Blogs Field Guide Chloe Nelson

A Parade of Flowers and a Football Stadium: Before the Sculpture Garden

Before the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden existed, the space was a formal garden, a playing field and, once upon a time, a swamp. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, it is only fitting to comb through the archives and dust off some maps, memos and moments from the garden’s pre-history. On the […]

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Before the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden existed, the space was a formal garden, a playing field and, once upon a time, a swamp. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, it is only fitting to comb through the archives and dust off some maps, memos and moments from the garden’s pre-history.

On the layout of the Lowry Hill Area in the late 1800s, Minnesota’s first ornithologist, Thomas Sadler Roberts, recalls a forest perfect for bird watching and fishing.

“The oak woods that is now Loring Park was in the country and the lake near by… had a considerable outlet—deep enough for bass and pickerel to come and go—which crossed Hennepin, the old territorial road, about where Harmon Place now joins that avenue. This stream ran into the weedy lake which with the surrounding meadow occupied most of the present Parade Ground. Ducks bred there and in 1877 it was still a meadow…” (Shotgun and Stethoscope, 1991)

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These first recollections of water and swamp would haunt the early history of the space. The Parade Ground, first called Hiyata Park, was an early name for the ten-acre plot that is now the Sculpture Garden. Minneapolitans constructed a magisterial Armory on the site with crenellated, stone walls for the Spanish-American War National Guard volunteers at the turn of the century. The area soon was to house athletic fields and demonstration gardens.

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The Armory would play host to many budding gardeners, eager to trade notes on floriculture in a hardy and challenging environment. A 1913 florist and horticulture convention would “demonstrate,” as park superintendant Theodore Wirth put it, “to the out-of-state visitors that the Minnesota climate is not so adverse to successful achievements in floriculture as some people from other parts of the country are inclined to believe.” Who knew the Minneapolis Florists’ Club Baseball team defeated the reigning All Star champs? Florists all over the country used to enjoy the bat-and-ball sport. By 1940, with field lights and bleachers installed, the Parade was “the place to play.”

A commercial plane landed in the Parade grounds from New York in 1920, setting a world record for freight transportation. In 1928, the year before the Armory was deemed unfit for usage, a public programming extravaganza was staged within its walls. This included an old time fiddlers’ contest, a “midnite frolic,” and a dance “Bearcat” marathon that lasted over 974 hours. Much like the Internet Cat Video Film Festival, “folks say it’s the silliest thing ever witnessed, BUT they all come back to watch the marathon.” (Journal advertisement,1928).  In 1933, the Armory was torn down after sinking nearly four and a half feet into the ground.

It was to change names many times. After the Armory sank, and the space was simply a garden, ideas were thrown around: the delicate “Parade of Flowers,” the formal “Cathedral Gardens,” and the rather academic-sounding “Park Board Demonstration Gardens.”

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The space that the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden inhabits has been of horticultural interest for over a century. While gardens were present for most of the first half of the 1900s, in 1967 the Parade’s flowerbeds were removed for construction of the highway. By 1973, there were only a “few fine elms” dotting the landscape.

In a memo from 1988, Martin Friedman announces, “It’s not everyday that we can grow a garden together—metaphorically, as well as actually.” It is hard to imagine that Minneapolis’s crowning jewel of horticulture and art was once a swampland frequented by ducks.

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All images courtesy of the Walker Art Center Archives.

Walker Home & Garden Club Hits the Garden

Mother’s Day brought the sunshine and the intrepid Home & Garden club to the geodesic dome in the Sculpture Garden. With this familial theme, we looked back to the knowledge we have gleaned, passed down, and shared from the matrons and matriarchs of our families. With the sun-warmed soil beneath us, and a red-tailed hawk […]

Mother’s Day brought the sunshine and the intrepid Home & Garden club to the geodesic dome in the Sculpture Garden. With this familial theme, we looked back to the knowledge we have gleaned, passed down, and shared from the matrons and matriarchs of our families. With the sun-warmed soil beneath us, and a red-tailed hawk circling overhead, we also had a skill share moment: our artist-in-residence coordinator, Anna Bierbrauer, opened the table for home gardening queries. First, we discussed the burgeoning garden we were surrounded by: the Foraging Circle is divided into four biomes to reflect the biomes of our region.

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Secondly, Anna brought up the importance of testing the soil of your home garden: if your house is older, lead may seep from chipped paint into the soil. The lead will not get into your vegetables, but rather in the dirt itself, on your gloves and galoshes. It is important to thoroughly wash these items. Soil testing can be done by the Soil Testing Laboratory at the University of Minnesota.

A red-tailed hawk was resting on the stadium lights.

A red-tailed hawk was resting on the stadium lights.

We also discussed a myriad of ways to discourage critters from eating from your carefully-curated raised beds. Oftentimes, the small animals visiting your garden are thirsty for a drink and take a bite from a ripe tomato, for example, to quench their thirst. One solution is putting in a bird bath, or providing an alternative source of hydration for your visitors. As far as deterring hungry animals, there are no tried-and-true solutions; but here are some ideas: scattering dog urine around the ground to create “marked territory,” and sprinkling spicy ingredients onto the young veggies were my favorites.

Nana's nut bread

Nana’s nut bread

We brought brown-bag lunches, but were also encouraged to bring in a family recipe in the spirit of Mother’s Day. I inquired of my mother for a few family recipes. I received a string of emailed recipes including one for Lemon cake (with a magical secret ingredient: Jello). I decided to try my great-grandmother’s recipe for Nut Bread. Nana grew up on a farm in Cherokee, Iowa, so as my mother put it, “things were a little looser in her recipes and she did a lot by heart.” In the spirit of Michael Pollan’s ethos of simple cooking, I sign off with Nana’s Nut Bread recipe:

1 cup brown sugar
1 egg beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
1-2 tsp baking powder
Salt
Nuts*

Mix and bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes in a loaf pan.

*About ½ cup (walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.), but you can improvise.

Walker Home & Garden Club will share its love and knowledge of baking and gardening with the public during the run of  Fritz Haeg’s upcoming exhibition, Domestic Integrities A05More information to come in the months ahead. 

Walker Home & Garden Club Learns to Darn

The Walker Home & Garden has struck again. Struck the darning needle that is. You see, we have now learned the ins and outs of darning socks and hemming trouser legs. The most challenging moment of instruction proved to be knotting the needle: by threading the needle once, simply twisting the string around the needle, […]

Darning Socks

Darning Socks

The Walker Home & Garden has struck again. Struck the darning needle that is. You see, we have now learned the ins and outs of darning socks and hemming trouser legs. The most challenging moment of instruction proved to be knotting the needle: by threading the needle once, simply twisting the string around the needle, holding on for dear life to the twisted string, and then pulling the needle through the twist, a knot is born.

We are almost ready to learn how to braid a rug in the name of Fritz Haeg’s At Home in the City. In preparation, we have culled together some extra local textiles from our hemming & darning tutorial for the rug construction at the Walker.

In addition to the domestic instruction, a lovely array of food items were brought to the table: kale salad, pasta salad, graham crackers, hummus and pita, and a chocolate torte.

Graham Crackers on offer

Graham Crackers on offer

Introducing the Walker Home & Garden Club

How do you domesticate the institution? The Walker’s very own Home & Garden Club posed this question in honor of Fritz Haeg’s upcoming artist residency At Home in the City. The club hosts Walker staff whose interests span departments and all aspects of the home: baking, gardening, crocheting, saving seeds, drying herbs, and sewing lunchbox […]

Bread for the Home & Garden Club

How do you domesticate the institution? The Walker’s very own Home & Garden Club posed this question in honor of Fritz Haeg’s upcoming artist residency At Home in the City. The club hosts Walker staff whose interests span departments and all aspects of the home: baking, gardening, crocheting, saving seeds, drying herbs, and sewing lunchbox purses.

 

Grasses from Ashley Duffalo’s garden; thyme and oregeno from Sarah Schultz’s kitchen garden

For the long-term composting aficionado to the CSA novice alike, Walker Home & Garden functions as a culinary laboratory and research space. We are going to share skills, hone our hosting chops, and experiment with the domestic integrities that we each bring to the table.

Getting ready for soup

We recently held the inaugural meeting by way of soup-eating session. After all, how can you domesticate the institution without rolling up your sleeves and baking bread to share? We  started by bringing in tea, soup, bread and honey, then pulling together three tables and some benches to complete the communal feeling of a school cafeteria. We decorated the space with some mismatched tablecloths, bell jars of fresh herbs, and canteens of dried flowers (it is winter, after all!). Within ten minutes, our art education center was transformed into a space for banter, recipe-sharing and, of course, breaking bread.

Conversation over lunch

We will be hosting several more Home & Garden Club sessions before and throughout the Haeg residency. We may discuss farmer’s markets, local gardening tips, and perhaps even thrift shopping and composting as empowering tools. Keep your eyes and tomatoes peeled, we’ve got quite a bit of prep work to do!

Out in the Open: Six Threads

Open Field may have been heralded in with soft, intellectual discussion, but it wrapped up the first weekend of September with a bang: the purrs of cats and the Farmer’s Market flair of local jug bands. Open Field has eschewed definition, and yet its curious nature begs to be explained, debated, and defended. Here are […]

Open Field may have been heralded in with soft, intellectual discussion, but it wrapped up the first weekend of September with a bang: the purrs of cats and the Farmer’s Market flair of local jug bands. Open Field has eschewed definition, and yet its curious nature begs to be explained, debated, and defended. Here are six themes that defined Open Field for me and piqued my curiosity this summer:


Virtual knowledge/Shared spectacle

Artists-in-residence ROLU brought together artist-collaborators known to each other only through the internet into the space of the Walker; The Conversationalist’s Café drew passersby and strangers together in an attempt to bring people offline and face-to-face; and the Internet Cat Video Film Festival summoned 10,000 spectators to experience the beloved virtual in a tangible space.


Alternative means of trade

Like a tinker of yesteryear, Trading Tortoise set up camp on Open Field to barter goods from its travels across the country; artist Amanda Lovelee’s It’s Always Someone’s Birthday, So Let’s Celebrate! cheerfully enticed passersby to make birthday cards for an elderly home in exchange for birthday cake; Art Swap, once an ice shanty, mobilized art makers to trade artworks.


Shared creation

In its third year, Drawing Club did not cease to foster creations between unlikely parties and media; The Poet Is In opened the door for local poets to consult and collaborate; Doctor Sam asked us to think about and draw what makes things become “Better Together;”and The Big String Thing turned humans into fingers for life-size string figure formation.


 Shared consumption

Artists-in-residence Kitchen Lab designed a space of constant gastronomical exploration; Field of Reads made the local literary community pause and enjoy the written word for a Mass Read-In; The Swatch Team united fiber artists and the food community to ring in the autumn harvest.


Lost forms of communication

Post Office Love Letter encouraged people to think back to a time of social delicacies and epistolary exchange; Into the Blue – Cyanotype Photography took us back to the 19th century and the origins of photography; and Analog Tweet forced us to handwrite a telegram rather than post to Twitter.

The Absurd

Baby Picnic functioned as a business meet-up for the very, very young; Adrian Freeman’s Acoustic Campfire staged karaoke within the makeshift context of a fort; and Jonathan Zorn invited the public to clap with wooden boards with every synchronized step into the night.

Open Field has created countless ephemeral moments– and to use Amy Franceschini’s idea, a temporary commons– in which these six threads thrive. The Tool Shed’s hours may now be limited, but Open Field will continue to inspire curious moments of communal clarity and creation. It is, afterall, what we make together.


Acoustic Campfire: Brian Laidlaw & the Family Trade

Tomorrow night we have the special pleasure of dancing alongside the ever-jolly Brian Laidlaw & the Family Trade preceding the highly anticipated Internet Cat Video Festival. To that end, we have heard rumors circulating of a Cat Power/Cat Stevens mash-up by said band which is sure to act like crowd cat nip. Brian Laidlaw & […]

Tomorrow night we have the special pleasure of dancing alongside the ever-jolly Brian Laidlaw & the Family Trade preceding the highly anticipated Internet Cat Video Festival. To that end, we have heard rumors circulating of a Cat Power/Cat Stevens mash-up by said band which is sure to act like crowd cat nip.

Brian Laidlaw & the Family Trade rollicked onto Open Field earlier this summer for an intimate Northern Spark fireside concert. Old-timey, fresh-faced, and family-friendly, Brian Laidlaw & the Family Trade marry the sound of Appalachian folk music with light-spirited poetics and bright harmonies. Brian Laidlaw, a San Francisco transplant, crafts instantly infectious tunes that –much like cat videos– are too addictive be ignored. Come early for the 7pm Acoustic Campfire finale!

 

Out in the Open: Internet Cat Video Festival

Public Program Organizer Katie Czarniecki Hill checks in with us on Open Field and cats Name: Katie Czarniecki Hill Occupation: mnartists.org Program Fellow/Open Field Social Media nerd/Unofficial Cat-Lady-In-Residence City/Neighborhood: Cathedral Hill, St. Paul Open Field Activity: Internet Cat Video Festival Description: While normally viewed alone on a computer screen, our unofficial cat-lady-in-residence invites you to come […]

Public Program Organizer Katie Czarniecki Hill checks in with us on Open Field and cats

Name:

Katie Czarniecki Hill

Occupation:

mnartists.org Program Fellow/Open Field Social Media nerd/Unofficial Cat-Lady-In-Residence

City/Neighborhood:

Cathedral Hill, St. Paul

Open Field Activity:

Internet Cat Video Festival

Description:

While normally viewed alone on a computer screen, our unofficial cat-lady-in-residence invites you to come gather together on the field and LOL in the presence of others as your favorite silly cat videos are projected larger-than-life one after the other.  Experience the joy of a surprised kitten or keyboard cat together. Participate in this experiment that tests the social boundaries of the online community with a live, off-line event as we attempt to gather in physical space and real time to enjoy one of the internet’s most popular phenomena.

Date of Activity:

August 30th, 2012, 8:30 pm.

 

1. Fill-in-the-blank: _______________ is what we make together.

xo meow  is what we make together.

 

2. What is your favorite public space in the Twin Cities or beyond?

Open Field.

3. What is the perfect Minnesota summer activity?

4. What brought you (more…)

Out in the Open: Monologue on a Mask

Public Program Organizer Tinne Rosenmeier checks in with us on Open Field and summertime Name: Tinne Rosenmeier Occupation: Middle School Theater teacher, classical actress, theater education curriculum specialist & consultant City/Neighborhood: Saint Paul’s Como Park neighborhood Open Field Activity: Monologue on a Mask:a Theatrical Mini-form from Innocent Offerings Description:Monologue on a Mask invites participants to come […]

Public Program Organizer Tinne Rosenmeier checks in with us on Open Field and summertime

Name: Tinne Rosenmeier
Occupation: Middle School Theater teacher, classical actress, theater education curriculum specialist & consultant
City/Neighborhood: Saint Paul’s Como Park neighborhood
Open Field Activity: Monologue on a Mask:a Theatrical Mini-form from Innocent Offerings
Description:Monologue on a Mask invites participants to come read, write, decorate, mask and repeat!
In the great Minnesota tradition of stuff on a stick, Monologue on a Mask seeks to create playwrights, actors, designers to create instant theater form. Feel free to enter the project from any angle!
Date of Activity: August 26th from 12 to 3pm.

 

 

1. Fill-in-the-blank: _______________ is what we make together.

Performance is what we make together.

2. What is your favorite public space in the Twin Cities or beyond?

I grew up in Saint Paul, and Rice Park is a great space.  Standing on the tip (more…)

Out in the Open: Tai Chi (or Chai Tea?)

What started out as an innocent comment from her niece, “You should do Chai Tea like Aunt Jean” sparked Jean Jentz’s imaginative Open Field activity title: Tai Chi (or Chai Tea?). Tai Chi (or Chai Tea?) takes place weekly under the dappled shade of the trees beneath Pierre Huyghe’s Wind Chime (After “Dream”) from 1997/2009 in the […]

What started out as an innocent comment from her niece, “You should do Chai Tea like Aunt Jean” sparked Jean Jentz’s imaginative Open Field activity title: Tai Chi (or Chai Tea?). Tai Chi (or Chai Tea?) takes place weekly under the dappled shade of the trees beneath Pierre Huyghe’s Wind Chime (After “Dream”) from 1997/2009 in the Sculpture Garden.

Jentz believes that everyone can practice Tai Chi and her style, Tai Chi Easy, is particularly accessible to the elderly and the young because it can be done anywhere with minimal instruction. Tai Chi Easy encourages focused balance and slow movements without accessories or special gear.

Tai Chi in Bangkok. Photo courtesy of Jean Jentz.

During a trip to Bangkok last year, Jentz— a Minneapolis-based Tai Chi teacher and physical therapist who has spent time with Walker tours— was struck by local Tai Chi practitioners. There, practitioners would gather in the parks for meditative early morning community performance. While Jentz forgoes fans (see image), you can still expect the joy of synchronized movement today from 1-2pm for her last Open Field session.

Out in the Open: Skunk & Funk – Cribbage in the Field

Name: Jordan Wiklund Occupation: Writer, Editor at Quayside Publishing City/Neighborhood: St. Paul! Open Field Activity: Cribbage in the Field invites participants of all ages and skill sets to spend a few hours at the Walker playing, teaching, learning, and sharing a Minnesota classic–cribbage! Replicating last year’s highly successful event, cribbage-goers need only show up. Boards […]

Name: Jordan Wiklund
Occupation: Writer, Editor at Quayside Publishing
City/Neighborhood: St. Paul!
Open Field Activity: Cribbage in the Field invites participants of all ages and skill sets to spend a few hours at the Walker playing, teaching, learning, and sharing a Minnesota classic–cribbage! Replicating last year’s highly successful event, cribbage-goers need only show up. Boards and cards will be provided, but players are encouraged to bring their favorite boards or pegs from home to share with others.
Dates of Activity: Saturday, August 25, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.

 

 

 

1. Fill-in-the-blank: _______________ is what we make together.

Connections (of any kind) are what we make together.

2. What is your favorite public space in the Twin Cities or beyond?

As a Luther grad, I’m always returning to Decorah every chance I get. Phelps Park, overlooking the Upper Iowa River Valley from rolling, hilly bluffs, is unbelievably beautiful.

3. What brought you to Open Field?

The idea that cribbage–such a simple game–seems to perfectly match the idea (more…)

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