Monday, March 25, 2019

Local Art Seen: What The Feminist @ the PRØVE

Viridescent by Sarah Brokke
I believe this is the second year for the WTF Show, an art exhibition that strives to bring awareness to feminist issues. This show at the PRØVE featured 79 pieces by local and regional artists. The aim of the exhibit is "to commemorate International Women's Day by bringing visual awareness to feminist issues."

The works were produced in a wide range of media from traditional painting to printmaking to porcelain to Ellen Sandbeck's scissor-cut pieces.
Carla Hamilton's Jewels
Six Graces at the Laundromat by Carolyn Olson
Winter Amaryllis by Alison Aune

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Five Articles Recently Published On Medium Related to the Past, the Present and the Future

These are all fairly short explorations around various ideas. The first two were stimulated by passages from the book Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt. The third examines a thought I had in response to what is happening in France these past several months. The fourth is a brief presentation of how our preconceived biases influence the way we envision the future. The last is a short story idea that came to me around two decades ago when we took a family vacation in the Black Hills.

Lord Nelson, the Battle of Trafalgar and a Lesson in Strategy

Dark Matter and the Psychologist’s Dilemma

My Biggest Concern About the Green New Deal

Notes from Herman Kahn’s The Next 200 Years

Coyote with Broken Mouth (A Black Hills Story)

Painting by local artist Shawna Gilmore.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Local Art Seen: Sirpa at the JNG and a Flask Exhibition

Last night there were several openings of note in Downtown Duluth. The Sirpa Särkijärvi opening at Joseph Nease Gallery is all the evidence we need to affirm the value of this addition to the arts community. The Finnish painter, herself present, was greatly appreciated by the crowd of art enthusiasts who gathered for the freshly hung exhibition.

Down the street you could also attend two other shows: The Flask Exhibition at the Nordic Center and WTF (What The Feminist) at the PROVE.

The Flask exhibition was subtitled A Focus on Form and Function. The show featured flasks a flagons of all shapes an sizes. Flasks have been used in Nordic and other cultures throughout history for carrying liquids from place to place. We saw them in the form of canteens on TV Westerns as kids. The flasks in this show, curated by Karen Keenan and Bob Dearmond, were produced from clay, wood, metal, glass and fiber by area artists, an intriguing theme with some remarkably inventive "products."

It was fun to see the variety of names we have given to our containers. Jugs, flasks and decanters were most common. There were also glasses, a funnel, and a growler, all for sale at reasonable prices, considering these pieces were also art.

Artists who contributed included Bob Dearmond, Erin Eitsch, Richard Cruchalla & Carrin Rosetti, Bob & Cheryl Husby, Elzabeth James and Jim Klug, Clayton Johnson, Karen Keenan, Karin Kraemer, Loiselle D Lehigh, Michael Maguire, May Anne Malm, Yarrow Mead, Kathryn Mongan-Rallis, Rita Morris & Barry Sands, Robin Murphy, Dan Neff, Anne Wolfe Nichols, Denise Perry, Mike Simieja, Sheila Staubus and Julie Zenner.

Gallery hours for the Flask Exhibition are from 1-4 p.m. on March 23, 24 and April 6, 7 as well as on March 29 from 5-8 p.m. during the Downtown Duluth Art Walk.

The space was crammed, but not impossibly so. Friends and fans made their way through, many of them sifting down into the WTF space where it may have been easier to make an exit.

Transcription 57 (She) by Sirpa Särkijärvi @ the Joseph Nease Gallery
Sirpa Särkijärvi
The Joseph Nease Gallery offers a versatile space for a art appreciation.
Sneak preview of what I saw at the PROVE's WTF show & will share soon.
Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Sneak Preview: Sirpa Särkijärvi's Transcriptions at the Joseph Nease Gallery

Tonight Joseph Nease Gallery will for the first time feature an artist from outside the United States with an exhibition of over twenty new works by Finnish painter Sirpa Särkijärvi. The reception will be from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Since opening in October 2017, the contemporary art gallery has facilitated artistic exchange in Duluth by bringing in artists from around the country, and in particular from throughout the Heartland and the Kansas City region, where owners Joseph and Karen Nease previously curated a gallery. This current exhibition, titled Transcriptions, marks a departure from this trend.

As you can see here the Finnish painter has an impressive energetic style. In person the paintings are even more striking, in part due to the scale, and also because of some technical effects. By using a matte, uniform colored background, the glossy, multi-colored images pop from the canvas. The overall impact is dramatic.

Särkijärvi is based in Turku, a city on the southwest coast of Finland about two hours west of the capital Helsinki. She was born in Muonio in the Lapland area of Finland north of the Arctic Circle, a region that experiences 24/7 darkness a portion of the year and 24/7 daylight in mid-summer.

Särkijärvi’s travels have taken her far from Finland, where she has earned an established position in the arts scene. Her work has been shown in Spain and Berlin, drawing inspiration from her experiences in places as distant as Beijing and California. The title of this series, begun in 2015, references her artistic process of soaking in the environments she visits before translating them to the canvas.

“The idea behind the name is that these aren’t just about my inner world, but that I kind of write notes on a paper according to what I hear or about what I perceive,” Särkijärvi told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat in 2017. “Everything comes from the surrounding world, what I see and experience, and what other people experience. I turn it into a picture, like as if it were an engram of our time.” *

How did it come about that Särkijärvi's work is appearing at the Joseph Nease Gallery here in Duluth? In 2011 the artist had work in a Kansas City show where the Neases' gallery was located until until moving to the Northland two years ago. The Neases were impressed with the work and never forgot the artist behind it. The plans for this Duluth exhibition unfolded when the Neases learned that Särkijärvi had received a grant from Finland to exhibit internationally.

“Right at the outset, the Finland connection seemed like a suitable fit for the region, especially in view of the many Scandinavian immigrant communities that settled along the North and South shores of Lake Superior,” said Joseph Nease.

As it turns out, Särkijärvi herself has distant ties to the region.

“Sirpa told us that her great-grandfather visited the Iron Range area and traveled along the north shore before the First World War,” said Karen Nease. “According to Sirpa, he planned to migrate to Minnesota. But when he went back to Finland to bring his family over, World War I broke out and he wasn’t able to return.”

Särkijärvi will be in Duluth for the exhibition’s opening reception tonight and will spend a few days here seeing the area.

“It’s interesting to see how multiple generations of Sirpa’s family have been drawn here," said Joseph Nease. “We’re very pleased to help write a new chapter in a story that started decades ago, so to speak, by showcasing Sirpa’s work in Duluth.”

According to the press announcement:
Her Transcription series blends the portrait and the landscape traditions to create hybrid compositions in which the subject and the background discernibly influence each other. Särkijärvi’s earlier painting series going back to 2011 typically depicted a lone person, often female, in surroundings that were identifiably interior or exterior spaces. In 2015, she shifted her focus to place a greater emphasis on the individual or individuals in a field of emotionally-charged color.

Sirpa Särkijärvi was born in the Lapland town of Muonio in 1974. The Turku-based painter’s systematic process of working with fluid acrylics on a horizontal canvas has distinguished her within the Finnish art scene and abroad, with exhibitions in Spain, Berlin, and Helsinki as well as Kansas City, Missouri in the United States. Her paintings are known for their swirling, flowing colors and tension, reflecting themes from gender and behavior norms, to marginalization, exclusion, and power. 

For more information on Sirpa Särkijärvi, visit the gallery website and the artist’s website

For a chance to meet the artist and see her newest paintings in the Transcription series, be sure to attend the opening reception tonight at Joseph Nease Gallery. More than twenty of Sirpa Särkijärvi’s paintings, all completed in 2018, will be on display at the gallery until June 1, 2019.

* * * * 
Joseph Nease Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located in the downtown art district of Duluth, Minnesota. Similar in scope to its progenitor in Kansas City, Missouri, the gallery features exhibitions of painting, sculpture, installation, and new media by artists regional, national and international. Since its October 2017 opening, the restored building at 23 West First Street has established an arts destination providing educational and social opportunities for art lovers, collectors, and visitors to the north shore of beautiful Lake Superior. For more information on Joseph Nease Gallery, visit

EdNote: Simultaneously, there is also an event at The Nordic Center titled Flask Exhibition: Focus on Form and Function running from 6:00 to 8:30. The weather will be perfecto. Include a little art in your evening plans tonight.

* Sirpa Särkijärvi quotes from: “Scenery Enters the Human,” Turun Sanomat, published Oct. 23, 2017.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Thursday Miscellaneous -- Art at the Encore, Treasures of the Earth JNG and Document Spring

Equinox. Today the sun is crossing the equator into the Northern Hemisphere. WooHoo! It is officially spring. It's nice to see the snow melting and temps rising. If you get out and about there's the Treasures of the Earth arts and crafts event at Peace Church here in Duluth Saturday. Friday night's opening for Transcriptions at the Joseph Nease Gallery will be exciting.

* * * *
Even though Spring begins today, the Oldenburg House is once again pursuing their Document Spring Project from April 15-May 31. To be part of this project guided by expert phenologists and photographers, you will want to Register before April 1.

* * * *
Kris Nelson sent out a Call for Art for an upcoming show at the Encore! Performing Art Center and Gallery. (Located at 2035 S. Hwy 33, Cloquet.)

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash
Their next play is MYNX &SAVAGE by Rebecca Gorman Oneill. A tri-level story of a comic book writer, the characters of his superhero story, and the creatures of his “serious” work.

Your artwork should reflect the theme of the play. Suggestions would be fantasy, superheroes, caricatures, etc. Any new original work will be accepted. (This means no art that has been shown before at the Encore. Also, no prints) Please limit to three pieces. Each piece should be labeled with title, price, medium, artist and ready for display. If your piece sells, the buyer will make out the entire check to you. The theater doesn't take a commission, but donations are accepted.

Work should be delivered Tuesday, May 28 between 9am and 5pm. Work may not be accepted if after this date.

Thursday, May 30, 2019 is the ART OPENING from 6 to 7pm. You're invited to stay and watch the final dress rehearsal as a thank you for displaying your work in the gallery (no ticket required.) Please bring a treat to share. You can "get in character" by dressing up as your favorite superhero or cartoon character (not required) Encourage guests to come and join in the fun.

You will want to pick up your work from June 10 – 17, 2019. 9am-5pm

Creatively Yours, Kris Nelson - 218-348-7619 – art curator Joel Soukkala – 218-451-0715 - Manager

* * * *
On Saturday April 6
THE ENCORE is hosting an art show by the
Arrowhead Art Club. Details below.
* * * *
Of course there is more to see and do than this. 
Just get out and get around.

For an interesting read related to fantasy and imagination
check out this story posted today on Medium:
Gone Too Far? Says Who?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Update: Yellow Vests Continue to Rock France

In December I attempted to draw attention to the Yellow Vest protests, in part as a means of understanding what was going on and, in part, in an effort to at least help make people aware of what had been taking place in France. Considering how few Americans seem even aware of these protests and have little to no understanding of the issues still, I am sharing this update.

Depending on your source, last weekend was the 18th or 19th week of Yellow Vest protests. It was one of the more violent weekends, the saddest part being the destruction that took place on the Champs-Elysees, at the heart of Paris.

If interested in following what is happening here, I recommend using Twitter as a news feed of sorts. Go to and in the Search button type in #YellowVests.

Here is a March 18 story from the BBC:

Here is a story about Paris violence, from VOX:

Here's a Tweet I captured yesterday:

Here is a March 18 story from The Atlantic about France's "Rebels Without A Cause":

Here is my original story in November with helpful insights from an Economics scholar in Marseilles:

Twitter Feed -- #YellowVests

This Mike Huckabee editorial expresses concerns about how the Green New Deal could backfire and produce a similar disruption here. It should be noted that the trigger event in France was a 12 cent gas hike.

Wikipedia gives an extensive overview of the backstory and current events.

I believe that what is happening in France is of major significance and that leaders worldwide are paying close attention to the events unfolding on this world stage.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Lord Nelson, the Battle of Trafalgar and a Lesson in Strategy

I've been listening to a great book by Richard Rumelt titled Good Strategy Bad Strategy.  Of the 100 audiobooks I've listened to the past year this is the third that I found myself purchasing a hard copy by the time I finished the book. I hope to share more about the stories and ideas here. If you are a marketing professional or business leader, I encourage you to read this book. It is the clearest presentation of marketing strategy that I have ever read.

Rumelt begins his book with the Battle of Trafalgar as an illustration of strategy. For the unfamiliar, this major naval battle took place in 1805. Napoleon had made his intention of invading England known. First, however, he would have to clear the English Channel of any opposition.

Britain already had established its dominance of the high seas in the 18th century, so Napoleon teamed up with the Spanish to clear the way for his ambitious plans. The French-Spanish coalition had 33 ships versus Lord Nelson's 27 ship fleet for this confrontation on the high seas.

The normal manner in which battleship fleets would engage on the high seas was to line up in two parallel lines and face off. Lord Nelson, being outnumbered, recognized that being outnumbered would be a major disadvantage. Evaluating his options, he conceived an alternate, non-traditional strategy that would take advantage of his navy's strength, more experience in turbulent seas.

Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash
Lord Nelson chose to form two lines that would sail perpendicular into the Spanish line, dividing it into three groups. He would then surround the tail third and wipe them out while the other ships took time to to turn around. The maneuver also cut off the bulk of the fleet from the signal corps so there was a communication breakdown and much confusion.

When all was said and done, the Franco-Spanish fleet lost 22 ships and Lord Nelson's fleet lost none. The end result? Britain’s naval dominance was firmly secured and remained unsurpassed for another century-and-a-half.

* * * *
So what's the point? Good strategy is built on good diagnosis. Lord Nelson's fleet didn't win by flexed muscles and pep talks. "We're Brits. We're the Best! Hoo Rah! Hoo Rah! Go team!" Because Lord Nelson knew what he was up against he was able to devise a strategic plan that pit his strengths (experience) against the Franco-Spanish fleets lack of experience. In the confusion that ensued, his fleet made fast work of skillfully pummeling the opposition.

The key to marketing success is applied critical thinking. There is no single strategy that fits all situations.

According to Rumelt, good strategy almost always looks simple and obvious and doesn't require a thick deck of Powerpoint slides to explain. It doesn't pop out of some strategic management tool, matrix, charts, triangles or fill in the blanks scheme.

“The core of strategy is always the same," he states. Discover the critical factors in the situation and design a way of coordinating and focusing actions to deal with those factors.

Related Link
Lessons from Desert Storm
Good Strategy Bad Strategy (about the book)