In creating an etching, my preference has always been to work directly from nature.  However, I think that sometimes the self-imposed restrictions are meant to be violated.  Early in 2005 I had just such a rule-breaking opportunity.  I was invited to participate in a Sivertson Gallery exhibit that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the lift bridge in Duluth, Minnesota.  I have always loved bridges, not only for their strong visual presence, but also for what they symbolize.  I had admired this structure since my childhood, but had never had the occasion to consider it as a subject.  This was the occasion.  I would photograph the bridge, and if everything went smoothly, I would use the photos as my primary resource for my etchings.  On a trip to my home town in northern Minnesota, my family stopped in Duluth at the "back-of-the-building deli that makes great fish sandwiches" to have lunch.  Coincidentally the deli is a stone’s throw from the bridge.  My family, while they are generally supportive of what I do professionally, sometimes has suggested that I have ulterior motives.  This I categorically deny, although there is a measure of truth to their assertion, which I explain by saying that because of the professional uncertainties of what I do, I have a need to be resourceful.  Riding shotgun in our car, I had my first view of the bridge as my son drove around a corner on Canal Park Drive.  I knew that the shot was coming, and I had to be ready.  “What is that beeping sound?” came from the back seat.  I had forgotten that my camera beeps after each shot.  Since the invitation to participate, and not living near Duluth, I had to think ahead of time about the angles to work from.  I knew what I needed to do.  Having ordered our deli lunches, I excused myself, went to the car, grabbed my camera, marched through the parking lot, heading for the street fifty yards away, brazenly held up my hand to stop traffic, marched out to the centerline, turned, aimed the camera at the bridge, and shot.  Back in Wisconsin, using the photographs, I transferred the images using a grid onto my plates.  The etchings took about three months to complete.  I did not let the photographs dictate anything other than the shapes of the structures.  The results are the two works pictured below -- “Sugar lift bridge on an aquatint sea” and “A northern postcard” -- which were completed in time for the show.


"Sugar lift bridge on an aquatint sea"

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"A northern postcard"

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I considered the Duluth bridge etching to be a warm-up, more or less, for another etching that I have had in the works.  I have been commissioned by Tamarack House Galleries in Stillwater, Minnesota, to create an etching depicting the Stillwater bridge that spans the St. Croix River connecting Minnesota to Wisconsin.  I have visited the site several times beginning in February of 2005 and have completed several studies of the bridge using a variety of media.  I will begin work on the copper plate for this project in December of 2005 with the scheduled completion date (and unveiling at Tamarack House Galleries) being Friday, June 16, 2006.

2006 will also be a busy year for me.  The year begins with a March exhibit at Denis Conley Gallery in Akron, Ohio.  In April I will be exhibiting in a print show at the Garver Gallery on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin.  This show is scheduled to coincide with the Southern Graphics Print Council activities which will take place in Madison during April.  Finally, in August I will be participating in a show in my brother Walter’s new gallery in Norway (see

If you are planning a trip to this area, I hope that you will plan on attending my annual open house.  The event will be held in my Blue Mounds studio on November 19 from 6 pm to 10 pm. 

Recent collections that have included my work (or that will be including my work) are the New Orleans Museum of Art in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin.      


NOVEMBER 2004     Return to current newsletter