Tag Archives: Art

Molly and Me: Singing on Sunday

Molly and I have been straightening up the flat this weekend, taking short breaks here and there as well. It is really fantastic to be engaged to a professional artist and art teacher for numerous reasons. Molly has a range of medium she works in, including custom mosaics, piano playing and teaching piano, guitar and ukulele playing, mastering the Swedish folk art of Dalmål, and on and on. Of all these mediums, included in a short YouTube video below is Molly’s rendition of Feist’s 1-2-3-4 (the Sesame Street version is linked to here as well). One of the many spectacular reasons that live performance is, well, spectacular has to do with the direct interaction that stage performers have with their environment and the audience. It’s an exchange. Of course, I have recorded and uploaded Molly’s impromptu performance on the YouTubes (thereby digitizing and preserving it in some kind of digital cloud space and time). But it is a slice of the reality that took place. Part of this reality is the unforeseen, as when a BNSF train horn rolling through downtown Fargo let loose about 0:43 and 0:57 in the video. Then a breeze decided to shut the door at about 1:01 in the video. But again, this is live, DIY, living room flat performance. And the band, and life, plays on.


When the Eagle Statue Landed in Bismarck

The eagle statue in Custer Park, Bismarck, North Dakota. View to the south.

The eagle statue in Custer Park, Bismarck, North Dakota. View to the south.

I dropped into Bismarck yesterday, and after having breakfast with my folks this morning I decided to visit downtown Custer Park. It is beautiful outside.

The park itself is a kind of border between the historic western edge of downtown Bismarck and one of the historic residential areas. To the south is Elks Aquatic Center, and just to the east is a Dairy Queen. You can see how this is triangulated and primed to be a serious summer hangout for those on summer vacation.

While at Custer Park, I also visited the huge metal eagle sculpture. This eagle was dedicated in 1988 (or thereabouts), and I have a vague recollection of my cub scout troop being at the dedication. At that time, when the sculpture was new and sans rust, we were told how the eagle would take on a more eagle-like color because the metal would oxidize and rust over time. This is about all I recall, but every time I drive by the eagle, I think of that dedication.

On this Memorial Day weekend, it seemed fitting to take and post a couple pics of this winged statue, as it is swooping into the park with a handbill that reads “We the People…”

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Neary’s “weld” signature from 1988 at the base of the eagle statue.

The dedication plaque below reads as follows:

This sculpture was dedicated to commemorate the bicentennial anniversary of the constitution of the united states of America on October 1, 1988. 

Commissioned by: Bismarck Park District

Funding Provided by: Fraternal Order of the Eagles, Bismarck, Aerie No. 2237

Sculptor: Tom Neary

Design Assistant: Wayne Pruse

Today, artists have pushed metal sculptures in different directions, now using found metal objects to craft works of industrial public art. Here is a link to some of that at the University of Montana in Missoula, and some more from Lemmon, South Dakota.


Wind Turbine Mosaic in Langdon, North Dakota

Some of the 20th century Cold War missile public art in Langdon, North Dakota. The Langdon Elementary School is immediately behind this missile.

Some of the 20th century Cold War missile public art in Langdon, North Dakota. The Langdon Elementary School is immediately behind this missile.

Molly and I are now back in Fargo, having returned from a couple days in Langdon, northeastern North Dakota. To my right is a small pincer sized Cypriot coffee (I trucked back a couple bags of the stuff upon finishing my eastern Mediterranean archaeological trench supervisory work in June 2012, some details of that here and here and here), and on the stove is a long link of smoked garlic Langdon Locker sausage (sides include grated horseradish, stone ground mustard, ketchup). Oranges are also going to make an appearance for breakfast.

While in Langdon, though, Molly was on a special assignment with the Langdon public school system and the Northern Lights Arts Council. Her colleague and friend, Mindi Paulson, had an idea a couple months ago to co-lead an art project that would produce a mural for the entrance of the Langdon Elementary School. They decided to reflect the built landscape, or the wind turbine field immediately southeast of Langdon. The interesting thing about this 21st century wind turbine field is that it surrounds abandoned 20th century Cold War ICBM architecture, namely the Stanley R. Mickelson Safeguard Complex. In running errands here and there while in Langdon, and in viewing 20th century missile architecture in Langdon, I got to thinking about the perceptual shift in the Langdon landscape.

Teacher Mindi Paulson (far right) leads students in grouting the public wind turbine mosaic at the Langdon Elementary School.

Teacher Mindi Paulson (far right) leads students in grouting the public wind turbine mosaic at the Langdon Elementary School.

Last century, at least up until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the USSR, the public art projects in Langdon understandably amounted to potential nuclear holocaust, a byproduct of many things: competing D.C. and Moscow ideologies, Eisenhower’s military industrial complex, Cold War anxiety, eventual acceptance, and so on. David Mills has a lengthy monograph on this subject.

And this century, instead of massive Federal military infrastructure projects that reflect potential nuclear Armageddon, we get architecture that reflects and generates green, renewable energy. And you can see how it bears on the public art projects. So today students learn about wind turbines and the hands-on of making wind turbine murals. Last century the public art was a different story. In the discipline of history, we call that a perceptual shift or an intellectual turn. Or something like that.

Teacher Mindi Paulson explains the process of grouting to the students as Molly McLain grouts.

Teacher Mindi Paulson explains the process of grouting to the students as Molly McLain grouts.


Jessica Christy’s Art This Saturday in Fargo, North Dakota

Jessica ChristyThis Saturday, Jessica Christy (an artist who also happens to be one of my cousins) will be showing her work at DK Gallery in downtown Fargo, North Dakota.

This is a copy of the official handbill she is circulating. I figured since she is doing these spectacular Warhol-Factory-esque prints of the USDA’s finest canned beef w/ juices, then it would be okay for me to copy the handbill and post it on my blog.

According to the USDA description, canned beef with juices (USDA item #110),

…consists of coarse ground beef cooked in its own juices for use in a variety of applications, including barbecue beef, pizza, soups, stews, spaghetti sauce, vegetable stir-fry, casseroles, and similar items.

That does sound juicy.

One might make the argument that we, as an increasingly hybridized digital corporate-nation, are becoming a bit disconnected from where our stuff comes from, food included. This in turn is problematic because a government is, as laid down by our founders, a nation by the people, for the people, whereas a corporation is beholden to do one thing and one thing only: make money for the shareholders. I of course would not make this argument, and I would advise against bringing up the idea in polite company. But if someone else wanted to, they certainly could.

Never mind all of that, though. We need to move product here, folks, so let’s get to it. See you Saturday! Don’t forget to bring your Andrew Jacksons!