Russ and I meandered over to the Tweed Museum of Art on the University of Minnesota Duluth Campus last week. Russ had never been there, so we figured it was time for him to get some “cultcha,” even if it is only a Duluthy version of culture.
The museum currently features an exhibit of Russian art (Art in Conflict), which was interesting. You don’t often see Lenin in artwork displayed in America.
My favorite collection in the Tweed, however, is the Canadian Mountie illustrations. My father used to get calendars from a local paper company that showed red-suited Mounties in all sorts of exciting and helpful situations, fueling my childhood imagination. There were Mounties petting sled dogs, Mounties building a snowman with native children, Mounties tracking bad guys – you get the drift.
Something I didn’t realize back then was that more than one artist drew the illustrations. The most prolific was Arnold Friberg, noted for his religious and patriotic art. But fifteen others tried their hand at it, as well.
The Mountie art came about during the Depression when the Minnesota Paper Company chose it as their advertising theme because it evoked a strong and dependable product. It was an instant success and continues until this day, although the company’s name has changed several times over the years.
While I suspect that real Mounties have committed their fair share of atrocities like any arm of law enforcement, I don’t want to know about it. As a child, I was totally sold on their Dudley Do-Right goodness, and, as I looked at the paintings in the Tweed, I realized I want to keep my childlike innocence where Mountie art is concerned.
If you’re ever in Duluth and want some culture, try the Tweed! Admission is free, although donations are appreciated, and there’s a box for that by the door.