Blogs Field Guide

Dara Moskowitz: Light From Below

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl is known in the Twin Cities and beyond for her culinary writing in the alternative weekly City Pages (for which she’s picked up multiple James Beard prizes). But at home, she’s mom to 17-month-old Asa, who, she writes in an email, “is a big art lover. He’s at the MIA right now […]

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl is known in the Twin Cities and beyond for her culinary writing in the alternative weekly City Pages (for which she’s picked up multiple James Beard prizes). But at home, she’s mom to 17-month-old Asa, who, she writes in an email, “is a big art lover. He’s at the MIA right now with the nanny. Let me know if you want his thoughts on Rembrandt.” Grumdahl wrote a reflection on Sarah Sze’s installation Grow or Die in the Cowles Conservatory, a series of three subterranean chambers crafted from Q-tips, transistors, wires, beakers, and other tiny objects. She’s agreed to share her essay, which first appeared on the blog Open for Design, here.

Someone pointed out to me that the Bean’s new language explosion of what I consider to be very odd words – pinecone, keyhole, grate – is not so odd at all. All those things can be found at his level, which is, roughly, the bottom two feet of the world. And so it was that we spent yesterday exploring Sarah Sze’s “ Grow or Die,” a 2002 installation in the Conservatory of the Walker Art Center’s Sculpture Garden.

The installation is underground, three separate installations made of Styrofoam, nets, thread, glass beakers, lights, fans, and countless tiny, tiny, tiny things. They look like teeming miniature cities, or teeming coral reefs, or teeming medical storage facilities sprung to life. They’re clinical, eerie, and magical.

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So, Asa laid down on his belly beside each Sarah Sze sculpture, and pointed at this flower, that net, this test tube, saying “ See? See?”

We go back and forth like this: “ I see a flower, what do you see?” I ask, pointing at something. Then he points at something he wants the name of, and prompts me with “ See?” We saw thread, spools, wires, lights, gauze, test tubes, flowers, all sorts of things. Finally I ran out of words, and settled on pretty’. “ Pretty, pretty” the baby would say, stabbing at the covering glass with his little forefinger.

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We probably spent a full hour in reverie over Sze’s haunting installations. It made me think: The imagery directed at babies is so relentlessly saturated with teddy bears, farm animals, the alphabet, and such that you kind of assume that that’s the content they’re capable of understanding. However, I have direct evidence now that babies are entirely capable of enjoying abstract, contemporary, sophisticated, non-figurative work – if it’s presented on their level.

Thumbs Up!

This post, written by Mark Severson, is the first in a series of writings from the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC). Next Thursday, I get the opportunity to meet David Choe, a California-based graffiti artist/musician with a desire to see new places and meet people across America. What was got me interested in […]

This post, written by Mark Severson, is the first in a series of writings from the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC).

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Next Thursday, I get the opportunity to meet David Choe, a California-based graffiti artist/musician with a desire to see new places and meet people across America. What was got me interested in Choe was Thumbs Up!, a VBS.tv series tracking his hitchhiking/train hopping journey from Los Angeles, California, to Miami, Florida. As Choe states, “ Train hopping is one of the last American frontiers. As years go by it gets harder and harder to do, but it’s a great way to see America. The adventure of hopping on a train to see a place you have never seen before is what creates the frontier.

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The greatest part about the Thumbs Up! series is the experiences Choe has along the way. Things get intense when Choe finds himself in the middle of the desert on a stopped train with no water. I can’t imagine how scary a situation like this would be, due to the fact that I live in the “ land of 10,000 lakes.” This reminds me of being on a family vacation to the Black Hills filled with non-stop driving in a hot car far from the cities. Although Choe spends one night at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, his accommodations aren’t all in the lap of luxury. From abandoned buildings to sleeping with strangers in a camper named “ The Dolphin,” Choe’s lodging is very daring.

Thumbs Up! is an awesome series that takes a look at what hitchhiking/train hopping across America is like today. As a reflection to what Choe encounters on his journey, he creates grafitti art along the way. Thumbs Up! leaves the viewer hanging with only half of his journey completed. Choe promises that new episodes of his travels will resume in a couple of months, check the Thumbs Up! blog to see updates of where and when Choe is headed to next or come to his FREE artist talk next Thursday!

No ‘Passive Viewers’ Here

I didn’t want a completely passive viewer. Art means too much to me. – Kara Walker It was almost a year ago that Minneapolis Southwest High School (SWHS) signed on to craft a partnership in conjunction with the coming exhibition Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love. I knew Kara Walker’s work […]

I didn’t want a completely passive viewer. Art means too much to me.

– Kara Walker

It was almost a year ago that Minneapolis Southwest High School (SWHS) signed on to craft a partnership in conjunction with the coming exhibition Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love. I knew Kara Walker’s work was not for all high schools, but I also knew that SWHS has a history of integrating the arts and engaging students in a deep exploration of their own creativity. The school decided to include two groups of students: 11th graders taking the integrated Annenberg U.S. History and Art class, and juniors and seniors in the Advanced Fine Arts Seminar. We hoped it would spark students in this diverse community talking about race.

In the end, the students did much more than just talking — and their responses to Kara Walker’s work were anything but passive. They went deep into issues of race, identity, sexuality, violence, and the power of art.

This spring, each class came to the Art Center for tours of the Kara Walker exhibition. Then, with the support of principal Bill Smith and guidance from several teachers including art teacher Cecily Spano, history teacher, Nonie Kouneski, theatre teacher Chris Fisher, dance teacher Colleen Callahan, and teaching artist Leah Nelson, the students were invited to create art pieces responding to and expressing their experience with the work of Kara Walker.

The Walker invited them to return to the galleries to share their pieces with Kara Walker’s cut paper murals, paintings, and films as inspiration and backdrop. This happened on two nights. On April 26, the Annenberg history students invited their families, teachers, other students and friends to the “ response”. On May 8, the advanced fine arts students did the same.

Some of what I remember:

A puzzle placed throughout the galleries that when assembled listed the range of stereotypes one student had experienced….a spoken word dialogue about what is–and isn’t–power…a drummer providing jarring staccato…shadowy photographs depicting conflict. And on the second evening… a reading from a history textbook about slavery that ended with a strangled scream…a deceptively graceful dance to Billie Holiday’s haunting Strange Fruit…a frightening poem and performance reenacting rape….and much more. Listing what they did is insufficient to describe the power of what they created and what we all experienced together.

Both evenings closed with lively and moving discussions between the student performers and the audience which underscored for me why partnerships like this are an important part of my work at the Walker. The impact of Kara Walker’s work on these students was obvious and their courage in sharing so much of themselves with others will stay with me for a long time.

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Attention Britney: I Found You Some Back-Up Dancers

May Free First Saturday went above and beyond this time around, featuring dancers from the Emio Greco | PC troupe that were at the Walker presenting their newest work Hell. While the dancers didn’t bring the Inferno to the Walker galleries and the wee ones wandering about, they were very enthusiastic to select art works […]

May Free First Saturday went above and beyond this time around, featuring dancers from the Emio Greco | PC troupe that were at the Walker presenting their newest work Hell. While the dancers didn’t bring the Inferno to the Walker galleries and the wee ones wandering about, they were very enthusiastic to select art works in the galleries and perform impromptu dance responses. So cool.

I was at FFS to help with the story readings, but I managed to catch a few bits and pieces:

Emio Greco | PC interprets Thomas Schutte

Dancer Marta Lopes (Portugal) dances next to a piece in the Thomas Schutte gallery as part of the Quartet exhibition.

Emio Greco | PC interprets Kara Walker

Dancer Ty Boomershine (USA) dances next to a Kara Walker work as part of the exhibition, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love.

Ty’s performance was very striking, and my favorite by far. He looked like a character out of one of my very best, Neil Gaiman-inspired day dreams.

Britney, I think Emio Greco | PC has the kind of dynamic kick that could drag even your (allegedly) drug- and booze-addled career out of the gutter. Just something to think about, s’all I’m sayin’.

Kara Walker Response 2.2

People are getting introspective about questions raised by Kara Walker’s work in the exhibition Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love. This is the third installment of reponses written or drawn on postcards created by the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council. We asked people to think about one of three prompts: […]

People are getting introspective about questions raised by Kara Walker’s work in the exhibition Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love. This is the third installment of reponses written or drawn on postcards created by the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council. We asked people to think about one of three prompts:

What are you suppressing?

What does power look like?

Retell a history

When the project was first concieved, we thought it likely that people would respond visually, since Kara Walker’s most immediately arresting pieces are her visually stunning silhouettes. Interestingly enough, though, almost everyone has chosen to respond in writing, perhaps highlighting the fact that it is in Kara Walker’s text (incorporated throughout her work and on the gallery walls) that her most direct message truly lies.

Below are more postcard responses:

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Pedro Martinez

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Larissa Donovan

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Annie M

Ready, Set…Art!

A quick stress reliever for 2 or more people (as designed by two cranky, stressed out colleagues – that would be me and Christina). This is guaranteed to waste 15 minutes of your afternoon. Enjoy! 1. Gather a variety of art-making components and set them out in plain view. (Here in ECP we like to […]

A quick stress reliever for 2 or more people (as designed by two cranky, stressed out colleagues – that would be me and Christina). This is guaranteed to waste 15 minutes of your afternoon. Enjoy!

1. Gather a variety of art-making components and set them out in plain view. (Here in ECP we like to open all the cabinet doors in the Art Lab for easy grabbin’.) Also gather scissors, tape, and glue.

2. If you have more than two people, pair up so each person has an opponent.

3. Start the clock! Each opponent has two minutes to pick out six art-making components. (For example, pipe cleaners would be considered a component, so feel free to grab a handful – it still counts as just one!)

4. Give the six components over to your opponent. Scissors, tape, glue and other construction necessities are freebees and don’t count towards the component limit.

5. Keep your eye on the clock! Everyone gets 13 minutes to create an art work from the six components. You have to use some of every component.

6. Display proudly:

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The Animal Inside by Christina Alderman

Components: take-out box, plastic lizard, chopsticks, foam paper, metal lids with clear tops, ribbon

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Homage to David Lynch by Morgan Wylie

Components: cardboard, magazine, contact paper, cotton swabs, rubber duckie, pipe cleaners