Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thursday's Art Openings Capture Crowds of Curious Creatives

I doubt that I can recall a larger crowd for an opening at the Duluth Art Institute than the one that gathered last night to see the Ochre Ghost first anniversary event and the Martin DeWitt exhibition. As a bonus, the first of five enormous murals by artist Charles Kapsner was there in preparation for Veteran's Day. Kapsner, of Little Falls, MN, learned fresco on location in the heart of Italy, studying Renaissance techniques in the 19th-century studio of Signorina Nerina Simi. This painting was one of five commissioned for the MN State Veterans Cemetery Memorial Association. But the masses were here for the Ochre Ghost and Martin DeWitt openings.

Arriving a half hour after five was a mistake. All the food had been absorbed by many mouths by that time. Drinking would have to commence on an empty stomach. No problem there.

The Steffl Gallery up on the upstairs landing was absolutely alive. The first thing one espied upon leaving the elevator was a tribute many artists whose work had been featured this past year at Ochre Ghost. (Unless I am mistaken and this was a tribute to the artists who contributed to this particular project.) The artists had constructed a house of sorts that was being yanked away in a vortex wind toward the ceiling of the Depot's Great Hall. Inside the maze one came to the tail of a dragon, or what was that critter, assembled from 200 stuffed animals, snaking out through the back of the maze.

Serious in intent? Must be because the artists had probably slept three hours in the past 48 by showtime. The commitment to splash and the elevated energy involved said as much as the construction itself.

Martin DeWitt is founder and curator for the Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University. The exhibit was called Homecoming because he is originally from this area. DeWitt has exhibited internationally and been a serious artist and instructor for 35 years.

Most if not all of the paintings on display were in pairs, something like ink blots that we folded in half as kids, but colorful and textured. The sizes varied, the intensity of color varied, the impressions no doubt varied from those who studied the work. I found myself reminiscing on my first explorations of texture as a young art student at Ohio University.

Enjoy the pictures here, but more importantly, if you have the opportunity, go enjoy the work in person. It's rich and you will be rewarded.

EdNote: Click images to enlarge. My apologies for the poor lighting in the Kapsner piece, which is 8'x10' and worth a first hand look.

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