Blogs Field Guide Christina Alderman

I am program manager for families at the Walker, which works out great since I like making big messes and lots of noise.

Big Ideas, Short Films: Sneak Peek at March’s Free First Saturday

By Rachel Kimpton. Want to shed the winter blues with a little cinematic magic? Come to the Walker Art Center this Saturday, March 2, for Free First Saturday Kids Film Festival. The lineup is filled with movies about food, acceptance and love. Prepare to be dazzled by live-action, animation, and 3D films. To pique your […]

By Rachel Kimpton.

Want to shed the winter blues with a little cinematic magic? Come to the Walker Art Center this Saturday, March 2, for Free First Saturday Kids Film Festival. The lineup is filled with movies about food, acceptance and love. Prepare to be dazzled by live-action, animation, and 3D films.

To pique your interest, here’s a sneak peak of the films being screened this Saturday.

 

Big Ideas, Short Stories

Below are a few of the short animated films being screened at 11 am and 1 pm in the Walker Cinema.

Ormie (Canada, 2010), a film by Rob Silvestri, is about a curious pig dedicated to obtaining his obsession: sweet, warm cookies. Will he ever get what he wants?

Yvette Edery’s film Jillian Dillon (USA, 2009) is the story of a hippoplatypus—half hippo, half platypus—who transforms her differences into helpful powers that save the day.

In Nate Winckler’s film Twirl (USA, 2012), a speaker dances along to the music it plays and ignites friendships with others.

Ben Hora (France, 2010) captures the hardships faced by an immigrant family upon their arrival in a new country. Film by Nicolas Bianco-Levin and Julie Rembauville.

Pishto leaves everything behind one autumn day and makes a new friend during his journey in Sonya Kendel’s film Pishto Goes Away (Russia, 2012).

Kiss – A Love Story (Norway, 2011) is a film by Joseph Hodgson and Franck Aubry that explores the relationship of the sun and the moon during a solar eclipse.

A scientist receives an unexpected visitor while conducting experiments in Pasturized (Argentina, 2012). Directed by Nicolas Villarreal.

 

3D Adventures

The following 3D films will be screened at 3 pm in the Walker Cinema. 3D glasses will be provided.

Paul Emile-Boucher’s film Tuurngait (France, 2011) tells the story of a boy led by a magical snow goose into the ice forests where the dangers are too much for any boy to handle alone.

 

When a boy gets his heart broken, he uses a magic spell to create an emotional shield. The Boy in the Bubble (Ireland, 2011) is a lesson about letting your emotions get to your head—and your heart! The film is directed by Kealan O’Rourke, and narrated by Alan Rickman.

 

When Anna’s father leaves to work abroad, it seems to be the worst time of her life. Things take a turn for the better when she and her cousin discover the powers of a magic piano. Check out their adventures in Martin Clapp’s The Magic Piano (UK, 2011).

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

The short story films will be shown one after the other at 11 am and 1 pm, and the 3D films will play at 3 pm. Don’t miss out on this great selection of short films from around the world!

Meet the Artists of February’s Free First Saturday: Part II

By Rachel Kimpton. This is the second part of our artist interview for February’s Free First Saturday. On February 2, we have a few fantastic local artists making their way to share their styles and methods of painting. These artists will be participating in the Art Lab activity in accordance with that day’s opening of the […]

By Rachel Kimpton.

This is the second part of our artist interview for February’s Free First Saturday.

On February 2, we have a few fantastic local artists making their way to share their styles and methods of painting. These artists will be participating in the Art Lab activity in accordance with that day’s opening of the Walker Art Center’s newest exhibition, Painter Painter. This exhibition focuses on the development of abstract painting and the role of both the artist and the studio space. For the activity, visitors are invited to observe and talk to the artists as they work, then use that inspiration to create their very own painting.

To get you pumped for painting, we asked each artist to share a brief bit about themselves, their work, and their space. In part I of this blog, we heard from Betsy Byers, Kate Fartsad, and Eric Syvertson. Here are answers from the last 3 artists of the day: Tara Costello, Joonja Lee Mornes, and Jehra Patrick.

Tara Costello

Tara Costello’s paintings examine unfamiliar spaces and the emotive power of the interplay of forms. She uses layers of Venetian plaster and raw pigment to build up and create uncanny spaces in which viewers are called to find unexpected beauty in the relationships between rich textures and primitive marks. Costello aims to create spaces with variable contexts and perspectives, some hidden from sight, and some starkly unconcealed. Above all, her work is based in the desire for formlessness and the search for unforeseen possibilities.

3249755968_1da8057865_b

1. What’s your favorite part of your studio?

My favorite part is losing track of time while painting.

2. What non-traditional tools do you use to paint with?

The non-traditional tools that I use to paint with are venetian plaster and a trowel.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I knew I wanted to be an artist when I was ten, and had just won a poster contest for The American Red Cross. I had drawn a helicopter dropping a ladder to a person in a forest fire. There were 4 age groups, and I noticed that all the posters with a blue ribbon on them all had drawn helicopters. I wanted them to like the drawing more than the picture.

"Pink Sky." Tara Costello.

“Pink Sky.” Tara Costello.

Joonja Lee Mornes

Joonja Lee Mornes is an Asian-American artist who grew up in Seoul, Korea. She holds a Master of Arts degree in painting and has almost ten years of experience teaching art to college students and young adults in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Her other professional experience includes working more than twenty years as an architecture and landscape architecture librarian at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Mornes draws inspiration from watching the nature in various light and seasonal phenomena. Her imagined landscape paintings harmonize her past memories of rice fields in Korea, and present moments of the prairie with changing seasons and light.

Joon_Walker_small

1. What’s your favorite part of your studio?

The studio is a place to be alone surrounded by my work, to review whether or not the works reflect my experiences and emotions successfully.  It’s a place leading me to go forward and a place to think, read, work, and nurture myself.

2. What non-traditional tools do you use to paint with?

I am not sure if it is a non-traditional tool or not, but I use color shapers with rubber tips along with brushes.  I also use house painter’s sponges to lay the thin layers.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I always admired artists when I was a child and wished I could be one, but it was not until I came to the US and pursued my college education in art.  It was one of the best decisions I made for my life and career.

"Breathing: Rilke." Joonja Lee Mornes.

“Breathing: Rilke.” Joonja Lee Mornes.

Jehra Patrick

Jehra Patrick is a visual artist who works out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her current project questions art’s promotion, and the artist’s reciprocal relationship with the museum, by investigating museum collections, archives and spaces, selecting images to repurpose as the subject of paintings and photo-based work.

_DSC9605

1. What’s your favorite part of your studio?

Having a space designated for art-making. It is a space separate from my other art activities; when I walk in the door, I’m there to paint! So much of my art practice is laptop-based: reading about shows and artists, researching for concepts or images, updating my materials, applying for new opportunities, working with digital images – by contrast, it’s great to have a place that is expressly for painting. The space itself, I like because it is a neutral, white backdrop for envisioning my work on gallery walls. I’m grateful for it’s natural light and I always welcome the smell of linseed oil when I open the door.

2. What non-traditional tools do you use to paint with?

Regarding materials, I’m a pretty traditional painter; I work with brushes, paint and traditional mediums. I will divulge a little studio secret though – I’m quite thrifty and I purchase most of my materials at Home Depot and Ace Hardware. Rather then shell out $100 for a 2″ wide natural or synthetic brush, I just buy $2 brushes from the hardware store – they’ve become my favorite tool for large fields of color and blending! And if they get cruddy after several uses you can just toss them. I also use a digital projector rather then sketching out my compositions. I find it to be a really efficient way to maintain accuracy. I’ve also used it to project my source images to determine the scale of paintings yet-to-be-made.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

In all honesty, I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was probably 6 or 7. As I got older, I wasn’t sure it would be a viable option - though I continued to produce work - it seemed like artistic success was a game of odds. It wasn’t until the past 6 years that I came to the understanding that artists are in charge of their own careers; you have to want it, and you have to follow up, otherwise it doesn’t happen. So, I reaffirmed that I’m going to be an artist, and now I’m doing just that.

Freight Elevator." Jehra Patrick.

“Freight Elevator.” Jehra Patrick.

You can join these three artists on February 2 in the Art Lab. Joon will begin at 10:30am and paints until 1:30pm. Both Tara and Jehra will be painting from 12:30pm to 3:30pm. This is a great opportunity to witness artists in their creative process!

Meet the Artists of February’s Free First Saturday: Part I

By Rachel Kimpton. For our upcoming Free First Saturday in February, we have a few fantastic local artists making their way to share their styles and methods of painting. These artists will be participating in the Art Lab activity in accordance with that day’s opening of the Walker Art Center’s newest exhibition, Painter Painter. This exhibition […]

By Rachel Kimpton.

For our upcoming Free First Saturday in February, we have a few fantastic local artists making their way to share their styles and methods of painting. These artists will be participating in the Art Lab activity in accordance with that day’s opening of the Walker Art Center’s newest exhibition, Painter Painter. This exhibition focuses on the development of abstract painting and the role of both the artist and the studio space. For the activity, visitors are invited to observe and talk to the artists as they work, then use that inspiration to create their very own painting.

To get you pumped for painting, we asked each artist to share a brief bit about themselves, their work, and their space. Here are answers from the first three artists of the day: Betsy Byers, Kate Fartstad, and Eric Syvertson. Check out part II to hear from Tara Costello, Joonja Lee Mornes, and Jehra Patrick.

Betsy Byers

Betsy Byers paints to discover and imagine relationships that embody our intimate experience with the environment in an abstract form. Her work often births from singular, elemental experiences of the body within space: feet touching water, the curve of the back nestle into rocks. In her paintings, Byers interweaves the psychological space and materiality of paint, as she searches for reciprocity between the self and the surrounding environment.

IMG_0893

1. What’s your favorite part of your studio?

My favorite part of being in the studio is the act of preparing my materials to work. It always surprises me to open my studio door and get a new perspective on a painting, even if it is has only been 10 hours since I last looked at it. I enjoy mixing paint, staring at my work and playing out new possibilities of compositions in my head before my brush even touches the surface of paper or canvas.

2. What non-traditional tools do you use to paint with?

I use paint rollers, squeegees, rags, and spatulas in addition to a variety of brushes and palette knives. My favorite brush is a #4 flat.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I didnʼt paint with oil until I was 20 years old. When I was growing up I did a lot of observing, drawing and writing, but I never imagined that I would become an artist. I decided to major in art during college because art classes challenged me more than any other department. I chose to become an artist due to the questions that art raises. I am constantly engaged by my work in the studio and by my attempts to translate and develop a visual experience for others.

"Coalesce." Betsy Byers.

“Coalesce.” Betsy Byers.

Kate Farstad

Kate Fartstad is a recent graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She currently has a solo exhibition, MOUTHBREATHER, up at Midway Contemporary Art (MN), and has shown in the past at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MN), Zach Feuer Gallery (NY), Art of This (MN), The Soap Factory (MN), Fox Tax Gallery (MN), Synchronicity Space (LA), and has an upcoming exhibition at Julius Caesar (Chicago) in April of 2013. She makes paintings and sculptures using disparate objects and images, and would like to think that she has an excellent color sense. Farstad is also an active musician in the Twin Cities, playing drums in two bands, ‘Tips for Twat’ and ‘Larry Wish and His Guys’.

Farstad

1. What’s your favorite part of your studio?

I do enjoy that I can get paint all over the floor and won’t get in trouble. I enjoy being able to be alone when making things. But my favorite part is that I just have a studio to work in that’s not too claustrophobic.

2. What non-traditional tools do you use to paint with?

I like to use anything and everything, but tend to favor perhaps the shoes you’re currently wearing, or any material that is impersonating another material; as well as hair, matchsticks, shells, dog treats, or wreaths.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I think in first grade (about 6 years old or so) I was forced to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And I knew then my anxiety towards science and mathematics would continue, and that those things would not be a part of my trajectory. I have always loved making art. My grandmother was a painter, my father is a photographer, my mother and three brothers are all musicians… so I have been blessed to have a family that supported that sort of thing, i.e., “weird” stuff.

"Double Swaddle".

“Double Swaddle.” Kate Farstad.

Eric Syvertson

Eric Syvertson is an artist, educator, and arts advocate currently living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A recent transplant from North Dakota, Syvertson has served two terms as the President of the Fargo-Moorhead Visual Arts (FMVA), the largest visual arts organization in the state. Syvertson graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in art education, and for the past four years has been teaching art at West Fargo High School. Currently, Syvertson is working on his master’s degree in fine arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design as he exhibits work throughout the region.

Syvertson

1. What’s your favorite part of your studio?

Its ability to be a hiding place for all of my failed attempts at art making.  Walking into the studio, I feel very lucky to enter a space where failures are more than just allowed, but they are actually very necessary in learning how to make my work. The studio becomes an experimentation lab where both good and bad results of effort always seem to be time well spent.  It is very empowering to enter a space where you feel as though you can do no wrong.  Come to think of it, we should all reserve space or a little corner of a room for that sort of thing!

2. What non-traditional tools do you use to paint with?

I love to experiment with all sorts of materials in my paintings.  In the past I’ve used birch wood, spray paint, textile paint, ink, burnt paper, or anything else to make a surface more interesting.  These days, my approach to painting is more traditional but I still have fun trying out different tools or methods.  Often when I start a big painting I like to use a reductive method of using rags to wipe away layers of wet paint to reveal the surface below.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I can’t say that I remember when I decided that I wanted to be an artist.  Instead, I think that drawing and painting was something I enjoyed as a kid and just kept doing into adulthood.  Rather than deciding that I wanted to be an artist, it was more of a realization that I had always been an artist.  That realization didn’t come to me until I was about twenty years old and it took another five years or so to begin to understand how my passion for art had potential to be fulfilling for a lifetime.

Syvertson face transplant

“Simultaneous Portrait: Richard’s Face Transplant.” Eric Syvertson.

You can join these three artists on February 2 in the Art Lab. Betsy and Kate will begin painting at 9:30am and go until 12:30pm, and Eric will be working all day. Come enjoy real artists create new pieces before your very eyes!

A Year in Review: Highlights of 2012

By Rachel Kimpton. From the doors of the Walker Art Center to happenings around the city, state, country, and world at large, 2012 was indeed a whirlwind of a year. After putting our heads together, we present to you this compilation of outstanding family programs to shine as a beacon of inspiration for the year […]

By Rachel Kimpton.

From the doors of the Walker Art Center to happenings around the city, state, country, and world at large, 2012 was indeed a whirlwind of a year. After putting our heads together, we present to you this compilation of outstanding family programs to shine as a beacon of inspiration for the year to come.

Arty Pants

ecp2012ap0424_010

Last winter, visitors created “cool” paintings and sculptures using colored ice as a medium, and designed their very own arctic creatures. Young guests transformed the windows overlooking Hennepin Avenue in the General Mills Hennepin Lounge with giant, colorful window clings. January featured the film Lost and Found, a heart-warming story based on the book by Oliver Jeffers. Spring activities largely incorporated the Lifelike exhibition and similar themes. Visitors toyed with scale by creating tiny models of their favorite places, preparing a paper feast large enough for giants, and manipulating the size of different body parts using a photo booth.

Steve Sanders of Snapdragon Seeds Music joined us in May and June. He improvised songs based on visitor observations of the Walker Art Center galleries and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Songs included a story about a cyclops (based on our old Murakami wallpaper), the journey of a young man from New York to Minnesota, and why John Waters is silly. You can enjoy a large batch of Steve’s Arty Pants songs on his website. Summer hosted two very fun hands-on projects. Kids created their own clay versions of freshwater creatures and collaborated to make paper garden with all the necessary inhabitants (including a garden gnome). During November and December, local dancer Timmy Wagner led several workshops teaching Merce Cunningham’s ideas behind artful movement and choreography.

Expect the unexpected.

One of our favorite things about Arty Pants is when visitors get excited and projects take unexpected turns.

Free First Saturday

February was all about snow. We planned to trick out sleds and take them for a spin down the hill,  but Minnesota threw us a curveball last winter. No snow? No problem! “Snow(less) Saturday” was a day of making cardboard snowmen with artists Andy Ducett and Scott Stulen, learning about bees with Terry McDaniel of the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association,  and crafting valentines for residents at Twin Cities nursing homes with local artist Amanda Lovelee. Families had a chance to experience the imaginative process of film within the walls of the Walker Art Center in March. This day was very exciting, as the Walker hosted the regional premier of the award-winning animated Japanese film Oblivion Island.

April was a day of exploring memories, ancient traditions, and feelings of youth. Minnesotan playwright and performer Kevin Kling and author/illustrator Chris Monroe paid us a visit to narrate their collaborative work, Big Little Brother, a children’s book about sibling rivalry turned brotherly love. Families had the opportunity to enjoy Oscar-winning short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and to create wool felt alongside artists from the Textile Center.

Photo Aug 04, 11 59 58 AM

Battle master Scott Stulen and workshop boys Karl Unnasch and Andy Ducett.

In August, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was transformed into a giant LARPing (live action roleplaying) arena. The responsibility of freeing both the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden from a dangerous curse was placed in the hands of ordinary citizens. Participants encountered shopkeepers, trolls, shaman, fortunetellers, sirens, merchants, and others while completing various quests in order to lift the curse. September celebrated the power of reading,  storytelling, and community. Local author and illustrator Nancy Carlson led the activity Get Up & Read, allowing characters from her books to encourage guests to be active and move their bodies as they made their way through the Garden.

As the year began to wind down, November wound things back up again by coaxing out one’s inner inventor through experimental expression. Artist Margaret Pezalla Granlund transformed the Art Lab into a luminous forest where guests investigated the tricks of light, mirrors, and reflection. Electronic music pioneer Laurie Anderson held an afternoon workshop showcasing her invented instruments, projects, and music.

Laurie Anderson_Nov_2012

Laurie Anderson manipulating the voice of a participant.

Family Exhibition of the Year: Lifelike

Without a doubt, the Lifelike exhibition wins family favorite – hands down. Lifelike was on view for most of spring, opening in late February and ending in late May (you can read more about the exhibition here and here). This exhibition showcased how artists replicate everyday objects, challenging visitors to think about the art of design, and to recognize that “ordinary” does not necessarily imply “simple.” For children, this was a great introduction to exploring art outside of textbook examples, and to get a sense for what artists are doing and have done. The irony of altered scales or mediums, such as an oversized milk carton or a sleeping bag cast in bronze, was enjoyed by all and served as the perfect spark for dialogue

The gallery activities were very successful with this exhibition. Over 1000 scavenger hunt sheets made it into hands of visitors at family programs! Art Think, one of our gallery activities, asks children to describe their thoughts on a specific work of art that caught their attention. During Lifelike, kids tended to gravitate towards pieces from this exhibition and had a lot of interesting things to say.

elevators

As the Walker Art Center is always changing and evolving, we hope that 2012 will serve as an excellent role model for the upcoming programs in 2013.

Making It: A Family Guide with Todd Balthazor

By Rachel Kimpton Just how much work really goes into planning a day of engaging activities? Where do all the brilliant ideas for a public program come from? How does one correctly articulate and transform an inspiration into an idea and then to the tangible end product? To offer a little insight, we decided to […]

By Rachel Kimpton

Just how much work really goes into planning a day of engaging activities? Where do all the brilliant ideas for a public program come from? How does one correctly articulate and transform an inspiration into an idea and then to the tangible end product? To offer a little insight, we decided to walk you through the  creative process behind the illustrated gallery activity from December’s Free First Saturday, which was designed by the Walker Art Center’s Gallery Assistant Todd Balthazor.

We initially invited Todd to design an activity in July – a full five months before the activity’s premier in December. After several meetings and some serious brainstorming, Todd’s concept started to take shape later in the summer. His vision for the project encompassed 3 parts: a “find the art, fill in the blank, drawing activity.” With this in mind, he delivered two preliminary sketches to us around the end of September. The first contained pages filled with drawings and potential ideas for components of the gallery activity. The sketches featured artwork from all of the gallery spaces and included questions for the user to answer with both words and drawings.

Balthazor 1

Balthazor 2

Balthazor 3

The second preliminary sketch contained Todd’s ultimate idea: the use of an accordion fold. When in its initial form as a folded sheet of paper, the outer facade of the Walker Art Center would be visible, including guests dining in the D’Amico Gather restaurant. Opening and unfolding the sheet exposed the galleries and the actual activity.

building1

building2

After tweaking around with the design, the final draft was ready to go the first week of November. As the drawing was en route to be mass copied and printed, we received a surprise. One of the artworks featured in the gallery activity was removed from the Midnight Party exhibition and replaced with the new acquisition piece Some days it’s easy by Bharti Kher. Initially, the panel in the activity for Gallery 4 featured Robert Mallary’s sculpture The Parachutist, which had “escaped” and was shown floating off the top of the Walker Art Center. Rather than eliminate The Parachutist idea entirely, Todd kept The Parachutist still floating from the rooftop, symbolizing the removal of the piece. Some days it’s easy weighs well over 600 lbs, thus once it found its home in Midnight Party, it was very unlikely that it would move to a different location. Todd updated the central panel with an illustration of the new sculpture.

panel g4

Before and after.

After this last minute edit, the gallery activity earned the stamp of approval from Family Programs and was sent on its way to be printed. After five long months, Todd’s gallery activity was complete! It was very well received by visitors and staff of all ages, and proved to be an excellent, new way to interact with pieces in the gallery.

Balthazor final

Making It lifts the curtain on art-making around the state with posts that go inside the process of making and showing work. You’ll find these visually-oriented little pieces on both the Education and Community Programs’ blog and the mnartists.org blog. They’ll include a broad-mash up across disciplines, with everything from staff dispatches from Arty Pants and Open Field to rehearsal notes and studio visits, maybe even a few DIY tutorials by and with Minnesota artists.

A Conversation with Todd Balthazor

By Rachel Kimpton. Walker Gallery Assistants. Yes, I’m speaking of the uniformed men and women who stand guard in the galleries, keeping the art safe and silently witnessing the path you take from one painting to the next. But what goes on behind and beyond the job of being a Walker gallery assistant? What do gallery assistants have […]

By Rachel Kimpton.

Walker Gallery Assistants. Yes, I’m speaking of the uniformed men and women who stand guard in the galleries, keeping the art safe and silently witnessing the path you take from one painting to the next. But what goes on behind and beyond the job of being a Walker gallery assistant? What do gallery assistants have to say? And what do they have to… draw? For Todd Balthazor, art is always on his mind, whether he’s monitoring it in a white cube or doodling it on a white page. This Saturday, be sure to meet him, draw with him, and have his sense of humor be your guide to the galleries.

I chatted with Todd about his childhood, inspirations, and — of course! — drawing.

Todd, on the job as a monitor.

 

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in East Bethel off of Coon Lake.  There I spent most of my time either drifting through the weed beds in my canoe, wandering in the woods, climbing trees and building forts.

2. Do you have a specific memory from your childhood that stands out?

In third grade, Nancy Carlson came to my school and read one of her books to our class.  She signed my copy and I remember intensely watching the way her pen made its mark on the paper as she drew.  And, just this last year, I had Nancy Carlson as a teacher for a children’s book class at my college! It was such a memorable moment in my life to reconnect with such a big childhood influence and to feel myself still being driven by the same passion.

3. Tell us about your imaginary friends, past and present.

I never really had much of an imaginary friend, but as a kid playing with toys, I would start to think of what kind of person this toy was, or what their world was like and how they would interact with it.  I think that kind of imaginary play transferred into my story telling practice.  Now I draw a character and just start imagining the same kind of scenario. I come up with a story; draw a picture while inventing a narrative behind it.

4. When did you first become interested in comics?

I remember, even before I was able to read, that one of my favorite things to look at was the Sunday funny pages.  When I could read, I read all of them even if I didn’t understand them. My favorite comics were The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. I could really relate to Calvin on many levels!

Todd working in his studio.

5. What was your first job?

One of my first jobs was working in a daycare center.  When I walked in I think the kids were shocked to actually have a guy visit, and they all wanted to play with me right then and there.  I was pretty much hired on the spot and that was basically what I did for several years, working with kids, playing and drawing all day.

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

Since kindergarten I knew I wanted to be an artist.  I remember how much I loved coloring and drawing, and already knowing that was what I wanted to do.

7. Tell us a little bit about your creative process. For example, how did you come up with this gallery activity?

I usually have to lock myself alone in my art room away from distractions.  Then I work all night, usually until 4 in the morning.  I like that time of day because it’s like the world has shut off and it’s just me.  Towards the back of the Sunday Pages there used to be a comic called Doodles where you could do crosswords, match ups, and draw in the spaces.  As a kid I loved these.  So, I wanted to make something like that where the art and the viewer are interacting together.

I imagined scenarios for how the art or a gallery assistant could guide you through the illustration or actively connect you with what you see.  I also started to play with the paper, folding it up to make grids.  When I made the accordion fold it hit me that I could have the front of the Walker open up as if you’ve entered the inside.

8. Who or what inspires you and your work?

I find it therapeutic to draw out my thoughts or just let my brain wander on a piece of paper.  I usually draw things to make myself laugh.  I also really enjoy sharing my work with others.  I love seeing that I drew something that makes someone laugh and it also becomes a way in which I share part of myself.

9. What is your all time favorite graphic novel or comic? 

Definitely Calvin and Hobbes.  It’s so well written and the art is amazing. As a kid, I remember reading some of those big words that Calvin would use and have no idea what that word meant, but I at least had the context of his expressions to relate it to.

10. What do you absolutely love to draw?

Animals that have just the right crazy look in their eyes.

11. What does your family do for fun?

Lots of hiking and camping and in the winter we cross country ski.

12. When you aren’t drawing (or standing guard at the Walker) you are…

I love getting together with my friends. I’m also a very active person so I’ve been training in Kung Fu for several years.  It helps me focus and has become another art form I’ve learned to enjoy.

Todd and his (then) new puppy at Walker Open Field.

(All images courtesy of the artist.)

————————————————————————————————

Come to Free First Saturday on December 1st and meet Todd in person from 11 am-2 pm. Be sure to pick up Todd’s interactive gallery activity that will have you exploring the Walker Art Center in new ways.

November’s Free First Saturday: Experimental Expression

ecp2012ffs1103_010

By Rachel Kimpton

Guests in front of Bruce Conner’s “Night Angel”.

The warm welcome of family-friendly programming grows all the more enticing as winter creeps its way closer. November is always a busy time at the Walker, especially with the recently commenced performing arts season. This month’s Free First Saturday was no exception. Families flocked in to illuminate their Saturday, basking in the glow of visiting artist Laurie Anderson and experimenting with light, reflection, and inventing.

The morning started off by investigating and playing tricks with light via activities designed by artist Margaret Pezalla Granlund. In the Art Lab, kaleidoscopes of all shapes and sizes beckoned from tables, inviting curious hands and minds to pick them up and peer inside. Each turn of the kaleidoscope showed something different – a thousand pairs of laughing eyes, a thousand loving mothers, or a brief sneak peek at reality interspersed with a thousand tiny polygons.

If the kaleidoscopes were too dazzling, a simpler approach came in the form of two free-standing mirrors and an assortment of small objects. This seemed better suited for our youngest crowd members. With a slight tilt of one mirror, an infinite loop of images appeared, creating millions of apples or blocks or candles that faded into obscurity. The eyes of a child would narrow, and their tiny gears would start to turn. This garnered shared smiles of excitement and endearing gazes between parents. For the older kids brave enough to venture into the dark (some alone, some gingerly holding onto their taller guides), a forest of hidden secrets awaited that could only be revealed through the power of light. By placing the tiny LED against one’s temple and oscillating the finger to which it was attached, visitors were pleasantly surprised when shapes of leaves, trees, squirrels, and birds revealed themselves in the dark curtained tunnel.

Photo by Frannie Kuhs

On the way to exploring the galleries upstairs, visitors stopped at Cargill Lounge to challenge their inner inventors – some for fifteen minutes, and some for two hours. You know you’re doing something right when parents are just as into a hands-on project as their younger companions. Led by arts instructor Alexandra Waters, visitors designed their own illuminated structures using small lights and a variety of transparent materials including recycled film strips and tissue paper. The end products were altogether awe-inspiring. Highlights of the afternoon included: an angler fish, a Tony the Tiger Statue of Liberty, a decent sized model airplane with landing lights and engines, and several movie projectors (a quote from the 7-year-old artist: “Once I’m finished, it will project this film onto the whole side of the Walker!”)


Photo by Rachel Kimpton

Photo by Frannie Kuhs

Photo by Rachel Kimpton

And what better innovator to inspire creativity than multimedia artist and musician Laurie Anderson! An electronic inventor herself, Anderson generously presented an afternoon workshop for kids on top of her three evening performances in the Walker’s McGuire Theater. The promise of experiencing Anderson firsthand had parents geeking out for the entire morning. During her workshop, Anderson shared a chunk of her personal and artistic history, discussed her music and performance pieces, and showcased some of her instruments that she herself invented. Her beloved inspiration and companion for many years, Lolabelle the dog (may she rest in peace), appeared in videos as a skilled pianist. Between these discussions, Anderson performed selections from her recent work and invited young audience members to distort their voices and laughter through one of her filters. A brief question and answer session followed, giving younger audience members a chance to pick Anderson’s brain about her favorite creations and the many processes of inventing.

Guests also had the opportunity to participate in gallery activities in the Midnight Party exhibition. Guests created their own light impressions by applying concepts used by artist Bruce Conner in his piece Night Angel. Conner created this piece by positioning himself between photosensitive paper and a light source to essentially create a photographic negative. The farther Conner was from the paper, the darker the paper became. Toying around with these same ideas, visitors experimented with ultraviolet pens on UV sensitive paper. Unlike Conner’s piece, this paper did not permanently capture the effects of the light. Instead, the image remained for only a few seconds until it slowly faded away, returning the paper to its original blank state. The fleeting images dazzled visitors of all ages, making it hard to venture into the rest of the galleries.

Our other featured gallery activity asked children to share their thoughts on a specific work of art. Kids had great things to say about Robert Motherwell, Paul Sharits, Thomas Hirschhorn, and others. Yayoi Kusama’s sculpture Passing Winter was interpreted as depicting a snow storm inside a mad scientist’s lab, as well as the innards of a disco ball. One 10-year-old guest was reminded of “how lucky [she] is” by Kris Martin’s Still Alive, while an imaginative 6 year old guessed that Ed Paschke’s Painted Lady was inspired by feet that “were walking in the woods and tripped over a bucket of paint.”

Experimenting through art makes the upcoming winter season seem brighter.

All photos by Gene Pittman unless otherwise stated.

First Free Saturday and Open Phenology

By Emily Wack           Red Admiral Butterfly on Korean Angelica in the Arlene Grossman Memorial Arbor An artist, birder, and Walker staffer, Abigail Anderson is guest curator of Open Laboratory at June’s Free First Saturday. Here, she talks about citizen science, the value of observation, and what inspired her to organize a day of activities […]

By Emily Wack
          Red Admiral Butterfly on Korean Angelica in the Arlene Grossman Memorial Arbor

An artist, birder, and Walker staffer, Abigail Anderson is guest curator of Open Laboratory at June’s Free First Saturday. Here, she talks about citizen science, the value of observation, and what inspired her to organize a day of activities based around the myriad intersections of science, nature, and art.

Last summer you had a project in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden called Open Phenology. So first, what does “phenology” mean?

It is a branch of science that studies the timing of life cycle events, especially as they are tied to the changing seasons. I observed and tracked natural phenomena, such as migrating warblers, wispy cottonwood tree seeds floating in the air, or the waxing and waning chorus of cicadas, as they unfolded all around the Walker campus.

How can a lot of people do phenology in just one day—like during Free First Saturday, for example?

I like to say that phenology requires constant vigilance.  It’s about visiting a place every day to see what makes the place different today than it was yesterday. For my part at Open Laboratory, I’m hoping that kids get excited about this challenge and take it with them when the day is done.  Maybe it starts with an impressive new vocabulary word.  And from there, it leads to an inquisitive state of mind and sharing their discoveries with the people in their lives.  When we spend time observing nature, we become aware of how everything is interconnected.  And being aware of these interconnections is especially empowering for kids because it motivated them to ask more questions and get invested in their investigations.

So what is the connection between citizen science and art?

I once heard an artist remark that art and science are both fields that generate knowl­edge. Especially with contemporary art, there’s an emphasis on posing questions and investigating ideas. It’s a speculative endeavor motivated by the possibility of discov­ery—like science.

What’s the appeal of citizen science?

It’s exciting to take science out of the laboratory and integrate it into our daily lives. People become invested when they become investigators! This type of science can mobilize neighborhoods, spread awareness, and build advocacy for issues beyond the professional scientific community.

Young Gray Squirrel in the Minimalist Courtyard of the Minneapolis Sculture Garden

After experiencing Open Laboratory, what do you hope people take away at the end of the day?

I hope that many are surprised by the abundance and diversity of nature in an ur­ban setting, or that they discover curiosity is worth celebrating in and of itself. And whether they’re onlookers or active participants, they are the “citizens” in citizen science—after all, the subject of science is nothing less than the world we all share.

Can families with little or no science background still enjoy Open Laboratory?

Yes, of course! That’s exactly what it’s about: citizens learning alongside scientists.  The day’s activities will get parents and kids asking questions and building knowledge together. Experts from the Science Museum of Minnesota will be in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with microscopes to help families examine, observe, and document findings in the garden.  And be sure to visit the pond near Spoonbridge and Cherry where a naturalist from Westwood Hills Nature Center will help families identify critters living in and near the water.

How can families use citizen science after Open Laboratory?

Carry on the curiosity and get exciting about noticing natural phenomena in your daily lives.  If families are interested in participating in a citizen science project, I recommend getting online and checking out SciStarter or Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Citizen Science Central.  Choose a project and start being citizen scientists!

Young Mourning Dove spotted in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

What kind of animals can visitors spot in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden?

If I were you, I’d start by listening.  Try standing still with your eyes closed and listening to bird sounds coming from all around.  Birds commonly seen in the Sculpture Garden  include Mourning Doves, American Robins, and Common Grackles.  Challenge yourself to recognize these birds by the sounds they make.  Train your ears using the recordings on AllAboutBirds.org.  Listen to Mourning Doves here, American Robins here, and Common Grackles here. Keep your eyes trained on the low walls built around the Garden’s four courtyards – that’s where you’ll see Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels going in and out of their burrows.  Lastly, water is an essential part of animal habitat, so I recommend a slow stroll around the pond.  There you might see dragonflies, butterflies, water striders, tadpoles, and ducks, for example.

What kinds of plants can visitors expect to see?

Start with the Linden trees that shade the grande allée – the path at the Garden’s entrance with a view of Spoonbridge and Cherry in the distance. These trees have tiny pale green flowers that are fragrant once the blooms open. If you find Dan Graham’s sculpture titled Two-way Mirror Punched Steel Hedge Labyrinth, notice how the artist used plants to make a kind of wall.  The plant used here is arborvitae and it is very common in landscaping (look around you).  This plant has a sweet, pine scent – can you smell it?  If you get to the far north edge of the Garden, walk through the Arbor to find nasturtium, clematis, and more.

Buds on a Linden Tree in the Minneapolis Sculture Garden

“Lifelike” Redux: A Six-Year-Old Re-creates the Exhibition, by Hand

By Emma Cohen Six-year old Ella and her grandmother Karen were on their way home from the Walker discussing the many amazing and interesting things they saw. Grandma Karen, picking up on Ella’s excitement, suggested making a work of art when they got back home.  But Ella was quick to offer a more ambitious idea: […]

By Emma Cohen

Six-year old Ella and her grandmother Karen were on their way home from the Walker discussing the many amazing and interesting things they saw. Grandma Karen, picking up on Ella’s excitement, suggested making a work of art when they got back home.  But Ella was quick to offer a more ambitious idea: “Let’s make the museum!” Inspired by Lifelike, the pair used a combination of household items and handmade objects to make their own version of the exhibition.  When we got word of their undertaking we had to see it for ourselves. Here is what we found…

Robert Therrien made Walker visitors feel small by making his No title (Folding table and chairs, brown) larger than life. Ella also created a shockingly new sense of scale–but in a creatively different way:

(more…)

Viewfinder: Kids on Ron Mueck

by Emma Cohen          At our April Free First Saturday event, we asked kids what they thought about the artworks in the exhibition Lifelike. Here is what Annie, age 6, said about one of her favorites:     Ron Mueck, Crouching Boy in Mirror Pick one word to describe this work of art: Real. Why did […]

by Emma Cohen    
    
At our April Free First Saturday event, we asked kids what they thought about the artworks in the exhibition Lifelike. Here is what Annie, age 6, said about one of her favorites:
   
Ron Mueck, Crouching Boy in Mirror

Pick one word to describe this work of art: Real.

Why did you pick that word? It looks so real because of hands and nails.

Tell us if there is something you don’t like and why.  His underwear is showing.

What does it make you think about?  Going under water.

Make up a story about this work of art… He is sitting like that because he wants to see sea creatures.

 

We’re collecting young people’s thoughts on art all the time. What does your child have to say? Come visit the Walker, pick up an ArtThink worksheet, and let him tell us what he thinks!

 

Viewfinder posts are your opportunity to “show & tell” about the everyday arts happenings, interesting sights and sounds made or as seen by Minnesota artists, because art is where you find it.  Submit your own informal, first-person responses to the art around you to katie(at)mnartists.org, and we may well publish your piece here on the blog. (Guidelines: 300 words or less, not about your own event/work, and please include an image, media, video, or audio file, and one sentence about yourself.)

Next