Sunday, May 31, 2009

Check Out Cloquet

The Moose Lodge in Cloquet, Minnesota

Close-up of one of the paintings on the front of the Moose Lodge building.
Yesterday I found myself in Cloquet, Minnesota. Cloquet is a small town in northern Minnesota, just southwest of Duluth. It is best known for being the hometown of Jessica Lang, the home of a rather smelly paper mill and the location of the famous Frank Lloyd Wright gas station.
We usually whiz right past this town on Interstate Highway 35 on our way to the cabin in Grand Marais. No reason to stop. Yesterday, Cloquet was my destination. I needed to be there in the early afternoon to mark the death of a young cousin.
While looking for the funeral home I passed an interesting old building with a large red "Moose" sign hanging on its corner. I have heard of that fraternal organization but know nothing about it. Most often in sorts of jokes. The kind of jokes that conjure up images of the Red Green show on pubic television where men meet at Possum Lodge and celebrate the many ways to use duct-tape. But now I want to learn more. Looking at the well kept and carefully decorated building made me think that some serious work was being done by people who went there.
What caught my attention were several wonderful paintings on the front of the building. All celebrated community, families working together, camaraderie and (am I reading too much into them?) respect for the other creatures on the earth. A beautiful flowering crab blocks the view of the biggest painting but you can still see the linking of a moose antler with a human hand. I wonder what the symbolism means?
The paintings are wonderful. I suppose many would consider them folk art and dismiss them or simply see them as quaint. I see them as typical of the enthusiasm to make one's city better that you see in Minnesota. If you are near Cloquet, drive down to the main street (aptly named Cloquet Avenue) and check it out. And go two blocks west to the famous Frank Lloyd Wright gas station and fill up.


journalrat said...

Diane, I'm glad you could stop and take in some local color on your trip north for your cousin's funeral. I don't think you were reading too much into the paintings, though I do think being in "family mode" because of the trip's necessity made you more aware of the images. They do seem to look forward to so sort of positive relationship between man and nature.

I think public art like this is very intriguing. Is it the implus of the business/building owner, the community board of some sort? We have them all over in little towns as you point out. Thanks for taking a moment to point these out.

And I didn't know about FLW's gas station in Cloquet!


havepencilwilltravel said...

Too bad my photos were not better at capturing the other paintings on the building. They were all full of moose motifs. Next time I'm in Cloquet I'll make it a point to check out the rest of Cloquet Avenue to see if there are other buildings with similar paintings. Maybe there was a town-wide effort to decorate buildings.

Time to get a photo of the gas station posted!