Blogs Field Guide

Kid Critics: Hodges and Hopper

At Free First Saturday on April 5, we asked kids what they thought about the artworks in the current exhibitions Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take and Hopper Drawing: A Painter’s Process.  Here is what some of them said about their favorites: Jim Hodges, The Dark Gate Pick one word to describe this work […]

At Free First Saturday on April 5, we asked kids what they thought about the artworks in the current exhibitions Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take and Hopper Drawing: A Painter’s Process.  Here is what some of them said about their favorites:

Jim Hodges, The Dark Gate

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Pick one word to describe this work of art:

Expertish – Tenzin, age: 10 3/4

Outer space – Ciara, age 10

Creepy – Finn, age 7

Why did you pick that word?

Seems to require lots of artistic skill – Tenzin

Because from inside the box the shape between the spikes looks like a black hole – and from the outside it looks like a sun.  - Ciara

Because the box was all dark. It was like ‘knights’ were around me because of the swords.  - Finn

What does it make you think about?

A spider – Tenzin

The cosmos – Ciara

Like knives were all around me – Finn

Make up a story about this work of art…

Riddle:  What can crawl up walls has eight legs and is black?  Answer: Black Widow  - Tenzin

Once upon a time there was a black hole (which is an exploded star) that lived next to a sun (which is a medium sized star) – they were friends.  One day when the sun was orbiting the black hole (which stars do) the two of them got so close they formed together making a big wall.  They were both the same thing – though when the light shines through the wall it makes a hole.  One side looks like the sun and the other a black hole.  - Ciara

If I was inside the box I feel like swords could be thrown around me.  - Finn

Edward Hopper, Summertime

Summertime

Pick one word to describe this work of art:

Summerish  - Elodie, age 8

3D  - Habtamu, age 11

Amazing  - Emani, age 11

Why did you pick that word?

Because it is light and bright  - Elodie

Because he did a very good job at shading and making it look 3D  - Habtamu, age 11

The details from the curtain to the girl are phenomenal  - Emani

What does it make you think about?

Summer  - Elodie & Habtamu

Freedom because the way she is standing – knowing she came from a rough start – now starts over fresh.  - Emani

Make up a story about this work of art…

There was a girl stepping out of an apartment.  - Elodie

Going outside to wait for her friend while she is enjoy the weather.  - Habtamu

She noticed nothing is holding her back and its time to be free.  - Emani

 

Which artworks will inspire your children? Come check out Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take (now-May 11) and Hopper Drawing: A Painter’s Process (now-June 20) and share with us what your kids think.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Back, Open Field!

Sunshine, green grass, lazy lawn games, and community togetherness might be just the balm we need after a particularly daunting Minnesota winter. Open Field is back! Returning from a year-long construction-filled hiatus, what happens on the Field this summer is up to you and me, and a big group of strangers that will bring new […]

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Community Dance, Open Field 2012

Sunshine, green grass, lazy lawn games, and community togetherness might be just the balm we need after a particularly daunting Minnesota winter. Open Field is back! Returning from a year-long construction-filled hiatus, what happens on the Field this summer is up to you and me, and a big group of strangers that will bring new activities, projects, and ideas to life: Open Field is what we make together.

Since 2010 Open Field has hosted hundreds of public-created activities that exhibit a spirit of play, sharing, and social interaction. There have been bullwhipping demonstrations and financial education classes, baby picnics and conversational cafés, syncronized lawn mowings and art swaps. Beyond insisting on a few basic principles of Field etiquette, we ask just one question to prompt your activity brainstorming: what would you do with an Open Field?

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Open Field Drawing Club, 2012

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ROLU residency, 2012

2014 brings the return of many favorite aspects of Open Field, and the introduction of a few new elements. This summer’s 8-week festival kicks off with the all-night Northern Spark on June 14, and concludes August 14 with the ever-popular Internet Cat Video Festival. Thursday night collaborative Drawing Club returns weekly; Acoustic Campfire comes back as well from 8-10pm on select Thursay nights, with ten dynamic soloists and groups sharing sounds from hip-hop to Balkan party music (and a little of everything in-between); a variety of recreational equipment is available for on-the-Field enjoyment.

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Maria Mortati and Chris Kallmyer. Photo: Gene Pittman

As in past Open Fields, the Walker is hosting two artists-in-residence that will present work on the Field for the public. Chris Kallmyer—who made his debut on Open Field as part of Machine Project’s Summer Jubilee in 2011—returns for  two weeks with a project called if all action were music.  Exploring actions and sound, Kallmyer will write, perform and collaborate with the public on a series of new works that position everyday activities as poetic experiences. In addition, Alison Knowles, a leading member of the Fluxus artist group, will be in residence with her collaborator, Joshua Selman, to re-stage her iconic event score Make a Salad on Open Field. While each performance is unique, the basic ingredients include Knowles preparing a massive salad by chopping the ingredients to live music, tossing it in the air, then serving the salad to the audience. Alison Knowles’ work is included in the Walker Art Center’s exhibition, Art Expanded: 1958-1978, which will be concurrently on view.

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Angela Sprunger’s Art Swap, 2012

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The Hummingbirds play Acoustic Campfire, 2012

Open Field remains a playful mix of planned and unplanned events, and the best parts to come are the still-unknown surprises. The invitation is open: “In the spirit of inclusivity, Open Field invites everyone and anyone to bring their best creative self forward as producer or participant.” –Open Field co-founder Sarah Schultz

All forms of participation are welcome—whether it’s relaxing at the picnic tables, joining a round of Drawing Club , or contributing to our community-led programming. Consider this the official call to share your skills, imagining, and experiments with your fellow Field-inhabitants and community members. Learn more about how to bring your programming to the Field over here (and read through tips and FAQs related to creating activities here). Scheduled summer programming is added to the Open Field calendar, and will largely take place on Thursday nights and during Saturday daytime hours. The Open Field team is committed to assisting you with program scheduling and idea clarification. Wondering if it’s realistic to plan on bringing a herd of goats to the Walker this summer? We can help: email open.field@walkerart.org.

Open Field begins in 74 days! The outdoor greenspace is gradually making the transition from snow tundra to thriving lawn. While we wait for that to happen, you can check out more information on summer programming, dream up some ideas, and follow our twitter page for updates. See you in June!

 

Winter, we bid you farewell with a song

Track 1: Cabin Fever Winter is lingering on like a bad cold. While this will definitely go down as one of the worst subzero spells in recent history, there were some really fun moments in January and February that made the season more bearable. I’m referring to our series of Thursday night programs called Cabin […]

Lexa Walsh

Lexa Walsh and Jerry Brownrigg

Track 1: Cabin Fever

Winter is lingering on like a bad cold. While this will definitely go down as one of the worst subzero spells in recent history, there were some really fun moments in January and February that made the season more bearable. I’m referring to our series of Thursday night programs called Cabin Fever that invited artists to design and host events that were social, participatory, and slightly idiosyncratic—including a poetry and printmaking party, butter-making aerobics, B-movie bingo, and a collaborative song-writing session about the long northern winters called Fever Songs.

Oakland-based artist Lexa Walsh and local music hero John Munson (Trip Shakespeare, Semisonic, The New Standards) hosted Fever Songs, with support from artist Chris Larson who supplied the rustic cabin, musician Jerry Brownrigg, and sound recording engineer Richard Medek. It took a talented team to pull off a one-night-only recording studio and an engaged audience willing to put some time into composing a song. The lyrics people contributed were fantastic and covered a range of  emotion, from hostility to humor. Lexa, John, and Jerry were masterful composers as they instantaneously interpreted the texts into sound, choosing a punk flavor for one or a folky melody for another.  Enjoy the resulting tracks—proof that our creativity cannot be suppressed by a long Minnesota winter.

(Note: all songs were sung and performed by Lexa, John, and Jerry with help from some of the songwriters. Track 14, “Ukulele” was sung and strummed entirely by the songwriters, Anna Marie Vu and Dave Kaminski.)

Jerry on drums John Munson on vocals and guitar

Jerry Brownrigg on drums, John Munson on vocals and guitar

Track 2: Cold Outside

Baby it's Cold Outside

A group of students from Duluth surrounding Chris Larson's cabin

A group of students from Duluth surrounding Chris Larson’s cabin

Track 3: Days Are Getting Longer

Nights are Longer

Track 4: Dead Frog

Dead Frog

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Track 5: Die Right Here

Frostbite on my nose

Sound engineer Richard Medek busy recording tracks

Sound engineer Richard Medek recording tracks

Track 6: Fed on Potatoes

Potatoes

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Track 7: Frankie Boy

Frankie Boy

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Track 8: Hate Mix

HATE

Track 9: Minnesnowta Territory

The Cold Weather

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Track 10: Polar Vortex Polka

God Damn Polar Vortex

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Track 11: Sexy Long Underwear

Sexy Long Underwear

Track 12: South Pitch

South Pitch

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Track 13: Stinging Piggies

My Toe is Frozen

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Track 14: Ukulele

Tonight

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Track 15: Winter is My Favorite Season

I'm a Rebel

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Track 16: 24-Hour Nurse

Nurse

 

Cat Call: Nominate Your Favorite Videos for #catvidfest 2014

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It’s St. Patrick’s Day and we have an exciting announcement (in limerick form, obviously):

Since last year you’ve watched so many cats
We know, we’ve seen the YouTube stats
And now it’s your turn
To share faves or to spurn,
And we’ll post photos of kitties in green hats

Have a favorite cat video? Have a lot of favorite cat videos? Nominations are now open for the 2014 Internet Cat Video Festival, which takes place August 14 as a free community event at its original site, Open Field. Take some time to reflect on all the cat videos you’ve watched this year and select your favorites by May 1 to be considered for inclusion in this year’s event. Voting for the Golden Kitty (People’s Choice) Award begins on June 1, so we’ll be looking for your votes then as well!

You can find the nomination form right here.

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Photos found searching for “cat shamrock” and “cat leprechaun” on Google

#catvidfest

Freezing Man: Putting a Temporary Autonomous Zone on Ice

Inevitably, upon explaining the idea of the Art Shanty Projects to someone unfamiliar with them, a comparison to Burning Man will be made. NPR, BoingBoing, City Pages are all guilty. I’ve even caught myself pitching the event as “Freezing Man.” I lived in San Francisco for the past three years, and so I’ve picked up […]

The Sparkle Parade during the 2014 Art Shanty Projects' kickoff weekend. Al photos by Eric William Carroll

The Sparkle Parade during the 2014 Art Shanty Projects’ kickoff weekend. All photos by Eric William Carroll, except where noted

Inevitably, upon explaining the idea of the Art Shanty Projects to someone unfamiliar with them, a comparison to Burning Man will be made. NPR, BoingBoing, City Pages are all guilty. I’ve even caught myself pitching the event as “Freezing Man.” I lived in San Francisco for the past three years, and so I’ve picked up a second-hand knowledge of Burning Man (though I have yet to attend). In fact, the first time I had heard of it was after I had moved to the Bay Area and noticed that for one week at the end of summer the city got really quiet. Being a native midwesterner, and having recently relocated back to the Twin Cities, I was no stranger to the Art Shanty Projects — and ice house culture at large. So I was eager to make the trip up to White Bear Lake to see this year’s incarnation.

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Shanties in the 2014 edition of Art Shanty Projects

On the surface, Burning Man and the Art Shanty Projects may seem to have a lot in common. I assume that’s why the comparison is so often made. However, if you dig a little deeper, I think the comparison is a lazy one, and actually does a disservice to the Art Shanty Projects by writing it off as a smaller off-shoot of a larger, more important event. And it couldn’t be further from the truth. Let me explain.

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The Dance Shanty

My source for all things Burning Man is my friend Jason Meyers, who incidentally grew up in White Bear Lake, but has lived in San Francisco for what seems like forever, and has attended Burning Man over the past 16 years. On paper, Burning Man is an experimental community that pops up in the Black Rock Desert for one week — the last Monday in August through the first Monday in September — every year. Radical utopian ideals of society, commerce, and relationships are played out in a mixture of art, performance, and socializing. Unfortunately, like anything that achieves a certain level of popularity, the culture begins to dominate the content. According to Jason, today’s Burning Man attendees are largely relegated to two camps: “Old Guard Burners” who have attended over the years but have become increasingly cliquish and closed-off to newcomers, and the younger urban crowd who use the event as an excuse to experiment with drugs and strangers’ bodies. Still, he believes the openness of the community and freedom of expression are the event’s highest priorities.

A nearby cluster of icefishing shacks

A nearby cluster of icefishing shacks

Now the Art Shanty Projects have neither the history nor the reach of Burning Man: its attendance is estimated to be over 60,000, while the Art Shanty Projects drew around 2,000 on opening day this year. However, the two events do have some things in common. Both are arguably held in otherwise inhospitable landscapes. Both encourage the idea of encountering art and art experiences outside of the museum and gallery (Burning Man with its Mutant Vehicles and various installations, Art Shanty Projects with their artist-commissioned shanties). And both envision the landscape as a blank canvas or “Temporary Autonomous Zone” of sorts. Even the founder of the Art Shanty Project (and former Bay Area resident), Peter Haakon Thompson, said that he found inspiration in the desolate solace of both the Nevada desert and the frozen lakes of Minnesota. That said, if community is to be understood as the central focus of Burning Man, Art, I would argue, is the focus of the shanties.

INside the Eleveator Shnaty

Inside the Elevator Shanty

On opening day I arrived just in time for the “Sparkle Parade,” arguably the most Burning Man-esque aspect of my entire visit. A marching band with various large bicycle-driven polar bears danced along the temporary ice-road in joyous fashion. Toddlers and senior citizens alike joined in and made the loop past the 21 shanties about three or four times. From there on it was a largely voyeuristic experience, opening doors to strange structures with no concrete idea of what to expect. Some were more social than others. The Dance Shanty greeted me from the outside with thumping bass of the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” and upon entering the geodesic dome a group of delighted strangers cheered at my arrival. Then I danced. The Elevator Shanty is a kind of short-form theater, which is actually quite hilarious if you’re invited “backstage.” The Meta (as in metaphysical) Shanty offers itself up as healing center, leading workshops on aromatherapy, yoga, and astrological readings. Aesthetically, it’s a gorgeous structure with the center part of its floor constructed of pink Himalayan salt bricks. It’s a space where you just want to sit, warm up, and listen to the conversations of others.

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Himalayan salt bricks make up the floor of the Meta Shanty

Like an inverse Burning Man, the one aspect that is rarely discussed in regards to the Art Shanty Projects is the culture. The ice house, by definition, is a structure on ice to protect one from the elements while fishing. However the popular culture of ice houses is overwhelmingly male, isolative, and alcoholic. Sure, you might socialize with your fishing/drinking buddies, but it’s an unspoken rule on the ice that you don’t go around knocking on other people’s shanty doors and walking in uninvited. The Art Shanty Projects completely subverts this aspect and turns the ice house into a family-friendly and open art experience that makes it OK for what midwesterners commonly find horrifying — approaching and talking to strangers. In that respect, the shanties (and midwestern culture) still have a ways to go. I didn’t feel that the shanties had formed a tight-knit community yet (it was just the first day, and the Town Hall Shanty was still soliciting names for the community at the time of this writing). But should I even be expecting that tight-knit community from the shanties — or is that an expectation born from the comparisons to Burning Man?

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The ribbon cutting for Art Shanty Projects 2014

To me, it seems more fruitful to compare the Art Shanty Projects to events like Chicago’s Guerrilla Truck Show or Brooklyn’s Lost Horizon Night Market, both of which use the back of moving trucks to host temporary art installations. Like the shanties, both repurpose an existing structure and transform it into a space for experiencing art. Or perhaps Elevation 1049, a site-specific art experience located in the Swiss Alps, would be a good touchstone for the Art Shanty Projects, with its focus on contemporary art outside of the museum and off the walls. But enough with the Burning Man comparisons! It’s a superficial similarity at best, and at worst it stunts the discussion of an otherwise exciting artistic experiment on ice.

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A Burning Man–style pyre across Highway 61. Photo: Tucker Gerrick

But if you are looking for a Burning Man experience, I recommend trekking across Highway 61 to Bald Eagle Lake. It was there that I encountered a structure of more than 300 Christmas trees, stacked more than 20 feet high and meant to be set ablaze that night. In addition to the pyre the residents of the lake had created their own snow castle — complete with draw-bridge — that housed a fully stocked ice-bar. Ice-cold.

Eric William Carroll is an artist living in Minneapolis. He currently teaches at Macalester College.

Feel the Churn in Style

Photo: Gene Pittman

Winter is in full swing, we ache for sun and dream of warmth while bundling in layers of clothing in an attempt to build a private sauna to protect against the cold. It’s the season of cabin fever, seasonal depression, and a time when whatever tans gained over summer are shamelessly gone, seemingly forever.

But at least this year we have the Olympics. Winter exercise might actually make this season manageable.  Except that generally when the Games are playing we don’t have to be outside, or exercising at all for that matter. Just a couch and a hot drink, perhaps, to stave away the weary cold days. It’s time we joined the Olympians with a little winter activity of our own, enjoying some aerobic exercise to ward off the winter blues. Thanks to Jimmy Fusil and Mike Wait of the art duo PopSoda, exercise isn’t just about burning fat, but also about making fat.  Enjoy those treats you guzzle down whilst gasping to the figure skaters who actually land a triple axle.  You churned it yourself!

2014 Olympian Opening Ceremony Outfits. photo credit: Ralph Lauren

Photo: Ralph Lauren

In preparation for this Thursday’s butter-making aerobics workshops led by PopSoda and amusingly titled Feel the Churn, I have decided to examine some fitness fashion because it turns out that workout gear has changed dramatically and it seems that exercise (and life for that matter) is a little bit more fun with some flair. With Olympics on the mind let’s start by being grateful for the fact that our athletic costumes have developed radically from the Ancient Greeks. Instead of competing in the nude, the U.S. Olympians have a magnificent cardigan designed by Ralph Lauren to parade in the opening ceremony.

Ancient Olympic Racing

Photo: http://schoolworkhelper.net

Thanks to some athletic clothing research, it turns out that we owe the 1950s thanks for synthetic fabrics like elastane, spandex and lycra. These fabrics began to alter clothing dramatically. No more itchy wool and cotton! Hello to breathable, stretchy fabrics. Yet, despite these new fabrics exercise wasn’t even that popular, especially when fat-jiggling belts were believed to inspire weight loss. Why sweat?

fat jiggling machine. photo credit: http://www.mariadicroce.com

Photo: http://www.mariadicroce.com

In response to the poor fitness of many army recruits, Dr. Kennith Cooper M.D. released his book Aerobics in 1968 which outlined the many ways to help increase fitness through aerobic exercise. Yet it wasn’t until the 1980s, with inspiration such as Olivia Newton-John’s music video for Let’s Get Physical that many Americans decided to take exercise more seriously, start sweating and don their finest leotards for some calf-burning action.

Dance Aerobics. Photo Credit: Oaks at Ojai

Photo: Oaks at Ojai

From step aerobics to dance aerobics, exercise became a fashion in and of itself. With Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons leading the nation, aerobic exercise took over. The leg warmers, the glitter, the skin tight leggings and leotards… it was all there. The images are classic, the looks undeniable.

Jane Fonda aerobics. Photo Credit: sportsphoto ltd./allstar

Photo: sportsphoto ltd./allstar

Richard Simmons Aerobics. photo credit:  Air New Zealand

Photo: Air New Zealand

Now it’s the 21st century. How does aerobics fit into today’s fashion trends? How do people decorate themselves for physical activity? It turns out the look is eclectic, with bright colors from the 80s to newfab running shorts and advanced micro-fiber technology to undeniably hipster throwbacks and more. Athletic outfits are as diverse as ever. Just check out what various individuals from the Walker chose to wear for their first attempt at churning butter.

photo credit: Gene Pittman

Photo: Gene Pittman

Aerobics with a contemporary twist. Get creative and come to Feel the Churn with some of your most ridiculous gear while sweating away the winter blues and making your very own sweet butter and find inspiration by watching Pop Soda’s butter aerobics somewhere much warmer. We’re excited, are you?

Written by Sheila Novak, artist and aerobic adventurist

 

Making It: A Family Guide with Alyssa Baguss

For the third year in a row, the Walker’s Family Programs has commissioned a local artist to create an illustrated activity sheet for families. Traditionally unveiled at December’s Free First Saturday, these creations have taken the shape of a whimsical diagram of a playground-like museum (Andy Ducett, 2011); and a cleverly blended comic strip/map (Todd […]

For the third year in a row, the Walker’s Family Programs has commissioned a local artist to create an illustrated activity sheet for families. Traditionally unveiled at December’s Free First Saturday, these creations have taken the shape of a whimsical diagram of a playground-like museum (Andy Ducett, 2011); and a cleverly blended comic strip/map (Todd Balthazor, 2012). We’re delighted to continue this project and introduce the artist for this year’s activity sheet.

Alyssa Baguss put her own twist (and turns) on the idea of an interactive map to Walker galleries. To appreciate all that goes into her work, we asked the artist to share a bit about herself, her practice, and what she’s created.

Where did you grow up? 

Maquoketa, Iowa—you know where that is, right? I was always playing outside. If I wasn’t swimming I was up in a tree all day.

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What does your family do for fun?

When we are together (which isn’t as often as it used to be) we spend a lot of time outdoors. I’m really lucky to live with really easy-going funny people.

What was your first job?

I bused tables at a pancake house…..sticky maple syrupy tables.

When did you decide to commit to a career as an artist?

…..since I was 5? I didn’t pursue it as an actual career until I was in my early twenties when I realized that I would be living a horribly boring life if I couldn’t do my favorite thing every day.  I hate being bored.

What do you absolutely love to draw?

I love to draw technology and think about how it influences how we experience the world. I use drawing as a tool to problem solve and answer questions that I am thinking about.

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When you aren’t drawing you are…

Exploring nature, researching ideas, growing things, watching hot air balloons, playing an instrument or thinking about what I am going to draw next.

Who or what inspires you and your work?

For inspiration I visit galleries and museums, spend time in nature and do a lot of reading and research into things I’m curious about. I live by a pretty simple philosophy: be yourself, do what makes you happy and surround yourself with people who do the same. My family is exceptionally understanding of my…….intensity……and without that type of unconditional love the world wouldn’t be as shiny.

Tell us a little bit about your creative process for this gallery activity?

I spent a few years as an info guide at the Walker Art Center.  As an info guide, I was always giving directions to guests who were lost and complaining about the WAC being too much like a maze. A maze seemed like the perfect gallery activity where you may get confused, lost or take a wrong turn, and still see some incredible things along the way.

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I researched the artwork and architecture at the Walker and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and found pieces that interested me for the maze. I literally cut and pasted the composition together into a maze design with paper images, then drew the images with graphite. I tried not to make the maze too difficult but there are a few challenging areas. Just like the Walker, I want you to occasionally exclaim, “What?  How did we end up here?” Besides, I tend to find the best things when I get lost. Just embrace it.

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Come to Free First Saturday on December 7 from 10 am–3 pm to pick up the final version of Alyssa’s interactive gallery activity.

Arty Pants: Yoga Moves

Despite the chill in the air outside, it was warm in the Walker on Tuesday.  Arty Pants tots and their grown-ups invaded Medtronic Gallery to gather on the rug.  Local dancer Ellie Ahmann from Minnesota Dance Theatre led a yoga workshop that would warm anyone’s heart.  Join us for the next yoga workshops on November 26 and December […]

Despite the chill in the air outside, it was warm in the Walker on Tuesday.  Arty Pants tots and their grown-ups invaded Medtronic Gallery to gather on the rug.  Local dancer Ellie Ahmann from Minnesota Dance Theatre led a yoga workshop that would warm anyone’s heart.

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 Join us for the next yoga workshops on November 26 and December 10.  

 Photos by Gene Pittman

Art School: Public Practice

The intersection of art, craft, and public practice is often not an intersection at all, but a blur — a crossing of boundaries and experimental interactions that blend each into the next. Yet at the institutional level there are rules, categories, rooms for each that separate our understanding of these creative entities. This dichotomy was […]

guy cutting on rug

The intersection of art, craft, and public practice is often not an intersection at all, but a blur — a crossing of boundaries and experimental interactions that blend each into the next. Yet at the institutional level there are rules, categories, rooms for each that separate our understanding of these creative entities. This dichotomy was the focal point of the season’s opening session of Art School — our contemporary art education program for Walker members — on public practice. Sarah Schultz, the Walker’s curator of Public Practice and director of Education and Community Programs, was joined by Perry Allen Price, director of education for the American Craft Council, for a discussion of current artist in residence Fritz Haeg and his work in relation to public practice, craft, and what it all means in the context of contemporary art. After the program, participants headed to Fritz Haeg: At Home in the City in the Medtronic Gallery where local artists Michon Weeks and Kate Fisher taught how to turn old t-shirts into crocheted mini-rugs, a.k.a trivets.

closer-up of instruction

It is not hard to appreciate and desire to be a part of Haeg’s work. Although rooted in all things plant-related and -derived, his work requires human interaction and use. From the most recent (and final) Edible Estate created in Woodbury, Minnesota, to the installation currently in the Medtronic Gallery, all that he makes begins with gathering plants but ends with gathering people. It is this notion that blurs the lines even within the Walker: there are not guards, but hosts, in the Medtronic Gallery who serve tea and maintain the space. The question of “is it art?” does indeed get raised when an artist like Haeg stretches the boundaries of a museum and brings the outside, craft, and domesticity inside as an exhibit. Yet if the goal is not to understand but to experience it, Haeg falls securely within the realm of art.

instruction on rug

To better understand the history of the distinction between art and craft and how it is challenged today, Price introduced many artists who practice crafts such as ceramics, furniture design, weaving, and embroidery in ways that defy expectation. A fundamental belief of ceramics, for example, is that the object created be used, even if that degrades its quality and increases the risk of breakage. Warren MacKenzie, however, includes that risk of decay and destruction of the work as a part of making it – otherwise how could a mug ever be made to be a mug? This concept helped explain much of what Haeg does in creating work that becomes dirty, changes over time outside with the weather, and even gets eaten. But for both the potter and the public practice artist, their work is no less art because of its use. Rather than the term “craft,” perhaps a better one would be “functional art,” as personal involvement is retained after the creative process is complete – or rather, the creative process never ends.

girl cutting on rug

A large portion of Haeg’s residency also involves the visitor making something themselves, whether helping hand crochet the large rug, helping plant the Edible Estate, or just knitting up in the gallery. This interactive element joins the limits of craft with the ability of an art museum to produce a pioneering example of public practice in contemporary art. For it is in making something oneself that one can find a better understanding in relation to one’s domestic experience, and find that art is not only what hangs in a museum, but can be how one is a part of their community.

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