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The Work of Minnesota Funk

Minnesota Funk at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery functions like a show within a show.  The perimeter of the gallery is filled with a mix of work by Minnesota artists that range widely in form and material—painting on canvas, ceramics, lithographs, cartoony maps, mixed media on paper, video, steel and found material/altered sculpture. These pieces […]

Minnesota Funk is on view in the Nash Gallery through January 12.

Minnesota Funk is on view in the Nash Gallery through January 12.

Minnesota Funk at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery functions like a show within a show.  The perimeter of the gallery is filled with a mix of work by Minnesota artists that range widely in form and material—painting on canvas, ceramics, lithographs, cartoony maps, mixed media on paper, video, steel and found material/altered sculpture. These pieces also vary in their interpretations of “funk.” Some employ bright colors and playful imagery, while others display their attitude in the form of humor or absurdity.

Jim Dryden. Courtesy of the Nash Gallery.

Jim Dryden. Courtesy of the Nash Gallery.

In the center of all this is a mini-exhibition by Chris Larson with yet another, distinctly different sensibility. Larson’s room contains three works: sturdy wooden beams whose center sections have been burned and polished to reveal sculptural knots and curves lean against the walls; a large wooden panel covered with a grid of black and white photographs which display a pinhole camera image of an artist’s workspace; and a wall-sized video projection.

Jenny Schmid. Courtesy of the Nash Gallery.

Jenny Schmid. Courtesy of the Nash Gallery.

The latter is the centerpiece of the whole show, though not necessarily because it is the funkiest piece in the lot. What begins as a seemingly simple recording of the artist working in his studio becomes a fascinating set of events that, all together, upturn the viewer’s perception of the very reality created by the frame of the camera and the walls of the studio. The raw sound of Larson’s video pervades the entire exhibition — in effect, a soundtrack featuring the rather un-funky noise of the human work that accompanies the making of all things.

Still from Chris Larson's video, on view in Minnesota Funk at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery through January 13.

Still from Chris Larson’s video, on view in Minnesota Funk at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery through January 13.

Related exhibition details:

Minnesota Funk is on view at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery in the Regis Center for Art, University of Minnesota through January 12, 2013.

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Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in public engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time.

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.)

Indoor Forest Therapy Courtesy of There’s Only One by Richard Barlow

Wedged between the student mailboxes and Einstein Bagels inside the student center at Augsburg College is a sliver of a gallery that Richard Barlow has transformed into a forest. Or, more accurately, he’s made a subtle, delicate, and stunning representation of a forest rendered in white chalk on blackboard-painted wall: There’s Only One. The shape […]

Richard Barlow, "There's Only One," 11' x 50', chalk on blackboard paint, 2012.

Richard Barlow, “There’s Only One,” 11′ x 50′, chalk on blackboard paint, 2012.

Wedged between the student mailboxes and Einstein Bagels inside the student center at Augsburg College is a sliver of a gallery that Richard Barlow has transformed into a forest. Or, more accurately, he’s made a subtle, delicate, and stunning representation of a forest rendered in white chalk on blackboard-painted wall: There’s Only One.

The shape of the gallery makes it difficult to see the temporary wall drawing as a whole; reflections on the glass walls that encase the space obscure the view from afar, but if you stand in the door jam, you can take in the fullness of what is a masterfully executed 500-square-foot-plus piece.  Efficient chalk lines and smudges outline tree trunks that grow up out of a forest floor dappled with light. Up close the work looks abstract, but seeing the piece from a distance (such as the small space allows, anyway) places the viewer intimately inside an old growth forest.

There’s Only One is part of a series, Welcome to the Open, for which Barlow appropriates the imagery of nature used in SUV ads for Hummer and Jeep. His co-co-opting of the very scenes used to sell us an experience of the natural world – access the sublime through better auto travel! — adds a provocative conceptual dimension to the work’s already impressive form.  And that source material makes the fragility of Barlow’s work all the more poignant, for unlike the enduring environmental effects of driving a Hummer, Barlow’s photographic drawing is here today and gone tomorrow – quite literally. His intricate chalk drawing will simply be wiped away at the close of the exhibition this weekend.

Barlow’s work here has the effect of a well-executed sleight of hand – immersed in his painstakingly rendered forest-of-chalk the viewer is genuinely transported, if only temporarily. If a walk at Afton State Park isn’t in your pre-holiday schedule, I highly recommend stopping by for a dose of forest therapy in the heated comfort of the Augsburg commons this week.

Exhibition postcard courtesy of Augsburg College.

Exhibition postcard courtesy of Augsburg College.

Related exhibition details:

Richard Barlow: There’s Only One — a site-specific, 50-foot chalk-drawing from his series Welcome to the Open – is on view at Christensen Center Art Gallery at Augsburg College in Minneapolis through December 19.

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Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in public engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time.

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.)

Getting Lost in A Sense of Place in Artist Books

On the second floor of Rapson Hall on the University of Minnesota campus sits a quiet haven of bookish delight. It is the Architecture and Landscape Architecture departments’ library, so its stacks are filled with beautiful books and the furniture is designer-made and lovely. More urgently, for the next week (my apologies for the late […]

Installation view of “A Sense of Place in Artist Books”. Photo courtesy of the author.

On the second floor of Rapson Hall on the University of Minnesota campus sits a quiet haven of bookish delight. It is the Architecture and Landscape Architecture departments’ library, so its stacks are filled with beautiful books and the furniture is designer-made and lovely. More urgently, for the next week (my apologies for the late notice) the library is also chock full of a curious assortment of artist books that take up architecture’s familiar preoccupation with place.

A Sense of Place in Artist Books is one of a series of collaborative efforts among university departments this fall; the sprawling table-top exhibition contains nearly 100 literary portals to elsewhere. The concept of “place” at play in all these artist books is only minimally defined in the exhibition description, and the territories covered in the material on view are as varied as the book forms themselves: tiny and coffee table-sized, photocopied and letterpress-printed, flat and sculptural, handmade and machine bound.

“A History of the Airfields of Lincolnshire II” (2000) Simon Cutts. Photo courtesy of the author.

Not surprisingly, many of the places these books ponder are natural sites. Flipping through page after page, I find myself immersed in islets in the River Thames, the bends of the River Axe, the forested Rookeries, hillsides in Croatia or Norway; there are several meditations on the sky. These landscapes are rendered in drawings, photographs and text.

A particularly poignant text-based work is a small, purple cloth covered book, simply titled One Hundred Scottish Places, with a list of place names translated from Scots and Gaelic into English: e.g., Field of Driving Rain, The Little Loch of the Trout. Each page contains just the one phrase, cumulatively making a composite portrait of place that reads like something out of a fairy tale.

“SEAL Medium: Japanese Esoteric Buddhist Text” (2012) Ryuta Nakajima. Photo courtesy of the author.

On a table nearby another small volume claims to enlighten the reader on A History of the Airfields of Lincolnshire II, but instead contains a ribbon of letterpress-printed green text running atop each page comprised only of the word “flax” and the letters “f” and “x.” I learn nothing about Lincolnshire II nor its airfields, but am pleasantly surprised by the artist’s typographic horizon line.

An emphasis on travel permeates the show. Some epic journeys are documented in text and image (e.g., a 121-day bike ride to and from Iceland, a American cross-country road trip) ; other travelogues are more fictional than documentary. My favorite of these is a book by Gracia Haby of altered, fantastical postcards, and letters from an unknown traveler that become more surreal as the journey wanders on:

You never came, but in your place, a moose, an elk on a ramshackle bicycle, a wolverine and a pair of lynx from Gästrikland. They spoke to me of the weather, their plans, their likes and their loves.

Of course, a “sense of place” is not only about romantic engagements with the sublime in nature, or escapist dreams of world travel. A smaller number of books on display investigate “place” as a locus of labor, the mundane: domestic interiors, neighborhood streets, hotel rooms. Of these, my eye is drawn to Paulette Myers-Rich’s  urban industrial landscapes, elegantly printed images of abandoned buildings in St. Paul and Minneapolis where she and members of her family once worked.

“Good Evening” (2008) Gracia Haby. Fictional travelogue with text and altered postcards. Photo courtesy of the author.

After spending the better part of an afternoon reading these books, I realize that any of the volumes, individually, might well have been enough to pull me from my bearings; but altogether, they caused a total (if temporary) loss of any sense of my own time and place.

I look up at the clock to find it has sped farther ahead than I anticipated. Where am I again? My surroundings reemerge. I am in a quiet library on a gray day in an Eames chair paging through a portal to elsewhere.

“The Physical Boundaries of an Island” (2004) Imi Maufe. Photo courtesy of the author.

Exhibition details:

A Sense of Place in Artist Books is on view through December 12 at the Architecture & Landscape Architecture Library, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus. Find a symposium about the exhibition and its topic online here.

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Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in public engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time.

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.)

Viewfinder: REwork: Participatory Art Projects at Art Attack

Last weekend the Northeast Minneapolis arts district threw open its doors for their annual cool-weather art crawl, Art Attack. In a gallery on the third floor of the Northrup King Building, tucked away amidst painting, clothing, and ceramic studios, the weary art wanderers found an entirely different experience. REwork: Participatory Art Projects was a weekend-long […]

Last weekend the Northeast Minneapolis arts district threw open its doors for their annual cool-weather art crawl, Art Attack. In a gallery on the third floor of the Northrup King Building, tucked away amidst painting, clothing, and ceramic studios, the weary art wanderers found an entirely different experience. REwork: Participatory Art Projects was a weekend-long exhibition that featured interactive works that had previously been enacted elsewhere.

REwork: Participatory Art Projects, “What Makes You Participate?” Photo by Sam Thompson.

Curators Molly Balcom Raleigh and Kirsten Wiegmann wanted to give artists an opportunity to see how their projects would shift when restaged in a different context. In some cases, that change of environment proved considerable. Several of the works in the show were originally created for Northern Spark—the sleep-deprived festival that injects art into public spaces in the middle of the night. These projects include Balcom Raleigh’s table for eating and talking via virtual portal to elsewhere called FEED/FEED, Susy Bielak’s call for McSweeney’s-inspired sleep positions, and Jonathan Zorn’s text-based work that was scripted to facilitate responses between participants and the activities, crowds, and architecture of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts during the Northern Spark festival.

Pritika Chowdry’s “Memory Leaks,” photo by Sam Thompson.

At REwork, those projects shared space with Pritika Chowdry’s “Memory Leaks,” an installation of hanging copper pots that viewers could fill with water and watch it drip into platters on the floor containing burned papers. Nearby, Robin Garwood’s freestanding sculpture, Blind, aimed to illustrate the dizzying effects of Moiré patterns by inviting viewers inside a three-sided, cloth covered frame. Rachel Jendrzejewski created a space that served as the atmospheric headquarters for a roving interactive performance, oneir0nautics, where dancers interpreted fragments of dreams that visitors had written on scraps of paper and then taped to the wall. Lastly, the exhibition’s only non-local artist, Emilia Javanica dressed herself in a nylon “birthday suit” complete with male genitalia to embody “Buoj iz Jeb,” a curious and amenable character. Jeb — a professional life drawing model — invited viewers to draw him with props and costumes they selected from his closet.

A room at the back of the gallery contained project didactics and artist bios, which functioned as a necessary contextualization for visitors unfamiliar with REwork’s intentions.

Balcom Raleigh’s virtual portal to elsewhere, “FEED/FEED.” Photo by Sam Thompson.

Overall, I found that each project created a distinct environment – some more lively and engaging that others. Naturally, the works that involved a human conduit contained the most energy. FEED/FEED’s half-circle table full of people chatting with pixilated Seattleites on a screen dominated the sociality of the space (in no small part due to the pumpkin bars with whipped cream that were part of the project) and set a tone of comfort and conviviality. Meanwhile Javanica’s unignorably charming character made the intimidating acts of life drawing and social interaction with a (fake naked) stranger feel intimate.

Emilia Javanica performs as “Buoj iz Jeb,” a life-drawing model, while a visitor sketches. Photo by Sam Thompson.

The quiet works held their own grace, particularly Chowdry’s venerable copper pots, and Zorn’s poetic scripts:

“humming
beneath the cacophonous
murmur of the crowd
sustaining a gentle tone”

As I wandered around the space during my visit I overheard several people walk into the gallery and mutter under their breath to their companions, “What’s going on in here?!” Indeed, after rooms full of paintings and pottery, REwork made for a refreshing and active art attack.

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Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in public engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time.

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 katie(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.)

Viewfinder: Broc Blegen’s Coming Out Party at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

In his current MAEP exhibition, Broc Blegen plays three parts: artist, curator and collector. He fulfills each of these roles through their traditional tasks: he makes the art, he forms a “collection,” and then he curates it for display. Except for the fact the art he made isn’t his own. Coming Out Party: Selections from […]

In his current MAEP exhibition, Broc Blegen plays three parts: artist, curator and collector. He fulfills each of these roles through their traditional tasks: he makes the art, he forms a “collection,” and then he curates it for display. Except for the fact the art he made isn’t his own.

Coming Out Party: Selections from the Collection of Broc Blegen is comprised of re-created artworks by famous, mostly male, artists including Felix Gonzalez Torres, Robert Mapplethorpe, Glenn Ligon, Andy Warhol, Richard Prince, Jonathan Horowitz, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman and Jim Hodges. Jenny Holzer holds court as the one woman artist re-presented. On the didactic panels that sidle up to each piece—written by Blegen as part of the overall project—the dates given for each of the works include the original date of production and the current year, i.e., 1978/2012.

Broc Blegen, Jenny Holzer, If You Aren’t Political Your Personal Life Should be Exemplary, 1998/2012, Bronze plaque, 5″ x 10.” Photo courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Some clear themes arise immediately. As the title of the exhibition indicates, these works epitomize lightening rod moments in the critical conversation about sexuality and identity politics in art, from the Gonzalez-Torres’ empty booty-shaking stage to McCarthy’s Chair with Butt Plug to Nauman’s provocative neon word-play “run from fear, fun from rear” to Mapplethorpe’s mesh-covered mirror that asks us to stare at our own desirous gaze. We also see an appropriation of the appropriators, in particular Richard Prince’s joke painting and Ligon’s brilliant work Red Portfolio, which is itself a recreation of the texts describing Mapplethorpe photographs that were circulated by the Christian Coalition at the height of the 90s culture wars.

All of the works on display in this “collection” are goldmines of cultural rebellion, hitting hard on the issues that are still tearing our politics apart: sex, religion, gender, representation. They have incredible power and presence, even as facsimiles.

 

Broc Blegen, Bruce Nauman, Run From Fear Fun From Rear, 1972/2012, yellow and pink neon tubing with glass tubing suspension frames, two parts, each: 8″ x 46″ x 2 1/4.” Photo courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

There are many layers to this exhibition: the issues and aesthetics contained in the original works, the existing artwork remade as a kind of readymade, and the act of collecting. These layers are contained and revealed further considering the exhibition as a whole is a work of art, including the didactic labels that give Blegen authorship over the pieces and thus become key in contextualizing the project in its entirety.

This gives us a great deal to consider and discuss, but as the double crucifix and the plaque about personhood and the political linger in my mind, I realize that the strength of the exhibition comes from the power of the original artworks, rather than the questions raised by their context and recreation. In that sense I’m thankful for the art history lesson and the chance to engage with some giants of cultural production, yet I am left to wonder: Was all the re-work was necessary?

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Related links and information:

Sheila Regan’s piece on mnartists.org, “Art of the Steal,” also considers Blegen’s MAEP show

Coming Out Party: Selections from the Collection of Broc Blegen is on view through December 30, 2012, in the the MAEP Gallery at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Admission to this exhibition is free and open to the public.

Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in public engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time.

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 katie(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.)

Viewfinder: Make Hay and the David Petersen Gallery

Having missed the opening several weeks ago, I finally made it over to the new David Petersen Gallery on Lyndale Ave. Petersen, who years ago co-founded the experimental, artist-run space Art of This, has shifted pace with this new venture and opened a commercial gallery. Located in an inconspicuous storefront tucked behind the row of […]

Carpet “drawing” by Scott Nedrelow. Photo courtesy of David Petersen Gallery.

Having missed the opening several weeks ago, I finally made it over to the new David Petersen Gallery on Lyndale Ave. Petersen, who years ago co-founded the experimental, artist-run space Art of This, has shifted pace with this new venture and opened a commercial gallery. Located in an inconspicuous storefront tucked behind the row of vitamin/pet/liquor stores across from the Wedge, the new space is clean, bright and tidy.

The gallery’s inaugural show, Make Hay, features six artists working in drawing, painting, photography and sculpture, as well as forms in-between. My curiosity was particularly piqued by Scott Nedrelow’s framed canvas of mundane-colored carpet, the same kind you’d find in a featureless model home or new office building. This re-contextualization of this boring domestic material took on another layer of meaning after I flipped through an artist book by Nederlow sitting on the back table in the gallery. The book contains color photographs of similar carpet with patterns, lines and vague forms “drawn” into it with a vacuum cleaner ; in the same way you can affect an almost dual tonality on new carpet when you brush your hand over it, you can also make stripes when you vacuum. After seeing the artist book, I could see his wall piece in the greater context of not just the happy childhood discovery of the effects of a hand swipe on fresh carpet, but the whole history of painting and minimalism.

Gala Porras-Kim. Photo courtesy of David Peterson Gallery.

A different kind of intrigue struck me as I looked at the work of Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Gala Porras-Kim. Her anthropological approach to investigating issues of language, culture and history is evident in three small wall pieces that sit, formally, somewhere in the arena of assemblage, sculpture, drawing and sound installation. Informed by a heavily research-oriented practice, these works are part of a larger project involving her study of Zapotec, an indigenous language spoken in Oaxaca, Mexico distinguished by its use of tonal sounds and whistles. Provocative and beautiful, her works contain worlds of information and history, like mini-museums of an artistic research process. But like the best didactics, her installations don’t reveal everything, instead giving just enough information to inspire intense curiosity.

The clean white walls of the new David Petersen Gallery may not invite the raucous art/party experiments of his previous project, but Petersen’s eye for conceptually rich, complicated art combined with his willingness to make a business venture out of it is much needed around here.

Related links and information:
Make Hay is on view through November 4 at David Petersen Gallery, 2018 Lyndale Ave S., Minneapolis.

Gala Porras-Kim, installation view. Photo courtesy of David Petersen Gallery.

Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in public engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time.

Viewfinder: Art in the Age of Globalization at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Art in the Age of Globalization is an exhibition that spans three floors of the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Target Wing. Taking up a variety of gallery and thoroughfare spaces, this show represents a collaborative curatorial effort. Working within their areas of expertise, curators and staff from different departments mined the museum’s collection to take […]

Installation view of Global Fusion, or, It’s a Flat World, After All in the three-floor exhibition, Art in the Age of Globalization, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo courtesy of the MIA.

Art in the Age of Globalization is an exhibition that spans three floors of the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Target Wing. Taking up a variety of gallery and thoroughfare spaces, this show represents a collaborative curatorial effort. Working within their areas of expertise, curators and staff from different departments mined the museum’s collection to take up themes in the grand narrative of globalization: water, digitalization, cultural fusion, outsourcing, excess material production, migration, commodity goods, and religion.  The objects they’ve assembled include ancient clay vessels, pastoral landscapes, digitally manipulated photographs, contemporary sculpture, new media installation, and video.  Objects not generally considered as art occasionally make an appearance as well, including one of the Ralph Lauren-designed 2012 U.S. Olympic team jackets that caused a controversy over outsourcing this past summer, and a display of ethnic Barbie dolls.

This exercise in illustrating pertinent contemporary phenomena is logical for an institution whose survey collection is global by nature. The rise of exhibitions over the past decade that have taken “the global” as a site of inquiry have largely looked at contemporary art, reflecting the market’s continuing shift toward carving out non-Western centers of artistic production. Yet the foundational stories of globalization are just as aptly told through the story of porcelain, a material discovered a thousand years ago and which, at the time, spurred a global commodity trade to satisfy the aesthetic desires of Chinese, European and Middle Eastern elites.  In addition to the contemporary work in the exhibition, the MIA’s deep, global collection of porcelain objects from that era are also employed beautifully by way of illustrating the show’s thesis.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Siah Armajani’s Mississippi Delta (2005-2006), a large-scale drawing of America’s great river
  • Cy Thao’s 50-part painting depicting 5,000 years of Hmong history
  • Doug Aiken’s migration (empire) – linear version (2008), 24 minute video of wild animals in motel rooms
  • Dozens of water pitchers spanning hundreds of years of material production and design globally

Installation view of A Drop to Drink, part of Art in the Age of Globalization currently at Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo courtesy of the MIA.

Related links and information:
Art in the Age of Globalization is on view in the Target Wing of Minneapolis Institute of Arts through July 31, 2013. Admission to this exhibition is free and open to the public. For gallery hours and additional information: http://artsmia.org/

Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in public engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time.