Art exhibit is 'Not slated for demolition'

Anyone who has ever looked at artwork and wondered what was going on inside the artist's mind will have an opportunity to find out over the next few days.

Anyone who has ever looked at artwork and wondered what was going on inside the artist's mind will have an opportunity to find out over the next few days.

Old City Hall is the site of "Not Slated for Demolition" art exhibit featuring pieces by local artists, some of whom work out of the 19th century structure. The exhibition, which begins Saturday and continues next week, begins with a reception followed by music by Azure d'Jour. The event is free, and includes food and wine.

"Every year we almost pack the place full," says Karin Kraemer, owner of Duluth Pottery Superior Division. "It's really fun for us to do every year."

Kraemer, who has been a fulltime artist for 10 years, says the exhibit's roomful of artists and laid back vibe is a good way for people to be "introduced to the world of art."

The event is "not pretentious," says Erik Pearson, a painter completing a mural of historic scenes along Red Mug Espresso's stairwell. "It's very warm and welcoming."


Using bright colors, Pearson's mural captures scenes from Superior's past -- a ship launching, ore docks and police officers alongside vintage motorcycles. Old City Hall, after all, once housed Superior's police station and jail. Pearson also incorporates curlicues found in the stairway's rungs and mugs -- a tip of the hat to Red Mug Espresso, to which the stairway leads. Pearson also makes use of wall lights, painting around them to resemble headlights for the mural's motorcycle.

Because the mural is painted along and under a stairwell, the location's odd angles slowed Pearson's progress, requiring him to draw everything freehand. Before picking up a brush, Pearson made sketches, and upon starting, left room to add last minute details, such as extra onlookers.

"This project has been so exciting," he says. "I'll miss it when I'm done."

Pearson began working on the mural late in September.

The exhibit is also a celebration of the artists themselves, Kraemer says. In recent years, Old City Hall has become an artist hub -- several have studios in the sandstone and brick building. There, they bounce ideas off each other, discuss what's happening in the art world or commiserate over a difficult project. The atmosphere is reminiscent, says Pearson, of his college days: full of energy and ideas.

"What I love about it is so many of the community consider it their place," says Kat Eldred, owner of the Red Mug. "I sense so many groups feel welcome."

Eldred, a painter who works mostly in acrylics, intends to submit some of her works. Describing her pieces as "representations of landscapes," she admits she sees nature differently than others. She says she uses that to exaggerate a scene through colors and play of light.

"It adds another level and excitement to a piece," Eldred says, thereby challenging the viewer to see the scene in another way.


Besides Kraemer, Eldred and Pearson, other featured artists include Dan Edmunds, Richard Gruchalla and Carrin Rosetti and Erika Mock. Doug Fairchild, Jordan Shermer, Jeff Heller, Luke Krisak and Mike Cousino will also be exhibiting their artwork.

According to Kraemer, Gruchalla will be in the back parking lot firing pots in the raku method, an ancient Japanese style. Because studios will be open Saturday and the following week, people will be able to watch the artists work. For those who don't know much about the process in creating the piece, says Mock, the open studios offer a chance to get inside the artist's mind, seeing how the piece started out and how it transformed into the finished product.

"I think people are interested in seeing us work," says Mock, a fiber artist. "Making art for me is a journey, an exploration. All of us have an intention behind our work. I try to create a connection ... between the artist and viewer."

Merilee Reinke covers arts and entertainment. E-mail or call (715) 394-4421, ext. 139

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