Monday, October 23, 2017

Wednesday Is Last Day To Register for the Masquerade Gala

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
--Thomas Merton

The Duluth Art Institute celebrates its 110-year anniversary this year with a masquerade gala, raising funds for the future and continued growth. The DAI Board of Directors has appointed Christina Woods as Interim Executive Director to oversee the gala; lead a talented team forward into the 2018 exhibition and education season; and serve in succession planning and the search for an executive director. Gala proceeds will support more than 15 exhibitions in the coming year, as well as the Art of Grief exhibit opening Nov. 4; and a variety of workshops, classes, Free Family Days, and the Lincoln Park Craft District Artist Residency program. For details about the gala, Art of Grief, Christina Woods, and the 2018 exhibition program, keep reading.


Masquerade Gala Nov. 2 to Celebrate 110-Year Anniversary of the Duluth Art Institute; Raise Funds for 2018 Programs and Operations

2018 Exhibition Calendar Announced; Interim Executive Director Christina Woods Appointed to Lead Talented Team Forward

Duluth, Minnesota—Oct. 6, 2017—The Duluth Art Institute celebrates its 110-year anniversary this year with a masquerade gala, raising funds for the future and continued growth. The DAI Board of Directors has appointed Christina Woods as Interim Executive Director to oversee the gala; lead a talented team forward into the 2018 exhibition and education season; and serve in succession planning and the search for an executive director. Gala proceeds will support more than 15 exhibitions in the coming year, as well as the Art of Grief exhibit opening Nov. 4; and a variety of workshops, classes, Free Family Days, and the Lincoln Park Craft District Artist Residency program.

For details about the gala, Art of Grief, Christina Woods, and the 2018 exhibition program, please see below.

About the Masquerade Gala 
Nov. 2 The Duluth Art Institute is pleased to present a Masquerade Gala Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day, celebrating 110 years of connecting visual arts, artists, and the community. The evening at Greysolon’s Moorish Room includes a sit-down dinner at tables hosted by local artists/recent DAI exhibitors. Guests will receive a gift personally selected by the artist. Also available for purchase will be original artwork and artisan-designed masks; silent auction items and experiences; and beautiful, handcrafted vases in recognition of 40 years of partnership with the Fiber Guild and 25 years of the DAI Lincoln Park Ceramic Studio.

Tickets are available via 
through Oct. 25.

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For an aside on this theme, read my blog post Of Masks and Men.
Better yet, check out the images at this blog post on Henry Roberts' Venice Carnival.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Get into it.

Three States Reveals Aims of the New Joseph Nease Gallery

Whirl Signal iPad, James Woodfill
Thursday we shared a few moments from the ribbon-cutting at the Joseph Nease Gallery. James Woodfill's Wayfinding exhibit had failed to completely find its way here at the time, but there was enough in place for early visitors to grasp the caliber of Duluth's newest gallery space. Saturday afternoon Joe and Karen Nease officially opened their doors for the public opening reception.

This first show was titled Three States, a reference to the three geographical regions the featured artists hailed from. The artists getting top billing were Matthew Kluber of Iowa, Kathy McTavish or Minnesota and James Woodfill of Missouri. A dozen other artists, however, were also represented throughout the gallery.

James Woodfill has been a painting professor at the Kansas City Art Institute from 15-20 years. A 1980 grad he entered into a commercial art career before getting into studio art. His works demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach that in this particular show features movement and light kinetics. Interestingly, all three featured artists incorporate the same central concept but with totally different outcomes. Woodfill's gallery installations have received national recognition in numerous publications including Art In America, the New Art Examiner and Sculpture Magazine, among others.
James Woodfill

The artist whose work you encounter upon entering the gallery is Matthew Kluber. The first eye-catching piece, titled No Place Like Utopia, is the one featured in Thursday's blog post with it's sequence of photos depicting Kluber and Mayor Larson engaged in conversation. Another large piece title Parsing the Lingo is comprised of alkyd on aluminum. Then there are a series of small gouache paintings on Arches watercolor paper. When you visit his website it's apparent that the Iowa artist is fascinated with color and light.

A captured moment in time from ticket by Kathy McTavish
Kathy McTavish, the third featured artist in this show, has assembled her composition, titled ticket, in an isolated room in which code-generated animations are being projected on the walls along with random numbers and sounds, a visual-sensual experience generated via wireless network, chrome browsers, projectors and the cloud. While different from Chance, the current Tweed show, it has many similarities and seems to raise some of the same issues, while toying with the same fascinations. 

In addition to the three featured artists, the JNG also showed 1-4 works by a dozen artists in a variety of media that included oil, acrylic, gouache, photography, crayon & ball point pen, and solid-case earthenware with slip. The 25 pieces were evenly distributed throughout the gallery in such a manner as to almost be deceptive. That is, a visitor to the gallery might easily assume there aren't that many pieces here, but then the spaciousness surprises you. This hall here, that room there, with nothing competing and all pieces getting their deserved attention. 

Here are the other artists with work currently on display: photographers Raissa Venables and Tim White, Warren Rosser, Peter Granados, James Brinsfield, Marcus Cain, Heidi Pollard, Eric Sall, Don Kottmann, Warren Rosser, Carey Esser and Eric Sall. 

And here are some additional views:

Blue Hall, by Raissa Venables, Archival Pigment Print, 2009

Several Woodfill sculptures
Before moving to Duluth with his wife Karen, Joseph Nease, a civil engineer by profession, ran a gallery in Kansas City devoted to cutting edge art. They call this gallery Joseph Nease Gallery Version 2.0, integrating the many lessons they learned from their first gallery experience. One feature of the new space is that some of the walls are on wheels so that gallery configuration does not have to remain locked in a single patten.

The gallery brought on board a curator, Amanda Hunter, to assist in managing all the behind-the-scenes matters that others might take for granted. This particular show, Three States, will remain installed until early January 2018.

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To Visit the Artist's Websites:
James Woodfill --
Matthew Kluber --
Kathy McTavish --

Better yet, visit the gallery in person: 23 West First Street, Duluth MN

Sunday, October 22, 2017

8th Goin' Postal Fall Art Show and After-Party Is A Bash

An electric vibe filled the little shipping store on Tower Avenue in Superior Friday evening. There are no tickets (it's a free event) so an accurate head count is near impossible, but the steady flow of traffic through the store/pop-up gallery was indicative of another satisfying milestone passed at the 8th Annual Fall Goin' Postal Art Show.

This year's show had the benefit of a tailwind from seven years of assembling the circus. It also had its obstacles, the primary one being time constraints as many of the same champions of this show are also absorbed in producing next week's ambitious Hallowade, a Halloween-themed fundraiser for NoteWorthy Kids at historic Wade Stadium in Duluth on Saturday, October 28th from noon until 10 p.m.

Friday night, though, the spotlight was on and the Goin' Postal Show delivered.

The after-party at the Top Hat one block North featured four bands, including the newly formed retro group Laura Velvet & the Bookhouse Boys. Here are photos from the art show followed by a series of shots from the Top Hat. If nothing else, it's my hope that this will entice you to make an appearance at next year's Goin' Postal shows.

Detail from a piece by painter Elizabeth Kuth
Artists Elizabeth Kuth (L) and Rachael Weizenegger

Laura Velvet & the Bookhouse Boys: Lisa Holman, Cally Nielson, Maija Elizabeth Tatro, Luke Perry, John Heino, Tal Lindblad, Randy Lee, Jimi Hendrix (a.k.a. Andy Perfetti).
* * * *
More sights and scenes from weekend shows coming soon.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Kathy McTavish's Chance Unfolds at the Tweed

"Code is a literature ::: a pattern language ::: a score. It is a choreography ::: a performance. A code renderer is the weaver ::: the mill ::: the alchemist ::: the wizard. Code is a spell ::: an incantation ::: an intent. When code is performed it is an activation of text ::: a linguistic gymnastics." --Kathy McTavish

Thursday evening the Tweed Museum of Art held its opening reception for Kathy McTavish's stimulating multi-disciplinary full immersion experience called Chance. Chance is an exploration of the  intersections between art and technology, humans and machines, the networks, sound and mathematical systems.

This installation includes a landscape of painted walls representing the human in print. Multichannel sound surrounds networked machine quartets that are choreographed to draw interconnected chance-infused, emergent and interconnected animated patterns.

In addition to being an aesthetic experience, the exhibit is intellectually and philosophically stimulating. The concept of chance is as old as the history of mankind. In early times it was bound up with notions of randomness and fate, with multiple layers of religious belief systems indexed in. Likewise there's something perpetually intriguing about risk and games of chance. So it was against this backdrop I was most interested in this latest creation that was now brought public.

Chance not only generates images, sounds and sensations, it also sparks new thoughts which it would seem interesting to explore in a deeper dialogue. The idea that the computers render infinitely and are never the same is interesting because despite the fact that the room is constantly changing (including transformations as the external light shifts from day to night) why does it feel like at some point something is missing. That something is the story, or the person behind the code. A full engagement with the installation might lead one to ask questions about the meaning of existence, and what it means to be human.

According to McTavish, the components of the exhibition evoke a sense of change, infinite flow, emergence, friction and resonance within the enclosed space. It reminds me of markets -- the commodities exchanges, Wall Street -- and how these, too, perpetually change, have their rhythms and apparent randomness within structure.

The audio portion of the exhibit is equally unscripted, which she describes as "an ever-shifting blend of found sound and the hum of electrically-generated sine waves."

Last night I participated in an art show in which one of my own paintings was titled "At the Intersection of Time and Chance."

Many artists have found new expressions by means of the incorporation of randomness and chance into their work. (I think here of Max Ernst, for example.) Kathy McTavish has performed her explorations in a 21st century era in which digital phenomenon have become transcendant.

Here is some additional information about the work, which I imported from her web page associated with the show.


Christine Strom & Erika Mock
at the entrance to the exhibit.
Chance is a synergetic installation that combines code, image, and sound to create a cross-sensory, polyphonic experience. A landscape of painted walls and multi-channel sound encloses the viewer. Choreographed by code, a circle of machine quartets investigate chance, emergence, friction, resonance and change ::: a cloud orchestration.

Chance opens October 19, 2017. The year-long exhibit will be a living, evolving space ::: a residency / habitation / research lab / performance space. Printed artifacts will be left in the space to give the feel of blueprints / notes ::: a score. The Sax gallery at the Tweed is a luminous space. Its many skylights filter shifting seasons and variable weather patterns ::: a photosynthetic recitation. It provides a sanctuary ::: a place for rest and reflection.

This is a time of great planetary change and political turmoil. Chance has evolved under these skies. There is a machine / human friction present in the space. As the work evolves I have a sense of trembling before god ::: a struggle towards language & coherence ::: an ongoing ritual of conceal & reveal / imprint & erasure / struggle & resistance. As a queer artist I inhabit a landscape of the infinite between. This work embeds an infinite series of choreographed transitions. Machine renderers will perform their twists and turns (their monitor-bound between-ness) 24/7 for a year. The marks across the wall echo the arc of my body.

Chance explores the intersections between art & technology / humans & machines / polyphony & mathematical systems. My generative artwork is inspired by the mathematical representations of ecosystems that I studied while a student at the University of MN, Duluth. Mathematical models are often used to represent physical systems ::: our ideas about how the world works. They are like a score / orchestration / script / generative code. Algorithmic blueprints draw the contours of change and movement ::: convergences, divergences, emergent patterns and cascading, system-level impacts. Mathematical models can depict the complexity and profound tension between independent threads and the bounds of interconnected webs ::: the polyphony of life.

Code is a literature ::: a pattern language ::: a score. It is a choreography ::: a performance. A code renderer is the weaver ::: the mill ::: the alchemist ::: the wizard. Code is a spell ::: an incantation ::: an intent. When code is performed it is an activation of text ::: a linguistic gymnastics.

In a perfect confluence of electricity, network, rhythm, memory, processing, action & reactions a program comes to life ::: Pinocchio ::: a real boi at last. The program (the cybernetic ze) speaks to us, calculates for us, responds to our touch : our keystrokes. It becomes our mirror :|: our cyborg self ::: our memory.

other thoughts

Chance is a frayed thread, a stochastic cloud, a pointillist field, a variance, a complexity, an uncertainty, a ragged line. Chance is a prayer ::: slim window of chance ::: survival in this time of profound climatic change. Evolution requires variability, chance and fruitful deviation. A system's ability to adapt to change depends on its ability to mutate ::: on trial & error & improvisation.

This installation combines code, paint, and sound. A pure tone can be modeled with a sine wave. Sounds produced by horsehair, pine pitch, metal, wood, friction, sinew, bone, breath and reed are a complex crash and tumult of waves more like an ocean than an oscilloscope. Worldly sound is gorgeous in its noise and deviance from pure tone. The exhibit blends the generated hum of sine waves hovering near 4 tonal centers with a subtle chordal wash of natural sound.

Indeterminacy ::: a line opens into a surface of possibilities. Random numbers ::: probabilities ::: a pattern emerges from the haze. Time & space carve out convergence or dissolution ::: balance, extinction or chaos.

Connectance ::: ecosystems embody the tension / balance between individual life threads and the complex web of community. Resilience of the whole depends on intricate relationships between the parts. To live in a networked, interdependent system is to be bound but also to be fed.


* * * *


The Opening Reception for Three States is from 2-5 at the newly opened Joseph Nease Gallery at the corner of First Avenue West and First Street. 


Karin Kraemer is hosting her Grand Opening from 5-8 in her new West End location. 
Come check out her new space, Duluth Pottery, which includes a studio AND a gallery.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Quick Preview of Tonight's Show @ Goin' Postal, Plus a Peek at KM's "Chance" at the Tweed

Last night was a busy arts night in the Twin Ports, at least for those who tried to catch Chance (Kathy McTavish's new exhibit) at the Tweed and simultaneously needed to get ready for the Goin' Postal 2017 Fall Art Show tonight. In the interest of giving "Chance" the suitable coverage it deserves, I will save my notes and most of the photos for another post soon.

The lights were on late last night as Andrew & Becky Perfetti and friends busied themselves with hanging tonight's show at 816 Tower Avenue in Superior. A shipping store by day, it's also an art gallery (salon style), music studio and creative space for a range of other interests.

The Fall Art Show will be from 6 to 9 with an afterparty down the street at Top Hat Tavern (the current iteration of the former Cove) with a special appearance by Laura Velvet and the Bookhouse Boys and (rumor has it) live painting by Dusty Keliin.

There will be some wonderful new images by John Heino, always a treat.
There will be art of all stripes, plus friends of the arts, old and new. Three new contributors to this year's who are Adam McCauley, Eric Dubnicka and Elizabeth Kuth. Others who have produced and brought new work for tonight include Glenn Blaszkiewicz, Becky Perfetti, Andrew Perfetti, Tal Lindblad, Marcie Crain, Dusty Keliin, John Heino, Ed Newman, John Dromeshauser aka Johnny Mudd, Ash Marnich, Richard Rosvall, Tara Stone, Kerry Gauthier, and Cully Williams.

Will you join us?

Detail from one of three abstract paintings by Elizabeth Kuth.
Another gem.


Entrance to the Gallery.

Jonathan Thunder, an emerging Native artist gaining national attention.
Christine Strom (L) of Tweed staff with textile artist Erika Mock.
FWIW, Erika Mock makes wearable art and is having a special Live four-day show online at her Etsy store here. Type in the code YES17 to receive Free Shipping during the four days of this sale. Check it out. Original Christmas gift ideas or just a little color for yourself to get you through some drab winter days.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. And yes, I do hope you can make it to our Goin' Postal Fall Art Show tonight. (And don't forget 2-5 at the Joseph Nease Gallery tomorrow.) And... 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the New Joseph Nease Gallery Generates More Enthusiasm for the Expanding Arts District

The official announcement went out in mid-September. The Joseph Nease Gallery would become the newest addition to Duluth's Historic Arts & Theater District (HART).

For everyone who felt that Don Ness was the epitome of Mayoral Cool, I'd suggest that Mayor Emily Larson has proven herself to be a great sequel. Yesterday she made an appearance at the Ribbon Cutting ceremony for Joseph Nease Gallery in the emerging Duluth Arts District. Familiar faces included artists Matthew Kluber* (seen here in this scintillating sequence with the Mayor), Kathy McTavish, Tim White, and others. Former Duluth Poet Laureate Sheila Packa, journalist Claire Kirch, representatives from the Greater Downtown Council and Duluth Chamber of Commerce, Karen Anderson (Playlist) and assorted local media were all on hand for the occasion.

Mayor Larson, pausing to review notes...
...then lighting up the room.
Mayor Larson shared that she was excited for the Nease gallery opening and said thank you for choosing Duluth as their new home. She reminded those present and the public (by way of the media) of the significant economic impact the arts has been having on our region, affirming that "art is more important than ever... a beautiful mosaic that tells our stories." 

Joe Nease, who had the honors of doing the ribbon cutting, said he was happy to be downtown and was "glad we found this space." He shared that it was an opportunity to give Duluth exposure to other artists. The Nease Gallery in Kansas City had shows that on several occasions obtained national recognition. I personally have been looking forward to the contributions the Joseph Nease Gallery (JNG) will be bringing to the Twin Ports arts scene.

It's been a busy couple years for the Joe and Karen Nease who first had to find a suitable space, then purchase and renovate it. It's been a lot of work, and there's still more to do before Saturday's Opening Reception (2:00-5:00 p.m.) A few of the walls in the space are on wheels so they can be moved about for various kinds of exhibits, a conceptually intriguing idea in and of itself.

This first show, Three States, features Matthew Kluber, Kathy McTavish and James Woodfill. Woodfill was one of the Kansas artists with whom Joe Nease had been associated there. McTavish, one of our local artist explorers in the digital age of art, has been busy simultaneously preparing for tonight's major opening at the Tweed. You can catch a sneak preview here

Yesterday's ribbon cutting was just one more reason to be excited about what's happening here in the Northland arts scene. 


"CHANCE" Tonight at the Tweed

GOIN' POSTAL FALL ART SHOW. 17 Artists. Friday, 6-9 p.m.

OPENING RECEPTION SATURDAY for THREE STATES here at the Joseph Nease Gallery. Do drop in.

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*For Cleveland Indians fans: The answer is "Yes." Kluber is genealogically related to the young Indians ace. I also learned that Mr. Kluber's wife is a shirttail relative to Hall of Fame hurler Bob Feller, who one of my first teddy bears was named after.