Duluth Fine Arts League celebrates the city

Duluth's beautiful Town Hall is finished. The Town Green is full of events and residents enjoying its fountain and ambience. The renaissance of boutiques and shops in the "old town" area reflects the energy and vitality of a thriving place to live and work. In such a setting, can an arts initiative be far behind?

"I want Duluth to have the reputation of being a destination city because of the arts," Mayor Nancy Harris said. "Many other citizens feel this way, so last October we started out as the Duluth Arts Task Force."

The initiative has since become the Duluth Fine Arts League.

The arts have always had an important place in Harris' life. When she became the principal of Norton Elementary, one of her goals was to focus on the arts. She has also been an important part of the Barefoot in the Park Arts Festival, which has blossomed every spring in Duluth's Town Green. It is no wonder that her enthusiasm for the arts would help launch a group of residents who want to make sure the arts are a major part of Duluth's lifestyle.

The initial meeting brought together people with many projects and ideas, but a wise decision was made to take things slowly and develop plans built on a firm, well organized foundation. Since that time, officers have been elected and an event on July 11 raised enough money to pay for the necessary 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

Officers elected are Wallace Reid, president; Larry Larson, vice president; Mary Ball, treasurer; and Marty Forkner, secretary. Reid, Ball and Forkner are all artists themselves. Larson is head of Proof of the Pudding caterers and active with Button Theatre.

DFAL, is not connected to the city of Duluth's government. The decision was made to keep it separate in order to have more freedom of programming choices. The organization is not in the city's budget.

Meetings are held the third Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. in one of Duluth's art galleries. Meetings are open to the public, and individuals can join the League for $25 per person. The next meeting will be at the Wallace Reid studio.

One long-term goal is to be influential in the selection of public art for the city. There are already plans for a beautiful new area across from Joan Glancy Hospital where public art could be placed. But there are many other ideas and activities on the League's list.

The "Art Walk" happens the first Friday of each month. From 7 to 9 p.m., participants can start in any of Duluth's art galleries, such as Chocolate Perks which features a different artist each month, and walk from gallery to gallery, enjoying the artwork, refreshments and demonstrations.

Mayor Harris also hopes to purchase an old organ to have "Silent Movie Night" as a series in the Duluth Art Gallery. A "Haunted Warehouse" event is also being developed as a fundraiser for October. There is an emphasis on celebrating the authenticity and charm of Duluth's "old town" atmosphere.

E-mail Holley Calmes at hcalmes@mindspring.com.