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Curator in 10 // Philip Bither

What can be learned about the unique lives of contemporary curators in just ten minutes? The new series Curator in 10 surveys art curators across disciplines in search of deeper understandings of emerging art scenes, audiences, and curatorial practices. This week, Walker intern Sean Donovan sits down with Senior Performing Arts Curator Philip Bither. Sean […]

Bither (center) with Dessa (left) and P.O.S. (right) at Rock the Garden, 2012. Photo: Greg Beckel

Bither (center) with Dessa (left) and P.O.S. (right) at Rock the Garden, 2012. Photo: Greg Beckel

What can be learned about the unique lives of contemporary curators in just ten minutes? The new series Curator in 10 surveys art curators across disciplines in search of deeper understandings of emerging art scenes, audiences, and curatorial practices. This week, Walker intern Sean Donovan sits down with Senior Performing Arts Curator Philip Bither.

Sean Donovan: So, we’re here to talk curating. Based on your experiences, how much of curating is intuition and how much an analytical exercise?

Philip Bither: It’s hard to talk about curating live performance as exclusively an analytical exercise. There’s an analytical part of it, but I think the majority is more based around intuition, passion, and an informed knowledge. But the key in it all is mission. In my instance, it’s mission of one’s institution. I, of course, have to interpret that, but it defines much of what I go to see and what I find inspiring. Luckily, the mission of our institution lines up with my personal passions and tastes, so it’s a combination of all of those things.

Donovan: Being a curator must be a deep challenge but also a unique privilege – to be a storyteller, a contextualizer, an advocate, and, some would say, a gatekeeper. Just as visual artists exhibit their work for audiences, you exhibit your seasons. Do you ever feel intimidated or honored by this privilege?

Bither: Both. I feel tremendously honored. It’s a really big responsibility, and I try to honor that by taking it really seriously around the choices I need to make as well as how we shape the experience for audiences. I can feel intimidated because, as I’ve told other people, you sometimes feel like you’ve invited a thousand really good friends to a party, and some nights they very well could have a terrible time, and I feel very responsible for what their experience is. Not that the work we choose should be accessible and safe, because that’s not our mission. But, it should be something meaningful for people.

Donovan: How do you pick up on whether something has reached its expiration date… like a type, a style, a theme, or even an artist? How do you know when something feels outdated or overdone?

Bither: With artists, if they’re not challenging themselves any longer – if they’re repeating themselves — that feels like it’s time for us to step away. With regard to art movements and styles, you just feel it. Seeing work all the time, traveling a lot, you just start to feel you’ve seen this work before. Also, if things have gravitated to a mainstream, it feels like it is no longer our place: if it’s been completely embraced commercially or it’s become something that’s embraced by television or other mainstream media and is written about in glossy magazines or popular websites. Our job is to be finding and supporting work that doesn’t yet have that attention.

Donovan: So, that’s the intuition part?

Bither: Yeah, although some of that is pretty obvious. But the issue of what is or isn’t dated can be dangerous too, because the flip side of that is what’s “trendy” or what’s “of the moment.” So, one tries to not just dismiss work because it feels like the style of work comes from an earlier time.

Sean Donovan (left) with Philip Bither (right)

Sean Donovan with Philip Bither

Donovan: Instead of only featuring the “new” and “upcoming,” the Walker makes a point of bringing performers back multiple times. Can you think of any other contemporary performance centers or venues which take the entirely opposite approach: to exclusively feature emerging groups? Could the Walker ever do this?

Bither: In the way I’ve programmed the past Performing Arts seasons, balance is a fairly important element, in my mind. We have selected a handful of artists who we have supported multiple times. But, if you look at the season in any given year, this one included — it’s about a third, a third, a third — equally split. This season actually has closer to half of artists who have never been to Minnesota, who we’ve never presented. Then the rest is a mix of artists who have been here numerous times and some who are coming for their second or third time. That balance feels right to me.

Donovan: Are there any presenters that disregard balance and solely program fresh and upcoming works?

Bither: None that I could point to immediately. There are a lot of festivals of new performance work that make it a priority to bring mostly new voices. I think that may be more fitting for a performance festival that has a frame that’s interested in the brand new and the emerging artists at all time as a core principle. There are festivals dedicated to emerging artists. But I think there is something very special and rare for communities to have the chance to witness the creative development of a handful of seminal creative figures of our time. It is, of course, tremendous and so appreciated by contemporary artists to feel they have a few anchors nationally — homes away from home.

Donovan: Does it ever feel like it’s too balanced, with artists — like Bill Frisell, for example — who people know and keep coming back?

Bither: Definitely. Inevitably, you get close to artists, and you continue to be intrigued by their journey, and I think when I leave someone else will have their hosts of artists. So, you could argue it’s good for curators to rotate out. But, I think we regularly make conscious choices about letting people go, which isn’t always easy — or waiting for the right moment to invite them back. Bill is an interesting case. He is a rare musical artist who continues to dramatically evolve and who is constantly challenging himself with new collaborations and interdisciplinary projects that often involve leading film- and video-makers, designers, and others. He develops programs conceptually, too, at a level which few other composer/instrumentalists that I am aware of do. That being said, it’s been three or four years since he’s done anything with us. There is one unlikely collaboration I have proposed to him that he’s very excited about. I hope it might happen some year soon, but I’m not at liberty to say more about it now!

Bither (left) with artist duo Eiko & Koma (right) Photo: Andy Underwood-Bultmann

Bither (left) with artist duo Eiko & Koma (right) Photo: Andy Underwood-Bultmann

Donovan: I’ve certainly noticed your interest in jazz, or jazz-inspired, music shows. Where does your enthusiasm for this originate? And, what can you say about the vitality of jazz today in our culture?

Bither: Well, jazz is a challenged form, but I think the notion that “jazz is dead” — something we’ve heard for thirty years — is overstated. It’s a music that is fluid and mobile. Most of the adventurous “jazz” artists I love the most refuse to use the term to describe their music. It’s a music that continues to morph and become more global and more connected to contemporary musical aesthetics. Much of what we do wouldn’t be defined in normal jazz presenting circles as even jazz. But, it has its roots in improvisation and some historical ties to jazz music. You know, it was a part of my early influences and inspirations. And, I think it’s sometimes unfairly written off as “of a certain era” and not doing much of interest anymore. So, when we involve ourselves in jazz, it’s done with an eye toward the pockets, which I would argue are significant, of continued relevance, or innovative. But again, we may only do two or three jazz-based projects (for lack of a better term) in a season of 12 to 15 music programs, which span contemporary classical, electronic, indie rock, new global sounds, and experimental music — terms which are equally contested and blurry.

Donovan: Let’s talk about selling a season. On the one hand, the performances often need to be “up and coming.” On the other, you have to make sure audiences come and see them. Has your sensitivity to what’s popular fluctuated during your time curating?

Bither: I don’t know. I’d like to say to myself, and to others, that we don’t take the question of a project’s saleability into account until after we make the commitment. But then, we feel our obligation is to find the audience for something that people have never heard of or maybe don’t even have familiarity with the art form. But, I think it’s inevitable that one is influenced when they have a whole marketing and development team, all of whom want things that people know. However, I fight against that tendency, and we very much pride ourselves that we are able to generate audiences for artists and live artworks that the public really doesn’t know at all. I am grateful that our crack marketing and PR staff is always up for the challenges we present them.

Donovan: Perhaps it’s about giving audiences something to latch onto?

Bither: Yes, and providing some relevance to broader circles — those outside of the art world, or at least people who aren’t working artists. But, I would say that we have an incredible luxury of not depending on box-office revenue much at all, really, or as intensely as other performing arts organizations and music venues. It’s 20 percent of our budget in an annual basis. Most presenting live performing art centers want to have 70 to 80 percent of their revenue coming from the box office. So, we really have the luxury to choose people for artistic reasons, artists that might not sell a lot of tickets. We know we can generate a certain amount of energy just because we’re “the Walker” with a longstanding reputation, and people have come to trust a lot of the choices we have made for the performing arts season. We try not to take that for granted and, at the same time, try not to let box office potential restrict us. If you look at any season, more than half of the events really seem unlikely things that people will go to. (Laughs). Of course, it makes it easier if we can create hooks to make it feel compelling or relevant. Because I studied journalism, I think a curator’s job is, in part, is to tell the story of unknown artists and to construct the driving narratives and hooks for the media and for audiences. So, part of it means I serve as a kind of advocate or a promotional person on behalf of artists. Still, the equation isn’t finished unless you have at least some audience there. And that’s the difference with other art forms. I feel it’s unfair to artists to commit in presenting them and then not really care whether people come or not. And, there are circles where performance curators work that way. I come from a different place.

Donovan: I imagine you have to use the word “innovative” a lot in your job.

Bither: Yeah, too much.

Donovan: Does it ever lose relevance? How do you work around that? Just try to use other ways of describing things?

Bither: Yes, we do, and I don’t really have a good answer for that. “Fresh.” “Unseen before.”

Donovan: Depends on the project?

Bither: Yeah. The question also becomes: innovative for whom? I think that’s a challenge as a curator as well. If you’re concerned about audiences or what people feel they are prepared to want to see, then you realize you’ve seen ten times as much or twenty times as much as a lot of the people you’re inviting to see. So, what feels derivative to you might feel incredibly new and fresh to others. I try not to worry too much about those things because I feel the job of an international center like the Walker is to find the most unusual and inventive new forms and new work that are within our spheres. I don’t know if that quite answers your question— it’s a good one.

Philip Bither (right) with

Philip Bither (right) with a group of young artists (left) at a Buddhist Temple in Magelang, Central Java

Donovan: I get the sense that your job combines many duties of visual arts curators — research and writing on art theory — with those of live performance producers — an awareness of what’s happening in the “real world” and an expertise to present them. What is it like to have a foot in each world–the study and the presenting?

Bither: I often feel like I am maintaining a split personality, almost two separate identities or jobs. That being said, I mostly consider my role as a curator in the classic sense of “to care for” an artwork. In the realm of live performance, working for an institution dedicated to new work, this is directly tied to caring for the artists themselves. What is essential in this regard is to understand as deeply as possible the context and history of an artist’s work, their influences, what artistic movements their work is part of or is attempting to reject. I am not that interested in theory in the abstract, absent its relationship to living, breathing artists and how they make their work. In live performance, a curator serves as an intermediary between an artist, the public, and the media, including sometimes those who are driving critical discourse in art world, whether they are journalists, historians, or scholars. It is essential in our contextual work and the ways we present artists that we try to get the historical framing of an artist’s work right. Personally, I prefer serving as a live intermediary directly with an artists, whether it is through facilitating dialogue with a creator in front of a public or in front of a video camera, verses writing about the work, although a do a fair amount too. It is unavoidable.

Donovan: How would you describe the curatorial lens you look through? Which art histories or theories do you care about?

Bither: I don’t ascribe to a particular single art historical theory or even telling the story of contemporary art through one particular history. I think one needs to read as much as possible, stay open to different interpretive lenses, and be willing to alter one’s perspective. I am wary of grounding one’s work around a single theory. The world of global creative work is far too diverse and expansive for that. The Walker has long been proud of rejecting one simple (usually Eurocentric) story of modernism or post-modernism. That is why in the galleries we have long shown global art movements as equally valid threads of art development. That being said, I do find myself drawn to performance writers like Claire Bishop and in the world of arts journalism, I think Andy Horwitz at Culturebot has played an important role in raising questions about the visual art world’s sometimes problematic, or at least limited, approach to live performance.

Donovan: Last question: So, I grew up here in Minneapolis, and I think I’m biased because I just imagine all the other big cities to have way cooler contemporary performances going on — like LA or New York or Berlin. From your perspective, should I be thinking that?

Bither: I don’t know. I think that this is a pretty unique city for the ecology of work that happens locally and that’s brought in nationally and internationally. Certainly, as mid-size American cities go, I feel we are a special place. Knowing your interests, I think you would be terribly disappointed if you spent time in the top 25 American cities outside of New York, San Francisco, Chicago, LA, and Seattle. Most other places feel like you’re lucky if you get three or four interesting things in a year. Of course, there is classical music and there’s modern dance, occasionally. But, there is not a culture of contemporary performance and dance work or ambitious experimental music in most American cities. Yes, there is a much more diverse and vibrant scene in Berlin and in New York. I think it’s arguable about San Francisco and Los Angeles. I think in LA there are certain types of art forms that are really vibrant and exciting. But, there are other forms, disciplines, that to my mind are less interesting, even, than Minneapolis.

While I don’t want to sound too much like a booster, I think we are in one of those four of five most interesting cities for contemporary performing arts in America, through the mix of local and imported work.

Questions for Art Museums in the Information Age

“With the massive social, demographic, technological, and economic shifts that have been radically transforming global society in recent decades, art museums around the world have been managing in environments of significant change,” writes Walker executive director Olga Viso in the introduction to a new white paper. “Struggling with issues of audience relevance, leadership and financial […]

Aspen

“With the massive social, demographic, technological, and economic shifts that have been radically transforming global society in recent decades, art museums around the world have been managing in environments of significant change,” writes Walker executive director Olga Viso in the introduction to a new white paper. “Struggling with issues of audience relevance, leadership and financial sustainability, museum directors around the world are boldly questioning the future of the art museum.”

That paper — “The Art Museum Today, in Discussion” (pdf), authored by LACMA director Michael Govan — is the result of a March 2013 convening in Aspen, organized by Viso, that brought together 17 museum directors from around the globe, as well as six “outside provocateurs,” to wrestle with the issues museums face today and into the future. The seminar follows work done in 2012 by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) Futures Task Force, also chaired by Viso, which identified four key issues facing museums:

• changing nature of audiences (demographics and expectations);
• relevance and content of mission statements;
• sustainability of institutional financial models and finding alternative funding/revenue streams;
• sharing authority (tensions between curatorial voice and public voice).

Summarizing the convening’s findings, the paper “reflects a strong embrace of the diversity of museums, the challenges they face, and propositions for their respective futures,” as Viso writes.

Read the paper or read the executive summary of the March convening.

 

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.

 

 

Dwell: A Photo Caption Contest

To our wonderful, funny, and sarcastic readers and visitors– This month, Dwell features the Julie Snow-designed home of the Walker’s very own Andrew Blauvelt and Scott Winter. The first thing I did after I viewed the slideshow (or maybe even before) was pop over to the blog Unhappy Hipsters, whose sole purpose is to write […]

"Best to keep the gingers behind bars."--Unhappy Hipsters blog

To our wonderful, funny, and sarcastic readers and visitors–

This month, Dwell features the Julie Snow-designed home of the Walker’s very own Andrew Blauvelt and Scott Winter. The first thing I did after I viewed the slideshow (or maybe even before) was pop over to the blog Unhappy Hipsters, whose sole purpose is to write tongue-in-cheek melancholy narratives for the photos in modern home design publications. I was rewarded with the picture and caption above.

Now it is your turn to show off your caption-writing prowess. Take a look through the entire Blauvelt/Winter residence slideshow (shot by Dean Kaufman), pick an image, and write a caption. Leave a comment with your contact information, a link to which photo you are captioning, and your caption.

The winner receives two tickets to the Yves Klein After Hours Preview Party on October 22.

I think this one has some possibilities:

Play nice and happy writing!

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!

Getting married in James Turrell’s Sky Pesher

In March, my girlfriend and I decided to get married. Neither of us were keen on the idea of a long engagement and a complicated wedding planning process. After some consultation with family on availability, Memorial day weekend was our time. The short timeframe (just over two months) left us with more limited options for […]

In March, my girlfriend and I decided to get married. Neither of us were keen on the idea of a long engagement and a complicated wedding planning process. After some consultation with family on availability, Memorial day weekend was our time.

The short timeframe (just over two months) left us with more limited options for location. We initially looked at getting married in the Cowles Conservatory, but it was booked for the dates we wanted. While scouting other locations in the Sculpture Garden and Loring Park, the idea of having the wedding in James Turrell’s Sky Pesher occurred to us. The seed was perhaps planted by the Skyscape/Soundscape concert series happening in Sky Pesher over the summer. After checking with our registration department, we had the OK to get married in the artwork.

Getting married Tunnel/Aisle

Our photographer, Kimberlee Whaley sent us a few initial pictures, which I’ve posted to flickr. And some of my new family also blogged about our wedding and posted photos.

We were initially worried that 30 people would be close quarters, but thankfully everyone was able to sit on the benches surrounding us during our ceremony. To the best of my knowledge, no one has been married in Sky Pesher before. We liked it as a location for the wedding. My wife and I are not religious, but there is a sanctity and spirtuality to the space. My wife is studying to become a landscape architect, so a connection to the earth is a big part of both of our lives right now.

After the wedding ceremony, we quickly ducked into the Sculpture Garden and got the necessary Spoonbridge and Cherry wedding shot, with jumping:

Spoonbridge and cherry wedding jumping

We kept things relatively casual and fun, having a delicious dinner at Azia, followed by bowling at Memory Lanes. In between dinner and bowling, a number of our guests slipped back to Sky Pesher to see the lights change at sunset:

Light show in Sky Pesher

Photo by Lisa Longley

Despite the fact that we got married there, my wife and I had never seen a sunrise or sunset in Sky Pesher. After all our guests had left town on Monday and we came back to see it for ourselves. The optical illusion of the sky descending into the space is subtle, but stunning, and it was the perfect way to cap a great weekend.

eavesdrop 07.02.08

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5eHlW2AQgs[/youtube] Without a vehicle like “American Idol” to discover the next great voice-over talent, programmers at the Walker turned to their own colleagues to pluck the voice for upcoming radio spots to promote the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s Ocean. Here’s a glimpse from the casting couch at Wednesday’s auditions.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5eHlW2AQgs[/youtube]

Without a vehicle like “American Idol” to discover the next great voice-over talent, programmers at the Walker turned to their own colleagues to pluck the voice for upcoming radio spots to promote the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s Ocean. Here’s a glimpse from the casting couch at Wednesday’s auditions.

Curating beyond our walls

Walker assistant curator Yasmil Raymond juried Open Door 4, the the fourth annual juried exhibition at Rosalux Gallery, an artist-run co-op, at Open Book in Minneapolis. Raymond sifted through more than 200 entries to select 15 artists for this show: Matt Bakkom, Greg Carideo, Sarah Christianson, Jennifer Danos, Jan Estep, Gregory Euclide, Mark Fisher, Luisa […]

Walker assistant curator Yasmil Raymond juried Open Door 4, the the fourth annual juried exhibition at Rosalux Gallery, an artist-run co-op, at Open Book in Minneapolis.

Raymond sifted through more than 200 entries to select 15 artists for this show: Matt Bakkom, Greg Carideo, Sarah Christianson, Jennifer Danos, Jan Estep, Gregory Euclide, Mark Fisher, Luisa F. Garcia Gomez, Caroline Kent, Janet Lobberecht, Jennifer Nevitt, Tim Roby, Chad Rutter, Tony Sunder and Aaron Van Dyke. Bakkom recently mentored teens from the Walker’s Teen Arts Council on their Collections Project.

Opening reception for Open Door 4 is 7-10 pm Saturday. The exhibition is up through June 29.

Talk with Vergne June 12, Vote Yes November 4

Walker Deputy Director and Chief Curator Philippe Vergne is lending his perspective and voice to a June 12 panel discussion on the current and future states of the arts in Minnesota. Free to the public, the discussion is 5:30 pm at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Joining Vergne at a long table are Kaywin Feldman […]

Walker Deputy Director and Chief Curator Philippe Vergne is lending his perspective and voice to a June 12 panel discussion on the current and future states of the arts in Minnesota. Free to the public, the discussion is 5:30 pm at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Joining Vergne at a long table are Kaywin Feldman (executive director, Minneapolis Institute of Arts), Jocelyn Hale (executive director, Loft Literary Center), Lily Schwartz (director of Pops and Special Projects, Minnesota Orchestra), John Miller-Stephany (associate artistic director, Guthrie Theater), and Vickie Benson (McKnight Foundation program director for the arts). Moderating is FOX9 news anchor Robyne Robinson.

Expect some back-and-forth (mostly forth) about the “Vote Yes” ballot initiative — more formally known as the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. The Walker is among many arts (i.e. cultural legacy) institutions advocating the measure, which calls for amending the Minnesota state constitution to add and dedicate three-eighths of a cent on every dollar of taxable sales (think three extra pennies for every $10 you spend at retail) to environmental, outdoors, sporting and arts organizations.

If recent history is an indication, those extra pennies would add up to about $300 million each year (19.25 percent of that will go toward arts/culture). State and regional arts councils would administer the arts funding, redistributing it through existing grant programs. The rest goes to protect, enhance, and/or restore Minnesota’s drinking water sources, wetlands, prairies, forests, lakes, rivers, steams, and groundwater, wildlife habitat, and parks and trails.

On the surface, the arts might seem the round peg on the square board. After all, where else would you find painters and hunters in the grip of solidarity? But proponents are wrapping all the interests into one pitch slogan: “Protect the Minnesota you love.” And who can argue with clean water?

The Walker is asking you to join Vergne in November by saying Vote Oui.

Interviewed on Flak Radio

Last week I was interviewed on Flak Radio, the weekly podcast for Flak Magazine. I sat down with James Norton and Taylor Carik to discuss The UnConvention. If you’re confused about what that is, the podcast is a good way to find out. Also discussed: Taylor Carik as the Twin Cities best Twin Cities blogger, […]

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