Friday, August 31, 2018

A Pakistani Perspective -- Duluth: Best Place for Meditation

GUEST POST 
by Umme Kulsoom Naqvi

Umme is a Content Producer and Researcher in Islamabad. Her hometown is Taxila, an ancient city of Pakistan very near to Islamabad. She and 27 other journalists visited different cities in the U.S. for four weeks in July. Umme Kulsoon and Sherdil Khan, a news anchor for Pakistan television, were in Duluth for much of that time. What follows is an account of her visit here.

Duluth: Best Place for Meditation
(L to R) Sherdil,Umme, Ramona Marozas and friend.
Albert Einstein once said, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” If you visit Duluth, Minnesota you can feel this practically. Duluth, Minnesota in St. Louis County is basically a major port city in the U.S., situated on the North Shore of Lake Superior at the westernmost point of Great Lakes. The city is named for Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, the first known European explorer of the area.

Duluth is not a populated area like other big U.S. cities. I am saying this because I was staying in Washington DC before coming to Duluth. But here in Duluth night means night and everything sleeps here. Roads are empty and businesses close after 9 p.m. max. Saturday night is like party night here. You will find folk gather at Bayfront Park and enjoy music in summer. Summer is the attraction of Duluth but winter is a vicious beauty here.

In our pre-trip orientation we were told that U.S society is very different from Pakistani society. They are punctual in time, very practical in their every field of life. And I found them the same when lived there for four weeks. During my stay in Duluth, I explored not only the land beauty but also the beauty of the people. They were more welcoming and friendly than our expectations. I am not here to praise American society at all but I found many attributes which are acknowledge-worthy. They are far ahead in technology from Third World countries and utilizing it very appropriately. But the main thing I saw was how they stick to ethics. Though they have a high crime rate and homeless people in many states, collectively they are practicing moral values. Greeting everyone is very common in U.S society, whether you know the next person or not. Keeping a door open for the latter is a very little thing but it appeals.

St. Louis County Courthouse
Duluth is not a big industrial or commercial city so it is quite different in its culture. People have a family system here. They live with parents and also they are religious, too. On Sunday most business is closed here in Duluth. One thing surprised me when I went to church I saw mostly elderly were attending the prayer session. I found a very low number of young there, Maybe it is the case of one church where I went.

I learnt there in Duluth that beauty can be managed even in hilly areas. A matter of fact is that Duluth is having heavy construction on roads during summer, but still there are so many tourists there and they have no problem with this forbearance process.

Meeting in City Hall
In addition to having beautiful people Duluth has many other attractions for newly landed persons. If you are here to explore nature and want to have some peace of mind, you are not a lone spirit on this planet. Many tourists come here to enjoy their summer vacations. You have many attractions in Duluth like the all-freshwater aquarium, the Great Lakes Aquarium; the Aerial Lift Bridge, which spans the Duluth Ship Canal into the Duluth–Superior Harbor; and Minnesota Point (known locally as Park Point), the world's longest freshwater baymouth, spanning 6 miles. I got piles of promotional stuff while walking through the Skywalk which was one of my favorite things in Duluth because I never have a sky walk at my home country.

The city is surrounded by much natural beauty.
If I talk about the professional life in Duluth, it is more like other parts of world. They are very committed and dedicated with their work. As I visited many media houses, met administration officials, doctors, professors, artists and social activists, I found one thing common in a majority of people: they are not stubborn. They guide you in whatever field they are. They do not stop your way if you want to know something about their profession. Americans are talkative in nature overall so in Duluth, too, they like to do long conversation sessions about culture, weather and world politics. Most of the above I observed. I also observed that they are fond of cheese just because they are have so many big dairy forms in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

I want to mention some words which are very common in daily conversation like Awesome, Sounds good, Yeah Yeah! I really enjoyed these words and now after a month stay there I am also used to it.

Ed Newman with Ramona Marozas
A month stay was not only about exploring nature and land but I also met many talented and well-known people there. Now I have many friends in my Facebook list and my life, too. I can never forget Dan Paglease and Ramona Marozas, my friends forever. Ed Newman is a famous blogger whose writing is full of color, culture and art. He is also a great harmonica player. He arranged an evening where me, Sherdil my Pakistani fellow, Jason Dean of the Philosophy Department at UMD and his wife Clare were invited to Ed’s friend Eliot’s home. Eliot is a multi-talented creative-minded artist. He drew my sketch, which featured me perfectly. I will always keep it with me.

Then I have Adeline Wright and Allen in my friend List. On my first day in Duluth, when I went to Enger Park Tower and it started thunder storming. I was not aware of Duluth weather at that time. I was walking on the side of the road, having gotten wet due to heavy rain, and suddenly a car stopped in front of me and Adeline was sitting on the driving seat. She said she will drop me to the hotel and I was like I will not sit in a stranger’s car, but she convinced me by introducing herself and insisted I get in. I sat in her car and there our bond of love and friendship started. Adeline Wright is well-known in Duluth because of her social work and her hair spa. Allen is a documentary maker and very talented guy. On my last day in Duluth, they both invited me at their home and I made Pakistani food for them. My Duluth trip is capsulated with this Adeline and Allen encounter.

Sherdil's "selfie" group shot. Adeline, center of group, directly behind Umme.
There is a long list of friends whom I cannot forget and their love will remain with me for whole my life. My love for Duluth and its lovely people is increasing day by day and I feel Duluth to my second home now.

Last but not the least it was great to visit the Duluth News Tribune because we really wanted to observe the working environment of a newspaper team. We found that newspapers are doing more effort as they are now supposed to be fast like News TV channels, so they are working hard to grab the news and then do online news reporting, too. The most fascinating thing was having our names on the Welcome Sign at the reception of DNT.

I have so many Good Memories in my backlist along with me. Although I am back to my home now, Duluth is still with me, running inside my spirit and it will always remain with me. Love from Pakistan!

* * * *
Thank you Umme & Sherdil for enriching our city with your presence.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Stories About the Bomb

This week I've been watching Dunkirk, a powerful retelling of the near loss of the British army which would have undoubtedly resulted in the fall of Britain. Had that event occurred it is quite possible Adolph Hitler could have successfully conquered the world, for there would have been no impediment to Rommel's conquest of the Middle East oil fields, the primary objective of his North Africa campaign. And was it not the Turing Machine, a Brit breakthrough, that broke German code thus enabling the Allies to intercept messages and destroy Rommel's re-supply efforts? 

That moment in time (Dunkirk) was recently highlighted in the 2017 Gary Oldman film Darkest Hour. It's good to be reminded of how much of history is determined by singular moments and "little things." I think of here of the Ben Franklin quote that begins, "For want of a nail..."

And so... for Throwback Thursday I share this story about a little thing... with big consequences.

Stories About the Bomb
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 2013
I don't think there's a one of us in the Baby Boomer generation who lived unaware of the Cold War and that dark shadow of potential nuclear winter. It's one of those things that was always out there, though each of us reacted differently to this ominous reality. I remember reading On the Beach as a young teen, which had already become a film in 1959 starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner among others. A vividly written story about the end of the human race makes an impression on one, especially if you permit imagination to enter in to suggest all the things you may never experience before you die. Yes, even then we had fledgling versions of a bucket list.

Many of us also read Hiroshima by the Pulitzer Prize-winning John Hersey, a story about six survivors of the bomb that shook the world, with images so vivid it will straighten your hair.

So it is that many of us write in order to process our life experiences. I once wrote a poem on this theme called Bad Break which attempted to capture a measure of this Cold War anxiety.

In part, this is where my story "Two Acts That Changed the World" came from, which is currently the opening short story in my short collection of stories called Unremembered Histories.

The second inspiration for the story comes from having been enthralled by the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, whom I consider a primary influence on all of the stories in this particular volume. Borges is the master of reality-bending hyper-real story-telling.

For what it's worth, consider this intro something like a movie trailer, designed to entice you to fork over a few bucks to see the flick. It's a buck-ninety-nine if you have a Kindle. For iPad owners you can also download a free app. It's also now available in print.

TWO ACTS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

Of the dozen or so German physicists who had been assigned the task of building a super-bomb for Germany, Wilhelm Kurtweil more than any knew the consequences for humanity should the Nazis succeed in being the first to achieve this ultimate quest. Kurtweil had been a leading voice in German physics before the war, was now a respected scientist in the twilight years of a fabulous career.

For him personally, Nazism was an odious blight on the German peoples, but he had remained silent, hoping against hope that the dark season would pass and German character would rise above its brutal cancer. By 1942 he’d lost this hope.

The super-bomb project was in full swing. The Nazis already dominated Europe. England was about to fall.

His worst fear of all: that the project would succeed and his name be forever associated with its success in bringing the world to its knees at Hitler's feet.

In November he began praying for divine intervention. He did not believe in God, but not knowing where else to turn and hoping that he was wrong, he prayed that God would give him wisdom. The following week he conceived in a dream, visualized with perfect clarity, the formulation for the Atomic Bomb. It was so perfect, so brilliantly conceived, and remarkably clever. He woke in a sweat. With an over-stimulated mind he spent the rest of that night hastily scratching notes on scraps of paper. For three successive nights he worked out the details, occasionally catching fitful moments of sleep to sustain his strength.

On the fourth night, he saw clearly the two actions he must take. First, he must find a way to undermine -- without drawing suspicion -- the efforts of his fellow scientists. And second, he must find a way to communicate his findings to the American scientists whom he believed were actively pursuing the same designs.

The first task was easy enough. He saw that the labyrinthian formula was built on a series of equations which flowed with a counter-intuitive divergence from logic at several critical points. How he had seen this so plainly baffled him. In presenting his discoveries to the group, he merely had to re-arrange the equation at two points and the system would forever fail to detonate. Once these two re-arrangements were made, no amount of re-evaluation would point to this particular detail as being faulty. All corrections of the misfire would focus on other areas of the formulation, with over one hundred million permutations. If all went well, it would be ten years before the mistake was discovered.

Though he intended to delay as long as possible the presentation of his formulation, he knew he must be the first to present, lest the correct thesis be presented in regards to the critical path. By early spring of 1943 he saw that two of his young proteges were uncovering significant portions of the path and he was forced to the first task. On April seventh, he presented his findings with cool reserve and astounding humility. The team was ecstatic at the breakthrough.

The second task proved more daunting... 

Read the reviews here, and check it out: Unremembered Histories

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Eric Dubnicka: "Learning My True Art Work"

Monday I had an opportunity to visit the home and studio of Eric Dubnicka, local artist and former curator at the Tweed Museum of Art. The conservation swept over a wide swath of topics from work-life balance to the current state of the Duluth arts scene.

Dubnicka is the kind of artist who subscribes to the idealist maxim, "If I only had five dollars left I would buy art supplies before food."

He made observations about . some of the changes taking place as the local art scene undergoes a generational shift. He himself has been greatly appreciating the older (75+) makers who have been singularly dedicated to their craft like Jerry Ott and Pat Joyelle. At another point he also expressed concern about artist's tendency to play it safe and the resultant loss of spontaneity. Other topics included concerns about patronage (or lack of) for the arts and the financial challenges artists face.

A question we also explored was the matter of permanence. Institutions and collectors look for art that will last because it is an investment. This devalues temporary art and pop-up shows that are intentionally temporary yet beautiful, Dubnicka's two-hour pop-up show on the Summer Solstice being an example of this stripe.

The conversation wove in and out amongst many other themes. To retrieve them you will have to find that fly on the wall and see if she/he had a tape recorder.

What follows are a variety of images from my two-hour visit. You will note a several recurring themes including fascinations with symmetry and textture. The layered wire work has become his latest exploration.

* * * *

On the beach... front page of the DNT.
Am looking forward to my next studio tour. 
What have you been working on these days?

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Local Art Seen: Free Range Trials with Kathy McTavish and Cecilia Ramon

Global water currents mapped in the grass.
Sunday afternoon Kathy McTavish and Cecilia Ramon had two new exhibitions on display at The Barn in Wrenshall. If my facts are correct this is the first joint event by McTavish and Ramon since the 2012 collaboration called holy fool at Sacred Heart in Duluth.

Under threatening skies cars began arriving with numerous local notables gathering for the opening reception for the two non-traditional artists. Rebecca Krinke noted that some people drove here from the Twin Cities to see/experience this. Former DAI director Annie Dugan, Ken Bloom from the Tweed, Judge Dale Wolf, Emily Swanson from the Oldenburg House, David Beard from UMD and others were numbered among those who attended.

Cecilia Ramon's map detailing global water current flow patterns.
Kathy McTavish's digital multi-media experience had been set up in the basement of the barn, an audio-visual delirium of projected performing patterns. Is it random? Has this been created through code? Or is it a program of sorts that has been modified.

Kathy McTavish explained that the raw code, compressed code, is like poetry but it goes in many directions. In a sense it's an audio-visual alphabet.

In explaining her work McTavish provided a new understanding of the World Wide Web, comparing it to theater. In theater we have the visible part of the performance, what the audience sees. And then there is a backstage, or behind the curtain, where there is action but it is hidden from the audience. In a sense, code is what takes place backstage. What we experience -- from YouTube to text and graphics, hyperlinks and music -- are the front of stage results of what we do not see, the coding choreographed by the programmer, in this case the artist, Kathy McTavish.

I sat for a bit in the basement of the barn and attempted to capture in words the sense of being there, ineptly. The photos help contribute more effectively. Similar to her Chance display this past year at the Tweed, the context and textured surfaces gave a totally different feel to the display.

Transitions
Audio Aural Visual
Blue-White-Black
Shades of Grey
Patterns Morph
Mutate in Symmetrical
Asymetrical Designs
Yellow Brilliance
enters in
2-D Flat Screen Panels
yet the spheres move back
and then forward to create
perception of depth.
Now Blue/Black and White
cylindrical movement
Centering in Harmony.
Bells, Humming
Stretching sounds
slicing and shuffling
clicks, water droplets,
drumsticks clacking, tapping...


Cecilia Ramon's exhibition filled the upstairs portion of the barn, as well as a sundial and map of the world's oceanic currents "etched" in the lawn. (Photo at top of page.) Sundials have been used for centuries as a means of measuring time, and we were treated to an instructive presentation via Skype by a pair of experts on sundials from Italy, Silvano Roilo and Antonio Rovelli. In the presentation we learned what a sundial is, saw examples of different types of sundials from Renaissance times with examples from the Milano Cathedral, St. Petronio's Church in Bolgna, and other conceptions in Florence, Rome and elsewhere. 

Walking the line, an interactive lesson in oceanography.
Ramon's outdoor ocean current pattern served as a highly instructive interactive map. We were ushered into a line to walk along the path as she explained how the currents circulate Antarctica and flow up along the coasts and circle about the globe, sometimes close to the surface and other times deep down below. 

Here are more images from the Free Range Trials:


 Free Range Trials is a lab for artistic process and creative experimentation through the exhibition of work by Kathy McTavish and Cecila Ramon. The lab will be open daily between 2 and 5pm from August 26 through September 3. 

Related Links
A page of examples of sundials in Italy
A 2012 Response to Holy Fool 

Meantime art goes on all around you. Engage it.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Dylan's Tribute to John Lennon Keeps Rolling On

I was in Mexico City when it happened. The next morning I was walking across the Zócalo, now called the Plaza de la Constitución, a massive open square that spreads before the Palacio Nacional (National Palace) in the center of the city. As in many big cities, magazine stands abound, with the day's newspapers proclaiming their various headlines. On this day, as I walked across the square I couldn't help but notice the size of the headlines on every newspaper in every news stand.

LENNON
MUERTE

I was stunned. I had liked all the Beatles, acquired their various solo albums after the breakup, but it was Lennon with whom I most resonated, on many levels.

* * * *
When the album Tempest was released, I'd intended to write about this song, but wanted to share the lyrics and they weren't immediately available. Reading them today my eyes moisten with the incredible power of this tribute. It captures so much about a sensitive man who broke from the easy path of pop expectation and chose to find his own way.

Listening to Dylan's songs you find numerous places where he bares his soul so openly it's almost shocking. Most of us prefer safety, hiding more than we wish to risk revealing. In this regard, Dylan and Lennon were kindred spirits, willing to reveal rather than conceal. And so Lennon gave us songs like Cold Turkey, Jealous Guy and Beautiful Boy. And like Dylan he didn't mince words about how he saw things, as in Give Peace A Chance and Workingman's Hero.

* * * *
"When you do something beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun, every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps." --John Lennon

* * * *
Much has been written about the friendship Dylan shared with John. It was on this day in 1964 that Bob Dylan met John Lennon and the Beatles for the first time in the Delmonico Hotel. Whether a legendary or over-hyped moment in time, it was no doubt an inevitability. Here's a Guardian article from the 50th anniversary of this moment. The Andrew Harrison article is titled When Dylan met the Beatles – history in a handshake? Harrison downplays it's significance. Yes, Dylan allegedly turned the Fab Four on to pot for the first time, or least that's the myth that has gone circulating in the smoke rings of many a mind. So be it.

Harrison states: "On Friday 28 August 1964, in a room in the Delmonico hotel at Park Avenue and 59th in New York City – at a rendezvous brokered with a keen eye to a story by journalist, mutual friend and assiduous self-publicist Al Aronowitz – the Beatles encountered Bob Dylan for the first time."

It's my understanding that there was a mutual respect taking place as their careers swirled through the tempestuous times they found themselves in....

All this to say I believe this to be a good day to remember John Lennon, as Dylan renders him here in this touching tribute.


Roll On John

Doctor, doctor, tell me the time of day
Another bottle’s empty, another penny spent
He turned around and he slowly walked away
They shot him in the back and down he went

CHORUS
Shine your light
Move it on
You burned so bright
Roll on, John

From the Liverpool docks to the red light Hamburg streets
Down in the quarry with the Quarrymen
Playing to the big crowds, playing to the cheap seats
Another day in the life on your way to your journey’s end

(chorus)

Sailing through the trade winds bound for the South
Rags on your back just like any other slave
They tied your hands and they clamped your mouth
Wasn’t no way out of that deep, dark cave

(chorus)

I heard the news today, oh boy
They hauled your ship up on the shore
Now the city gone dark, there is no more joy
They tore the heart right out and cut it to the core

(chorus)

Put down your bags and get ‘em packed
Leave right now, you won’t be far from wrong
The sooner you go, the quicker you’ll be back
You been cooped up on an island far too long

(chorus)

Slow down, you’re moving way too fast
Come together right now over me
Your bones are weary, you’re about to breathe your last
Lord, you know how hard that it can be

(chorus)

Roll on John, roll through the rain and snow
Take the right hand road and go where the buffalo roam
They’ll trap you in an ambush ‘fore you know
Too late now to sail back home

(chorus)

Tyger, tyger, burning bright
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
In the forest of the night
Cover him over, and let him sleep

(chorus)

Copyright © 2012 Special Rider Music

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace." --John Lennon

Related Link
James L. Spiegel Examine's Dylan's Tempest

Ingeborg von Agassiz's O Giver of Dreams Delivers as Promised

It began with a remark I heard from someone close to the music scene in 2016. I'd asked who locally was doing the most interesting work today. "Without question, what Ingeborg von Agassiz is doing," Marc Gartman replied. I made a mental note to catch her act sometime, but it wasn't in the cards as I am not the night owl I once was.

Eventually I learned that I already knew Ms. Agassiz as the artist Emma Rustan, whose work I'd previously written about on a couple of occasions here. (e.g. Art Crawl review in 2013)

This spring saw the release of Ingeborg von Agassiz's first CD, evocatively titled O Giver of Dreams, accompanied by a rave review from Tony Bennett in the Duluth News Tribune. The review was titled Album review: Ingeborg von Agassiz astounds on debut LP, and it opens with: Let's just skip to the headline: Ingeborg von Agassiz' debut album is one of the best locally-made albums in the history of locally-made albums. It's true. No hyperbole.

That kind of high praise gets your attention. Sure enough, this past weekend I caught part of her performance at the Bayfront Park Art Fair and acquired a CD. It's every bit as good as Bennett boasts.**

I approach this review by offering up a comparison. As is well-known (by regular readers here) I am an advocate for the music of Bob Dylan. For decades I've approached each of his new albums in a similar manner. I play the album through. A few songs immediately connect during that first listen, not necessarily every song right off.  But there are always a few tunes that grab you and, for me anyways, this is often the very first cut. From Time Out of Mind to Tempest it's happened every time. Then the second listen and a third, and after a while each song begins to unfold. An astute listener begins to see how much thought went into the production, the layering the the sound, the caliber of the band and, with Dylan (always) the richness of the lyrics, their beauty or complexity, variety or density.

Returning to O Giver of Dreams, Ingeborg von Agassiz has produced something every bit as complex and luscious, from both the production side and the literary quality of the songs themselves.

Dylan, for those who appreciate his work, is a master of evocation when singing. People who dislike his voice fail to appreciate what he achieves in creating emotion through intonation, from haunting to longing, aching to aspiring. Ingeborg von Agassiz is likewise evocative, forming words with deliberate aims on each of her songs.

Von Agassiz at Super Big Block Party 2017. (Photo credit: Andy Hardman)
Few will compare von Agassiz to Dylan, I am sure, because she has such a beautiful voice. What she achieves with that voice is far more than just a mercurial fluidity of sound. Having listened to O Giver about ten times this week I hear various echoes. Loreena McKennett comes to mind at one point. ABBA kept coming to mind and I couldn't figure out why, but it's because of the manner in which she sings in unison with herself on some songs. And, this will surprise you, Sgt. Pepper came immediately to mind as the album opened. The similarity is in the feeling of setting up a place where people are gathered, and there is anticipation. In Sgt. Pepper it is an auditorium audience; in O Giver of Dreams it sound like a restaurant or dinner theater with the clinking of glasses, forks, knives, plates, and the drone of people not yet paying attention to what is about to happen.

Then there are the songs themselves. That is, as a lyricist she has a remarkable maturity. Examples abound.

Lonesome Way
This first song begins, "Come with me. Come with me." Seductive without being sensual, inviting the listener to enter this story, her story. (Keep in mind that it is a song and that historically the narrator of a song may not necessarily be the real person's story. This could be a fictional story, sung first person, the way folk singers sing "Barbara Allen.")

As the opening of the album, it can also be taken as an invitation... "take this journey with me." But it could be simply the invitation of this song. "Come along with me in my lonesome misery..." What an unexpected turn. Already, we have been diverted into a different path from the one expected. Lonesome misery. How? Why? That is what this first song is about, the how it happened and why.

I will make another Dylan comparison here as well. Many of the lyrics have been written with a seemingly measured ambiguity that invites further analysis and reflection. This occurs here and in a few of the other songs.

It should be noted that von Agassiz has produced all the music, all the vocals, the percussion and everything else herself. When she performs she uses looping and layering, much the way Gaelynn Lea or Israel Malachi have been doing over the years. The arrangements are terrifically complex and sophisticated.

Oh What A Morning
Painting by Emma Rustan/Ingeborg von Agassiz
Another comparison is in order here. Some may suggest exaggeration but I think not. Von Agassiz has a knack for creating catchy tunes that stick with you, like the Beatles whose early tunes climbed the pop charts like monkeys. The other day I woke with the opening of this song going through my head. "Oh what a morning, oh what a morning, oh what a morning, oh what a morning." The song opens with this phrase repeated by a unison chorus, four times. Then Inge opens the song, with accompaniment, "Oh what a morning..."

This song is like the first in that it, too, is in invitation. It's from a child's point of view. What a beautiful morning. Won't you come out and play with me? We can go ride our bikes. We'll climb trees. And I will show you my new dance, if you let me.

Oh, the Hillside 
This tune is a change of pace, sung as if a lament, a nostalgia piece. The central theme is the hills of Duluth. The verses outline the Duluth experience, from the hillside to the bells of Old Central, thnd e freighters, the lift bridge going up and down, the howling wind, the lighthouse on the pier, the train chugging by, Fitgers, and the mystery of the Great Lake. The song's straightforward lyrics are beguiliing when juxtaposed with its haunting tune.

Bulletproof Vest
"Going south, south for the winter
That's what I'm gonna do next year."
In an album with so many special tracks it's difficult to pick any one to be your favorite, but this one would certainly be a candidate. It's a solid song with intriguing lyrics sung in a crafted manner that draws you in. An old man, an obituary, a funeral... and a chorus that reinforces a contradiction.

* * * *
Painting by Emma Rustan/Ingeborg von Agassiz
Maybe the magic of Ingeborg von Agassiz's songs has something to do with the collision of innocence with innocence lost. You certainly hear this in Sun Beats Down and Rebel Robin. The pointed "O Giver of Dreams" is a serious song as well, followed by Runtchkin Love's opening line, "I plucked my eyebrows to a shape of pity and despair."

The lyrics throughout belie their depth, much like Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower."

The CD rounds out with "What's Wrong With Me" and "Will You Go?"  and when you reach the end you will want to listen again.

Verdict: O Giver of Dreams is an exceptional achievement.

* * * *

Related Links
Follow her here at www.ingeborgvonagassiz.com
or here on Facebook.
**Tony Bennett review in the DNT

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Local Art Seen: Scott Murphy Studio Tour

Though his imagery is often whimsical, many of his paintings are quite pointed and serious in intent. I posted my first interview with Scott Murphy in 2013. Last summer it was my intention to post a follow up in anticipation of a show that was planned for Fall 2017 at Lizzard's. Unfortunately, a reckless driver careened into his lane at high speed and struck the car he was driving head on.

All the bones in Scott's legs were broken. His wife Colleen had serious but less life-threatening injuries.

In the center top of the painting above you can see what their car looked like after the accident. Scott never saw this image so it is based on police photos. He had to be extricated from the wreck by jaws of death technology. In the upper right is a pig playing a banjo. There was no water on the road the day of the crash so this feature, like the pig, has symbolic meaning. The pig, which recurs in other pieces, was a hallucination he kept having during his post-accident delirium in St. Mary's Intensive Care Unit.

Considering the extent of his injuries, Murphy is remarkably upbeat. Currently he is driven by the need to finish enough new material for an October 4 joint exhibition at Lizzard's Gallery with Robin Murphy, What follows are a a few shots I took in his studio this week.

We talked about aerial balloons among other things.
Girl with a Baby Badger in Tutu.
The artist at his easel.
"After They Privatized the Clouds."

The opening in October is one you will not want to miss.

 * * * * 
REMINDER
Food Farm Open House and Art Installation in Wrenshall
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Food Farm: 2612 Co Road 1, Wrenshall, MN 55797
Farm tours and open house 2-5pm (Free)
Art Exhibition Opening: 909 Co Road 4, Wrenshall, MN 55797

NOTE: EVIDENTLY THERE IS CONSTRUCTION (no surprise) and an alternate route is recommended as follows from West Duluth:
Hwy 23 south to County Road 4
Right on County Road 4. The barn is located just to the right after the interesction of County 4 and 1.

Meantime, Art Goes On All Around You. Engage It.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Local Art Seen: Eris Vafias @ Beaners

I had a couple meetings at Beaners this week, one of my fave spots to meet for business (Thank you, Jason & Becca), just across the parking lot from Zenith Bookstore (Thank you, Bob).  

This front room toward the street this month features paintings by Eris Vafias. I've seen a few of these before but the whole series together made for a nice presentation that I enjoyed very much this week. The skies were blue and the extra sunlight (once the overcast skies diminished later in the week) made the paintings come alive.


* * * *

NOTE: WEATHER PERMITTING, Laura Velvet & the Bookhouse Boys will be performing tonight at Barker's Island in conjunction with the kickoff of the Dragonboat Festival this weekend. Details HERE