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On the Mark: Artists, photographers share urban views

Travel near and far in the Pine Knot Gallery’s “urban landscapes” exhibit, opening Friday.

Our fall exhibit includes unique urban perspectives from a number of area artists, including Rhonda Peters, Kris Nelson, Ken Hanson, Mark Cline, Carole Hill, Ivy Vainio and Deborah Manisto.

Ken and Kris Hanson helped us hang the exhibit, and Ken contributed three acrylic paintings of urbanscapes the two encountered during their trip to Europe this past April. They visited Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Assisi, Avignon and Paris. They particularly loved seeing the Giotto frescoes in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, where they lead to the chapel. Giotto painted supersized figures, including one of St. Francis in ecstasy before the cave. In Avignon, Ken and Chris visited the Pope’s palace, depicted on another of his canvases.

Ken’s paintings include one of School of Athens philosophers Plato and Aristotle, likely debating the nature of knowledge. Plato points toward the heavens, his “ideal forms” that lost their perfection as they were replicated in the real world. Plato viewed art negatively, in that art represented the forms of a flawed reality. Aristotle argued that what we can know will come to us through our senses: empirical observation is where knowledge lies.

“One could argue that none of this is important to an artwork, that such interpretation is a far reach and unfair to the art viewer whose interest is an aesthetic one,” Hanson reflected. “For me, such ideas are motivating, helping me remember the philosophy and ideas I personally consider important. They act as a sort of diary, notes to remember.”

Chair artist Kris Nelson offers “Girl in the Doorway,” inspired by her trip to the ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru, which is depicted on the top and back of the chair, and the city of Cuzco where she saw the girl standing in the doorway.

Mark Cline exhibits his stunning photos of Prague, sometimes called “the most beautiful city in Europe.”

To capture his photo of the Charles Bridge, looking across the Vltava River toward the Prague Castle, Cline said he had to experiment with several shutter speeds to achieve the desired result, but felt that this version “really reflects the beauty and magic of the city.“ Other photos from Europe include a town on the Vltava River in the Czech Republic.

“I love the variety of stone, stucco, and wood in this scene,” he said.

From the U.S., Cline’s photos include a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and a canvas print of the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis: an iconic bridge in the historic milling district, “a structure that is photogenic in any season and time of day,” he said.

Cline works hard for some of his photos. His Charles Bridge depicts Prague from three perspectives: “An evening image taken along the bridge and daytime shot from downriver toward the bridge. Of the 40 or so images I took of this bridge during my visit, these are a couple of my favorites.“

Deborah Manisto joined a watercolors class last August at the Duluth Art Institute. Watercolor painting light was the focus of the class.

“We looked at websites that were not copyright — we could use their designs as subjects,” she said. “We worked for two days, all day. The light bouncing off buildings and the bold colors: both were new for me.”


If you go

The free Urban Landscape opening runs

5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at the Pine Knot office at 122 Avenue C in Cloquet. Light refreshments are included. All are welcome.

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