Featured Artists
Check out a few of our amazing local artists, all with work featured on the walls of Olde Towne Galleries!

Joe Polecheck Photography

From Joe Polecheck's website: "I started making remarkable photos while I was still in the womb. My first significant image, titled Sonogram, was praised for its graininess, deliberate blurring of details, and gritty black-and-white mood. Earning two thumbs up from my parents, this photo only hinted at things to come. Since then, I have won countless awards and accolades, including more than one “Certificate of Participation,” dozens of “Good Sportsmanship” plaques, and the coveted “Busy Bookworm” award with a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. My mantel long ago collapsed under the weight of gold-painted, plastic trophies...

In all seriousness... In 2015, after designing a logo for a local restaurant chain to earn some extra spending cash, I decided I'd better put up or shut up when looking (nay, judging) other people's work. I figured if I was going to evaluate what I liked and didn't like, I'd better be able to do it myself or sit down. After a beginner's class at First Photo in Duluth, MN, countless YouTube videos, and hours of experimenting in my living room on my coffee table and cat, I find myself here. 

Even if nobody looked at the images I create, I realize beginning this journey has forever changed how I view the world. I am willing to drive 3 hours round-trip to see one particular tree at sunset, or get up at sunrise and go stand on a frozen lake for the off-chance it might look cool.  The fact that others appreciate and enjoy the work I produce is more than I could ever imagine, and the idea that my photos adorn the walls of people's homes and businesses will always humble me."  

Visit Joe Polecheck Photography online!

Cheng Khee Chee

From Cheng Khee Chee's website: “Human life is but a grain of dust in the boundless universe and one kshana in the eternities of time. Ordinary people only know how to utilize limited time to do deeds; therefore their lives are like a wave swiftly disappearing in the ocean. Only extraordinary people know how to use great deeds to fill the time; therefore they can transform limit into limitless and a kshana into eternity.”

Cheng-Khee Chee Thoughts on college graduation, 1960In 2007 Chee coordinated with the Jiangsu Watercolor Research Institute in Nanjing, China to organize the first Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary International Watermedia Masters. 68 artists representing 13 countries worldwide were included. The exhibition was held in Nanjing from November 19 through December 2, 2007, and later traveled to other cities.

Chee was the recipient of the 1994 University of Minnesota system-wide University College Distinguished Teaching Award and the 1994 University of Minnesota, Duluth Campus Chancellor’s Distinguished Services Award. In 2004 the Duluth Depot Foundation honored him with the Art and Culture Community Enrichment Award. In 2008 his Alma Mater Nanyang Technological University in Singapore honored him the Alumni Achievement Award. In 2009 the University of Minnesota, Duluth School of Fine Arts honored him the membership of the society of Prometheans, recognizing his outstanding artistic accomplishments. He is a popular workshop instructor and national show juror. His breakthroughs in concepts and processes have greatly influenced the direction of watermedia painting.

Both East and West experiences and influences have shaped Chee’s artistic career. Over the years he has explored and experimented with ways to synthesize the concepts and processes of both traditions. His work comprises many styles from traditional to nonobjective. Chee’s ultimate goal in painting is to achieve the essence of Tao, the state of effortless creation. He hopes to produce paintings that are the synthesis of East and West, realism and abstraction, and the visual realization of his inner being.   

Visit Cheng Khee Chee online!

Pam Dull

Pam grew up on the shores of Lake Superior. As a  young girl, her parents encouraged her to paint. As Pam grew, so did  her desire to bring her love of the outdoors alive on canvas. At age 14,  Pam sold her first painting for $15. Pam has worked as an illustrator and graphic artist, specializing in medical illustration. She has illustrated various laboratory manuals and medical textbooks.     

Although basically a self-taught artist, Pam has trained privately with well known artists John Peyton and portrait artist Greg Johnson. Her extensive knowledge of the subjects she paints and photorealistic style, so necessary for medical illustration, shows in her paintings. Her basic medium is oil, although she has done watercolors in the past, and she gets much of her inspiration from nature. Each painting entails many hours of research and study into the composition of the painting, the subject and the environment, with an eye for detail. She enjoys subject matter of all kinds but mainly focuses on wildlife and especially birds. 

Northern Minnesota settings are the background for many of Pam's paintings as well as the beautiful Duluth scenery she knows so well. Pam spends much of her time in her studio where she usually has 10 to 15 paintings going at once, is busy with commissioned works, or teaching an oil painting class. She has her own framing shop for both her works and her students' paintings. Pam feels pride and accomplishment as her paintings touch the lives of people who can relate to and enjoy her work. Her award-winning oils are becoming increasingly popular and have been exhibited and sold in numerous galleries both nationally and internationally. 

Visit Pam Dull online!

Sue Pavlatos

"Painting is a way to capture the moment. I enjoy connecting my life to the earth and water with paint. My images reflect nature's impact on my life."

Sue paints in oils, acrylics and watercolor and frequently utilizes other media or found objects in combination with her paintings in her mixed media pieces. The subjects she chooses vary from abstracts to representational landscapes, lake scenes, florals and still lifes. 

Visit Sue Pavlatos online!

Doris Sampson

Duluthian artist Doris Sampson never officially went to school for art. This year marks Sampson's 51st anniversary as an artist. She considers herself a functional or "hawsepiper" artist. A hawsepiper is a nautical term for a ship's officer who worked their way up through the ranks and did not attend officer school. "It means that you worked your way up the ranks the hard way. You learned by doing," Sampson said.

The term is an appropriate fit for an artist best known for her paintings of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, the Great Lakes freighter that sank in a Lake Superior storm on Nov. 10, 1975. Sampson remembers hearing the story on the news and she saved a newspaper featuring the story, but she didn't pay much attention to it at the time. "I wasn't a follower of the freighters yet. And I had two kids under the age of 10, so I was busy," Sampson said. It wasn't until Gordon Lightfoot's song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" debuted nearly a year after the sinking that Sampson began to be artistically inspired.

"I started to imagine what it would be like, what the lake would look like, how the waves would look. So I started painting and made my first painting of the Fitzgerald in 1976," Sampson said. Later in 1978, when Gordon Lightfoot performed a concert in Duluth, Sampson received permission to show him the painting. "We had a very nice conversation. He thought it was a good work. I don't remember the specifics, but he seemed appreciative," Sampson said. Sampson donated that first painting to the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center in 1983. Sampson has done several other renditions of the Edmund Fitzgerald, as well as other paintings of maritime scenes and ships. She didn't initially start out interested in local scenery.

"It wasn't until I took a few watercolor classes with Tony Yaworski in Superior that I started getting interested in local scenes for subject matter. He used to paint a lot of waterfront scenes and the freighters on the shore," Sampson said. "At the time, I wasn't the least bit interested in ships and boats and things like that." Sampson works primarily as a painter and a photographer. She mostly works with oil, acrylic, pen and ink and pencil. She doesn't work with watercolor any longer but still uses some of the techniques she learned in her classes. Although she never went to school for an art degree, she did take some classes at University of Wisconsin Superior to learn some contemporary techniques.

"Every time I learn to do something new, it becomes a part of me," Sampson said. Sampson was born in Detroit in 1943, but her family moved back to Minnesota when she was just 6 months old. She spent her first six years at her grandparents' farm on the Iron Range, then started school at Jefferson Elementary in Duluth. She said she always liked art throughout her school years and she still has some of her first pieces.

"I actually have art going back to when I was 11 years old. I have one piece I did as a child. It was a pencil portrait of Audrey Hepburn," Sampson said. "I kept it because I have this vision of founding an art museum and being able to show my work from childhood up to the present." Sampson also doesn't show her work in local galleries. Initially she mostly showed her work at art and craft fairs. Today, she tends to sell her artwork online or by appointment tours of her residential art studio. Though, she can always be found at the Gales of November festival. Looking back on her career makes Sampson nervous. At 73, she said her biggest worry is "being able to finish what I've started."

"That's how I look to the future. I want keep my nose to the grindstone to get things done. I want to finish books I've started to write, I want to make videos of me painting, and I want to make that art museum. So I just keep going."

Visit Doris Sampson online!

Jan Killian

My life has always centered around animals and art.

High school was about art classes, wanting to attend Philadelphia School of Art. My parents didn't go for that, so instead I attended the U of Minnesota and became an Animal Health Technician. Worked as a vet tech for 9 years, owned my own boarding kennel for 23 years, nature center for 2 1/2 years and now....I am back to art!

During all those years, I have rescued domestic animals, helped wild animals back to where they belong and have been an advocate for all animals. I have also painted in watercolors, oils, acrylics, rug hooked, worked in stained glass and mosaics, quilted, knitted, felted, had fun with jewelry and of course photography! Most of my artwork has centered around animals.

I exhibit at various art shows in Wisconsin and Minnesota throughout the year, have my images displayed at the artZ gallery in Amery Wisconsin and various private businesses. This spring I will be opening my own small gallery at my home.

My connection with animals/birds is so strong and my goal is to help people better understand them through my images. Each wonderful soul that I have had the pleasure of encountering has made my life richer. I hope you will enjoy the images all these beings allowed me to capture and make a connection also!

Visit Jan Killian online!

Sandi Pillsbury

I am a Native Minnesotan who has been coming up to the North Shore of Lake Superior since I was a baby. 

In 1995, I made a dream come true; and purchased a year-around home in Castle Danger on the Big Lake. Lake Superior and its environment has been a long-time inspiration of my work.

I have been a practicing artist for over 40 years and an art educator for over 30 years. Additionally, I am an active arts advocate, involved with several arts boards throughout the Arrowhead region. I have served as the Chair of the Grand Marais Art Colony Board. I am currently the President of the local Two Harbors art club, Voyageur Artists, and former board member on the Northern Lake County Arts Board. I have been a returning Artist-in-Residence in Silver Bay for the past four years and continue to volunteer time in the third grade classroom with the “Masterpiece Art Program.” I am currently one of the curators and participating artists in our annual local “Lake Superior 20/20 Studio Art Tour,”  which happens the last weekend of September each year. I have taught community education art classes, classes at the Grand Marais Art Colony and am currently on the Artists’ Roster with the Minnesota State Arts Board for “Artists-in-Residency” programs.

My education encompasses an Associate of Arts Degree from Stephens College in Columbia, MO, a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Masters of Education Degree from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. My mentors include the late George Morrison, Hazel Belvo, Elizabeth Erickson and Mary Pettis.

Visit Sandi Pillsbury online!