Blogs Centerpoints

Harriet Spencer: A Tribute

Harriet Spencer, who played a hugely important role in the growth and success of the Walker Art Center over many decades, passed away last month. An amazing woman and incredible friend of the Walker, Harriet joined the Board of Trustees in 1976 and became an Honorary Trustee in 2000. During the past 36 years, she frequently […]

Harriet Spencer at the Walker in 1985, with Director Emeritus Martin Friedman on her left and art dealer Leo Castelli, Honorary Trustee Judy Dayton, and Mickey Friedman on her right.

Harriet Spencer at the Walker in 1985, with Director Emeritus Martin Friedman on her left and art dealer Leo Castelli, Honorary Trustee Judy Dayton, and Mickey Friedman on her right.

Harriet Spencer, who played a hugely important role in the growth and success of the Walker Art Center over many decades, passed away last month. An amazing woman and incredible friend of the Walker, Harriet joined the Board of Trustees in 1976 and became an Honorary Trustee in 2000. During the past 36 years, she frequently served in a leadership capacity on the Board, also chairing numerous committees during her long tenure.  In addition, she served on the Capital Campaign Advisory Committee for the $100 million drive to expand the Walker seven years ago.

Together with her husband Ed, who passed away in March 2012, Harriet was exceedingly generous to this institution. Two of their major gifts supported the capital campaigns to create the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in 1988 and to build the 2005 expansion.  Their generosity included contributions supporting Walker exhibitions, including Picasso and American Art, Dirt On Delight: Impulses That Form Clay, Sol LeWitt:  2D+3D, and Graphic Design: Now in Production; as well as donations and/or contributions for the acquisition of 13 works of art for the Walker Collection, among them Deborah Butterfield’s Woodrow, the beloved sculpture of a horse located in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. We are especially touched that Harriet included the Walker in her estate plans, ensuring that the institution would receive additional works of art from her collection. An extraordinary couple who were married for 62 years, the Spencers were also great travelers, whose many Walker trips included such destinations as Los Angeles, Havana, Paris, and Roden Crater in Arizona.

Harriet’s contribution to the vitality of this institution is truly astonishing. She was a close friend and confidante to my predecessors Martin Friedman and Kathy Halbreich, who, like myself, greatly benefited from her wisdom, wit, and steadfast support during their tenures here. I was also inspired by her tremendous spunk and verve for life and living. She and Ed not only modeled for me the merits of leading a joyous life, but also maintaining a deep commitment to curiosity and learning as one grows older. They were both incredibly open and generous people, engaged with the Walker and its programs until the very end. I will miss seeing Harriet at her frequent lunches at Gather, which became her custom following Ed’s passing. She is also deeply missed by many other friends at the Walker and in Minnesota, as well as in Arizona and Wyoming—places where she also had homes and made a significant difference in the quality of life.

 

 

The Walker’s Most Popular Blog Posts of 2012: Cats!

Twenty-Twelve was a big year for our blogs: we redesigned them, renamed them, and added a few new ones–including Centerpoints and Walker Seen. We also grew traffic. Here’s a look at some of the posts that best took hold across the interwebs.  1. Cats! Cats! Cats! This just in: folks on the Internet like them. […]

Twenty-Twelve was a big year for our blogs: we redesigned them, renamed them, and added a few new ones–including Centerpoints and Walker Seen. We also grew traffic. Here’s a look at some of the posts that best took hold across the interwebs.

A crowd of 10,000 watched the first ever Internet Cat Video Festival at the Walker

A crowd of 10,000 watched the first ever Internet Cat Video Festival at the Walker

 1. Cats! Cats! Cats! This just in: folks on the Internet like them. So the wild success of our Internet Cat Video Festival shouldn’t have been a surprise, especially given how much traffic our blog posts got. Hands down, our most popular post was our May announcement about the festival, but people also really wanted to know about voting for “best in show,” nominating videos, and details on attending the summer festival, which drew 10,000 people to our lawn the last day of August. Missed it? Here’s a video recap.

The Hold Steady at Rock the Garden 2012

The Hold Steady at Rock the Garden 2012

2. For Those About to Rock: The annual spring reveal of bands in our annual Rock the Garden concert has become a not-to-be-missed event, and the 2012 edition glued listeners to the radio as the Walker and 89.3 The Current named off the lineup at a live event at the Fitz in St. Paul. Livestreamed on the blogs, we revealed the names as well. Here’s who played our tenth Rock the Garden in June: Howler, tUnE-yArds, Doomtree, Trampled by Turtles, and headliner The Hold Steady. Missed it? Here’s a time-lapse of the entire day.

Exhibition catalogue for Graphic Design: Now In Production

Exhibition catalogue for Graphic Design: Now In Production

3. Designing About Design: The designers behind the exhibition Graphic Design: Now In Production share glimpses of what went into the design of the exhibition catalogue on the popular design blog, The Gradient. The show is on view until January 6, 2013, at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and then it moves to the Grand Rapids Art Museum on Feb. 1 and the Contemporary Art Museum Houston on July 20.


4. Puzzling Over Design: Maybe it was the interactive quiz or the Draw-Tippy illustration, but designer Andrea Hyde’s post calling for applicants for the Walker Design Studio’s annual design fellowship really packed ‘em in. No word on how many young designers aced the “art test.”

Still from Kim Beom's Yellow Scream (2012)

Still from Kim Beom’s Yellow Scream (2012)

5. Now Screaming: Kim Beom’s video work Yellow Scream (2012), spotted by Walker curators at the Gwangju Biennale, came into the Walker collection late this year. The piece–in which an actor gives a Bob Ross–style demonstration of a painting technique in which brush strokes are accompanied by various kinds of screams, thus altering the makeup of the applied paint–was made available on the Walker Channel for a limited time (Dec. 6-18, 2012), yet still generated enough buzz to be among our most popular posts all year.

More posts that blew up this year:

Insights 2012: Aaron Draplin’s “100 Things I Love About Minneapolis”, The Gradient

The Madness Letters: Friedrich Nietzsche and Béla Tarr, Crosscuts

Lifelike: Installing Robert Therrien’s Giant Folding Table and Chairs, Untitled (Blog)

Insights 2012: Aaron Draplin’s “100 Things I Love About Minneapolis”

Vintage Makeover Ideas for a Downtown Thoroughfare, Centerpoints

“Vote No”: A Walker Family Photo, Centerpoints

Insights 2012: Michael Lejeune (in conversation with Lisa Middag)The Gradient

Beyond Interface: #Opencurating and the Walker’s Digital Initiatives, Media Lab

Negative Space: Mungo Thomson Approaches the Void with New Walker Mural, Untitled (Blog)

Painting as Score: Sarah Crowner on FormatUntitled (Blog)

 

Related: The Walker’s Most Popular Articles of 2012: Haring, Hodges, and a Giant Folding Chair

The Walker’s Most Popular Articles of 2012: Haring, Hodges, and a Giant Folding Chair

Since relaunching last December as a hub for sharing original ideas about art and contemporary culture, the Walker homepage has published more than 100 original pieces, from articles and interviews to slideshows and visual essays. Here’s the work that our readers responded to most over the last 12 months. 1. Buoyant Boulders: The addition of […]

Since relaunching last December as a hub for sharing original ideas about art and contemporary culture, the Walker homepage has published more than 100 original pieces, from articles and interviews to slideshows and visual essays. Here’s the work that our readers responded to most over the last 12 months.

Jim Hodges, Untitled (2011)

Jim Hodges, Untitled (2011)

1. Buoyant Boulders: The addition of four, shining steel-clad boulders to the Walker hillside has brought us a new icon, and the announcement of the acquisition of Jim Hodges’ Untitled (2011) presaged later looks at the installation and thinking behind the mammoth works. Dubbed “buoyant monoliths” by executive director Olga Viso, the works were purchased in advance of a 2014 retrospective of Hodges’ work, organized by the Walker and the Dallas Museum of Art.

Installing Robert Therrien’s giant folding table and chairs

Installing Robert Therrien’s giant folding table and chairs

2. More Real than Real: From a gigantic church-basement folding table and chair set to a tiny replica of a bee, works in the Walker-organized exhibition Lifelike entranced visitors with art that questions the nature of “the real.” Julie Caniglia’s keystone essay captured readers as well, traversing both through art history and through the exhibition, from Ron Mueck’s crouching boy to Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds, Jonathan Seligman’s gigantic sculptural homage to a carton of Vitamin D milk to a tiny (functioning) elevator by Maurizio Cattelan.

Keith Haring in front of his mural, Walker Art Center, 1984

Keith Haring in front of his mural, Walker Art Center, 1984

3. Haring in the House: Created a few months after the debut of Apple’s first Macintosh, Keith Haring’s mural of a computer-headed creature now seems prescient. This account of the residency that brought the famed NYC graffiti artist to the Walker 28 years ago includes a quick video of Haring at work, plus a Walker staffer remembering how Haring “drew a radiant baby in the schmutz on the back of my hatchback.”

Young Jean Lee, Untitled Feminist Show, 2012

Young Jean Lee, Untitled Feminist Show, 2012

4. Hot Couture: Costuming was one of many challenges faced by Obie-winning Out There 24 artist Young Jean Lee when creating the text-free–and ultimately clothing-free–work Untitled Feminist Show. “Nudity was the only way for us to de-objectify the performers,” she says in this interview. “No matter what we had them wear—say, if we had them wearing really frumpy clothes—that could be hot, too. We had them wearing these astronaut uniforms, and that was hot. Everything we put them in was hot, and I wanted them to be people and not these hot women.”

Candy Chang, Before I Die, 2011

Candy Chang, Before I Die, 2011

5. Fill-in-the-Blank: A graphic designer, guerrilla artist, and urban planner, Candy Chang has spearheaded interactive fill-in-the-blank projects from the Before I Die wall (installed on a vacant building in post-Katrina New Orleans) to her latest, Neighborland (in which residents can share their dreams for their neighborhoods, online and in the streets). How she answered for us one of her signature questions: “Before I die I want to hole up and read books in soulful hotels.”

Other popular stories from 2012:

Design’s “Dark Lord” Discusses the Walker’s Black-Metal Logo

Orbital Geography: Trevor Paglen’s Cave Painting for Space

Cindy Sherman: Interview with a Chameleon

Unconventionally Real: Nine Artists Discuss Their Work in Lifelike

dOCUMENTA (13): The Uncommodifiable Quinquennial

How Warhol Did Not Murder Painting but Masterminded the Killing of Content

Tombstone for Phùng Vo

What Can Saddam Teach Us About Democracy? Or, Why Did Paul Chan Publish a Book About a Dictator’s Speeches?

Postcards from America: A Creative Road Trip with Alec Soth and Magnum Photographers

JoAnn Verburg on Newspapers as Portals to the Political

 

Related: The Walker’s Most Popular Blog Posts of 2012: Cats!

“Vote No”: A Walker Family Photo

The Walker has been vocal about its opposition to a constitutional amendment on the Minnesota ballot today that would restrict the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. We join more than 120 other nonprofit cultural organizations across that state that are taking this stand. As executive director Olga Viso wrote back […]

Walker staff and friends pose for a “Vote No” family photo on Election Day. Photo: Gene Pittman

The Walker has been vocal about its opposition to a constitutional amendment on the Minnesota ballot today that would restrict the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. We join more than 120 other nonprofit cultural organizations across that state that are taking this stand. As executive director Olga Viso wrote back in May:

“We affirm that love is love, and that the Minnesota Constitution—a document created to define rights instead of impose restrictions—should not be amended to make value judgments about love… But beyond that, we realize that creative communities like ours thrive when we can all be ourselves. The immensely talented people we work with include many who are gay and lesbian, and we support them and see them as friends and equals. We also recognize that the healthiest creative climates are open to all. To foster creativity, to attract artists and audiences, and to grow the state’s economy during difficult times, we believe we must be welcoming to all, regardless of the gender of their loved ones.”

This morning, we visually reiterated these values. We turned over the lawn beside our building to 100 or more “Vote No” signs–provided by staff, friends, neighbors, and the Minnesotans United for All Families campaign–to give those who pass through our busy intersection a bold reminder of where we stand (and a colorful reminder to get out and vote). Then we invited staff and members of the community–not to mention a wandering Gandalf carrying a “You Shall Not Pass” marriage amendment sign–to join us for a “Vote No” family photo. Despite blustery weather, several dozen people showed up from all Walker departments, the neighborhood, and beyond.

Update 11.07.12: We’re pleased to report that the marriage amendment–along with the voter ID amendment–were defeated by Minnesota voters Tuesday.

Nate Solas, the Walker’s head technologist, came in on his day off to share Minnesota-shaped “Vote No” cookies he and his daughter Isla made:

Digital marketing associate Kristina Fong and artist  Sam Gould of Red76 give the constitutional amendment the thumbs down:

Walker director Olga Viso, who wrote that the Walker believes the amendment is “an unnecessary measure, but also one that would make our state a less welcoming place.”

Walker performing arts intern Anat Shinar, with husband Sam Baker and daughter Miri, braved the winds…

…and later posed with Sheila Smith (at left below) of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts:

Michèle Steinwald, assistant curator of performing arts, couldn’t make the photo: she took the day off to doorknock for Minnesotans United. But she and her neighbors in the Kingfield neighborhood,  Robert Litvak and Chris McGrath, sent in a photo in solidarity.

Photo: Robert Litvak

Following our photo shoot, “Gandalf”–aka Adam Sharp–continued canvassing Hennepin Avenue for at least two hours:

We’d like to thank all those who came by for the photo, all those who dropped off signs in our front yard, and–most importantly–all those who vote against this constitutional amendment.

More photos from the morning:

The Walker’s Kathleen McLean, Nate and Isla Solas, Greg Beckel, Anat Shinar and Miri

Mike Jones of Gather by D’amico

All photos by Paul Schmelzer unless otherwise noted.

 

From the Archives: The Walker Curator Who Sparked a Red-Baiting Scandal

Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy is a new touring exhibition that sheds light on what one scholar called “one of the most infamous examples of red-baitingand censorship in the pre-McCarthy era United States”—and on the Walker’s first curator, J. Leroy Davidson, who was at the center of it all.

From the Archives: Vintage Makeover Ideas for a Downtown Thoroughfare

“Hennepin facelift a tough problem.” That 1970 headline from the Minneapolis Star still has relevance today, as a new vision takes shape to revitalize the city’s legendary Hennepin Avenue—or more precisely, its two-mile segment downtown, running between the Mississippi River and the Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Back in April, I wrote about Plan-It Hennepin, […]

Hennepin Avenue in 1973. Photo: The National Archives

“Hennepin facelift a tough problem.” That 1970 headline from the Minneapolis Star still has relevance today, as a new vision takes shape to revitalize the city’s legendary Hennepin Avenue—or more precisely, its two-mile segment downtown, running between the Mississippi River and the Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Back in April, I wrote about Plan-It Hennepin, an initiative in which the Walker has partnered with Hennepin Theatre Trust, Artspace, and the City of Minneapolis; after a year gathering research and community input, the group’s draft plan for a Hennepin Cultural District has just been released for further public comment.

As a fixture on Hennepin from its earliest days, the Walker, not surprisingly, has historically had an interest in its vitality; what follows are outtakes from its coverage of some of those efforts in Design Quarterly, a magazine it published from 1954 to 1991.

1982 “Design Quarterly” magazine cover featuring Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown’s plan for Hennepin.

In 1879, T.B. Walker founded the first public gallery west of the Mississippi, putting works from his vast art collection on view to the public in select rooms of his mansion at Eighth and Hennepin. He also owned a building at 719 Hennepin that housed studios for the Minneapolis Art School. More than 20 years later, the lumber magnate sounded off against the contested development of Gateway Park along downtown Hennepin’s northern blocks—perhaps the earliest effort to revive an area in need, as many saw it, of a cleanup. As Joanna Baymiller noted in “History of an Avenue,” published in 1982 in Design Quarterly No. 117, Walker explained his views in a pamphlet: instead of creating a more attractive view, he declared that “the park will make one pertaining more to bleakness, surrounded by secondary architecture which, under the circumstances, never will be reconstructed or rebuilt into important structures.”

Walker was both passionate and prescient: Even if bleakness and secondary architecture didn’t come with Gateway Park, they did accompany its demolition in the mid-60s as part of “urban renewal” efforts.

Ideas from “Ground-Breaking Mind-Stretchers”

In April, 1970, not long after the blight was cleared, a two-day public forum convened in downtown Minneapolis to brainstorm ways to help out the down-on-its-luck thoroughfare. Organized by the Walker, the Minneapolis Planning and Development Department, and the Minneapolis Downtown Council, “Hennepin: The Future of an Avenue” brought together a host of visiting designers, architects, sculptors, and artists—or “ground-breaking mind-stretchers,” as Minneapolis Star columnist Daniel M. Upham  wryly described them, “untrammeled by the need to hang around to see how it all comes out.”

Upham, author of the column accompanying that “facelift” headline, was one of several journalists covering the standing-room-only events for Minneapolis’ two daily papers; later that year a selection of news clips and photos was compiled for a special section in Design Quarterly No. 78/79 (an issue otherwise devoted to “conceptual architecture,” conceptualism then being sufficiently new to require quotes).

opening page from Design Quarterly’s special section on Hennepin Avenue, 1970

Philip Johnson, architect of the IDS Center then under construction a block away on Nicollet Mall, recommended that “Hennepin fill its teeth” (i.e. its empty blocks) with prefab buildings that could feature “stores, exhibit halls, shooting galleries or whatever draws a crowd,” reported the Minneapolis Star’s Barbara Flanagan. (She could have been referencing the Rifle Sport arcade, which in the later ’70s became the legendary Rifle Sport Gallery on Block E, a small slice of Hennepin both loved and hated for its notorious seediness.) Johnson also reportedly proposed that the historic Butler Building become a teen center, with rock bands on each floor. Never mind that the Butler actually stands a block west of Hennepin, on First Avenue. Also, it was unlikely that Johnson knew that just a block from the Butler, The Depot—a bus station-turned-nightclub later to be named First Avenue—had just opened a few weeks earlier. Nevertheless, his idea was ahead of its time in the worst way, presaging the string of ill-conceived entertainment/mall developments—Mississippi Live in particular comes to mind—that downtown would get saddled with in the coming decades.

A “video park” proposal from landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg was forward-thinking, both artistically and in terms of the growth of public surveillance: “Take a parking lot next to the blank wall of a big building. Mount TV cameras in trailers to photograph passers-by and throw their images on the wall, which becomes a giant TV screen. Interspersed with the passing scene would be the regular pickup of news programs—such as the moon shot (or a baseball game)—anything that draws a crowd.” (Freidberg went on to design the 1975 Peavey Plaza, another Nicollet Mall landmark that is currently the subject of a battle between preservationists and the city.)

Another architect who recently made news with his retirement, Robert Venturi in 1970 hadn’t yet co-authored the controversial classic, Learning from Las Vegas. But its ideas were very much in evidence with Venturi’s audacious claim that Hennepin is “almost all right now.” He nixed benches as too European—reportedly telling the forum crowd “Here if you sit on a bench you’re a bum”—but recommended bigger signs. Columnist Flanagan, however, took issue with his recommendation to “discover the ordinary”: “I have and that’s why I think Hennepin needs work,” she wrote. “It’s too ordinary for an entertainment street.”

Anticipating the coming age of “interactive” public art, James Seawright proposed “an electronic sculpture that could be programmed to relate to the passersby or be rigged to respond to a dialed telephone number. Like fellow sculptor Tony Smith, he also pitched wider sidewalks and mid-block shopping squares. In splitting up Hennepin into five sections for “different kinds of celebrations,” architect Walter A. Netsch (designer of the Air Force Academy Chapel) gets props for the oddest idea. He would assign movies and light shows their own sections, with a third for “the tassel trade”; the remaining two might be devoted to tree plantings and—in a nod to one of the forum organizers—the Walker Art Center. He also thought banning cars from dusk to 5 am might help draw people.

Female Trouble

Speaking of the tassel trade, Art Seidenbaum, the forum’s moderator and a Los Angeles Times columnist, alluded to Hennepin’s long history with strip clubs and streetwalkers in summing up its plight: “Hennepin isn’t voluptuous enough to be seductive and it isn’t wrinkled enough to be replaced—just like a 45-year-old courtesan.” The Star’s Upham was thinking along similar lines: “The real problem of Hennepin … is to save it from blight without destroying its bawdy charm,” he wrote. “The factor which attracts the visiting stockmen, the boys in town for the sales meeting, and other free spenders? [sic] When the chips—or rather the shoulder-straps—are down, can a stripper really do her stuff if they air out the joint and sweep the floor?” Then there was Johnson’s pithy and au courant declaration, “What killed Hennepin was TV and the pill”; and Ms. Flanagan’s equally telling description of designer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, the lone female guest at the forums, as “a little girl who designs big signs.” For the record, Solomon, a pioneer of Supergraphics, favored large, boldly colored swaths of paints as a low-cost temporary spruce-up for the avenue.

The second page of the 6-page section, with photos by Andrew Power

By 1982, Hennepin had gone further downhill, from aging courtesan to ailing spinster, if you will. In Design Quarterly 117 editor and former Walker design curator Mildred Friedman wrote about how the street “took on the air of a jilted lover” with the rise of the suburbs in the 1950s, existing “in this state of ambiguity for many years,” with “many empty storefronts; former movie palaces converted into evangelical centers or … dispensers of pornography; strip joints and stand-up bars.” Civically speaking, Hennepin was “always the bridesmaid”: a place “discussed in committees” but whose problems “never met with concerted action.”

Friedman also noted “positive changes,” however, in the form of a new Hennepin Avenue Urban Design Plan, to which that issue of DQ was devoted. Denise Scott Brown, writing on the plan created by her firm, Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown, made a playful reference to the inevitable “pressure … to exchange the red silk petticoat image of Hennepin Avenue for a gray flannel one.” Considering what her partner Venturi advocated for back in 1970, it probably surprised no one that the firm favored Hennepin as a good-time girl over any kind of reputable matron makeover. However, their plan’s central visual element—36 “reflector trees” arching over the street to create a dance of lights at nighttime, per the rendering above—met with controversy.

“Reflector Trees” sketch from Design Quarterly No. 117

The “trees” were actually to have a “fan-like silhouette,” one “carefully disciplined so as not to suggest overhanging branches,” a muddled-yet-dazzling gesture meant to give the street a “unique character” and “help provide an attractive environment”—even though Scott Brown acknowledged that “entertainment will never be the predominant use on Hennepin again.” In that same issue of Design Quarterly, “An Opposing View” of the plan, written by a special committee of the Minneapolis Arts Commission, took issue with the trees’ “overwhelming scale.” More significantly, the committee suggested that this single, showy design element would bear too much “responsibility for attracting the essence of an entertainment district, that is the business activities.”

Hennepin Avenue, 1985 (BRW Architects, image courtesy Hennepin County Library’s Minneapolis Photo Collection)

Those reflector trees never did debut, and six years later Hennepin’s Block E was finally razed. Even sitting as a parking lot for more than 10 years, it remained a flashpoint for the persistent woes along the avenue. The mall that eventually filled the space and is now left for dead is but one reason why the “Hennepin facelift a tough problem” headline still applies today.

The jury’s still out on the fresh set of prescriptions for a Hennepin Cultural District, as envisioned by the Plan-It Hennepin initiative. But compared with the host of plans, proposals, and ideas from past decades, a couple factors could make a considerable difference going forward. One is that the District so far avoids any expensive investment in grand visual gestures like reflector trees. Another is the role of artists. In 1982, they were reduced to forming a “special committee” so they could object to a plan they had no role and no stake in. Plan-It Hennepin has included artists in the planning process from the start, thanks partly to a “Creative Placemaking” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Come to think of it, maybe the arts could play a role in creating a fresh, 21st-century female archetype for a transformed Hennepin—an update on its longstanding, troubled, lady-of-the-evening image. Proposals, anyone?

Introducing Centerpoints

It’s been seven years since we launched the Walker Blogs, and with the release of our new homepage back in December we thought it was finally time for a refresh. Formerly called Off Center, Centerpoints changes this blog’s mission. Now that we’re aggregating the best of news about art and culture on our website’s new […]

It’s been seven years since we launched the Walker Blogs, and with the release of our new homepage back in December we thought it was finally time for a refresh. Formerly called Off Center, Centerpoints changes this blog’s mission. Now that we’re aggregating the best of news about art and culture on our website’s new Art News From Elsewhere feature, we have less need for a blog that brings–as Off Center‘s tagline once read–”outside ideas from inside the Walker.” What we do need is a space to share ideas about the Walker that transcend our artistic disciplines or address the center as a whole. Now you’ll find cross-departmental news and updates on our neighborhood, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the Shop and restaurant, and our staff. In addition to a new name, we have a new design, which brings our blogs into alignment with the new Walker homepage. All of our core blogs have new names and identities as well, so check them out to get the latest on what’s going on in our Design, Education & Community Programs, Film/Video, Performing Arts, Visual Arts, and New Media departments, as well as at the mnartists.org blog and Walker Seen, our new blog geared toward making the social seen.

Late-Summer Recipes from Gather by D’Amico Chef Josh Brown

Make the most of the season with two new recipes created especially for at-home cooks by Josh Brown, executive chef at the Walker’s acclaimed restaurant Gather by D’Amico (you might also want to try the raw-and-cooked vegetable salad  that has become a popular mainstay on Gather’s lunch menu). For one dish, Brown paired the sweetness […]

Make the most of the season with two new recipes created especially for at-home cooks by Josh Brown, executive chef at the Walker’s acclaimed restaurant Gather by D’Amico (you might also want to try the raw-and-cooked vegetable salad  that has become a popular mainstay on Gather’s lunch menu).

For one dish, Brown paired the sweetness of a perfectly ripe, late-summer tomato with the creaminess of buratta in a salad that “is the essence of simple yet flavorful eating this time of year” he says, adding that buratta, made from mozzarella and cream,  is “one of the sexiest cheeses right now,” showing up on menus all over. “We pair it with buttermilk chicken, artichokes, chard, and sweet peas at Gather—and it’s a hit.”

His other recipe is a seasonal take on steak-and-potatoes: chili-crusted tenderloin with sweet corn risotto and green tomato chimichurri. “Add a few Negra Modelos or a Dos Equis and you’re set with the perfect Sunday night dinner.” 

BURATTA WITH HEIRLOOM TOMATO, WATERMELON, BAGUETTE AND ARUGULA PESTO

6 oz                  buratta, divided in one-ounce pieces

6 cups              heirloom or other top-quality tomato, diced

1 cup               watermelon, diced

3 T                   shallots, thinly sliced

1tsp                 fresh chili, thinly sliced (I like Serranos, but use your favorite)

2T                    fresh ginger juice (grate ginger; squeeze out juice; discard solids)

2T                    pine nuts, toasted

3T                    green onion, thinly sliced on a bias (both white and green parts are fine)

4T                    extra virgin olive oil

6                      baguette slices, grilled or toasted

Salt and pepper

Toss tomato, watermelon, shallot, ginger juice, pine nuts, green onion and olive oil in a bowl til everything is mixed evenly. Divide the salad between six bowls; top each with buratta and a baguette slice smothered in arugula pesto. Drizzle with olive oil; finish with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt.

Arugula pesto

2 cups             wild arugula

3                      garlic cloves, boiled in whole milk, strained, patted dry

3T                    toasted pine nuts

1T                    lemon zest

2T                    lemon juice

1/2 cup            fresh grated parmesan

1 cup               extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Puree all ingredients in a blender til fairly smooth; season with salt and pepper and refrigerate.

 

GRILLED TENDERLOIN WITH CORN RISOTTO AND GREEN TOMATO CHIMICHURRI

 

Tenderloin marinade

6                      tenderloin steaks, 7 oz each

1T                    salt

1 can               chipotle en adobo

4                      ancho chilis (soak in hot water for 10 minutes, remove)

3/4 cup            canola oil

1/2 cup            lime juice

Puree the salt, anchos, chipotle en adobo, lime juice in a blender. Slowly add oil to emulsify. Rub the tenderloins with the marinade and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. Grill to your preferred temperature.

 

Sweet corn risotto

2-1/2 cups       fresh corn kernels

1 cup               onion, diced small

4 T                   butter

7 cups              chicken stock (hot)

2 cups              Arborio rice

1 cup               white wine

1/2 cup            grated cotija cheese 

2 T                   chopped cilantro

2 T                   sliced green onions

4T                    butter

Sauté onions in butter on medium/medium-high heat til translucent. Add the rice, saute for 2-3 more minutes. Add 1/2 cup of white wine; cook, stirring constantly, til the wine is gone. Repeat with the other 1/2 cup of wine. Add chicken stock 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly and cooking til the stock is almost gone before adding another cup. Continue til the chicken stock is gone, about 20-25 minutes. (Constant stirring is the key to a creamy risotto, and to keep rice from sticking to pan bottom.) Turn off heat and stir in corn, cilantro, butter, and cheese til combined.

 

Green tomato chimichurri

1 cup               tomatillos, diced small

1T                    garlic, chopped

1T                    fresno chili or jalapeno, diced small

1/2 cup            chopped cilantro

1/2 cup            green onion sliced thin

1/4 cup            red wine vinegar

1/2 cup            extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp             kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let it sit for 30-45 minutes so the flavors can come together.

 

From the Archives: A tribute to Louise Walker McCannel (1915 – 2012)

Louise Walker McCannel, granddaughter of Walker founder Thomas Barlow Walker, played a critical role in the history of the Walker: both the private Walker Art Galleries and the public Walker Art Center. After graduating from Smith College in 1937, where she earned a degree in Fine Arts, Louise and her brother, Hudson, became the caretakers […]

Louise Walker McCannel, granddaughter of Walker founder Thomas Barlow Walker, played a critical role in the history of the Walker: both the private Walker Art Galleries and the public Walker Art Center. After graduating from Smith College in 1937, where she earned a degree in Fine Arts, Louise and her brother, Hudson, became the caretakers of the vast and varied art collection amassed by T.B. Walker. Louise was appointed director of the Walker Art Galleries and while Hudson left for New York in 1938, she stayed to help facilitate the Walker Art Galleries 1939 transition to the Walker Art Center. She worked at the new institution in many capacities: as director of the Children’s Gallery, editor of the Magazine of Art, and assistant curator.

Smith College yearbook photograph, 1937

As curator, she worked on the Walker’s extension program: educational outreach in the form of 36 small exhibitions that circulated throughout the state of Minnesota. These thematic shows—on jewelry, Chinese painting, and Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, and based on works in the T.B. Walker Collection—used portable panels for easy transport, a format that may seem old fashioned and quaint today, but was a very progressive form of outreach in 1940.

Louise Walker, far left, reviewing installation panels for the exhibition “Egypt, Greece, and Rome,” 1940.

 

“Egypt, Greece and Rome” exhibition panels in transport, 1940 (This photo and photo above: Rolphe Dauphin for Walker Art Center)

McCannel was instrumental in helping the Walker through its early years as an art center, and continued to serve on its board for more than 60 years. She was an active member from 1950 to 1997, and in 1998, after she became an honorary board member, continued to be a staunch supporter.

Louise, foreground, at a board meeting with Alma Walker and Justin Smith, 1950s (Photo: Eric Sutherland for Walker Art Center)

McCannel, in documentarian mode, films the 1969 demolition of the Walker Art Center building, which made way for the 1971 building designed by Edward Larabee Barnes. With her is longtime board member David M. Winton.

  McCannel’s work and her philanthropy extended far beyond the Walker, as well. In a story about her life in the Star Tribune, Walker director emeritus Martin Friedman, who worked with her over several decades, described her as “a fierce, no holds-barred liberal when it came to social causes. She was always on the side of the little guy. She had a great sense of community and was an enemy of anything that smacked of racism. She was really dedicated to making a better world.”

 Read the full Star Tribune story here, and McCannel’s obituary here

Louise Walker McCannel (This photo and photo above: Minneapolis Star Tribune)

 

 

 

 

Snap-Happy: Interns’ Photo Spree Around the Walker

What happens when you give a trio of Walker interns some new snazzy cameras and tell them to spend the day photographing? Last week, Ashley Monk, Chyna Bounds and I got to test-drive the new Pentax K-01 camera designed by Marc Newson, which just got stocked at Walker shop. After assembling the cameras, charging the batteries, and […]

What happens when you give a trio of Walker interns some new snazzy cameras and tell them to spend the day photographing? Last week, Ashley Monk, Chyna Bounds and I got to test-drive the new Pentax K-01 camera designed by Marc Newson, which just got stocked at Walker shop. After assembling the cameras, charging the batteries, and giving the manual/cheat sheet a quick read, we were ready for adventure.
 
We soon gave up on the instructions and opted for hands-on learning – this camera is that easy to use. Below is a small sampling of what we captured around the Walker. All images were uploaded straight from the camera, unaltered. Anything that looks edited is merely an example of the awesome powers of this camera. (See more images on Flickr in the Walker’s group pool.
Our first stop was the kitchen at Gather by D’Amico, where the chefs were hustling with preparations for lunch, but kindly accommodated us shutterbugs. Even though the images here were the very first ones using the camera, it made all of that food look extra delicious! 

 

Chyna

 
Kitchen at Gather by D’Amico by Ashley
 
 
Next, we meandered outside to the new boulders sculpture by Jim Hodges, which on a bright sunny day was intensely glowing, its colored mirror surfaces bouncing off of each other.
 
Jim Hodges’ outdoor sculpture by Chyna
Jim Hodges’ outdoor sculpture by Rachel
 
Jim Hodges’ outdoor sculpture by Ashley

 

Then it was down the hill to the Sculpture Garden next – of course, the iconic Spoon Bridge has to be part of the fun.

 

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden by Rachel
 
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden by Chyna
 
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden by Ashley
 
After our outdoor fun, we headed back inside for a quick, behind-the-scenes tour of the Walker’s underground studio, used by staff photographers Cameron Wittig and Gene Pittman.  

Studio by Rachel

 
 

Studio by Chyna

 
Studio by Ashley
 Although we took photos of the same things, with the Pentax’s amazing array of modes and options, we each took a different approach and came out with some wonderful images.

Come try this camera for yourself at the Walker Shop from 5-9pm this Thursday (May 10). Use it to capture a Minneapolis spring evening and get advice and tips from Pentax pros. The first 100 test photogs receive a free memory card and cocktail, compliments of Cool Hunting.

 

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