Blogs Field Guide

Best in show from the Lifeworks art show

As promised in an earlier post (http://blogs.walkerart.org/ecp/2008/12/16/offering-a-critical-eye-to-lifeworks-2008-traveling-art-show/) I’m sharing an image of the work that received best in show in Lifework’s 2008 traveling art show. The work is called The Bearded Lady at the Circus and the artist is Layne Lastine. Congratulations Layne!

Larry Yazzie: Sharing the Gift

I’m particularly excited about the upcoming Free First Saturday, highlighting Larry Yazzie and his son Jessup, who will be performing the fast and colorful Fancy Dance on Saturday, January 3rd. The theme of the day “Styled by Saarinen” is inspired by the exhibition Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future (closing January 4th) and the design innovations […]

I’m particularly excited about the upcoming Free First Saturday, highlighting Larry Yazzie and his son Jessup, who will be performing the fast and colorful Fancy Dance on Saturday, January 3rd. The theme of the day “Styled by Saarinen” is inspired by the exhibition Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future (closing January 4th) and the design innovations of this legendary architect. If you’re wondering what connection the Native American Fancy Dance has to Saarinen and architecture, unfortunately there aren’t any that I know of (except for maybe the stamina and hard work both require). But, there is one important parallel between the Yazzie and Saarinen families-each produced a creative father-son duo, (Eero is the son of architect Eliel Saarinen, well-known for designing the Cranbrook Educational Community in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan). Like Larry and Jessup, who perform together whenever possible, Eero and Eliel collaborated on a number of important commissions as co-architects, the last completed project by Saarinen and Saarinen was Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood. So, it’s in the spirit of teamwork and raising creative kids, that we kick-off 2009.

Thanks, Larry for answering some of my questions about the Fancy Dance. You can watch the Yazzies’ performance “Sharing the Gift” at 11 am and 1 pm in the Walker Cinema.

Larry Yazzie, courtesy the artist

Larry Yazzie, courtesy the artist

Can you explain the Fancy Dance and its origins?

The Oklahoma Feather Dance or “Fancy Dance” is one of the most popular styles of dance seen at modern powwows. It originated as the Fancy War Dance by the Hethuska society in Oklahoma and was invented by Gus McDonald, the first World Champion Fancy War Dancer.

Who dances the Fancy Dance, and are there certain occasions when the Fancy Dance is performed?

Mostly young men and boys. Fancy Dance is usually the highlight at powwows and special events because of the energy and colorful regalia.

How long have you been dancing?

I’ve been dancing for most of my life since the age of 5.

You learned the Fancy Dance from your grandmother and grandfather, and have passed the tradition on to your 10-year-old son, Jessup. Was he a quick study?

Jessup began dancing since he could walk at the tender age of two. Jessup has already developed his own technique and style.

How often do you two dance together?

We dance together whenever possible at powwows and special events.


You were named World Champion for the Northern Style Fancy Dance in 1995, and Jessup has won junior division competitions at powwows across the United States and Canada. Can you describe the level of training and amount of practice that goes into preparing for a powwow?

It requires endurance and stamina to perform the Fancy Dance and takes a lot of training and running. It’s like preparing for a marathon. I also won the world championship in 2007.

Jessup Yazzie, courtesy of the artist

Jessup Yazzie, courtesy of the artist

One of the most striking things about your performances (in addition to the dance itself) is the elaborate clothing you wear. Do the colors and style of dress have any symbolic meaning?

The regalia reflects my life and tribal identity-the Meskwaki people of central Iowa.

You’re taking a brief break from a national and international tour with the Native Pride Dancers, which will pick up again in the New Year. What are some of the special places you have traveled to, any tour highlights?

Within the last several years I have been invited to Australia, Ireland, Japan twice, Brazil and numerous cities across the U.S.

What motivates you to continue dancing?

Dancing allows me to be creative and keeps me in top shape especially for my age. It challenges me to improve as a competitor.

Do you and your son Jessup share any other creative outlets?

We enjoy sharing our culture through song & dance by teaching our dance to other children.

What do you want young audiences to take away from your performances at Free First Saturday?

To show what our elders have passed down to us and to be proud of who we are as Native Peoples, and to let the young audience know the Native Americans are the Indigenous people of North America.

 

Arty Pants Report: Getting Kids Started

I took both O and J to Arty Pants today — technically, J. is a bit young and O. is a bit old, but they both had a great time. There were two activities — one was a “magic” watercolor painting (you draw with “invisible” white crayon, then paint over it to make your drawing […]

Arty Pants activity

Arty Pants activity

I took both O and J to Arty Pants today — technically, J. is a bit young and O. is a bit old, but they both had a great time. There were two activities — one was a “magic” watercolor painting (you draw with “invisible” white crayon, then paint over it to make your drawing magically appear –see O.’s painting of the “textures of the world,” above). For the other, kids used felt shapes to make versions of minimal sculptures.

Oskar was very hesitant to play with the felt at first — but Christina, the WAC staffer who worked with him in the gallery, had really good ideas for getting him started experimenting. Here’s what she did:

- First, she had O. use the felt shapes to make an arrangement that was just like the Judd sculpture (6 dark blue boxes, six dark blue pieces of felt).They got up, and counted the sections of the sculpture together.

- Now that he had that down, and had made something just like the sculpture, she started giving him random pieces, “Here! Add this in!” By this time, he was warmed up, and the variation made for a good twist.

- My favorite thing she did: they scooped up all the felt compositions, and she said, “Okay, I am going to close my eyes and count to 25 — make something!” This was great: no time to worry about what to make, or whether it was perfect — just make something, and quick! Then they looked at it together (he made a tower), and they added windows and a door, and a few things just to finish it a bit more.

Art on Call for Out There: It’s not just for the galleries anymore!

 One of the great things about strolling through the galleries at the Walker is the fact that you can use your cell phone to get information about a particular painting that you want a little more information about. It’s called Art on Call. It’s a little something that just ties everything together. Like having an expert […]

 One of the great things about strolling through the galleries at the Walker is the fact that you can use your cell phone to get information about a particular painting that you want a little more information about. It’s called Art on Call. It’s a little something that just ties everything together. Like having an expert at your fingertips.

Now the same is true for Out There 21, Performing Arts’annual showcase of new and contemporary performance.  I know there have been many times you wish you could have picked up your cell phone during some of the more challenging performances and had someone turn the light on above your head. That’s what we do best down here in Education!

This year’s lineup is great, and I’m not saying this just because all of the creators called and left messages on my voicemail telling me so. I’m saying this because each is constructing a thoughtful, energetic, and engaging piece about thorny and serious issues.  Tim Crouch’s England which takes place in the galleries asks us why we put so much value on art, and how that parallels the value or lack of value we place on human life.  His piece poses moral questions in an interesting way.

Toshiki Okada/chelfitsch production Five Days in Marchpresents a darkly comic look at Japanese teen culture in the well to-do suburb of Shibuya while examining the first days of the Iraq war in 2003.

Young Jean Lee, whose previous work Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, was a smash hit, returns to give us a show about religion. In her interview, she said the way she works is that she thinks of a show that she would never want to make and then forces herself to make it. Even if you don’t come for the carefully constructed sermons in the piece, show up to hear a full gospel choir. Performing Arts curator Phillip Bither said that after they commissioned Songs of the Flying Dragon, they immediately asked her to create another new work. Bither says she takes the same scalpel to the subject of religion as she did to Asian stereotypes in Songs of the flying Dragon. “Her work is startling, provocative and exciting,” stated Bither.

National Theatre of the United States of America is constructing a real circus tent on the McGuire Stage, using local in-line hockey players, and offering free beer in the newly added beer garden in the McGuire for their show Chautauqua!. It promises to be one of the more ambitious performances. Apart from making the Events and Media Production staff very nervous, the piece presents an interesting challenge to Performing Arts staff. It forced them to re-think of the way they function as presenters as NTUSA blurs the line between National and Local in this piece. Oh, and the performance features the Walkers own Jill Vuchetich. She will present a history of the Walker as part of the show.

Each of these four pieces was chosen, Bither said, because, “of their fresh and never seen before approaches to theatre. They challenge us to re-think what theatre is.”

So, you should go and see Out There 21 next month.  And, you should let your fingers do the walking and let the experimental theater artists do the talking as you wait for the lights to dim.

Amy Toscani Interview with WACTAC

WACTAC is putting on an awesome workshop “Sculpture for Lightweights,” taught by local artist and sculptor Amy Toscani and open to all high school students. She has exhibited extensively since 1993, recently having a show at The Soap Factory. During the workshop, Amy will share her knowledge of welding, sewing, and playing light-weight steel to […]

WACTAC is putting on an awesome workshop “Sculpture for Lightweights,” taught by local artist and sculptor Amy Toscani and open to all high school students. She has exhibited extensively since 1993, recently having a show at The Soap Factory. During the workshop, Amy will share her knowledge of welding, sewing, and playing light-weight steel to create sculptural objects. You’ll have the opportunity to check out the Walker galleries, flex your muscles on some stainless steel in Amy’s studio, and then exhibit your own sculpture in a final showcase.

We put Amy through the wringer before we deemed her worthy of reciting the WACTAC of Allegiance, and our in home stenographer was kind enough to give us a look at the transcripts:

What were you like in high school?
I was sort of obnoxious and immature, I’d say. I was actually sort of in the grade school stage in high school. You know, I was like pea-shooters and gum under desks. I wasn’t really artistic. I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist. Some of my family members were but I was more into music. You know I was in a marching band and then I went on to college and thought I was going to teach band music. Isn’t that funny? So, I was at the College of Fine Arts and I thought I wanted to go into radio television, in the production end of it, and then I started taking all these art classes. I went to see a counselor and I said, “I want to change out of fine arts into telecommunications.” And he said, and he said, “No, look at all these art classes you took!” I said, “well I can’t be an artist, I’m not good enough to be an artist!” and he said, “you don’t have to be good.” So, I took drawing, illustration, and sculpture for under grad and then it turned out I liked sculpture so much I mastered in it. But yeah, I was going to be a band director.

Muscle 2004 (near the Saint Paul Farmers Market)

What do you want people to get out of your art?
Great question. I guess I want them to have a feeling of wonderment or explore potentials and possibilities and sort of mix up the reality. You know, it’s hard to surprise people in 2008, almost 2009, and then when you can surprise them and make them take notice of something, especially an object, I think that’s big. And I just love doing it. So, I guess I do it for myself more than anything but I do sort of want to the hair on the back of their neck to stand up.

If you were to create a sculpture that visually translated what goes on in your head, what would it look like?
It would be pretty haphazard, and some parts wouldn’t be finished, it might tip over. Someone told me—and I’m an Aries—”Aries are great at starting projects, they love to start projects” and I was like, “That’s right!” But then the follow-through is just like discipline, so I do a little here, I do a little there.

What is your favorite sculpture of all time?


I think it would have to be Lee Bontecou, any one of the early sixties, when she did canvas over these steel frames, and she’d sew them. It was all found objects because she lived above a Chinese laundry mat and they would throw out these conveyer belts, so she cut up the canvas and then stretched them on these frames and she’d sort of burn into them and they looked really industrial and yet biomorphic. I just love her work. And I love Martin Puryear, too. And Carsten Holler.

What are your favorite materials and why?
Steel, probably. Lightweight steel. First of all it’s very forgiving. So if you cut it too short, that’s alright, you just add a little section onto it and if you cut it too long, you cut it again. So it suits my personality and my way of working and I also love to sew. I like fabrics a lot. And I sort of use steel as fabric. It’s just this additive, manic process, and it looks homemade and I like that it shows the hand of the artist.

If you could have dinner with three people living or dead who would they be and why?


Ghandi, is one. I always aspire to be more zen (laughs). I was just reading abo ut Shirley Chisholm, I would like to have met her. There’s a documentary on her life called CHISHOLM ’72: Unbought and Unbroken …Who else, maybe Abe Lincoln or something. I live on Lincoln street (you know, Northeast has the streets named after presidents).

If you could design a senior prom, what would it look like?
It would be based on spaceships and rockets. There would be a lot of rope lights. And really good music. Like, you wouldn’t want to sit down, and you’d want to actually go, even if you didn’t have a date.

What advice could you give to teen artists?
I guess, keep on keeping on. Talent’s not even important—it’s one aspect. It’s perseverance, really. It’s a long distance race and somehow you have to make that process fit your life, because you’re not going to do it if it doesn’t. And you know, who succeeds in life? It’s the person who keeps trying. I think that’s more important than anything.

SO REMEMBER!!! Sign up for the sculpture workshop by January 16th. $30 dollars for Walker Members, $35 for non-members. Broke? Don’t worry about it, scholarships are available. To register contact Teen Programs at 612-375-7628 or email teenprograms@walkerart.org

If you would like to see more of Amy check out her Soap Factory interview below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWFf811Oqt4[/youtube]

Offering a critical eye to Lifeworks 2008 traveling art show

Last month mnartists.org Project Director (and monster drawer) Scott Stulen and I ventured to Lifeworks administrative headquarters in Eagan to jury a group of twenty-five artworks, which were submitted for inclusion in the organization’s annual traveling art show. The works, created by Lifeworks clients, offered a variety of media and subject matter. After about an […]

Last month mnartists.org Project Director (and monster drawer) Scott Stulen and I ventured to Lifeworks administrative headquarters in Eagan to jury a group of twenty-five artworks, which were submitted for inclusion in the organization’s annual traveling art show. The works, created by Lifeworks clients, offered a variety of media and subject matter. After about an hour of intent looking and talking we forced ourselves to decide on the twelve works that would make up the 2008 traveling art show, which will be on view at corporations that employ Lifeworks clients. We walked Mary and Adrian, our Lifeworks hosts, through our thought process, so that they could pass along notes to the artists. It was a great morning – so much dynamic work to digest and reflect upon.

Checking out some paintings by Lifeworks clientsChecking out some paintings by Lifeworks clients

Our choice for Best in Show ended up being a portrait done in crayon of a figure whose gender is ambiguous. The person has a gray beard, but has breasts and wears a feminine-cut green and orange blouse, earrings, and blush. He/she is placed against a vibrant magenta background that appears to be sucking the him/her backwards into a vortex of color. The right side of the figure’s head leans toward the upper right-hand corner of the paper, creating a strong vertical line, while the rest of the figure’s body swerves left. The crayon is applied thickly and throughout the surface of the picture are short, lively, meticulous scratch marks. The work is expressive and intensely personal – it doesn’t offer a clear idea of who this person is or how this person is interacting with the world. The viewer isn’t privy to the whole story.

Sorry that I don’t have a picture of the work to share.I’ll post one once one becomes available. I promise. For now you’ll just have to use your imagination.

“What’s Lifeworks?” you may ask. Lifeworks is a private nonprofit organization that serves 1,200 people with developmental disabilities and their families in the Twin Cities metro and Mankato areas, offering its clients career development and social enrichment services. Currently six of the eight Lifeworks locations offer visual arts programming. Lifeworks is partnering with the Walker over the next two years on enhancing tour experiences for visitors with cognitive disabilities through our Open Door Initiative, which focuses on accessibility through tours and art-making. Open Door Initiatives are funded by MetLife Foundation.

13 Most Beautiful Young Artists Trailer

WACTAC just finished shooting their screen tests yesterday, inspired by Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. We put together a little teaser of the footage we got on video. You’ll notice that there is a major element missing: a soundtrack. That is where you come in. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CBm8xgQSvE[/youtube] We extended the deadline for high school musicians to score […]

WACTAC just finished shooting their screen tests yesterday, inspired by Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. We put together a little teaser of the footage we got on video. You’ll notice that there is a major element missing: a soundtrack. That is where you come in.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CBm8xgQSvE[/youtube]

We extended the deadline for high school musicians to score our film until Wednesday, December 17th. Send a link to your myspace or email your demos to teenprograms@walkerart.org. If you are selected you will have the opportunity to perform live at the screening of this project in February. GET YOUR SUBMISSIONS IN! This is a great opportunity. You can rap, read poetry, submit as a band, submit as a choir, make a beat, etc… just get it in by the 17th.

Call For Musicians (ages 14-18)

To kick off every year, the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) meets with curators from the various programming departments to talk about what films, exhibitions, and performances might be of interest to them.  After the initial meet and greet, WACTAC brainstorms ideas for programs, events, and workshops that tie into the year’s programming.  […]

To kick off every year, the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) meets with curators from the various programming departments to talk about what films, exhibitions, and performances might be of interest to them.  After the initial meet and greet, WACTAC brainstorms ideas for programs, events, and workshops that tie into the year’s programming.  Sometimes it takes a while for WACTAC to come to a collective decision about the programs they are interested in, but after hearing about Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips’ 13 Most Beautiful performance in February, they unanimously voted to create a project around it.

Taking 13 Most Beautiful as a template, WACTAC has begun creating 16mm film portraits based on Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. The resulting films will accompany original soundtracks performed live by a select group of young musicians in late February in the McGuire Theater. We are searching for this “select group of young musicians”, so if you know high school age musicians, spoken word poets, rappers, or bands, please help us pass along the call for artists (click on the image below)! To participate – send music samples or a link to a myspace page to teenprograms@walkerart.org

We have been working with our resident 16mm filmmaker Allison Herrera. Our first shoot was a couple of weeks ago and here’s some photos from the day’s events.

Today, we got our first look at the films in the Cinema and we were really excited about the results.

Call for Entries for Artist Book Fair

This winter the Walker Art Center turns bookish with a season of events surrounding Text/Messages: Books by Artists, an exhibition of works from the museum’s collection and library opening on December 18. Over the past three decades, the Walker has amassed a significant collection of books by artists. This show highlights this important trove of […]

This winter the Walker Art Center turns bookish with a season of events surrounding Text/Messages: Books by Artists, an exhibition of works from the museum’s collection and library opening on December 18. Over the past three decades, the Walker has amassed a significant collection of books by artists. This show highlights this important trove of material, showcasing examples from a broad range of artistic movements, book structures, concepts and narratives. Many of the works are sculptural, multidimensional, or made of material other than paper—some have no pages at all. “Books have historically been an important arena for artists,” says exhibition co-curator Siri Engberg. “In addition to conceiving works as books, many artists today are also engaged with a more abstract notion of ‘book,’ and where that idea can lead them in making a work of art.”

In celebration of this exhibition and all things book-like, the Walker teams up with Minnesota Center for Book Arts, mnartists.org, and Rain Taxi Review of Books to present Multiples Mall: A Bookish Fair on Saturday, February 21 from 11 am – 4 pm at the Walker. This day of festivities includes tours of the exhibition, a presentation on the history of chapbooks by Rain Taxi editor Eric Lorberer, and an artists’ book fair and sale open for browsing throughout the afternoon. This is an opportunity to gather and showcase the creative talents of Minnesota’s thriving book arts and literary communities and for an artistic exchange between makers themselves and the general public.

Minnesota artists are invited to submit an application for participation in the fair portion of Multiples Mall. Organizers are looking for work that exists within the elastic discipline of book arts, including artist-made books, chapbooks, fine press work, graphic design, artful zines, and multiples that claim a relationship to the form or concept of the “book.”

Each selected artist will have four feet of table space to display their wares and the opportunity to have work for sale by the Walker shop during the event.

SUBMISSIONS PROCESS
Participants will be chosen based on the appropriateness of their work for this event by a panel of representatives from each presenting organization. To be considered for inclusion in Multiples Mall, please email the following to submit@mnartists.org .

1. Up to five images of your work that represents what you would display

Digital images should be saved as JPEGs and sized to 96 pixels/inch and measure 7 inches (or 672 pixels) on the longest side. Images must be labeled with a number and last name.
For example: 01smith.jpeg, 02smith.jpeg, etc.

2. A resume with contact information

3. A brief explanation of how you think your work relates conceptually or formally to the “book.” (150 words or less)

All submissions must be received by midnight on MONDAY, DECEMBER 15 to be considered. Participants will be notified by December 19th.

Please direct questions about digital submissions to scott.stulen@walkerart.org.
For general questions, email sarah.peters@walkerart.org

Claire Bishop speaks at the Walker Art Center

Critic Claire Bishop, known for extensive writing on contemporary art and social engagement, will speak at the Walker on Thursday, October 30 at 7 pm. The first in a fall series of Mack Lectures, Bishop’s talk will focus on the complex ethics of performance and representation in contemporary art, drawing on recent works in which […]

Artur Zmijewski  Them (2007)

Artur Zmijewski Them (2007)

Critic Claire Bishop, known for extensive writing on contemporary art and social engagement, will speak at the Walker on Thursday, October 30 at 7 pm. The first in a fall series of Mack Lectures, Bishop’s talk will focus on the complex ethics of performance and representation in contemporary art, drawing on recent works in which artists such as Artur Zmijewski, Jeremy Deller, and Phil Collins employ others in a piece and examining issues of authorship and authenticity that arise in these situations.

Newly appointed as a professor in the History of Art Department at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York, Bishop’s work has centered on a critical examination of how aesthetics and participation are evaluated in work termed “relational.” Her oft-cited article “Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics” appeared in the journal October in 2004 (available here) and prompted a lively exchange in the journal’s “letter and responses” page, as her 2006 essay “The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents” did for the letters to the editor section of Artforum. She is also the author of the book Installation Art: A Critical History (Tate Publishing, 2005), and the edited anthology Documents of Contemporary Art: Participation (Whitechapel/MIT Press, 2006).

The talk is free; pick up tickets at the Bazinet Garden Lobby desk starting at 6 pm on the night of the event.

Read up and bring your questions!

Next