Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Things I've learned while covering the Twin Ports arts scene these past few years

Just under three years ago Bob Boone, publisher of the Reader, asked if I wouldn't mind writing a column pertaining to the arts. I was already writing about the local arts scene and interviewing artists here at Ennyman's Territory, so it wasn't going to be much of a deviation from many of my routines.

Near the end of 2014 I decided to hang up my spurs, or whatever it is that writers hang up when they move on. Nevertheless, I still desired to write a summing up of things I learned through this experience, which I may still attempt sometime. Here are a few notes I scribbled as I reflected on this matter.

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1. There is no single source that will keep you informed regarding everything that is happening in the Twin Ports arts scene. The Trib used to have a section called The Wave on Thursdays (and sometimes Fridays) which is now under a new name but serves the same function of identifying some of what is happening. The Reader lists galleries and has a calendar, but that is limited as well. The Transistor also fills a few holes.

2. What happened to the original mission of the Twin Ports Arts Align? This is a much longer discussion than I have time to explore here, but it's worth pursuing sometime. The Twin Ports Arts Align Facebook page is also a good place to learn some of what is happening here.

3. Duluth Grille's Tom Hanson not only does all he can to support sustainability and use local sources for the food he serves, he’s also a supporter of the local arts community. There are an increasing number of venues that will share the work of local artists on their walls, but Hanson goes further. He purchases the work of local artists and helps service the economic well-being of the arts community.

4. There are a lot of creative people here. Many are quietly active in ways you don't really notice. Some exceptional artists who would do well in many other places, but have chosen to live here. The natural beauty of our region is one of the reasons I believe many artists are here.

5. The schools -- UWS and UMD -- have been very influential. Once you start paying attention you begin to see the influence of certain professors with regard to the style of their former students' work.

6. There is more happening than most people are aware of. Once you do become aware of it you start to feel like something "big" is happening. But then, what is big? What do we really expect. For sure, something good is happening. We have a vibrant arts community.

7. Most artists do something else for a living. They will keep being creative because it is a passion, whether it becomes financially viable or not.

8. There seems a need for people on both sides of the bridge to cross it more often.

7. Tourist art and wall art for nursing homes is valuable. There are all kinds of reasons to paint, and it does not have to be "to become a famous artist." It can be simply to make a wall more interesting, comforting, etc.

8. Seems like there's an unusually vibrant poetry scene here. Is this something that is happening everywhere?

9. The Ballet, Symphony and Playhouse get more press because they have staff that write press releases.

10. I see reviews of plays, but can't recall ever having seen a review of an art show. (Someone will send me a link and make me eat my words on that, I suppose.)

11. Confirmed what I believe about creativity being an innate part of being human, but some people lack experience with regard to using art materials etc. which is why we need to keep art in the schools.

12. The Tweed Museum and Duluth Art Institute offer opportunities to see a lot of really wonderful work. I believe both resources are great for the community, and underutilized. Spread the word!

13. There is substantially more talent here than most people realize.

14. There are more venues where artists can show their work than you can shake a stick at. It's a very long list and there are probably many more I'm not aware of. And many that just emerged in the past three years.

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Call for Artists
Nora Fie, manager of children's and yong adult services at the Superior Public Library, is reminding artists that this year’s Love your Local Artist will be on Friday, February 13th from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Please let Nora know as soon as possible if you plan to participate.

As a fund raiser for the library, they now charge $20.00 for a table/display space or you can donate a piece of your work to their Silent Auction. This is an event where you can sell your work, so please have contact information available. Donations and/or the $20.00 are due by Friday, February the 6th. For more information send email to fien@superior.nwls.lib.wi.us

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

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