Monson is one of five co-owners of the Gallery which is now hosting its ninth show, Slow Motion. Here are some insights as regards what to expect.
Ennyman: Where did the idea for Slow Motion come from?
NM: "Slow Motion" is a show about movement, both literally and thematically. The idea came to me as movement has always fascinated me. So much art that we see on a day to day basis is static - meant to be in the background. Art that utilizes movement defies that, drawing the viewer in, forcing them to engage with the work on a deeper level. You could say that it has more personality.
NM: Some of the art that you can expect to see will transport you across Lake Superior, explore the grittier details of modern human civilization and illustrate the difference that perspective can make on the experience we have with art. The artists in this show are all regional this time, featuring work from R Dewitt A, David Bowen, Steven J Read, Jes Schrom, and Tim Kaiser.
NM: This is the ninth show in Prøve's short but intense history. We were founded in October of last year, but it took a month to get the gallery in shape. Some of the lessons that I personally have learned include the amount of effort that it can take to sustain the somewhat-frenetic pace we have set for ourselves. It can be easy to get complacent when there aren't major infrastructure projects to undertake. We have had an increasing interest in artists displaying with us, so it can be tempting to assume that curating the next show will be easy. It always takes vigilance in seeking out new and better art. Even if you are expecting to show 5 artists in a show, send out personal requests to 30, and then expect to turn some down. You cannot be afraid to let someone down by asking to see more of their work and eventually deciding that it doesn't fit for whichever show that they have applied for. Expect confirmed artists to pull out. Even days before the show - it will happen.
Another lesson that I've learned is that co-owning a gallery does not mean that you have more time to show your own work. You may have more opportunity, but owning a business is a full-time obligation. Plus you have to feed yourself, so - at least in the early stages - you need to work a day job. Probably full-time. This isn't a bad thing, you meet many exciting artists, get great ideas, and find yourself immersed in a creative energy that is truly invigorating. But it doesn't mean that you will be more prolific. This may sound obvious, but at the same time I think, at least on some level, that we all deluded ourselves on the reality of how our production would be affected by the pace that we defined for ourselves.
E: Who are the artists who will have work in this show and where are they from?
NM: We continue to grow, and each time I feel like we have managed to include work from an artist that I would never have imaged would be attainable by this point in our gallery's history. This leads to the last, and perhaps most significant, lesson that I have learned in the last 10 months. Never ever assume that someone is out of your reach. The worst that they can say is no. More likely, you will be spam-filtered, but you cannot know until you try. There are many very humble artists who have every right to be self-important and ignore you outright. Any time that we bring a national-level or the occasional international artist I feel that we have really done something to bring more energy to the Duluth arts scene. Some of these artists are hiding in our own back yard, and it is our job as the purveyors of arts entertainment in Duluth to celebrate them and help the arts continue on its trend of becoming a hallmark of this town.
E: On personal level, who have been your biggest influences as an emerging artist?
NM: As for my own art, it is influenced by a variety of artists, in many forms. Growing up in Minneapolis, I was always drawn to the pieces by Mark di Suvero at the Walker Art Center's sculpture garden. Something about the massiveness of his creations made a profound impact on me. As I got more interested in art, works by John Cage interested me. The pursuit of removing the artist from the piece - making it purely about the audience - seemed a ridiculous, and simultaneously brilliant, idea. As I entered college studying Sound Art, the ideas presented in minimalist works such as Brian Eno's "Ambient 1: Music for Airports" spoke to my desire to create work that both was aesthetically pleasing and intellectually stimulating. In some ways, the goal of that project is something that I always seek to do with my own creations. It is pleasing if it is ignored, appreciated as background, but if you choose to interact with it, it is rewarding - presenting surprisingly complex ideas out of very little source material. We could go on, perhaps at another time.
Note to Northland friends of the arts: I do hope to see you there. And stop by the Washington Galleries while you're in the neighborhood. It should be another good evening for art.