Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Head Studies: Art of the Portrait (Local Art Seen)

Head Study by Jesse Kane
Form Study: II, Brock Larson
It's been a week of rarified realism and representational art here in the Twin Ports, and the local art fans are enjoying it very much. Last week the Plein Air Painters of America (PAPA) were performing their magic in our midst, culminating in a show at the one-year-old Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art. The preceding evening the Tweed Museum showcased plein air painters whose focus was America's Industrial Landscapes. Thursday we'll see a clan of local artists who have been doing representational work as well, and through November the Red Herring has decorated its walls with a new exhibit titled Head Study, Art of the Portrait.

The Red Herring show features work by GLA founders Jeffrey and Brock Larson in conjunction with their first year student body. The students are clearly marching along a good path here. It has to be gratifying to experience the progress they've made as they begin their second year of the program.

The Poet, Brock Larson
I've identified some of the pictures here but if you need complete attributions, the Red Herring Lounge is walking distance from the center of town on East First Street. The six student artists: Daralyn Pfeifer, Cam Conlon, Patrick Glander, Jesse Kane, Kelly Schamberger and Eric Rauvola.

Earlier this summer I spoke with some of the students about their experiences this first year and what they've been learning.

“I’ve learned how to see things better and judge values," said Kelly Schamberger, who added that she wasn't as good of an artist as she thought she was. This, of course, is the first step in teachableness, and she's become quite accomplished by the end of her first season.

Cam by Daralyn Peifer
“My taste has changed drastically," she noted. "My standards are higher. I've had to work hard and stay focused for long periods of time.” Like the other students she's also learning how to use the materials. “I can see, by looking back, the progress I’ve made. You don’t realize the progress as you’re going along. I think all of us are way ahead of where we imagined we’d be.”

Jesse Kane, from Wilmont, South Dakota had studied 2 years of graphic design before coming to the school here in Duluth. His dad is a farmer, mother an insurance adjuster, and both are supportive of his art ambitions. “Breaking down mental pre-conceived notions of what drawing is and putting full trust in what Jeff and Brock are doing," has been invaluable. He's always asking questions: what is the correct shape? Are these the right values? Is the edge right? It requires patience and discipline.

Self-Portrait by Jeffrey Larson
According to Jeffrey Larson, who co-founded the school with his son Brock, half the first year students had art degrees already when they enrolled.

Ellen, by Daralyn Peifer

Drawing by Patrick Glander
"Jake" by Brock Larson; Oil on Canvas Panel

Again, Head Study will be on display through the first week of November. A closing reception will be held on November 2. Do it if you can. It will be a great way to mark a moment in time for the school and this crop of second year students.

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

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EdNote: Some of black and white drawings have splashes of color on them. These are reflections off the glass and not necessarily intentional by the artists. I personally find them interesting, even if it does present a challenge for photography in certain settings.  

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday Motivation: Ten Art Quotes That Will Surprise You

A Red Rothko. 
"I'm not telling you it's going to be easy. I'm telling you it's going to be worth it."
--Art Williams

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Living isn't a simple thing... no one said it's supposed to be.
--Art Alexakis

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The two best interview subjects are children under 10 and people over 70 for the same reason: they say the first thing that comes to their mind. The children don't know what they're saying and the old folks don't care.
--Art Linkletter

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Paul has more, I think, of a feel for the stage. Whereas I have it more for the notes themselves. I love record making and mixing, arranging, producing. That I love. I love to make beautiful things, but I don't like to perform.
 --Art Garfunkel

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Life is available to anyone no matter what age. All you have to do is grab it.
--Art Carney

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Jazz washes away the dust of every day life.
--Art Blakey

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Remember, before you can be great, you've got to be good. Before you can be good, you've got to be bad. But before you can even be bad, you've got to try.
--Art Williams

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If you don’t see the wonder in the most ordinary phenomenon, you’re not going to resonate very much.
--Art Shaw

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There is no such thing as a wrong note.
--Art Tatum

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All you have to do is be able to feel.
--Art Blakey

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ON THIS DAY in 1903, American painter Mark Rothko was born. Whatever your feelings about abstract art in general and color field painting in particular, the 2014 play RED provides insights into the mind of the artist and why he was influential.

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Meantime, Arts go on all around you.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Plein Air Painting in the 21st Century: Last Night at the GLA

Jeffrey Larson, in his element here at Glensheen. (Photo courtesy C. Strom)
Fifty years ago people wondered if Warhol's "Brillo Boxes" were signalling the end of art. Everything's been done. Where else can it go. It half reminds me of the U.S.Patent office in 1900 when the director said, "We should just close our doors. Everything that can be invented has been invented." So it is that art continues, despite what many critics predicted.

As a long-time observer of the arts it would appear that the art scene is "still alive and well," as Johnny Winter once sang. The creative spirit continues.

It's funny how journalists and cultural observers keep making the same mistakes as regards what is to come. There was a time when radio was significant, but when television came along radio was going to be annihilated. Radio is still here, and cable didn't kill network television and the Internet didn't kill television or newspapers and magazines. So it is that photography did not eliminate realistic and representational painting and drawing.

Carl Bretzke's "Park Point" evinces an involuntary "Oh, wow."
This week a consortium of plein air painters has been in town to display of their exceptional translation skills, translating 3-D reality onto 2-D surfaces. The subject matter: our Twin Ports region. The results? Impressive.

Andy Evenson's "Rain on Canal Street" 14"x19" Watercolor
Last night the Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art opened its doors and welcomed the public to see a range of works created by this week's visiting members of the Plein-Air Painters of America. It was a heady experience. Hundreds attended from the community, nearly everyone awed not only by the art but also by the renovation that has taken place here. This Catholic Church, which had at one time been inches from the wrecking ball, is itself becoming a museum-piece.

I spoke with several of the paints who are in town and there was a universal sense that Duluth is rich with subject matter for artists. Industrial, historical, natural and nautical themes are abundant and accessible.

Friday evening the Tweed celebrated a new exhibition of America's Industrial Landscapes, featuring a whole range of atypical subject matter... until you dislodge the idea that painting outdoors means painting water lilies or parks. There are certain features of Duluth that contribute to its being an exceptional locale to collect artists. The steep hillsides pouring into a massive body of water, the railroad yards and shipyards, the multitude of parks, the ever changing weather -- it all contributes. Here are a few more images from last night's show.

"Green Van" by Carl Bretzke of Grand Marais
"Trailer and Timbers" by Bretzke
Billyo O'Donnell's dense oils produced vivid images.

Related Post: Interview with M. Stephen Doherty, author of The Art of Plein Air Painting.

THIS WEEK: IN SITU at the Duluth Art Institute
Opening reception: Thursday, September 28, 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Dorothea Diver, Lee Englund, Goran Hellekant, Constance Johnston, Cot LaFond, Dale Lucas, and Larry Turbes share a studio on Michigan St. in downtown Duluth. What does it mean to inhabit a space with other artists? What are the habits that develop throughout an artist's studio practice when working near others? This exhibit showcases five to 10 paintings from each of the seven while examining concepts of habitation and transposition. The artists will recreate their atelier environment within the gallery and create LIVE onsite 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. Wed. evenings (Sept. 20 & 27; Oct. 4, 11, 18, & 25). The exhibit is on view through Oct. 27, sponsored by: Cartier Agency, Inc.

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

Saturday, September 23, 2017

For Sale: Frank Holmes' "Big Date"

"Big Date" 51.5"x 83.5" Oil on Canvas
Most artists have a painting they return to time and again, never quite finishing but never quite being ready to give up. Not many artists, however, work on a painting for 30 years. Here's an article about Frank Holmes' "Big Date" that appeared in print a number of years ago.

"Frank Holmes began Big Date in 1974 while on fellowship from the American Academy in Rome for his realist work. Inspired by a fellow artist, Holmes wanted to break free from his rigorous adherence to the rules of realism. He finished Big Date in 2004 after showing it to a gallery owner and committing to its completion by the gallery's opening date. Holmes, who primarily paints still lifes and interiors, calls Big Date 'a strange painting that's not at all like what I normally do.'

"Big Date" (detail)
"In spite of its whimsicality, Big Date is tightly rendered. Holmes started loose, drawing 'big bloopy shapes' in pen and ink and filling them in with paint, mostly straight from the tube. 'I think I was seeing it as a very pure-color sort of thing,' he recalls.

"He interpreted the car's interior--doorknobs, the glove box, the key with its rabbit foot, the fluorescent red of the driver's cigarette tip and the windshield wipers--in stylized, unexpected ways. Through the years Holmes changed some of the shapes and locations of the elements, but says Big Date remained essentially the same as he originally envisioned the painting in 1974.

"I didn't work on it steadily for 30 years--probably for just a couple of months total throughout the 30 years--but it was always there for me when I felt the need to get away," he says. "I guess it was a refuge of sorts."

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This week I called Frank to get a little more insight onto this unusual departure from the realistic works that built his early reputation.

"'Big Date' was part of that first spring in Rome… I found myself doing various things that I hadn’t expected to. I was inspired to be like a kid... like the kid I was when a friend and I made a big-enough-to sit-in (but stationary!) roadster we could pretend we were driving around. It was great! This was about 1949--we were ten and both had a real love of cars."

Of the painting itself he explained, "I was trying to create something about the feeling around the things I did then when I was ten or eleven years old. It was loopy and loose before I tightened it up."

Sounds a lot like life, I thought. You're carefree, and then tighten the reins and become more careful.

"It was part of that abstract period that I went through in Rome," Frank said.

I can imagine a photo of the young Frank Holmes sitting in one of these home-made kid-crafted 1949 cars. When I look at this painting and what it represents, I think of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane and "Rosebud." Maybe there's more here than meets the eye.

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The painting is actually still available. Frank Holmes originals generally run in the neighborhood of $20,000. I've been told that the suggested "ask" on this is $2,000 plus S&H. Or best reasonable offer.

If this piece catches your fancy, send me a PM on Facebook or an email to ennyman (AT) gmail (dot) com.

If you're interested in an original car-themed picture, I believe Mr. Holmes would consider discussing that, too.

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Meantime, art goes on all around you. What are you into?

Friday, September 22, 2017

An Idea for Creating Tricky But Memorable Dylan-Themed Passwords

Am I the only one who's concerned about how complicated life is starting to become? I could enumerate a whole batch of issues we must deal with today that were at one time fairly simple, but I won't/ I'm just going to address this one: Passwords.

First, there are the passwords at the office, which every three months my employer reminds us to change. And then there are all the warnings from various places -- online banks, the Social Security office, social media sites, online stores -- that insist that the new password you create be different from all your other ones. Just in case one site gets hacked and now all your other spaces are vulnerable. And how many of these are there? Dozens. And every couple years these sites tell you that for the sake of security you not only need a new password, it needs to be longer and strong than your old password.

Is it essential to have these muscular passwords? They say so, and I'm inclined to go with it. For the record, you're not the first and won't be the last to find passwords frustrating.

So, what I aim to share here are a handful of password tricks you can use, followed by my ultimate Passwords for Dylanophiles Tipsheet.

1. Padding
This is what I use at the office. What you do is use the same password forever, but change the set of add-on characters at the end. For example, your favorite car is a Jaguar. The first time you create the password you might have used the word Jaguar. But then they said it wasn't strong enough and you needed a numeral and a symbol, and an upper and lower case letter. By "padding" you add a two digit number and a hashtag or $ or @. Let's say you start with Jaguar22@. Then next time you change to Jaguar 23@. No more thinking. You are a Jaguar forever.

2. Padding Type B
You have the password Jaguar but pad it with <><><> little meaningless characters so that Jaguar22 becomes Jaguar22#<><><>

3. Spaces
I read somewhere that spaces make it harder for codebreakers to crack or hack your password. I don't know if that is true, but I do know that at least one site where I used a space my password was reject. That being said, it does make sense that a space would fool people. Jag uar 22#--><><>< might be tricky.

4. Password Managers
These are something you will have to investigate on your own. If you work for a company ask your IT department. Or you can ask Google or Siri or whomever and get the skinny on what is arguably the most secure password system. It seems complicated. That's why I invented the Passwords for Dylanophiles Tipsheet.

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A Passwords for Dylanophiles Tipsheet

A week or two ago I saw an article on Flipboard that suggested a unique way of coming up with what appears to be a random assembly of letters and numbers, but which is actually memorable. That is, the biggest problem with random character sets is that we can't remember them and have to write them down. But we're told NOT to write them down because they can be stolen. Your IRA, your 401K, your bank accounts, your credit union accounts, credit card information and more is suddenly fair game because the Tip Sheet is somewhere at hand because you need it every day.

Well, the article said that you can come up with a memorable but apparently random sequence of letters by taking the first line of a song, like "She'll Be Coming "Round the Mountain When She Comes" and converting it to SBCRtMWSC. Not a bad password, but made stronger if you add numerals and padding. For numerals, you could take your birth year and divide it by your favorite number, and use the first three digits and an asterisk.

That's the concept. And now you probably already see where this is going.


For the purposes of this illustration I will use The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan as my code maker and code breaker.

How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

Well, if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair

Come you masters of war You that build all the guns

Well, I’m walkin’ down the highway With my suitcase in my hand

Well, the Lone Ranger and Tonto They are ridin’ down the line

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Owhybmbes     or, just for the heck of it you might keep the hyphen and add the e so it reads:
Owhybmb-es    which I sort of like.

Now here's the fun part. You don't have to write down any of your passwords anywhere. You only need to know in what order the password protected sites are listed, and which Dylan album is your answer key.

Amazon.com -- WtLRaTTardtl

Checking Account -- Wiytitncf

Credit Union -- CymowYtbatg

Gmail -- WIwdthWmsimh

Facebook -- WtLRaTTardtl

Twitter -- Owhybmb-es

You no longer need to make a list of your passwords. Rather, you will know your favorite Dylan album by heart, or at least the first line, and will know what order the songs appear in. And you you don't remember them, there is no penalty because you can quickly open a tab and visit BobDylan.com and find all the lyrics to every song right there.

As for numerals and special characters, you can always mix things up with the square root of your birthday, minus the decimal. Or whatever scheme you wish to apply to throw hackers off the scent.

What do you think? Too complicated? You can always just do what I do. Zimmy***. With a space or two here and there. And a numeral. No one has broken yet.

* * * *
Bob Dylan's Fall Tour Schedule has been released. If you're already a fan, you probably already know, he'll be doing a Coast-to-Coast series of shows from California to Boston. Full schedule here, along with links to tickets.

A nine volume set (8 CDs and one DVD) from his "Gospel Period" (1979-81) has been announced. It's called "Trouble No More." There's a 2-CD Bonus that is available only if you Pre-Order. All the other details are here, though again, you probably already knew that.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Doesn't make your head spin?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dr. Punnybone and Other Artsy Moves

If you're a regular reader you'll know that I've published a few posts sharing some of the paintings of Frank Holmes, one of my art instructors who in 1973 one the Prix de Rome. This summer we re-connected and it's been a pleasure getting a retrospective introduction to his career. Like many artists, he works in a variety of mediums. In addition, like many artists, writers, musicians, he produces serious work over which he labors obsessively and all that other stuff. I'm thinking here of British author Graham Greene (The Quiet American, The End of the Affair) who called a portion of his output nothing more than "entertainments." (This Gun For Hire.)

Well, one of Frank Holmes' line of "entertainments" has been producing a series of witty cartoons titled Dr. Punnybone. I thought it might be fun to share a few of these while passing along a several arts-related announcements as we head into the weekend.

Tomorrow is a major Double Opening Reception at the Tweed Museum of Art featuring two great exhibitions. A Thousand Words opened earlier this year but its official "Opening" will be tomorrow. It's a powerful collection of large format photography and, as the saying goes, "every picture tells a story." The newer exhibition is titled America's Industrial Landscape, a show featuring the work of the national Plein Air Painters. The event runs from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Learn more here.

This Sunday is a Wedding Showcase at the Oldenburg House from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. featuring wedding vendors, hospitality and more in a visually stunning setting on the edge of Jay Cooke State Park in Carlton.

All engaged couples, wedding vendors and those interested in seeing how Oldenburg House can be transformed into a wedding venue are invited. You'll have the opportunity to tour the grounds, chat with amazing vendors and to sample some delicious food. This event is completely free to attend, but you're being asked to RSVP through their event registration page.

Next week is another big week of music at Beaners, but tonight it's Third Thursday Spoken Word night at the coffeehouse. Poetry and other story telling, with this month's host being Gary Boelhower. Starts at 7:00 p.m.

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"James and Mary" -- 27"x 36.5"
And if you happen to be from out of town and live in the vicinity of Narrowsburg,  there will be an opening reception for a new exhibition titled, “Paintings, Now & Before: Figures, Flowers, Landscapes” featuring paintings by artist Jill Mackie. The show will run from October 6 – 28, 2017 with the opening reception from 7 – 9 p.m. on Friday, October 6. Alliance Gallery is located in the Delaware Arts Center, 37 Main St, Narrowsburg, NY.

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MUCH MORE can be said, but I have run out of time. I believe it's Michael Jackson Day at the Red Herring tomorrow, but there's always something happening there, even when it is not a special occasion. In fact, there are all kinds of music venues that will be hopping, and arts events to round out September. Can't seem to keep up? Just keep tryin'.

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Stephanie Wilcox @ Beaners Central (Local Art Seen)

Stephanie Wilcox is an artist who paints and draws in Duluth, MN.

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Beaners Central is a great venue to experience local art, local music, poetry and culture. 
Located directly across the parking lot from the newly opened Zenith Bookstore, it is a great place to start your day (java and a warm greeting from Jason) as well as a nourishing mid-day stop for lunch.
Evenings it is music and more, always something fresh and real. 
Follow on Facebook Here. It's almost as good as family. 

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