Saturday, July 16, 2016

Local Art Seen: Plein Air Artists Capture and Share Their Visions of Duluth

The Better To See You With, by Patty Voje
Back in the early 90's, when we lived atop the Central Hillside, I came home from work to find a painter seated on the sidewalk across the street from our house. He wore a maroon beret, light jacket and a studious expression as his brushstrokes moved pigments across the surface of the canvas he was working on. I walked over to speak with him.

As it turns out, he was from Hungary or Bulgaria, I can't quite recall. I asked why he was here and he noted that there were three exceptionally beautiful cities in the world like ours, with a body of water and steep hills, where the afternoon sun filtered through in the wonderful way it does here. The other two cites, he noted, were San Francisco and (if I recall correctly) Zurich.

So it's only natural that Duluth should host a plein air painting competition. We have ample subject matter. All we really need is for someone to help "manage" the event. Duluth Art Institute stepped up for the second year in a row and made it happen. Or rather, became the catalyst that set the event in motion.

Into the Light, David Gilsvik
The participating artists come from many places, setting out daily to capture the scenery here. Despite the dismal weather at times, the artists explored and found many rich and rewarding scenes that they in turn interpreted for us. The one "given" in Duluth is that no matter the weather, the lake itself is a spectacle.

The way the competition works -- and yes, this is a juried show with rewards -- the artists begin the week with their canvases or paper stamped and certified as blank before the week begins. That way, no one can come and say, "Look at this fantastic piece I created," which they may have done two summers ago when they were here. When the art was displayed in the Morrison Gallery last night it was hung brand new, created this week.

Quick Paint #1, Tyler Driscoll
Another feature of the competition is the 90-minute pieces that are now hanging in the corridor gallery outside the DAI offices. The artists are all brought to a single location and given 90 minutes to paint or draw something in the vicinity. The location this year was in the West End/Lincoln Park area, so we saw lots of winding overpasses and curves.

For the rest of the week, artists chose their subject matter from all kinds of places, from a pond on a farm to the chairs on the beach, from the lift bridge at night to the historic stone arch bridge on Seven Bridges Road. Enger Park, Glensheen Mansion and flower gardens all got captured in oils, acrylics, watercolors or pastels.
Still Life, Larry Turbes
Destination: The Atlantic! by Greg Lecker
Mary Pettis, Good Morning Duluth
Rosens, Adam Swanson
Thank you to the Duluth Art Institute for making this happen as well as to these sponsors who helped support this event: The Depot Foundation, St. Luke's Hospital and the Whole Foods Co-Op. The work will remain on display through September 9.

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


Michelle Wegler said...

Thank you for the description of the plein air event. It is very interesting to see so many different visions of Duluth presented by the artists in the exhibit.

Greg Lecker said...

Thanks much for your blog entry & work. Your blog's presentation, images are beautiful!
- Greg Lecker