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Walker People’s Archive: I Love that Photo!

We recently invited a few friends to pick a favorite photo from the Walker People’s Archive and tell us what they love about it. We’re starting to hear back from our correspondents about what they see in this project, a crowd-sourced, online collection of photos and stories that celebrates the Walker’s 75 years as a […]

We recently invited a few friends to pick a favorite photo from the Walker People’s Archive and tell us what they love about it. We’re starting to hear back from our correspondents about what they see in this project, a crowd-sourced, online collection of photos and stories that celebrates the Walker’s 75 years as a public art center by capturing your  most vivid Walker memories.

The first blast of photo love comes from Andrea C. Brown, WPA Contributor and Associate Director, Digital Marketing and E-Commerce, Walker Art Center

<i>We Voted No</i> (2012). Submitted by Lindsay Kaplan.

We Voted No (2012). Submitted by Lindsay Kaplan.

Andrea writes: “I love this photo, and I loved that day. My first memory of the Walker Art Center was organizing an outing for the feminist club at my suburban high school in 1996 to see the exhibit The Photomontages of Hannah Höch. I’m not sure why that exhibition in particular caught my attention, as I had never been that interested in art. That day truly changed my life: as a queer kid growing up in the heyday of the Christian Coalition, the Walker was a beacon of weirdness and radical ideas, and a symbol of a world that was larger than my own. Everything came full circle 16 years later on the November morning pictured in this photo, as I, now a Walker employee, stood with my coworkers in a statement for marriage equality. It was definitely an ‘it gets better’ moment. Perhaps my 16 year-old self had a sense of that during my first visit to the Walker.”

Andrea’s given us a few photos, but this is the cutest one!

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From Kathy Spraitz, WPA Contributor, Walker Tour Guide and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Community Advisory Committee Member

<i>Nice Job</i>  (2014). Submitted by Chieko Karlsen.

Nice Job (2014). Submitted by Chieko Karlsen.

Kathy told us: “This photo nicely depicts so many things the Walker does well. At its center, this photo is about art—in this case, a very famous piece of art in the collection, Franz Marc’s painting The Large Blue Horses. And, at its heart, it is about the people who come to activate the art and the galleries with their curiosity, questions and personal experiences. I like that we see multiple generations of viewers here. I like that we see families. I like that the Walker stages its work so folks ‘on wheels’ can participate. And I like that we see a tour guide at work. Where else would we find tour guides sitting on the ground to engage their visitors?”

Kathy’s contribution to our archive made it to a Walker billboard in January!

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From David Kwiat, WPA Contributor and Theater Professor, New World School of the Arts (Miami, Florida)

<i>Frame Shop Crew</i> (1996)

Frame Shop Crew (1996)

David says: “When I look through the archive, the photo that strikes my fancy is ‘Frame Shop Crew.’ I have often wondered about the craft of frame making—and how little attention frame makers seem to get. I write poetry, and I actually have several poems that deal with museums and paintings. This one, ‘On the Subject of Frames,’ is appropriate. I love that these frame makers are included in the WPA.”

On the Subject of Frames

What would it feel like to have been
the Italian frame maker from the 16th Century
who painstakingly carved the decorative
gold leaf gilded frame for
Leonardo di Vinci’s Mona Lisa
a frame that no doubt took days,
if not weeks to complete,
only to vanish in the midst
of di Vinci’s magnificence?
How do frame makers feel today as they
commiserate with one another over the
dubious tenants, (posters even!)
allowed to take residence in the four-sided
homes they have built?
The next time you see a picture,
duly note the distinction between
the frames serving the art with their craft
from those which are in themselves craftily artful,
as well as the ones achieving neither—
as each painting and frame strives for the realm
of picture perfect.

See David’s WPA contribution.

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And last, but certainly not least, we have this photo from the Walker’s proper archives, a favorite of both Peter Georgas, WPA Contributor, Walker Tour Guide and Public Relations director, Walker Art Center (1964-1979) and Maya Weisinger, WPA Contributor and Learning Initiatives Coordinator, Walker Art Center.

<i>RIP 1927 Grand Staircase</i> (1969)

RIP 1927 Grand Staircase (1969)

First, Peter writes: “I love this black and white photo of the grand staircase in the original Walker Art Center during the Goodbye Party for the building held in 1969. (I called it the Edifice Wrecks Party, though this nomenclature didn’t quite take off beyond the circle of staff.) The photo holds so many memories. The staircase was the centerpiece of the museum and many important events were held on its landing. 1965 alone saw a performance by the Once Group and Walker Director Martin Friedman’s interview with Marcel Duchamp.

In the upper right, looking down on the scene, is Dean Swanson, Curator, with Donna Nimmer. She was a Walker telephone operator, and every evening she would announce the museum’s closing over the PA system by saying “Head ‘em up and move em out!” (though I have to admit I’m not sure whether she really did this while visitors were still in the building). Halfway down the steps, sitting, is Richard Koshalek. A step or two above him, standing with her hand on the railing, is Richard’s wife, Betty. Below them, the blonde wearing a pony skin mini-skirt (the one with a cow-hide design) is Peggy, my wife. I’m three steps down, bending over, talking to Martin’s secretary, Donna Gale, and another staffer whose name eludes me , though I think her first name was also Donna. To my left is Donna Gale’s husband, Jerry, with his arms crossed. The woman just below him is Marge, Don Borrman’s wife. Don was the Walker’s Business Manager. Sitting in a cluster of people, center left, is Martin Friedman. Below Martin, several steps down, standing alone, is Jan van der Marck, Chief Curator. There are many others who deserve to be identified but whose names I do not know or cannot remember. Maybe others can help (if so, email wpa@walkerart.org). Those really were the Good Old Days!”

Peter has shared lots of Walker stories.  Here’s one of our favorites.

Maya loves this photo too.  She told us: “‘RIP 1927 Grand Staircase’ is one of my favorite pictures in the WPA because it looks like the type of party I would like to attend. Or be seen at. This is a picture that makes me nostalgic for a time I didn’t experience. But those really do seem like the Good Old Days, as Peter says. As a Walker newbie, I can only hope to celebrate as well as our partying predecessors. (Note to self: lobby to bring back ‘Head ‘em up and move ‘em out!’)

Even in its final days, the staircase seems to be the star of the building—amid gossip, and snacks and fashion (I’m lookin’ at you, Mama Cass dress at the bottom of the stairs). Chief Curator Jan van der Marck’s tie is an amazing specimen. I can’t help but wonder if he’s contemplating the future of the Walker: that foundational staircase is about to be wrecked and he’s facing it wearing a bow tie. Definitely a moment to rest in.”

See Maya’s most vivid Walker memory.

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Do you have a favorite WPA photo to tell us about? Email wpa@walkerart.org  and we’ll post what you have to say in a future installment of “I Love that Photo!” Have a photo to add to the archive? It’s not too late! Go to walkerart.org/wpa before March 31st.

Meet the Walker People’s Archive

As the Walker celebrates its 75th anniversary, we’ve inaugurated the Walker People’s Archive (WPA), a crowd-sourced compendium of Walker history from the ground up, where visitors can see what others have to share and submit their own photos. Alycia Anderson, WPA intern, recently sat down with Jennifer Stampe, WPA project manager, to talk about the […]

As the Walker celebrates its 75th anniversary, we’ve inaugurated the Walker People’s Archive (WPA), a crowd-sourced compendium of Walker history from the ground up, where visitors can see what others have to share and submit their own photos.

Alycia Anderson, WPA intern, recently sat down with Jennifer Stampe, WPA project manager, to talk about the project. Jennifer has a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota and has taught Museum Studies at New York University and Anthropology at Brown University. She was recently co-curator for an exhibit marking Brown University’s 250th anniversary at its Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. Anniversaries seem to be her thing.

Walker Art Center staff in the lobby of the Barnes Tower, 1990

Alycia Anderson: What is the WPA? What’s its status today? How do you see it growing and developing in the future?

Jennifer Stampe: The WPA is a crowd-sourced, online compendium of people’s photographs and, just as important, stories about the Walker over its 75 years as a public institution. Over the summer, Education and Community Programs staff members began soliciting photos and stories from visitors at scan days held during Free First Saturdays and Target Free Thursday Nights. We also reached out to staff, volunteers and members who were likely to have great photos. The photos we collected allowed us to build a small archive and experiment with ways organize it.

For the Walker’s anniversary kick-off celebration, Walktoberfest, we launched a website where people can view the archive. More importantly, they can upload photos, caption and tag them, and tell their stories. This is an exciting time: now that we’re online, the archive will really start to take on a life of its own. We also want everyone to know that they are invited to participate in this project. For those who don’t yet have a relationship with the Walker, this is a chance to begin building one. New members of the Walker community are as important to us as long-standing ones.

AA: The WPA is a project created by the people of the Walker as a reflection of themselves, their relationships and their memories. How would you describe the Walker community?

JS: I see this project as an opportunity to learn about the Walker community, so I wouldn’t want to try to answer that question yet. But I will make a couple of guesses about what we might find. First, I think we’ll see that there is not any single Walker community, but rather many, overlapping communities. Second, I think we’ll see affiliations that disrupt the usual kinds of associations we think of when we hear the word community. So beyond expected communities — of staff, artists, or neighbors, for instance — I think we’ll also see clusters of people who share something based on where the Walker fits into their lives. I’m thinking about those who’ve gotten married in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, students who have visited the galleries on a field trip, or fans of the Internet Cat Video Festival. Or something else we don’t imagine at this point. I’m hoping that  responses to this project will surprise us, and that we’ll learn something unexpected about the Walker and its people.

AA: The WPA is designed to be a place where the past and present mix, with polaroids and iPhone snaps illustrating decades of Walker experiences. With all of that potential diversity and change, do you expect visitors’ stories will have a theme which connects them?

JS: The main thing the stories we’ve heard so far share is an emphasis on family and friends. We don’t always think of it this way, but museum-going is a social experience: the people we’re with matter as much as what’s going on within the museum’s walls.

We’ve heard a few stories about moms, in particular. Carol Lichterman, a charter member of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, gave us this photo and told us about attending the Garden’s opening in 1988 with her mother, Sylvie Lichterman.

Sylvie Lichterman at the opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1988. Photo by Carol Lichterman.

As the morning’s ceremonies drew to a close, Carol asked Sylvie to pose in front of her favorite piece. Without hesitating, Sylvie chose Claes Oldenburg’s Spoonbridge and Cherry. Once the photo was taken, Sylvie exclaimed, “All of a sudden I feel like having an ice cream sundae with a cherry on top!” and proposed that she and Carol told Carol skip their planned lunch and proceed directly to dessert. Carol says, “Every time I explore the Garden now on my own, I think of [my mom] and how we enjoyed the Garden’s opening together.” The opportunity to make that kind of memory, based on spending time together exploring new ideas, is a thing the Walker has been able to offer people in its capacity as a public institution.

AA: What attracted you to the Walker and the WPA? Has your work in anthropology influenced your perception of the project and its goals?

JS: I’ve lived in Minneapolis (or had it as my home base) for a long time and I’ve been a Walker member for several years, so coming to work here was attractive. The project is particularly appealing because it’s multidisciplinary, as so much at the Walker is, with its archival, curatorial and outreach components. The way I think about the WPA is definitely informed by my background in anthropology. My research to date has examined the ways that people understand new kinds of museums, like those oriented to serving specific communities, so this project is right up my alley. Beyond that, I see the submissions we’re getting as a kind of data; my role is to analyze that data and to create opportunities for others to do so, and in creative, expansive ways. Fortunately, my training in the social sciences equips me with the tools for conducting ethnographic interviews and oral histories, and those have been useful in the conversations I’m having with people who are submitting photos and stories to us. Most importantly, anthropology is interested in describing social worlds in ways their participants would recognize: I’m hoping that people will see themselves in the WPA.

AA: The next question you may have seen coming: what’s been your most vivid experience at the Walker? And do you have a favorite contributor story or photo you’ve encountered so far in the archive?

JS: My most vivid Walker experiences don’t have photos to go along with them. I’m a fan of the Out There performance series, and I always attend the annual Choreographer’s Evening. I have had my mind blown during these and other performances over the years. And I loved visiting the Walker when the expansion opened in 2005. I remember wandering the new spaces wondering at the then unfamiliar building materials, and thinking about how that was a very different experience than looking intently at works in the galleries.

I have clear mental images of these experiences, but nothing I can share with the archive. That’s probably true for many potential contributors, so we encourage creative solutions: submitters with a memory but no photo could make a drawing to illustrate their story in the archive. Or they could get their friends together for a photo re-enactment of an important moment.

As for favorite submissions, I get the feeling that I will always love whatever photo has come in most recently. We recently finished scanning a binder of photos from Bob Teslow, a longtime art instructor at the Blake School’s Kenwood Campus, our neighbor on Vineland place. Bob was on the scene as the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden took shape in 1988, and he took wonderful photographs of many of the sculptures being installed. This one shows Mark di Suvero swinging on his sculpture Arikidea.

Mark di Suvero swings on his Arikidea during its installation in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 1988. Photo by Bob Teslow.

Or there’s this photo, submitted by Peter and Peggy Georgas. Peggy made her own gowns for the Walker exhibition openings she attended with Peter, who was the Walker’s publicist from 1964 to 1979. Peggy made this dress for a reception held for Andy Warhol in 1968. She told us that she routinely finished the (sometimes very short!) hems of some of her creations in the car on the way to the party.

ecpwpa2014_georgaspeggy001

Peggy Georgas, ready for another Walker evening, 1968. Photo by Peter Georgas.

AA: Personally, I can’t wait to see a collection of awkward family portraits or visitors’ first impressions of the Walker. What kind of kinds of submissions will you be most excited to see?

JS: I’m most interested in seeing those that include rich, reflective stories. Don’t get me wrong: we do want absolutely want photos of everything and everybody, snapshots and selfies, from serious to silly. But there are some particularly compelling shots and narratives out there, and those are central to the archive. I’m looking forward to seeing them.

As for genre, I’m partial to photos of people taking photos. I could say it tells us something about the ways we use photography, but really they just make me laugh. I also like mysteries, shots where we don’t know what’s going on or who is pictured, and I hope that people will help us identify unknown subjects and activities in others’ photographs. Over the coming months, we’ll hold events at the Walker that will give WPA participants a chance to meet and respond to one another’s photos.

AA: Have you taken the obligatory selfie at Spoonbridge and Cherry?

JS: I have to admit I haven’t, yet. Let’s go take some pictures. We can start making #OurWalker memories today!

At John Cage’s 33 1/3 in Art Expanded, 1958-1978

With FACES: Set #8, Darryl Nelson in Art Expanded

Getting our Spoonbridge on

In the swing with Arikidea!

Questions about the WPA? Contact Jennifer at wpa@walkerart.org

 

Cat is Art Spelled Wrong: Making a Book About Cat Videos

pileofcats2

There are plenty of cat books out there in the world.

book-cats-collages

Clockwise: Fashion Cats, Why Paint Cats, The Big New Yorker Book of Cats, Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book

But of all the cat books out there, there is no book quite like the book that Coffee House Press (with help from the Walker Art Center) aims to publish next fall. Using the Internet Cat Video Festival (#catvidfest) as inspiration,we’re currently working on a book that is all about cat videos: why we love them, why we hate them, and why we are powerless to resist them. There’s just something about cat videos.

Substantial research on our end helps confirm that statement:

catvidfest3years

The Internet Cat Video Festival in (top-bottom) 2012, 2013, 2014

In order to fund this book, and the many moving parts that an effort of this size entails, Coffee House Press has launched Catstarter – a Kickstarter that’s cat-themed. For all intents and purposes, it acts as a way for you to pre-order your copy of the book, titled Cat is Art Spelled Wrong, get it shipped directly to you, and, oh yeah, get your name printed in it as a token of appreciation.

The book will take the form of a collection of essays – thoughtful, varied, and by a roster of some of our favorite writers and friends, including Matthea Harvey, Alexis Madrigal, Rhonda Lieberman, Elena Passarello, Stephen Burt, Jillian Steinhauer, Kevin Nguyen, Sasha Archibald, Will Braden, Joanne McNeil, and Carl Wilson. (Fun fact: Wilson’s book about Celine Dion for the 33 1/3 series, Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Bad Taste, was a huge source of inspiration for the project for Coffee House Press’ Caroline Casey. Although it seems odd to mention Celine Dion and cat videos in the same sentence… is it really?)

Already the book has gotten some love from Cool HuntingThe Washington Post, and ARTINFO.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Take it from Henri, le Chat Noir:

Read more about the project and  support Catstarter today! 

As we’re sure you’re aware, with Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing. The project must be funded in full by Saturday, September 13 or it will see exactly $0 of the pledged funds.

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.

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