2,508. That’s the answer to Walker curator Andrew Blauvelt’s question about the total square footage of the nine murals and one artwork currently hanging in Walker galleries for our WALKER@75 anniversary celebration. That’s 2,508 square feet of imagery that I, as the Walker’s image specialist, produced or did the Photoshop compositing on:
• 1280 s.f. for the seven Selfie Station murals in Medtronic Gallery,
• 183 s.f. for a mural from a 1904 photo of the interior of T.B. Walker’s home, also part of Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections, and
• 367 s.f. for a mural of a 1962 photo of Allan Kaprow’s The Happening which took place in the Lehmann Mushroom Caves in St. Paul. This is part of the exhibition, Art Expanded, 1958–1978.
The nine murals took about 40 hours to print at Thomas Reprographics. Luckily, most of these images were not made with a digital camera. This enabled us to scan film or photographic enlargements at a high resolution, giving us larger files than most digital cameras are capable of. This came with a cost, however. The dust, scratches, fingerprints, stains, etc. took countless hours to remove. Scanning was done by Walker Visual Resources Specialist, Barbara Economon.
Be sure to visit the Selfie Station in the next four days. Those seven murals will be removed on Monday.
This first dance event held at the newly formed Walker Art Center featured the Modern Dance Group; choreographer Gertrude Lippincott, a champion of modern dance, stands next to the base of the stairs. Lippincott and Nancy Hauser were key to the creation of a vibrant dance community in the Twin Cities in the 1940s, and Walker director Daniel Defenbacher was eager to present events such as this Spring Dance Festival. He had recently been hired to run the Works Progress Administration (WPA)-funded regional art center, so supporting public art programs was part of his mission. The mural at the top of the staircase is Red River Ox Cart Drovers by Lucia Wiley, completed as part of the WPA Federal Art Project.
Before there was “performance art,” there was the ONCE Group, and director Martin Friedman invited them to the Walker to perform Kittyhawk (An Antigravity Piece). The Minneapolis Tribune reviewer described it as a “dull hoax,” an evening that included two men attaching a woman to a screen with masking tape; a blindfolded young woman walking a plank between two high ladders; two men rolling four bowling balls into a sack before a young woman got in also; an announcer giving the audience endless instructions on folding a piece of paper, and so on. Friedman recalled, “Their performances were highly physical, verging on perilous circuslike antics. This was an early event in my directorship and a scary one, I might add, since these young composers, playwrights, and musicians took chances. It was not that I hadn’t seen daredevil events before, but this was the first time I was responsible for them, all in the name of art.”
Dan Flavin’s Untitled (To Elizabeth and Richard Koshalek)—a tunnel filled with multicolored lights that bisected the gallery—was created for the exhibition that inaugurated the Walker’s new building in May 1971. Designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, the museum’s seven white-cube galleries were conceived specifically for the new kinds of works being made in the the late 1960s and early 1970s—art that had no place in typical galleries. The show, titled Works for New Spaces, marked a critical moment in the Walker’s history and, arguably, in the broader art world. Curated by director Martin Friedman, Works for New Spaces featured 22 works, 21 of which were special commissions, with artists making the work partly or wholly on-site. That practice is commonplace now, but this was the first time it had been done, at least on such a wide scale.
While on-site in April 1984 for the world premiere of Robert Wilson’s The Knee Plays (for which he wrote the score), David Byrne made this promo for the Walker’s Center Book Shop. That same year, he appeared with director Jonathan Demme at the Minneapolis premiere of Stop Making Sense at the Terrace Theater in Minneapolis. This concert movie featuring the Talking Heads live on stage was hailed by Leonard Maltin as “one of the greatest rock movies ever made.” Byrne returned to the Walker many times over the decades, including his appearance as the featured act at Rock the Garden 2004.
The image was both confounding and comical: a multi-armed creature with a computer for a head. The year was 1984, the site was the Walker Art Center’s Concourse, the hallway between the museum and the Guthrie Theater, and the artist—then the toast of New York’s graffiti and gallery scene—was Keith Haring.
Thirty years ago, from March 12 through 16, Haring was an artist-in-residence at the Walker, where he created the giant mural. Now existing only through photographic and video documentation, the orange and green wall piece was created to commemorate the completion of the Walker’s then-new underground education center, and remained on view through December 1985. In addition to Haring, artists including Skip Blumberg, Richard Lerman, David Moss, Mark Coleman, Susan Keiser, Donald Lipski, Chris Osgood, Debra Frasier, Jacques d’Amboise, and Isaac Bashevis Singer were invited to participate in the festivities.
This 1995 Walker exhibition featured work from rising stars in the British art world such as Liam Gillick, Dinos and Jake Chapman, Angus Fairhurst, Rachel Whiteread, Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, Gillian Wearing, and Sarah Lucas. Thirty years earlier, the Walker had mounted a show called London: The New Scene, which also presented work from the UK’s best and brightest artists, including Peter Blake, David Hockney, Allen Jones, Phillip King, and Bridget Riley.
Trisha Brown’s simple yet spectacular 1970 equipment piece was reconstructed at the Walker in the summer of 2008, with the performer standing on the roof of the Walker’s brick building facing the green space. He leaned forward until he reached a seemingly death-defying 90-degree angle to the building, then calmly walked down its side, absolutely parallel to the ground.
This performance was part of The Year of Trisha, a program of events honoring a career spanning more than 40 years, presented by the Walker Art Center, Northrop Dance Season, and the University of Minnesota Dance Program from April through August 2008. Highlights included an exhibition of Brown’s drawing, installations, and performance pieces at the Walker; reconstructions of several early site-specific performance works on the Walker campus; lectures, classes, workshops, and an evening of dance at Northrop.
Measuring 48 feet wide by 14 feet high, Macuga’s woven tapestry is based on a photo composite I created, using figures from the Walker Archives superimposed onto photographer Cameron Wittig’s image of the Lost Forty, a plot of land in northern Minnesota accidentally left uncut during the state’s lumber boom. Read more on the production of this tapestry here.
Now part of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ collection, the Chinese jade carving Jade Mountain Illustrating the Gathering of Scholars at the Lanting Pavillion (1784) was initially acquired by Walker founder T.B. Walker and exhibited in his gallery on Hennepin Avenue. Making a temporary return to the Walker for Art at the Center, the 640-pound piece is presented in the galleries in front of a photomural created using an 8 X 10 glass plate in Walker’s Archives. Jade Mountain is visible on a table in the background of the photo.
A photo mural documenting Allan Kaprow’s 1962 happening in St. Paul’s Lehmann Mushroom Caves—the subject of a Pioneer Press story last week—was shot by Pioneer Press photographer Spence Holstadt. The 35mm negatives are now owned by the Minnesota Historical Society. Eric Mortenson, with the Collections Management Department at the Minnesota History Center, was kind enough to escort the negatives to the Walker so that we could scan to our specs, in preparation for the work’s inclusion in Art Expanded.