Friday, November 14, 2014

Local Art Seen: DAI Biennial and Highlights of the North Shore Bank of Commerce Collection

North River I, by Cameron Zebrun.
A month ago I was installing several of my paintings at The Break Room, a new place on Fourth Street downtown that's brought a whole new vibe to the place where the old Twins Bar used to be. I got into a conversation with a bartender there who is new to Duluth, having come here from Portland or somewhere up in the Northwest. He made the observation that there's a percolation taking place in the arts scene here, the kind that precedes something big emerging. There's an electric vibrancy under the surface, he said, like a breaking dawn, not a twilight like other places he's been.

Thursday night this sense was fully in evidence at the Duluth Art Institute 60th Arrowhead Regional Biennial which was held in conjunction with the Biennial-Themed Collection at the North Shore Bank of Commerce. The Biennial showed us the variety, strength and sensibilities of our current crop of artists while John Steffl, who curated the North Shore Bank show, pulled out all the stops to make it evident that this town has had a vibrant art scene long before now. The artists who have contributed so much locally have laid the foundations for the rest of us who strive to make a contribution to the arts community going forward.

Earth Scraper by Susan Kachor Conlon
The DAI's Arrowhead Regional Biennial—the longest running biennial in the Midwest—is a juried show assembled this year by Diane Mullin, Senior Curator at the Weisman Art Museum at the U of MN in Minneapolis. The reception took place from 4 - 7 in the DAI John Steffl Gallery and Great Hall of the Union Depot. The Biennial included prizes sponsored by Lizzard's Art Gallery & Framing ($250), CPL Imaging ($500) and the North Shore Bank of Commerce ($1000).

The DAI's interim director Dana Mattice thanked the sponsors and introduced juror Diane Mullin who acknowledged the challenges of selecting the final works to be displayed. The diversity of contributions was only a part of that challenge.

It was intended to be an "evening to remember" and for those who were out last night it was indeed that. The 2014 Arrowhead Biennial featured artists from the entire Midwest including Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada. Mediums included photography, sculptures, mixed media and painting. It's considered and important show and inclusion can be a significant moment in the career of featured artists. The exhibit, now on display through February 15, 2015, features 26 works of art.

George Morrison paintings and drawings created a buzz.
In addition to the Biennial, the George Morrison Gallery featured a George Morrison exhibition, which I considered surprisingly impressive and very different from what I expected. The Hallway Gallery features Jo Wood's Meaning of Home.

In short, there's much to see if you can find a way to get down to the Depot and/or to the North Shore Bank on Superior Street.

The photos on this page are from the Duluth Art Institute event. Tomorrow I'll share pictures from the fabulous collection at the North Shore Bank of Commerce.

Collage 4 (Family Memories) by Carmen Gutierrez-Bolger
An abstract expression by George Morrison.

DON'T FORGET tonight's art events... An opening reception for Broc Allen and Michael Smith at the New York Building in Superior, 5-7 p.m. It's a new Phantom Galleries show with what is certain to be some exceptional work.

At Trepanier Hall be sure to see Leah H. Yellowbird's show in the Gimaaji Building (former YWCA). Over at the PROVE Gallery on Lake Avenue this month's theme is Plys with Purpose. And up top of the hill Lenore Lampi's 2-Day Holiday Sale. Why wait till Black Friday to start your Christmas shopping.

Speaking of Christmas... it's never too early to order copies of my new children's picture book for your children or grandchildren. It's A Remarkable Tale from the Land of Podd.

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

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