Blogs Field Guide Making It

Making It: A Family Guide with Alyssa Baguss

For the third year in a row, the Walker’s Family Programs has commissioned a local artist to create an illustrated activity sheet for families. Traditionally unveiled at December’s Free First Saturday, these creations have taken the shape of a whimsical diagram of a playground-like museum (Andy Ducett, 2011); and a cleverly blended comic strip/map (Todd […]

For the third year in a row, the Walker’s Family Programs has commissioned a local artist to create an illustrated activity sheet for families. Traditionally unveiled at December’s Free First Saturday, these creations have taken the shape of a whimsical diagram of a playground-like museum (Andy Ducett, 2011); and a cleverly blended comic strip/map (Todd Balthazor, 2012). We’re delighted to continue this project and introduce the artist for this year’s activity sheet.

Alyssa Baguss put her own twist (and turns) on the idea of an interactive map to Walker galleries. To appreciate all that goes into her work, we asked the artist to share a bit about herself, her practice, and what she’s created.

Where did you grow up? 

Maquoketa, Iowa—you know where that is, right? I was always playing outside. If I wasn’t swimming I was up in a tree all day.

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What does your family do for fun?

When we are together (which isn’t as often as it used to be) we spend a lot of time outdoors. I’m really lucky to live with really easy-going funny people.

What was your first job?

I bused tables at a pancake house…..sticky maple syrupy tables.

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

…..since I was 5? I didn’t pursue it as an actual career until I was in my early twenties when I realized that I would be living a horribly boring life if I couldn’t do my favorite thing every day.  I hate being bored.

What do you absolutely love to draw?

I love to draw technology and think about how it influences how we experience the world. I use drawing as a tool to problem solve and answer questions that I am thinking about.

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When you aren’t drawing you are…

Exploring nature, researching ideas, growing things, watching hot air balloons, playing an instrument or thinking about what I am going to draw next.

Who or what inspires you and your work?

For inspiration I visit galleries and museums, spend time in nature and do a lot of reading and research into things I’m curious about. I live by a pretty simple philosophy: be yourself, do what makes you happy and surround yourself with people who do the same. My family is exceptionally understanding of my…….intensity……and without that type of unconditional love the world wouldn’t be as shiny.

Tell us a little bit about your creative process for this gallery activity?

I spent a few years as an info guide at the Walker Art Center.  As an info guide, I was always giving directions to guests who were lost and complaining about the WAC being too much like a maze. A maze seemed like the perfect gallery activity where you may get confused, lost or take a wrong turn, and still see some incredible things along the way.

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I researched the artwork and architecture at the Walker and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and found pieces that interested me for the maze. I literally cut and pasted the composition together into a maze design with paper images, then drew the images with graphite. I tried not to make the maze too difficult but there are a few challenging areas. Just like the Walker, I want you to occasionally exclaim, “What?  How did we end up here?” Besides, I tend to find the best things when I get lost. Just embrace it.

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Come to Free First Saturday on December 7 from 10 am–3 pm to pick up the final version of Alyssa’s interactive gallery activity.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Making It: Psychedelic Fish and Energy Efficient Lily Pads in the Walker’s Art Lab

The following conversation fragments, observations, and exclamations were plucked from a workshop led by Walker Art Lab Coordinator Ilene Krug Mojsilov. I was struck by the poetic turns that emerged from participants’ reactions to their and each other’s work. The workshop explored how artists manipulate scale—looking primarily at Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish for inspiration—to encourage […]

The following conversation fragments, observations, and exclamations were plucked from a workshop led by Walker Art Lab Coordinator Ilene Krug Mojsilov. I was struck by the poetic turns that emerged from participants’ reactions to their and each other’s work.

The workshop explored how artists manipulate scale—looking primarily at Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish for inspiration—to encourage a new way of looking at the everyday and one’s physical relationship to the space one inhabits. The images taken inside the Cowles Conservatory were taken by participants as study shots.

 

Lily pad nation gathering sun beams

Transferring energy efficiency

Wind whips up the waves

Shark!

 

Wet sea

Powerful, fresh, and breathless

Martha hides from the fish

The water was cold

 

The fish with scales

Psychedelic

It emanates from an orderly mind

Creation

 

Assessing the fish from all angles

Posing and hiding

Tall guy taller fish

Lilly pad construction

Beautiful scales

One person's vantage point

Talking it through

Engineering a base

 

 

This art lab was part of a program called Living Well, a holistic program for people living with memory loss coordinated by the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.