Short Cuts: Art by Duluth's Kelly Schamberger will be turned into fashion — and sent to moon

"Once Upon a Childhood," an oil painting of a model ship, has received an award in the 16th International ARC Salon Competition.

Brunette, light-skinned woman in painting studio, smiling at the camera. Behind her, a painting of a ship is visible on an easel.
Kelly Schamberger in her Duluth home studio, with her award-winning painting "Once Upon a Childhood" visible in the background.
Contributed / Wolfskull Creative, Michelle Bennett
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DULUTH — "Once Upon a Childhood," a 2020 oil painting by Duluth artist Kelly Schamberger, has received a Fashion Week San Diego Award in an international competition. As a result, the image of a model ship will not only be displayed in New York, it will serve as inspiration for an original couture outfit and — wait for it — sent to the moon.

Oil painting of wooden model ship with three masts and rigging, sitting on what appears to be a blue cloth suggesting waves. Background is dark, with several star-like yellow lights dispersed throughout.
"Once Upon a Childhood," a 2020 oil painting by Duluth artist Kelly Schamberger.
Contributed / Mitch Rossow Fine Art Photography

"I still can't believe it," said Schamberger, reached by phone Tuesday. "People spend their life trying to get recognized in this competition." The competition is under the auspices of New Jersey's Art Renewal Center, an organization Schamberger describes as "the foremost authority (on, and) promoter of contemporary realist artists."

The 16th International ARC Salon Competition entails a complex culling from several thousand submissions. There are dozens of award categories, with varying prizes and numbers of winners. Schamberger's piece was one of 10 honored by Fashion Week San Diego, which will commission a designer (the artist doesn't yet know who) to create an outfit inspired by the painting. The outfit will be modeled alongside the artwork during a July exhibition at Sotheby's in New York City.

Schamberger's painting will also be one of 221 winning pieces represented in a set of time capsules heading to space later this year. As the competition website explains: "Art images will be laser-etched on nickel microfiche and/or digitized on terabyte memory cards and enclosed in a time capsule on the Griffin lunar lander, launched by SpaceX, and placed on the Moon in perpetuity."

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"It's kind of expensive to enter. I paid $275," said Schamberger. "Literally the only reason I entered this year was because they were like, 'Oh, by the way, anyone who wins an award or an honorable mention is going to go in this time capsule to the moon.'"


The artist, a selection of whose work can be seen at FrameWorks Gallery in St. Paul from Saturday through March 4, said it's a coincidence that her seaport city will be represented on the moon with a nautical image. She's just "really proud of that piece," Schamberger said about the painting of a wooden model built by her late, beloved uncle William Rager.

Though Schamberger is fascinated by space, she said, she's never actually painted a spacecraft or celestial object. "I primarily paint from life," she said, "and I don't really have a good way of seeing ... so far off."

While Schamberger will travel to New York to see the Sotheby's exhibit, she hasn't yet received an invitation to follow her art to the moon.

"I will totally volunteer," she said, "to be the first artist that gets shot up into space to draw or paint a picture of the Earth."

Conveniently, paint already comes in tubes.

The Merrill Lynch Fine Arts Gallery is one of the most distinctive features in Duluth's aquarium, hosting regular exhibitions of work by local artists.

Related Topics: ARTDULUTH
Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at or 218-279-5536.
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