Blogs Centerpoints Joseph Rizzo

Visitor Services Specialist, Education & Community Programs Walker Art Center

LOVE PREVAILS

In cold and barren February, we notice the Sun’s brilliance burning a little longer into the afternoon, hinting at the warmth peeking just (months) around the corner.  Similarly, in the sometimes austere and modernist environs of the Walker Art Center, a passionate heat churns just beneath the surface.  Is it possible to fertilize the seeds […]

In cold and barren February, we notice the Sun’s brilliance burning a little longer into the afternoon, hinting at the warmth peeking just (months) around the corner.  Similarly, in the sometimes austere and modernist environs of the Walker Art Center, a passionate heat churns just beneath the surface.  Is it possible to fertilize the seeds of love at the Walker?  It’s possible, and evidence abounds.  Take, for example, this article describing James Turrell’s Sky Pesher as the best make out spot in town.  Kissing in the surrounds of ‘pigmented cast concrete?’  Very steamy.  One should take note, however, of the security camera watching every move.  No matter.  An adventurous lover knows that eyes are always watching, yet she boldly proceeds. 

Meet Ellie, one such bold adventurer.  The object of her affections is the roguish Scotty.  Her family-approved plan (Dad accompanied) was to ask Scotty to her high school’s Sadie Hawkins dance during a visit to the Walker.  Ellie had prepared a sign for her beau, a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre which implored, “Sweet Hearts? With Me, My Scotty” (sic).  Ellie presented me the sign to me in the snowy afternoon, asking where she could hang it. 

My colleagues and I discussed the matter,  chose a suitable place, and the sign was hung.  It was decided that I document the event, so I lay in wait for the magic moment. 

 

The tension was immense.  The unwitting Scotty approached and…

YES

 

Love prevails.

 

Note: Scotty was surprised by Ellie’s sign, but even more surprised by my prescence.  I explained, “I…uh.  I have to do this for work,”  then quickly fled.  Tender moments, cherished forever.

Expanding Access

In July 2009, the Walker Art Center celebrated the first of two years of funding from the MetLife Foundation for its Open Door Accessibility Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to be inclusive as possible when offering guided tours of our galleries and hands-on art-making experiences.  For this grant, our core audiences are people […]

full group-Irwin

In July 2009, the Walker Art Center celebrated the first of two years of funding from the MetLife Foundation for its Open Door Accessibility Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to be inclusive as possible when offering guided tours of our galleries and hands-on art-making experiences.  For this grant, our core audiences are people who are blind, people who are deaf, and people who have cognitive disabilities, including those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Existing access programs include:

  • Contemporary Journeys, tours and art-making for people with Alzheimer’s and their care partners
  • Touch Tours of the Walker collection (exploring objects through touch).
  • Verbal Description Tours, using descriptive language to convey visual details (also included in Touch Tours).
  • Multi-Sensory Tours, incorporating various props to allow visitors different points of entry to access artworks.
  • Large Print Exhibition Labels, available at the lobby desks.
  • Assisted Listening Devices for tours and events in the Cinema and McGuire Theater.
  • Qualified ASL interpretation upon request (four week’s notice required for tours and art labs, two week’s notice for Cinema and McGuire Theater events). 

We are also developing accommodations for these communities including: a Braille version of our visitor guide, tactile diagrams of select pieces in the Walker collection, new and more user friendly gallery stools and folding chairs, and a selection of audio described programs.

Members of local non-profit, arts, education, and disability communities along with Walker staff and volunteers have come together to form an access advisory group.  On January 12, our group met to discuss access initiatives at the museum.  We gathered in the Friedman Gallery, the site of Robert Irwin’s immersive installation Slant, Light, Volume.  It was important to meet and discuss accessibility in the context of a gallery, exactly where we intend to expand access.  As some of the members of the group are blind or have low vision, we began with a detailed verbal description of the installation.  A sign language interpreter was also on staff.

This was our first group meeting, so introductions came next, along with testimonials from people about memorable experiences with art museums.  This discussion was important in highlighting some of the individual needs and interests we are trying to address in the access initiative as well as the challenges we face.  The diversity of the group guarantees vibrant and broad discussions.

We continued by examining the grant goals and scope and existing programs, listed above.  We also mapped out future meetings and determined some essential details to be considered in our initiative, including:

  • Creating a welcoming environment
  • How to market our accessibility programming to the community
  • Where to turn attention for future funding

More info is to come.  Do you have suggestions on how the Walker can make the museum more accessible?  We’re listening!  Please post below.  Any questions or concerns you may have regarding accessibility may be directed to access@walkerart.org, or call the access line at 612.375.7564.  Coming next: an introduction to your accessibility group!

Eno Gets Freaky

In anticipation of the sold out Brian Eno and Jon Hassell conversation on Sept 22, here is a gem for your pleasure.  Eno performs here with legendary Roxy Music in the early 70’s, freaking out on tambourine and, er, keyboard?  Here he is rocking his crucially dangerous “vampire peacock” look.  Check out that skullet! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UODv3aCVxg Also, here’s one […]

Impressionable Youth

I really enjoyed Walker photographer Gene Pittman’s recent post about his portrait of skateboard videographer Ty Evans.  I immediately got excited when I saw that old school Powell Peralta ripper graphic, and I commented that the graphic was one of the images that got me interested in art.  As a fiery young dork imprisoned in […]

I really enjoyed Walker photographer Gene Pittman’s recent post about his portrait of skateboard videographer Ty Evans.  I immediately got excited when I saw that old school Powell Peralta ripper graphic, and I commented that the graphic was one of the images that got me interested in art.  As a fiery young dork imprisoned in small town USA, I was riveted by the danger and recklessness that the image represented.  As an added bonus, Ma absolutely HATED it.  It got me thinking about other images that inspired my creative path in life.  Here are some, in no particular order:

 Picasso's Guernica

barrel

Oh no, what have I started?  I had better stop now.  What are your influential images?  Post them in reply.

Spoonbridge: Kids Respond!

    We had a most excellent response to our “What’s On Your Spoon?” blog!  Kids were asked what they would like to see on the Spoonbridge in place of the cherry while it was removed for repair.  Many of our friends from the highly imaginative and sophisticated 12-and-under scene sent in their suggestions.  Because […]

 

 

"Abstract painting of spoon with a Cheerio on top." Vanessa H. age 4

"Abstract painting of spoon with a Cheerio on top." Vanessa H. age 4

We had a most excellent response to our “What’s On Your Spoon?” blog!  Kids were asked what they would like to see on the Spoonbridge in place of the cherry while it was removed for repair.  Many of our friends from the highly imaginative and sophisticated 12-and-under scene sent in their suggestions.  Because of the overwhelming response, we regret that we are not able to post all the great ideas here.  After much consideration, we present this selection of drawings and written responses.  Enjoy!

First off, let’s acknowledge some of the written responses:

“A big hunk of ice cream!” –Brandy

“Um, a big Cheerio?  Or maybe some yogurt.” –Vanessa (age 4)

“A birthday cake so everyone can go visit on their birthday” –Hannah, Grade 1

Food-based responses were definately the most popular.  Lots of smart kids immediately recognized the connection between the spoon and eating, and suggested many variations on this theme.  These kind of problem-solving skills will save us all in the future.  Great job, kids!  Keep it up.  Some unique responses worth noting:

“A spoon full of puppies!” –Zachary

“I say nothing goes with a spoon better than a FORK!” –Kim

Intriguing.  See more responses here.  Now, onto our visual learners:

"Pickels are good and green sticks out." Meher Ali

"Pickles are good and green sticks out." Meher Ali

 

"A snake...I know every kid will like it." Wendy Q.

"A snake...I know every kid will like it." Wendy Q.

 

"They are so prity, soft, cool, small, smart, creatov." Ayana L.

"They are so prity, soft, cool, small, smart, creatov." Ayana L.

"Lots of people eat cereles." Brisa C.V.

"Lots of people eat cereles." Brisa C.V.

"Frank Gehry's Sculpture" Anonymous

"Frank Gehry's Sculpture" Anonymous *editors note: Spoonbridge and Cherry was designed by Claus Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in 1988.

"It could be the first gold fish sculpture." Charley

"It could be the first gold fish sculpture." Charley

 
"...if the Jonas Brothers' pic was on top of the spoon, grownups will maybe think it will be kind of funny for them.

"...if the Jonas Brothers' pic was on top of the spoon, grownups will maybe think it will be kind of funny for them." Anonymous

 
"Milk for water...and on the spoon will be Cookie-Crisp cerele." Paris

"Milk for the water...and on the spoon will be Cookie-Crisp cerele." Paris

 
"Monkies are AWSOME!"

"Monkies are AWSOME!" Zachary

 
"Our state bird...Maybe it could even become a monument."  Cailin K.

"Our state bird...Maybe it could even become a monument." Cailin K.

 
"It will have a good look in replace of the cherry."  Islam Z.

"It will have a good look in replace of the cherry." Islam Z.

 
Much thanks to the Columbia Heights 5th Grade ELL class!  Keep posted for more calls for kids submissions here on the blogs.
 

 

 

 

 

What’s on your spoon?

In response to the public outcry over our recent removal of the Cherry from Spoonbridge and Cherry, we would like to invite artists and creative thinkers ages 12 and under to share their ideas of what they would place on top of the spoon while the cherry is on vacation. We will be posting selections […]

In response to the public outcry over our recent removal of the Cherry from Spoonbridge and Cherry, we would like to invite artists and creative thinkers ages 12 and under to share their ideas of what they would place on top of the spoon while the cherry is on vacation. We will be posting selections from these entries here on the Education and Community Programs blog. 

Please submit your drawings and concepts to:
The Hypothetical Spoonbridge Commission
Care of Elena Vetter
Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Avenue S

Minneapolis, MN 55403

Or via email to:
joseph.rizzo@walkerart.org

Deadline: March 20, 12 pm 

Update! March 27th, 12 pm

The Museum of Bad Art’s Michael Frank

Museum of Bad Art Today the Walker was visited by Michael Frank, the Curator-in-Chief of Boston’s Museum of Bad Art (MOBA). Since the early 90’s, the MOBA features “art too bad to be ignored™,” displayed in galleries in the basements of two community theatres in the Boston area, the “largest network of theatre-basement exhibition venues […]

Museum of Bad Art

Today the Walker was visited by Michael Frank, the Curator-in-Chief of Boston’s Museum of Bad Art (MOBA). Since the early 90’s, the MOBA features “art too bad to be ignored™,” displayed in galleries in the basements of two community theatres in the Boston area, the “largest network of theatre-basement exhibition venues on Earth.” The museum exhibits artworks with a playful ironic subtext. The hilarious website is a fascinating peek into the world of images found in thrift stores, garbage piles, yard sales, and even donations from artists themselves. Michael is in town to view and promote Masterworks: The MOBA plays , 6 commissioned plays based on 6 paintings from his new book The Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks. Being a Boston native myself, I was immediately excited to meet Michael and ask him some questions about MOBA.

What is your professional background?
I’m a professional musician and guitar player—Mike the Hatman. I do kids’ shows.

How did you become involved with MOBA?
In the early 90’s, the founders of the Museum of Bad Art decided to move on. There were a group of us who wanted to see it continue. I knew the founders because of a donation I made to the museum. I became Curator-in-Chief because I donated more art than anyone else.  Louise Reilly Sacco, the sister of one of the founders, became Permanent Acting Interim Executive Director.

What is the mission of MOBA?
We look for art created in earnestness, but where something went wrong in the execution or concept.

Which piece exemplifies the mission of MOBA?
That’s so hard to do, choose one piece. That’s like asking, “Which kid do you like the best?” I think Gilded Nude does a good job of showing what we’re about. You have to read the commentary, though—“The viewer is struck immediately by the youthful female subject’s oversized arm.”

Very tongue-in-cheek.
That’s MOBA.

What is your definition of “bad art?”
It’s difficult to be ironic about abstract art. Most art I would include in MOBA is representational, mostly with poor technique. Just because it has poor technique, though, doesn’t mean it automatically fits in at the MOBA. Some of the work has very good technique. It has to be a compelling image, one that I find interesting. Basically, if I say it’s museum-worthy, it is.

How do the artists at MOBA compare with “outsider” artists?
The works are very similar to Outsider Art or Art Brut. Some of the artists are also in many outsider art collections.

Some artists donate their works. How do the artists feel about being exhibited at MOBA?
A lot of artists do donate works. Some artists will use MOBA on their resumes. I follow the mission of MOBA when choosing the works. If the artist is too self-conscious or silly, trying to make bad art, I don’t accept it. Some artists are surprised when they find that their works are in MOBA. Only one person objected, the rest are happy about it for the most part.

MOBA exhibits mostly paintings and some sculpture. Have you considered including other media like film or performance art?
No. I thought about photography. Like abstract art, I find it hard to be ironic about photos. I do have a collection of music that I play at the galleries. One musician is Mary Schneider, Australia’s Queen of Yodeling. She yodels the classics. She yodels the melody to the William Tell Overture with an accompanying orchestra. She has fantastic technique.

What are people’s reactions to MOBA?
Almost everyone likes it. Some people don’t get it. What are people’s reactions to the Walker?

Mostly positive, some mixed opinions. The Walker shows so many different kinds of art, not many people like everything at the Walker. A lot of people know who we are and that we push the boundaries of the definition of art, so they expect that. Some people expect to see Van Gogh paintings and are mad when they find out we don’t show any.
I saw some works in your museum that I might consider for MOBA but like I said, it’s hard for me to be ironic about abstract art. I wondered, “Why is a canvas with a slit cut into it considered art?”

The Bryant Lake Bowl is currently showing Masterworks: The MOBA plays, performed by the Minnesota-based Commedia Bauregard theatre company. Interestingly, one of the plays is based on the painting Bone-Juggling Dog in Hula Skirt, by Minneapolis artist Mari Newman.

The Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks and other MOBA merchandise can be purchased from the MOBA website.
Like all reputable museums, MOBA happily accepts donations. Submissions should be made via email: curator@museumofbadart.org.