Sunday, September 29, 2013

Local Art Seen: Ottertoberfest at the Duluth Aquarium Features Three Artists Who Love the Beauty of Our Region

Dark Moon Risen, Mary Power
Friday evening I had the opportunity to stop at two really special art openings. Ottertoberfest at the Duluth Aquarium was one of these. (I'll write about Gary Nelson's "Working Through" in the next day or two.)

Let's just start with what I've been saying for quite some time. The Northland here is one heckuva beautiful corner of the world. So it's only natural that people with a keenly developed artist aesthetic would either want to move here or would be already here and want to respond to this Northland experience. The three artists featured at the Aquarium this month -- Rachel MaKarrall, John Pastor and Mary Power -- exemplify this idea profoundly.

The exhibition is titled "From the Lake to the Forest."Merrill Lynch is title sponsor of the show which is an outgrowth of the Artists of Project Art for Nature. There are costs associated with presenting art, and benefits to the community when art can be shared in such a public manner. Framing alone is an expense, and though dollar store frames will help put pictures on the wall, a wonderful drawing or painting is significantly aided when the frame is worthy of the piece. All this to say that if you want to become a friend of the arts and have the means, perhaps you can assist an artist to get his or her next show looking it's best.

I think it's safe to say that the world has been greatly enriched by the music of Tchaikovsky. But it was the financial assistance of his patron Nadezhda von Meck over a period of many years that enabled him to focus his energy on composition.

OK, back to the show. Rachel McKarrall love bugs and beetles. I mean really loves them. MaKarral says that to her they are more beautiful than butterflies, and her work sets out to prove this assertion. After seeing MaKarral's beetles you just might take a new interest in these fabulously varied friends of the earth.

At one point I was watching and listening as John Pastor explained the stipple technique he uses on many of his pieces. Stipple is a technique of applying ink in dots or very tiny strokes. The gentleman was fully engaged in a drawing as Pastor stated that one little section took eight hours to create.

John Pastor (foreground)
Pastor, who grew up in a Hungarian community in New Jersey, is a biology professor at the University of MN, Duluth here in the north country. He's also a writer, having published a book on mathematical ecology, which is essentially the mathematical modeling of biological systems. It's apparent he has many passions, but the dedicated devotion he shows to a drawing or watercolor painting of a bird demonstrates that he has a serious fascination with his subject matter.

Mary Power's creative spirit goes far beyond the technical reproduction of nature's attractions. Power produces work derived from nature, totally liberated from traditional forms. Her artist statement opens with the question, "How can we integrate our lives with the natural world?" Her art demonstrates a measure of this, fully integrating native fibers such as cattails into a graphically appealing whole, a form of re-invention that is equally engaging.

Today, or any upcoming day this month, will make a good day to venture forth to see this special show.

1 comment:

David Beard said...

How did I miss this? I thought I was going to Ottertoberfest today, Sunday?

Hopefully, the art is still there!