Summertime,  And The Art-Scene Is Easy

Sam Black


On Friday, July 8, the published Sam Cook’s anticipated weekly column, connected (no surprise) to the Fourth of July and the delightful, fringe nature of life in Duluth, MN. In this column, however, Cook offered a musical review of the Road Kill Boys, performing live at the Lois Paulucci Bayfront Festival Park. As he concluded, this was “something simple and free and purely Duluth.”

Beth at work;  Sarah, Vicki, Cal, and Jeff in full voice
Beth at work;  Sarah, Vicki, Cal, and Jeff in full voice

My first reaction was to think I should head for the Boundary Waters and spend a week fishing and writing about the various arts-full encounters I might experience on such a journey. I, however, have never gone fishing in my life!

LOON opera with a celebration of American diversity

On Thursday evening - before reading Sam Cook’s column - I did go down to Scott’s Corners on the south side of Carlton, MN, and take in a performance called “Red, White, and LOON,” featuring four powerful Duluth singers, and gifted piano support from Beth Sobczak. This, too, was quintessentially Duluth, so to speak, although not free. At 6pm, the temperature was about 72 degrees, although change was in the air. By the time the music had ceased, the temperature had dropped to about 58 degrees, and it had been raining for some while. Fortunately, the program (and the piano) were inside an enveloping tent, serendipitously provided by Mike and Monica Gay for an upcoming weekend wedding.
The audience sipped their wine, beer, and nibbled on ice cream, while the temperatures dropped, and the music heated up the tent. Sarah Lawrence, Calland Metts, Vicki Fingalson, and Jeffrey Madison were dressed in red, white, and blue for the evening. They sang a wide variety of songs celebrating the musicality and diversity of these United States, focusing on peace and harmony as worth embracing now and always.

Fascinating artwork by Gregory Euclide, and and artful dinner

Meanwhile, I had several reasons for dining at the New Scenic Cafe last week, taking in the intriguing artwork of Gregory Euclide, whose mixed-media painting ‘Green Columns’ was part of my table experience. This Minnesota River Valley artist has broadened his reputation over the past decade, and it’s wonderful to have several of his works so close as the Scenic Cafe. Euclide can make mountain landscapes jump alive with overlapping layers of modern architecture. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what century we are in. Japanese flavors in the ‘Green Mountain’ are paired with modern American images, so that my imagination was in full motion while looking at these complex paintings. Head up the shore a bit for a great meal and some very fascinating artwork.

LSCO has its new season in motion

This very week begins the 2016 season of the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, so the first concert will be over by the time you read this. Three more, July 21, 28, and August 4 are still available, starting at 7:30pm at the Mitchell Auditorium on the St. Scholastica campus. As always, director Warren Friesen has packed each performance with music new to Duluth audiences, which is one of my main reasons for enjoying these concerts. Current composers are abundant, but generally underplayed. Friesen tries to bring Duluth up to date in four short concerts. Pianist Alex Sandor and flutist Kathryn Sandor will be up front for the program on July 21 for a U.S.A. premiere of a Leo Smit Concerto.

Fringe side of the arts

As a footnote to the Local Arts scene, the Duluth Huskies have two new team songs this season, but you need to go to a home game to listen to them. I happened to go last Friday night, and they beat the Eau Claire Express 9 - 8, if only in the bottom of the ninth inning. Maybe I brought a bit of art and good luck to the game!
So dive into the incredible - but short - Duluth summer. The weekends are filled with Bayfront activity, and the weeks are ripe with lots of new music and art all the way from Bayfield to Virginia, Grand Rapids, and back to Duluth. I look forward to seeing you at performances.