Thursday, January 19, 2012

DAI Gallery Celebration Makes For Memorable Evening

Last night's Duluth Art Institute Gallery Celebration at the Depot revealed just how vibrant the Twin Ports art scene is becoming. The quantity and variety of visual works on display showed just how much inebriating fermentation has been going on here in the Northland. Tangier 57 was on hand to provide the perfect melodic accompaniment for this night dedicated to the arts.

The Duluth Membership Show seemed more extensive than ever, crawling over every available surface in the Depot's Great Hall. Inasmuch as one of the rules for displaying your work is that it has to have been created within the past year, it just seems remarkable how many patrons of the arts were exhibiting this year, from passionate beginners to lifelong professionals, and everything in between.

Many of the names are familiar from Tonja Sell, Gary Reed and Scott Murphy to Lee Englund and Tonya Borgeson. But there are countless new faces as well. For example, this was the first time Aaron Kloss has participated, contributing a painting titled Twilight Birch Triptich (right).

Many of the pieces show the artist's appreciation of our natural surroundings with themes like Lake Walk Snow, Winter's Blast, Woodland Art, North Lake Cairn, Lake Superior, Lester River Waterfall, Ode to a Flower and Over the River, Through the Woods.

Some pieces reference art history, like Teresa Kolar's 3 Birds with Kandinsky Circles, and Kris Nelson's Van Gogh's Chair Emerging, which I found particularly fun. (Fun is perhaps the wrong word when discussing the sensitive and anguished Van Gogh, but the piece itself was delightful to encounter.)

Upstairs there were additional exhibits. In the balcony area known as the John Steffl Gallery you could take in Steve Read's (un)natural reactions, a cross between minimalist sculpture and the expressions of nature, particular in relation to the North Shore. Kathy McTavish's Birdland filled the George Morrison Gallery with evocative sound and imagery.

To sum up, even if you missed the opening, the work will be on display through March 1, and you owe it to yourself to check it out. And for those who want to do more than simply see the pieces, you may wish to engage the artists themselves. Kathy McTavish will be leading an artist dialogue on February 2 at 5:30 p.m. and Steve Read will conduct the same on January 26, again at 5:30 p.m.

Whatever your taste, there's something for everyone. Maybe you look at something and don't "get it" but then you walk around a corner and it's an "Aha"... Art can do that to you. Sometimes it can even change your life.


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