Inspired by Iceland

MARSHALL – Since he was a young boy, Bob Dorlac of Marshall has been intrigued by what Iceland has to offer.

Dorlac’s “Landscapes of Iceland” exhibit will be from Nov. 20-Jan. 14 at the Marshall-Lyon County Library. An artist reception will be from 2-3 p.m. Nov. 21, at the library.

For the exhibit, Dorlac had received an Artist Initiative grant to do an arts residency in Siglufjordur, Iceland from the Minnesota State Arts Board. To apply for the grant, Dorlac had to submit some of his work, a resume and an explantation of what he hopes to achieve with his project.

“I feel very, very fortunate to have received it,” Dorlac said about the grant. He said the state is very supportive of the arts.

In the past, Dorlac had traveled to Greenland for a residency in 2010. In April of this year, he spent a month in Siglufjordur.

“My interest probably started back when I was a child,” Dorlac said. His parents subscribed to National Geographic, he said, and that fueled the interest. “Both nations are highly dependent on their fishing resources.”

Dorlac has a degree in geology.

“Iceland appealed to me for that reason as well,” Dorlac said. He was also interested in doing a residency in Iceland because of the many Icelanders that are living in this part of Minnesota.

Dorlac mainly paints landscapes, but he does work with other subjects.

“What I can see in the landscapes is the geological forces that have shaped the landscape,” he said. Dorlac was in the northern coast of Iceland, so he could see the effect of the glaciers in the valley.

Dorlac said the effects of climate change also appeals to him, especially when he was in Iceland.

“I really wanted to see that for myself,” he said. “I was interested in the people of both places (Iceland and Greenland) and how climate change has affected their lives.”

During his residency, Dorlac exclusively created watercolors. Normally he paints with oils.

“When traveling to remote regions, it’s easier to travel with watercolors than oils,” he said.

The residency Dorlac was at was supported and organized by the museum in town, which has roughly 1,500 people. The museum is dedicated to the herring fishing industry, which is part of the town’s history.

“Ten years ago, the artists in town had an idea to open a museum dedicated to this era,” Dorlac said. It covers all aspects of herring fishing, he said, and even got an award for being the best new museum in Europe.

While he was there, Dorlac lived in the Herhusid (army house) artist residency house. The house served as a church and gathering place for the Salvation Army before the building was restored as an artist studio and residence, he said.

“The house is in the historic district of Siglufjordur, Iceland where most of the buildings were constructed during the herring boom years of the 1920s and ’30s,” he said. “Siglufjordur is the northernmost town in Iceland and is situated in a fjord that is a natural harbor surrounded by towering mountains.”

“They have artists coming from around the world,” he added.

Dorlac said he did a lot of research while he was there, determining what the weather would be like and how much snow would be on the ground. When he’s working, he tends to take his supplies with him in a backpack and goes to the site he wants to depict.

But the weather was awful while he was there, he said. The region had the snowiest April that anyone could remember.

“I was painting mostly from the windows of the art studio,” Dorlac said. “It (the weather) forced me to rethink what I was going to do.” But it worked, he said.

Dorlac said he also experienced small earthquakes while in Iceland.

“I never lived in a seismic zone,” he said.

The town is also the site of the Icelandic folk music museum, Dorlac said.

“All of this is why I like to do these residencies,” he said.

When Dorlac got back from Iceland, he developed a series of monotype prints that were based on the watercolor paintings.