Thursday, April 17, 2014

Local Arts and a Little Marx

In Europe it is essential for people to have an understanding of Marx. So let's start this blog with a handful of Marx quotes.

• "Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him."

• "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

• "The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made."

• "Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse."

• "Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know."

So, if you're wondering what those Groucho Marx quotes are all about, read on. We're talking about upcoming events in the Twin Ports and you'll get it in a minute.

Gallery Celebration: The Space Around You & First Spark
Weather permitting, and at this moment in time the snow appears to be slacking off, from 5-7 pm the Duluth Art Institute will be celebrating two exhibitions: The Space Around You featuring photographs by Kristen Pless & First Spark, the annual K-12 art show featuring the work of regional students. Here's a good place to go for details.

Adam Swanson portrait of Jim C
If you haven't been to the Zeitgeist yet, the Hero/Villain exhibit with images by local artists featuring Mayor Ness and Jim Carlson will be up for a while. It's worth going out of your way for. In fact, you may wish to do the DAI and then jump over to Zeitgeist briefly before dropping in across the street to grab a cocktaiil at Blackwater for the Maxi Childs Trio with John Heino on keyboards. (I'm not trying to push ya, but it's a suggestion.)

Duluth Cracked Walnut Festival Reading 2014
Cracked Walnut is happy to return to Prove Gallery in Duluth for another reading for the 2014 Literary Festival. Featuring Duluth and Twin Cities writers, and a singer.  Ryan Vine, Felicia Schneiderhan, Azure Jayaraj (singer), Satish Jayaraj, Jim Johnson, David Stein, Mary Stein, Peter Stein. Once the Steins are finished, be sure to ask for a re-fill.

OK, time for another Groucho quote: "I intend to live forever, or die trying."

AND THE REASON FOR ALL THESE MARX QUOTES is that Saturday the Rubber Chicken Theater is continuing their popular Live Read Series in which the group performs staged readings of classic movie scripts. Next up is the Marx Brothers classic "A Night at the Opera."

Not familiar with the Marx Brothers?  Hmmm. "I have a mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it."

Next weekend there is going to be a flurry of art activities kicking off Friday night the 25th with the Goin' Postal 2014 Spring Art Show, followed Saturday by the annual Art for Earth Day Gallery Hop. There will not be trolleys or shuttles this year, but then again the last couple years I didn't see many people on the buses anyways. Be sure to go out of your way to visit the Tweed Student Show.

For more lists of happenings, check out Thursday's WAVE in the Trib, the arts and events section of The Reader and whatever else you can get your hands on. The bulletin boards at Beaners and Pizza Luce are always a big help, especially for the music scene. And BE SURE TO GRAB A HOMEGROWN PROGRAM. They're out there now, and this year's festival promises more than 200 bands plus other events. Drop in to a few, to see what condition your condition is in.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Listen to the music.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Backstory on A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan and a Reminder of Dylan's Fondness for Duluth -- Introducing Magic Marc Percansky (Part I)

Magician and Promoter Marc Percansky
Marc Percansky has been in the entertainment business since his youth. Early on he used to do magic shows, entertaining not only friends and family but also taking his act out to the world outside. In short, he has been a lifelong extrovert, easy to talk with and wholly engaging. He is currently the producer/promoter for Duluth’s upcoming A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan.

Sunday evening he spoke with me from his mother’s home in St. Louis Park, beginning with a quote from Douglas Brinkley’s May 14, 2009 Rolling Stone interview with Bob Dylan. Percansky wanted to immediately demonstrate to naysayers that Dylan has now and always had a heart for Duluth. But whatever the question, his heart overflowed with things he wished to share and stories to tell.

“Listen to what he [Dylan] said in Rolling Stone magazine,” Percansky said, reading an excerpt from the interview:

I [Brinkley] asked Dylan if he minds people visiting Hibbing or Duluth or Minneapolis searching for the root of his talent. “Not at all,” he surprisingly says. “The town where I grew up hasn’t really changed that much so whatever was in the air before is probably still there. I go through once in a while coming down from Canada, I’ll stop there and wander around. As for Duluth where his grandparents lived, he said thinks it’s one of the country’s forgotten gems. You’ll never see another town like Duluth, he says. It’s not a tourist destination but it probably should be. It depends what season you’re in there. There’s only two seasons, damp and cold. I like the way the hills tumble to the waterfront and the way the wind blows around the grain elevators. The train yards go on forever, too. It’s old age industrial. You’ll see it from the top of the hill for miles and miles before you get there. You won’t believe your eyes. The air is so pure there. The brooks and rivers are still running, the forests are thick, and the landscape is brutal. And the sky is still blue up there. It’s still pretty untarnished, it’s still off the beaten path.”

Marc Percansky: You can only be born in one place. He does have a strong affinity for where he came from. He spent twenty years there. That shaped him. He’s talked about that and I can see that. That’s the thing with this show. It’s hard to figure… The whole state, we have a different connection than the rest of the world to him. When he says “Twilight on the frozen lake, North wind about to break, On footprints in the snow, Silence down below…”  (Never Say Goodbye, Planet Waves)

We know about that frozen lake. We’re from here. We feel the same as him.

EN: What’s your background?

MP: I grew up in the Cities, a suburb called St. Louis Park. I spent most of my life here, except ten years out of here. Five years on the east coast, New York City, and five years on the west coast, Los Angeles. I know like with Bob, I’ve seen it first hand, he’s most proud of his newest work. I remember one time he had a cassette or something and he said, “Wait till you hear this.” It’s funny, because it’s like he’s never done anything great in the past. He’s got this great body of work but he’s most proud of his newest things. That’s the sign of a great artist so they can keep creating till the end.

He’s doing six or seven Tempest songs now. That’s as good an album as any of them. And I think we’ll get a few more out of him, too. He looks healthy and he’s going good. 100 dates a year.

EN: What’s the history of these concerts and how did the first one come together?

Magic Marc funnin' with Dan Israel
MP: There have really been three people that made this happen and kept it going. That would be Paul Metsa first, who convinced Kevin Odegard back in 2001 to get the original session players of Blood on the Tracks together and do a concert. It was at First Avenue here where Prince shot Purple Rain. And I went to that show, it was great. There were sixty bands. It was an incredible thing. They did the songs and that was the first time since 1974.

2004 comes along and there was a concert at the Pantages. Paul Metsa asks me to do a cue card skit imitating Don’t Look Back and go on stage during Lily. Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts. O.K. so I did that. That’s the video I sent to you. That’s the night I met Kevin Odegard. We became friends instantly. I felt like I’d known him forever, a great guy.

2005 comes along. I go with Kevin Odegard and Chris Weber to St. Cloud where they were inducted into the St. Cloud Hall of Fame. I ride out there with Kevin, his father and Chris Webber and I induct them. They do a few songs. There’s a museum there, the Stearns History Museum if you’re ever in St. Cloud.

2009 comes along…. There were a couple concerts I wasn’t involved in. I think they went to Hibbing. Kevin had been asking me to be more involved. I did this at my home base in St. Louis Park where we’ve had these outdoor venues every year. They’ve been benefits for Guitars for Vets, which Kevin brought in that cause. My role has increased through the years. Kevin Odegard for several years, then Billy Hallquist became involved. So it’s really those three guys. Billy has kept it going and really, my role just got bigger and bigger, and we’ve done it every years since. We added Maple Grove. They’re always in the summer, outdoor concerts, which is why this show feels a little different. It’s indoors and not really the heart of summer. There’s a different feeling about it. Also it’s not for Guitars for Vets. It’s for the Armory.

That’s where it’s at right now. And now we have a fourth person to really thank, and that’s Nelson. This wouldn’t happen without them.

The name changed because none of the original BOTT people are involved.


EdNote: The full article from which Dylan's remarks about Duluth can be found in David Brinkley in-depth interview titled Bob Dylan's Late-Era, Old-Style American Individualism.

This blog entry and others like it have the aim of raising awareness for the upcoming Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan concert which will kick off the 2014 North Country Dylan Celebration in Duluth and Hibbing. For tickets to this great event visit

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Curators of Rare Dylan Photo Exhibition Select Hibbing for First U.S. Showcase

The U.S. launch of Grammy's travelling Bob Dylan Photo Exhibit will make its first U.S. appearance in Hibbing, Minn., Bob Dylan's hometown. Northland Dylan fans are abuzz as the date selected coincides with the annual Dylan celebrations that take place here in conjunction with Dylan's birthday.

According to, "Daniel Kramer’s photographs of Bob Dylan document Bob Dylan’s metamorphosis from folk musician to rock-n-roll icon. Curated by the Los Angeles-based GRAMMY MUSEUM, the exhibition features more than 50 of Kramer’s iconic photographs made during 1964 and 1965 when Dylan changed the world of popular music. Included are the recording sessions for BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME, the now famous going-electric concert at Forest Hills Stadium, and private moments of the singer-songwriter who is for many the poet laureate of their time. These seminal pictures of Bob Dylan not only revealed the rising young star to international audiences, they set a standard by which all other rock portraits would be judged."

The exhibit, which first launched in London and Paris earlier this year, will be on display at the Paulucci Space Theater through August 23. If you're familiar with Hibbing you'll want to get on 169 and exit there where you might normally go to the Hibbing Speedway.

The year that photographer Daniel Kramer documented here is one of the most fertile and influential in Dylan's multi-decade career. As I've noted elsewhere, the best way to understand Dylan's significance is to compare the work he was creating to what was taking place in popular rock 'n roll at the time. In '64 the Beatles were #1 and #2 on the Billboard chart with their hits I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You. Dylan was singing The Times They Are A-Changin', Only a Pawn In Their Game and the  Ballad of Hollis Brown. In '65 Woolly Bully topped the charts and the Beatles were busy making Help! while Dylan was releasing Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. I hope I'm not sounding like a broken record when I repeat these historical facts.

For this reason, Kramer's photography has special significance, capturing a pivot point in music history.

It didn't take long for the news to spread here in Duluth. All those involved in organizing the North Country Dylan Celebration were heartbroken when word of Zimmy's closing hit the wire. News of the coming photo exhibition has produced a great uplift of spirits both here on the the Range. posted additional information about the exhibit in a story titled, Photographs Of Bob Dylan Exhibit To Launch May 23, and Rick Kupchella's Bring Me The News includes one of the photos in his announcement, cleverly titled Tangled Up In Black and White. The brief story includes a link to Northlander Aaron Brown's blog Minnesota Brown in which he elaborates on his personal enthusiasm regarding this news. Be sure to click on the links to other Dylan Days information at the end of this piece. Brown has been an active Dylan Days organizer since its founding in 2001.

In more recent years a group gathered to create a corresponding celebration here in Duluth in conjunction with Hibbing's Dylan Days. Duluth was Robert Zimmerman's birthplace and home for six years before his father Abe moved the family to the Iron Range after his first year of kindergarten at the Central Hillside's Nettleton School a few blocks from his house. This year's kickoff event will be held at the Sacred heart Music Center on soon to be re-named Positively Fourth Street. (No, that is only a suggestion and I know of no rumors to that effect. Yet.) The official poster (right) lists the current confirmed list of musicians who will be on hand. Tickets can be purchased at

Occasionally I hear people ask why Dylan says he is from Hibbing if he was born in Duluth. I will answer that two ways, first with reason and second my own personal experience. Which experience do you remember more vividly, your first birthday or your first kiss? Which do you remember more vividly, your first diaper change or your first car?

I was born in Cleveland, but moved to New Jersey in my eleventh year. New  Jersey is where i came of age... my first kiss, my first car, the first time I was beat up. When I scooted off to college, Ohio University became my alma mater. From the first day at school, when I was asked where I was from I answered, "New Jersey." Some people knew Jersey a bit and followed up with, "And where in New Jersey?" to which I would reply "Bridgewater, in the middle of the state."

When Robert Zimmerman left home for college, Minneapolis was his new world for a spell. When asked where he was from, he no doubt said Hibbing because his family was still there, his coming-of-age experiences were there, the house he'd lived in was still there.

Occasionally when asked where I'm from I might say I was born in Cleveland, moved to New Jersey the year I turned twelve." But that's a pretty cumbersome word jumble. Even though I've lived three times as many years in Minnesota now as in New Jersey, Jersey is where I grew up.

Dylan's journey is a bit more complicated. Perhaps to protect his family somewhat, like many in show biz, there was obfuscation regarding his roots. Nevertheless, his roots have been integral in his artistic formation. The Iron Range continues to permeate his music. And he has never once dissed Duluth. In point of fact, he has only good to say about this city on a hillside and its fabulous vistas. I'll save that for another day this week.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. And you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

* * * *
The full schedule for this year's North Country Dylan Celebration 2014 is now being finalized and will be posted soon. In conjunction with this celebration The Red Mug in Superior will feature Dylan-themed art by regional artists for the month of May. I'm honored to have had one of my own paintings selected for the poster this year. The original can see seen at Goin' Postal in Superior during regular business hours, or at their Third Annual Goin' Postal Spring Art Show April 25.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Introducing Barbara Meyer, Another Highlight in the Upcoming Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan

This article is third in a series of interviews highlighting some of the musicians and performers who will be a part of A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan, May 17 at Sacred Heart in Downtown Duluth.

According to Barbara Meyer’s pedigree lists a Master’s in vocal performance from the University of Iowa, where she also studied opera before redirecting toward jazz. Meyer still sings jazz standards around the Twin Cities with several groups, and also sang Afro-Cuban Rock as a member of Minneapolis’ seminal ensemble One World. Her musical roots further encompass Broadway show tunes, gospel, and rock & roll. She has been compared to such vocalists as Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Erykah Badu, and Lucinda Williams, and draws as much critical praise for her live performances as she does for her work in the studio.

In speaking of her second album, the review stated Meyer's "wildly talented band, anchored by international world beat drummer Stan Kipper (4 time Minnesota Music Award winner and double Rock and Country Hall of Fame inductee), joins her to create a truly magical sound." Based on everything I've seen and heard, she is a stellar addition to the upcoming concert here next month.

EN: Where did you grow up and who were your early musical influences?

Barbara Meyer: I grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, in the 1960s and 70s. Early (and continued, really) influences included Dylan (of course), Joni Mitchell, CSNY, the Beatles, Laura Nyro... Man, how to even list them all?!? But that's a start.

EN: How did you get into performing and what kinds of work have you done as a musician/artist?

Meyer: Music was encouraged in me from a very young age. I was given a plastic ukulele when I was about 5, and according to my mother I sang before even I spoke. I have a Master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Iowa, where I studied opera. Currently I have my own band (the Barbara Meyer Band), which includes Stan Kipper (New Primitives, worldwide rhythm monster) on drums, Bill Hulett on bass, Park Evans on guitar, and Andy Shaffer on sax, plus I front a number of jazz/cabaret groups here around the Twin Cities. I am also in the process of recording a collection of Harold Arlen songs with world-renowned pianist Phil Mattson. My musical roots further encompass Broadway show tunes, gospel, and rock & roll, and I also sang Afro-Cuban Rock as a member of Minneapolis’ seminal world beat ensemble One World (again, with Stan Kipper).

EN: When did you first take an interest in Bob Dylan's music? What was it that you especially responded to?

Meyer: Again, I must have been about 5 or 6 when I first started digging Dylan. My sister, who is 7 years older than I, exposed me to him and the others. I think that what first truly drew me in was the simple, straightforward storytelling style of his tunes. I liked (and still do) being able to hear the words and the guitar - the open, intimate feel of it all. Plus the evocative nature of his tunes taught me the special magic of music: transporting the listener out of the moment and into the soul. (Not to get all ethereal or anything...) ;- )

EN: How did you connect with Stan Kipper?

Meyer: I was working at a restaurant in the late 1990s with bass player Tom Peterson. Tommy played sometimes with Stan, who was looking for a singer. Tom suggested me, and Stan heard me and hired me on to sing lead female vocals with One World - a world beat/reggae band that was big around here in the 90s.

EN: You have an older sister… were you the baby of the family? Any particular personal traits that you can share pertaining to your birth order?

Meyer: Yes, I'm the youngest. Hmm... I think my sister and I are pretty typical, from what I've observed in others: she is more introverted, structured, and rule-following, while I tend to be more carefree and spontaneous. I think it's because my folks had relaxed a bit by the time they had me, so I was given more wiggle room. It certainly informs my songwriting, to be more free-spirited, as it were.

EN: Have you always made a living through your music?

Meyer: No, and (sadly) I still don't. It's my career and my life, but I have to supplement up the wazoo to make things work. Yet I love it!

EN: What is it that has enabled Dylan to connect with so many people, not only in the Sixties but around the world and over several generations?

Meyer: Ah, that's a great point: his connection to (and of) people. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he's "every man," in a way - he just lays his heart out in his songs, and folks relate to that. Sometimes he's very straightforward, other times poetic and provocative - just like people are, just like life is. He's larger than life, yet totally accessible. We gravitate to that kind of modest power.

* * * *

You can hear the Barbara Meyer Band at

A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan is a Magic Marc Production and the kickoff event for this year's North Country Dylan Fest, May 17-25 in Duluth and Hibbing.  Tickets here

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Local Art Seen: the ørigin of birds

Friday evening the Prøve Gallery in downtown Duluth offered up another exceptional opening titled ”origin of birds”, a multimedia adventure conceived/produced by Kathy McTavish. The installation is best described by the artist's notes:

The ”origin of birds” exhibit at the Prøve includes a multimedia installation and interactive web site created by a film generator that I call the “graffiti angel.” The origin of birds mixes image, sound, data, text and a live twitter stream to create a video collage / a multi-sensory torrent. The installation includes multiple projections, live performance, and QR code “portals” into an interactive web environment for viewers with mobile devices.

A musical accompaniment by virtuoso cellist McTavish and Richie Townsend on a subdued electric guitar added yet another dimension. The spaciousness of the room and the high production values helped create an atmosphere and experience uncommon in this region.

There was also a participatory piece which enabled visitors to the gallery to add messages to the existing wall of digital images being delivered within the space, though I felt this was underplayed and should have been highlighted more. It's my understanding that this is the first of several installations for "origin of birds" and it may be that the interactive piece can be enhanced in future iterations.

Needless to say the opening was dramatic. The room was abuzz.

Here's the background story on the origin of birds:

According to an ancient Greek story, the god Chaos was the first to emerge at the creation of the universe. Soon after her came Gaia (Earth), Tartaros (the Underworld) and Eros (Love). In many versions, Chaos then gave birth to the Birds. From the primordial depths of time, from Chaos herself came these winged first beings. This wild birthing created migrations and flight.

In more recent times, soon after Darwin published his book, On the Origin of the Species, scientists began a heated debate about the origin of birds. Most scientists today believe that birds are one of the few remaining descendants of the dinosaurs.

In our own brief Anthropocene era, we are witnessing a rapid increase in the rate of extinction. We are in a geologic epoch marked indelibly by a human-created, asteroid-scale period of rapid loss of life as we know it on the planet. This planetary devastation is entering a very fast-moving era, and soon birds quite possibly will be swallowed back into some primordial chaos.

Whatever your take on their origin, it's easy to understand the fascination with birds, how they fit into the grand scheme of things and what their future holds in light of the present changes taking place in our global ecology.

The projected imagery was frequently abstract and struck me as something of a Rorschach test in which one projects interpretations. Some imagery was very definite, such as the aerial view of the St. Louis River Bay aquifer, an area rich with ornithology and aquatic life, both similarly challenged by 100 years of industrialism on these self-same shores.

In addition to event itself McTavish produced a book that accompanied the show. The print media version contains imagery that stylistically corresponds with, but does not reproduce, the images in the show.

There was also a Saturday workshop & discussion designed to look at creative transmedia /storytelling across boundaries. McTavish planned to share examples of artists and writers working in this emerging form, digging deeper into the confluence of technology and art as well as sharing some of the tools used to create the exhibit.

Certainly we've come a long ways since Picasso's groundbreaking Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. And as technologies evolve, so will the new and inventive ways in which they morph with the arts continue. Hence we can anticipate a future that will likewise continue surprise and amaze us.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Local Art Seen: Northern Minnesota Landscapes by Karen Savage-Blue

The American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) at Trepanier Hall (the former YWCA) has become an active space to watch in the Twin Ports arts scene. Last night's opening reception for the Northern Minnesota Landscapes by Karen Savage-Blue proved to be no exception to the rule.

In addition to providing  permanent supportive housing for families the AICHO is Duluth’s first Urban Indian Center. At its core is the operating philosophy Gimaajii Mino Bimaadiziyaan which means “Together we are beginning a good life.”

Part of that good life includes an appreciation for the community and the culture, a culture permeated by the arts. All the elements were on display last night in the main hall where Savage-Blue's works had been hung. A steady crowd flowed through the room, accompanied by the buzz of many conversations and native music. This was my fourth event here beginning last year with Al Hunter's emotionally moving poetry reading from his book Beautiful Razor.

Sleeping Birches
Impressive is an understatement for the project Karen Savage-Blue has undertaken this year: a painting a day for 365 days. I am quickly reminded of Ellen Sandbeck's Buddha-a-Day project and AJ Atwater's Project 30/30. All three projects demonstrate a daily discipline and commitment that teaches an artist much. In addition to character development these projects also enhance skill sets. Savage-Blue is first to note that she has been improving as a landscape painter through this project. All the painting are oil on canvas, framed in black in the float style.

The artist, who lives on the Fond-Du-Lac Reservation, started the new series on October 1, 2013. The themes vary, from sleeping birches to snow storms. And we've had plenty of snow this winter, hence the predominance of images with snowscapes, rendered with an increasing level of fidelity. The upcoming months promise blossoms and plenty of green, I am sure, yielding at last to the rich colors of late autumn once more.

Twisted Plum Trees
She asked me to point out a few of my favorites, and one of them, titled First Snow Cover, had proved especially challenging for her. "I started by painting the entire background black," she said. This proved problematic, but eventually the difficulties encountered were overcome. We both agreed it was a special piece due to the treatment and the manner in which the shapes seemed to correlate to early abstract expressionist sensibilities.

For what it's worth, I believe the show will hang for a while. Quite a few of the pieces sold outright, but there's plenty left to choose from should you be interested. You can also find more of her work at

First Snow Cover
Early Morning Sunrise

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Local Art Seen: Heroes and Villains at the Zeitgeist Atrium

Uncle Jim Will Fight For Your Freedom, by Tara Stone
Where does one begin? Last night I slipped into town for the opening of "Hero/Villain/Savior/Scoundrel: Images of Jim Carlson & Don Ness" at the Zeitgeist. I believe it was the first joint show between the Duluth Art Institute and the Zeitgeist and the vibrant energy ricocheted in every direction. I'm not sure where the seed idea for this show germinated but it was mid-January when Annie Dugan began putting out feelers to see how many artists would be interested in contributing. The response was rich and varied.

Joe Kander's cartoons garnered media attention in advance of the show, the most popular image being an illustration of Don Ness and Jim Carlson as boxers. Ness is baring his chest, spreading his shirt front as Carlson looks on, standing with a flag with a marijuana emblem on it, an amused or confused expression on his face.

Kander, it turns out, is a local ophthalmologist by trade, and also a professional wrestler who has frequently performed in Japan. The latter experience is what led him to have Mayor Ness dressed in a Hulk Hogan costume. Another of Kander's numerous pieces was titled Raiders of the Last Place On Earth, an obvious take-off on the popular Harrison Ford film.

If there were to be a Best In Show, one would be hard-pressed to give it, though Tara Stone's two portraits would be on the short list. Uncle Jim Will Fight for Your Freedom is an oil painting on metal leaf.

It's practically a given that Adam Swanson's paintings will impress you. His treatment of the mayor and rival demonstrated a sensitive, non-judgmental approach that viewed them as human beings, not caricatures or symbols. The portrait of Carlson is probably the best in existence anywhere. The painting of Mayor Ness shows him as just a guy with a glass of beer in his hand. Swanson, whose trademark symbols include penguins and wind turbines, said, "I decided to not put a wind turbine in the background."

At the opposite end of the spectrum there were a pair of pictures that I contributed featuring the mayor and Jim Carlson as Batdon and The Joker. Oil pastels and colored pencils.

Bridget Riversmiths Zoetrope (left) of was another treat. She designed a set of images which enabled you to visually observe Mayor Ness morph into Jim Carlson. Other artists worthy of mention include Dann Matthews, Whitney Saurer, Tyler Scouton, Jack Bratrud and more. The show will be on display through May 10.

"Hero/Villain" touched a nerve for a lot of people inasmuch as the high profile nature of the battle between city hall and Last Place. I listened in on one discussion between some women who noted how they felt safer walking to the show last night than any time in recent memory. One said she always had a hard time trying to decide which side of the street to walk on because of the kind of people loitering there in front of Last Place or across in front of the casino. The passing of Carlson's business made a palpable difference in terms of the uneasiness caused by being harassed if you were a woman.

The city is safer now.

As we head into the weekend, don't forget tonight's two major openings at The PROVE and at Trepanier Hall. Wendy Savage-Blue's Landscapes of Northern Minnesota will be at the latter, 5-7 p.m.  The origin of birds opening is from 7-11. See you there.