Art explores opinions of drug sellers

Published 2:00 pm Saturday, April 5, 2014

DULUTH  — A new art show in Duluth explores conflicting opinions on whether a local store owner who sold synthetic drugs is a hero or villain.

The four-year battle between Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson and the city of Duluth played out in print, broadcast and online. Carlson was eventually convicted in federal court of selling the banned substances — a verdict he’s appealing.

“Hero/Villain/Savior/Scoundrel: Portraits of Jim Carlson & Don Ness” opens Saturday at Zeitgeist Arts Cafe in downtown Duluth. Many of the paintings are humorous, some are serious and others are surprising.

Duluth artist Adam Swanson painted a sympathetic portrait of a smiling Carlson, in part, he said “because I am a firm believer that all of us have a little bit of hero and a little bit of scoundrel in us.”

Swanson said it was difficult to find a picture in the media that portrayed Carlson in a positive light.

The art show runs April 5 to May 10.