New Skyline Art Gallery offers more than a great viewBill and Lisa Dupuis were unlikely candidates to open the newest art gallery in town. A carpenter and a teacher, neither is a trained artist or experienced retailer.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Duluth News Tribune
Bill and Lisa Dupuis were unlikely candidates to open the newest art gallery in town. A carpenter and a teacher, neither is a trained artist or experienced retailer.
But they did have a location: a plot of land on Skyline Parkway with an outstanding view of Duluth.
“When you’re standing on that hill looking out on that vista, there’s nothing else you would put there,” Lisa Dupuis said.
The vista can now be seen from the Skyline Art Gallery, which is hosting a grand opening celebration this weekend.
The couple, who live in Midway Township, have owned the land next to the Thompson Hill Information Center for seven years. Bill Dupuis built a spacious, airy building on the property with help from their son Samuel, 13. The couple hatched the idea of a gallery soon after but didn’t know where to start. Then, Bill Dupuis met painter Ken Marunowski during happy hour at Fitger’s Brewhouse and brought up the gallery.
“Knowing that a lot of tourists go (to the Thompson Hill Information Center), Bill had a pretty smart idea,” Marunowski said.
Marunowski visited the space and saw that the concrete floors, wooden accents and large windows would be the perfect backdrop for art.
“Having some experience as an artist and having visited galleries all over the world, I have an idea of what looks good,” he said. Drawing on gallery visits from France to Southeast Asia to his native Ohio, Marunowski helped the couple configure the space inside the gallery.
Then, they began filling it with local art, including Marunowski’s plein air paintings and charcoal drawings. They opened their doors in June with works by a variety of local artists.
“Everybody’s local … within a stone’s throw away,” Lisa Dupuis said.
About half of their 48 artists are members of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, as is Bill Dupuis. He and his wife saw creativity coming from the tribe that has become somewhat of a theme in the gallery.
“I think the art speaks to the history and culture of the area,” Lisa Dupuis said.
Marunowski, also a professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, said the gallery is unique in that it represents the intersection of two dominant peoples in the area.
“It’s a unique opportunity for artists of all sorts to come together. In this case, it seems to be the western European tradition meeting the Native American community,” he said.
The walls boast traditional American Indian art like dream-catchers next to Impressionist-influenced paintings.
The couple said their primary role has been working with the artists to provide a home for their work. Lee Englund, a painter from Duluth, displays many of his oil paintings at the gallery.
“They’ve got a really fine selection of stuff up there. It’s really easy to swing in,” Englund said.
Many, like Marunowski, display their work exclusively at Skyline.
“The artists have really wanted this to work. They’ve just been great about helping and getting it set up,” Lisa Dupuis said.
The gallery, at 8721 W. Skyline Parkway, is closed today and Friday in preparation for the grand opening. Beginning Saturday, it will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Labor Day.
Lisa Dupuis said customers have commented that they appreciate finding a gallery off the beaten path, miles from the artsy hotspots of downtown Duluth and Canal Park.
“I think they like having something in this area,” she said. “I think they like going out for a drive and finding this place.”
Go see it
What: Skyline Art Gallery grand opening
Where: 8721 W. Skyline Parkway
When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday
Highlights: Cedar Creek Singers, noon; Diet Folk, 3 p.m.
Also: Book signings by Jim Northrup, Ojibwe doll demonstration by Joyce LaPorte, live drawing by Ken Marunowski, D’s Dogs available noon to 5 p.m.