, over-hurriedly, the final day involved numerous iterations which TJ would format, email to me and I would review. Sometimes the revisions he made would "take" and sometimes they would not. It can be a tedious process but you have to review every single line every single time if you care about the quality of the final product.

2. Learning time management is essential. 
Both TJ and I are very busy. In addition to being a full-time high school student, he has the same full life of most teens his age, which includes a job, friends, and other interests. One of his interests is the Proctor DECA program, which is how our paths crossed. Currently he is planning a run for International DECA President, which is simply one more thing he's added to his plate for the year. And with my own host of activities, including a full time career in advertising, my free time outside the office is fairly chewed up as well. The key for every collaborating team is to learn the others' rhythms.

3. Fast communication is easy, but accuracy is also needful. 
It's so easy to send a lot of quick snippets and messages these days. But a book needs the same patient attention as ever before, and you just can't ignore this.

4. eBooks can be corrected after they are in print.
The Red Scorpion was a major undertaking. And I'm embarrassed by how many errors slipped through the cracks. At one point I asked TJ to change Mr. Harris to Mr. Henley near the end of the book. For some reason the software inserted Mr.HenleyMr.HenleyMr.Henley in the place of Mr. Harris. Fortunately, an early reader caught this and we corrected the online version of the book. Unfortunately, for the sake of the September book launch party we had fifty copies printed, all of which had this funny Mr. Henley in triplicate. Maybe this erratum will make these original 50 books more collectible some day, though I doubt it. It's just embarrassing.

5. Market research helps. 
While preparing for the novel's launch we had designed two different versions of the cover. When we produced the 50 printed versions we weren't sure which book cover to use. I liked TJ's version with the haunted house, and he liked the original with the red scorpion that I painted. We printed 25 of each to see which one the public would prefer at our launch. The scorpion covers were favored 3 to 1.

6 The economics of printed material is a problem. 
Even with today's print-on-demand options, it's still going to require an outlay of capital to print books. Then there's shipping, storage, and marketing. If you go the traditional route of printing a total run, you have to print a large volume to get your cost per book down to something reasonable. And then there's distribution. It's not as simple as putting up a book stand at the bagel shop.

7. It's gratifying.
It's gratifying to see your eBook on That's the amazing part. Your book or books can be listed, purchased and reviewed in the same way as George Plimpton's or Hemingway's, Conrad's and Ogilvy's. There is a perceived legitimacy right off. This doesn't mean your books will automatically sell. You still have to get the word out.

Currently TJ and I have several books in the docket for 2013. I'll keep you posted here as things develop.

In the meantime, if you're a writer interested in publishing, check out the April 12 conference at UMD.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Laura Gapske, Minerva and the Roller Dames

Laura Gapske is co-founder of the local feminist zine titled Minerva. Minerva is striking for its in-your-face approach and creative imagery, hence my interest in learning more about its creators. Gapske shared openly and without reservation.

EN: What’s the story behind Minerva? How did it begin? How long has it been in publication?
Laura Gapske: I researched zines for months via ordering independent publications from a Chicago comic store distributor. I also had an author/ professor from UWS share with me her collection of local feminist zines which were printed in the late 90’s. I realized the majority of fringe publishers were exiguous which gave them a laudable quality. This generated motivation to start my own after being inspired by stories and the heroine-like quality writing I consumed.

In 2007, I proposed an independent study course to create Minerva zine, to publish, curate, and organize student submissions for content. We published almost monthly the spring and fall semesters of 2008. I had more than ten student contributors and anonymous writers. Minerva had an academic focus from 2007-2008 with a university calendar of events and student polling on feminist issues.

After college, my friend and local artist, Lindsey Graskey and I decided to continue publishing Minerva. We printed two zines independently with three contributors. Unfortunately, I became preoccupied with life events and my career. I diverged as a single mother and it became a frivolous expense for my household. The zine was a project we both had a veneration to continue but lacked resources.

Lindsey and I were moxie to find the time and financial support to print Minerva again. Last year, with the help of Andy Perfetti at Goin’ Postal, we were able to afford to print small quantities of the zine again. We have consistently produced a zine every two or three months since establishing this relationship. Minerva had its first annual Minerva Zine Party with music by Christine Hoberg at Ochre Ghost Gallery in December. The party turned out a huge success and brought eminence to the zine. The show displayed a range of constituent art by new and old zine contributors. Last month, I published our fourteenth zine which is a manifestation of the longevity and triumph of Minerva.

EN: What is the mission of Minerva?
LG: The mission of Minerva is to empower women, educate others, and encourage consciousness-raising on issues relevant to us by the use of art, collage, images and words. If anyone is interested in more information about the zine or want to submit their work for publication, please check out

EN: Do you consider yourself a writer first or an activist?
LG: I consider myself a writer and an activist due to the nature of works I publish. Typically, I write articles focused on social injustice against women and the criminal justice system or other feminist academic topics. I have contributed prose/collage pieces about relationships and my childhood experience with violence. This is where I find the zine the most advantageous in my personal life; it’s an open and accepting forum to tell one’s story. Numerous times throughout printing Minerva, I’ve been approached by readers who share they relate to the contributor’s writings. It’s a way to create a kinship with readers especially for women in our community. The zine material provokes empowering perspectives. I strongly believe our contributors mutually benefit from hearing readers are encouraged by them to speak up and become involved.

In her role as Killah Cletah
EN: How did you get involved in Roller Derby? That’s not a typical avocation.
LG: I found out about our local roller derby league through a mutual friend. She encouraged me to attend a Wednesday practice at the World of Wheels. I did. I used rental skates and borrowed equipment to do laps around the rink while I watched fierce women duke it out playing Queen of the Rink. I was instantly infused by their feminine wiles and tenacious personalities so I knew I had to come back. The next week, I had already purchased my own gear and had ordered skates. I figured out quickly I’m quite fast on roller skates. I have been roistered as a jammer and blocker for the Harbor City Roller Dames (HCRD) since that time. It’s been an incredible journey playing roller derby. I boldly claim that the women on our team are the most beautiful, talented, and intelligent group of women in town.

EN: Do the Derby girls receive any payment for the entertainment they bring?
LG: The Harbor City Roller Dames do not receive payment for playing roller derby. We pay out of pocket to play which includes skater’s dues for rental fees, equipment, jerseys, WFTDA insurance, and travel expenses. The league’s major expense is bout production at the DECC, where we host our visiting teams from around the Mid-West. HCRD’s have a Board of Directors which vote on business decisions and includes a sponsorship chair who actively seeks local sponsors to assist us with the expenses of operating a small business. I have served on the board for two years and am proud of the financial decisions we have made to augment our league’s financial situation. Our league’s mission is not only about playing roller derby, we also organize skater’s to volunteer their time at local charity events and donate proceeds from our bouts to local charities such as the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse, Habitat for Humanity, Polar Bear Plunge, Damiano Center’s Kid’s Café, and other agencies which benefit women and children. For more information about the Harbor City Roller Dames go to 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hard Rain In Duluth: After The Flood Benefit Concert

Armory post card, courtesy Nelson French
During last May's Duluth Dylan Fest an exciting announcement was made. The Duluth Arts and Music Center took another step forward toward becoming a reality when it purchased the property adjacent to the Armory on London Road. Nelson French, newest member of the board, made the announcement at UMD's Weber Hall at the kickoff event for the week of Dylan-related festivities, a concert featuring Scarlet Rivera along with Gene LaFond and the Wild Unknown.

The group's playlist concluded with an encore involving all of the musicians of that evening singing "Watching the River Flow." Little did they know the irony of ending with such a song, because less than two months later the Northland would be hit with a superstorm bringing nine inches of water overnight, and at one point four inches of rain in an hour. Being a city comprised of one long hillside, the damage produced by all that runoff was momentous. All the streams in town, and there are many, became torrents. One of these flows right beneath the Armory, a damaging blow.

A lot of people watched the rising area rivers flow that night, right through their houses. Mayor Ness succeeded in obtaining federal disaster relief but as is nearly always the case, it's never enough.

In May Scarlet Rivera will return again, accompanied by Gene Lafond and his band, for Hard Rain In Duluth - After The Flood Benefit Concert. Scarlet wrote the Armory Arts & Music Center board to say, "It is an honor and my pleasure to return to Duluth, in support of the full restoration of the historic Duluth Armory... rest assured it will be a memorable musical event not to be missed.... and the community's opportunity to participate in the return of a major historic treasure."

The concert, like last year's event, is the kickoff for another week of Dylan-themed events. Here's an outline of the week:

5.17  7 pm: "Hard Rain In Duluth--After the Flood" Concert @Weber Hall
5.18  10 pm: Duluth Does Dylan @ Tycoons
5.19  8 pm: Dylan Trivia @ Carmody's Irish Pub
5.20  7 pm: Open Mic Night @ Beaners Central
5.21  7 pm: Dylan Movie and Music Night @ RedStar Lounge
5.22  7 pm: Dylan's 72nd Birthday Bash @ RedStar Lounge
5.23  6 pm: Blood on the Tracks Express  (Meet @ Fitgers Complex)
5.24  1 pm: Creative Writing Workshop and Literary Showcase @ Hibbing Memorial Building
         7 pm: Dylan Days Singer/Songwriter Contest, Day 1 @ Zimmy's
5.25  Bus Tour and U.S. Postal Cancellation Day // Hibbing
         5 pm: Dylan Days Singer/Songwriter Contest, Day 2 @ Zimmy's
         7 pm: The Adjustments, Live Music @ Zimmy's
5.26  10 am: Dylan Days Farewell Brunch @ Zimmy's

It's never too soon to start making plans. May will be chock full of arts and happenings, so it's time to begin writing things in, getting tickets, organizing your time. Homegrown Music Fest will kick off the month followed by numerous visual arts happenings, theater, poetry and the fourth annual film festival.

As regards the concert, Gene LaFond sent this note: "Can't wait to head for the north country and play with Scarlet & my band at the Weber. River songs, flood songs, recovery songs, songs of renewal and songs of hope! All for a great cause - the restoration of the historic Armory. Soon we may be able to do a concert on the Armory stage where many of the greatest have played in the past. Thanks for supporting this effort. Make a plan - May 17!!"

Weber Hall is such an acoustically sublime music venue that it's impossible to get a bad seat. For a memorable event that also supports a great cause, visit Ticketworks.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Week: A Saturday Summary

"It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegon..." So begins Garrison Keillor each Saturday evening as he supplies updates on his hometown of hardy, hard-working Lutherans, a staple of his Prairie Home Companion radio program. When Susie and I were living in St. Paul back in the early 80's we had a ritual that went something like this. The first hour of the program she would assemble all the fixin's for a home made pizza. It would be popped into the oven just in time to be pleasantly devoured during Keillor's "News from Lake Woebegon" segment which took place in the second hour of the show.

Rituals are good, and make for some fun memories. And it was great pizza.

The popularity of Prairie Home Companion is such that in recent years, and I don't know when it began, they have been airing a re-run of the live show Sundays on many public radio stations. This is a good thing because Saturday evenings I've been listening to Highway 61 Revisited, which I call the Dylan Hour, that airs on KUMD during that time slot.

There were so many things I wanted to write about this week, but to do each item justice would have required more time than I had time for. So I'll mention a couple highlights of the week now complete.

In case you haven't noticed, we have a new pope in Vatican City. For some reason I was unaware that the pope can give himself a new name when he takes that high office. This pope, who hails from Argentina, has chosen to call himself St. Francis. The story of St. Francis of Assisi was brought to the silver screen in 1972 by Franco Zeffirelli, made even more popular by virtue of its coinciding with the hippie ideals of the day, the rejection of wealth and cultural expectations, and a soundtrack by Donovan. The gulf between the poverty of Francis and the opulence of the Vatican was immense. The climactic encounter between Pope Innocent III and the pilgrim is dramatic.

Today, a new Francis sits upon that "royal throne" amidst the immeasurable splendor there. Will he succeed in diverting the world's eyes away from the Church's manifold scandals by getting us focused on the great need of our time, global poverty?

Something I'm curious about, and maybe someone can help me here... Do priests aspire to the papacy the way that young politicians dream of becoming president?

In other news, a New York judge succeeded in thwarting Mayor Bloomberg's attempt to ban Big Gulp soft drinks in the Big Apple. Frankly, I think we already have too many laws. Why do politicians need to keep piling on? Is this going to be his legacy, that he took the lead in the fight against sugar? Why stop at large drinks? Why not get rid of chocolate and cake and donuts… heavens, donuts are not only sweet they are dripping with grease. And what about bagels? Have you ever seen how many calories there are in a bagel? They make donuts seem like diet food.

In case you didn't already know, sugar's not good for your teeth. If you enjoy dentists and drills, have at it. I stopped putting sugar in my coffee ages ago. It's been said that death and taxes are the only sure things, but I would suggest a third: cavities. Especially if you're sipping a large glass of pop all day. To tell you the truth, I'm not going to stop you from doing it by lobbying for new legislation.

Films I watched this week included To Have and Have Not, the 1944 Bogart/Bacall film based on the Hemingway novel of the same name. Except instead of Cuba it takes place in Martinique. And instead of a tragic end it has a happy ending. Though a work of fiction, the sparks between Bogie and Bacall were real. They married, and did three more films together.

I also finished The Mask last night. The last line in the film is Jim Carrey's "Smokin'." And smokin' we're not in our Minnesota bars and restaurants because of the smoking ban. In principle I dislike the smoking ban because we have too many rules, but I actually don't mind driving home and not bringing the smell of a bar home with me on my clothes.

Speaking of smoking, a former high school classmate of mine passed away this week from lung cancer. He had been a smoker for a spell, but gave it up at age 25. Is it possible the damage was already done?

Meantime life goes on all around you. Enjoy the weekend. Especially if you don't have to shovel snow... like we do here today. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

James L Spiegel Examines Dylan's Tempest for Christianity Today

When Bob Dylan's Tempest was released this past September it received accolades from all sectors including Ennyman's Territory. Sure, there were some who panned it, and at least one comical reviewer who declared the cover art to be the worst of all 35 of Dylan's albums. (We're all entitled to an opinion, I suppose.)

When Tempest was released on 9/11 Christianity Today printed a brief review of the album and published a piece by John J Thompson titled "The Dark Side of Dylan."  Reviewer Josh Hurst gave the album four stars, but at the time listed "Pay in Blood," "Duquesne Whistle" and "Scarlet Town"as Tempest's "top tracks." I'd be curious to know if he still feels that way and by what measure? "Duquesne Whistle" is definitely a fun opener, but there are many other selections that I would put ahead of the other two, including "Roll On John," "Early Roman Kings," and "Long and Wasted Years."

It is now March and Christianity Today has once again given some attention to the album with a review by James L. Spiegel in a piece titled "The Light's Still Burning." It's a fairly concise overview of the cultural context into which Tempest has been delivered and a breakdown of the content of the songs. It's a good read for all you Dylan fans out there.

I do find it interesting how reviewers work so hard to invent new ways of making the same observation. Specifically, that Dylan's vocal quality has deteriorated. "Dylan's voice is now a raspy growl, tattered from a half century of singing, including the last two decades of his Never Ending Tour. But for all the wear and tear, he is no less effective in conveying emotion and delivering memorable melodies." You can tell that Spiegel is a fan because he "hears through" to the heart and I whole-heartedly concur that the Bard has become "no less effective in conveying emotion." He is a master.

If you don't have time for the whole review, this excerpt will give you the flavor. "As for the songs on Tempest, they display what are now recurrent themes in the later Dylan—regret, injustice, world-weariness, and exasperation with other people, especially women. These themes emerge in the poignant "Long and Wasted Years," which features a sublime, rolling melody over which Dylan speaks more than he sings: "It's been such a long, long time since we loved each other and our hearts were true. One time, for one brief day, I was the man for you." But rather than lapsing into sentimentality, the song morphs into scattered reflections on past mistakes and lingering sorrows, closing with the somber recollection, "We cried on that cold and frosty morn. We cried because our souls were torn. So much for tears, so much for these long and wasted years."

Great album. And yes, Dylan's light is still burning.   

Thursday, March 14, 2013

In Focus: Photographer Andrew Perfetti

Andrew Perfetti has been a guitarist in Uprising and other local bands for several years. By day he’s been owner of Superior’s Goin’ Postal, a shipping store and copy center. His passion for photography and the arts has resulted in the establishment of Perfetti Photography.

EN: How did you come to take an interest in photography?
AP: I wanted an excuse to go out to different concerts when I wasn’t playing. Artistically I always wanted to be involved so I took photos of bands playing. Some of the bands noticed my work and started requesting that I come, hiring me to do album art and band posters.

I started branching off into different areas of photography, eventually getting hired to do commercial work with bigger name bands and clients outside the local entertainment scene. As a natural progression of my passion for photography and study of art, I gravitated toward fine art photography, developing my own style to integrate fine art with commercial work.

EN: Who are your favorite photographers and why?
AP: My favorite? Annie Leibovitz , for her ability to show the humanity in all of her subjects, famous or non. Robert Mapplethorpe, for his passion for documenting anything he found important. Robert Capa, for his fearless drive to take the important shots.

EN: What are some of the things that inspire you as an artist?
AP: Documenting my life. Photography has allowed me to slow down my mind and take notice of moments that I might otherwise would have disregarded or failed to appreciate the significance of. It also allowed me to reflect on my own life and my role in the lives of my friends and family.

EN: What’s your take on the Twin Ports arts scene?
AP: The Twin Ports Arts Scene has an amazing abundance of talent and passion. It is as relevant to me as the global arts scene and, in my opinion, as full of quality work as you will find in New York or any of the other art hubs in the world or United States. It is not without its cliques though. But as of recently it has been gaining momentum and many fragments of it seem to be uniting for a higher cause.

EN: What has changed in the way you approach your photography over the past three years?
AP: I’ve evolved into more commercial work and less Photoshopping. I approach each image with a little more clarity of thought and a more experienced eye.

EN: Does this mean you’re moving away from fine art photography?
AP: No, I am not moving away… but at the moment time constraints with my business do not afford me the time that I have had in the past. I am evolving and my tastes have changed so that my work is becoming more defined.

EN: In what way?
AP: I am pursuing creative projects with more thought and spending less time hunting for opportunity. In the past a lot of my fine art work has been the result of spontaneity, whereas my schedule is more structured, so I am approaching photography in a more focused manner.

EN: You’ve been involved with some collaborative work…. What kinds of things have you learned through those experiences?
AP: Collaborative work has helped me grow as an artist and given me the opportunity to try new things that would have otherwise been outside the scope of my interests. I have been fortunate to work with some very inspiring and talented artists who have enabled me to participate in other genres that would have otherwise not been on my radar such as Steampunk and fashion.

EN: Your shipping business is also something of an art gallery. Can you describe how this happened? How can other businesses get more linked to artists?
AP: After about four years of developing my business I was offered the opportunity to show some art from a local artist. The experience of being surrounded on a daily basis by that artwork changed my quality of life for the better. It was then suggested that I do an art show for that artist and the success of the show convinced me that other people in the community really enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to experience the art.

I started getting an abundance of people requesting more art and stopping in to my business just to see the art. I found it to be enriching for both my personal life, my business and the community as a whole. The amount of enthusiasm of the local community towards the art I was showing also helped me develop confidence in my own art. I was overwhelmed by the support and interest of the local business community and city and decided to make it my mission to showcase local artists and provide an opportunity for them to get their work seen.

EN: Do you have any upcoming projects for 2013.
AP: I am currently developing a project with Friends of Industry where we will be creating photo shoots inspired by classic horror and sci-fi films as well as other art forms based on the same ideas, including sculpture, painting, fashion, etc. I'm also creating work for the May 10, 2013 Goin' Postal Art show which will include a lot of my new work and the works of sixteen other artists.

Alan Sparhawk and his Retribution Gospel Choir

EdNote: Find more of Andy's work at