Sunday, July 14, 2013

Local Art Seen: Friday Night's Art Crawl

There is art to be seen at the MN Wine Exchange.
The weather was perfect and the art displayed fabulous. The "Second Friday" art openings made goin' to town worthwhile. And did I already say the weather was perfect?

Washington Gallery
Carla Hamilton
My evening started at Washington Gallery where Carla Hamilton's Euphoric Recall was displayed. Hamilton, who is back in Duluth after eighteen years in Germany, is producing work in a range of styles in a variety of media including wax, enamel, tempera and water color, acrylic, paper and newspaper fragments.  We spoke briefly about the work and she explained that she is working on a liberation of sorts, because a school can produce a fixed set of rules that constrain you from within.

A mixed media expression by Carla Hamilton.
As I returned to making art in recent years I, too, had to find who I was by breaking the rules I had at one time made for myself (or had imposed on me.) "What is art?" is a big question with no set answer, but it's a quest each of us wrestles with. The gallery is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. if you are able to swing by. Hamilton's work will be on the walls through the end of the month.

It was interesting how the work was presented. The pieces were individually numbered in a discreet manner that provided minimal distract from the art. If I'd taken my time I would have looked at the work while reading their titles, some of which you may find shocking. Others were fun, like "Jacked Up Raggedy Ann", "Burn Barrel" and "Jelly Bean." The work is very reasonable priced and my only regret is that I did not take more time with some of the individual pieces.

Dunner Mann
One piece that I especially liked turned out to be by her son Emanuel Hamilton Eisele. Titled Dunner Mann, it is a painting on glass with the outline of man scraped clean away. Paul Klee came to mind, and maybe Modigliani's long necked women.

Minnesota Wine Exchange
This was a totally unexpected experience. I'd parked down on Superior Street across from Lizzard's Gallery and planned to walk up the hill instead of down. On my way to Double Dutch, where Jay Whitcomb's work is being displayed, I noticed this place I'd not seen before. Upon entering I noticed that there was art on the wall and I struck up a conversation with the proprietors Debbie Fellman and Brent Johanson. As it turns out they have a wonderful space with a fabulous art showroom upstairs. I'm not sure how long the current work will be up but the works of two local notables -- Philip C. Jones and the late John Peyton -- can be appreciated there for now.

Considering the quality of the work, and the wine, I was surprised no one was here on this Friday evening when so much was happening next door and around the corner. Over at the Double Dutch it was a packed house. You couldn't move in the compact space upstairs and the gallery/store space below was full as well. Jay Whitcomb's drawings and images continue to be striking and complicated. The work explores personal spaces that at times appears ghoulishly extracted from the underworld.

PRØVE Collective
Eric Horn and his mechanical hand.
There was much to see Friday evening at the PRØVE, something for everyone, all of it quite exciting beginning with Ryuta Nakajima's fascinating pictures featuring cuttlefish camouflage and related themes. Nakajima is both an artist and associate professor at UMD. The presentation was excellent, the imagery something that stopped you fast in a snappy sort of way.

I noticed, too, that the Crunchy Bunch was performing to the left side of the entrance as opposed to the right. A giant mechanical hand by steampunk artisan Eric Horn served to direct the crowd as it entered. At first you just presumed it was some form of gate or method of directing traffic until you turned and saw what it was. Assembling the big hand must have been no small feat.

A serious looking cat, Ian Welshons
The next section of wall displayed new work by Ian Welshons of Stillwater. I had high expectations after seeing his colorful, off-the-grid work in a group show here last fall. I was not disappointed and have been much impressed by his style and wit as an artist. Currently he is illustrating a story of mine which called A Remarkable Tale from the Land of Podd, which we had running as a slide show in near the hors d'oeurves.

Adam Swanson's work continues to be serious fun, much of it containing motifs he has returned to before like penguins and bicycles. A wonderful painting titled "I Will Write A Sequel" shows a short-haired woman releasing and receiving a pair of birds. Because of his interest in endangered species I am guessing the larger bird is a peregrine falcon. Swanson's paintings have rightfully been receiving a lot of attention. He's just returned froman artist residency in Växjö, Sweden funded in part by a patchwork of grants and miscellaneous connections.

There were works by another artist who was not present and whose name I failed to capture. But I loved his or her Elephant in the Room... something we all tend to dance around at times.

Words are always insufficient when it comes to talking about art. If we could say it with words would we need to make the pieces themselves? The image enters the eye and seeps into places words themselves can never reach. That's why I make the recommendation that you maintain a habit of noticing the art that is all about you here in the North Country.

Three more images from Friday night art crawl:
Elephant in the Room
I Will Write A Sequel
Detail from one of Carla Hamilton's faces.

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