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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!

Singing the Legacy of Sekou Sundiata

Sekou Sundiata – Voice and Passage Today, I ponder death. I am thinking of life’s inevitable end because it is gray and I have just returned from Paris and feel the demise of my own vacation, acutely (and remember some vain and heroic graves in Pere Lachaise cemetary that now lie in ruins or are […]

Sekou Sundiata – Voice and Passage

Today, I ponder death. I am thinking of life’s inevitable end because it is gray and I have just returned from Paris and feel the demise of my own vacation, acutely (and remember some vain and heroic graves in Pere Lachaise cemetary that now lie in ruins or are forgotten.) I am also thinking of death in relation to my lost compatriot, the poet Sekou Sundiata, whose life and work we celebrate and remember this week at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis.

Sekou created in voice – invisible exhalations of sound and meaning. In our time, voice can be preserved in analog and digital technologies. But constitutionally it is wind – ubiquitous, forceful and completely mysterious. Voice (as wind) shapes and moves us, wounding and restoring, animating and destroying. As long as we breath (easily) we give voice to ourselves and to others. Our (or at least my) beloved and hated remembrances are linked to these invisible currents of the lungs, throat and lips. We are upheld by those moments when we are nourished and sustained by the voices of care; of friendship; of understanding; of compassion: and often crushed by those breaths that carry the forces of hatred, contempt and violence. Spirit. Voice. Are we not wind too – ubiquitously banal – blown and blowing; arriving as departure?

These dark and light gifts of voice: a newborn’s cry; words of love and endearment from someone we long for; news of the passing of someone we cherish. Passing – always – wind and voice – words that wound, heal, reverberate and echo. Sounds carried in the head and heart; in the caverns of the body. Voice – inescapable – whisper or harangue. Voice as phantasm – mystery and mist – more allied to expiration than to form.

Unlike others who in print lie forever prone on a page; Sundiata rises holographically even now in his voice (listen to him on the web- linked here); ghostly returning to stand before us, nearly as gorgeous and tall as he was in life; convening and communicating in his crooner’s baritone; lulling in his clear tones – smoothing over the very depths he so expertly navigated. Making it all seem so easy (His Coolness forever preserved). Listen in. He tells how he temporarily escaped the inevitable through transplantation, accident and re-creation. In the end, by aligning himself with voice – perhaps he mastered expiration; escaped the final silence by refusing to just be written down.

We return this week to his work (an expiration of voice together in song and conversation); perhaps, to dance our own undoing; to be with him in passing.

* * *

Singing the Legacy of Sekou Sundiata: The America Project
Thursday, October 22, 2009 – Saturday, October 24, 2009
2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408 | 612.871.4444

Intermedia Arts is proud to host Singing the Legacy of Sekou Sundiata: The America Project Twin Cities, a series of community events including Art Treats lunches, citizenship dinners, a film screening and community sing, all designed to inspire and ignite our passionate ideals around citizenry, civic work, and active engagement in civic life. Together we will use art, music, conversation and laughter to discuss what it means to be an American today, and to dream about what it could mean in the future
sundiata1-600w

Soap Factory’s $99 Sale

Many locals who know the Walker also know the Soap Factory, given that both are devoted to contemporary art. Last year I was disappointed to have missed the Soap Factory’s annual fundraiser, the $99 Sale. What better way to fill my walls than by contributing to an organization that I strongly believe in? Besides offering […]

Many locals who know the Walker also know the Soap Factory, given that both are devoted to contemporary art. Last year I was disappointed to have missed the Soap Factory’s annual fundraiser, the $99 Sale. What better way to fill my walls than by contributing to an organization that I strongly believe in? Besides offering affordable art, the event is a novel and fun way to engage in questions of art and authorship, trusting your eye vs. buying a name.

People who are affiliated with the Walker, from exhibited artists and artists-in-residence to Walker staff members, have been contributing artists to the $99 Sale from its inception. I would imagine they get involved because they know how vital it is to support arts organizations in Minneapolis across the board; especially a place like this one, whose giant historic factory space allows artists to exhibit their work in an environment where they can also explore and collaborate.

Inside the Soap Factory

Courtesy Soap Factory

This year, rather than buying into the Soap Factory by purchasing a $99 work of art, I was invited to submit work for the sale. Suddenly I flipped from collector to artist; though I suppose I can be both at once. In deciding what kind of work to make, I felt compelled to dig up old and make new, creating a few pieces that were stimulated by different situations, experiences, and places, as well as other artists, from the well known Edward Weston to one of the Soap’s very own, Alison Burke.

The Soap fosters fresh ideas and makes the arts more pervasive and tangible in our community. Embrace the opportunity to make a significant financial contribution while gaining your very own 5 x7 inch piece of visual interest at the $99 Sale, this Friday. Besides the great support for the Soap and for artists, it will be of particular benefit to your pension for visual inspiration.

Courtesy Soap Factory

 

Also coming up at the Soap:

 

The Austerity Cookbook

September 5th – October 25th

 

The Haunted Basement

October 16th – November 1th

 

http://www.soap99.com/about.html

http://www.soapfactory.org/mission.php

The dancing flashmob on Hennepin Ave

I asked a few people yesterday if they were attending the flashmob outside the Walker, and the response was a pretty universal “People are still doing those?”. Yes, Yes they are. For those that don’t know what a Flashmob is, Wikipedia helps out: …a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform […]

I asked a few people yesterday if they were attending the flashmob outside the Walker, and the response was a pretty universal “People are still doing those?”. Yes, Yes they are. For those that don’t know what a Flashmob is, Wikipedia helps out:

…a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse. The term flash mob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via social mediaor viral emails, rather than those organized by public relations firms or for a publicity stunt.

The call for this flashmob went out on craigslist and was spreading around Twitter and Facebook. The instructions were simple:

The general idea, for all of those who don’t know, is to dance for 3 minutes to your iPod/MP3 but no music is allowed to be played out loud (just in your headphones). 
The point of this is that it has no point. Total pointless, random fun! 

At 8:00 PM on the dot neon colored poster board will be held up-that is your queue to start your tunes and start dancing for the cars driving by. You must silently dance to your iPod. Simple! 
At the end of 3 mins the signs will go up again, this is when we all calmly walk away from our “dance floor.” 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH8abQMO_PQ[/youtube]

There were about 50 people at the event. Most in the crowd seemed to be around high school or college aged, making me feel old. Most people had iPod earbuds in during the dancing, so there was not much interaction between participants, unlike the pillow fight, but everyone was smiling. As total pointless, random fun, it did the job. 

Waitingline also posted a video:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AphLxSkVoU[/youtube]

I saw about ten other people there taking pictures last night and talked to a few of them. If anyone has photos, adding them to the Walker Art Center flickr group would be swell.

Watch the inauguration, or visit the Walker? Have it both ways.

One of reasons to enjoy working at this institution is that there’s an understanding about certain things – such as the fact that many of us employees (not to mention Walker visitors) might be a touch giddy in our anticipation of the history taking place next Tuesday. So, thanks to the coordinated efforts among four […]

One of reasons to enjoy working at this institution is that there’s an understanding about certain things – such as the fact that many of us employees (not to mention Walker visitors) might be a touch giddy in our anticipation of the history taking place next Tuesday.

So, thanks to the coordinated efforts among four departments – Human Resources, New Media, Events and Media Production, and Visitor Services – the Walker will be showing the television broadcast of 44’s Inauguration in the Cinema, for employees and visitors both.

Note that the actual swearing-in ceremony, where President-elect Obama loses the “elect” qualifier, is scheduled for 11:00 am CST; right as the Walker opens, so arrive promptly to catch that event on the big screen (consider using the Vineland entrance, right next to the Cinema). All of the attendant Inaugural hoopla will also be screening throughout the day (the traditional parade should start about 12:30pm CST), so take a break from the Tetsumi Kudo / Text/Messages / Beuys, Flavin and Judd exhibition circuit and stop by the Cinema to revel in the Change underway, at long last.

Edited: Times corrected.

Turning the tables: Critics curate a show in Hopkins

mnartists.org’s Scott Stulen (project director) and Susannah Schouweiler (editor) are two of four critics selected to make an art show, rather than write about it. The Critics’ Show, running January 15 through February 22 at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, makes visible the personal tastes of local critics; it also subjects them to dissection, […]

mnartists.org’s Scott Stulen (project director) and Susannah Schouweiler (editor) are two of four critics selected to make an art show, rather than write about it. The Critics’ Show, running January 15 through February 22 at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, makes visible the personal tastes of local critics; it also subjects them to dissection, analysis, and, of course criticism, from their peers, arts, and the public at large.

A novel idea, no? Still, the critic in me can’t help but quibble with the format. The exhibition theme does not revolve around the art or the artists, but rather the curators (let’s leave out the fact that Stulen, for one, is a practicing visual artist as well). That would be fine if a single curator/critic were involved, but having four of them, each contributing one or two artists, makes this a group show of curators, not artists, if that makes any sense. Which it largely doesn’t – thus the quibble.

But there’s another novel aspect to the show, one that could detract from the above issue: At tomorrow’s opening reception, the quartet of curator/critics will briefly talk about their selections. Actually, the press release used the verb “defend,” perhaps to sound more provocative. But whether the critics defend, justify, extol, or merely explain why they chose what they did, it sounds promising. Perhaps this is something that should occur at more gallery receptions?

PS – if you’re hesitant to venture to Hopkins, get over it. Hopkins Center for the Arts is at the end of a quaint (but not overly cute) shopping street, with several options for dining and drinking; you can even catch a movie after the reception – the gallery is across the street from one of the few remaining bargain cinemas in the metro area.

“The Critics’ Show”
Opening Reception + panel discussion with artists and critics
January 15, 6 – 8 p.m. (panel discussion at 7pm)

Charles D. Redepenning Gallery at the Hopkins Center for the Arts 1111 Mainstreet
Hopkins, MN 55343

The Critic/curators:
Kate Iverson (A+E Editor, Secretsofthecity.com) selected Rudy Fig and Travis Stearns

Susannah Schouweiler selected Kao Lee Thao, Alex Kuno, and Alonso Sierralta

Scott Stulen selected Erik Ullanderson, Beatrix JAR<
Gregory J. Scott (Lead Arts Writer, Vita.mn) selected Ruben Nusz

The Cultural Olympiad: are the arts riding on sports’ coattails?

They’re still cleaning up in Beijing, but a couple of days ago British officials announced the initial Olympics-related spectacle for their 2012 games in London: a $75 million, pan-British arts and culture festival to kick off on September 26 and continue for almost four years. Key components of the Cultural Olympiad include a World Shakespeare […]

They’re still cleaning up in Beijing, but a couple of days ago British officials announced the initial Olympics-related spectacle for their 2012 games in London: a $75 million, pan-British arts and culture festival to kick off on September 26 and continue for almost four years. Key components of the Cultural Olympiad include a World Shakespeare Festival and a dozen “cutting-edge” art commissions to be selected from proposals made this fall.

Much has been made of the Brits’ ambivalence about hosting the Olympics, and at least one blogger seems only more bitter about this tacked-on arts extravaganza. “And here is London 2012 roping [the arts] into the patriotic bonanza, coarsening, travestying and betraying things that really matter,” writes Jonathan Jones, the Guardian’s arts writer.

One Cultural Olympiad launch event especially rankles him. Sebastian Coe, the former politician and chair of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, will take part in Work No 850 at the Tate Britain. This “sculpture” by Turner Prize winner Martin Creed involves runners sprinting, in four-hour shifts, through an 86-meter-long gallery devoted to neoclassical sculpture. (Coe won track and field gold medals in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.) Maybe it’s because Jones is a juror for the 2009 Turner Prize?

I can appreciate his crankiness, but it is quite something for a politician (and a conservative at that) to sprint repeatedly through a museum as part of an artwork. Imagine, say, John McCain arriving at the Walker to sing, slow-dance, or speechify as part of Tino Sehgal’s exhibition earlier this year.

Alas, McCain did not visit the Walker to see or be art. But our Twin Cities did just witness frenzy of cultural activity related to a large (if not quite Olympian) spectacle in St. Paul; in fact, even though the RNC circus has left town, many related projects and events continue at least through Election Day:

I Approve This Message films (scroll down to see submissions)

— an exhibition of portraits of People Who Speak the Truth, opening September 18

–a group show at Form+Content through October 4

— clever, witty, and/or scathing yard signs designed by your fellow citizens, which you can order or print for yourself.

(a full list is at the UnConvention.com)

The thing is, politicians love the arts insofar as they’re considered an economic booster. How many mayors and governors have read (or been briefed on) Richard Florida’s The Rise of Creative Class? So maybe Jones is defending the arts as valid in and of themselves, not needing to be tied to a sports spectacular four years hence. He might believe that the arts, rather than bringing new insights to mass spectacles, simply get overwhelmed by the main attraction and become a sideshow. But even if that’s the case, is it necessarily a bad thing?

(Speaking of art as sideshow, here’s a recent, highly controversial example.)

Float your freedom at the Liberty Parade

One of the slicker events The UnConvention is participating in is the Liberty Parade. The Liberty Parade is organized to be a counterpoint to the protests that are happening in the Twin Cities during the RNC: The central purpose of the Liberty Parade is to create a large scale parade through the heart of Minneapolis […]

Liberty Parade

One of the slicker events The UnConvention is participating in is the Liberty Parade. The Liberty Parade is organized to be a counterpoint to the protests that are happening in the Twin Cities during the RNC:

The central purpose of the Liberty Parade is to create a large scale parade through the heart of Minneapolis that is a CELEBRATION of shared values (liberty, freedom, justice, equality, free speech) rather than a partisan protest. The parade will culminate in a large gathering featuring music, speakers, art displays and activities. Participants will be answering the question “ what does liberty mean to you?” in the form of a float, group march, or another sort of mobile visual representation that suits their artistic needs.

Happening on August 31st, the approved route for the Liberty Parade runs through Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis, ending in Loring Park, just across the street from the Walker.

The parade is accepting applications for floats and groups that want to march.

Float your freedom at the Liberty Parade

One of the slicker events The UnConvention is participating in is the Liberty Parade. The Liberty Parade is organized to be a counterpoint to the protests that are happening in the Twin Cities during the RNC: The central purpose of the Liberty Parade is to create a large scale parade through the heart of Minneapolis […]

Liberty Parade

One of the slicker events The UnConvention is participating in is the Liberty Parade. The Liberty Parade is organized to be a counterpoint to the protests that are happening in the Twin Cities during the RNC:

The central purpose of the Liberty Parade is to create a large scale parade through the heart of Minneapolis that is a CELEBRATION of shared values (liberty, freedom, justice, equality, free speech) rather than a partisan protest. The parade will culminate in a large gathering featuring music, speakers, art displays and activities. Participants will be answering the question “ what does liberty mean to you?” in the form of a float, group march, or another sort of mobile visual representation that suits their artistic needs.

Happening on August 31st, the approved route for the Liberty Parade runs through Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis, ending in Loring Park, just across the street from the Walker.

The parade is accepting applications for floats and groups that want to march.

Reminder: Only three more days to make yard signs

There are only a few more days to create and submit signs for My Yard Our Message. Since the project started in May, we’ve gotten over 200 submissions, but there is plenty of room for more. It’s easy to make a sign, we’ve got templates and all you have to do is tell us a […]

There are only a few more days to create and submit signs for My Yard Our Message. Since the project started in May, we’ve gotten over 200 submissions, but there is plenty of room for more. It’s easy to make a sign, we’ve got templates and all you have to do is tell us a little bit about it when you submit the design.

Beginning July 1, you’ll be able to vote on signs, helping to curate the signs that will eventually be available for purchase and show up in some selected neighborhoods in St. Paul and Minneapolis. We’re working on the voting right now, and it’ll be super-easy to vote.

The deadline for submitting your designs is June 30th.

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