Blogs Centerpoints Around the Twin Cities

Alec Soth: “I want to photograph your dog”

For Angus, who came into my life from Border Collie Rescue of Minnesota this summer, this is a pretty big deal — appearing on a Walker blog. But it’s nothing compared to what it could be: he could star in a photo by Alec Soth.

For Angus, who came into my life from Border Collie Rescue of Minnesota this summer, this is a pretty big deal — appearing on a Walker blog. But it’s nothing compared to what it could be: he could star in a photo by Alec Soth.

The acclaimed Twin Cities–based photographer (and subject of a Walker solo show last winter) writes that he’d “happily photograph your dog if you are the winning bidder of a portrait session on our eBay Auction page.” But while artistic, the project is also altruistic: He’s donating the proceeds from the auction to his friend, writer, sometimes collaborator and dog lover Brad Zellar, to help cover his “mountain of medical bills.”

Soth reports that Zellar has been suffering from unexplained dizzy spells that have resulted in a fall requiring hospitalization and a battery of neurological tests. Zellar tells me he’d rather not go into his condition — suffice it to say he and doctors still aren’t quite sure what’s going on — but he’s grateful for the generosity of Soth and many others.

Among many other accomplishments, Zellar is the author of Suburban World: The Norling Photos, which features a forward by Soth, and Conductors of the Moving World, published by Soth’s Little Brown Mushroom imprint as a fundraiser for victims of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan earlier this year.

Of course, the winning bidder in Soth’s auction isn’t constrained to dog portraiture, but apparently both his and Zellar’s love of dogs made for a good pitch. I emailed Zellar to ask about Wendell — “a shelter dog as well as a Chilean Dasher, one of only three dog breeds ever to appear on the endangered species list,” he wrote back, I think facetiously (as I don’t see many references online to the breed) — only later to realize he’d already written this sweet ode to his canine pal, whom he puts to bed each night with a vow to again “try like hell to make some new magic” in the morning.

Update: Sorry, Angus, somebody else won the eBay auction — with a bid of $9,100.

Highpoint Center for Printmaking celebrates 10th anniversary with MIA show

Highpoint Center for Printmaking is ten years old this year, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is helping celebrate the occasion with the exhibition, Highpoint Editions: Decade One. In a video for the show, the MIA interviews master printmaker Cole Rogers, artist Todd Norsten, and executive director Carla McGrath (formerly of the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department), among others, about the center’s growing reputation for international projects that are complex and superbly executed. Also featured, the Julie Mehretu print Entropia, co-published by Highpoint and the Walker in 2004, following her Walker exhibition, Julie Mehretu: Drawing into Painting.

Julie Mehretu, Entropia, 2004

Highpoint Center for Printmaking is ten years old this year, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is helping celebrate the occasion with the exhibition, Highpoint Editions: Decade One. In a video for the show, the MIA interviews master printmaker Cole Rogers, artist Todd Norsten, and executive director Carla McGrath (formerly of the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department), among others, about the center’s growing reputation for international projects that are complex and superbly executed. Also featured, the Julie Mehretu print Entropia, co-published by Highpoint and the Walker in 2004, following her Walker exhibition, Julie Mehretu: Drawing into Painting. Norsten’s Highpoint piece is similar to one in the Walker collection; the text piece — a screenprint that mimics blue painter’s tape — reads “Ceaseless Endless Timeless Boundless,” whereas the Walker’s piece says, “Ceaseless Boundless Endless Joy.” The sentiment fits the Walker’s wishes for another decade — or ten — of success for our friends at Highpoint.

Gather by D’Amico’s Chef Josh Brown: best tastes of late summer

Coming on the heels of two new reviews for Gather (City Pages, Star Tribune),  this story was originally published in the September/October issue of Walker magazine; it’s accompanied by a recipe for chef Josh Brown’s raw-and-cooked vegetable salad. Besides the not-inconsiderable task of presiding over Gather by D’Amico, the Walker’s new restaurant that launched in June, chef Josh Brown […]

Coming on the heels of two new reviews for Gather (City PagesStar Tribune),  this story was originally published in the September/October issue of Walker magazine; it’s accompanied by a recipe for chef Josh Brown’s raw-and-cooked vegetable salad.

Besides the not-inconsiderable task of presiding over Gather by D’Amico, the Walker’s new restaurant that launched in June, chef Josh Brown has been tending a new vegetable plot at home—his first of any size since he was a kid in rural Montana. “Watching everything growing has definitely been a source of inspiration for Gather,” he says.

Recently he sat down to talk seasonal food and look toward the summer transition into fall. For Brown, tomatoes are “one last end-of-summer hurrah” that, as he points out, can be had until early October. Rather than fuss with this fruit, he prefers to let its sweetness stand out: “I just eat them with salt, pepper, and olive oil, or I make my wife’s favorite dish: pasta with fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan. Of course, it only works with excellent tomatoes.” Leeks, another late-summer favorite that the chef enjoys braising and pairing with swordfish, also become available in late summer. As greens like chard and kale come into their own, he uses a simple preparation he picked up from a fellow cook: “Add salt and a pat of butter to boiling water before blanching your greens—the butter sticks to them and they’re delicious served with chicken or beef.”

Given the locally sourced and seasonal focus of Gather, Brown develops new dishes monthly as certain ingredients reach their peak. But the raw and cooked salad endures on the menu—not just because it’s one of his personal favorites, but because its components change depending on what’s freshest. “As summer ends, we’ll be trading out the beans and asparagus, probably with Brussels sprouts and a root vegetable,” he says.

As these items come into season, Brown turns on the oven. “Parsnips, turnips, kohlrabi, beets, and the like are really good as a hash, diced up small and slowroasted,” he says. Kohlrabi in particular, a lesser-known member of the cabbage family, takes him instantly back to that large garden of his childhood. “It has always stood out in my mind—something about the way it grows, watching my mother and grandmother picking it. Food sparks so many vivid memories for me; it’s one of the reasons I love cooking.”

Josh Brown’s Raw & Cooked Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 2. As Brown notes, this salad can change based on what’s in season, so swap out and add in vegetables — the key is freshness. 

3      sliced asparagus spears, lightly blanched
3 oz   fennel and fennel fronds
2 oz      sliced radish
3 oz   sliced haricot vert, lightly blanched
1 oz    Hong Kong scallion
lemon vinaigrette (see below)
1 oz    ricotta salata
6 slices     soft boiled egg (see below)

Eggs: Cover eggs in cold water in a saucepan; bring to a boil and turn the heat off. Let stand for 7 minutes, then put eggs into an ice bath.

Lemon vinaigrette (makes extra)
1/2 c.      lemon juice
1T        lemon zest
1T       Dijon mustard
2T        minced shallot
1C       extra-virgin olive oil
3T        chopped basil

Mix lemon, zest,Dijon, and shallot in a bowl; whisk in the olive oil, then add basil and season with salt and pepper.

Plate set up: Salt and pepper the eggs and place in triangles on two plates. Toss all vegetables with vinaigrette and place on the plates; top with ricotta salata.

 

 

Images from “1,001 Chairs: An Observance in Honor of Silenced Voices”

Thanks to everyone who contributed their chairs and their presence to this observance on Tuesday.  It turned out to be a visually striking and heartfelt statement in support of artists around  the world who work under oppressive conditions where artistic freedom is compromised, including Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist who in June was released after more […]

Thanks to everyone who contributed their chairs and their presence to this observance on Tuesday. 

It turned out to be a visually striking and heartfelt statement in support of artists around  the world who work under oppressive conditions where artistic freedom is compromised, including Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist who in June was released after more than two months of imprisonment. A chair arrived from Ai Weiwei’s studio in Beijing — a stool the artist uses in his office, see below — to join the assembly of seating inspired by one of Ai’s own monumental artworks.

There’s good commentary about the event at the Eyeteeth blog, and at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, another chair from Ai — his Marble Chair sculpture from 2008 — is currently on view at the entrance to its Asian art galleries. 

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice Ride: Biking to and from the Walker

I recently moved to Minneapolis from Northfield (Cows, Colleges, and Contentment!), forty miles south of the Cities. I’m fortunate enough to have a car, but having had to deal more with cattle crossing than heavy, downtown traffic and confusing one-ways, city traffic can be a little overwhelming. Adding that to the fact that my bike […]

I recently moved to Minneapolis from Northfield (Cows, Colleges, and Contentment!), forty miles south of the Cities. I’m fortunate enough to have a car, but having had to deal more with cattle crossing than heavy, downtown traffic and confusing one-ways, city traffic can be a little overwhelming. Adding that to the fact that my bike is falling apart (that’s what $40 on Craigslist gets you), getting around Minneapolis for work and leisure isn’t always the easiest to do.

I just started interning in the PR/Marketing department at the Walker, about two miles from my apartment. It’s too far to walk, but I feel guilty driving such a short distance (not to mention having to find parking). So what’s a geographically-challenged guy to do?

Three months ago, Minneapolis introduced a new, really unique, really convenient way to get around. The city built 42 bike stations downtown, uptown, everywhere in between, and stocked them with 350 bikes. As of July, it’s been upped to 65 stations with 600 bikes. You can spot the bright green ‘Nice Ride’ bikes pretty much everywhere around the city, in use or parked at busy locations. The Walker has a station right out front, usually stocked with at least a half a dozen bikes. In the morning, I’ll grab one at the Lake & Humboldt station, turn onto Hennepin, and follow that a dozen blocks north to the Walker. It helps not only that drivers in Minneapolis are incredibly bike-aware, but that the cost of a ‘Nice Ride’ is reasonable. $30 gets you a month pass, or $60 for a full year, and every ride under a half hour is free. In all, it beats gas prices by a huge amount.

If the advertising for 'Nice Ride' is representational of their users, most riders sport bow ties, vests, or cardigans

If the advertising for 'Nice Ride' is representational of their users, most riders sport bow ties, vests, or cardigans

Nice Ride also just published their three-month update online (you can find it here), detailing overall usage, revenue, stats, complete with nifty pie charts. Turns out that the Walker is one of the most popular destinations for Nice Riders, many coming from my neighborhood but also from Whittier, downtown, and even as far away as Seward and University. There’s still plenty of comfortable fall days left to check out these bikes. If you’re close, you should definitely grab one and swing by the Walker. It’s hard to beat a day filled with art and biking.

A View from Three Feet Up: Eavesdropping on a Sculpture Garden tour

  Out in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden recently, I tagged along with a gaggle of field-tripping preschoolers from various day care centers in White Bear Lake. Following are outtakes from their spirited debates about the artistic representation of animals in the Garden. Kim, the group’s intrepid tour guide, started the conversation: “What do you think you’ll […]

 

Octopus, lion, giraffe, or spider: Which inspired Mark di Suvero's "Arikidea"?

Out in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden recently, I tagged along with a gaggle of field-tripping preschoolers from various day care centers in White Bear Lake. Following are outtakes from their spirited debates about the artistic representation of animals in the Garden.

Kim, the group’s intrepid tour guide, started the conversation: “What do you think you’ll see in the garden today?”

“I think we’ll see a cherry and spoon,” quipped Bella, 5, showing off copious advance research.

Jake, 4, stated that he had seen some dragonflies in his backyard recently.

“I’m three!” shouted Aiden, 3, before telling everyone to be quiet.

Kim moved the group into the Cowles Conservatory, past the fragrant Madagascar jasmines and New Guinea impatiens and into the exhibit space with Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish. “Can anyone tell me what they think of when they see this sculpture?” she asked.

“It’s flopping its way out,” said Caden, 5.

“He got one tail,” explained George, 2.

“What is this fish made of?” asked Kim.

“Likeable stuff,” answered Zander, 3.

Kim nodded in agreement. She told a story of Gehry’s grandmother, who used to come home from the market with a live fish and let it swim in the bathtub until dinnertime. That’s why Gehry likes to make art look like fish, she explained.

Continuing into the outdoor garden, Kim stopped the group at Deborah Butterfield’s Woodrow. “What do you think this animal is?” she asked.

Hannah was certain it was a giraffe. Multiple votes were cast for a deer. Someone suggested it was a moose. Kim shook her head. “Any more guesses?”

“It’s a giraffe,” said Aiden.

Kim provided a hint: “It’s something you might find on a ranch or farm.” A debate followed regarding the constitutions of horses and cows. An agreement was reached. Horse.

The group migrated to see Mark di Suvero’s Arikidea, which Kim alleged to be another animal—but what kind?

“It’s an octopus, because it has lots of legs,” said Nick, 6. Caden thought it had a head like a lion. Aiden thought it was a giraffe. Hannah guessed correctly: a spider.

Seven of the children climbed onto Arikidea’s giant platform and got a push on the swing. Joni, the day’s organizer, brought out her camera. Bella instantly flashed a movie-star grin, displaying missing front teeth.

Responding to an inquiry from Aiden, Kim expressed regret over the paucity of elephants in the garden.

“Can we go see a giraffe?” he asked in reply. Kim looked apologetic.

 

Help us preserve your Sculpture Garden! Visit garden.walkerart.org and sign up for the Action E-List to receive e-mail updates (only a couple, we promise) on how you can help at times when it is most needed.

What does it take to spiff-up the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden?

  During Minnesota’s 2010 legislative session, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board—with the full support of the Walker Art Center—made a request to the legislature for funding to restore and preserve the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The project did not make it through the bonding process this year for a variety of reasons, but it did […]

 

During Minnesota’s 2010 legislative session, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board—with the full support of the Walker Art Center—made a request to the legislature for funding to restore and preserve the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The project did not make it through the bonding process this year for a variety of reasons, but it did draw attention to the need for a renovation of this 22-year-old gem, a centerpiece of the Minneapolis park system. It also stirred up a group of grassroots supporters—both park and art lovers—who sent a clear message to legislators.

So what’s going on with the Sculpture Garden that needs spiffing up? It’s not the sorts of things that make for great photo ops, like brightening the cherry atop Spoonbridge and Cherry with fresh coats of paint, or Windexing the mirrored scales of Frank Gehry’s fish in the Cowles Conservatory.

In fact, the work involved in renovating a landscape or garden is most always quite subtle — less visible or even invisible — but it’s nonetheless important, even crucial. The pictures here zoom in on some of the ways that more than two decades — and the enjoyment of more than 7 million visitors — have taken their toll on the Garden.

For starters, the linden trees in the image at left would be trimmed to open up views and create the kind of experience intended by the original design. Another experience involves what’s underfoot: If you’ve walked around the Garden in the springtime after the snow has melted or after a heavy rain, you’ve probably noticed how muddy and squishy it is. That’s because the green spaces currently lack adequate drainage and the pathways were originally installed with baseball diamond clay. 

A renovation would include a cistern to collect water runoff so the Park Board can keep the Garden watered in a sustainable way, plus pathways would be resurfaced and replaced with porous materials that would dry more quickly. (While the current odds are already negligible, chances of catching an errant baseball are reduced as well.) Other work on the pond and lawns would prevent storm water pollution, improve filtration and reduce off-site drainage and overall water use.

 

Many trees in the Garden, including the arbor vitae "walls" of its four "galleries," are at the end of their natural life cycles.

The same goes for some of the evergreen border trees.

Granite slabs used for paving, walls, and steps need re-setting, replacement or repair.

Existing wheelchair ramps would be made compliant with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (the Garden opened in 1988), with wider clearance and a gentler slope.

Lighting for evening strolls will be brighter and more energy efficient, new emergency call stations will be installed, and the HVAC/mechanical systems in the Cowles Conservatory would be updated, drastically reducing energy use (and operating expenses). And dying or dead trees would be replaced with live, healthy ones. (Hey, why not?)

Even if you’re not a landscape architect, HVAC technician, or soil specialist, you can help restore the Garden by becoming an advocate. We are building our initial group of supporters into a strong, statewide collection of voices who can help by doing a couple easy things — like contacting legislators at times when it will make the biggest impact (we’ll cue you). Find out more here, and  sign up for the Action E-List today.

Robert Bergman, Alec Soth, and contemporary portraiture

    Robert Bergman: Portraits, 1986-1995 opened at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts a few days ago, following a pretty amazing triple-play last fall, with Bergman shows at the august National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; P.S. 1, the MoMA affiliate in Queens devoted to contemporary art; and the Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea. Among a host of glowing […]

 

Untitled, 1989; © Robert Bergman

 

“Adelyn, Ash Wednesday, New Orleans, Louisiana”; 2000; Alec Soth

Robert Bergman: Portraits, 1986-1995 opened at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts a few days ago, following a pretty amazing triple-play last fall, with Bergman shows at the august National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; P.S. 1, the MoMA affiliate in Queens devoted to contemporary art; and the Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea. Among a host of glowing reviews (see below) and compelling profiles of the Minneapolis-raised Bergman (who turned down a show at the MIA in 1968 and has worked almost entirely outside art-world circles until now), critic Andy Grundberg sparked a controversy in the current Aperture magazine when he concluded that ”  … Bergman is out to convince us that he is a great photographer. Unfortunately, he has appeared a half-century too late.”It wasn’t long before Alec Soth called out a “photo critic rumble!” on his Little Brown Miscellanea blog, pointing to Aperture’s Exposures blog, where David Levi Strauss countered Grundberg with the title of his response, claiming that Bergman is “Right on Time.” Reading the review, the response to the review, Grundberg’s counter-response, and the commentary from others is a great primer on some key issues related to contemporary photography.

Which brings us back to Soth. It’s too bad the Bergman show ends (August 22) before From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America opens (September 12); it would be fun to zip between the MIA and the Walker and compare the formidable portraits by these two photographers.

That said, would it spark another photographic controversy to claim that the average art fan might conduct such an exercise just as well or even better with a dual-monitor setup? (To be clear — a display of considerably higher quality than is presented on this page.) Photographs reproduced in books are one thing — in a recent interview related to his show here, Soth said “A picture in a book is often nearly as good, and sometimes better, as a picture on a wall” — but has a similar argument been made for photographic display on computers? Notwithstanding the shift to digital photography over the past 15 years or so, that idea seems more germane than ever with the impending iPad revolution.

Robert Bergman’s work reviewed in (among many other places):
The Wall Street Journal
The Washington Post
Brooklyn Rail

Nice Ride MN Kiosk Arrives

The Minneapolis bike share program, Nice Ride Minnesota, will launch Thursday. The Walker just got its bike station a few days ago.  All it needs is bikes! It’s located on Hennepin Avenue, near Groveland Terrace. Maybe you’ve noticed these kiosks popping up around town too. I saw one at Birchwood Cafe in the Seward neighborhood […]

The Minneapolis bike share program, Nice Ride Minnesota, will launch Thursday. The Walker just got its bike station a few days ago.  All it needs is bikes! It’s located on Hennepin Avenue, near Groveland Terrace. Maybe you’ve noticed these kiosks popping up around town too. I saw one at Birchwood Cafe in the Seward neighborhood and another at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD).

This bike share program is ideal for short trips. Say, you live in the Seward area and on a gorgeous Saturday morning you decide to enjoy brunch at Birchwood Cafe and then check-out a Nice Ride bike and head over to the Walker to partake in Open Field activities. You check-in the bike at the Walker kiosk and chill on the hill and grab a beer. Then it’s time to meet friends for dinner on Eat Street, so you check-out another bike and ride on over to MCAD. There are so many choices, but you decide on Pancho Villa for its tasty piña coladas (ask for it minus the whipped cream) and nachos.  It’s getting late (you’re no longer a spring chicken…you’re almost 30) so you return to MCAD and check-out your last bike of the day and head on home and drop-off the bike at Birchwood. What a perfect day.

To figure out how to use Nice Ride, visit http://www.niceridemn.org. Subscriptions are super reasonable and once you subscribe, all 30 minute and under rides are free, so bike fast.

Bits & Pieces: art & inspiration

Inspiration as taste sensation: Many a diner has been delighted by “Spoon, Cube, and Cherry,” the dessert at the Walker’s 20.21 that pays tribute to the Spoonbridge and Cherry centerpiece in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In similar fashion, San Francisco pastry chef Caitlin Williams Freeman has gone on a bender with the art collection at the San Francisco […]

“Michael Jackson & Bubbles” by Jeff Koons, with “Jeff Koons White-Hot Chocolate” dessert by Caitlin Williams Freeman

Inspiration as taste sensation: Many a diner has been delighted by “Spoon, Cube, and Cherry,” the dessert at the Walker’s 20.21 that pays tribute to the Spoonbridge and Cherry centerpiece in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In similar fashion, San Francisco pastry chef Caitlin Williams Freeman has gone on a bender with the art collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Along with a Mondrian cake and the slyly named Koons-inspired dessert drink above, she’s concocted “works” for SFMOMA’s coffee bar that include a plate of cookies which, before consuming, you assemble into your own mini Richard Serra sculpture; a fudgsicle shaped like an Ellsworth Kelly sculpture; a Richard Diebenkorn parfait; and more. It’s a treat just to look at the spread on Readymade magazine’s website. Should it get you dreaming of a future career in pastry, browse the ArtsConnectEd website and tell us below which Walker artworks you’d turn into delectable edibles. (Dessert image above by Charlie Villyard.)

What inspires Alec Soth? The photographer, whose first survey opens at the Walker in September, just uploaded the second video for his “Continental Picture Show,” which is part of the New York Times’ Opinionator blog. People are, accordingly, quite opinionated about it. As part of its new MN Original program, Twin Cities Public Television also recently broadcast an interview with and a segment on Soth, which includes Walker curator Siri Engberg.

One city inspires another: Minneapolitans take a lot of ribbing for supposedly being slaves to New York — but today’s Wall Street Journal has a story about how the first-ever New York Gallery Week was inspired by one art dealer’s visit to the “Minneapple” –and The Quick and the Dead exhibition at the Walker:

“The week was conceived by Casey Kaplan—owner of an eponymous art gallery on West 21st Street—after experiencing the buoyant vibe in Minneapolis, where industry types congregated to see the Walker Art Center’s exhibit “The Quick and the Dead” last year.

‘You really felt a community in Minneapolis,’ Mr. Kaplan said. ‘A lot of gallery owners had flown in. There were people from MoMA. Every one was enthusiastic and wanting to be in the moment. It was such a contrast from New York.’ “

So was it just about New Yorkers transplanting themselves, for a moment, into our idyllic Midwestern metropolis, or is something more going on? Read the full story here.

Inspired to show off: On another photographic note: a couple of weeks ago, we invited people to step into David Lamelas’ spotlight, on view in The Talent Show exhibition, for a portrait. Check out all of the results here.

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