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Photographer Jan Swart of Two Harbors “The Color Whisperer”

Prolific local photographer Jan Swart posts her work on “Destination Duluth,” a web­site that has promoted Duluth and the North Shore as a place to visit and live for almost ten years. At the latest count, her images of the Lake Superior shoreline and the City of Duluth have been viewed more than eight million times, and she received the 2022 Des­tination Duluth Top Photographer award.

Jan was born and raised in Two Harbors.

“Two Harbors was very ‘small townish’ when I was growing up,” she said. “Lake Su­perior didn’t really make an impression on us then,” she added.

After graduating from Two Harbors High School, Jan studied education at Saint Scho­lastica in Duluth, married, and eventually settled in the Twin Cities. After raising two children and making her way in the corporate world, Jan retired to Two Harbors in 2005.

“My perception of Lake Superior had sharpened and was very different when I re­turned,” Jan said. Before retiring, she had a picture of the lake on her office wall. When dealing with the stresses of her Human Re­sources work, she often found her gaze drawn to that picture, which soothed her a bit.

In 2016, Jan looked at the pictures oth­ers had taken of Lake Superior sunrises and thought, “I can do that.”

 Jan Swart’s “selfie”. (photos submitted by Jan Swart)

“Early one summer morning, with a new camera, I went to a spot on the rocks and took pictures of the sunrise,” Jan said. “I was in­stantly hooked on photography.”

For a time, she was a freelance photogra­pher for the Lake County Chronicle, the local Two Harbors weekly newspaper. Those as­signments pushed her in a different direction but didn’t appeal to her creative side.

“I want to pass the peace and beauty of Lake Superior on to others,” Jan said. She started posting sunrise pictures daily in 2018. During the pandemic, many people com­mented that those pictures helped them cope with the stresses of those months.

Jan loves how colors and shading change during sunrise, and she is on the shore almost every morning. In addition to posting on Des­tination Duluth, she posts pictures on North Shore-related social media sites daily. One wag commented on one of her posts, “You are the color whisperer.”

Jan’s work focuses on sunrises and cityscapes. “Three things are import­ant to me: light, layers, and color,” she said.

“I love primary colors,” she said. If she sees a red car when shooting city­scapes, it will be in the picture. Check it out.

In addition to daily internet posts, Jan sells her photographs at Moose-Cellaneous Gifts, 603 7th Ave, Two Harbors, and online at her Fine Art America website: https://jan-swart.pixels.com/.

“I sell as many Duluth cityscape pictures as sunrise and landscape pictures,” she said. Her cityscapes, she said, “Give a positive view of Duluth.”

True success in art comes when your purpose complements your work. “I have finally found in retirement what I was meant to do in my life,” Jan said.

She traces the merger of art and photography to a happy childhood on The Shore.

Her family took two-week vacation trips each summer, and her dad recorded those adventures with his 35 mm camera. With a screen and slide projector in the basement, those pictures and the Kodachrome memo­ries were shared during gatherings with fam­ily and friends.

Jan’s mother was an accomplished water­color artist, giving Jan an appreciation for the subtle color changes in her pictures.

Asked what the kids and grandkids think about her art, she said, “I think they might be a little bit amazed. Scratch their heads and say, ‘My mom’s doing this?’ But I think they’re very proud.”

Author Talk on Epilepsy from Barbara Mack Writer from Brainerd Lakes raises epilepsy awareness at the library.

Grand Marais, MN, March 7, 2024 – The Grand Marais Pub­lic Library is excited to host an author talk by Barbara J. Mack on her memoir, The Hand I’ve Been Dealt: A Life Lived with Epilepsy, on Wednesday, March 20, from 6:00-7:30 PM.

Mack grew up in a loving home on a hardworking fam­ily farm. At twenty years old, her life changed forever after a near tragic car accident. In the aftermath, the doctor di­agnosed her with a seizure disorder for which there was little information or support, causing her to lean even more on her tightly knit family. Just as she was beginning to man­age her seizures, an unexpect­ed pregnancy upended her life again, introducing new diffi­culties to her as a single mom. But once again, the support of friends and family helped her navigate trying times.

Reviewers have described her memoir as “so encourag­ing, well-written and engag­ing—hard to put down!” and “a great fast read that provides insight for people with seizure disorders and their support network.” Through her whim­sical stories of family life and heartbreaking years of medical challenges, Mack’s story edu­cates and inspires others to bet­ter cope with the hand they’ve been dealt.

This event is free and open to the public, and seating will be­gin at 5:30 PM. Mack will have books on hand to buy, and will answer questions in the last portion of her talk.

In other news, the library is continuing its Winter Reading Program through the end of March for adults, with prize drawings for each prize bas­ket happening on Fridays: on March 8, the Deep Dark Winter basket; on March 15, the Cozy Mystery basket; on March 22, the Crafter’s basket; and on March 29, the Library Lovers basket. For more infor­mation, call the library at 218- 387-1140 or visit their website: www.grandmaraislibrary.org.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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