Sunday, September 8, 2013

Local Art Seen: Washington Gallery and AICHO

"A Captain's Log" by Grandson
“Sometimes I arrive just when God's ready to have someone click the shutter.” ― Ansel Adams
Friday evening I attended two art events and enjoyed both.The first, called Lake Effect, featured work by photographers Samantha Pranger and Brett Grandson. It's impressive how many ways photographers who see the same things we all see can so effectively capture those secret moments to share them with a wider world. The natural beauty of this region creates infinite possibilities, especially for those fascinated with the Great Lake Superior. Weather conditions shift continuously and the opportunities for discovery are endless.

Brett Grandson, a lifelong resident of Duluth, had four large black and white photos on display in the east room of the gallery. Three were taken on Minnesota Point here in Duluth and the fourth, "Dancing Into The Night," was taken at Joshua Tree National Park in California. Grandson's images were printed on canvas and stretched, all of them 24"x 30" or larger. Grandson culled these from his Sticks and Stones Collection - 2013. The fourth piece was playfully titled, "Captain's Log," captured after a thunderstorm had passed over the city. "The size of the waves made it difficult to capture this image because the log was constantly being pushed around as the waves crashed in. A ship waiting to enter the harbor had weathered another storm on its journey home," Grandson wrote in the show's leaflet notes. The juxtaposition of ideas and image produced this title and evocative image.

Samantha Pranger (left)  arrived on our shores from across the state, having grown up in the Milwaukee area. Her choice of University of Wisconsin in Superior (UWS) was more for the distance from home and the in-state tuition. What she found here was a new home, and like others who visit the lake has an effect on them.

"I was my photographs to help people see the beauty that surrounds us, as I experience it every day," she states. "My goal is to convey the everyday world in such a way as to show people how extraordinary it truly is." Her ten gallery wrapped canvas pieces effectively do this.

Down the hill and two blocks east there was another exceptional event in Trepanier Hall, the former YWCA building that now is home to the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO). I'm not sure what I expected so the occasion offered an element of surprise.

Duncan Konczak
Initially I walked past Michael Lemon's remarkable paintings to reach the main room where walls were liberally decorated with paintings by artists Duncan and Tom Konczak, and Avery Makes Room. Jake Vainio provided ambience with subtly sensitive strokes on an electric guitar. My immediate impression was that this was more of a family gathering. All ages were present and the sharing of the art was a social experience and an occasion.

I was struck by the quantity and colorfulness of the art. It entered my mind that our Native American brothers and sisters have suffered immensely yet the work displayed was comprised of brightness and color, rich and full of wonder. Each piece was its own justification.

As I was leaving a spent some time examining the intricate detail in Michael Lemon's paintings. Lemon is from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe out at Cass Lake. The paintings were amazing, many (if not most) created in something reminiscent of pointillism. But the more I studied the images it struck me that the surface was more like the Indian beads I once made a headband out of as a boy. Except Lemon is using a very fine-point brush. Little dots of color, conspiring to tell stories.

And Lemon had stories to tell. He described an encounter he had with a man in Massachusetts who told how the Lord spoke to the man in a dream about a thunderbolt that would be sent to North Dakota. Lemon said he had had the same dream. All of this was tied to the current shale field boom currently underway there.

Lemons paintings are worth exploring further. This exhibition will be on display thru mid-October, so if you are able try to check it out.
Fox by D. Konczak
Jake Vainio helped create a mood and it was good.
Starry Night Over Duluth

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