Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Slow Living and an Icelandic Illusion

A scene from the hills of Northern Italy.
"There's something about the pace of life that makes it difficult to really slow down and assess where we're going and how we're doing on this journey called life."
~ Ed Young

The Ed Young quote above is how I opened my 2015 blog post about Slow Living. We think we can experience more by going faster, but the truth is quite the contrary. When we're moving fast we miss so much.

Here's another blog post on the same subject from a historian in Italy who introduced me to the concept of slow living. When we eat fast we fail to savor our food, and the friends whom we share meals with. Poetry is best appreciated in a slow, reflective frame of mind as we absorb the imagery language paints for us.

So, here's a story about a small town in Iceland that created a levitating crosswalk for the purpose of slowing down traffic. The trick of the eye induces a reaction because... well, you can see why here in this video.

The artist was Gautur Ívar Halldórsson, co-owner of a pavement marking company. You can read the full story here. I'm sure this has caused more than one driver to put on the brakes.

If you're out tonight, watch for trick-or-treaters. It's halloween. Drive slow, especially at dusk.

Meantime life goes on all around you. Stop and smell the roses.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Poet Bao Phi Comes North to the PROVE

"I think that different races struggle against different types of racism. I think that, Asian-Americans, it's 'We're never from here,' and so our history is largely seen as irrelevant if it gets acknowledged at all." --Bao Phi

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I'm guessing that if there had never been a Viet Nam War that most Americans would not know where Viet Nam was even located on a world map. The same probably holds true for Bosnia and Somalia, where the U.S. sent troops during  the Clinton administration, or Kuwait in Desert Storm.

It's interesting how Asian immigrants have played a role in U.S. history for more than 150 years, but that even though living within our borders there seems to be little awareness of their history, or how that history became intertwined with ours.

All these thoughts came to mind when I received an invitation to a reading by the poet Bao Phi here in Duluth next Saturday evening at the PROVE.

I asked Kathleen Roberts to share a little background on how she first became aware of his writings and how this event came about.

Kathleen Roberts: I'm not sure the first time that I ran across Phi's work, but I have been aware of him for at least the last 8-10 years, since college. It might have been in poetry class? At any rate, I can tell you that the poetry series selects poets using a system in which each board member selects three poets with new books forthcoming, and we vote as a group to determine which writers will be featured that season. The evening will be a pretty straight poetry reading, with Phi as the sole reader. It starts at 7:30, and I would estimate it will be 45-60 minutes long. The selections will probably be from periods throughout his writing career, but will focus on poems from his new collection.  

Follow this link to read an interview with the Bao Phi that appeared on National Public Radio.

Read a piece by the author titled Sirenum Scopuli.

His first book was titled Song I Sing (2011). His two new books are called Thousand Star Hotel and A Different Pond.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cookin' @ the O -- My Visit with Pippi Ardennia

Pippi Ardennia.
They say Ella Fitzgerald was the undisputed queen of jazz singing. An NPR story* described Fitzgerald in these terms: "Her youthful exuberance, pure sound and positive energy just make you feel good. Her incredible technical abilities were self-evident, but when she sang, she radiated a joy consistent with her own character both on and off the bandstand."

I'd like to suggest that having witnessed Pippi Ardennia's performances on three occasions, I'd be hard-pressed to find a better description of my experience than this one: "Her youthful exuberance, pure sound and positive energy just make you feel good. Her incredible technical abilities were self-evident, but when she sang, she radiated a joy consistent with her own character both on and off the bandstand." I'm dead serious when I say this, and if you don't believe me it's only because you haven't seen her perform.

Pippi Ardennia has been the centerpiece in a series of Northland performances at the Oldenburg House featuring a jazz/blues music in a dinner theater atmosphere. It's called Cooking at the O, and the next weekend of shows will be November 10 & 11. Earlier this fall I caught up with Pippi on a Saturday afternoon and gathered more insights about her life and career. Here are some of the notes from that exchange.

"I knew I was going to be a singer since I was five. My grandmother Lovella knew I was going to sing, and told my Mom while I was in my crib, 'If you don't have her sing for the Lord she is going to sing for the world.' I always feel like I'm singing for the Lord just singing. Like flowers, their beauty just is.... God's gift."

Pippi grew up in Woodlawn on the South Side of Chicago and began singing in nightclubs when she was 13. "My mother was really a big supporter. I was the oldest of 12 kids.... It was during the time when integration was happening, but people had a lot of pride living in their communities.

Pippi with fan, Billy Peterson on bass.
"I lived in Chicago till 2005 when I came to the Twin Cities. Moved to Eden Prairie, driven by a need to do the music. I just needed to be away from Chicago's rat race and focus on the music I was feeling inside of me," Pippi said. Her sister had a house, but had relocated to Atlanta. Pippi has family here in Minnesota, four brothers, one sister, her daughter and her dad, so she really wasn't far from a sense of home.

It was through Glenn Swanson that she came to perform in Carlton. "I got connected with Glenn after I spent several years in Eden Prairie writing music and creating the concept of PipJazz. I decided to stay here in the Twin Cities and chose St. Paul because I'm a city person.

I got involved with this family homeless shelter there, the Family Place and started a program called the Family Circle of Possibilities. While working with the families and children at the shelter I wanted to expose the children to Art. That's when I found a place with amazing art called Lift Kids. I went in and met Glenn."

During her first 3-4 months of talking with Glenn she noticed a piano and drums and asked what these were doing here. He said he plays drums. Pippi, who had a gig lined up at the library, asked Glenn to join her.

A St. Paul Cover Girl.
There was a jazz festival and he said he had the cats, meaning the Petersons. (Three generations of multi-faceted musicians.) "I introduced a friend of mine to Glenn and he said we should go into the studio and record. Glenn produced it, and we made amazing music on this CD. It was an incredible time... 2011. Before the opening of Pip Jazz Glenn's father had passed away. Glenn was so excited to share with his dad what they were doing, and this happened." Two weeks later Pippi's mom passed. "Then we opened at the Landmark in St. Paul. It was a tough time but we plowed through."

"That year was the time Glenn had the idea to make this place (Oldenburg House) into a bed and breakfast. The band all came up and knew that was something that was supposed to be... because of the magic on these grounds and the love in this house, in this little town of Carlton.... something that should be shared."

"I’ve realized if you choose not to be your true self there will be a least a thousand people who won't be inspired to become their true selves. We inspire each other to be our best selves by living our dreams!” Music is my breath and sharing songs is my love gift to the world!”

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Learn more about the Oldenburg House here.
Purchase Tickets for Cookin' at the O in the Carlton Room.

* Jazz Profiles: Ella Fitzgerald 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Two Day Sale of Works by Island Lake Artist Elizabeth Kuth

"Somehow in the West we think everything is a problem to be solved. I don’t think this way. You should be relaxed and enjoy oneself. Some painters have everything worked out in advance, all their colors, everything. That’s anathema to me. I start with canvas, and see what happens."
--Bill Morgan

I saw my first Elizabeth Kuth piece on the wall of a former director of the Duluth Art Institute. I made a mental note yo visit her studio some day. Eventually it came to pass, and I have been a fan ever since.

This weekend there will be a sale of Elizabeth Kuth paintings and drawings at her studio on Island Lake. It's my understanding that she is planning to move to be nearer her grandchildren, and thus is beginning to divest herself of some of the work she's created and accumulated.

I began with a Bill Morgan quote because Kuth is yet another local artist who was influenced by this UWS professor and painter. I love Bill's work, and have the same feeling for Kuth's paintings and drawing, produced in that same spirit of discovery and awe.

I took these photos of her work during a recent visit so they are not necessarily the ones on sale. That is, some of these images are  and a few are just shots I took because of a desire to share here, to whet the appetite and let you know that it will be worth the effort to make the trek.

Prices range from $95 to $350 for paintings and $35 to $125 for drawings. The artist will be painting when you get there.
4204 NE Van Rd
Oct 28-29. 10-5

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DON'T FORGET: One Day Only, Noon till Ten Saturday

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Local Art Seen: Snapshot of Last Saturday's Opening @ Karin Kraemer's Duluth Pottery

Two new galleries opened in Duluth last Saturday, the Joseph Nease Gallery and Karin Kraemer's much anticipated Duluth Pottery. If I have my facts straight, Kraemer's cramped studio had been located adjacent to the Red Mug Coffeehouse in Superior for the past two decades. The opportunity to expand and other factors enabled the ever industrious and cheerful Kraemer took advantage of the opportunity.

The renovation of the former P&J Paints space was a major undertaking but what they've done here is turned the building into a real Duluth asset. When you look at the other businesses that have appeared on this block recently -- OCM Smokehouse, Bent Paddle, Frost River, the Duluth Folk School, etc. -- one senses that the Lincoln District has moved another step closer to the community upgrade that began when the abandoned Clyde Iron Works became the object of investment and given a second life.

To learn more, check out Samantha Church's story in Perfect Duluth Day, Duluth Pottery Is Back In Duluth. What follows are photos from the opening reception and works by many of the artists represented here on the 1900 block in Duluth's West End, which is now being called the Lincoln Park Craft District.

Kraemer's pottery designs are the "bees knees."

Inside looking out...
...and outside looking in.

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Halloween Begins @ Hallowade

Wade Stadium, Duluth, MN

Hallowade is a fun filled family friendly music intensive Halloween themed fundraiser for NoteWorthy Kids at historic Wade Stadium in Duluth on Saturday, October 28th from noon until 10 p.m. There will be live music all day, with 18 bands performing on two stages.

NoteWorthy Kids is a 501c(3) non-profit that provides need based financial scholarships to qualifying families in the Twin Ports to provide free or reduced-cost private musical education, instrument rental and repair and financial support to participate in music contests and programs for youth ages 6 to 18. Additional information is available at www.noteworthykids.org


More than $5,000 worth of prizes have been donated by local businesses and will be awarded to costume contest winners, through raffles and on silent auctions.

From Noon to 5:30 pm the event is free and “Family Friendly” with trick-or-treating, kids activities, carnival games, a free photo booth, sled dogs, climbing wall (weather permitting), costume contest, Zoo-Mobile, haunted locker room, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and much more!

At 2:00 p.m. there will be a Twin Ports Mascot Kickball Game with an opportunity for pictures with the players after the game. Seventeen area mascots have confirmed that they are coming to play.

The Kids’ Costume Contest will take place at approximately 2:30 pm following the Mascot Kickball game. Prizes will be awarded in four separate age groups: birth to 5; 6 to 12; and 13 to 20. Top prizes include a night’s stay at the Edgewater Water Park & Hotel, waterpark passes, and a family pass to the Duluth Children’s Museum.

At 6:00 p.m. Hallowade becomes a 21+ event with more music, costume contest at 9 pm, door prizes, raffles and silent auction items. There is a $5 cover charge with all proceeds to benefit NoteWorthy Kids.

There will be Two Stages and List of Performers that people Go Out of Their Way To See and Experience. All have donated their time and talents to this fundraiser.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dylan and Mavis Makin' Their Way Home. Tom Petty Tribute Is A Knockout.

Dylan and his band... Still Flyin'
The big buzz in Dylan circles here has been the return to Minnesota of the Never Ending Tour. If you're planning to go you've probably been dropping in on Boblinks.com to read concert reviews, check out setlists and get a sense of what kind of show to anticipate, for anticipation is at least one-third of the pleasure we get from any experience.

Dylan's 76 this year, so it's hard to imagine too many years left, though with Bob probably anything is possible. This round he's on the road with Mavis Staples, and the Tour has been getting a lot of raves from fans. When Bob is "on" there's nothing perfunctory. The band is as tight as ever, and you never know with each concert where the magic will happen.

He's over on the keyboards now, but it's all Bob.
It was 19 years ago Sunday that I caught my first Dylan concert, on the 22nd of October. When I wrote about it I described it as an early Christmas present. This past Saturday night I am certain there must have been some in the audience who had the same feelings when Mavis and Bob shook the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado. Here's a review of that concert that was posted on Boblinks.

My girlfriend Mary Catherine and I went to see Mavis and Bob at the First Bank Center in Broomfield (Denver) without very high expectations. We'd seen them last year at Red Rocks, and they were good but not great. I've seen Dylan probably 50 times or so, and the last few years were pretty iffy. Also, the First Bank Center seats about 7500, and I didn't think they could possibly fill that...maybe 3-4000 at most. Well, so much for expectations. First of all, by the time Mavis took the stage the venue was close to full. Maybe that inspired her performance, but she was way into it last night. "I feel good tonight! We're gonna have some fun tonight!" And we did. When she left the stage to a rousing chorus of "I'll take you there" and a standing ovation, I wondered if Bob heard that crowd response and how his current performance could ever prompt that type of response. Two hours later I found out. No song by song from me...the set list was pretty static...but the classic Dylan songs, the Dylan originals, the "rockers" were unbelievable. His voice was strong and clear, the piano up in the mix, and the band perfect. The drums were featured more tonight than I've seen in the past. The "standards" were all short and well done and were more like interludes than energy drainers. They were great. It was performance art. As I remarked to Mary Catherine, it was more like a classical "concert", where you're not standing up and rocking all the time but enjoying the performance. After Ballad of a Thin Man I, in my all encompassing knowledge, turned to Mary Catherine and said, "let's go, that's it." But wait...they're not leaving! Then Bob and the band tore into Learning to Fly, and just killed it. The place went wild. Standing ovation, people in tears. Bob and the crew stood back in the rear or the stage and took it in. It was a classic. Ron

It doesn't take long for things to truly fly in cyberspace these days, social media being the hurricane wind that blows these thins into the stratosphere. This video has been watched 100,000 time in two days. 

A two-minute song with a hundred hours of memories attached to it. Dylan's world tour with Petty in the 1980's included a trip "Down Under" to Australia. At least one fan from Down Under will be making the trek Up North this week to see Dylan perform in his home state of Minnesota tomorrow night. The Internet and international travel have certainly changed the the way we see our world. There was a time several centuries back when the notion of heading to the other side of the world was often considered a one way trip, if you made it at all. You can watch a YouTube viddy of Dylan doing a media event in the studio of artist Brett Whitely during that tour with Petty and the Heartbreakers here

Wednesday night's show will take place in Minneapolis at the Excel Energy Center. If you're in from out of town try to make time for the six mile high mural on a building circa Hennepin and Sixth. It's my understanding that there will be a pre-show gathering of some of our Northland friends at the Pazzaluna/Venus Lounge, in the event you wish to really make a night of it. 

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Meantime, life goes on...  Oh, mercy. 

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 -- https://woodfill-archive.herokuapp.com/
Matthew Kluber -- http://www.matthewkluber.com/
Kathy McTavish -- http://www.mctavish.io/

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).
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More sights and scenes from weekend shows coming soon.

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