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Local artists and arts lovers reflect on the year that was in Minnesota art and culture

A few weeks ago, we asked the mnartists.org community of artists and arts lovers to take stock of the year just passed – 2010’s gains and losses, the year’s notable artists and arts organizations, as well as the most intriguing trends and memorable shows seen over the last twelve months. The results from our survey […]

A few weeks ago, we asked the mnartists.org community of artists and arts lovers to take stock of the year just passed – 2010’s gains and losses, the year’s notable artists and arts organizations, as well as the most intriguing trends and memorable shows seen over the last twelve months. The results from our survey are in, with a variety of reflections from more than 70 people throughout the state. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share those community responses with you here; if you’re so moved, feel free to weigh in yourself in the comments below.

Between the loss of the Bush Foundation artist fellowships and the demise of the spunky Twin Cities’ art zine, ARP!, Minnesota’s arts community bid some painful farewells in recent months – what do you think was the biggest loss of 2010?

Among the 67 responses to this question, the recent elimination of the much-coveted, big-ticket Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship was the overwhelming pick of the crowd, noted by nearly half our respondents as our arts scene’s most notable loss of the year. Similarly, a few mentioned Target’s eventual redirection of philanthropic focus, from the arts to literacy programs, as a loss for the state’s artist community as well.

In addition, survey-takers marked the passing of a number of smaller, independently-run gallery spaces in 2010, prominently mentioned among them: Flanders Contemporary Art and the avant-garde Minneapolis space, Art of This. A number of people also pointed to the persistent lack of a bricks-and-mortar home for the Minnesota Museum of American Art. (Although it must be said, with Kristin Makholm at the helm, the museum has been resourceful about getting its collection in the public eye through a series of intriguing exhibition partnerships in the last year, despite the organization’s lack of a permanent home.)

More than a few respondents paid their respects to the Art Shanty Projects, the annual community-spirit-filled art festival whose ice shanties and whimsical programming on Plymouth’s Medicine Lake made the bitter midwinter months just a little bit warmer.

A number of people also noted the loss of Bedlam Theatre’s appealing, interdisciplinary space and the loss of Art Review and Preview (ARP!), as well as the departures of two accomplished Minnesota curators: David Hodges from the Duluth Art Institute and the Walker Art Center curator Peter Eeley, who left the Twin Cities last year to take a leadership role at NYC’s PS1.

But enough of the depressing stuff; we also called on the Minnesota arts community to point to an arts experience – whether that be an exhibition, performance, festival or individual art happening – that stands out for them as the event of 2010.

A clear favorite among our respondents was the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ once-a-decade Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program extravaganza, Foot in the Door 4; the Walker Art Center exhibition, From Here To There: Alec Soth’s America, also garnered a number of votes, as did the center’s dance/installation by Eiko and Koma, Naked, which took up residence in the Event Horizon exhibition this fall.

Other notable arts events called out in our survey responses include: Sandbox Theatre’s Unspeakable Things – The Wandrei Brothers’ Project; the National Poetry Slam, hosted last year in St. Paul, whose team overtook the competition handily for the second year in a row. In the dance scene, 2010 highlights mentioned include Megan Mayer’s we tried to throw the light at the Southern, as well as The Thank-You Bar from Catalyst Dance + BLACKFISH, and last spring’s performance of Heaven by Morgan Thorson.

Other events of note: the tall ships’ arrival in Duluth, St Paul’s sidewalk poetry, the avant garde film series at Midway Contemporary Art, H.O.T. (a pop-up publishing experiment at the Soap Factory last August), and A Streetcar Named Desire at the Guthrie.

As I browse through the arts smorgasbord noted in our survey results, I’m struck most of all by the sheer abundance and diversity of the list. One can’t look through these community responses without feeling, first, a profound gratitude for the wealth and richness of arts experiences at our disposal in these parts, not to mention the persistent resourcefulness of our regions’ artists and organizations in reaching the public.

Next week – we’ll talk fantasy fellowships and what Minnesota artists say they would do with $10,000; also, your picks for our state’s most quintessentially “Minnesotan” public artwork.

What about you? Which 2010 arts happenings still linger in your mind? Share your own reflections on the year’s highlights in the comments below, or take the survey yourself, online here.

  • I’d like to add the MIA’s new incorporation of contemporary art into its collection. I think Liz Armstrong’s “ReMix” project is just revolutionary, and look forward to stumbling upon more contemporary art in the various period rooms in the months and years to come!

  • Oh, good addition, Marianne! A couple of other folks mentioned the MIA’s “Remix” contemporary art show among their favorites for the year. Some other interesting notable arts experiences of 2010 included in our survey responses included: the MIA’s Louvre show, the Storefront-in-a-Box series of events from this summer, Monica Haller’s “Veteran’s Book Project” at Tarnish & Gold, the Soap Factory biennial “A Theory of Values,” Springboard’s “Work of Art” classes, the Walker’s “Quick and the Dead” exhibition (my personal favorite), and CVA’s new “Portals on Western” public art display space in St Paul. One respondent nominated Scott Seekins as their favorite arts happening of 2010 – go figure!