Collecting North Dakota’s beauty

mykuhls tree storm

ND Tree and Storm for art show display

  I love displaying North Dakota in ways others have not seen the state.  That’s why I relish opportunities such as the Blue Collar Cafe Open House and Art Show this week.  If you attend, you’ll see North Dakota displayed several ways.  Most obviously will be the images you will see such as the tree and storm clouds pictured above.  The image of course is a prairie vista ahead of a storm, typical of a spring day in the state.  That’s North Dakota.

Surrounding the image is more North Dakota — the barn board frame. I was fortunate enough to get good solid siding from a barn that was torn down. The siding is in good shape and I use it to make frames.  It’s North Dakota.

That barn also supplied wood for the image below of a farm house in a stubble field.  I shot this near Rugby and again, North Dakotans will see something that reminds them of their state: stubble field, horizon, storm clouds and huge house sitting empty.  That’s North Dakota.

mykuhls farm house wtrmrk

Then there are a select few people who will recognize the bottom image as also being North Dakota.  Those select people are bikes.  They know the state for its  smooth roads, little traffic, wide open vistas make for great rides in the state.  It’s North Dakota.

mykuhls print bikers on hwy and skyThese three images are part of the collection of North Dakota that I’ll be displaying at the Blue Collar Cafe Art Show.  It’s a little North Dakota Internet Coffeehouse run by North Dakotans, in North Dakota’s capital city, across the street from the big North Dakota Department of Transportation district offices.

North Dakota images. North Dakota barn board. Assembled by a North Dakotan.  Shown in a North Dakota venue. Even the images themselves were produced and processed by a North Dakota lab.  The Blue Collar Cafe Open House and Art Show is Tuesday, February 12.

That’s North Dakota.

Advertisements

Blue Collar Black Friday Art Show

Image

Late nights meant burning the midnight oil — and wood — to get frames ready for the show.

What a surprising opportunity!

It’s crunch time producing exclusive handmade frames to go with matted photos for the Blue Collar Black Friday Art Show.  North Dakota barn board, North Dakota images, North Dakota art — I’m fortunate to be one-quarter of the show at the little coffee shop and cafe on the east side of Bismarck.

It’s a win-win-win.  The Blue Collar Cafe gets more traffic, four artists get more exposure and Black Friday shoppers get original handmade art at ridiculously low prices.  If the same products were in Macy’s or Daytons, they’d be hundreds of dollars.  But here, only tens of dollars.

I visited with Jerod Hawk earlier this week when the idea was kicked about.  Within an hour Hawk had lined up four artists to set up on Friday at his little coffee shop and cafe. That was Tuesday. Now here it is Thursday and we’re almost ready to throw open the doors to throngs of people who want a piece of North Dakota.

Since the idea first took hold,  I’ve been keeping the wood fires burning in my wood shop making frames.  .  As it is, I have mass-produced hand-made frames for an inventory, but not as many as I would have liked for this little show.

Image

The abandoned Pettibone Elevator at Lake Williams is one of my favorite pieces that will be on display at the Blue Collar Cafe art show on Friday.

Image

From near Rugby, this abandoned farmstead is wrapped in a barn board frame from a barn near Good Rich.

Tuesday and Wednesday I started the work of matching photos I had on hand to the frames I thought would work.  I think I went about it backwards. I first should have selected the prints, then built the frames to fit.

Image

Color looks good in the barn board frame from a 100-year old barn near Goodrich on the left, and in a frame from a 100-year old barn that once stood near Almont

Either way, it was crunch time. I turned my kitchen in to a matting and framing shop.  I brought in all the frames I thought would work from my wood shop.  Then I started matching prints to frames.

A couple of quick trips to Bismarck and I bought a few pieces of glass and some mat board.  I would have liked more, but time was running out.    Wednesday I put in some 12 hours framing and matting. Sadly I got in to so much of a rush I ended up damaging three prints and throwing them in to the trash.  A couple of my larger print were damaged and so will only be on display as examples, but not for sale. They’re not “perfect.”  Mats were crooked, images warped.  *groan*

Image

Wilton’s Soo Line Depot, also 100 years old (1910) is framed in 100-year-old wood from a barn near Goodrich.

So, here it is Thanksgiving days.  Just as the other three artists and Hawk are doing, we’re dedicating a portion of the day to getting ready for the Blue Collar Black Friday Art Show.  It’s a first, so we don’t know what to expect, how much room we have or how many people show up.

Image

Grain bins from near Regan in barn board from a 100-year old barn near Almont will be at the Blue Collar Black Friday Art Show.

Here’s your invitation to joins us. 135 Airport Road, Bismarck, just across the RR tracks from Krolls Diner, one block south of Main Street in East Bismarck.

Come on down!

Good music makes cold weather bearable — January ’11

Dirty Word Dad and Daughter

Music runs in this family.  Dirty Word is a fun talented regional bar band.  Well, actually a cut above most bar bands because even though their music is mostly covers, they put their own twists to the songs they do, their own arrangements if you will. That tells me the band members are talented. More so, to see the lead singer and his daughter together on the stage tells me the talent is in their DNA.  For just a couple songs at Burnt Creek, a dance bar north of Bismarck, dad and daughter entertained the crowd.  She not only has talent, but has poise and confidence — enough to stand alone to sing to a building full of respectful and admiring adults.

After a couple of songs, off she went, out the back door — I assume to the motel where her mother or other caretaker was waiting. After all, though it was 9 p.m. when she was on stage, it’s still late for a girl of her age.  From then on, the crowd danced to and was entertained by the good music of Dirty Word.  It’s a Minneapolis band that is too good for little smokey bars and clubs, but probably not good enough to hold the stage at a festival or other music event such as 10K lakes.  If you get the chance however, pay the cover charge and check out Dirty Word.  I endorse the band on a cold winter night. It will get you out of the cabin, down the trail, in to humanity for an evening.

Bands seem to flourish in the winter in Bismarck.  Take Midnight Noise Orchestra.  These guys have been parts of other bands and they’ve come together for a year or two now, entertaining at local venues, usually free.  No cover charge. They play at street festivals and other artistic and open venues.  They hold your attention and keep you coming back for their own tunes.  They’re a little bit of a jam band, folk, reggae, rock, jazz, blues band. Each song does not sound like the next song, the next song, the next song….  They’re original and entertaining.

On this night, I caught Midnight Noise Orchestra at Captain Freddie’s in Mandan.  The bar caters to a young crowd and the river crowd — even has it’s own dock for Missouri River boaters to stop for a brew.  Since there’s not much of a boat crowd in the winter, music brings in the patrons.  Midnight Noise does it well.

I like shooting bands. I hope to put together an entire portfolio of my photographs of local musicians. They’re talented, but don’t have much marketing to take them up the ladder of success. I can, however, provide them with a few good shots for their own portfolio.  In the mean time, I get stretched as a photographer.  It’s not easy working with low light situations — changing colors of the stage lights, and fast moving people. I’ve found that setting my white balance to “auto,”  cranking up the ISO to about 1,200 and opening up my aperture as far as it will go allows me to use a slightly faster shutter speed to freeze the players.

Not only that, I get to enjoy the good music, connect with band members — and get a break from cabin fever.  Bismarck-Mandan has an abundance of talented musicians, so cabin fever will have an abundance of opportunity for relief.  What about you? Are you more likely to catch a good musical group in the winter or the summer?

Darling Lilly (and mom) Jan ’11

Lilly

It’s fun to be stretched and this little girl did it.  Most of my photography is motorcycles, musicians, lifestyles and landscapes, but now as a favor to her mother I photographed Lilly.  She’s not quite a year old.  I photographed her pre-born when her mother was carrying her in April last year.  I also photographed Ravae a few months back as she modeled for me in a Trade for Pics arrangement

Ravae and Lilly

I met Lilly and her mother Ravae at the playground at Gateway Mall in Bismarck.  The little girl was not feeling well, but you couldn’t tell. She was alert, personable and downright cute.

So while mother and daughter played, I kept up with them, shooting them with a shallow depth of field and as much light as I could force in that comfortably dark shopping mall.

In the end, I think we did quite well. Ravae and Lilly will have keep sakes from this visit to the playground.

December 30 — Grindhouse Theater Blues

Grindhouse Theater blues

We leave 2010 with a recurring theme — local musicians.  It’s been an unexpected pleasure this year to shoot the bands and musicians I’ve hooked up with such as these fellows.  On the left,Weston Shick. On the right Arnold Jordan.  (I have yet to be introduced to the guitarist in the middle.)

North Dakota is blessed with rich musical talent.  I think it is because there are people in this culture who realize if there’s going to be entertainment here, they have to make it. So, they make entertainment for themselves and for us.

For my part, I try to capture not only the moment as it existed, but add to it in a bit of a creative burst of energy, my own interpretation of the moment with processing and framing.  That’s the entertainment I make for myself.

There are few places for them to perform, but the East 40 Chophouse in Bismarck is one.  The lounge with its cozy atmosphere and warm fireplace is a great place to enjoy a respite from winter with good friends such as these.

December 25 – Lonely Capitol Grounds at Christmas

All Veterans Memorial

Christmas night I headed back home to Wilton after sharing a Christmas dinner and gifts with a friend in Bismarck.  As I drove by the State Capitol I swung in to the building that glowed in the trees — the All Veterans Memorial.  It wasn’t planned, it’s not even a tradition, but I felt touched at that moment to give thanks for the gift these men and women have given me — their service, their lives for my freedom, for America.  Yes it was cold. I didn’t stay long.  I didn’t have my tripod.  I used a slow shutter speed and braced the camera on a nearby tree. It seemed to work.

When I turned to go back to my truck I saw the moon was rising on this sub-zero night, illuminating the air over the sidewalk lights.  Again, bracing my camera, I tried a couple of different shots, slung my camera back over my shoulder and walked to the truck. I am thankful not only for the Gift God has given me, but the blessing of living in a free country where I can walk around the capital complex on a holiday night without thought to my safety and without the hassle of soldiers and guns.  America, a gift.

December 20 – Bismarck’s Army of Snowmovers

Mass attack of snow plows

Here they come. Bismarck’s Street Crew is standing shoulder to shoulder to clear out Highway 83 in Bismarck.

The army of snowplows takes precedence over general traffic to clear a route out of town toward the north.  It’s the first leg of clean highway that the state and city keeps open so that power plant and coal mine workers can get to their jobs.

I was leaving town to head back to Wilton when I saw the street brigade headed my way. There was no way I was going to get out in front of them because traffic was too heavy. So, I consigned myself to follow them north and take a few photos as I went.

As in any city with multi-lane streets and highways, there’s no place to pile the snow should one plow be sent out. So the plows take all the snow from across the lanes and move it off to the ditch.  And to do it without causing traffic accidents with the large windrows of snow down the street, the road graders do it in one concerted move.

Follow the plow

Of course it means a few drivers will be inconvenienced for a few minutes as the plows do their job.  But it’s worth it. They leave behind clean and safe streets.  How well does your city crews keep open your streets?  Good? Bad? Medium?

November 23 The Walrus makes music

Weston Shick

Now that winter has descended, people start looking for things to do, to liven up the long cold days.  Places such as The Walrus in Bismarck accommodate those looking for life.  In this case, the Phil McBand band and Weston Shick.

Weston is a young man, 25 years old, who stays busy with his talents. He’s a musician who plays several instruments in different bands in town.

In this case, the little narrow eatery, The Walrus sets aside a tiny part of the front for the music. The place fills up quickly when good jam bands, bluegrass, blues or jazz bands are playing.

It’s cold outside, but the entertainment is hot inside.  When it’s hot outside as in the summer, live music becomes a bit more rare.

Do you see an increase in live music options in the winter where you live?

November 12 Main Act

Sue DaBaco and Wise Fools

Sue DaBaco and the Wise Fools, a magical blues band, three musicians with wicked licks and hard-driving mojo — the main act on this night. The group followed Charlie Horse and took the crowd in to the deep end of the blues waters of the blues pool.

The drummer never quit. He opened the show, alone and never stopped sometimes sliding in to the percussive harmony of others, sometimes taking the spotlight. Never stopping.  Never even breaking a sweat as far as I could tell.

Again, the luxury of up close photography at the Doublewood Inn ballroom, courtesy of Steamer Productions, and I got a taste of how good it would be to do this for a living, for a full-time gig.  To get to work AND play at the same time.

Sue DaBaco is an amazing gutsy blues singer and guitar player.  She makes that Fender Strat scream the way it was meant to scream, melodic and precise.

Her energy is mesmerizing.  She loses herself in her performance,  in not only the tune she plays but the words she sings.

Frankly, I was almost afraid of her until after the show when I visited with her.  She is real. She is friendly and humble.  I joy to know.  Since then, I have extended the communication (via FaceBook) and have learned she’s a woman with a friendly spirit, quick humor and a deep passion for victims of ethnic and genocidal atrocities such as the Holocaust.  She’s one smart woman, pursing higher education in her field of sociology.

Her sideman, bassist Scott Walters is a Green Bay Packers Fan — of course since he comes from Wisconsin as does the rest of the band.  I mention that because he too is a real human, and not some arrogant untouchable icon on stage.  Like the drummer, Scott can shine as a soloist or as a bridge between rhythm and percussion.  He’s a fanatic about bass guitar player legends, not only studying them but adding his own technique to the stylings he has picked up from others.

On this night, North Dakota was treated to the sound that biker bars, blues clubs and other venues in Milwaukee and other populated midwestern cities get to hear more regularly.    For my taste, we out here in North Dakota don’t get enough exposure to such music.

I’m fortunate to be able to capture the sight.  Now, to get the sound, that’s up top you.

November 12 warm up act

Charlie Horse

Two bands, back to back — a frequent occurrence anywhere but in Bismarck.  Here, you’re lucky to get one band playing one time in one venue.  But thanks to Steamer Productions, Charlie Horse, a local blues band opened the night at the Doublewood Ballroom.

I’m generally pretty amazed by the local talent, people who have day jobs but come out at night to show their artistic creative side — a side that remains hidden during the day as print shop printers, mechanics, cooks and teachers.  Charlie Horse is one of those hidden talents.

I like shooting bands like this. They’re very appreciative of the attention and the respond with a general friendliness.  After all, if you’re not one of their family or friends, you probably know someone who is.  It’s a small world.

As a fledgling musician photographer, I like the freedom I’m afforded to get up close, get behind and get down in front of the band to get the photos I like.  None of which I’m allowed to do with big-name acts.  But who knows, just like they have a day job, so do I.  Just like they’d like to make it full-time in the music circuit, so would I be able to make it full-time shooting musical acts.  I guess that’s on my (gut) bucket list.