Thursday, June 28, 2018

Standing at the Intersection of Science and Art: Adam Swanson's New Show @ Duluth Pottery

"Who Listens?" On board the Blue Heron, a Great Lakes research vessel.
Kudos to Karin Kraemer for what  she's done with her new space in the heart of the Lincoln Park Craft District. As the saying goes, "It's the bees knees." (Not sure where that saying comes from, but it's as fun as the bees on her bowls.)

I'm not sure how many times Adam Swanson has been voted "Best Artist" (or "Favorite Artist") in the annual Reader poll, but he's certainly made a name for himself here in the Twin Ports arts scene. His paintings have become a fixture in numerous locations, his style distinctive for its color palette as well as his loose painterliness. At one time he listed Vincent Van Gogh, Andrew Goldsworthy and Toulouse Lautrec among his influences.

On board the Blue Heron.
Much of his work has had recurring themes such as hot air balloons, bicycles and penguins, the latter inspired by a stint in Antarctica with the National Science Foundation when he was younger. He's also included robots in some of his paintings, indicating a certain fascination with technology. It's this latter fascination that led him to seek funding to produce a body of work featuring science as it's subject matter. The show, which held its opening reception last night at Duluth Pottery, is titled Science Art.

Swanson was aware that there is a ton of research going on in the region, but most of it takes place outside of the public eye. His aim in this show was to depict and share some of the activities that we don't see all that often. By reaching out he obtained opportunities to visit the EPA and other entities. He was, for example, given the opportunity to spend a day on the Research Vessel Blue Heron where he watched the team gathering water samples to measure the quantity of micro-plastics in our lake water.

The Experimental Forest
Another scene is that of a 2800 acre Experimental Forest north of Grand Rapids with ten temperature/CO2 greenhouse chambers designed to measure the effects of global warming on bog and peat lands. It is part of an ecosystem experiment that Swanson says "is one of the most amazing places I have ever been." Keep in mind this is from a guy who spent time in Antarctica. The project is called SPRUCE.

His painting titled "The Stuff of Life" features an EPA Stable Isotope Rationing Mass Spectrometer dialed in to measure isotopic ratios of Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Sulfur and whatever else you set about to measure, based on the premise "you are what you eat." Another painting features EPA water tanks where chemicals, poisons and nutrients are being measured and tested.

detail of the above

In short, every picture tells a story. 
It's an impressive show. Make it a point to check it out.

Here's the Latest Buzz: Mark your calendars for the Honey Bee Folk Festival August 3&4 at the Oldenburg House, Carlton.
TOMORROW from 4 till late, the monthly Friday Night Art Crawls begin in the HeART of Duluth. Off the top of my head, you can start at Lizzard's and Ryan Tischer's Ten Days in Iceland, Cami's show at Duluth Coffee, Joseph Nease Gallery or the Four Friends exhibition in the Great Hall @ the Depot... Pick up a map and find out where all the other art action is taking place.

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

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