Several checkered boxes for Chris & Rob’s pizza and Pabst Blue Ribbon greet me at the door. I’m at The White Page, and the iconic PBR brand has been transformed into shoes in the window display. That’s right – shoes made out of beer boxes. Does this give the viewer permission to visually stomp on the brand, the can, and the hipster implications, the frustrations of making art/craft that might go with them? Each pair of “shoes” is priced to sell.
Edward Ping, a creative duo based in Detroit, are the artists who instigated this storefront-cum-gallery display. They were invited by The White Page to be artists-in-residence for the month of September. The title of their show, Garage Sale, aptly describes both the new gallery space and (for better or worse) the economic climate in the artists’ Michigan hometown. After all, garage sales are what neighbors do to help each other out in times of flux or particular hardship. And that sense of friendship and camaraderie is a thread that is plainly acknowledged and fostered throughout the new South Minneapolis art space.
Inside of the White Page gallery, subtle boundaries are established and broken. What is the line between studio, residency, and exhibition space? Between craft, useful innovations, and artwork? The White Page was begun by four artists who met at Alfred University and decided to call Minneapolis home. “There are pots hanging in the bathroom!” exclaims Alexis L. Stiteler, a ceramic artist and one of the gallery’s founders. This bathroom in the basement turns out to be part of the downstairs workshop, a shared resource for visiting artists and founding members of the collective.
The White Page is meant to be a celebratory space for collaboration and play. When I visited, a violinist was playing on the sidewalk, a toy snake was hanging from the wall. The place was filled with young artists and college friends, fellow zine-makers, beer drinkers. The White Page is as accessible as its name, a space both open-ended and up for interpretation, and one that’s hospitable to new ideas.
All of Edward Ping’s crafts on exhibit were also available for sale, and marketed online and in-person as such. Every item in the gallery had a delicate price tag, handwritten with an amount and a small dollar sign. On view: earthenware, pom poms, and childlike attire; a PVC purse just right for a Spice Girl and filled with newspaper clippings, and a lamp made of wood. One wall is filled with zines: C.L.A.P., WOPOZI. Clearly the artists of the White Page have worked together to merge their worlds – Detroit, Minneapolis, and their broader college networks – rather than create one distinct artist statement. According to the website, Edward Ping seeks to “neither hide nor embrace … inexperience and doing so allows an honesty to material to shine through.”
Madeleine Wieand’s photographs were installed in the White Page gallery through October. This second show in the space, Have a Nice Day, was more minimally orchestrated than the first. For her show, Weiand walked around the gallery’s surrounding South Minneapolis neighborhood and documented welcoming, slightly anthropomorphic, and odd households. Each work is held behind glass with four pins. Subtle smiles, eagle murals, signs, and paint serve as armor for these nearly-suburban homes. The exhibit calls her series of photographs a “quiet narrative,” an ambulatory daydream that transforms the everyday into a nuanced and seemingly uninhabited vista.
The White Page similarly transforms itself for these short residencies by emerging artists. The narrative of this new Minneapolis gallery is still quiet, still developing, but each month holds the promise of fresh potential.
Chloe Nelson is the program assistant for mnartists.org.
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 editor(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.)