Friday, March 9, 2012

Fermentation in the Twin Ports Arts Scene

According to Wikipedia, zymology is the study of zymurgy, the area of applied science related to fermentation. It deals with the biochemical processes involved in fermentation, with yeast selection and physiology, and with the practical issues of brewing. French chemist Louis Pasteur was the first zymologist, making the connection between yeast and fermentation, originally defining this process as "respiration without air." The breads and wines we enjoy and just two of the results of this process, among many others.

Fermentation is a process that involves time and the right conditions. And it's my observation that some things have been fermenting in the Twin Ports art community that bring a promise of much good for the future of our region. I see it in the new galleries with their monthly gallery hops. (Tonight you can go out on the town and take in four art openings, for example, from Washington Galleries and Ochre Ghost to The PROVE and across the bridge at the Red Mug.) I see it in the increased amount of public places where art is on display. And I see it in some of the activity amongst local people who are passionate about the arts meeting behind the scenes and online via the emergence of social media.

On Monday evening the Twin Ports Gallery Group convened at the Depot again with Duluth Art Institute curator Anne Dugan leading the team. Discussions have been underway to coordinate arts activities to make it easier for the public to learn more about what's happening here and take more of it in, beneficial to both the public and the arts.

Last night DAI executive director Kristen Duckart brought together an entirely different group of people whose passions revolve around the arts, Twin Ports Arts Align. The group includes people from the visual arts, music, symphony, theater and the university. Co-chair in the newly forming group is Crystal Pelkey of the Zeppa Foundation. You will most assuredly be hearing more from this group as the ideas ferment.

On the Superior side of the bridge I was able to attend an equally exciting meeting. (yes, meetings can be exciting!) An City of Superior/Douglas County assessment has been taking place this week. A team of professionals had been brought in to meet with and listen to the various constituencies that have a stake in the future of the city and county. To its tremendous credit, one of the constituencies was the artists. On Wednesday afternoon approximately 25 artists and people with a stake in the arts had a chance to answer questions about the problems and challenges in the community, the strengths and assets here, and the projects they would like to see in the future if there were no barriers.

In my opinion, this kind of dialogue was utterly refreshing and a model that should be adopted in every community. The necessity of incorporating the arts and aesthetics into the very fabric of a community's DNA seems obvious. Unfortunately, it has not been obvious as our society seems to have forgotten the important contributions made by artists in our buildings, living spaces, and the personal development of young minds.

As Kristen Duckart noted in last night's Arts Align group, “We’ve got something awesome going. Let’s not let this fall apart.” There seemed to be universal buy-in to this sentiment. John Heino noted how Art makes people multi-dimensional and is a necessary component in a truly full-orbed education. “We’re on a dangerous path if we make arts dispensable.”

Another person at the table added that the four C’s of an educational foundation are Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity. When I look around at the caliber of people at these various meetings, I see all four of these C's displayed , and am hopeful for our future. It's in our hands to make it happen. And you're invited to be part of it. Dream big.

Top Right: Kristen Duckart addresses first formal meeting of the Twin Ports Arts Align.

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