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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

March 1, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Greetings from Minnesota

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Seattleites who normally plan mid-winter trips to Palm Springs or Hawaii may have a hard time understanding why I went to Duluth, Minn., of all places, just a week ago. (That’s one of the reasons there’s no Sketcher column in the paper Saturday!)

The occasion was to speak about my work as a sketch artist, my book The Art of Urban Sketching, and the global urban sketchers community, at the 25th edition of the Lake Superior Design Retreat, an event organized by the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Steve Buetow, one of the event founders, envisioned the retreat in 1989 as an opportunity for local architects to hunker down and recharge while experiencing the beauty of the Minnesota winter.

What’s interesting: Only one of the six speakers they invite every year come from the world of architecture. The rest may be inventors, writers, illustrators, journalists, graphic designers, writers, scientists or performers. The common denominator to all the talks is the broad concept of design. Think about it as the Ted Talks, with the plus that the speakers stay for the whole event.

This year I was in the company of Dr. Yuri Danilov, a neouroscientist who is developing ways to treat brain injuries; Doug Scholz-Carlson, a fight choreographer; Anna Kipnis, a videogame programmer; Michael Fortune, a furniture designer; and Elizabeth P. Gray, who filled the spot reserved for an architect. In previous editions, participants have learned about cars that transform into planes, the art of lettering, and how to build an igloo.

The retreat takes place at the Fitger’s complex, a former brewery where now you’ll find a cozy hotel, restaurants, retail and events space. Given the freezing temperatures, it was tempting to stay inside all the time but I ventured out to do some sketches the last day. Here are some of them:

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