Friday, June 30, 2017

Local Art Seen: Thunder at the Depot

Last night the Duluth Art Institute hosted an opening reception for a pair of shows that are now on display through the summer: Play (in the John Steffl Gallery) and Peripheral Vignettes (in the George Morrison Gallery). Play features the work of a trio of artists--Robert DeWitt Adams, Elizabeth LaPensee and Christopher Selleck. Of this exhibit I will write more at another time. This blog post will feature the work of Jonathan Thunder, whose work I have been following since I first enountered it at the Washington Studios.

Perhaps a name like Thunder calls forth boldness. There is nothing saccharine about Jonathan Thunder's art. The colors are vivid, the imagery compelling, and the finish on these canvases somehow conveyed the sheen of a pearl, which made you almost want to feel them and not simply gaze.

The characters and subjects in his painting have their origin in his dreams, he has explained. His canvases are a form of journaling. When I was young I kept a dream diary for six of my years as a teen. Jonathan Thunder's diary is visual, as opposed to my ink scribbles on lined notebook paper.

Thunder's Native roots are in full evidence here. Though his roots are Minnesota, he studied in the Southwest at the American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Visual Efects and Motion Graphics from the Art Institutes International Minnesota.

This latter course of study explains the animated work that was displayed in the gallery and on Thursday, July 20, there will be a film screening at Teatro Zuccone, at 7:00 p.m.

Though mostly paintings, there were also some large ink drawings, produced with a decisive hand.

Inside the one alcove off from the main gallery space there were a pair of paintings with more muted coloration, striking only because of their stylistic contrast from the other pieces.

One of two large ink drawings.
The two-hour reception included a jazz guitar accompaniment by Briand Morrison, son of the artist George Morrison from whom the gallery takes its name. At six o'clock there were some brief remarks made about the show and a reading by the poet Dustin Blackletter.

The titles of many of the paintings had a whimsical quality. For example, "How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Rabbit" and "Deer Woman Gets A Manicure." Others were simply descriptive, such as "Road Signs" or "Big Red Owl."

The gallery space buzzed with energy, drawing a large swath of local artists, writers and fans from the community.


Jonathan signs his book for artist Karen Nease.

"Big Red Owl"

Perhaps the most unusual: "She Dreams of Flying"
The show will be on display through the summer. Mark you calendars for the Artist Talk on August 15 here at 5:30 p.m. Sponsors for this exhibition include the Minnesota State Arts Board, Art Works and CPL Imaging. 

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

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