Last night the Duluth Art Institute hosted the opening for my wife Shawna’s largest and highest profile art exhibition ever: Land of Wonder
. Writing up the following diddy for the backside of the price list helped me see just how much her work influences our lives for the better. The event was mobbed last night, and the feedback spectacular. Most of her work, until recently, has mainly been confined to our home while she honed her craft with incredible diligence and focus. It’s wonderful to see it shared with others.
The following piece is fairly representative of the show. As with all her works, the title enhances one’s appreciation for the work immensely.
Adventures in Lapland….
Our family is surrounded and confronted by my wife Shawna’s ever-growing body of artwork each and every day. Our lives are enriched through a daily inoculation against the joylessness of bean-counting—an unhealthy obsession with commodities coming in and going out. Her work, a stunning visual representation of her playful attitude and approach to life, provides a portal into other worlds and even an alternate way of being.
Shawna helps us revel in joy, passion, and mystery, down a trail of wonder through both the mundane and the magnificent.
It is a reminder that all of life is art. Experienced and informed by the magic of a fertile imagination, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
It is exciting to see her work—produced in her home studio, the length and breadth of which is entirely viewable through a window beside our front door and is accessed from the main living area—gradually reach a wider audience.
Look carefully and you’ll see one of the many incarnations of Star Trek is on in the background. I feel like I’ve heard that theme song 500 or more times. I used to be annoyed, but now it’s the sound of creative productivity. This picture was taken around Halloween as she prepped for her current show, consistently putting in 8 – 10 hour days even though she not only has twins to contend with, but me as well (this is her therapy). Anyhow, I was tasked with the duty of passing out candy to trick-or-treaters, many of whom oohed and awed at this painting in progress on the easel. Her work is appreciated equally by both children and adults, a rare magical element…
(Photo credit: Stacie Whaley)
This show is a real breakthrough, for which we are grateful, but she has also lent her talents in synergistic fashion to other art forms recently. Shawna painted an incredible cover for my recently published book (see sidebar image), which paints a perfect visual picture of the story. Her addition to the front-facing cover is of incalculable value to the finished product, and provides some much-needed confidence when I’m out hawking the book to movers and shakers.
Shortly after this show comes down in April, you’ll also discover an imaginative painting of her’s on the cover of Charlie Parr’s next album, set to be released on Record Store Day. It’ll provide a stunning sheath for the bright green ten-inch vinyl record inside, and will no doubt add significantly to your experience of the album.
Here’s the image for Charlie Parr’s next album, to be released on April 15th. When this picture was snapped the paint was still drying. I’m eager to see what kind of graphic design Red House Records adds to it. Anyhow, you’ve seen the basic painting—on a sturdy wood panel—here first! (FYI, Shawna does plan to sell the original painting. We’ll probably auction it off on Ebay or something…)
This cross-pollination between art forms is a sort of microcosm of life infused and enriched by art of all kinds. It begins in the heart and culminates in one’s mind.
Our son was pretty exhausted by the end of it all, but the experience wouldn’t have been the same without him. At one point, next to the cheeses and cold cuts in the snack line, we stood behind renowned watercolorist Cheng-Khee Chee. Everybody eats…
He adds a unique eye…
It helped immeasurably to turn him loose with the camera, which resulted in several hundred snaps. Also, Japan just happens to be a place of significant fascination for him. Due to a happy coincidence, the adjoining gallery featured several photographs taken by Ken Bloom (director of the Tweed Museum of Art) in Japan way back in the year of my own emergence into the wider universe. His exhibit, Public Domain, is also worthy of your time. Most of the photos are black and white, some of which convey the transition from an older to a modernized Japan. It provides a nice contrast to my wife’s offerings. These shows will be on display through April 2nd.
Ed Newman shared some solid observations in advance of the shows here