July 1, 2013 § 5 Comments
Alas, we’ve reached the end of Art in June.
But not without fanfare and two community-related art events, starting at the corner of Selby and Victoria, where a large, empty lot owned by the City of St. Paul sits. Here the Summit-University Planning Council (SUPC), a local community organization, gathered suggestions this afternoon on the best use of the space to meet the neighborhood’s needs with a goal of shaping those ideas into recommendations to share with the city.
SUPC Executive Director Irna Landrum mentioned that getting people to attend council meetings can be difficult, so they wanted to try an artistic, creative strategy for getting neighbors involved when it comes to envisioning the future of the large plot of land.
The organizers built makeshift trees on the property and asked visitors and passersby to write down their ideas and hang them on the limbs. To ignite the creative spark, they posed three questions (below), to which I’ve posted some of my favorite answers:
- What do you like about the neighborhood? People, culture, access, involved citizens and neighbors, athletic community
- What’s missing from it? Meditation garden, art center, park, ice cream parlor, zip line, a means for dealing with gun violence
- Based on the answers to those questions, what could you imagine the city putting on the vacant lot? Skate park, community pool, duck pond, rock climbing wall, counseling center, storytelling venue
I look forward to seeing what becomes of this land and the role this project plays in the city’s development decision.
An event I’ve looked forward to since I learned of the Paper Darts Pop-Up in May is “A Moveable Feast” with thirty-two magazine. Even better than I envisioned. Think two long tables with a sprinkling of inquisitive and engaging Twin Citians, eating and drinking and discussing what makes Minneapolis and St. Paul tick and the steps we can take to progress further. Add jazz guitar, booze, a literary version of musical chairs where each participant builds upon the ideas of the person to their right, poetry and short story readings on humidity, pumpkins, and sloths, and you pretty much have an idea of my perfect evening.
The host for the event, Katie Eggers, editor of thirty-two, was incredibly gracious and warm. She kept us engaged, talked about her vision for the evening and her hopes for the future of the magazine along with its impact on the Twin Cities and beyond. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, please at least visit their Web site and consider subscribing. Something important is brewing over there, and I only hope their readership and reach continue to grow and connect the Twin Cities with a other communities around this big blue orb.
I plan to write more about this little month-long art experiment of mine later in the week so you can understand why it was important to me and what I hope you take from it, regardless of where you live. Until then, thanks for reading these posts, even if you aren’t from the area. It’s been a memorable month, and I’ve taken great pleasure in the people I’ve met, the places I’ve seen, and the art that has inspired me.
June 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
My art day:
3:01 p.m.: Found Objects at Form + Content
Three artists took old, found objects and re-fashioned them in a novel way.
3:23 p.m.: Short walk around the Warehouse District
3:54 p.m.: Heart and Soul at Icebox Gallery
No photos to share, just a recommendation to visit the current exhibit featuring a photography retrospective from Icebox’s 25 years of shows. My favorites? Anything by Alec Soth, Will Agar, Chris Faust, Flo Fox, and Howard Christopherson.
Christopherson runs the gallery and framing studio, I believe, and his photos are beautiful. He’s also a really nice guy. I didn’t know it was him at the time, but we spoke briefly while I looked around — kind, witty, and obviously talented.
Another packed house at the Paper Darts Pop-Up, this time for Story City to host its event — stories of escape told in a Moth-like fashion (seven minutes, no notes, all true). Added twist? Graphic artists drew each story as it unfolded, projecting the animations brightly on the wall for all to see. Abundant laughter and gasps — stories of bad dates with hairy men, the pain of being the only girl to wear a size 59 swimsuit in gym class, growing up with the Sopranos, pottery artist stalkers in the south of France, waking up to your foot bones being sawed in the middle of surgery (admittedly, this one made me queasy), and a girlfriend’s jealous buffalo.
Story City’s theme next month is RANT. Not sure of the location, but its Web site will provide updates.
June 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
Life is punctuated with happy accidents.
Immediately after I shut down my work computer, I walked to Mears Park in downtown St. Paul for the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. The three-day event kicked off today, and while I don’t particularly like jazz, I thought maybe some of the culture would rub off and enlighten me.
Nope. Barely made it 45 minutes. I found every excuse not to sit contently and listen. After two songs, I started wandering the park, people and dog watching, ate some food even though I wasn’t hungry, and finally gave in to good sense and left.
Which led to the first of two happy accidents.
I sidetracked home hoping to find the old Pioneer Press Building built in the mid 1800s that is now being renovated. I quickly located it, but couldn’t go inside because the main entrance is under construction. But a little corner of the building was lit up. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was the Minnesota Museum of American Art Project Space (MMAA PS), which has an exhibit (String/Art/Theory) I missed at Northern Spark and have been eager to see.
I popped in there, thinking I’d take a quick look around, but ended up staying for at least an hour as two of the artists (Liz Miller and Randy Walker) were present and giving talks on their installations, Art and String, respectively.
- Miller works primarily with felt and does rather large installations that reflect the tragedy and ugliness beneath beauty, interweaving a sense of play and animation with art inspired by invasive plants, sea creatures, or weaponry, for example. Whimsey, chaos, color, and symmetry are words that come to mind when experiencing her work.
- Walker, a former architect, began toying around with fibers, weaving it into intricate designs using a warped racket, grain elevator, corn cob bin, and bridge as foundations for his art. He recently was awarded a McKnight grant to work with homeless youth to develop a temporary art installation (basically a generic framework) that can be re-used and re-engaged with new ideas and materials, making it essentially a permanent but constantly evolving piece at the drop-in center frequented by the homeless children.
As I again headed home, I heard eloquent polka tunes flowing from a center stage at Rice Park. So I detoured yet again to take a picture of the dancers, band, and onlookers, all part of the Ordway Summer Dance Series. But happy accident number two came along in the form of an older gentleman, who looked like Victor Borge and photobombed my shoot to ask me to dance. I said no, I didn’t know how, but he insisted. Said he’d teach me. So we danced a polka and he spun me around a few times, praised my awkward moves, bowed, and set me free as the band took a break.
From there, my head happily swam the three-mile walk back home, pleased with my choices and where they led me throughout the warm, sunny evening.
Minnesota Museum of American Art Project Space
332 N. Robert Street
Ordway Summer Dance Series
Twin Cities Jazz Festival
Mears Park and throughout Lowertown
June 26, 2013 § 4 Comments
No art today yet.
Instead, I hung out with my parents and Nebraska cousins who are in town. We caught up over a nice sushi dinner and spent the remainder of the evening watching the youngest enjoy rides at the Mall of America. My cousin Alexis tricked me into joining her on a crazy ride that looked innocuous but wasn’t — it violently whipped around corners. The post-ride queasiness sticks with me a couple hours later, but we laughed the whole way through. I was thrilled to have such a charming and happy little girl to spend time with — beats a stuffy old art museum any day.
Yet I must do some art before the clock strikes midnight. Working on a short story will fit the bill nicely before tucking myself in for a long summer’s nap.
June 25, 2013 § 4 Comments
Before meeting dear, darling friends for dinner at Smack Shack in the Minneapolis North Loop neighborhood, I spent an hour exploring the old architecture in the area, which, in my humble opinion, is as good as any art found in a museum or gallery.
The North Loop really brings back memories of New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood for me. But then again, everything seems to remind me of New York these days, in a good way.
June 24, 2013 § 6 Comments
The documentary Sign Painters, which I reported on last week, inspired me to search out hand-painted signs, old and new, in St. Paul.
Enjoy a sampling of my favorites:
June 23, 2013 § 6 Comments
Parents in town. Art with Dad. Art with Mom.
This morning, Dad and I scampered to the Guthrie Theater, celebrating its 50th anniversary today with a huge community celebration. We loaded up on free Target gear (e.g., sunglasses, bags o’ candy) and took a backstage tour where, halfway through, I was informed I wasn’t allowed to take photos. Whoops. Here are a few that made it past security.
This afternoon, Mom and I took the Summit Avenue Garden Stroll, a biannual tour of some of the most beautiful gardens on one of the most picturesque streets in the United States. Predicted rain stayed away and we were able to enjoy all 12 featured gardens before returning home and napping. Colorful highlights follow.