Saturday, December 16, 2017

Twin Ports Art: Piszczek's Superior Zentangle Pieces and Other Things To See TODAY

One of the first places I showed my art locally was in the showcase at the Superior Public Library. As a regular visitor to the library there I am ever conscious of the various artists displayed there. For the month of December Esther Piszczek is the featured artist, a small variety of works offered for public consumption. If you frequent the Superior Library, do take a few minutes to check out the various artists who occupy this cozy little space.

As an active maker, Esther has made connections in a variety of circles which are especially active this time of year. What follows are several places where you can find her work alongside a variety of others'. Still need to find gifts for the people in your life? Here are several places worth checking out today. 

(Zentangle designs here from Esther P's display in the lobby of the Superior Library.)

Saturday, December 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Fitger's ART on Tap—Holiday, Fitger’s, August Fitger Room, 3rd Level, 600 E. Superior Street. This new addition to the holiday art and craft scene is organized by Sally Cavallaro Designs. Local artists, (including Eshter's Zentangle-inspired art.)

Saturday, December 16, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Handmade Holidays, Free Family Art Day, Duluth Art Institute / Lincoln Center, 2229 W. 2nd Street. "Anyone is invited to drop-in for make-and-take art projects."

Saturday, December 16, 12-5 p.m., Handmade Holiday Market, Duluth Folk School, The Lincoln Park Craft District, 1917 & 1924 W. Superior Street.

"30+ local vendors including pottery, jewelry, art, apparel, kombucha, stationery, skin care, and more with a FREE gift wrap craft station. Brought to you in association with Duluth Pottery and Duluth Made."

If you've never been, the Superior Public Library is located at 1530 Tower Avenue just past Belknap.

EdNote: You can see some of my own paintings at the following locations in Superior.

At Goin' Postal you can see works by a wide variety of artists while shipping packages via UPS, FedEx or U.S. Postal Service. It's a pretty good deal. I have more than a dozen pieces there on display. Goin' Postal is located next to the tracks on the 800 block of Tower Avenue.

Art on the Planet shares the former Dunbar Building with Wine Beginnings on the 1300 block of Tower Avenue. It's a cozy space crammed with arts and crafts. There's plenty to see, whatever the price range you wish to spend within.

"Dogs of War"
Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Few Thoughts About Living With Purpose

Cheshire Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderlnd

“If you don't know where you're going, any road'll take you there” ― George Harrison

“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don't have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

* * * *
What a contrast between the Alice in Wonderland excerpt above and the Roy Bennett quote.

* * * *
"It’s important to have a purpose. I have seen lives filled with loneliness and despair when no specific purpose has been embraced. On the other hand, I have seen drastic improvements in psychological well-being when people have identified a meaningful purpose."  --Brad Klontz Psy.D., CFP

* * * *
When Keith Richards & Mick Jagger met at the train queue they each discovered they weren't alone in their love of the Chicago blues. The moved in together and made a commitment: no dating, no jobs, no distractions... just learn how to play the music they were hearing on these records they scored from America. They had a purpose. It became the focus of their lives and because of their commitment, they learned the music indeed, which opened doors they never dreamed existed.
(Keith Richards' Life.)

* * * *
Like everything else, there is a counter-balancing truth that should accompany our purpose-driven activities. That is, purpose-driven living can have a dark side. Is the purpose a worthy one? I think here of Captain Ahab and his quest for the great white whale Moby Dick. His obsession not only cost him his life, it cost the lives of most of his crew. I think here of the damage wrought by Bernie Madoff, as well as Adolph Hitler's megalomania. I think here, too, of the quest for wealth, power and status which can all be achieved while still leaving the soul empty.

* * * *
I'll close off here with a handful of observations from the author of Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl. Frankl was a Nazi concentration camp survivor whose insights from that experience have been published and nurtured people all over the world.

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."


"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."


"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."


"When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure."


"Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her own life."

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Meantime life goes on all around you. Engage it.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Poetry Notes and a Call for Submissions

"A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician..."
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley

The Duluth Poet Laureate Project seeks poems from regional writers for a poetry/dance collaborative event to take place in May 2018. Send a poem on any theme and the dancers will choose a poem and create a dance in response. The poets who inspired the dance will be invited to read at the event and will receive a $50 honorarium. Send ONE poem and contact information to: or to Ellie Schoenfeld, 530 E. Skyline Parkway, Duluth, MN 55805 by January 10th, 2018.

* * * * 
An appreciation for poetry is not something tacked onto my life like hand-scrawled announcements on a bulletin board. I come by it honestly; it is in my blood. My grandmother wrote poetry, influenced in that direction by her uncle John S. Hall. John Hall, the youngest of five boys, was left blind after the Civil War, whereupon he pursued a life of writing, founding two newspapers, the St. Mary's Observer and the Oracle, before retiring to private life. His book of poems, Musings of a Quiet Hour, was published in 1907. I have been told that through this lineage flows the blood of Robert Burns, the famed Scot Highlander and literary luminary.

None of this means that the poems I have written are any good, or will have historical merit. It is simply an acknowledgement of my roots.

"Poetry is the mother tongue of mankind."
--J.G.Hamann, 1762

I have a number of favorite poets whom I return to from time to time for inspiration, among these Rilke, Pessoa, Dylan and Billy Collins, whose poem Introduction To Poetry always brings a smile and a lift.

Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

* * * *

If you be a poet, write on. If a reader only... Thank You.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Lake Superior Art Glass and a Midweek Morsel of Inspiration

Did you know a loved one's ashes can be inserted in this memorial piece?

Original art glass Christmas ornaments are a nice gift this time of year.
A number of area artists show and sell their work at Lake Superior Art Glass.
Learn more about founder Dan Neff here

Et res non semper, spes mihi semper adest. --Ovid
My hopes are not always realized, but I always hope.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Road Not Taken

I first became aware of Robert Frost when he recited a poem at the John F. Kennedy inauguration in 1961. As I was only eight, I remember it more because my mom made a big deal of it at the time, not because it really stood out on its own. Since that time I'd always assumed he was our National Poet Laureate until now when I did a little fact-checking. He was actually Poet Laureate of the State of Vermont, hence my tendency to associate him with the artist Andrew Wyeth, another famed New Englander in the arts.

Though a winner of four Pulitzer Prizes, I have to believe Frost's The Road Not Taken must be his most famous poem. I'd venture to say that this poem alone, even without Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, had sufficient muscle to make him a household name, a fairly rare occurrence amongst twentieth century poets. I've assumed that school children everywhere have studied the poem, appreciating its elegance and accessibility. The simple metaphor of making a choice during a stroll through the woods has far-reaching applications that resonate with all of us, from relationship decisions to career moves.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The author comes to a fork in the path and ponders the possibilities of each, but because of the winding nature of what lies ahead is unable to really know how to choose. The first stanza outlines the problem. The following two stanzas reveal the storyteller's cogitations as he leaned into the former and then the latter, looking for a basis for making his decision.

In the end, he focuses on a decisive variable. Knowing that he will likely never be back at this spot again, he chose the path least travelled. That final line is an affirmation that he chose wisely.

* * * *

A forest of birches. Photo by Ryan Tischer.
This Ryan Tischer* photo provides a clue as to what kind of "yellow wood" Frost may have been meandering through, as well as the time of year. The photo, as you can see, paints a different scene. In the poem I envision rolling hills. In the image here, especially striking when it looms large, we see a relatively flat landscape with a single road, marching through rows of trees much like a headful of hair that has been parted by a fine-toothed comb.

My father was fond of white birches. When we moved to New Jersey in 1964 one of the first things he did was to plant a trio of birches near the corner of our front yard, hence my own special regard for these beautiful trees that seem especially abundant here in the Northland.

Meantime, life goes on...

* Ryan Tischer has opened a new gallery in Duluth's emerging Arts District. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Dinner with George, and How Much Is a Beatles Autograph Worth These Days Anyways

We're talking about George Harrison here. This past weekend I dreamt we were sharing a meal. This is a brief summary of what I remember about the dream.

Scene from dream, before waitress shows up.
A young George Harrison was seated at a rectangular table with another young man who looked a little like Brian Jones of the Stones. The two were eating and engaged in conversation when I arrived in the company of another fellow. I took a seat by George and the other fellow took a seat between George and the Jones look-alike. (Illustration show seating order with place settings and glasses missing.) The table was situated in a wide corridor and one could hear quite clearly that down the hall the other Beatles --John, Paul and Ringo -- were evidently working out harmonies and chord progressions in the recording studio, George being on break. I recognized the song, which would soon appear on an upcoming album.

A waitress approached and in an exchange with George I learned he did not have a wallet with him, and that none of the other Beatles had paid for their meals. This malfeasance was atoned for because they had given her a copy of their album With The Beatles, upon which each had signed their faces. She had a Sharpie and the album cover at the ready, so that George could add his signature to the cover, which he promptly did.

The strange part of the dream is that I was my current age of 65, whereas this scene taking place was back in 1965 while George was in his twenties. As I watched him put his signature there, I was trying to determine what this signed album cover would be worth in our 21st century eBay era. Here is what I learned.

My first Beatles album, With The Beatles.
This is the one George signed in my presence, in the dream.

My first stop after waking: a Beatles forum at Once authenticity is determined, however, you can get a sense of the real value here at the Beatles Blog.


It wasn't until I became involved in the Quora online community that I really learned how much enthusiasm is still out there for the Fab Four. I wrote an answer to a question about Ringo, and suddenly all variety of Beatles questions were delivered my way, most which I preferred to defer to higher authorities. I knew the albums, intimately familiar with them all, but I'd not read all the books or zines. When I read an answer by Chantal de Paus of the Netherlands, whom I interviewed here, I realized quite quickly how extensive the knowledge base is out there beyond the album tracks.

If you're a Beatles fan, you might enjoy this timeline of Beatles trivia, along with links to three Beatles trivia contests.

* * * *

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." --Abbey Road, 1969

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Local Art Seen: A Thousand Words at the Tweed, and More

"A picture is worth a thousand words..." --English idiom

"and behind a thousand bars no world." --Rainer Maria Rilke*

* * * *

The exhibit A Thousand Words is soon to complete its run, so if you have not yet been there to see it you still have a few days left to take it in. The Tweed has filled a large section of the lower floor with photos from its permanent collection, and each time I've been there since it was hung in May I've been struck by something new. Last week it was the photo of Muhammed Ali, which I'd not seen previously, the champion boxer famous for his audacity.

The images vary in size, in substance, but not in quality. Each is striking in its own right, each telling a story, at times raising more questions than it answers. 

Last Tuesday evening museum director Ken Bloom discussed the exhibition in a Tweevening talk. Bloom himself has been a capable photographer, his aim always being to capture images that invite viewers to engage.

Meryl McMaster-- from "Between Two Worlds" series.
Here's a description of the show according to the Tweed website:


May 5 – December 21, 2017
Alice Tweed Tuohy Gallery

Our world is awash in photographs—from silver plate Daguerreotypes of the 19th century to digital Instagrams on our cell phones. Our conception of the world has been built upon photographic seeing. Yet, photography is a latecomer to the collection of the Tweed Museum. With the support of the Marguerite Gilmore Foundation and the Sax Brothers Fund, the Tweed has grown a diverse photography collection that contains evocative story-telling images. A Thousand Words is a presentation of images that will inspire your imagination.

The newly featured Modern(ism) exhibition that was hung in October is pretty exciting, and a worthwhile destination on its own, but if you can make it in the next ten days you can see both these shows. (Recommended.)


October 10, 2017 – March 18, 2018
"Anorexia Girl" -- Jenny Schmid, 2002

Curated from the Tweed Museum’s permanent collection and generously supported by select loans from the Weisman Museum in Minneapolis, this exhibition of drawings and prints will offer audiences a rare look at small, intimate works by some of the most formidable Modern artists of the 20th century. Featuring works by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Käthe Kollwitz, Henri Matisse, Oskar Kokoschka, Max Weber, Salvador Dali, and Otto Dix, this exhibition will serve as a tool to explore the vast representations of the various “-ism” in art movements that blossomed at the beginning of the 20th century. Collectively, these works express the radical attitude toward art that resulted in the replacement of 19th century Realism in favor of expressionism and abstraction that more accurately reflected the zeitgeist of the Modern Era.
Jim Dine, Viennese Hearts V, 1990
* * * *

* EdNote: For reasons I can't explain, in all my recent visits to the Tweed the Rilke quote above inserted itself into my conscious mind each time I saw the panel with the title of the show, its meaning somewhat elusive yet philosophically stimulating. The line comes, of course, from his famous poem The Panther.