Blogs Field Guide Open Field

A First-Timer’s Take on Open Field (2014)

Born and raised in Minneapolis, it is rather unsettling to me that I had never experienced the magic of Open Field before this year. Lucky for me, the Field welcomed me – the intern – with open arms and heart and it didn’t take long for me to feel at home within all its chaos […]

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Born and raised in Minneapolis, it is rather unsettling to me that I had never experienced the magic of Open Field before this year. Lucky for me, the Field welcomed me – the intern – with open arms and heart and it didn’t take long for me to feel at home within all its chaos and beauty.

Open Field knows how to do it big. 

We set a Guinness world record, made a salad and shared it with 274 people, and hosted a Cat Video Festival that attracted over 9,000 kitty fanatics. But we also know that the more intimate is just as valuable. Open Field offers a place and a time that allows us to connect, create, and explore – together, of course.

This year, Fluxus-related activities took over the field.

Fluxus also serves as an appropriate metaphor for the field and its various happenings: seemingly random and disorderly, yet in specific ways orchestrated and controlled, with ample space for inspiration, improvisation, and spontaneity.

OF2014_100Scores_0731_03Look Sideways, Listen Close: 100 Scores for Open Field – Rachel Jendrzejewski

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Fluxus Running Club – Mike Haeg

OF2014_Baseball_07 (2) (1024x768)Play Catch, All Together – Chris Kallmyer

OF2014_Salad_0710_06 (2) (1024x768)Make A Salad – Alison Knowles

Open Field is a place where the line between being a casual spectator and an active participant is thinly drawn, and where one is always gracefully toeing both sides.

No matter where you stand at any given moment, there is always an opportunity to sit back and take it all in; but never as an outsider.

OF2014_Choreographers_0712_21 (2) (1024x768)4×4=100 Dancing Outside – Laurie Van Wieren

OF2014_ChopsInc_0703_06Anatomy of a Drum and Bugle Corps – Chops, Inc.

OF2014_StereoTrees_0719_04Stereo Trees – Areca Roe

OF2014_Compline_0720_4113Pesher Compline – Brian Dowdy

We cracked our knuckles before coercing and refining our creative skills.

OF2014_Cursive_02 (2) (768x1024)Cursive Writing for the Contemporary Artist – Alyssa Baguss and Jenni Undis

OF2014_AnimationCreation_0628_08Animation Creation Station – Peter Nelson and Michon Weeks

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Into the Blue: The World of Cyanotype – Nathan Lewis

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Drawing, Far Away So Close – Keith Braafladt and Margaret Pezalla

We stretched, expanded and exercised our minds and our bodies.

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Gorilla Yogis

OF2014_StarTrekYoga_0731_03Star Trek: A Narrated Yogic Adventure – Yoga Quest

Open Field was even edible.

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Get Soaked (With Local Muesli) – Karin Norby

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Take a Bite, Shape the State! – Presley Martin

In the midst of all of this, communities were formed and connections were discovered because Open Field offered a place to do some cool stuff and meet some cool people. I took part in Paige Tighe’s Walk With Me project, where I walked and talked with someone whom I may never have done so with otherwise. I also watched as strangers collectively played “Find Your Spot” with Scooper.

I got to spend this summer learning, growing, and making new friends, and watched as art and other such crazy experiments united interesting people. Open Field would in no way be possible alone or within a vacuum – it really is what we make together.

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Can I Have an Idea

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MobileCartFamilyphoto!

The new Mobile Cart is just right for summer in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. On weekends, the grounds are teeming with visitors from all over the world. We’ve seen wedding guests dressed to the nines, families picnicking in front of Spoonbridge and Cherry, and mini golfers waiting for tee-times. Like our visitors, the Mobile Cart has a purpose for being outside.

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Designed for pop-up outdoor activities, the handsome and nimble cart reflects the genius of Museum Exhibit Designer Maria Mortati. It has a casual feel, like a food cart. In fact, someone tried to order ice cream from us! Seriously, people have approached us with practical questions concerning weddings, mini-golf, and the location of Garden Café, which contrary to its name, is inside the Walker Art Center.

The Mobile Cart is a magnet for visitors desiring more interaction with art and ideas.

A stop at the Mobile Cart outfits visitors with supplies for Can I Have an Idea, a hands-on drawing experience. This activity is loosely related to the exhibition Art Expanded currently on view at the Walker Art Center. Can I Have an Idea plays with decision-making and offers a simple direction for action. It resembles a musical score that comes alive when someone actually performs it.

Can I Have an Idea looks like this. There are 2 bins with instructions for drawing typed out on small paper cards. The first bin is labeled “Take an Idea and Make a Drawing.” It contains single directions, such as, “draw the nearest sculpture” and “spin around and draw a spiral.” The second bin, “Take 2 Ideas and Make 2 Drawings,” is for participants who appreciate experimentation.

The girl pictured below was eager to try as many ideas as possible.

Her grandma turned to me and said, “She’s from an arty family living in Winnipeg, Canada.”

This activity also intrigued two visitors from the Museo d’Arte Modernae Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto in Italy. Full disclosure, these museum educators asked to replicate Can I Have an Idea in their museum, and I gave them what they needed.

Closer to home, we’ve engaged families from the Twin Cities who were visiting the Garden for the first time. The presence of the Mobile Cart generated conversation about Family Programs and encouraged a number of families to return to Walker’s Free First Saturday offered throughout the year.

This summer, Yaneth Quintero, a STEP-UP Intern, hosted the Mobile Cart with me. She wraps up her internship at the Walker this week so  it’s appropriate to record her impressions about the Mobile Cart. When asked, she quickly replied, “I realized how much I miss drawing. When I was a child, I drew all the time.”

Ilene: What did you notice about the crowd?

Yaneth: There were many curious on-lookers. Young and old people approached us and loved the cart. Some even asked me if they were too old to participate! But, as Ilene says, ‘There’s no age limit to creativity’. They were eager to try out the scores; just draw!

Ilene: What did they want to know?

Yaneth: I had a multitude of people ask me when we’d be out with the cart again. Others asked about the Walker and were curious about activities happening inside the building. We were a mini info hub. I also got questions about the master mind behind the Mobile Cart or directions to places.

Ilene: How did they interact with the drawing activity?

Yaneth: Some people came to try out one score while others got deeper into it. They made more personal drawings based on their interpretations of the scores. Some just kept coming back for more ideas.

Ilene: Thanks, Yaneth, for being so attentive, welcoming and creative. Keep drawing!

 

Attending An Internet Cat Video Festival: A How-To Guide

In just over 48 hours, the Walker Art Center’s backyard will become a haven for cat video lovers, cat lovers, amused bystanders, reluctant participants, and everything in between at the Internet Cat Video Festival. Mostly, it will become a place for all of us to come and watch 70 minutes of internet cat videos together. […]

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In just over 48 hours, the Walker Art Center’s backyard will become a haven for cat video lovers, cat lovers, amused bystanders, reluctant participants, and everything in between at the Internet Cat Video Festival. Mostly, it will become a place for all of us to come and watch 70 minutes of internet cat videos together.

To help communicate the full range of fun and delight we have planned for you, and, more importantly, to help you plan for the event, we have compiled this guide that will hopefully answer your questions and make your Thursday as enjoyable as possible.

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This event is free and open to everybody.
That’s right – this is an all ages, no tickets required, totally free event. Everybody can come, from your baby to your grandma.

Everybody… including my cat?
We strongly encourage you not to bring your cat. Maybe some cats have a lot of experience hanging out in a crowd of thousands of people, but we’re willing to bet that most of them don’t. So please, for the comfort of your cat, please leave him/her at home. If you do decide to bring Fluffy, be aware that the field has no shade, and we have no facilities (litter boxes, water bowls, cardboard boxes) for animals. (That means dogs, too. If you absolutely want to bring your pup, please be aware that if any cat fights break out, we’ll have to ask you to leave.)

What time do the videos start, though?
The actual cat videos will start at dusk (approximately 8:40 pm). Come early! Activities start at 6, and Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers, a cool band with an even cooler name, will play from 7-7:50 pm.

In addition, the event  will be ASL interpreted. We also have an area that will be roped off for ADA access.

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Getting Here
You may have heard that it was super packed in 2012, and yes, we had a full hillside. But the hill is big enough for everybody, and the act of watching cat videos together will make you feel that much closer to your neighbors, literally and emotionally.

However, we encourage you to plan ahead. Please bike, walk, or take public transit to Catvidfest. It’s easy!

1. Bike – We will have 35 bike racks set up on site. Half will be at the top of the hill on the south side of the Walker (Groveland Terrace) and half will be along Vineland Place (between the Walker and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden). Lovely volunteers will be at these locations to greet you and your bike and direct you to the racks. We also have a NiceRide station!

2. Bus – Metro Transit has offered free bus rides to anybody heading to Catvidfest! Simply fill out this brief survey and download your passes. Be sure to have them in hand when you get on the bus. You can reach the Walker on lines 4, 6, 12, and 25. Download your pass here. Map your route here.

3. Walk – It’s going to be a lovely evening. Stretch those legs!

4. Drive – If you’re from out the area, the Walker has an underground parking ramp available on site. We expect this to fill up early in the evening, so please plan accordingly. Event rate parking is $7, and CASH ONLY.

Event parking is also available at St. Mark’s Cathedral on Hennepin Ave. for a $10 flat fee. There are two parking lots available to attendees, either at the cathedral at 15th Ave and Oak Grove St or at 1730 Clifton Place. Information and maps can be found here.

Cat-iquette

  • No reserved seating is available; all space is first-come, first-served. Bring thick blankets to sit on, as much of the field is currently covered in wood chips.
  • Please don’t bring lawn chairs, as it makes sightlines difficult for your new friends behind you.
  • No shade is available on the field, so bring proper sun protection.
  • No outside alcoholic beverages.
  • Pack it in, pack it out: Please take any disposables you bring on site back home with you.

Screenings in the Walker Cinema

If you can’t make it this Thursday, not all hope is lost! We’re screening the new program of videos in the Walker Cinema on Thursday, September 4 at 7 pm (preceded by Cat Poetry) and Saturday, September 7 at 2 pm. Tickets go on sale on Friday, August 15.

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Now for the Fun Stuff

- Dress for the event! There is a lot of stylish cat gear out there in the world. You can also get catted up at the event by donning a brand new Catvidfest T-shirt for 2014. Then you can head over to the Walker’s booth and apply a special edition artist-designed cat tattoo to help you show your devotion (at least for a couple days). After that, if you feel like you’re still missing something, head over to Animalist’s booth to apply some whiskers with the help of a team of face painters. Then, to document your new look, you can head to Animal Planet’s animated GIF photo booth for a digital keepsake.

- Eat and drink at the event! There will be two cash bars on site. We’re working with St. Paul’s Flat Earth Brewing Company to provide their special cat-themed beers: Hep Cat and Tabby Cat (pictured above), both refreshing summer ales. Prefer something fruity? Try the Sourpuss Cocktail, a blend of  Prairie Organic vodka, sweet and sour, lemon juice and soda, garnished with a lemon wedge and a cherry. (Other non-alocoholic beverages will be available as well.)

For sustenance, grab a salad or sandwich from the Garden Café inside the Walker, or a treat from one of the three food trucks parked outside: AZ Canteen, A Cupcake Social, and Gastrotruck.

- Meet two real engineers! Paul and TJ from “An Engineer’s Guide to Cats” (and current People’s Choice Award nominees) will be here, and they’d love to meet you and talk about cats or engineering (but probably more so cats). You can catch them at the Feline Rescue booth from 6:30-7:30 pm.

- Grab a seat at Cat Drawing Club with local artists Todd Balthazor, Alyssa Nassner, and Shannon Joyce. Draw from several catty prompts, including “Live long and pawsper” [see: engineers], “Meow-na Lisa,” and “Cats with laser eyes,” among others.

 

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Oh, and BUB.
Lil BUB, “the most amazing cat on the planet,” will be making a special guest appearance on stage as a guest of Animal Planet. You can meet her at a ticketed event in Minneapolis on August 15.

 

That’s all for today. We can’t wait to see you, and most importantly, we can’t wait to watch cat videos with you.

On the day, share your photos and your fun using hashtag #catvidfest. Questions? Hit us up on Twitter (@catvidfest) or Facebook.

A final Pesher Compline Performance – August 3rd

For the past two Sunday evenings, Sky Pesher has been filled with the melodic harmonies of compline set against a sunset backdrop. If you are unfamiliar with compline performance, check out choral director and musician Brian Dawdy‘s description and discussion on why he chose to bring compline to Sky Pesher. There’s no mistaking that this is a unique […]

For the past two Sunday evenings, Sky Pesher has been filled with the melodic harmonies of compline set against a sunset backdrop. If you are unfamiliar with compline performance, check out choral director and musician Brian Dawdy‘s description and discussion on why he chose to bring compline to Sky Pesher.

There’s no mistaking that this is a unique space in which to perform compline; with the sunlight waning, the humming melodies and play between silence and subtle sound become increasingly distinct and tangible. Entering and exiting one by one, meditating on each movement and sound, the performers invite audience members to sit and relax in peaceful contemplation.

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When: Sunday, August 3rd

Where: Sky Pesher (at the top of the hill)

What: A compline performance sung by 4 choral performers

 

Look Sideways, Listen Close: come together at Open Field

This Thursday, playwright and interdisciplinary artist Rachel Jendrzejewski  shares one hundred newly published Fluxus event scores written just for Open Field. In a program titled Look Sideways, Listen Close: 100 scores for Open Field, she invites participants to perform these  “playful prompts designed to sharpen senses and stoke imaginations” using a microphone, and a variety of props. The […]

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This Thursday, playwright and interdisciplinary artist Rachel Jendrzejewski  shares one hundred newly published Fluxus event scores written just for Open Field. In a program titled Look Sideways, Listen Close: 100 scores for Open Fieldshe invites participants to perform these  “playful prompts designed to sharpen senses and stoke imaginations” using a microphone, and a variety of props. The scores ask us to notice details (“Be with the clouds”, instructs Listening Event 1), and  approach old problems in new ways (“Full time salaries for independent artists, cut all the strings with scissors” reads Allocation Piece).  This call to imagination and attention fits perfectly with the evening’s other Open Field programming, which invite us to participate in similar ways: look  sideways, listen close; let your senses be sharpened and your imagination stoked.

Look sideways

Scooper the Clown

Scooper the Clown

With their program Drawing, Far Away So Close, artists Keith Braafladt and Margaret Pezalla take a new approach to drawing. The two encourage participants to use a microscope to draw the extremely small, then use a telescope to draw a scene placed far in the distance. Braafladt and Pezalla are both “fascinated with drawing and looking for the nearly invisible.” In another Thursday night program, Scooper the Clown invites your to play “Find Your Spot”, Scooper (Shannon Forney) explores the way a clown and her game might help you engage with your community. “Find Your Spot” points to commonalities between strangers: “Find your spot if you live in zip code 55403! Find your spot if you took public transportation today!” You might leave the field with a greater appreciation for your neighbors.

Listen Close

The Ericksons

The Ericksons

Bring an ipod of your favorite songs and transcend your fear of dancing in public thanks to Don’t You Feel It Too?, a project that is “the practice of freeing your spirit through dancing your inner life in public places.” Together we’ll dance on the field, listening close through our own set of headphones. Mindfulness: Be Here NowTM, a series of fifteen-minute meditations in Sky Pesher, encourages participants to listen close in another way, tuning into breath and the present moment. Close out the evening by listening to Acoustic Campfire with Lydia Liza (Bomba de Luz) and Eric Mayson (Crunchy Kids), followed by local folk favorites The Ericksons.

Let your senses be sharpened and your imaginations stoked

Star Trek Yoga Quest

With Star Trek: a narrated yogic adventure, Yoga Quest aims “to explore the power of storytelling and engage minds and bodies in a yogic adventure; to find ways to make wellness appealing to folks who otherwise wouldn’t engage with it.” While some like to bring their imaginations to life via Star Trek-themed yoga, others prefer games. Grown-up Club returns with more Recess Games, if you haven’t had a good dose of Kick the Can and Capture the Flag this summer. If you prefer a less action-packed activity, join the Drawing Club team at the picnic tables.

Find it at Open Field: Clothing + Story Swap

Introducing Asher Edes & Dan Hnilicka’s Clothing + Story Swap What memories are woven into your clothes? Are you ready to hand them on? Bring an item of clothing or an accessory you used to wear. You’ll be invited to scribble a story or drawing about its personal history onto a tag. Attach the tag, pin the […]

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Introducing Asher Edes & Dan Hnilicka’s Clothing + Story Swap

What memories are woven into your clothes? Are you ready to hand them on? Bring an item of clothing or an accessory you used to wear. You’ll be invited to scribble a story or drawing about its personal history onto a tag. Attach the tag, pin the garment to a clothesline on Open Field, and pick a garment and story that used to belong to a stranger to take home.

Aims to: Bring together strangers to swap used clothes and the stories that accompany them (through words or a drawing). Come to explore the blurring of personal identities when possessions are traded.

Looks like: Conversations, connections, chaos and compliments.

Will remind you of: A treasure chest or a time machine.

Useful if: You want/need new clothes, want to make room in your closet or want to hear or share a story with a stranger.

Invite your friends on Facebook and come prepared to share (more than just clothing) on Saturday.

Stereo Trees: Visual Transportation Through Miniature Viewfinders

Stereoscopic \ster-ē-ə-ˈskä-pik\ photographs are created using a stereoscope, a method which produces images that appear 3-dimensional and solid in form. This description does not begin to give credit to the magic of the images in Areca Roe’s Stereo Trees project, which she shared with us at Open Field on Saturday. If you didn’t get a […]

Stereoscopic \ster-ē-ə-ˈskä-pik\ photographs are created using a stereoscope, a method which produces images that appear 3-dimensional and solid in form. This description does not begin to give credit to the magic of the images in Areca Roe’s Stereo Trees project, which she shared with us at Open Field on Saturday. If you didn’t get a chance to visit, the photos were hung from trees with colorful chords, visible through small viewfinders.

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The photos served as portals to hyper-real natural scenes: crackling campfires frozen in pristine 3-dimensionality, forests shooting high up into the clouds above, and waters perfectly captured mid-crash. The images are an exaggerated version of reality, immaculately frozen and magnified in front of one’s eyes.

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The stereoscopic viewfinders were hung at various heights, allowing for those of smaller stature the opportunity to enjoy the images as well. Friends, families and strangers gathered to view the individual pieces. Though individual faces were obscured and the resulting experience seemed to be completely solitary, responses of surprise and awe were collectively shared as pictures passed from hand-to-hand and eye-to-eye.

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Stereo Trees embodied the true spirit of Open Field, bringing together strangers and friends, and made a direct experience with art accessible to visitors of all ages.

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Find it at Open Field: Mindfulness

We are happy to introduce Dawn Bazarko, DNP, MPH, RN and Certified Mindfulness Facilitator, sharing information on Mindfulness: Be Here NowTM, an Open Field program brought to you by Moment HealthTM, a UnitedHealth Group business. What is mindfulness? Mindfulness — the practice of focusing attention in the present moment, with a stance of openness, acceptance […]

We are happy to introduce Dawn Bazarko, DNP, MPH, RN and Certified Mindfulness Facilitator, sharing information on Mindfulness: Be Here NowTM, an Open Field program brought to you by Moment HealthTM, a UnitedHealth Group business.

Mindfulness

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness — the practice of focusing attention in the present moment, with a stance of openness, acceptance and non-judgment, is a powerful tool for enhancing health, happiness and well-being. Mindfulness has become mainstream, twice making the cover of Time Magazine, and has been the focus for numerous other news features.

Why mindfulness?

As a long time meditator and expert in the field of mindfulness, I have witnessed the profound benefits of living life in the moment and  believe that everyone can benefit in some way by slowing down, pausing versus reacting, and deepening relationships through the gift of presence. Mindfulness can be particularly helpful in dealing with the uncertainties and stress of daily living, which we all inevitably face from time to time. Mindfulness helps us to deal with life’s challenges more effectively by creating the space to respond in an even-keeled way, with less emotional reactivity.

Can you share some of the science behind mindfulness?

The scientific community now recognizes mindfulness practices as a means to improve focus, performance, health and well-being –  even our happiness. Mindfulness has been shown to result in a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes. In fact, research shows that even short-term mindfulness programs enhance the part of the brain associated with working memory and attention. We now know that we have the power to change our brains to increase focus and enhance our decision-making! And when we focus our attention on the present moment, studies indicate that we are happier, have less anxiety and have an increased sense of well-being.

How are you bringing mindfulness to Open Field?

We are delighted to be working with the Walker Art Center to introduce you to the practice of mindfulness as a part of Open Field. On Saturday  July 26 or Thursday July 31, we will be holding 30 minute free introductory mindfulness sessions which include a brief discussion of the science and benefits of mindfulness and then a short meditation. We hope you will join us.

Until then, there are a number of mindfulness practices you can try on your own to help focus on the present moment, including yoga, painting, or even spending time in nature. You can read here about one mindfulness practice mentioned in the Boston Globe that is particularly appropriate when spending time at the Walker Art Center. Wishing you all peace, ease and happiness.

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Mindfulness: Be Here Now will be presented at Open Field on Saturday, July 26 and Thursday, July 31.

Dr. Bazarko is the founder and Senior Vice President of UnitedHealth Group’s Center for Nursing Advancement and the founder of Moment HealthTM, a UnitedHealth Group business focused on bringing mindfulness solutions to the work place, to health care workers and into health care delivery to improve the patient care experience.

Open Field 2014 is sponsored by United Health Foundation

An Introduction to Pesher Compline

For the next three Sunday evenings, choral director and musician Brian Dowdy brings Pesher Compline to James Turrell’s Sky Pesher sculpture as part of Open Field. Below, he answers a few questions about the event, and the history of Compline. What is Compline? Compline is an end-of-day service that originated in monastic Christianity. After gathering for Compline, monks and […]

Photo by Dylan Hester

Photo by Dylan Hester

For the next three Sunday evenings, choral director and musician Brian Dowdy brings Pesher Compline to James Turrell’s Sky Pesher sculpture as part of Open Field. Below, he answers a few questions about the event, and the history of Compline.

What is Compline?

Compline is an end-of-day service that originated in monastic Christianity. After gathering for Compline, monks and visitors to the monastic community would retire into the “Great Silence,” during which they would not speak until morning. Pesher Compline retains this spirit, but it’s intended more as a musical “offering” to the community than either a religious service or a performance. As an aesthetic experience, it is quiet and contemplative. The room is softly lit. Singers and visitors alike enter the space quietly and with a spirit of stillness. The music itself is mostly ancient chant, sung in Latin. Woven around that chant are bits of improvisation and choral polyphony. It’s the kind of music that, upon its end, leaves the space quieter than before it began.

Why are you choosing to present the event in Sky Pesher?

Sky Pesher is, like a church or monastery, a space set apart. However, it’s not a church — it’s in no way explicitly religious. Still, the architecture, the unique play of light intended by James Turrell, and the unique acoustics do make the space feel somehow sacred and spiritual. Also, the play of light and dark for which Turrell designed Sky Pesher is akin to the play of sound and silence that characterizes Compline. Finally, in the open spirit of Open Field, anyone can wander in to the space without feeling that, in order to belong, they must assent to certain beliefs or know how to participate. You get to just show up and receive the gift of space and sound.

What should participants expect from these Sunday evening events?

Around 8:30, one of us will enter the room and ring a bell, and, after a brief period of silence, the rest will enter in song. For about 30 minutes, participants can expect to simply sit amongst their neighbors, take in the chants and songs, and also take in the silences in between. Because the events will take place around sunset, they can also expect to look up and experience Turrell’s intended effect of architecture disappearing into the changing light, or, as he calls it, “bringing the sky down.” At the services end, we will recess in song, just as we entered. Participants can feel free to remain in the space to appreciate the quietness and waning light, and each person can leave when they are ready. We hope they take with them the same sense of inner calm and quiet that Compline inspires in us.

Pesher Compline will take place Sundays, July 20, 27, and August 3, and will be sung by Aaron Humble, Blake Morgan, Adam Reinwald, and Paul Rudoi, with direction from Brian Dowdy.

Mad King Thomas Tests the Bounds of Collaboration

Post-modern performance trio Mad King Thomas is known for pushing boundaries and questioning limits. They skirt a thin line between dance and theater, dive into messy investigations of gender roles and power dynamics, and somehow manage to blend copious amounts of props, over-the-top costumes, and  irreverence into a result that’s utterly sincere and even profound. […]

Photo by Cameron Wittig

Photo by Cameron Wittig

Post-modern performance trio Mad King Thomas is known for pushing boundaries and questioning limits. They skirt a thin line between dance and theater, dive into messy investigations of gender roles and power dynamics, and somehow manage to blend copious amounts of props, over-the-top costumes, and  irreverence into a result that’s utterly sincere and even profound. This Saturday night the three bring their latest work, a collaboration with New Orleans-based playwright Justin Maxwell titled The Weather is Always Perfect, to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden as part of Open Field. The piece marks the end of an era as the three performers get ready to push boundaries in yet another way: taking their nine-year collaboration long-distance.

Like many partnerships, Mad King Thomas admits to their share of squabbles and challenges, but Tara King, Theresa Madaus, and Monica Thomas are in total agreement that their collaboration is a life-long one. The three met as students at Macalester College in 2001, where they studied with notable Twin Cities choreographers that include HIJACK, Judith Howard, and Emily Johnson. In 2004 they made their first dance together, a just-for-fun endeavor that they soon realized held a lot of potential.  By April of 2005, over ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s Free Cone Day, they made a serious decision to mold their future around their collaboration. King changed her post-graduation plan to move to Japan for a job, and the three committed to staying in the  Twin Cities for a year, at which point they planned to move somewhere more desirable, together. Thomas admits they “were more committed than many romantic relationships are.”

Photo by Cameron Wittig

Photo by Cameron Wittig

Nine years later, Mad King Thomas has remained in the Twin Cities and built an impressive list of performances, grants and awards. Their work has been presented as part of Naked Stages (2007), Momentum: New Dance Works (2011), Choreographer’s Evening (2007, 2009, 2011), the Red Eye’s New Works: 4 Weeks Festival (2008, 2009), and the Southern Theater’s New Breed series (2010), and has included dance films, vignettes, and evening-length pieces. Regardless of the form, experimentation drives the work and, as Madaus explains, also creates a safety net from artistic paralysis: “At the beginning of every new project we often say ‘it’s an experiment’ because we feel daunted by whatever the last thing was, and wonder how we can ever do anything again. I think that this, along with permission for failure, have always been helpful tools for moving us forward.” And moving to a long-distance working relationship is one more extension of their experiments.

Photo by Mad King Thomas

Photo by Mad King Thomas

The trio recently announced that two of their three members have plans to leave the Twin Cities this fall. Thomas will move to Boston to pursue a degree in dance/movement therapy with a specialization in mental health counseling, and King to Los Angeles with her partner to experience new scenery. The three insist that they have no plans to break up: “We can’t; we have a death date,” Madaus says, referencing their joint agreement to die on stage at the age of 103, together.  “But yes, [the collaboration] will look different for sure.” The agreement to stick together is one they take seriously, and has led to making a temporary work plan where they will take turns serving in month-long Artistic Director positions for the group. As Artistic Director, each will be “responsible for taking us through an artistic process that is theoretically fulfilling to the individual, and unaccountable to the others’ tastes,” Thomas says. The logistics remain flexible, but might involve written assignments and Skyped rehearsals. And fans can rest assured that there will be future Twin Cities performances– plans are in-process for a 10-year birthday celebration show next summer.

For this Saturday night’s performance, Mad King Thomas plants themselves on Mark di Suvero’s Arikidea sculpture to tell the story of Violet Jessop, a woman who survived the sinkings of the Britannic and Titanic, as well as the collision of the Olympic with another ship: “Lady was unlucky,” says King. “We’re exploring ordinariness, class struggle, and folded bath towels. We’re enamored with mermaids, what it is to be above or below the sea, and life vests.” Expect the work to include more text than many of the trio’s past pieces, as influenced by Justin Maxwell’s contributions.  And, as usual, prepare to be surprised. Mad King Thomas gives you a few directions for the night: “Bring a flashlight; wear fancy, old-timey clothes; be ready to get a little wet (maybe) (no promises). Follow us as we follow the truly extraordinary true story of a fairly ordinary person, Violet Jessop.”

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