Occupy Duluth

SkatRadioh Defines Occupy Duluth Movement through His Art

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

It is pretty difficult to miss the occupy movement spreading across the nation and even enveloping our city of Duluth.

If you have driven through downtown recently you will notice a few signs in the park outside of the Minnesota Power building. Most have catchy slogans decrying our current financial crisis that is gripping the country and a few others speak of the masses being ignored. On Saturday there were speeches, food, and tee-shirts being presented to the audience that gathered in support.

David Moreira, known in the art world as SkatRadioh, created an amazing logo for the movement that transcends the social contract argument being waged around the country. It features the iconic local image of the lift bridge with the words, “Occupy Duluth” written below.

“The image I created of a boat passing through the lift bridge simply acknowledges the effect the Twin Ports has made on the economy,” SkatRadioh said. “The function of the bridge has remained a gateway for the transshipment of many goods and draws tourists to our area. The North Star and wave along the bottom relate to the state of Minnesota as a whole.”

SkatRadioh’s image immediately grabbed me because he usually focuses primarily on concert art. This time he crossed the boundary of music and art to head into the political arena.

“I've been looking at ways to support the "Occupy" movements that have popped up around the nation,” SkatRadioh said. “Then a printmaker friend of mine who was already involved with the local Occupy Duluth invited me to help out. We both decided to use what skills we had and ended up making shirts for the event. Luck would have it that I have a shirt press portable enough to allow us to print on location during an occupation party last weekend. . The occupiers and general public reacted positively to the shirt design.”

On Saturday SkatRadioh was putting the logo for free on any tee-shirt that people brought to him. He paid for his own materials and donated his art in support of the Occupy movement. There are still a few left that he gave to the organizers before leaving, but you can join the movement online as they have a Facebook page.

“I've printed dozens of shirts that will be on hand by the organizers of the Occupy Duluth movement,” SkatRadioh said. “They should be available from them if requested. You can check for updates and have a voice on the Occupy Duluth Facebook page.”

I asked Moreira if he planned to also print the image onto his usual format of poster art.

“While there are no plans as of yet, the image should prove to still be useful. We'll just have to wait and see what other visual culture comes up from this movement as it happens,” SkatRadioh said.

For those of you who would like to see the more conventional side of SkatRadioh’s art fear not, he continues to help support the Ochre Ghost Gallery. He has a show coming up there next week and at the John Steffl Gallery as well.

“I'm about to endeavor a large installation project at the Duluth Art Institute with a dozen other artists,” SkatRadioh said. “It is a collaborative effort between many of the people that have been a part of Ochre Ghost Gallery's first year of operation. So this will be a sort of anniversary party for us and the Ochre Ghost. The opening celebration should be a lot of fun with food, drink, music, and a visual spectacle.”

To see more of SkatRadioh’s art check out these events:

Ochre Ghost: Nov. 3, 2011 – Jan. 8, 2012

John Steffl Gallery: Gallery Celebration, Nov. 10, 5 – 7PM

Occupy Duluth Rally Speech by Sharla Gardner

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

The Occupy Duluth movement held a rally downtown this past Saturday that included artists, Native American drumming, and impassioned speeches.

Sharla Gardner, the current President of the Duluth City Council, gave one of the first speeches after being asked to participate by the organizers. While she didn’t focus on the 99% issue, she did find her own purpose in taking part in the event.

“I was talking with some folks yesterday down by the encampment at the Civic Center and they asked me to come and say a few words today,” Gardner said in her speech. “I’ve really been thinking about this because I’m not sure what exactly I can say to all of you that you don’t already know, but I’m gonna give it a shot. So I was thinking about what I was gonna say on my way down and I jotted down something because I came across a news item that I thought was really interesting because I think people are always asking you, they’re all saying, well, the 99% folks have to hone their message, you have to develop your message, and what is it that you are mad about. I kept thinking, well, there’s really a lot to be mad about. There’s a lot that we want to see changed, and basically what it is, is the unfairness… The unfairness and the class system in our country that has become so wide. The gulf between the classes has become wider than it ever has.”

Gardner then talked about how she was a product of the 1960s and how different society is today from when she was a child.

“I grew up in the 60s and my dad was a steelworker,” Gardner said. “My dad was a steelworker and we had six kids, and my father was the only person who worked and we had a very, very comfortable living. We were all raised to understand the belief that we were just as good as anybody else and it didn’t matter how much money you had, it mattered what kind of a person you were. Those were the values I was raised with and to see the change in the values (made me ask) what are we protesting? Well, what I am protesting is cruelty…Cruelty of people who applaud when somebody gets executed by the state, when someone who is believed to be innocent. I object to the cruelty of the Georgia Parole Board. I object to people in the audience of the Republican debates who applaud at the idea of someone who doesn’t have health insurance and getting sick and dying. I protest that kind of cruelty.”

The next speaker who went up to the open mic read the opening of the Declaration of Independence. The defining moment of his speech came from this quote:

“All experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” – Thomas Jefferson

That line sums up the situation that has plagued man since we began to create civilization thousands of years ago. You can apply that quote to most situations of life and it will hold true. We will suffer through horrendous evils before changing the situation that we are in. From an abusive relationship to our current state of government, when we get comfortable it is a difficult habit to break.

While the Occupy movement is still fairly new, it shows that people are not going to sit idly and suffer. The people were sold the whole “change” idea with the election a few years ago, but when things didn’t change they started to take to the streets.

If you have read my column you already know that I never talk politics, but in this case art is once again taking the stage behind a movement. My poster collection showing at the Tweed has a great poster from 1967 when the tribes of the hippies and the remnants of the beats and free speech movement gathered at Golden Gate Park in an attempt to stop the Vietnam War. At that time the draft was in place so young people were very involved in politics as it was their generation that was being shipped off to war.

Today, with a high unemployment rate, rampant foreclosures, and the lowest ever approval rating for congress, people can’t help but be involved. The new social media also transfers information and allows people to have a voice that was missing in the previous movements.

In the 1960s art transcended the protest lines and engaged a generation that led to a social revolution. Today a new generation is trying to do the same thing, but time will tell how this revolution ends.