Friday, September 6, 2013

Twin Ports Arts Scene: Tips for Staying in the Loop

River scene by Ken Marunowski
Over the years I've noticed that there is so much happening in the local arts scene, but no "single source" for staying connected to it all. When international sensations like Elton John or Dylan perform here in the Northland it's front page news and even has the broadcast media buzzing. But there are still so many other things happening in the visual, theatrical and film arts... how does one stay in the loop? How can people enjoy events and discover new artists when they aren't aware that there's been an opening or a show?

Well, here are a few places to look. It takes a little work, but like panning for gold in the Black Hills, if you know where to go and have the right tools, it really isn't that hard.

For years the first place I always looked in the past was in the Duluth News-Tribune's Wave section which can be found each week in their Thursday paper. It starts on the back page of the Sports section and is usually 2-3 pages of stories and "Best Bets." It tends to be strong on events by organizations that have a good PR system like the Duluth Playhouse, the Tweed and the Duluth Art Institute. It's weak when it comes to all those venues that don't have professional staff news-generators.

Tonight, for example, there will be a wonderful art experience at Trepanier Hall (202 W. Second Street, Duluth) with artists Duncan Konczak, Tom Konczak, Avery Makes Room and Mike Lemon and music by Jake Vainio (with possible surprise guests.) This is the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) facility that hosted Al Hunter's evocative Beautiful Razor reading earlier this year. You probably would not know this without help from our newest resource on the scene: Social Media.

Facebook, Twitter and blogging have really changed the face of our community arts scene. Across the country there are vibrant local writers groups and arts groups connecting with one another. I learned about Friday evening's Art-Music-Food event through a posting on Twin Ports Arts Align this week. TPAA is a great resource for keeping tabs on what's happening here in our region. There is so much to see and do that you would not hear about if you only relied on the paper. You don't have to participate in posting or be making art in order to just lurk and get updates on events and arts related discussions. Lots of great ideas out there... a lot of smart and talented people. It's a vibrant FB community.

Ken M and Carrie at Lake Ave Cafe
The only place I saw reference to Ken Marunowski's opening last night at the Lake Avenue Cafe/Restaurant was there at the Twin Ports Arts Align. Ken does plein air (open air) painting and is part of Lee Englund's circle in that regard. I had a beer with Lee and Rosie and learned that there's a huge event this weekend with 70 plein air artists from all over gathering at the artist colony in Grand Marais this weekend. Sounds awesome. (Word of mouth is another great way to find out what's going on.)

Lee said he met Ken at an extreme plein air painting event a couple years ago and they became fast friends. They no doubt have mutual respect for one another's skills and attitude. If you get a chance head over to the DeWitt Seitz Building and check out Ken's work which will be on display now for a while this fall. His paintings of this summer's tall ships are getting a lot of attention and appreciation. (The food is equally stellar, by the way.)

Englund described for me the extreme plein air event where he and Ken met. It's held mid-winter 40 miles up the Gunflint Trail. The painters must cross-country ski into the area pulling their equipment on a toboggan. One year temps were 20 below zero. If you think artists are sissies, you have another thing coming when you consider this breed.

Tall Ships by Marunowski
For those of you who follow things on Twitter, a good way to catch a few events is to look for the #duluthart hashtag. It's not comprehensive but will certainly bring you a few things you won't find elsewhere. And if you're doing art yourself here in the Twin Ports, start using the hashtag for your own posts so we can see what you're up to and share it elsewhere.

For what it's worth tonight at Washington Gallery there's a photography exhibition called Lake Effect featuring  images of our great lake by Brett Grandson and Samantha Pranger. The opening will be from 6-9 and is almost certain to offer up some breathtaking images.

As for other methods for staying in the loop, get into the habit of picking up The Transistor and The Reader. The Reader's "arts" section is now in the back, but not hard to find once you know where to look.

Meantime, tomorrow there's a North Central Windows Project First Harvest Festival to in Central Park at 717 6th Ave East in Superior, with music and more. Like many music and arts events these days it's a fund-raiser for a good cause.

To the artists of our region: thanks for making it happen!

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