A rare exhibition and sale of paintings by Mark Arvilla takes place at Zeitgeist Arts Café beginning November 9, 2015 and continuing through January 2016.
Born in Tower, MN in 1944, Arvilla attended UMD in the 1960s and lived in Duluth until his death in 1991. A prolific painter, he also composed and played music, wrote poetry and prose, and worked for many years as a job counselor. Since the death of his brother Burt in 2003, Mark Arvilla’s art has been cared for by Michelle Lee, who worked with Burt at KBJR TV. With this and future exhibitions, it is hoped that an awareness of Arvilla’s story and sales of his paintings will carry his legacy forward.
Over three decades, the artist used three distinct signatures – “Mark Arvilla” (1960s- 1975) “M’Arvilla” (1975-1985) and “Marvilla” (1985-1990). Each signature marked a shift in subject, style and even paint application. It is not unusual for artists to work in several styles over a career. But Arvilla’s stylistic morphing was due to encroaching mental illness, which completely overtook him when he overdosed on prescription medication in 1991.
His early works reveal a mix of modernist and regionalist influences, with some surrealist overtones. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he produced sensitive landscapes and interiors in tight compositions, recalling both the elegant simplicity of Japanese art and the boldness of abstract art. His subject was often local scenery – the Lester River, Brighton Beach, Skyline Drive, neighborhood houses. The best paintings from Arvilla’s middle period recall American artists like Arthur Dove, Milton Avery, Georgia O’Keeffe, and the Canadian Emily Carr.
By the mid-1980s, Arvilla’s interior world increasingly occupied his life, and he filled canvasses with symbols and geometries, mystical references and abstract fields – and at the very end, feathery bird-angels, masks and dripping orbs. Today, the entire body of work is an almost eerie document of transition – a visual record of a man unhinging from the objective reality we share, to live in a world of subjective experience. We are fortunate he kept trying to express it, right up to the end.
Mark Arvilla: Selected Paintings continues at The Zeitgeist Arts Café through January 2016. Additional Arvilla paintings for sale, Mark’s poetry and other information can be explored at https://marvilla.wordpress.
For the month of November, we’re proud to offer a show from a powerful new artist!
Robin Lee Bellanger, affectionately known in the both local and regional Native American community as “Opitchii” (Oh-pitch-ee) is a new and relatively young artist in the greater Duluth community.
“growing up I can say I never once thought, you know,.. I think it would be a great idea live in Duluth Minnesota. But now that I do I wouldn’t change anything. I can honestly say that I can see myself here for a very long time. I love it here, the inspiration to create and be an artist is everywhere. Right outside the front door”
Recently at an event titled A Goody Night, Opitchii revealed a very personal life story that includes immediate family tragedy that includes losses of two brothers one from a drinking and driving accident and the other to suicide. He explained how this deeply affected his life which eventually led to living a lifestyle that warranted many cold nights of loneliness in the streets of both Grand Forks, North Dakota as well as Duluth and surrounding communities.
“It’s kinda like what Joe Dirt said, “you gotta keep on keeping on, life’s a garden brother you gotta dig it.” Coming to terms with my own story really was a battle for me. But now the healing really begins with my expression. It is through art that I find peace, the ability to tell a story of hope is what drives me to get better and better every day not only as an artist but more so a person of a good compassionate nature.”
Opitchii is the first person to say that he is really unsure that he particularly focuses on one style. His pieces are an array of many disciplines and mediums including surrealism and fantasy, but his work comes to him through presence and dream states. His technical talent is raw in nature with no formal training or schooling.
“Life is my teacher”