Sunday, May 6, 2012

Last Night on the Scene

Vince Larson's piece drew me in.
Unless you've been sleeping under a rock you probably noticed that this week has been Duluth/Superior's (DuSu) 14th Annual Homegrown Music Festival, with 175 bands in countless venues around the Twin Ports including the relatively high profile Trampled By Turtles, just back from a stint on Letterman.

If you've got a day job it's hard to take in so much night life, so I relegated myself to catching as many of the art openings as possible, which had more reasonable hours. I believe this was the first year the Homegrown Art was linked to the Homegrown Music, and it made sense. The bands played later hours, so nearly any night of the week you could take your date to a nice dinner, catch some art and have the rest of the evening for dancing, be-boppin' or jiving. What's your pleasure?

Tonight's officially the last night, if you're not worn out yet, an eight-day week. Still not too late to catch some action. Head to to see what's hot.


Nancy Miller's Dylan is a big "Yes!"
Friday night I was able to catch the openings at Ochre Ghost and Washington Galleries before heading down to Cirque Du Soleil. After the circus, a spectacular event about which much more could be said, we tried to get in to Tycoons to see Uprising. The place was over capacity and we decided to get some rest instead, getting home near midnight anyways. From what I hear we missed a great show.

At the Ochre I met Vince Larson, an artist who has also been part of the ad agency scene like myself. He had a striking piece on the back wall. Nancy Miller's mosaic Dylan is yet another fabulous addition to her eye-catching Dylan tributes. Last year during Dylan Fest her bust of Dylan was featured in the window of this same gallery.

I also had two pieces on display here, Episode 34 and my portrait of Mingus. In the front of the space there were three very small pieces by Robert DeWitt Adams that I liked and this other very interesting tryptich with echoes of Rauschenberg.

Echoes of Rauschenberg were evident in this tryptich at Ochre Ghost.

Saturday night the PROVE Gallery featured another great collection of Homegrown Art curated by Jeredt Runions and team. The show included works by Tara Stone, Adam Swanson, Tara Lynn Austin and many others. It was nice to see the gallery so packed, with many new faces checking out the scene. The regular gallery hoppers were there as well. You could hardly turn around without bumping into an artist, musician, writer or fan of the arts.

The PROVE is such a wonderful space for art. Part of it is due to the fact that they have a different mission. Unlike many of the other local galleries that cram paintings into every available space, the shows and events here feed plenty of breathing room for each piece. The collective has done an admirable job of refurbishing what had once been a run down basement space into a showcase for artists and their works. Last night's show was called Saturday Morning Cartoons, and many of the pieces were as whimsical as the show's name. This picture here of a young woman looking at Adam Swanson's work struck me funny because it looks as if one of Swanson's animal characters has leaped from the painting onto the woman's shoulder.

Two pieces by Lindsey Graskey were back on the left. Graskey is another young independent artist whom I was unfamiliar with. She explained, "I'm just getting back into it. Here collage/mixed media pieces created a striking impression, again perfectly suited to this show's theme. Kudos to the curator.

Many of us lingered for quite some time, but the crowd thinned in order to begin attending music venues.

When I arrived at Sacred Heart, in the company of friends, I found a full house entranced by the music of the Marc Gartman's Fever Dream featuring Gartman, Steve Garrington and Alan Sparhawk, who seems to be really getting around this week.

At the back of the room Mayor Don Ness seemed to be actually glowing. (Maybe that's the way he always is when he's out on the town with Laura.) The Homegrown Music Festival draws out such a large amount of community involvement. Perhaps it was the music or perhaps the ambience of this very special place, but there's no denying the atmosphere tingled a bit.

I asked Mayor Ness about his interest in music. "I never played in a musical band," he said. He noted that he was the only one in his family without a gift in music. "I really appreciate the talent here and see it as my role to promote and support it."

Ness went on to say, "We've made a lot of progress in the arts. It's a different city than it was. You can really see the broader community embracing the arts."

I mentioned one of my own new interests and asked his opinion about restoration of the Armory. "I think people aren't opposed, but they're a little cynical about it. There's been a little progess," he said. It's a great building and needs to be saved."

For what it's worth I'll throw in this plug for the Scarlet Rivera concert coming up May 18 at Weber Hall. All proceeds go to the restoration of the Armory. Scarlet, whose thrilling violin is the spice that gave Bob Dylan's Desire album such flavor, will be accompanied by Gene Lafond and the Wild Unknown. You can purchase tickets for Desire In Duluth here at

The night was still young when I began heading west toward home. Most of those at Sacred Heart wove their way to other venues for yet more music at Sir Ben's, Carmody's, Roscoe's, Pizza Luce, Tycoon's, Lake Avenue Cafe, Rex, and a host of other great spaces for music and entertainment. I myself dropped into the Powerhouse in Proctor to catch the Centerville All Stars who were working up a sweat and playing the hearts out. Way to go. Dance floor was active, lots of smiles on faces. They really know how to rock.

Meantime, life goes on. I managed to get home before turning into a pumpkin. Lights out. And much more to look forward to.
Sacred Heart after dark. Sparhawk, Gartman and Carrington.


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