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The Evolution of a Salad

It’s been more than fifty years since Alison Knowles’ event score Proposition #2, Make a Salad premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London in 1962. This seemingly simple piece, which consists of amassing, washing, chopping, and tossing vegetables into a giant salad that gets served to the audience, has since been performed more than a […]

Nivea Cream Piece by Alison Knowles. Performed at the In the Spirit of Fluxus opening by L. Van Wieren, J. Anfinson, S. Shinazaki, B. Sobocinski and T. Carlsom. Alison Knowles dispensing Nivea cream. February 14, 1993.

Nivea Cream Piece by Alison Knowles. Performed February 14, 1993, during the In the Spirit of Fluxus opening by L. Van Wieren, J. Anfinson, S. Shinazaki, B. Sobocinski, and T. Carlsom. Alison Knowles dispensing Nivea cream. 

It’s been more than fifty years since Alison Knowles’ event score Proposition #2, Make a Salad premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London in 1962. This seemingly simple piece, which consists of amassing, washing, chopping, and tossing vegetables into a giant salad that gets served to the audience, has since been performed more than a dozen times around the world, most recently at the High Line in New York in 2012. Knowles, who last made an appearance at the Walker in the early nineties for the exhibition In the Spirit of Fluxus—returns next week to re-stage Make a Salad on Open Field with her collaborator Joshua Selman. Other work by Knowles and her Fluxus peers is on view in the exhibition Art Expanded, 1958-1978.

Below is an excerpt from the oral history interview with Alison Knowles (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution by Judith Olch Richards, , June 1-2, 2010), which sheds light on the evolution of this iconic salad.

MS. RICHARDS:  You had created a number of Fluxus event scores and I wanted to ask you about a few of them.  One of the early ones, 1962, was Make a Salad, which you’ve done subsequently. How did the idea for that piece come about?  Was that the first time that you were making something using food that people would eat?

MS. KNOWLES:  Well, I’ve become sort of known for the food art thing with the Identical Lunch [1969].

Alison Knowles, The Identical Lunch with Anne Brazean, 1971. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Walker Special Purchase Fund, 1989

Alison Knowles, The Identical Lunch with Anne Brazean, 1971. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Walker Special Purchase Fund, 1989

MS. RICHARDS:  Right, but that was a little bit afterward.  Make a Salad was earlier.

MS. KNOWLES:  The Make a Salad is earlier.  Actually I don’t call it a Fluxus event score.  I think my event scores, some of them, I mean, they were done during that time.

MS. RICHARDS:  Yes.

MS. KNOWLES:  It’s during the Fluxus time but often evades the, what I would call, a strict definition, if you even could do it for Fluxus.

But for me, they are event scores and they’re more based on the work of John Cage than they are on I think – or George Brecht, let’s say, than what became Fluxus performances that many people were doing and adding to.  So what’s meant by a Fluxus performance?  I really don’t know until you describe it to me.  But with the Make a Salad event score, you knew exactly what’s going to happen.

MS. RICHARDS:  So if you knew exactly what was going to happen, you’re making a distinction between that and something where you didn’t know what was going to happen.

MS. KNOWLES:  Well, between what you know is going to happen and things that happen from what you have done is what differentiates I think the event score from something like happenings where there was much more of an “anything goes attitude” and it was more important that certain people were there or that the site where it happened, like one of Kaprow’s happenings.

MS. RICHARDS:  Mm-hmm.

MS. KNOWLES:  When I say you know what’s going to happen in the event scores, for something like Shoes of Your Choice [1963], you’re going to have someone describing their shoes.

You’re not going to have someone telling a story about when they went to India and with Make a Salad you’re not going to have someone serving hors d’oeuvres.  So that’s what I mean by there’s a known quantity and then there’s all the things that happen around it.  But the salad might be made in Indonesia and you have to work with very different ingredients than you would in New York City.

Jackson Mac Low describes his shoes to the audience (Photo: Michael Lange, 1985)

Jackson Mac Low describes his shoes to the audience. Viking Ship Hall, Roskilde, Denmark, May 29, 1985. Photo: Michael Lange

MS. RICHARDS:  When you made that, did you think that it might turn out to be a piece that would be done again and again and that people would respond to it so?

MS. KNOWLES:  No, absolutely not.  I remember how the piece happened.  I was riding with Dick [Higgins] in a cab in London and a performance was going to be the next day and I think I was expected to come up with a lot of the pieces on the program.

It was one of those concerts where somehow just Dick and I were there along with Richard Hamilton in the audience.  George was not there.  George Brecht, George Maciunas was not there.  And it was the Museum of Contemporary Art.  So Dick said, “Well, you know, what are you doing to do?”

MS. RICHARDS:  The Institute of Contemporary Art?

MS. KNOWLES:  Is it called the institute?

MS. RICHARDS:  Yes.

MS. KNOWLES:  The Institute of Contemporary Art and they used to have – they had a very nice little audience room.  So it wasn’t a big hall.  It was a nice sized room and I had decided in the cab with him, I said, “What can I do?  Why don’t I do something with food?  Why don’t I make a salad?”

He said, “Fine, make a salad,” and that would always be Dick’s backup for an idea.  He would say, “Good, talk about your shoes,” or, “Fine, go take the train at 8:00 a.m.,” or you know, he just was very quick to back up a thought.  It’s almost like he wanted to be thinking about something else.

MS. RICHARDS:  But it served to validate your ideas.

MS. KNOWLES:  Yes, absolutely. I never remember him saying, “No, don’t do that.”  He just completely trusted what I would say for this occasion and there was no time to do anything but buy the vegetables in the morning.  That’s all the time there was.  And meanwhile, of course people were expecting some huge show or whatever.

MS. RICHARDS:  Well, when you approached that coming performance that you knew you would be doing, was it actually a very positive approach that you waited until the last minute, was that a usual approach?

MS. KNOWLES:  Usually we had no time.  We usually had just taken the train the day before from Nice.  We probably lost a passport.  I mean, absolutely a hair-raising tour, absolutely, across France, Germany, and you’d get somebody to pay your train fare and that’s about it.

MS. RICHARDS:  One might have taken all of these already created performances with you and not had to have created them at all at the spur of the moment.  So I’m just trying to imagine that maybe –

MS. KNOWLES:  Well, who would perform them?  You’d have to train a group or you’d have to write ahead what you were going – what people were going to do.

MS. RICHARDS:  I’m wondering whether it was in a way purposeful that they were made at the last minute because in fact it’s possible they could have – you could have come up with Make a Salad before you left New York.

MS. KNOWLES:  Oh, I see.  No, I think that the spontaneity of the imminent event was useful.

MS. RICHARDS:  It focused you.

Photo by Liz Ligon Courtesy of Friends of the High Line (2)

Make a Salad at the High Line, New York City, 2012. Photo: Liz Ligon, courtesy of Friends of the High Line

MS. KNOWLES:  Because probably back in New York I would have decided to do something more elaborate, or involve more people or – but I love Emmett Williams’ phrase.  “We have no time and we had to present a united front.”  In other words, within the group there were people who didn’t get along.

As human beings, they didn’t get along with this or that idea or this or that person.  But people always thought they were meeting this completely compatible group getting off a bus.  But by the time we got to present at the theater, we certainly had a pretty good idea what we were going to be doing.

We met the night before and put our ideas together and then often there was George Maciunas who would act as our director, whatever, and was very good as a, you know, what do you want to call it, the man who presents on a television show.

MS. RICHARDS:  Emcee?

MS. KNOWLES:  Yeah, he was a great emcee.  He looked strange.  He wore a monocle and full dress suit, black with a monocle and spoke with a decided accent.  He used more of an Eastern European accent.  When you consider that most of these are American artists exhausted, traveling around, you know, from place to place with Emmett who was a wonderful performer and brilliant and who was putting in a lot of very good pieces.

MS. RICHARDS:  Why were you doing all this touring in Europe?  Was it just a much more welcoming artistic scene that you couldn’t find in the U.S.?

MS. KNOWLES:  It didn’t exist here at all and even when we came back after the first Wiesbaden Museum presentation and then went through Europe, we came back to New York and we tried to put on an event on Canal Street in Dick Higgins’ space, his studio.  And I think he didn’t properly manage the promotion because George had always done that in Europe.  All we had to do was get there.

So here I think we all made a few phone calls but there couldn’t have been more than 20 people in the audience and not plausible – it was very haphazard.  We did a piece of mine called String Piece [1964] where I kind of tie up the audience and make chairs get tied to me and I get tied to the mike and it was kind of a nice web piece, which could be done when something else is being read.

So the Make a Salad was a totally amazing event.  He also did Shoes of Your Choice that night with Richard Hamilton’s performance.  Anyway, with Make a Salad, I got there and the little man in a red jacket who served the drinks, he said I couldn’t use any water because he needed the water to wash the glasses.

And I said, “But I have to wash a lot of lettuce.”  He said, “I’m sorry, I knew nothing of this,” and he began to raise his voice and my friend Robert Filliou was standing by the door.  And he walked in and this man had little red lapels on his little dinner jacket.

And he lifted this little guy by his lapels right up off the floor.  And he shook him and he said, “You give her whatever she wants,” put this guy down, completely turned him around and he left and I turned on the water ad washed everything.  I didn’t see him again.

Scores for Art by Lightsey Darst

A dance critic, poet, and author of Find the Girl (Coffee House Press, 2010) and the forthcoming Dance (September 2013), Lightsey Darst was the first writer selected to participate in The Writers and Readers Library Residency Program, an initiative presented by Coffee House Press through a grant from the McKnight Foundation. Darst spent her residency in the Walker’s library for […]

A dance critic, poet, and author of Find the Girl (Coffee House Press, 2010) and the forthcoming Dance (September 2013), Lightsey Darst was the first writer selected to participate in The Writers and Readers Library Residency Program, an initiative presented by Coffee House Press through a grant from the McKnight Foundation. Darst spent her residency in the Walker’s library for several weeks in June and on one Target Free Thursday Night initiated an in-gallery writing experiment for visitors.

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We had a simple idea: let’s let viewers come up with new captions for the art. The idea morphed a bit, we added typewriters, and Scores for Art was born—an experiment in creative art captioning. Below, some of my favorites. Here are the instructions everyone saw. The reverse of the card gives a prompt; you’ll see there were a variety of these.

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I have no idea what work of art inspired this, but I want to wander around the whole Walker now with this phrase in mind.

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When’s the last time you played with a typewriter? Love the improvised punctuation here.

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I can’t read this at all, but isn’t it beautiful? Also, I love the idea that this is what the art does. Pure typewriter art.

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Some people took this prompt as an opportunity for critique. But I like thinking about what absences a work of art brings to mind. What artwork do you think prompted this?

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I almost suspect this person of playing to the house. But it’s the restart in the last few lines that gets me.

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This was me, I have to admit, testing one of the typewriters. I couldn’t figure out how to get the typewriter to go farther across the page. I was looking at Gary Simmons’ Us & Them.

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Doesn’t make sense, but we get it all the same, right? I love how art leaps these gaps.

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Slant rhyme on history/tenacity. Also, that last line.

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Wouldn’t this make a great caption? Also, I enjoy how the typewriter’s irregular strike made at least one of us briefly think this said “us” instead of “u”.

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e. e. cummings would be proud.

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Let’s!

 

 

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Negotiating Spaces

What does a welcoming entrance look like? How do people in wheelchairs maneuver around the Sculpture Garden or the galleries? Can other sensory elements like smell and touch be part of a space where art is viewed and experienced? These are some of the questions asked by 12 artists from Partnership Resources, Inc. (PRI). In […]

What does a welcoming entrance look like? How do people in wheelchairs maneuver around the Sculpture Garden or the galleries? Can other sensory elements like smell and touch be part of a space where art is viewed and experienced? These are some of the questions asked by 12 artists from Partnership Resources, Inc. (PRI). In September and October 2012, these artists and I probed the Walker’s public spaces, galleries, and art lab. Our quest was to experience, respond to, and design two unique spaces for art ── one outdoor and one indoor. After visiting the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the PRI artists shared opinions about particular sculptures and the Garden’s overall design. Lara Hanson, artist-in-residence at PRI, collected the artists’ written feedback. Questions of accessibility were addressed and the artists had some comments. “the little ridges of metal around each of the four square plots were an issue ──chairs could probably get over them, but Andy and Richard didn’t want to try. Mud and deep edging along the sidewalks (was a concern).” This insightful critique aided artists in designing their projects. To articulate their preferences, the artists sketched out site plans and built models of their outdoor spaces.

Andy with her model September 2012

Notice the pathways/ramps for Andy’s wheelchair to climb the hill

Tammy's model has textures both rough and smooth.

Tammy’s model has textures both rough and smooth

Henry Moore’s Reclining Mother and Child inspired Tammy’s observation that motherhood has its smooth and rough times.

Zach’s model featured a hybrid outdoor and indoor design

An elevator from the parking garage would carry people, with or without wheelchairs, to Zach’s sculpture garden on the top level.

When it came to exploring the indoor spaces at the Walker, each artist documented their experience with a point-and-shoot camera and completed a feedback sheet. They responded to spaces including the Garden Cafe, Cargill Lounge, and a whirlwind tour of artworks in galleries 1, 3, 4, and 6. With our corps of volunteer tour guides and PRI staff, we had an exceptional experience. Everyone was able to flow at their own pace, and we had the galleries to ourselves. Merrie said, “Cargill was very open and light.” She also noted that the tight floor space in gallery 4 (Midnight Party) made her feel “kind of nervous” in her wheelchair. Richard took a picture of the terrazzo stairway outside the elevator of gallery 4 looking down to gallery 3. This made him uncomfortable, and he told us the story of someone in a wheelchair that had rolled down the stairs backwards.

Richard's photo of Barnes stairway with Lara's help October 2012

Richard’s photo of Barnes stairway with Lara’s help October 2012

The slower pace and individualized attention received on this tour afforded PRI artist an opportunity to scrutinize and enjoy the artworks more intensely. Everyone commented on the smoky scent and heat felt in the Haegue Yang installation titled Series of Vulnerable Arrangement – The Blind Room in The Living Years.

The design planning of the indoor spaces started with sketches again and resulted in models. Richard’s designed his space on one level and specifically said that the walls would be curved. This large gallery would display an array of his two dimensional artworks.

Large sliding doors opened into Richard's ideal indoor gallery space

Large sliding doors opened into Richard’s ideal indoor gallery space

 

2-D and 3-D artworks filled Andy's colorful gallery space

2-D and 3-D artworks filled Andy’s colorful gallery space

The PRI artists, based out of studios in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park are currently working on their final projects for Challenging Perspectives: Negotiating Spaces. Their projects will be celebrated and showcased in a PRI exhibition hosted by the Walker Art Center on March 21, 2013 in the Skyline Room.On a personal note, I’d say that PRI artists are direct and intuitive about art and they circumnavigate new spaces with determination and resilience. The artists’ spontaneous aesthetic choices delighted me, and I hope we’ll continue this partnership in the future.Richard and I worked together a number of times. On several occasions, I held his charcoal, and he held my wrist to direct my hand with the charcoal across the paper. The rhythm and pressure supplied to each gesture reminded me of a dance; I felt honored that he trusted me as his drawing partner.

Richard prefers working in 2-D as shown by the pathway and blue earthwork

Richard prefers working in 2-D as shown by the pathway and blue earthwork

A grant from MRAC (Metropolitan Regional Arts Council) has supported Partnership Resources artists’ collaboration with Walker Art Center for 2 years in a row. In 2011, the artists toured 50/50 and in 2012, they toured This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980’s.

November’s Free First Saturday: Experimental Expression

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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.

Asking Art: Global Change

Every four years, the September energy of a new school year coincides with political intensity leading up to national elections. Influenced by this moment and last night’s opening of The Living Years, we’re drumming up conversation about art and global change. Educators—we’re inviting you to share your insights into this topic by mining ArtsConnectEd. Through […]

Every four years, the September energy of a new school year coincides with political intensity leading up to national elections. Influenced by this moment and last night’s opening of The Living Years, we’re drumming up conversation about art and global change. Educators—we’re inviting you to share your insights into this topic by mining ArtsConnectEd.

Through the month of September, educators participating in Asking Art (details here) will receive one complimentary gallery pass for two adults. To participate, begin at ArtsConnectEd’s Art Finder. Ponder these questions from any angle—economic, political, environmental, societal, informational, technological, etc.:

When you think of global change, what artwork comes to mind?

How are artists making art that investigates our complex world and offers ways to reflect on globalism?

We believe that exercises such as this “asking art” prompt can help us as educators teach a generation of informed global citizens. Educators, join us in this conversational exploration.

Viewfinder: Experiencing Cunningham Through Your Own Body

by Susan Rotilie Last Wednesday evening a group of 18 people joined tour guide Lucy Yogerst and me for a tour of Dance Works I: Merce Cunningham/Robert Rauschenberg. It was a tag-team tour in which Lucy and I shared our enthusiasm for the installation of costumes, sets, videos, and artifacts that are part of Walker’s recent acquisition […]

by Susan Rotilie

Last Wednesday evening a group of 18 people joined tour guide Lucy Yogerst and me for a tour of Dance Works I: Merce Cunningham/Robert Rauschenberg. It was a tag-team tour in which Lucy and I shared our enthusiasm for the installation of costumes, sets, videos, and artifacts that are part of Walker’s recent acquisition of the Cunningham Dance Company archives. We told stories and viewed objects related to the long and rich collaboration between the choreographer Cunningham and artist Rauschenberg.

In the end, however, it was clear that the typical gallery experience of looking at displays and discussing them lacked the vitality and life the objects had originally embodied when part of a performance. So, what did we do? We took a risk that is not usually part of our tours.

Suggestions for Movement (p2)

Inspired by a gallery guide written by associate director of education, Susy Bielak and research fellow, Abigail Sebaly, along with a tour plan for high school students developed by tour guide Marvel Gregoire, we invited our group to channel Cunningham, Rauschenberg, and their third collaborator, composer John Cage, to create a performance piece together. We focused on a response to Rauschenberg’s’ set piece Tantric Geography for the 1977 dance Travelogue. The work is a linear sculptural composition incorporating Duchampian bicycle wheels with chairs facing different directions installed diagonally across the gallery space. Five volunteers stepped up and they were asked to isolate a small gesture inspired by a word such as curve, tilt, twist, or arch (or not). They moved along the set piece, pausing, turning the direction of each chair, and repeating their gesture. The rest of the group, inspired by John Cage, provided a sound scape of voice- and body-generated “music” to accompany the dance.

We may not have reached the level of art or dance of the artists inspiring us, and our only audience was the gallery monitor Ann Norberg, but the experience was kind of magic and our tour ended with applause, laughter, and camaraderie.

Maybe you think sound making and movement in the gallery is reserved for school kids, or you feel unprepared to break out of your own inhibitions; however, in the case of the Dance Works exhibitions, alternative ways of experiencing the galleries seem to be called for. Moving beyond simply looking and talking about objects to a place where the art is experienced through our bodies and spirit leads to a new level of engagement with these artifacts, and an in-your-bones understanding of the rich collaboration from which they were created. And you don’t have to be a dancer or part of a guided tour to have this experience. The gallery cards with suggestions for moving through the space in Dance Works I are free for the taking right inside the entrance to the Medtronic Gallery. Come on….get moving!

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.)

Getting to Know the Walker’s John Greenwald

    If you’re a frequent Walker visitor you’ve maybe met John Greenwald. He’s one of our guards and is often poised to greet people as they enter the art center by the Garden Café, or encourage them as they breathlessly but enthusiastically reach the final brick steps that carry one from the 1971 building to the 2005  expansion. When […]

 

 

Courtesy of Courage Center

If you’re a frequent Walker visitor you’ve maybe met John Greenwald. He’s one of our guards and is often poised to greet people as they enter the art center by the Garden Café, or encourage them as they breathlessly but enthusiastically reach the final brick steps that carry one from the 1971 building to the 2005  expansion. When he’s not present in one of the Walker’s public spaces he’s in the galleries to, as he says, “protect the art from overly enthusiastic viewers.” John’s kind and always game for humor.

Something that I learned recently about my colleague is that he’s had a 24-year relationship with Courage Centerparticipating in the organization’s Transitional Rehabilitation Program and Vocational Services. It was Courage Center that helped link John to Common Sense Building Services, the company that provides the Walker with its great team of guards. Courage Center has also been a great partner to the Walker’s Education and Community Programs department over the years, assessing the work we do and offering suggestions for making it evermore inclusive.

To learn more about John and what lead him to the Walker, take a look at Our Stories: John Greenwald, a recent profile in  Courage Center’s May newsletter. And the next time you’re at the Walker seek out John and chat him up about an artwork you encounter during your visit.

 

Giddy Excited For Lifelike

by Emma Cohen Ever wondered what it would feel like to be a mouse? Or a giant? Or to travel through secret spaces on your way to work? At our smash-hit March Free First Saturday event,  we asked kids what they thought about Maurizio Cattelan’s artwork Untitled (Elevators) in the Walker’s new exhibit Lifelike. Here […]

by Emma Cohen

Ever wondered what it would feel like to be a mouse? Or a giant? Or to travel through secret spaces on your way to work?

At our smash-hit March Free First Saturday event,  we asked kids what they thought about Maurizio Cattelan’s artwork Untitled (Elevators) in the Walker’s new exhibit Lifelike.

Here is some of what they had to say:

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Theatre Play: Free First Saturday January

Free First Saturday was filled with theatrical enthusiasm this month.  Mu Performing Arts presented Hmong Tiger Tales, three short plays based on Hmong folk stories about tigers including Tiger and Crow, Mother Tigress, and Yer and the Tiger.  After the performance kids were able to try on the elaborate masks and ask questions, learning about […]

Free First Saturday was filled with theatrical enthusiasm this month.  Mu Performing Arts presented Hmong Tiger Tales, three short plays based on Hmong folk stories about tigers including Tiger and Crow, Mother Tigress, and Yer and the Tiger.  After the performance kids were able to try on the elaborate masks and ask questions, learning about the cultural significance of the stories.

(more…)

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