Monday, August 31, 2015

Invitation to Next Sunday's Free Concert in Leif Erikson Park to Restore the Armory

Concert Sponsors
Here's more information on next weekend's free concert in Leif Erikson Park. We are officially less that one week away from showtime and everything's in order for the show. The event will feature music by Courtney Yasmineh Band, Lonnie Knight & Friends, The Boomchucks, Sarah Burton, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo, and Rich Mattson and Germaine Gemberling in one of Duluth's many beautiful settings.

The event organizer is the Armory Arts and Music Center (AAMC) with it's chief aims being to raise awareness for the 100th Anniversary Celebration that will take place later this fall, and to share their vision for the Armory's restoration. The building itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I have to insert here that it made some of us ill to see the heart-breaking accident that took place this weekend at the Sacred Heart Music Center. Sacred Heart has been a wonderful host for several of the concerts and events the AAMC has created on behalf of the Armory restoration.

Here's an outline of featured artists that are lined up to perform next Sunday. There will also be food trucks, beer trucks and sunshine. (The latter is not guaranteed, but they are working on it.) There will be an abundance of smiling, foot tapping and probably some dancing.

Duluth Armory Music Fest
3:00 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. Boomchucks  
3:50 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Gene LaFond & Amy Grillo 
4:40 p.m. – 5:20 p.m. Rich Mattson & Germaine Gemberling 
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Sarah Burton  
6:40 p.m. - 7:40 p.m. Lonnie & Friends 
7:50 p.m. – 9:20 p.m. Courtney Yasmineh Band  

Kevin Odegard presents latest Armory banner.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Be a part of it.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Wedding Belles: How To Get A Wife The Old Fashioned Way

Today's a very special day for us... our daughter is getting married.  While sifting through a folder titled "Idea Starters" I came across this list of Biblical ways to get a wife. Note: These are shared here to serve as examples of why historical stories in the sacred texts should not be taken as laws to obeyed.

Ten Ways To Obtain A Wife*

1. Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes. She's yours. ~ Deuteronomy 21:11-13

2. Find a prostitute and marry her. ~ Hosea 1:1-3

3. Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. ~ Ruth 4:5-10

4. Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife. ~ Judges 21:19-25

5. Cut off 200 foreskins off your father-in-law's enemies and get his daughter for a wife. ~ I Samuel 18:27

6. Become emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. ~ Esther 2:3-4

7. When you see someone you like, go tell your parents, "I have seen a woman. Get her for me." If your parents question your decision, repeat, "Get her for me. She's the one for me." ~ Judges 14:1-3 (Sounds like a bit of dialogue from Terminator.)

8. Wait for your brother to die. Take his widow. ~ Ruth

9. Get involved with someone else's wife. Kill her husband. ~ II Samuel 11

10. A wife? Who needs a wife? ~ I Corinthians 7:32-35

* * * *

Well, we're beginning to get excited about this special day where two people in love make a commitment to share life's journey together.

*Discliamer: When I Googled this list, I discovered many of these listed in someone else's blog. Their blog post was 2012, my file was created in 2008, leading me to surmise that our lists were purloined from still someone else's labors. Thank you to whoever did the original compilation. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

All the Old Cliches Are True

"It seems to me that when a writer at last finds an outlet for his work -- has a channel into which he can pour himself -- it matters very little, from that time on, what he is going through, whether he is happy or sad, healthy or ill. Rather, he lives for his work, for others, to be poured out, to fulfill his reason for being." Journal Note, June 24, 1993

These words were penned the year I had my first book assignment and was simultaneously doing a screenplay called The Extras, while working full time. The two projects tested my time management skills to the limit, but the experience proved highly rewarding on several levels.

I would venture to say that most of us live at a lower level of accomplishment than we are capable of. Set high goals, and then take action. All the old cliches are true. Rome was not built in a day; the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The cumulative efforts of small daily achievements can really add up. When you look back, it may even one day astound you.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sneak Peak: Karen Burmeister Part III and the Urge to Commit Art

One of her last works.
During the month of August I have shared a couple blog posts featuring the work of Karen Lynne Burmeister whose collages will be unveiled to the public in a September exhibition at the Duluth Art Institute, the opening reception is September 10. This is part III the first two posts being an introduction to her work followed by an overview of her life and career.

Karen was the middle school Art Teacher at Marshall School for nearly twenty years. She was a beloved teacher. The outpouring of sympathy and support from her students (and former students) after her diagnosis brought tears to her eyes. The reason she was loved by her students is easy to understand: she truly respected them and their work. She believed children had an innate ability to express themselves profoundly through art.

Karen believed with her whole heart that everyone is born with a basic human desire for beauty and self-expression, a desire that reaches all the way back to the beginning of our existence--the Caves of Lascaux and beyond. The drawing exhibited was done by one of her students. She was so taken by this drawing she framed it and hung it on the wall of her studio.

What follows has been written by her husband Loren Martel.

Last Work
Another of her last works.
As time passed, Karen’s health did not improve. Despite all our hopes, she grew weaker. She began having more difficulty both with cutting out images and working in fine detail. In the past, she’d sometimes used a type of finished plywood for her working base, her canvass. She asked me to cut her some larger pieces. She spread out images she’d previously taken from magazines and books over the years. She laid on the floor, with pillows and blankets around her.

By then, she was also battling the negative effects prescription pain narcotics have on mental acuity. Her work subsequently lost some of its verve. This tragic erosion of a rare creative vision is evident in progression from image #1 to image #3. But Karen kept working, and still managed to create works of art that were very beautiful.

The boy in the center of image #3, her final completed work, captures much of Karen’s artistic inspiration. The boy’s posture suggests all the pathos of human life, briefly thrown into a world that is, on many levels, very seductive and beautiful. Karen’s artistic eye is illustrated well by another detail of this image: the ledge the boy is sitting on is a broccoli leaf. Look closely at the shape of the leaf and the way it captures the light. The ability to see the evocative beauty of such a banal object was one of Karen’s gifts. I see that boy sitting on that broccoli leaf as the last spark, before the creative light went out.   

Works in Progress
This is an image from her peak period.

Like Karen’s final completed work, the first piece I included as a work-in-progress is weak in composition, though still rich in imagery. This is the very last piece she worked on at all. She was, to some degree, just using up images. She was especially fond of the image in the top center--the two women talking on an old cobbled street, backlit by shop lights and the numinous shapes of stars. She found a few new images in magazines, but only rough-cut them, because she no longer trusted the dexterity of her fingers to cut them cleanly. To create anything, much less a work of art teaming with so much life, while her own was ending, is testament to her spirit.

Though I consider it finished, and a good piece, I included image #2 as a work-in-progress, because Karen remained undecided. She was still contemplating some of the colors and the symmetry of the composition, but she was happy with it overall. She liked the energy. The piece had also gotten jostled pretty badly in her studio and I couldn’t be certain I’d rearranged all the images perfectly, before gluing them down. One more reason I included it as a work-in-progress is because there were still some lines of text scattered amid the images. Karen drew on the inspirational power of words and sometimes placed text in an art piece while she was working. I remembered where two phrases were in this particular piece, and glued them where she had placed them, just to show the process.

Karen was fond of the third piece I labeled as a work-in-progress. (EdNote: Not on this page but at the show.) She was pleased with the image and felt it was complete, but was still contemplating using it as the nucleus of a larger work.   


One is struck by their evocative dramatic quality.
Karen used to say she wanted to experience something artistic in her life everyday--an exhibit, a book or a good movie. She was a perennial member of arts and book groups. Occasional trips to the Twin Cities for gallery hopping or some other cultural experience was vital for her soul. Even after finding her passion with collage art, Karen continued to attend life drawing workshops, drawing primarily in charcoal and colored chalk. As in her collages, she often portrayed the human figure in an occulted world, where shadows sometimes have shadows, and mysterious darkness is tinged with wild beauty.

Karen was also always drawn to the haunted feel of ruins. There was an old abandoned homestead along the Chippewa River in Wisconsin where we used to often walk. The second drawing is a sketch of the house. Karen naturally gravitated towards an angle in her artistic subjects that exposed entrances and exits. She was deeply fascinated by the metaphorical power of portals and passages, of secret paths and worlds hidden within worlds.  
A strikingly surreal feeling pervades many of the pieces.

Final Statement

We spoke one final time about Karen’s art, the day before she died. She told me not to worry about it. She said, “Just throw it all in the garbage, honey.”

One of the reasons she said this I can only speculate about. I think when we approach the brink, everything on this side of the veil looks exactly as it is--mortal vanity. The other two reasons she said this, I’m certain of. The first is because she was always humble about her talent. A sweet humility was one of her most endearing traits, especially in a world where egotism is overwhelmingly prevalent. The other reason is because she was worried about the strain it would put on me, after everything we’d already been through. But there was never any question this had to be done. It was necessary for everyone to see just how gifted Karen was, and to appreciate her refined aesthetic sense. It was essential for her beautiful, unique works of art to be preserved.

Bottom Line: Don't Miss the Show
* * * *

To see more of Karen's work and read more about the pictures visit Sneak Peek and Sneak Peek Part II.

* * * *
Burmeister's work was scanned by CPL Imaging, a premier service agency for art reproductions and preservation. They will likely be available for purchase at some point in time.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Hope I see you at the opening.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Call for Art: Ripple Effect

There are so many artists doing impressive work in the Twin Ports, many of them as instructors at our colleges. It speaks to the caliber of these teachers that so many younger fine artists are here or launching out elsewhere. Bill Morgan and John Steffl come immediately to mind, but the list is long. Once you dig a little deeper into the soil and trace roots you find countless fascinating connections... or as the upcoming Prove show calls it (using an altogether different metaphor), ripple effects.

The Prove has put out a Call for Submissions for their October 16 show that is designed to coincide with Sarah Brokke's Portrait of an Artist opening at the Duluth Art Institute the evening before. What follows here is the call that appeared in my inbox earlier this week.

Ripple Effect is the title to an exhibition that was curated by local Duluth artist and professor Sarah M. Brokke at the Duluth Art Institute which highlighted the work of her current and former students around 2009. Ripple Effect aims to reflect, honor and highlight creative mentorship and inspiration that is drawn from people in one's creative journey. Inspiration that is carried through one's career. Whether it's through a saying, an expressive tool, a thought process that has struck through and made a breakthrough in your creative process, you carry that mentorship and inspiration within.

Prove Gallery's mission is to foster a greater appreciation of the contemporary arts, to bridge cultures, create and expand community, and provide cultural exchange, networking opportunities and educational outreach through regular interaction with the contemporary arts. Prove Gallery will celebrate this creative mentorship and inspiration on October 16th, 2015 with the opening of "Ripple Effect". This show follows the opening reception of "Portrait of an Artist " by Sarah Brokke on October 15, 2015 at the Duluth Art Institute which celebrates 36 working artists in the Duluth/ Superior Community who she "can point to at least one or two moments, but often many more, that [she] felt personally, positively affected by what they have done."

Prove Gallery encourages artists in all disciplines to submit works to "Ripple Effect"

Deadline for submission is September 23, 2015.

Please submit: CV, Images of Work, Didactics in one document and provide us with a link to any audio or video files (.JPG, . PDF, .MOV, .MP3, .word)

All artists will be notified upon acceptance with a deadline of September 30th.

Artwork is to be dropped off October 2-5th, 2015.

Any form and style of art is acceptable. Work cannot exceed 10' x 8' x 8' (h x l x d). 
All hung work must not exceed 50 lbs and must be READY TO HANG. 
All freestanding works must support their weight and may not be attached to the floor. 
All submission materials must be written in English. 
All work is shown at the artist's own risk. 
All work shipped to PRØVE Gallery must be sent with return shipping or be picked up by the artist or an artist's representative.

Please email all submissions to or mail them to 
Prove Gallery : 21 N Lake Ave Duluth, MN 55802.

You can learn more about Sarah Brokke and her work here.
A link to Sarah Brokke's exhibition at the Kruk in 2014.
And finally, her work last month at The Red Herring.

I like the ripple effect. Let's keep it going.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ten Minutes with Kristi Abbott, Artist from Down Under

The artist in her studio.
While doing a walkabout at the Bayfront Art Fair two weekends ago I came upon an artist from Australia who three years ago moved to Minnesota and decided to make a go of it here in the States. Her work drew me in and I mentioned her on my review of the event early last week. She graciously consented to an interview.

EN: For starters, can you just share a brief overview of your life, and how you came to make art as a career?

Kristi Abbott: I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, to an Australian mum and a Minnesotan dad, so it was no surprise that I spent many of my holidays making the trip to St Paul, Minnesota. Many a Christmas was spent in the snow building snow kangaroos and sledding down a loge run! My grandmother and aunt are both artists, so I have been surrounded by art all of my life. My parents were and are very supportive of the arts and encouraged my sisters and me to dream big and follow those dreams, wherever they may take us. It was three years ago, after a career in the corporate space, that I decided to pursue my dream to become a full-time artist. Sydney is very expensive and I was craving a fresh start, so I decided to move to Minnesota to embark on my new artistic adventure.

EN: You seem to have developed a unique approach. Please describe your work, what you do to create the images you create.

KA: The work that I am creating now is based on a pretty complex process. It is what I describe as mixed media collage, using a mix of papers, adhesives and other materials. Firstly I decide on my subject matter and then I spend a lot of time trying to figure out imagery that relates to that subject, whether it is a person or a landscape. Once I have an idea of what I want this to look like I bring everything together in a master template that I then work from to 1, print my imagery onto specialty papers, and then 2, cut all of the various pieces (200+) from. These pieces are then layered and arranged, similar to that of a jigsaw puzzle, in place to create the final image.

EN: Who have been your influences? How did you get into taking this approach?

KA: Although I had done some pieces in collage some years earlier, I stumbled upon this approach again when I was making studies of a larger series I was working on 2 years ago. I was working with paper then, but my main medium was acrylic paints. I decided to experiment with a study all in paper for one of the pieces and it was highly successful, inspiring me to continue experimenting with works all in paper from that point. As far as inspirations, there is definitely a pop art flair in my work and I have definitely borrowed some ideas from Warhol and Lichtenstein.

EN: Your Dylan piece is an example of how you research and tell stories beyond merely making images. Can you describe the details in this piece?

KA: This is a piece that I only finished a few weeks ago and it was a tough one for me to do at first. It is part of my Pop Icon Series. I had a lot of requests for Dylan, being that he is Minnesotan and has a huge fan base here. Although definitely familiar with his music and his career, I am by no means an expert, and I really didn’t want to upset any one by how I portrayed him! So after much thought and conceptualizing, I decided to approach the piece from the perspective of an artist looking at another artist’s life – their influences, tools and great works. Within the Dylan piece are hidden images illustrating the various musical styles he’s been influenced by over the decades from gospel and folk to rock and roll. There is also imagery that shows the musical instruments that he has played, including the harmonica and keyboard. Then in his hair is imagery and symbols that relate to the titles of some of his most well known and loved songs, such as “Blowing in the Wind”, “Like a Rolling Stone” and “The Times are a Changing”. Also hidden in this piece are the town name Duluth and a map of Minnesota to show his heritage, and a peace sign and trailing line of cigarette smoke to highlight a few of his values and idiosyncrasies.

EN: Besides cut-out collage work, what other media have you worked in?

KA: I have worked with oils and acrylics, however I find that I can’t get the same crisp line with a paint brush that I can with a scalpel!! I also love the texture of paper and the variation between the different types of papers that you can access today.

EN: What tools do you use to make a picture? What kind of surface are originals affixed to and what kind of adhesive, too?

KA: Tools that I could not survive without now are my special cutting tool that slips over my finger and operates like a pencil, my cutting mats, glue (Mod Podge) that I use to adhere and seal all of my pieces, and tracing film, that helps me draw and cut out all of my various layers. Rather than work on canvas, I create all of my works on birch wood panel as the surface is tight and rigid.

EN: How often are you on the road? How often do you show your work at shows?

KA: This is the first year that I have chosen to participate in art fairs, and I’m really enjoying it! I love road trips and discovering new places. I have also been making a special piece of work for some of the fairs that I have attended, featuring local icons as the subject, and that has been a lot of fun. It has been a busy summer with fairs taking place at least twice a month. The summer is definitely prime time for shows in the mid-west. Then in October/November and then again in February/March I will be travelling down to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California for shows down there. I feel that it is really important to get out in front of an audience as an emerging artist. I hope to continue to do shows for a few years and build my customer base around the country. My younger sister also sells my work at a large weekly art market in Sydney, Australia.

EN: Where can people see more of your work?

KA: The easiest place to find my work is on my website – However, nothing beats seeing the work in person, so a great place to meet me and see my work is at the St. Paul Art Crawls that take place twice a year. The Fall Art Crawl is coming up on October 10-12th and my loft will be open all weekend. For more information people can go to - I will also be showing at the 2015 Fall Fine Art Festival taking place in Stillwater on October 4th and 5th.

* * * *
Meantime, art goes on all around you. Dig it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Carter-Dylan Connection

Cancer has to be one of the strangest diseases known to man. How it occurs, what it does, how it spreads and how it damages us are mysteries we're still struggling to grapple with. At this time it's hard for us to imagine a future without cancer, but that is something we can all hope science will find solutions for. If you're older, you've had too many friends taken by this disease.

Former president Jimmy Carter's cancer continues to be in the news. Earlier this month it was revealed, after finding the melanoma on his liver, that it had spread to other parts of his body. This past week he announced in a press conference that his melanoma has  spread to his brain.

The former president, now 90, has more than once stated that he has had a remarkable life. From peanut farmer to president to a lifetime of good works through Habitat for Humanity, he has had a rich circle of influence and interacted with more an incredible array of movers and shakers.

Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP**
Early this year Jimmy Carter presented Bob Dylan with a MusicCares Person of the Year Award. The event unearthed a connection between Dylan and Carter that goes way back. An interview in The Atlantic this summer shows just how deep this connection has been.*

John Meroney: You’re unique because you’re the only president I know of who’s quoted Bob Dylan in speeches. You said that you didn’t appreciate the relationship between a landowner and the people who work for him until you heard Dylan sing, “I Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More.”

Carter: Well, Bob Dylan and I have been very close friends since I was governor. I first met him when he was going through an era of deep Christian faith. When he performed once in Atlanta, he wanted to spend some time talking to me about my faith. His band came to the governor’s mansion and stayed with my boys. Bob and I spent a long time in the garden that night just talking about matters concerning theology and religion and so forth. Earlier this year, when Bob Dylan got the Person of the Year award at the Grammys, he said he would accept the award in Hollywood only if I came out and presented it to him. So I went out there and was able to be with Bob again. He’s been to Georgia one time since, and I took my family to hear him perform.

Hunter S. Thompson picked up on the Carter-Dylan relationship back in the early 70's when as a journalist he was following the early stages of the 1976 presidential campaign for Rolling Stone. At a gathering of lawyers Carter gave a speech in which he indicated that he got his sense of social justice by means of the music of Bob Dylan. A 2012 Open Culture article quotes Carter as stating:

The other source of my understanding about what’s right and wrong in this society is from a friend of mine, a poet named Bob Dylan. After listening to his records about “The Ballad of Hattie Carol” and “Like a Rolling Stone” and “The Times, They Are a-Changing,” I’ve learned to appreciate the dynamism of change in a modern society. 

I grew up as a landowner’s son. But I don’t think I ever realized the proper interrelationship between the landowner and those who worked on a farm until I heard Dylan’s record, “I Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More.” So I come here speaking to you today about your subject with a base for my information founded on Reinhold Niebuhr and Bob Dylan.

* * * *
Today neither Carter nor Dylan seem to be taking old age sitting down. On Sunday the former president taught two Sunday School classes. And at 74 the elder statesman of rock and roll continues to have a full schedule, with almost daily performances slated for the upcoming months of October and November in nearly all parts of Western Europe.

Our prayers go out to Mr. Carter. My guess is that it is easier to teach Sunday School at 90 than to perform concerts, but who knows? Dylan has more than once demonstrated that anything is possible.

*‘There’s an Awakening in Our Country’: A Q&A With Jimmy Carter; John Meroney, The Atlantic, July 13, 2015

**Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP. Will be removed if requested.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Local Art Seen: Kuth and Atwater Create A Thrill on Cooke Street

Friday was the opening reception for the Elizabeth Kuth and AJ Atwater Affordable Fine Art Show in Lakeside. The weather was perfect and the house was alive and abuzz, a hive of energy. Out front an abstract assemblage of boards served as a marker as if to say "This is the place." And as I walked through the door I was notified that many pieces had already sold. Very nice.

I myself had come to explore the four galleries upstairs that I had not yet seen in my sneak preview.

An Atwater piece on the MacBook Air
There are actually eight rooms with artwork in them. Six of them have been set up as galleries, plus the kitchen where finger food and beverages were served and a pair of laptops with PowerPoint slideshows displaying more work in the dining room.

The galleries were set up Salon style, as opposed to the format where each piece is isolated, surrounded by wall space so as to become a focal point without other competition for the eye. This Salon layout gave opportunity for a maximum number of pieces. In this show there are 300 works of art. Each artist had three rooms, with themes for each.

Elizabeth Kuth piece
Atwater's galleries are titled:
Blue and Green Gallery
Red, Orange and Yellow Gallery
White and Black Gallery

Kuth's gallery rooms are titled:
“Layering, Mark-Making and Ancestry”
“Rooted Expression”
“Interior Landscape”

If you can make it, you will be rewarded. As Elizabeth Kuth stated, "We all seek inspiration somewhere. That's what we're trying to do, create inspiration." And I'd say they've done that. No sooner was I home than I wanted to be out in my studio.

The show opened Friday and continues through August 28th, noon-3pm daily. Atwater's home/studio/gallery, located at 4701 Cooke Street, will also open by appointment for tours through the show. Reminder: This week's show is a one-time event. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.

A perfect environment for conversations with friends
Atwater works in the Black and White Gallery
Atwater piece in the Red, Orange and Yellow Gallery
 Meantime, art goes on all around you. Celebrate it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Brief Reminder About Today's Duluth Events

AJ Atwater 
Three events of potential interest to you today here in the Twin Ports arts scene. The first occurs at high noon at the Duluth Art Institute in the George Morrison Gallery.  David Beard and Tim Broman will be giving a gallery talk on the history of Duluth comic arts.

The DAI website has this to say about the work displayed there this month:
Minnesota has a rich history of comic book art – from the early Arts Instruction Schools to Charles Schulz to current graphic novelists and webcomic artists. The Duluth Art Institute is excited to feature artists from Minnesota who are doing interesting work in the realm of sequential visual arts and storytelling. Highlighting the broad number of voices in the state’s comic community from large to small publishers and from mainstream superheroes to independent and underground works, artists on view include: Peter Gross, Chris Monroe, Brent Schoonover, Barbara Schulz, Anders Nilsen, John Hoban, Clint Hilinski, Emi Lyman, and Conrad Teves.

I remember meeting a fellow in Minneapolis the early 80's who said his brothers was one of the artists who created Spiderman comics for Marvel. And fans of these comix characters are legion.

From 4:00 p.m. till 8:00 p.m. is the opening reception for the Atwater and Kuth Affordable Fine Art Show. My early August sneak preview gave every indication that this was a must see event and I have been looking forward to seeing all that was left unseen.

During my visit we talked seemingly on and on about art making, sources of inspiration, and the contrast in styles between Elizabeth Kuth and AJ Atawater.

Kuth: There’s not only the contrasting elements in the two artists but also contrasting natures within the painters. They’re conflicting forces… mine is more of an interior kind of life and AJ’s is more exterior. Both show a high contrast that can speak to people, the bold and the interior. When you come into this show there’s something that happens in yourself.

Atwater: That’s what we’re aiming for. To have people doing something that enriches their lives rather than doing something to do for a night. Something to do where they can come in, have conversation.

K: We all seek inspiration somewhere. That’s what we’re trying to do. Create inspiration.

AJA: From my point of view art should enrich your soul in some way… makes something lean you toward pleasure or wow or something that takes you out of yourself.

Atwater went on to describe her experience of painting in New York.

Kuth (left) and Atwater, making you feel at home.
AJA: New York City is stimulating, fast... the smells... it's incomparable. There are no alleys in New York City. Everything happens on the street. It all happens there in your face. This summer I painted in Chinatown. All that sound, was really cool… feeling humanity coasting by.

The two later talked about art appreciation and I liked this comment by Elizabeth Kuth.

K: We should be more like children. More like innocence. More awe… Abstract art encourages you to use your imagination.

The AJ Atwater Studio and Gallery is located at 4701 Cooke Street, in Duluth’s Lakeside neighborhood. The artists will be available for conversations about their art and its possibilities for gift giving and to affordably grace homes, cabins and offices in the Northland.

Finally, tonight at 7:00 p.m. their a Twin Cities Takeover at the Red Herring Lounge. This is an Ellipsis event featuring craft beers, music and more.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Get into it.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

In Memory of H.P. Lovecraft Who Today Would Be 125 If He Were Still Alive

When interviewing writers and artists I am often interested in a person's influences. What we respond to, what resonates with us, can be useful for understanding or revealing who we are, or who we aspire to be.

I've often shared how Hemingway's stories so moved me that I studied them with the aim of learning how to write with greater force. When it came to the subject matter, Argentine Jorge Luis Borges became the writer whose stories most enthralled me.

But when I reflect on my earliest efforts at writing stories while in high school, it was Edgar Allen Poe who first stimulated my imagination. The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Mask of the Red Death -- these were the stories that thrilled me. And as it turns out, these were also the stories that thrilled the now venerated writer of horror fiction, H.P. Lovecraft who would be celebrating his 125th birthday were he still alive today.

Of Lovecraft, Wikipedia writes:
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. Virtually unknown and only published in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre.

As influential as he has been, he didn't make the cut to be included in Barron's 501 Great Writers.

The themes in Lovecraft's stories included forbidden knowledge, non-human influences on humanity, fate, inherited guilt, threats to civilization and risks in a scientific era. Stephen King called him "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale" and cites Lovecraft as his single largest influence as a writer of horror fiction.*

To some extent I suspect the fascination with this genre of writing is similar to my early fascination with Hieronymus Bosch's painting of hell. We don't want to look, yet we feel compelled to. And later when I discovered Borges' labyrinths I felt I'd found a kindred spirit from a previous time.

In 1975 Borges wrote a story titled "There Are More Things" which was published in his short story collection The Book of Sand. The superbly crafted story tells of the encounter the narrator has with a monstrous extraterrestrial inhabiting an equally monstrous house. It's not written that way, though. It's about a man who has to go back to deal with an estate and discovers it has been changed in ways that frighten the builders who were hired to do the work. It's very creepy and written in that classic manner in which the narrator's curiosity gets the better of him, leading him to take unnecessary risks while the reader keeps saying, "No, don't do that. No, get out of there, go back!"

The story,, which begins with the dedication "In Memory of H. P. Lovecraft," holds many parallels with Lovecraft's stories, including descriptions of things that the mind can't quite grasp which hint at other things more fearfully alarming. The title is an allusion to Hamlet's lines "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy" (Hamlet I.5:159–167).

Lovecraft's writing brought him neither fame nor fortune in his lifetime. Like many other writers before and since, he died poor but not forgotten.

*Wikipedia on Lovecraft

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Spotlight on Gene McKeever, Twin Ports Arts Fan and Advocate

The local art scene is a community of people whose paths keep intersecting at various openings, drawn together by a common passion. Every one has a story.

Gene McKeever is one of those local arts fans whose path I kept crossing at miscellaneous events pertaining to the arts. How she came to have art as a part of her life is spelled out here in this interview.

EN: How did you come to take up an interest in the local arts scene? What role has the arts played in your life?

Gene McKeever: I grew up in a small town with no art classes in high school. Whenever I went to a city I went to the museums and found art! I have been going to art openings since the 70's, often taking my kids (they grew up going to openings and live music). I have six children.

I've always had an interest in art. I started out in a one room school house and remember bringing home a book and making things. Everyone said, "She is so creative." I drew and wanted to be an artist from a young age. Of course, my step-dad said, "No, I won't finance a school for you." I think that I was fifty before he finally acknowledged me as an artist! I started college when my third child was graduating from high school.

EN: You always seem so upbeat and with such an uplifting spirit. To what do you attribute this?

GM: Up beat? My grandma and Mother were always positive in life. "Every day was a good day." They helped others and were in the community volunteering. I am attracted to people with good energy and like meeting people of all ages. I go alone often to events, starting that in my twenties to make my self go to coffee alone and making myself a little uncomfortable in situations to gain confidence.

EN: You have been to so many art openings over the years. What do you look for at these events?

GM: Art events support the growth of new work and artists, thus building community. It is part of my life and I hope to bring it back to my neighborhood and to encourage artists to create in Duluth and more! I also get energy from artists to inspire the creative part of myself. I live an art life style.

EN: If you have time, briefly share your life story, where were you born, what you did for a career, etc.

GM: I grew up on a farm in North Dakota. My dad moved to Detroit and my sister and I would travel by bus to see him at a young age. He would drop us off at museums for the day. Thus began my love of glass blowing! I married young and had six children. I started to raise them as a single Mother when my oldest was 14. I was active in their schools meeting some of the friends that I still have today. A group of us had potlucks to share our lives and to know what our kids were doing. We did this until they graduated, giving them grad parties together. I started college and began working with youth in the neighborhood. I mentored young mothers who are still in my life today! I worked for Parks and Rec and retired from Neighborhood Youth Services about eight years ago. I made $10.00 an hour at retirement but it wasn't about the money. It was about them! I have helped raise my grandkids and had several live with me and my nephew. Children have been a part of my life since I was 11 years old. When I retired Mayor Bergson declared it Gene Johnson McKeever day in Duluth! That was June 18th. I organized the mural project for Cascade Park and to this day have a love for installations and community art.

EN: Can you name two or three favorite local art events or shows you have been to?

GM: Three art openings? The movement in Superior to make use of the empty store fronts was exciting and refreshing. I met many new people. I like the openings at The Red Herring and Lydia's gallery (Studio 15) and walking down the alley to Prove. Art is happening in our city now. The AICHO community is expanding and becoming a community gathering spot for many as well. It is a good time in Duluth!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dinner in the Garden: Special Event At Sarah's Table

It's not too late to book your Dinner in the Garden
a special event At Sarah's Table. 

You are cordially invited to partake in a Five Course al Fresco Dinner with Global Wine Pairings this coming Thursday, August 20, or alternately on Thursday, September 3 with Bent Paddle Beer Pairings. The evening includes a guided tour of Chester Gardens and a musical accompaniment during a meal designed to delight your palates by chefs Jillian Forte and Micah Newman. 

Limited seating.
RSVP by calling 218-724-6811.

I haven't seen the menu, but am confident it will be exceptional.

Local Art Seen... in Bayfront Park

This was the 4th year for the event christened Art in Bayfront Park with seemingly countless artists and artisans set up in booths on the entire perimeter, forming a large circle of tents and wares. The sweltering weather may have diminished afternoon numbers, but the event was well publicized and people came out to fill the parking lot and take the stroll.

Glass art by Dan Neff
I don't believe I've ever seen an art fair so publicized. They even had lawn signs, not just in one section of town but rather here, there and everywhere.

The participating artist come from all points on the compass. Some out-of-towners live in campers during the art fair season for this is a chosen lifestyle, and a demanding one.

What follows are a my initial impressions based on my walkabout yesterday.

1. There's always someone doing something completely original that I hadn't seen before, like drum artist Georgie Lehoop. Lehoop paints with drumsticks as if playing the drums. That is, he drums the paint onto his canvas.

2. There is an incredible amount of talent and some very interesting work being done. I was really drawn to a portrait of Bob Dylan by collage artist Kristi Abbott. The detailed cutting and assembling had been done in such a way as to reflect his life story from youth to veteran to elder statesman of rock and roll. I was impressed by how much was continued in each portrait once you got into it.

3. There is so much to see that your eyes can begin to glaze over. After walking half way around and taking time to talk with many of the artists I found myself becoming slowly detached. At this point I only stopped at when I saw something utterly striking, or when I encountered people I knew.  Perhaps it's a diminishing of my curiosity. Early on, I am curious what everyone is making, how they were doing as a business, what they thought of the show. Later, this curiosity began to fade.

4. The variety of work is a good thing. Just when I begin to question the size of these fairs -- how big is too big -- I realize that it's just right if you have a special interest. If you're into ceramic art, there were a lot of people working in clay and you could shop for a new vase or serving dish amongst these many styles. The same held true for painting, glass art, sculpture and other wall art. There are a variety of styles and people doing similar things in different ways.

5. Despite the pre-show marketing and turnout, I heard some say that buying was down this year. I wonder, though just how much art any house can properly display on its walls. There are limits to how much wall space each home has and how many surfaces one will want to place art objects.

6. Are there too many nature photographers? The new technologies used to bump up color saturation and print photographs on other kinds of surfaces were novel when first encountered. The effects are spectacular, but if the photographers compete on price then no one will make a living wage. Supply seems to be exceeding demand, and this has to become a problem at some point.

7. There is much more to say, and so little time. Will save it for another day.

Created using an Asian technique with thin paper strips. 
There was much to see, and there were even things to do... and the setting is beautiful, too.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Enjoy it.