July 14, 2006
mnartists.org was at Green Man in Duluth this weekend, spreading the mnartists.org news and gathering experiences of musicians and artists from around the region.
Tune in for ongoing news of bands, performances, happenings, and the development of our Green Man collaborative painting. We'll post images several times a day from the festival, as well as capsule reviews of the music.
Join us in our pursuit of Minnesota art!
Friday: Not as Hot as You'd Think
Today is the first day of the festival, and we're all set up. It's in the high 80s, but breezy, and everyone's having a good time. Our volunteers are arriving, we've set up the painting board, and are greeting mnartists members and the curious.
Jeredt Runions, one of our volunteers, is a young painter of great imagination and vitality. He came up on a skateboard of his own making, with news of three shows of his paintings in various locations: Pizza Luce in Duluth, Twin Ports Brewery in Superior, and Solon Springs Community Center. He brought samples of his work, which we hung in our tent in an impromptu show.
Lindy Sexton, another volunteer, is a photographer who works for the Duluth Art Institute and also for Whole Foods. She's fascinated by two things: the different ways that photos represent and address their makers, their subjects, and their audience; and networking among artists and other creative people. She has plans to head off on travels through South America, after spending a year or so developing networks among artists and cooperative farming organizations. Her work is in the Tween Museum in Duluth, and also on mnartists.org. There'll be a show of her work in August at the Duluth Art Institute.
Jes Durfee's grandfather was born on Wisconsin Point, within view of Bayfront Festival Park, Green Man's site. "I'm indigenous to Duluth," he says. "I'm an Ojibwe glassblower." He's since traveled the world, making his art, but often shows in Duluth. You can see his house on the hill opposite Bayfront.
Ellen Sandbeck, local writer and artist, recently published Organic Housekeeping: In Which the Nontoxic Avenger Shows You How to Improve Your Health and That of Your Family While You Save Time, Money, and, Perhaps, Your Sanity
. The book is funny, authoritative, meticulously researched, illustrated with Sandbeck's elegant cut-paper work, easy to read, and does live up to its title. It's published by Scribner and available wherever books are sold.
Ellen is at Green Man sharing a tent with the Green Mercantile, and selling, also, her worm bins: Ellen is a longtime worm wrangler who has studied the science of worm composting, and has used her creativity to engineer a better worm bin, so you can compost your garbage year-round, even in a small apartment.
Across the way from Sandbeck is Paul Webster, a blacksmith who used to teach literature at Harbor City School in Duluth and who now uses his persuasive skills on iron and steel. He makes useful and beautiful objects using a forge and an anvil, both of which he brought to Green Man so you can see him working.
A group of potters, Anna Cook, Tonya Borgeson, and Dan Edmunds, were set up in Dan's beautifully made touring stand. They had a wheel set up and were throwing pots in the sun. They are associated with Lake Superior College's excellent ceramics program, which has grown exponentially in the past few years.
Saturday: Wind and More Wind
People are drifting around Bayfront Park, listening to Savage Aural Hotbed and reveling in high summer. At first the breeze was keeping things comfortable, and while crowds are still light, more people are arriving.
The mnartists.org tent is hosting Alison Aune and Kirsten Aune and their art-for-children activities -- Swedish spirit objects, face painting, and weaving.
Marya Morstad, host of Radio mnartists.org and "Art Matters" on KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio is at the booth today with her family. Marya is in Duluth for the festival...and rumor has it she'll also be doing a few interviews for the Radio series... listen in next week.
As the day wore on, the heat and wind rose, and swivelled to the south. Eventually one of the big band tents lifted up and blew down, and people began battening down everything. The weather became the largest presence here.
Lili's Burlesque and, eventually, Low, took the stage in an atmosphere of extremes, the velvety air palpable with warmth like it seldom is here. A thousand people watched and danced.
Sunday: The Cool Rolls In
A little shell-shocked from yesterday's heat and wind, people are drifitng around murmuring in pleasure at the cool airs. Bands are playing, and our tent is crowded with people painting the Painting and each other.
Boy Girl Boy Girl, one of the bands on the mnartists anthology CD of Minnesota music, is playing, and we're giving away the CD at the tent.
The Square Lake Film Festival brought some reels up north and set up a film tent next to ours. They screened locally made movies all weekend, drawing their power from the big solar panel.
The Weekend: A Summary
Green Man this year was different from last: it was at Bayfront Park instead of Spirit Mountain; it was thus harder to camp on site and the site itself is more open, windier, less wooded and sylvan. The reasons to have the Festival there were many--much less equipment needed to be trucked in, the event was more visible, ticket prices could be lower--but in some patrons' minds, apparently, those advantages weren't worth the change in venue. Attendance was down, and the freakishly hot and windy conditions on Saturday could only account for part of the drop.
But for those who were here, the ambience of openness, freedom, and kindliness was similar to other years. The music was good--all local bands this year, no national headliners--and the sound was excellent from Bayfront's big stage. The addition of Lili's Burlesque on Saturday was charming.
Vendors were mainly artists and ecofriendly businesses. The crowds enjoyed watching the glassblower, the potter, and the blacksmith, but vendors' sales were not high: there were just not enough people to make a lot of sales.
Will Green Man return? We hope so; but it will take higher levels of support to make that work.