Celebrating Inuit Art Along Lake Superior

(Last Updated On: June 5, 2019)

We are actually up here not to enjoy early spring on the North Shore, but to take in Inuit art and culture at Sivertson’s Gallery in Grand Marais where they are holding their annual Inuit Premiere.

Our first stop is the gallery to check out the art and watch guest artist Ohito Ashoona at work.

He is related to many famous Inuit artists and tells fascinating stories about himself and his family as he works – occasionally even stopping to identify the homes of his family in a published illustration.

Of course, I also enjoy watching him work because I am amazed by anyone who can coax a realistic creature from a block of stone.

But by now the morning has passed and it is time to wander around town and look for a little lunch.

On the recommendation of a friend, we end up at the Crooked Spoon.

I order the salad of duck confit, greens, bacon, blue cheese, and roasted black mission fig vinaigrette. It might be the best salad I have ever had.

Because we are a bit slow to get to lunch we end up being a little late to the throat singing demonstration that Lydia Etok and Nina Segalowitz are leading.

That’s unfortunate because, as I’ve said before, I love the sound of throat singing – the combined weirdness and naturalness of the sound appeals to me and Lydia and Nina are delightful.

Throat singing is traditionally done by two women who face each other, arm in arm, one leading the other in the ancient songs. The song itself seems to generally end when one or the other of the women dissolves into laughter.

Lydia and Nina also explain their traditions and culture and talk about their own lives. They are smart and funny and there is a lot of laughter.

Following the throat singing, Alaskan artist Karen Olanna gives a fascinating talk on the development of Native art (particularly whale bone carving) in the area of Alaska where she lives and works.


That’s a lot of culture – and shopping (Did I mention we’ve been picking up a few small pieces throughout the day to take home with us?) – for one day, so head over to the Gun Flint Tavern (warning: this is an annoying website) for drinks with friends.
Then it is back across the street to Sivertson’s for the evening talk featuring the guest artists.
A good end to a fun and fascinating day.

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