Saturday, April 12, 2014

Local Art Seen: Northern Minnesota Landscapes by Karen Savage-Blue

The American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) at Trepanier Hall (the former YWCA) has become an active space to watch in the Twin Ports arts scene. Last night's opening reception for the Northern Minnesota Landscapes by Karen Savage-Blue proved to be no exception to the rule.

In addition to providing  permanent supportive housing for families the AICHO is Duluth’s first Urban Indian Center. At its core is the operating philosophy Gimaajii Mino Bimaadiziyaan which means “Together we are beginning a good life.”

Part of that good life includes an appreciation for the community and the culture, a culture permeated by the arts. All the elements were on display last night in the main hall where Savage-Blue's works had been hung. A steady crowd flowed through the room, accompanied by the buzz of many conversations and native music. This was my fourth event here beginning last year with Al Hunter's emotionally moving poetry reading from his book Beautiful Razor.

Sleeping Birches
Impressive is an understatement for the project Karen Savage-Blue has undertaken this year: a painting a day for 365 days. I am quickly reminded of Ellen Sandbeck's Buddha-a-Day project and AJ Atwater's Project 30/30. All three projects demonstrate a daily discipline and commitment that teaches an artist much. In addition to character development these projects also enhance skill sets. Savage-Blue is first to note that she has been improving as a landscape painter through this project. All the painting are oil on canvas, framed in black in the float style.

The artist, who lives on the Fond-Du-Lac Reservation, started the new series on October 1, 2013. The themes vary, from sleeping birches to snow storms. And we've had plenty of snow this winter, hence the predominance of images with snowscapes, rendered with an increasing level of fidelity. The upcoming months promise blossoms and plenty of green, I am sure, yielding at last to the rich colors of late autumn once more.

Twisted Plum Trees
She asked me to point out a few of my favorites, and one of them, titled First Snow Cover, had proved especially challenging for her. "I started by painting the entire background black," she said. This proved problematic, but eventually the difficulties encountered were overcome. We both agreed it was a special piece due to the treatment and the manner in which the shapes seemed to correlate to early abstract expressionist sensibilities.

For what it's worth, I believe the show will hang for a while. Quite a few of the pieces sold outright, but there's plenty left to choose from should you be interested. You can also find more of her work at

First Snow Cover
Early Morning Sunrise

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Embrace it.

1 comment:

wendy savage said...

The opening was a great time!! I heard may people say they enjoyed the art work, food and the music!
There was a lot of people behind this art show. They were wonderful to work with and did a professional job! Miigweech!
Wendy Savage, (Karens sister and personal assistant)