Staying Home is as Busy as Being on the Road

Sam Black

Duluth Community Orchestra, conducted by Sam Marks. Photo credit: Sam Black
Duluth Community Orchestra, conducted by Sam Marks. Photo credit: Sam Black

I was completely at home in Duluth this past week, but that hardly slowed me down. I truly enjoy the artistic excitement of this modest city at the western tip of Lake Superior. Multiple Bob Dylan related concerts are taking place this week of his birthday; otherwise, it’s a relatively quiet week here in the Superior basin. 

Our Community Orchestra here in the Twin Ports

This past Tuesday evening, the Duluth Community Orchestra, led by Sam Marks, offered their spring concert in the auditorium at Lincoln Middle School. The highlight of the program was clearly the Symphony No. 102 by Franz Joseph Haydn. The 45 members of the orchestra were all watching the conductor as they shared this very enchanting symphony. Each of the four movements offer rich melodies and changing rhythms, and we were as entertained as any court audience might have been around 1795, even without the champagne in hand.

How Important Is It to be Earnest?

Friday night I went to The Underground performance space, to watch a staging of The Importance of Being Earnest, the Valentine’s Day special drama in London, 1895. Playwright Oscar Wilde will always be remembered for this hilarious farce, if for no other reason. At The Underground, sets and lighting are delightfully minimal, so the words of the play, and the interaction of the characters, become the focus of the evening. As you may know, Jack (Jason Scorich) and Algernon (Mike Pederson) are less than earnest about their lives, yet find themselves attracted to young women who want them to be Earnest, in name and in behavior. 

Meanwhile, Gwendolen (Louisa Scorich) and Cecily (Kitara Peterson) have rigorous standards which expose the duplicity of the young suitors. By the time the play concludes, both men are revealed as not quite earnest about their daily lives, but clearly earnest about their hopeful marriages to the young women. As Jack exclaims to his bride in waiting: “it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?”

In the brilliant simplicity of The Underground, the words become the central focus. All the actors were crisp, emotive, and clearly focused on the eyes of the other person in the room. What a treat! The show runs through May 27 if you want to be verbally entertained.

Creative Watershed narrowing the discussion to the important issues. Photo credit: Sam Black
Creative Watershed narrowing the discussion to the important issues. Photo credit: Sam Black

Creative Watershed, part one

Many of us have been involved in an ongoing discussion with the Cities of Duluth and Superior and a large number of its artists, to try to create a unified approach to the arts in our larger community. The latest development was the release of a document called Creative Watershed, prepared by Forecast Public Art, and handed over to the Duluth Public Arts Commission in the Kirby Ballroom at UMD this past Saturday.

Invitations were sent out to about 500 individuals in the region, and approximately 60 gathered to discuss the next round of making the Creative Watershed a reality. Back from Washington state, facilitator Bill Cleveland was on hand to lead the day’s discussions. After the formal presentation, we spent the day discussing 20 different issues that mattered. These issues were narrowed to 5 by the end of the day, which makes possible the next round of dealing with fewer concerns. 

If you were on the invitation list, I hope you will come to the next gathering. We are getting close to creating a master plan for Duluth and all of the arts that drive this community. This involves tourism, new residents, old residents, young and old individuals in expanding the sense of creativity that keeps us more human and more engaged in working together to solve problems that need attention.

As I keep reminding my readers, the creation of Local Art is what makes us truly human.