Americana on Superior’s shoreA pair of plein-air painters are spending the week in Superior, capturing the unique local landscape that features industry and residential life side by side.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A pair of plein-air painters are spending the week in Superior, capturing the unique local landscape that features industry and residential life side by side.
“We’re here for a week and a half to get as much local color as we can,” said Joseph Paquet of St. Paul, Minn.
He and fellow artist John Cosby of California have caught “sketches” of tug boats, warehouses, grain elevators, railroads and residences for a future show featuring America’s Rust Belt. The Twin Ports is their first stop on a three-year painting odyssey to find and capture such scenes. The painters will be in town through Sunday.
They originally came to Duluth, knowing they would find the industrial elements they wanted. But when they stopped by Superior, the artists found more of what they were looking for.
“We realized my gosh, everything we planned on getting the next week and a half is compressed right here,” Cosby said. “It’s got the rail, the ships, the industry, and the people are fabulous.”
Both artists have their niche – Cosby is drawn to roadside Americana, Paquet to industry. By pooling their talents together on road trips to areas of the Rust Belt they hope to catch the remnants of the American Dream.
“There’s something beautiful about the authenticity of things,” Paquet said. Landscapes where people live right next to industry are fading, he said, as cities become more sanitized.
At the same time, Cosby said, “What supported America and made the American Dream come true is changing.”
The artists hope to catch those scenes on canvas before they disappear.
“Part of this is to hold the history and do it in a personal way,” Paquet said.
So instead of snapping a dozen photographs and taking them back to the studio, the artists set up portable easels and paint on location. Subtle colors are found when you paint in person, Cosby said. Even the cold, smells, visits from passers-by and real-life elements like traffic add to the project.
The small sketches they produce will stand on their own, or in many cases, become the templates for larger paintings.
As they travelled through town finding canvas-worthy scenes, the pair collected stories of the city’s past. They’ve even stopped for burgers at the Anchor Bar.
Future trips are planned to Chicago, Gary, Ind., Pennsylvania and New York. But for now, they are finding plenty of scenes in Superior.
“We’re trying to capture the spirit of the place as best we can,” Paquet said.
For more information on the artists, visit www.josephpaquet.com or http://cosbystudio.com.