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Walker Top Tens of 2007, part three

It’s a little heartwarming, a little geeky, and a little design nerdy, but the final installment of our top tens are here. Sounds like the perfect note to end the series on (until next year). The list of lists: Top 10 things I miss about the Walker, by Paul Schmelzer, guest blogger and former editor […]

It’s a little heartwarming, a little geeky, and a little design nerdy, but the final installment of our top tens are here. Sounds like the perfect note to end the series on (until next year). The list of lists:

Top 10 things I miss about the Walker

Paul Schmelzer, Guest Blogger and Former Editor of Walker Magazine

pssmall.jpgOver nine-plus years as the managing editor of the Walker magazine (and later these blogs), the place was bound to get under my skin. I left in August 2007 to edit the news, but I still think often of friends and fun back at the Walker. Of course, I miss the front-row seats to the amazing exhibitions, lectures, performances and films, but I’ll stick to the less visible. I don’t mean to sound self-serving, but what I miss most is:

The perks.

I hope I’m not revealing trade secrets here, but there’s an awful lot of side benefits to working at the Walker.

10. The all-staff email list. With the mandatory subject prefix “NON-WAC,” Walker all-staff emails can run the gamut from blatant self-promotion (“my band is playing this weekend” or, in my most recent abuse of the system, “my wife’s having an art sale”) to pure gold. Walker staffers have the best rummage sales, used cars, and enticing underground side projects and double lives that get exposed via internal email. And don’t forget the free paint… the half-used buckets of Frida Kahlo Yellow or Heart of Darkness Burgundy, made available to whomever hustles to the loading dock first.

9. Frame Sales. This once- or twice-yearly sale, just for staffers, features old frames freed up after an international touring exhibition closed or a work is deaccessioned. Five to fifty bucks can buy a museum-quality frame, in aluminum, steel, birch or cherry. (I can honestly tell friends — and note the use of ellipsis points here to indicate dramatic pause, “Oh yeah, at home I’ve got a sweet de Kooning…. frame.”)

8. The Shop employee discount, which nicely fed my Moleskine addiction for years.

7. Those sweet public restrooms, dubbed, for their sleek design and white enamel accents, iPotty!

6. The Walker library. Not a staff-only perk, mind you (just call and make an appointment), the Walker’s library houses the biggest collection of artist books in the entire world. Or maybe the upper midwest. (I can’t remember which.) Overseen by the remarkable Rosemary Furtak, it houses hand-bound books, sculptural books and editioned books, plus the best backstock of art magazines and catalogues around. I remember poring through a box of ‘zines, sketches and notes by local great Frank Gaard. He and former WAC director Kathy Halbreich had a correspondence for a time, and each of his typewritten, marginless paeans would begin with the all-caps announcement of the letter’s soundtrack: “LISTENING TO L7 AS I WRITE THIS…”

image1.jpg5. Carp Shop parties. The Walker’s basement dwellers — Program Services, which includes the carpentry shop, frame shop, and photography — throws mind-blowing seasonal parties. If you’ve ever marveled at how the Walker transforms its galleries from show to show, well, these are the guys (and gals) who do it. So, naturally any party of theirs will turn a dusty workshop into something unexpected: a nautical themed “Tropical Love Explosion,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” and “Havana Cantina sin Llantas,” which included a ’54 Studebaker (found at a junkyard and sawed in half to fit in the freight elevator) and a Cuban street scene, complete with a clothes line across the street.

kikipumpkin.png4. Pumpkin Carving Contest. These staff contests took the commonplace art of steak-knife-hacked pumpkins to an entirely new level. How might Robert Gober, Huang Yong Ping, Matthew Barney, or Kiki Smith create a pumpkiny Halloween homage? Here’s your answer.

3. The stories. For a writer, a reveler in off-the-beaten path finds, and an art lover, the Walker is Content Paradise. Where else can I say that I’ve interviewed a Swiss guy in a cardboard cave, a taxidermist charged with conserving a fake elephant, a herpetologist overseeing a reptilian panopticon, or a shirtless, gonzo jazz drummer (see “At the Center,” Walker magazine, April 2005 for that story)? I miss being embedded with the most interesting unit around.

peeps.png2. The people. At this point — number two, for cryin’ out loud — I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to all the truly excellent human beings I’ve met through the Walker, past and present. Good friends, passionate co-workers and stellar intellects like Witt and Justin and Kemi and Adrienne and Doug and Kate and Emmet and Doryun and Peter and Megan and Max and SP and Yasmil and Dean and Aimee and Francesca and the other Max and Emily and Philip and Masami and Cameron and… Well, you get the idea.

piratenate.png1. Nate‘s beard.

Top 10 tech of 2007

Robin Dowden, Director of New Media Initiatives and Justin Heideman, New Media Designer

  • Apple iPhoneEveryone is sick of the hype, but it is actually a pretty nifty device. I’m not a fan of AT&T, but as a true “wireless communicator”, it’s pretty rad. The iPhone’s little brother, the iPod Touch, is also pretty nifty and we have had great success using them for some things around here.
  • XO One Laptop Per ChildHaving seen a prototype at MW2007, I was excited for the release of this. It seems that if if Microsoft and Intel weren’t out to kill it, it could do well. The reviews by people who’ve gotten them seem pretty positive, and the hardware design is impressive.OLPC XO-1
  • Adobe Photoshop CS3CS2 was a rather underwhelming release, aside from Smart Objects. CS3 is faster, more reliable and more polished, probably the best release of Photoshop since 5.5’s addition of the Save for Web… function. It’s smart about knowing how to work on small screens, too, which is great for laptop users.
  • LeopardThere are many things to like about OS X 10.5. For me, it was probably the smoothest upgrade I’ve ever done. And Time Machine has already saved my computer once, which makes it worth every cent. But the thing that I’m most excited by, and haven’t used that much yet is Quartz Composer. QC got vastly expanded capabilities and can now automagically work on multiple machines across the network. How cool.
  • GmailOK, gmail didn’t come out in 2007, but it’s support of IMAP did. Imap support moves gmail from a nicer-than-the-rest webmail to an actual useful email system. So now you can use gmail with your iPhone. And it’s smart in ways google would make it. For instance, you don’t need to save your sent messages, if you send them through gmail’s SMTP servers, it keeps them for you. Nice.
  • City of Minneapolis Municipal WiFiWhereas many cities seem to be struggling with municipal wireless schemes, Minneapolis is rolling out one that seems to be working well. I myself have been using it as my sole internet connection at home for a few months now, and it’s been very reliable. I’m looking forward to doing some work from the Sculpture Garden this summer. Minneapolis Wifi
  • AJAX/DHTML Javascript Libraries and FirebugIt seems that 2007 is when the libraries came into their own and got pretty feature complete. You have your choice of MooTools (my library of choice), JQuery, Prototype, GWT, YUI, Dojo, etc, etc. I can’t see making a website without a js library. And combining a JS library of your choice with Firebug and Firefox, it’s like you have a command line for websites.
  • WordPressWordPress has been around for a while, but 2007 saw the releases of version 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3, which together added some pretty impressive features. We love wordpress, so this would be hard to leave off the list.
  • Yahoo PipesBeyond the slick interface, when Pipes was released, it didn’t seem all that interesting or useful. Over time, though, it has proven rather useful. I see pipes as a quick little mashup prototyping tool.Yahoo Pipes
  • Digital Wireless Oven/BBQ ThermometersSeemingly simple, but awfully utilitarian. Let’s say you like to cook, but you don’t like waiting around for things to cook. This little guy is great. Put it in your meat, and it goes off when it’s the right temp. Genius!

My 10 Favorite Pantone Colors That I Used in 2007

Ryan Nelson, Design Fellow

  1. 805.jpg 805 U — A fluorescent red/orange that will blind you.
  2. 032.jpg Red 032 U — The quintessential red.
  3. black6.jpg Black 6 U — It’s so dark!
  4. hexagreen.jpg Hexachrome Green U — It’s vibrant and awesome.
  5. warmred.jpg Warm Red U — It really is warm.
  6. 122.jpg 122 U — The same yellow you used for finger painting in 1st grade.
  7. violet.jpg Violet U — I think I like this color because violet light bends the most when dispersed by a prism.
  8. 3385.jpg 3385 U — A positively kitsch, but amazing seafoam-green color.
  9. 871.jpg 871 U — It’s gold. What’s not to love?
  10. 803.jpg 803 U — It reminds me of the sun.

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