"Swimmy" – Marty Harris
The New North
– Contemporary Art from the Upper Midwest –
There’s an austere but inviting sense of minimalism that thrives in Minnesota. Maybe it’s the Scandinavian influence or the landscape of white blankets on chilly winter nights, but an understated and graceful aesthetic tends to show up in the art, crafts, and products produced by local creatives. The New North: Contemporary Art from the Upper Midwest is an exhibit of art and craft created by creators from the region. The New North is curated by Mary Jo Hoffman and features a dozen artists across multiple disciplines including screenprinting, photography, ceramic, woodworking, and painting. The exhibition is on display May 5th - May 20th, 2017.
You can view the gallery and archive of artwork here.
For the first time in my life, my artwork is occasionally abstract enough to present images upside down or rotated or mixed and matched to make new images. I do my best to keep images alive, now using failures as spare parts.
About this collection:
Sidewalk to Superior, and back
I’m on a Sidewalk to Superior. After decades of looking out the bay window at the neighbor’s yard, I have stepped outdoors, taken a deep breath, and ventured up the sidewalk to where it leads. With eyes open and nostrils wide, I have been drawn upstate by the romance of life and landscape in Northern Minnesota along the big lake, with a couple of stops in-between. Narrative reveals itself with every step and every mark made between this Minneapolis suburb and the Canadian border.
I invite you to zoom in, to put your nose right up to any one of my drawings. Spend one minute, sixty seconds, focused on the marks. This is where I live. In my best drawings, every mark is a character. Every stroke is evocative. Each landscape setting, still life arrangement and portrait situation is a springboard to a more abstract response. If my pictures strike you as strictly representational I encourage you to get a little closer…closer…to see the drawings within the drawings. A group of inky strokes may bring to mind charming vignettes of humanity or brief plotless tales of nature’s wonder. With your mind's eye rapt by a small ensemble of marks, the rest of the image may stretch away like a vast wilderness.
In my very best drawings, the marks break apart into abstraction, reassemble into a landscape, and break apart again and again. This is what makes a picture live for me. Landscape is inspiration without judgment or expectation. Landscape welcomes me to be completely in the moment. I scout out my location, fluff up my nest, set up my outdoor studio with ink, brushes, and three or four watercolor blocks laid on the ground. I begin to draw, and soon the big loud world falls away, and the art begins.
This is what I hope to accomplish each time I put brush to paper, whether at Jay Cooke State Park, up along the North Shore, or in front of my house on the doorstep studio.
This neighborhood has been my home for the better part of a half-century, about 30 million minutes. In the past few years, I have begun to see it with fresh eyes, like the pre-teen who conquered the neighborhood with his friends and ruled the backyard forest that is now the city's nature center.
Over the past few years, my wife has transformed our modest suburban lot into an aviary with a collection bird feeders she has carefully curated. The silver maple out front has become a neighborhood for the birds and small mammals, occasionally attracting raptors and coyotes. The view from our bay window has been transformed. Lines of flight redefine boundaries, drawing me to places I haven't been since childhood, and to new lands and lines of thought. I can spend hours on my doorstep studio and at Westwood Hills Nature Center, drawing, enjoying the play of neighbors & nature, the echoes of childhood adventures, and the dance of marks they inspire.
North Shore, Minnesota is a thin line between a monstrous inland sea and a boundless, dark pine forest. Pick your peril. Face east, and face the serpent. Turn west, and face the dragon. Lessons of art history come to life, Renaissance paintings of St. George and the dragon, and Dark Aged illuminations of uncharted territory. The shape of these stories is painted in lichen across rocks and timber, there for the Leonardo in each of us.
Grand Marais and other North Shore settlements are variegated blooms of lichen smiling northward, clinging to a big dumb rock. Lichen thrive on clean moist air, and tough surfaces. I have never seen people so happy to work so hard to live in a place.
About this artist:
I am a little bit Max Fleischer, Tex Avery, Disney, Tom Terrific, Check Jones, The Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera, Grampa Ken, Dick, Janne, Golden Books, 50s and 60s Album Covers, Margaret Keane, Madaline Mattaway, David Stone Martin, Ben Shahn, Monet, Seraut, Jon Gnagy (TV artist), Norman Rockwell, my father, my brothers, Mad, Marvel & DC, Will Eisner, Giuseppe Cappe, Andrew Wyeth, Michelangelo, Henri Matisse, Ms. Vincent, Bob Anderson (Doc), Degas, Al Parker, John Singer Sargent, Manet, The Egyptians, Charles Dana Gibson, The Society of Illustrators, National Geographic, my brothers some more, Picasso, Georges Seurat, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh, E. H. Shepard, Maxfield Parrish, Honoré Daumier, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Vermeer, Stuart Davis, Victoria Thor (my spouse), Judith Roode, Fragonard, Boucher, Phillip Guston, Balthus, Franz Kline, The Romans, Alexander Calder, Heinrich Kley, Paul Klee, Louise Nevelson, The Greeks, Claes Oldenburg, John Sloan, George Stubbs, R. B. Kitaj, Everett Shinn, Delacroix, Courbet, Joseph Raﬀael, Mark Trial, Judge Parker, Edward Hopper, Piero della Francesca, Kandinsky, Milton Avery, George Inness, David Park, Neil Welliver, Elizabeth Murray, George Bellows, David Hockney, Rodin, Lorenzo Ghiberti, George Herriman, Rembrandt, Miro, Paul Pope, Antonio Donghi, Margo Margolis, Jim Wilson, Stanley Whitney, Goya, Christophe Marchetti, Felix Vallotton, Graham Sutherland, Ivan Hitchens, and more each day.
Purchasing Limited Edition Prints:
All prints are made per order on archival, premium matte paper with archival inks. Prints will be individually wrapped in a poly bag and shipped in a rigid cardboard tube within one week of your purchase. For national orders, you can expect your purchased print(s) within 10 days of purchase, while international shipping will vary. **We are a small team and are only able to fill orders on Wednesdays and Fridays. As soon as your package has filled, you will receive an email confirmation and tracking number. There may be short processing period between packaging and shipping. We are not responsible for stolen, damaged, or unclaimed packages.
If you purchase an original artwork from the exhibition, it will be carefully packaged and shipped after the closing of the exhibition. You will be notified when your package has shipped. We send all originals with tracking, insurance, and signature confirmation.
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