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Painters take to Duluth's streets and outdoors

Allison Eklund stood at her easel in at the Civic Center in downtown Duluth. The Civic Center is the courtyard between Duluth City Hall, St. Louis County Courthouse and the Federal Building. With the Priley Fountain flowing and courtyard flowers in full bloom, the setting was picturesque, except that overhead clouds caused the scene to be dark.

On a hot, muggy afternoon in July, Eklund was trying to recall how the sun was shining that morning. Eklund's had used oil to paint the iconic statue, "Patriotism Guards the Flag."

Eklund, a Roseville resident was in Duluth as a participant in the Duluth Art Institute's' Plein Air Duluth: Paint Du Nord. The week-long event took place July 12-17. Plein Air literally means "open air." Some 36 artists set up their easels at various spots in and around Duluth to paint outdoors.

"When I arrived here this morning it was 10 o'clock and sunny and I started painting the shadows so I could remember where they were," Eklund said. "Then it got cloudy ... The color of the light is different and I'm using the composition to remind me of what I want to do."

As an attorney, Eklund looked at her painting and said, " This is my private inside joke. I sometime come to St Louis County Courthouse and I sometimes have cases here."

She says she plans on painting a series of Minnesota Courthouses. She already has completed a painting of the Cook County Courthouse during a Grand Marais plein air event.

"This is my hobby," she said, "And when I can I like to paint outside and participate in Plein Air events."

If you are reading this on Friday there is still time for you to join in as the festival culminates in a juried exhibition and reception in the Duluth Art Institute galleries 5-7 p.m. on Friday, July 17. Cash prizes will be announced. The juror for the exhibit is Andy Evansen, whose award-winning paintings are in collections on four continents. The paintings will remain on view through September 6.

Exhibition Reception

Friday, July 17, 5-7 p.m.

Duluth Art Institute

Andy Evansen Demonstration

Saturday, July 18, 10 a.m.

Duluth Art Institute

Free and open to the public

Plein Air Duluth

Juried Exhibition

July 17-Sept. 6

John Steffl & Corridor Galleries

Duluth Art Institute

Naomi Yaeger

Naomi Yaeger is a freelance writer and the former editor of the Budgeteer. See her blog at