Friday, March 24, 2017

More Than The Eye Can See: Talking Photography With Ivy Vainio

I first noticed Ivy Vainio's photography at an exhibition at the Duluth Public Library a number of years ago. Whereas one often sees photography on the walls when you are in public spaces, these photos stopped me in my tracks. I didn't know the person who had produced them but made a mental note of the experience.

There are plenty of fine photographers here in the Northland whom I've gotten know, and several whom I've written about here including Jeff Frey, John Heino and Andrew Perfetti. Two photographers whose paths I most frequently cross while documenting many of the really great music and arts events here are Michael Anderson and Ivy Vainio. I'm always a bit envious of the gear they are equipped with. My Sony Cybershot is adequate, but they have those long lenses and know how to use them.

Ms. Vainio has been actively involved with the American Indian Community Housing Association (AICHO), which tonight is celebrating its fifth anniversary. According to her bio at the AICHO Galleries website, she is a direct descendant of a Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe member and very connected to Ojibwe culture, values and beliefs.

EN: Can you briefly summarize your career? Where were you raised and what are you doing today?

Ivy Vainio
IV: I began taking photographs of events at my workplace at UW-Superior in about 2001 when my supervisor bought an Olympus camera for the office. In 2007/8, my husband Arne noticed that I was taking an interest in photography outside of the office and decided to purchase a camera at a local pawn shop. It was a Canon Rebel and I loved that camera. I had that for a couple of years and started to photograph local powwows and some local diverse community events. Then in 2012, I had a chance to show my photographs for the first time in a public setting in the Jim Dan Hill Library at UW-Superior when I was a graduate student in the Communicating Arts program. That was a semester long show in the Spring and I sold a couple of my photographs.

In Summer of 2012, I submitted three of my powwow photographs to a Photographers of Color Art Show in Minneapolis. All three were accepted. In November of 2012, I had my first solo exhibition at the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) in the Gimaajii Gallery. It was also their first art show in their art space. Over 200 people attended. Since that great year of 2012, I have had my photographs in several art exhibitions, permanent collections in Duluth, Superior, and Cloquet, two of my pieces were part of the Native American exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art for just under two years, and published in several local, national, and two international publications.

EN: How did you come to take an interest in photography?

IV: Through my work at UW-Superior.

EN: When I see you at events I get the impression that the aim of a lot of your photography is as a documentarian. That is, you are present to capture and share what is happening. When shooting, what kinds of thoughts are you having and what matters most? Is it "the story" or "the composition" that is dominant in your aims?

IV: I can tell you that right before a photo shoot, I get so nervous – like I’m going into a job interview kind of nervous. My stomach gets all churned up a bit. Every single time. Right before the shoot, I will put out some sacred tobacco and say a prayer. Once I start the shoot, that nervousness goes away right away.

Like most photographers, I want my images to come out clear, on point, and somehow tell a visual story. I know I need to get better at all three of these personal wants. When I bring the camera up to take a photo, I think about the composition mostly. I was told by another photographer years ago that I should not shoot so focused in on the individual (pertaining to my powwow dancers imagery). That I should “shoot out” and then crop if I needed too. I just can’t bring myself to doing that. I like having what I am shooting up close and personal like you can reach out and touch them. And it’s not just about composition, I like helping to tell the story through the people that I photograph. If that’s a powwow dancer, an elder making a pair of moccasins, or a mother and child marching in a protest. I feel like it’s more personal when the images are up close. Like you can almost get a feel from what that individual is experiencing at that moment.

I like to document diverse events, diverse people, aspects of diverse cultures because history has not done that very well, and/or culturally correct, for diverse communities and members. Back in the day, white photographers would pay a couple of dollars, if that, to a Native person and bring the props with them for that person to wear. So a lot of times, the Native people in the old Black and White photos were wearing items (regalia, headwear) that weren’t even from their tribal communities. And throw in a gun or hatchet for that person to hold to progress fearful stereotypes. Correct representation has gotten better with Native photographers documenting tribal communities and events. As well as other diverse photographers and film makers. No one can tell our story better than someone in our own culture. Someone from the outside of the culture can document but I feel that they lose somewhat of the connection between subject or individual which could potentially be seen in the final image.

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You can read more about Ivy Vainio, her achievements and interests at AICHOGalleries.com.


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If you make it to the event tonight it will be easy to pick her out. She'll be the one with the camera.

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trepanier Hall Being Renamed to Honor Dr. Robert Powless at AICHO Fifth Anniversary

I first became aware of the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) at Trepanier Hall when I attended Al Hunter's poetry reading from his book Beautiful Razor in 2013. Since that time I have lost track of the number of events I've attended there. A truly vibrant cultural center has evolved there and many lives touched and spirits lifted.

This week I received notice that there will be a celebration Friday evening in which the hall will be renamed the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center. Here are details about the event, AICHO and Dr. Powless.

GIMAAJII-MINO-BIMAADIZIMIN 5TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: RENAMING TREPANIER HALL TO HONOR DR. ROBERT POWLESS AICHO ANNIVERSARY

DULUTH, MN -- On Friday, March 24, the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) will be hosting a community event to celebrate Gimaajii-Mino-Bimaadizimin’s fifth year of operation. The event is taking place from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. in Trepanier Hall, located at 212 W. 2nd Street in Duluth. Trepanier Hall itself will be renamed the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center in honor of Dr. Robert Powless, an Oneida elder, activist leader and University of Minnesota - Duluth professor emeritus of American Indian Studies. AICHO is asking that guests RSVP by emailing rose@aicho.org or calling 218-722-7225; the event will include a feast and is free of charge.

Dr. Robert and Linda Powless
The American Indian Community Housing Organization is one of 27 nationwide facilities that focus on a specific ethnic group. They provide housing services for people suffering from long-term homelessness, transitional housing for survivors of domestic abuse, and they run a 10-bed domestic violence shelter - the only Native American shelter that provides services to battered women and their children in the seven county area surrounding Duluth, Minnesota. Honoring the resiliency of Native American people, AICHO’s vision is to strengthen our community by centering indigenous values in all aspects of their work. The Gimaajii Building opened as AICHO’s headquarters five years and includes 29-units of permanent, supportive housing utilizing the “housing first” model. On-site services include assessment, advocacy, case management, and programming. AICHO’s operating philosophy is that every American Indian man, woman and child deserves to live in a safe, non-threatening environment and should be treated with dignity and respect. Mental health services are provided through a partnership with White Earth Mental Health. Other partners include: Fond du Lac Reservation, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Mending the Sacred Hoop, and the Research for Indigenous Community Health Center. Gimaajii also provides a place for people who have a common history and culture to come together, to learn from others, and to share that culture with others. In the traditional manner of respecting elders, life-long learning is encouraged throughout the Gimaajii. Over the years, dozens of organizations have been able to reserve space to hold meetings, have feasts, and to gather at the building and AICHO hopes to continue its tradition of opening its doors to the community.

In conjunction with its supportive services, AICHO has established a thriving arts and cultural program. AICHO works with Native American and emerging artists to help them overcome barriers to their professional careers including unexpected costs, public awareness, and finding their voice in the community. They host hundreds of events year and average over 11,000 visitors annually. Many of these events have taken place in their auditorium / art gallery space, Trepanier Hall. The night of Gimaajii-Mino-Bimaadizimin’s 5th Anniversary Celebration, AICHO is planning to officially unveil the new title of this space in honor of Dr. Robert Powless.

Dr. Powless is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Indians in Wisconsin; he earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison before going to the University of Minnesota’s main campus to obtain his doctorate in educational administration. Dr. Powless was chosen for the honor as a result of his long-term support of Gimaajii-Mino-Bimaadizimin. In the beginning, he served as an advisory member of the Duluth Indian Commission on the AICHO development committee and he and his wife donated $50,000 of their retirement funds toward the establishment of its American Indian Center (Gimaajii). By personally advocating on behalf of homeless American Indians at Minnesota Housing, Powless was able to help AICHO secure the funding that has allowed it to become the organization it is today. Dr. Powless still visits Gimaajii every week while his wife runs errands, spending a few hours each time sitting in the lobby and interacting with children, staff and guests alike. He recently celebrated his 84th birthday and the renaming of Trepanier Hall will be a surprise announcement from AICHO during Gimaajii’s celebratory event.

AICHO Galleries Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/aichogalleries

Subscribe to the AICHO Arts & Cultural Programming E-Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cdpMOf

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Much more can be said, and will be said in the days and years ahead. Tomorrow is simply a marker along the way that something good has been happening here.

Photo credit: Ivy Vainio

Altering the Nashville Skyline and Several Local Twin Ports Events of Note

When I interviewed San Francisco artist Sherry Karver last fall, I began by saying, "Add Sherry Karver to your list of artists to watch." Plunging into spring I've been notified that she's acquired a solo exhibition at the Cumberland Gallery in Nashville. The exhibition, which will be on display through April 22,  received generous attention in Nashville Arts magazine in a story by Karen Parr-Moody.

In addition to having her work featured in a gallery, First Bank of Nashville honored her with a billboard as "Artist of the Week." Now that's pretty cool. Maybe one of our billboard's leading into Duluth can find a sponsor who will give shout outs each month to some of our many talented local artists.

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TWIN PORTS ARTS NOTES

There are a number of art-related happenings these next several days. Here are some quick reminders.

Tonight in the Morrison Gallery at the Duluth Art Institute, 4th Floor of the Depot on Michigan Street, Elizabeth Kuth will be giving an artist talk about her current exhibit titled Rooted Expression.

Tomorrow evening the American Indian Community Housing Organization is celebrating its fifth anniversary. There have been so many fabulous events there and I've me so many talented an amazing artists there over this period of time. There will be a feast and there will be friends and a ceremony to rename Trepanier Hall and honor Robert Powless. 5:30 p.m. to 7:30.

Saturday afternoon Studio 3 West is hosting a closing celebration of WTF!, a powerful and thought-provoking show featuring local women artists advocating for social justice, community action, and civic engagement centered on Women’s Rights and related concerns. 2:00-4:00 p.m. Details here.

FWIW the SCFTA is working on an arts calendar so that artists can all tune in to one place and get the arts news they need to plan their outings. It's a major challenge with so much happening.

Meantime, art goes on all around us. Let's celebrate it.

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P.S. That Idea of having a billboard giving shout outs to local artists seems like a seriously good idea. Is this something to take up with the Duluth Public Arts Commission? Or Visit Duluth? We have more than enough artists to feature for the next ten years. If I won the lottery I would sponsor it myself.  

Throwback Thursday: Ishiguro On Dylan

Like most avid readers I read when I can, and never as much as I'd like. A lot of my reading occurs in snippets during my lunch hours. This week I carried around with me a borrowed Spring 2008 edition of The Paris Review, chiefly with the purpose of reading a fascinating interview with Kazuo Ishiguro, author of Remains of the Day which I recently wrote about here.

In this excerpt Ishiguro speaks of his early influences.

INTERVIEWER
What was your next obsession, after detective stories?

ISHIGURO
Rock music. After Sherlock Holmes, I stopped reading until my early twenties. But I’d played the piano since I was five. I started playing the guitar when I was fifteen, and I started listening to pop records—pretty awful pop records—when I was about eleven. I thought they were wonderful. The first record that I really liked was Tom Jones singing “The Green, Green Grass of Home.” Tom Jones is a Welshman, but “The Green, Green Grass of Home” is a cowboy song. He was singing songs about the cowboy world I knew from TV.
I had a miniature Sony reel-to-reel that my father brought me from Japan, and I would tape directly from the speaker of the radio, an early form of downloading music. I would try to work out the words from this very bad recording with buzzes. Then when I was thirteen, I bought John Wesley Harding, which was my first Dylan album, right when it came out.

INTERVIEWER
What did you like about it?

ISHIGURO
The words. Bob Dylan was a great lyricist, I knew that straightaway. Two things that I was always confident about, even in those days, were what was a good lyric and what was a good cowboy film. With Dylan, I suppose it was my first contact with stream-of-consciousness or surreal lyrics. And I discovered Leonard Cohen, who had a literary approach to lyrics. He had published two novels and a few volumes of poetry. For a Jewish guy, his imagery was very Catholic. Lot of saints and Madonnas. He was like a French chanteur. I liked the idea that a musician could be utterly self-sufficient. You write the songs yourself, sing them yourself, orchestrate them yourself. I found this appealing, and I began to write songs.

INTERVIEWER
What was your first song?

ISHIGURO
It was like a Leonard Cohen song. I think the opening line was, “Will your eyes never reopen, on the shore where we once lived and played.”

INTERVIEWER
Was it a love song?

ISHIGURO
Part of the appeal of Dylan and Cohen was that you didn’t know what the songs were about. You’re struggling to express yourself, but you’re always being confronted with things you don’t fully understand and you have to pretend to understand them. That’s what life is like a lot of the time when you’re young, and you’re ashamed to admit it. Somehow, their lyrics seem to embody this state.

The Paris Review
The Art of Fiction No. 196
Issue 184, Spring 2008

The rest of the interview is a good read, though I don't believe you can find it in its entirety online. Once your appetite has been whetted you'll have to make a purchase to get the rest.

In the meantime, if you were being interviewed today and were asked about your own early influences and interests, what would you say?

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The above story originally appeared on this blog in 2010.

Here's a quick reminder: DULUTH DYLAN FESTIVAL will kick off on May 20 with a concert featuring Robby Vee, son of the great Bobby Vee whom our local Nobel-prize winning Bobby Z (later Bob D) performed with once. 

Stay current with details on Duluth Dylan Fest. Follow us on Facebook.

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This Is What Democracy Looks Like: Nevada Littlewolf @ The Tweed

Pink hats on the left, "Make America Great Again" on the right.

Throughout the year the Tweed Museum of Art on the UMD campus hosts exhibitions of graduating seniors in a special section of the gallery. This week's show is the work of a graduating senior with much more life experience than many of the students whose work has been displayed here. Nevada Littlewolf has served on the Virginia (MN) city council since 2008. She has also been executive director of RAIL, Rural American Indigenous Leadership, an organization dedicated to supporting women.

Her show, This Is What Democracy Looks Like, is an outgrowth of her experiences in local politics. It is simultaneously a reflection of the recent national election which has amplified the polarizations taking place in America. 

If you decide to visit (there's a great Pop Art exhibit that you need to see right now) you will see that Ms. Littlewolf has plastered two of the walls with messaging from the two opposing sides so as to have them facing one another. The messages are taken from life, social media, etc. 

As you read the vitriol in some of the messages you begin to realize that America is in a painful place right now.  

WHAT FOLLOWS HERE are a set of images from each side of the room, presented much the way we were sometimes made to sit in grade school, boy-girl-boy-girl. I do not believe it was an accident to have placed the Hillary wall on the left and the Trump supporters' banter on the right.


Is dialogue possible? 
Actually, there may be more discussions going on right now than have taken place in a long time. Carla Hamilton's Gezielt at the DAI recently renewed dialogue on race relations in America. WTF at Studio 3 West this month revealed how unresolved gender issues remain in America. 

An argument could be made that the outrage is a good thing in that it brings out a lot of the unspoken thoughts and feelings that have been kept closeted for the sake of "getting along." It's apparent that we have a lot of work to do. 

What do you think?  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tech Tuesday: Mark Cuban Predicts AI Entrepreneur Trillionaires

Would it be fun to be a trillionaire? I don't know. I have enough stuff on my plate. And besides, what can you do with a trillion dollars that you can't do with a billion?

This article at CNBC.com makes the sensational claim that one day there will be people who are trillionaires. Is that really possible? The only time I hear the word Trillion thrown around is when journalists and politicos remind us that the U.S. National Debt is getting out of hand.

How much is a trillion dollars? This visualization will help put it into perspective.

The article, though, begs a follow up question. Does Mark Cuban really believe there will be trillionaires someday? Or is he simply building his own personal brand by getting another sound byte?

Another question. Is this first trillionaire making his or her money by actually generating wealth? Or will it simply be generated by skimming foam off all the world's financial markets, exploiting market inefficiencies?

Will this massive wealth accumulation result in improving the standard of living for the world's poor and disadvantaged?

There's another way we can end up with a trillionaire in our lifetimes. That would be for a massive hurricane-force hyper-inflation to set in. Suppose that the government were to start printing hundred dollar bills and everyone received a Ben Franklin for every penny they turned in. Whoever had the most billions at that point would be the first to become a trillionaire. Minimum wage would be raised to 7000 dollars an hour. Would everyone be happy?

Not really. Multiply everything by 10,000 and see what things will cost then and what will be different? A one dollar Reese's Buttercup would suddenly cost ten thousand dollars. One thing that would be changed is our tax brackets. We'd all be paying more taxes until our legislators resolved that matter satisfactorily.

It would also be the end of foreign trade because other countries would not be able to afford our products. They would be quite expensive to produce.

It's hard to wrap my head around the idea of a trillionaire. How bad do we really need fifty car garages?

Maybe Mr. Cuban was simply inviting us to consider that if AI machines can beat the best minds at chess, poker, Go and Jeopardy, that it's only inevitable that they will find ways to "beat the market." I had the same thought last month. How do I get me an AI machine that can do that?

The Markets don't take a shine to being beaten, though. Back in the late 70's the Hunt brothers found a way to corner the silver market. Unfortunately, the Commodities Exchange changed the rules of the game and the boys lost their shorts.

Fortunately, at this point in time, AI machines are not emotional and vindictive when they lose.

In re-reading Cuban's comments I get the feeling he's just trying to wake people up. The power of AI is already being demonstrated, and it's going to make an impact on our world.

So, what if instead of making a few people into trillionaires we instead use its power to create wealth for everyone?

If this topic interests you, check out my interview last year with Calum Chace, author of The Economic Singularity.

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Talkin' Warhol With Tweed Docent Bill Shipley

Friday morning I took advantage of an invitation to visit with Bill Shipley, Tweed Museum docent who spent much of his adult life in New York art scene, ultimately returning to Duluth in 2004 after the passing of his partner Leslie Bohnenkamp.  Last weekend Mr. Shipley gave a gallery talk on Andy Warhol and the current Pop Art show now on display there, an event I was sorry to have missed. "I consider last week's lecture the best I ever did."

Mr. Shipley spent two months preparing, extracting stories from a range of sources including Death and Disaster: The Rise of the Warhol Empire and the Race for Andy's Millions. I'll share his "big three" insights in a minute.

The reason I'd come to visit was actually to see some of the art I'd heard he's collected over the years. Naturally one is first struck by the tidiness of his Park Point residence, something akin to a art gallery space. Next one immediately observes these sculptures by Bohnenkamp that look a bit like a cross between a cone and the horn of a longhorn steer. There are several of these and each gives the appearance of being substantial as if formed in bronze. Instead they are quite lightweight, hollow and made of paper.
Two Shipley paintings flanked by Bohnenkamp sculptures.
In addition to giving tours of the Tweed, Bill Shipley is himself a painter. Like many artists he go through seasons where a single theme maintains primacy over his subject matter. At this time he has been painting Mondrian's Amarylis flowers. Whereas most people are only familiar with Mondrian's colorful abstract squares, such as Broadway Boogie Woogie, that it may come as a surprise how fixated Mondrian on flowers.


When people speak of modern art they frequently have images like Duchamp's cubist Nude Descending A Staircase, and some of Picasso's later works. Perhaps Jackson Pollock comes to mind, and are thus confronted with the question of what really qualifies as art.

The irony is that just as the modernists proclaimed their freedom from rules that bind you as regards what is acceptable as art, the fine art power brokers made sure that their own rules got enforced. The purists considered what many craftspeople were doing to be craft and not art. The role Leslie Bohnenkamp played was to bridge the gulf between fiber arts and fine art. His sculptures are made of coiled, woven and spiraled fiber. When you look at photos of the 2004 Bohnenkamp show, you immediately notice the endless variety of shapes and forms.

After a brief tour we settled down to talk a bit about Warhol. I asked what the Big 3 takeaways were from his presentation. He identified the following.

Shipley's flowers.
1. My biggest discovery: how Warhol based almost all he did on photography.
Shipley noted an experience Warhol had with Richard Avedon, the celebrated fashion designer. He had been making a living as a commercial artist, but when he switched into "fine arts" he became a Brand.

2. The idea of portraiture.
Art historians can point to an abundance of portraits of the rich and famous through the centuries. In the 20th century this tradition seemed to have fallen out of favor. That is, until Andy Warhol brought value back to portraiture. Warhol did 50-100 portraits a year and was paid $25K apiece for them. The waiting list was long, but those with the cash recognized an investment that would produce returns...

3. Warhol's enduring influence.
Andy Warhol is considered by many to have been the most important artist of the second half of the 20th century. His importance can be measured by the market value of his works. His witty pronouncement about 15 minutes of fame is so ubiquitous it has become cliche.

Bill told me an anecdote about Andy Warhol's visit to the Tweed in 1970. He was doing a campus tour, giving lectures and keeping his celebrity status alive. (His films were doing the same thing, being shown on campuses around the country. I remember going to see a portion of his eight-hour film of the Empire State Building.) As it turns out,  people learned later that Warhol had sent an impersonator to do the campus tour lectures.

Much more was shared about his life, his near death experience when he was shot, and the 100,000 photos he left behind when he did finally pass.

Since I'd also come to see the art, here are a couple more photos I snapped.


Eric Dubnicka piece was Best in Show at DAI five years back. 
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Reminders:
Tuesday 4:00-6:00 p.m. is the opening reception for Nevada Littlewolf's Senior Art Exhibition at the Tweed Museum of Art on the campus of UMD. The title of the show is, THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE. It promises to be most insightful.
Thursday 5:30 p.m. gallery talk at the DAI Morrison Gallery, 4th floor of the Depot. Ms. Kuth will talk about her show Rooted Expression.

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Robby Vee Set to Kick Off the 2017 North Country Dylan Fest

The Armory Arts and Music Center has announced the headliner for this year's annual benefit concert to get things in motion for this year's Duluth Dylan Fest, and it sounds exciting. Here's the news I read today:

Join us for an evening of electricity and music hosted by Second Generation Rocker & Rockabilly Hall of Famer Robby Vee and His Rock-N-Roll Caravan featuring Vee Sings Vee - classic rock-n-roll! Robby Vee "The Prince Of Twang” was born Robert Velline named after his father Bobby Vee. He is recognized by both the American and Canadian Rockabilly Hall of Fames and has been performing his unique style of Rock-n- Roll music for years on stages across the globe. Having been on tour with the legends and architects of rock-n-roll, Robby has learned from, and shared credits and stages with the best, from James Burton to Carl Perkins, Albert Lee, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, Sir Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Dion, The Righteous Brothers, Buddy Holly’s Crickets, Dick Clark and his ‘Caravan of Stars Rock ‘N’ Roll Show’, his father, 60’s pop rocker Bobby Vee and many more.

Robby is known for combining elements of his vast repertoire telling stories that bridge the generation gap from “the roots of Rock n Roll to the new sounds of Americana music of today”. As an Entertainer with many studio records to his name, countless guest artist credits, and a history of extensive touring, Vee has captured the attention of audiences and respected industry professionals both Nationally and Internationally.

Robby's dad Bobby Vee got his start in music at the age of 15 with his group The Shadows when they filled in for Buddy Holly in Moorhead, MN in February 1959, the day after the fateful plane crash. Later that year Bobby would hire a young Robert Zimmerman - then going by the name Elston Gunnn - to play piano for a few shows. The rest is history for both of these fine artists. They stayed in close touch over the years. Bobby Vee went on to perform at the Historic Duluth Armory many times over the years. We are thrilled to have his son Robby grace the stage on behalf of our efforts to restore the magnificent Historic Duluth Armory.

Visit Robby Vee's website for more details about the man and his Rock 'N Roll Caravan.

When Dylan performed at the DECC here in Duluth, 1998, the opening act was David Allen and the Guilty Men who performed with such a palpable rock-a-billy energy that a portion of the crowd no doubt temporarily forgot why they had come. They rocked.

Note the connection. Dylan, Vee, rock-a-billy, Duluth Dylan Fest.

The Elston Gunn connection between a very young not-yet-named Bob Dylan and Bobby Vee is a most amusing story of the kid's gumption, a.k.a. chutzpah. And Dylan never forgot that brief moment in time when he got a chance to perform with a big name band that was the real deal. After performing in Duluth's Bayfront Park in 2013, his tour bus made its next stop in St. Paul. Guess who was in the audience that night? Bobby Vee, and the now legendary Dylan paid a tribute to the guy who gave him a chance once.


It's pretty remarkable how things come full circle. The day Buddy Holly's plane crashed in that Iowa cornfield had such finality, it never enters one's mind what happened next. That is, did the tour bus continue on its way? There were people who'd bought tickets for the next show. That Bobby Vee would step in and give that the Moorhead crowd their moneysworth is just another detail that might be worth extra points in a trivia contest some day.

SPECIAL NOTE: The Robby Vee show will held at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, located in the former Christian Science church building across the street from St. Luke's Hospital at 902 East 1st Street. In other words, do not show up at Sacred Heart and wonder where everyone is.

This is the kickoff event for Duluth Dylan Fest 2017. There's a great lineup of events taking place as we firm up our traditions. Coming in from out of town? We're only nine weeks away now. Book your flights and your rooms. New faces from out of the way places are always welcome.

Buy your concert tickets HERE at Eventbrite.

A year ago Bob turned 75 and the DDF team pulled out all the stops to make it a stellar week. Even the weather was cooperative. In the backs of our minds many of us, however, thought 76 would be a but of a letdown after that. 75 s a big one. What we didn't know was that Nobel Prize Committee would soon lend a hand to make this year's celebration special yet again. Join us.

Stay current with breaking Dylan Fest news by Following us on Facebook. 

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Don't let it pass you by.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Twin Ports Arts Scene: Happenings and Upcoming Events

Trepanier Hall
This afternoon at 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. there will be an Artist Discussion about Making Art Today at Studio 3 West. The WTF! show created quite a buzz when it opened earlier this month at the PROVE and Studio 3 West. This afternoon you can hop downtown and see what the buzz was all about.

Monday, March 20
As many of you know Esther Piszczek has been on a Sabbatical. Which is to say that if you've been dependent on her eNews to stay current with what happening in the local arts scene, then it been a rough three months.

On Monday she will be making a public appearance at Barnes & Noble from 4-6 p.m. She will be doing a book signing of her coloring book of Zentangle-inspired artwork, Patterned Peace. At the same time she'll also be doing some interactive demonstrations.

Thursday evening there was a Painting Event with Leah Yellowbird
Some of her work is currently on display in the AICHO Gallery along with pieces by Jonathn Thunder and others. The detail in Leah Yellowbird's work continues to impress and amaze. I've been captured by her magic. Her technique is evolving and her fan base is growing. Here (right) is one of her pieces with a pair of detail close-ups at the end of this post.

More AICHO Events

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More Leah Yellowbird
Detail from above.
Another part of the same design.
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To see more, check out Anishinaabe Kwe at the Kruk Gallery, Holden Hall at UWS featuring works by Native artists Leah Yellowbird, Ivy Vainio and Satah Agaton Howes.

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Wit and Wisdom of Lee Trevino -- The Hispanic Yogi Berra of Golf

It's March Madness which means that during our lunch hour the restaurant we were in had several monitors displaying NCAA basketball playoff games. During one of the commercial breaks we were reminded that The Masters, one of pro golf's premiere events, is just around the corner. This triggered a debate between two of the men at our table. Topic: What is the greatest single sporting event championship in the world? No one dared suggest Super Bowl, though I was inwardly wondering whether soccer's World Cup might qualify. The golfer at our table declared it to be the Masters. His opponent placed his bet on America's Cup, whereupon this comment was made: "Yacht racing? That's like watching paint dry" along with several follow-up barbs.

While these jokes were being made at the expense of America's Cup, my mind slid back to a handful of golf-themed memories from my youth. Golf had been one of my father's passions, so we were introduced to the game quite early. When we were kids in Cleveland he'd drive us to a certain stretch of forest adjacent to golf course where he'd have us do a scavenger hunt for golf balls. He knew exactly where to have us look, because a few of these may have been his at one time.

I later caddied for a couple years while in high school, and enjoyed the benefit of playing for free on Mondays. Though my skills never advanced beyond being a hack, I enjoyed the game and followed the pro circuit enough (via Sports Illustrated and televised tournament golf) to know who the name were. My dad was part of Arnie's Army, the nickname given to the fans and followers of that golf great whose chief adversary (and respected friend) was the "Golden Bear" Jack Nicklaus. I myself liked the South African Gary Player, in part because he always wore black, like an outlaw of sorts.

And then, there was Lee Trevino.

Lee Trevino
Here's the story about Lee Trevino that most stood out for me. Before turning pro he used to make money by putting money on the game. I believe I read in Sports Illustrated that he had a giant Pepsi bottle that he used to play golf with. He would bet against other golfers that he could beat them using only a Pepsi bottle against their full set of clubs. He purportedly made pretty good that way. If I have my facts right, this may have been what pushed him to compete in the pros.

His achievements were many, and in 1971 he became the first player to win the U.S. Open, British Open and Canadian Open the same year. In fact, he did it in a three-week span.

Trevino also had another unusual threesome. He has been purportedly struck by lightning three times, one of them during the 1975 Western Open. The odds of being struck by lightning during your lifetime, for what it's worth, are 300,000 to one, though I'm guessing your odds might improve considerably if you're routinely out on a fairway when storms roll in.

Lee Trevino grew up very poor. He has no memory of his father who abandoned the family while he was very you. At age five he was helping bring in an income picking cotton. How he emerged from these roots to become an elite golfer is a tale for another place in time.

Baseball fans are well acquainted with the Yogi Berra's Yogi-isms. (Susie and I frequently recite his restaurant quip, "No one eats there anymore because it's too busy.") Lee Trevino's way with words can be equally entertaining. Here are ten Trevino statements to get you started.

1. The older I get, the better I used to be.

2. If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron.

3. Pressure is playing for ten dollars when you don't have a dime in your pocket.

4. When you're poor, you know nothing about the future, you know nothing about the world, nothing that goes on outside 300 yards around you.

5. You're Mexican until you make money and then you're Spanish.

6. Golf is a game invented by the same people who think music comes out of a bagpipe.

7. My swing is so bad I look like a caveman killing his lunch.

8. I'm not out there just to be dancing around. I expect to win every time I tee up.

9. I'm not saying my golf game went bad, but if I grew tomatoes, they'd come up sliced.

10. Every golfer should come to the first tee with fourteen clubs, a dozen balls, a handful of tees, and at least one great golf story.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Give it your best shot.

Photo courtesy Creative Commons.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The Day After Bob Dylan's 69th Birthday + An Announcement from the Hibbing Dylan Project

ORIGINALLY POSTED MAY 25, 2010
So Bob Dylan is 69 plus one day today. I mention this only because, because... because I wanted to.

I missed the party last night. I was busy out in my studio finishing the first of two or three compositions I'm devising for the Bob Dylan Way Manhole Cover Art Contest. I did get a few more details. You can submit more than one design. Also, these will be regular manhole covers, one color, embossed, not mini-murals. These are practical manhole covers, to be cast in iron.

Speaking of Dylan, this morning I remembered the first time I saw one of his albums. Ed Hilliker, whom I rode school bus with in junior high school, had The Freelwheelin' Bob Dylan with that iconic image of young Dylan walking through the streets of New York, head tilted forward against the wind, with a smiling woman in a green coat (Suze Rotolo, I would later learn) tightly clutching his arm. The liner notes were by Nat Hentoff, who followed the music scene and wrote for the Village Voice. Hentoff's fame stemmed from his intimate portraits of obscure jazz greats who were producing incredible sounds during the fertile fifties and sixties, before jazz filtered into the masses.

Hentoff's Liner Notes begin like this...

Of all the precipitously emergent singers of folk songs in the continuing renascence of that self-assertive tradition, none has equaled Bob Dylan singularity of impact. As Harry Jackson, a cowboy singer and a painter, has exclaimed: "He's so goddamned real it's unbelievable!" The irrepressible reality of Bob Dylan is a compound of spontaneity, candor, slicing wit and an uncommonly perceptive eye and ear for the way many of us constrict our capacity for living while a few of us don't.

Not yet twenty-two at the time of this album's release, Dylan is growing at a swift, experience-hungry rate. In these performances, there is already a marked change from his first album ("Bob Dylan," Columbia CL 1779/CS 8579), and there will surely be many further dimensions of Dylan to come. What makes this collection particularly arresting is that it consists in large part of Dylan's own compositions The resurgence of topical folk songs has become a pervasive part of the folk movement among city singers, but few of the young bards so far have demonstrated a knowledge of the difference between well-intentioned pamphleteering and the creation of a valid musical experience. Dylan has. As the highly critical editors of "Little Sandy Review" have noted, "...right now, he is certainly our finest contemporary folk song writer. Nobody else really even comes close."


The highlighted observation above proved to be dead on as far a prescience goes. Who would have thunk it? Dylan has appeared in more forms than a Hindu god.

This memorable album cover actually becomes a scene in the eternally recurring happy dream gone awry of Tom Cruise in the film Vanilla Sky. What's interesting to me is that the song which Cameron Crowe chooses to play while these Dylan-in-love copycat images are being displayed is not from Freewheelin', but rather is the song Fourth Time Around from Blonde On Blonde. Fourth Time Around implies "over and over again." Very interesting, and it's about something good gone bad.

Well, we're taking Dylan back to the streets again here in Duluth with a few new manhole covers for Bob Dylan Way. Deadline is just around the corner.

* * * *
FAST FORWARD TO 2017

TWO CALLS FOR ART
1) The Hibbing Dylan Project just announced that they are looking for artists who can create temporary Dylan murals in downtown storefronts. As I read the news today, oh boy, it seemed much like the Phantom Galleries that Superior artists generated for several years. Except this is Hibbing, and the good friends of the Dylan legacy want to celebrate his recent Nobel Prize. Here are the details regarding this current project.

2) The Duluth Dylan Fest is planning a Dylan-themed art exhibition during this year's Dylan Festival here. There will be a reception held on Monday May 22.  Bob Dylan has not only been a literary and performing artist, but he's also been a lifetime visual artist.
Submission Requirements:
1. Artist's statement
2. Brief bio (2-3 sentences)
3. One to three pieces (must send sample PDF or JPG format less than 1 MB each)
4. Description of piece (Title, medium, dimensions, price)
5. Send email to: ennyman (AT) northlc (DOT) com.   SUBJECT LINE: DYLAN ART