Blogs Untitled (Blog) Behind the Scenes

Winding Up Toy Frogs with Benjamin Patterson

We recently had the pleasure of welcoming Benjamin Patterson to the Twin Cities. Patterson is participating in the exhibition Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art and, at age 80, is the oldest exhibiting artist. Born in Pittsburgh and living and working out of Wiesbaden, Germany, Patterson is a founding member of Fluxus, and his […]

We recently had the pleasure of welcoming Benjamin Patterson to the Twin Cities. Patterson is participating in the exhibition Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art and, at age 80, is the oldest exhibiting artist. Born in Pittsburgh and living and working out of Wiesbaden, Germany, Patterson is a founding member of Fluxus, and his practice has incorporated music, visual arts, and performance—challenging traditional art-making modes. His oeuvre has been widely influential for generations of artists, including many in Radical Presence such as Clifford Owens.

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Benjamin Patterson, Pond (1962). Photo: Erin Smith

Throughout his career, Patterson has explored the notion of systems in art, music, and text. Like many of his Fluxus peers such as Robert Filliou, Ben Vautier, and Daniel Spoerri, Patterson has also complicated and enriched the interaction between audience and performer, imposing situations that encourage direct engagement. Included in the exhibition, Pond is a performance that Patterson first executed in 1962, and it invokes game-playing, chance operations, and musical components. The piece consists of an 8-foot grid taped directly on the floor, a score created by the artist, wind-up toy frogs, and eight participants that stand around the grid and make corresponding sounds as the frogs hop from one quadrant to the next. The performance escalates into a cacophony of sound as more and more frogs are released, evoking the “ribbeting” of an active frog pond. Eight students from the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) performed the piece twice for an audience of 250 people, engaging in this dynamic Fluxus work and having fun while doing so. Patterson noted that this was the youngest group ever to perform Pond and did so with great success.

The following day, Patterson generously agreed to sit down with the public for a conversation at Theaster Gates’s table within Radical Presence. Gates’s See, Sit, Sup, Sip, Sing: Holding Court is an installation made up of tables, chairs, and chalkboards salvaged from Crispus Attucks, a now-closed public school on Chicago’s South Side. The classroom setting encourages a democratic, roundtable approach to learning for and by the people assembled around it. The Walker has been hosting a number of programs over the past few months including conversations with artists Ralph Lemon and Coco Fusco, events and tours led by community members such as Andrea Jenkins and Amoke Kubat, and forthcoming discussions with Congressman Keith Ellison and Theaster Gates.

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Holding Court with Benjamin Patterson. Photo: Erin Smith

In his Holding Court talk, Patterson weaved through a number of topics, from his early classical training in double bass to his interest in natural sciences (cleaning alligator cages at the Pittsburgh Zoo) to his years in the army playing internationally in its orchestra. He has a sharp memory and a keen ability to recount stories, so this talk was a truly special moment for those who were present. (For those who weren’t, please find clips from the talk below.) One of the central topics was Patterson’s position as an African American musician in the mid-1950s, before the Civil Rights Movement. Patterson explained that he auditioned over twenty times for orchestras in places such as Portland, Maine, and San Francisco, always being told, “we have a problem,” when conductors faced him in person. Patterson dealt with this racial inequality with aplomb, never compromising his ethics, and finally moving to Canada to play with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, and later spending the majority of his life in Wiesbaden.

Patterson recounted his first meeting with Karlheinz Stockhausen, a prominent German composer, and his subsequent encounter with John Cage the following day in Cologne. He explained that Cage invited him (as a wide-eyed 22-year-old) to perform with musicians such as David Tudor, Christian Wolff, and La Monte Young the next night. Patterson’s relationship with these artists grew over the next few years, and soon he was living in the Gate Hill Co-op in Stony Brook, NY with the likes of Cage, David Behrman, and Stan VanDerBeek—playing poker and sitting down for weekly suppers together. For Patterson these years were incredibly influential in shaping his thinking and his outlook on life. It was after this that he adopted an intereste in indeterminacy and chance operations in artistic practice, “preparing” his double bass by attaching clothespins and other objects onto the strings, and eventually becoming even more theatrical by turning the instrument upside down.

When he lived in Paris in 1962, Patterson befriended Robert Filliou and Daniel Spoerri, two key figures in the Fluxus movement, who collaborated on various projects such as Filliou’s gallery in a hat. The idea came from Filliou’s exposure to his Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, where a gentleman’s hat seemed the perfect venue for an exhibition. Patterson and Filliou created a mobile exhibition in a hat, moving through Paris by foot, subway, and bus for twelve hours, selling each of Patterson’s Puzzle Poems for 5 francs. Patterson claimed it to be his most successful vernissage, having nearly sold out the entire show.

Patterson took part in the first Fluxus festival of new music in Wiesbaden in 1963, during which time George Maciunas (founding father of Fluxus) released his first Fluxus magazine. Patterson revealed that the festival took place there because Maciunas was ducking the debt he accrued at his gallery in New York, and enrolled as a civilian draftsman for the U.S. army in Wiesbaden. For Patterson, Fluxus cannot be conclusively defined; it was more than an art movement—it was a new way of thinking. At the time there were no categories such as performance art, intermedia art, or interdisciplinary art, so he rather cunningly compared Fluxus to a circus. There were many performers with various talents—the lion tamer, the acrobat, the musician, the tightrope walker, and Maciunas as the ringleader cracking a whip—all under one big tent, arriving in town, performing, and packing up and moving on. The group was truly international, with a wide scope of interests and backgrounds: Filliou was an economist and wrote the recovery plan for South Korea after the war (and he was also a Coca Cola salesman), George Brecht was a chemist and invented Tampax, and Robert Watts was an electrical engineer. Patterson has led an inspiring life. He is a generous storyteller, and one of the few Fluxus members still alive today, making this event truly invaluable.

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Benjamin Patterson, A Penny for Your Thoughts (2011). Photo: Erin Smith

Following the talk, Patterson performed his recent piece, A Penny for Your Thoughts (2011), which promotes an exchange of ideas between artist and viewer. Patterson invited participants to care for their minds by getting rid of excess thoughts, writing them down, and selling each for a penny. Through this humorous and interactive Fluxus work in which shredded newspaper is attached to one’s head, Patterson encourages his audience to reframe how they think while investigating the commodification of the transfer of ideas. Patterson is still making work to this day, and is one of the most active artists I know. His travel itinerary includes Seattle, Nanjing, Brno, Siegen, Blois, and Karlsruhe—all before the end of 2014. We are grateful that he took time from his impressive schedule to visit us and share his stories with audiences in Minneapolis.

The Road to Opening Day: Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take

When you walk into any gallery at the Walker, you’re instantly offered entry points into an artist’s work — a Nástio Mosquito video installation or Dan Madsen and Forrest Wozniak’s hand-painted map of Tangier. This immersive experience is essential, but what is frequently not considered is the road that led to it. The day before […]

Senior Registration Technician David Bartley preparing to install Jim Hodges' Changing Things, 1997

Senior Registration Technician David Bartley preparing to install Jim Hodges’ Changing Things, 1997. Photo: Gene Pittman

When you walk into any gallery at the Walker, you’re instantly offered entry points into an artist’s work — a Nástio Mosquito video installation or Dan Madsen and Forrest Wozniak’s hand-painted map of Tangier. This immersive experience is essential, but what is frequently not considered is the road that led to it. The day before the opening of Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take I spoke with one of the people who has spent the last four weeks installing everything from a 342-piece silk flower arrangement to a secondhand denim sky.

Senior Registration Technician David Bartley has been at the Walker installing every kind of art imaginable for the past 21 years. We walked around the galleries discussing how he assembled specific pieces in this exhibition and what it was like working with Hodges. Then he got back to the growing list of last-minute changes. Here, he recounts what it took to install some of the exhibition’s major works.

A Far Away Corner, 1997. Photo: Alex Lauer

A Far Away Corner, 1997. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

“First of all, we start by bringing the crates up and placing them in the galleries they’re going to be in. This particular gallery is very open as there are only these two works in here: A Far Away Corner and the massive denim Untitled (one day it all comes true). Untitled was the priority to hang on the wall so Jim could get an idea in terms of height and placement. At first it was hung too high so we had to lower it, which — as you can see — is quite a process.

“Dallas made a template of A Far Away Corner that fits on the wall. It took a long time to determine the height of it in relation to Untitled. Jim and Olga [Viso, exhibition co-curator and Walker director] were thinking of having it low, then thinking about having it really high, not too in the middle of the wall.

“Each web is pinned, each one is numbered, and each point where the web hits the wall is numbered — I had a set of elaborate instructions to read through. There are 13 webs that have to be hung in numerical order, but they don’t necessarily go from top to bottom because they overlap and intertwine.

“First I had to trim the pins down because they’re too long, and Jim likes them really, really tight to the wall so the webs don’t look like they’re hanging from pins. Then you, very gently with a fine hammer, hammer them to the wall. The webs are made of a really fine chain, like a necklace. They’re very fragile but surprisingly heavy. If you wore them like a necklace you would feel them. They have weight.”

Jim Hodges, Untitled (one day it all comes true), 2013. Photo courtesy Dallas Museum of Art

Jim Hodges, Untitled (one day it all comes true), 2013. Photo courtesy Dallas Museum of Art

“With the denim piece, there are 52 screws that hold it up. Since we had to lower it, and it took eight to ten people to move it, we now have to patch over the old holes before the show opens. It’s a long, involved process, whereas [A Far Away Corner] was just a one-person job, but it took me all day. Because of the nature of the artwork, if two people were working on it they would just get in each other’s way.”

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Jim Hodges, the dark gate, 2008. Photo: Alex Lauer

Jim’s work is interesting because it goes all the way from a very small piece that takes five minutes to install, if even, to something like the dark gate where the installation was part of the building’s architecture. When they were building and constructing walls for this exhibition, that’s when they were constructing the room it’s now in. The whole process of installing that artwork — tearing down old walls, building new walls, painting the insides and the ceiling black, putting in a black plastic floor, installing the art from three huge crates — took almost four weeks.

“For each show, generally, they’ll start with a teardown, because they already have the architecture predetermined for each show. If certain walls can remain they’ll keep them, but otherwise they completely get rid of the walls, open the gallery up, and then build all new walls.

“From my understanding, there are a lot of differences [between the layout here and the one in Dallas]. The room for the dark gate in Dallas was much smaller. Here it will be a totally different experience.”

Changing Things, 1997. Photo: Alex Lauer

Jim Hodges, Changing Things, 1997. Photo: Alex Lauer

“For this piece, I did the whole thing by myself. There are 342 individual flowers. As you can see, some are bigger than others, some are tiny little things. Jim outlined the flowers on the template, which helped identify the exact position for each, but it still took me half a day to place. This was one of the first works he wanted up in this gallery because it was going to determine a lot of the other works in the space — what’s in and what’s not.”

The wall sculpture Changing Things arrives in a box with each silk element pinned and labeled. Photo: Gene Pittman

The wall sculpture Changing Things arrives in a box with each silk element pinned and labeled. Photo: Gene Pittman

“Jim tends to not like things on-center, as you can see in the galleries. With this one being off-center, Jim and Olga would sit on the steps a lot and say, ‘Move it over. Move it here. Move it there.’ Once it was up it was similar to the spiderweb piece: you go through with a tack and put in all of the holes, but because the physical template is up against the wall you can’t put the flowers on. In Dallas they came up with this weird system of being underneath the template and someone handing you the flowers — it didn’t make much sense to me. So I put the template [on a wall to the side] and did it myself. Each flower or petal is numbered in the box with a pin so it makes it easy to look at the #1 hole and match it with the #1 flower. With a very fine pair of pliers you take each of the 342 pieces out of the box one-by-one and force them into the holes. At that point, Jim would just come by and joke with me.”

Jim Hodges, He and I (detail), 1998

Jim Hodges, He and I (detail), 1998. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

“Jim is a multitasker. For the wall drawing in the next gallery, he taught John Vogt how to do it and let him at it. But one morning Jim came in and felt like drawing, so he just took over immediately and started drawing on the wall. When he was done with that, John got back on and kept drawing again. That one piece took over a week to do, believe it or not.”

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Latin Rose, 1989. Photo: Alex Lauer

“For this in here, we worked closely together because this is very particular for Jim. We had to build an entirely new structure so we could adjust it—it was on tripods with wheels so we could move it in and out of the space and turn it until he decided where he wanted it. There are certain points where it hangs from and it is literally hanging from tape. The whole thing is made of tape. I’ve never hung an artwork from tape before, but it is Jim’s system, it’s how he’s done it, so we figured it out.

“It took us half a day, for sure, to get this hung up and in exactly the right place. So Jim focused on this, and once this was done, boom, off he went to do something else.”

Hodges discussing his work with members of the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC). Photo: Gene Pittman

Hodges discussing his work with members of the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC). Photo: Gene Pittman

“In my experience working at the Walker, it’s always much different when you have the artist here for a full two weeks [before the exhibition opens]. You begin to develop a sense of not only who they are but where the artwork is coming from. You get a better understanding of their language. This is opposed to an artist who is no longer living or who just shows up for the opening and makes changes the day before the opening. [Laughs]

“A lot of the time I’m not really that familiar with the body of work of some of these artists, so when they’re here you get a much better understanding. The same could be said working with Thomas Hirschhorn. You understand why he is using tape. He’s got all this energy — he shows up, wraps his tape around himself to keep his pants up, then just dives into the work and starts ripping tape, which is why his work has that haphazard look. But you’d never know that about his process from simply looking. You get that extra little understanding by watching artists handle their work.”

Entering The Exception and the Rule

If your name is a sound, what does it move like? On Saturday April 6, fourteen people gathered in the Walker’s Barnes conference room for the first of four days working on radical political theatre practices in preparation for a performance piece applying working methods of Augusto Boal to Bertolt’s Brecht’s 1929 learning play The […]

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If your name is a sound, what does it move like?

On Saturday April 6, fourteen people gathered in the Walker’s Barnes conference room for the first of four days working on radical political theatre practices in preparation for a performance piece applying working methods of Augusto Boal to Bertolt’s Brecht’s 1929 learning play The Exception and the Rule. The impetus for this gathering–a process of workshopping, translating, and performing–is a key element of Karen Mirza and Brad Butler’s exhibition The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal.

Led by the artists, the workshops immediately established a space where institutional roles of curator/artist/producer/participant collapsed. From the onset it was clear that we would all participate equally in the activities to come. And the roles we each play daily– labor lawyer, father, educator, student, playwright, activist–would simultaneously materialize and dematerialize. During our time together, we would confront the fundamentals of where we stand and act in the world–politically, socially, morally–exploring our mutable positions (and positionalities) through movement and voice.

But first, we have to introduce ourselves. We each do this through performing our names– crossing a circle we’ve formed as a group, moving towards another participant, and enacting ourselves through sound and movement. A trilled erre, hurried consonants, languid strolls, skips, hops, leaps. Characters begin to form and morph within the span of a few paces. This sets the tone for the days to come– rich with movement, reflection, and rigor enacted through Boal’s games.

Brad and Karen led us through a rich and complex succession of games. Following is a taste of a few.

Hypnosis

Hypnosis a game of trust. It’s also a game of power. One person holds out their hand and the other keeps their face within four inches of it. The person with their hand out leads, the other follows, and then they switch. There are two rules. Both people must be silent and need to maintain four inches between the face and hand.

If you were to float above us during this exercise, you would see pairs of people respectively running, crawling, walking at snail’s pace. Some of the leaders did so gently. Others were more aggressive. Some pairs moved meditatively, like tai chi. Others moved acrobatically.

There were three progressions of this exercise:

First–One leads, one follows. Invert.

Second—Neither leads, neither follows. How do you move with mutuality?

Third: Both resist. How do you move?

We paused every so often to scan the room to see what positions bodies had found themselves, and to digest each as positions of power.

The game called up questions of parity, mutuality, leadership, internal conflict, and the ease and difficulty of trust. We formed a collective body– one that made clear the ways in which the position of being a leader or follower, are inherently precarious.

Image Work

We stood in a circle, turned outwards and closed our eyes. We were told a word and instructed to illustrate it with our bodies. Some of these words–like silence, trust, merchant, and coolie– came directly from the group’s response to the play. We made these images silently, first for ourselves and then for the group.

We then turned into the circle and presented our body images as body memories. With some of these, we were asked to hold our position and gravitate to others in the room with whom we felt some affinity. We clustered in groups that became tableaus  and were told to freeze in place. Group by group we showed each other our tableaus. Our fellow players were asked to describe what they saw in the happenstance scene, to tease out the hierarchies of power between bodies and gestures.

This is a just a brief fragment of how we worked, building a collective consciousness and a shared vocabulary that was at once physical, emotional and verbal– bringing the body to bear in the production of knowledge. During the performance due to take place tonight at 7pm, the audience will witness the slippage between Boal’s practice, Brecht’s narrative and the life experiences of the players. The event will be improvisational and open to contributions from its audience. This framework invites consideration of the subtleties of power, not only of the play’s characters, but of the players and the audience in the space. In this way, this moment serves to open the discursive space embedded in the exhibition itself. In place of being a finite performance, it serves as a rehearsal for how viewers might engage in the Museum of Non Participation throughout its Walker debut.

Introducing the Interdisciplinary Work Group

In September 2011 a group of Walker staffers convened under the umbrella of the Interdisciplinary Work Group (IWG). Largely drawn from the institution’s various programming departments, the group was charged with examining on both a pragmatic and more theoretical level how the Walker approaches and thinks about the interdisciplinary in its work. The IWG emerged […]

In September 2011 a group of Walker staffers convened under the umbrella of the Interdisciplinary Work Group (IWG). Largely drawn from the institution’s various programming departments, the group was charged with examining on both a pragmatic and more theoretical level how the Walker approaches and thinks about the interdisciplinary in its work. The IWG emerged out of a desire first expressed in a 2009 Bush Foundation grant application titled Expanding The Rules of Engagement with Artists & Audiences to “develop new internal systems, planning mechanisms, and infrastructure to foster greater institutional integration, cross-departmental collaboration, and interdisciplinary experimentation in programs and collections that can be sustained in the future…”

Standing (left to right): Jenny Jones, Rock the Garden coordinator, Visitor Services; Michèle Steinwald, assistant curator, Performing Arts; Dean Otto, associate curator, Film/ Video; Deborah Hay, choreographer; Susanah Shouweiler, writer; Susy Bielak, associate director, Public and Interpretive Programs; Yesomi Umolu, curatorial fellow, Visual Arts; Eric Price, new media designer. Seated: Emmet Byrne, design director; Abi Sebaly, Cunningham research fellow; Brooke Kellaway, Getty research fellow. Photo: Bartholomew Ryan

The group set about asking some very basic questions: As a multidisciplinary arts organization that has expanded in size considerably over the last decades, how are we prepared to respond to the ever more interdisciplinary ways in which artists are working? Given that the institution has Design, Education & Community Programs, Film/ Video, New Media, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts departments – all of which actively create programs — are we not innately interdisciplinary? Or, must we be engaged in cross-departmental projects to really achieve that goal? Are such projects de facto interdisciplinary? Or can they simply mean that one department is acting as a logistical consultant for another which is working in a format they don’t conventionally use? Each discipline has a different relationship to time, space, and language. When is this a good thing? Where can the tensions between different ways of working and looking at the world be turned into productive means of exploration? And just what is it about that term, “interdisciplinary” that is so desirable in the first place? Is it the idea of each participant entering something where they can’t predict the outcome? And if so, how can a large institution with multiple competing needs – from work flow to scheduling and budgeting constraints – remain open to such a philosophy of practice?

Rather than jump to conclusions, the group agreed to engage in a period of research and invite a variety of people to visit the Walker and talk about their work. The desire is to step outside the day-to-day institutional needs of the Walker and get a sense of how different people in different fields are working on and thinking through some of the same broad questions. The visits started in the Spring of 2012, and will end by January 2013, at which time the group will begin to craft its thinking around interdisciplinary questions, and will work to deliver a report that outlines some of its findings and ultimately also attempts to deliver some practical tools to guide interdisciplinary projects into the future.

Each event takes on a different structure depending on the member of the group who is organizing it and their conversations with the participants. Some are intimate seminars, for example the visit by choreographer Deborah Hay that occurred in May 2012. Others involve the participation of a larger group, as with the visit of design futurist Julian Bleecker, which included the Design and New Media departments. Writer Susannah Schouweiler has been invited to attend each event and deliver an account from her own perspective, as a way to informally document the proceedings and to create a record that the IWG can use into the future. Over the coming weeks and months, Susannah’s texts will be posted on the Walker blogs, introduced by the event organizer. As an accumulation of different perspectives, we hope these posts serve to sample the range of the IWG’s research, and that they prove useful material for others who are engaged in similar questions.

Events:
Deborah Hay, May 05, 2012
Julian Bleecker, June 05, 2012
Lisa Yun Lee, September 18, 2012
Eyal Weizman, October 4, 2012
Stanford Makishi, November 29, 2012
(More updates soon)

“The Quiet Revolutionary”: Honoring Librarian Rosemary Furtak

A beloved member of the Walker family and the book arts community, Rosemary Furtak, the Walker’s librarian for 29 years, passed away Sunday, July 8, 2012, at age 69.

Rosemary Furtak, 1986

A beloved member of the Walker family and the book arts community, Rosemary Furtak passed away Sunday, July 8, 2012, at age 69. She was a great colleague and friend, and one who will be sorely missed.

Last week we celebrated a beloved colleague, Rosemary Furtak, who retired recently after a 29-year career at the Walker. Countless curators, scholars, writers, artists, designers, and others—both inside and outside the art center—have a special fondness for the Walker Library, which houses more than 35,000 publications in a wonderfully hushed, secluded underground space. This is thanks largely to Rosemary and the infectious enthusiasm she brought to her profession as a librarian–and, more to the point, to her role in establishing and building the library’s collection of some 1,600 artist’s books.

It was for her work in both of those capacities that she received a Distinguished Service Award from the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS) at its 2012 conference, held last March in Toronto. “In the early 1980s, Rosemary was among the few art museum librarians who recognized a fundamental difference between artists’ books and others, and who segregated them into special collections areas that would eventually become known as ‘Artists’ Book Collections’,” noted Janice Lea Lurie, head librarian at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, in presenting the award. “The idea that artists’ books are different, or as Rosemary stated, they are ‘books that refuse to behave like other books’, was a visionary step, as no well-defined precedents in the early 1980s existed for establishing artists’ book collections. Consequently, Rosemary was a pioneer in this area, which later became part of the “collection development” mainstream of the late 1980s and early ’90s.”

In their nomination letter, Lurie and a host of other ARLIS colleagues wrote of the ongoing impact of Rosemary’s “early and visionary leadership” not just in art museum librarianship, but also in the books arts community and “the strongly rooted ‘book-scene’ culture of the Twin Cities.” They cited her as both a “well-known local personality in the art, library, and book arts circles” and “a highly respected and beloved figure internationally”; and, finally, noting her “very quiet way” and “great modesty”—something that endeared her to so many—they proposed for her the title of “The Quiet Revolutionary.” More than 30 of Furtak’s fellow art librarians and other colleagues in book arts and museums supported the nomination.

Many of us at the Walker already miss Rosemary’s sharp insights and vast knowledge, not to mention her connoisseurship of chocolate and her sartorial flair (on any given day she could easily take the award for best-dressed Walker staffer). We will also sorely miss her miniature exhibitions of artists’ books, an ongoing series presented in a specially built display case right outside the library. Fortunately, all of these exhibitions dating back to 2005 have been documented in photos–click here to see the full collection on Flickr.

For more on Rosemary and the artists’ book collection – including 13 great examples of works—see this interview from 2008, conducted as she was co-curating the exhibition Text/Messages with Walker curator Siri Engberg; and her article, “Adventures in Collecting, originally published in Walker magazine.

Recent artist's book display, organized by Rosemary Furtak

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day: Leading Ladies in the Walker’s Collection

With registrar Joe King and registration technician Evan Reiter we took a trip to art storage to see the first 5 works by women to enter the Walker’s collection.                     June Corwine Still Life (1945) Oil on canvas Accessioned May, 1946           […]

With registrar Joe King and registration technician Evan Reiter we took a trip to art storage to see the first 5 works by women to enter the Walker’s collection.

"Still Life" (1945) by June Corwine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June Corwine
Still Life (1945)
Oil on canvas
Accessioned May, 1946


Joe King, the Walker's Registrar, with "Rose Planes" (1945) by Irene Rice Pereira.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irene Rice Pereira
Rose Planes (1945)
Oil on parchment
Accessioned September, 1946


Evan Reiter, the Walker's Registration Technician, with "Rocking Chair Gossips" (1945) by Clara Mairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clara Mairs
Rocking Chair Gossips (1945)
Oil on composition board
Accessioned December, 1947


"The Door" (1947) by Evelyn Raymond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evelyn Raymond
The Door (1947)
Mahogany
February, 1948

 

"Der Tod im Wasser" (20th century) by Käthe Kollwitz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Käthe Kollwitz
Der Tod im Wasser (Death from Drowning) (20th century)
lithograph on paper
Accessioned December, 1949

About That F#@%ing Frank Gaard T-Shirt…

One day in early 2005, I spotted Frank Gaard getting off the bus on Hennepin Avenue. Toting a pink-painted plank under his arm, he was headed my way, to the temporary offices Walker staff was occupying during construction of the new expansion. We greeted, and he showed me what he had: a going-away present for […]

Frank Gaard, I Love the Fucking Walker, 2005. Collection Philippe Vergne and Sylvia Chivaratanond

One day in early 2005, I spotted Frank Gaard getting off the bus on Hennepin Avenue. Toting a pink-painted plank under his arm, he was headed my way, to the temporary offices Walker staff was occupying during construction of the new expansion. We greeted, and he showed me what he had: a going-away present for Philippe Verne, then senior curator and Visual Arts department head. It was a sign that read, “I love the Fucking Walker.”

Vergne, who is now director of the Dia Art Foundation in New York, had invited Gaard to participate in a billboard project in downtown Minneapolis; Gaard’s work was part of a series that included pieces by Matthew Barney, Takashi Murakami, Yoko Ono, and Laylah Ali.

In an email, Vergne says Gaard submitted the original art for the project, but the billboard company rejected it. He jokes:

The billboard company did not want to print it and install it because of the word “love.” They thought the word was offensive and might shock young sensibilities. As we all know, love is a dangerous, uncontrollable emotion that leads people to behave in ways that might disrupt social order.

It smells too, at times.

But Gaard says the piece wasn’t his submission for the billboard project. Vergne, he remembers, was set to leave to head up an art center in Italy (it ultimately fell through, and he returned as chief curator), and Gaard wanted to present him with a parting gift. Painted on a “a piece of wood [he] found in a dumpster,” Gaard says it was “inspired by Philippe’s ability to see the Walker both ways, as an impediment and as a thing that can provide solace to people.”

While the piece isn’t in the Walker’s current Gaard show, it is in the Shop, reproduced on t-shirts:

Gaard says Vergne wanted to have the artwork appear on shirts years ago, but it wasn’t to be. “I think I signed a permission slip,” Gaard remembers. But now that they’re made, what’s Vergne’s response?

He emails: “I love this Fucking T-shirt.”

Frank Gaard: Poison & Candy is on view through May 6, 2012.

Documenting the Drops: Part 1

This past week, the McGuire Theater has been occupied with the unpacking, photographing, and re-rolling of many of the Cunningham backdrops.  The drops came to the Walker folded down and packed in portable touring -friendly hampers and bags (imagine a large sleeping bag in a small scrunch sack).  But now that they are here to stay, they are being rolled […]

This past week, the McGuire Theater has been occupied with the unpacking, photographing, and re-rolling of many of the Cunningham backdrops.  The drops came to the Walker folded down and packed in portable touring -friendly hampers and bags (imagine a large sleeping bag in a small scrunch sack).  But now that they are here to stay, they are being rolled flat on long cardboard cylinders, to eliminate creases and stabilize their condition. Although we have already hung several of the drops in theater in preparation for the exhibition Dance Works I: Merce Cunningham / Robert Rauschenberg, this is the first time that any of the drops are being formally photographed by the Walker’s photographers Gene Pittman and Cameron Wittig. 

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s Production Director Davison Scandrett has also been on site, documenting some of the drops and other set pieces for the company’s dance capsules.  The Merce Cunningham Trust’s dance capsules will facilitate the licensing and recreation of some of Merce Cunningham’s existing dances, so that even though the company has disbanded, educational institutions and other dance companies can still present Merce’s work. 

The artists represented in this first batch of backdrop photos include Jasper JohnsAfrika, and Marsha Skinner.  The photographers also documented drops by William Anastasi and Robert Rauschenberg, which will be featured in another upcoming post.  

MCDC Production Director Davison Scandrett pulling the Exchange (1978) drop out of the bag. Photo: Abigail Sebaly

 

The unfurling of the Exchange drop, designed by Jasper Johns. Photo: Abigail Sebaly

 

Davison with WAC Registrar Joe King, in front of the Exchange drop. Photo: Abigail Sebaly

 

The backdrop for August Pace (1989), designed by Afrika (Sergei Bugaev). Photo: Abigail Sebaly

 

The August Pace drop coming down. Photo: Abigail Sebaly

 

Photo: Abigail Sebaly

 

Backdrop for Change of Address (1992), designed by Marsha Skinner. Photo: Abigail Sebaly

 

Joe King helping the WAC photographers set up their shots. Photo: Abigail Sebaly

 

Installation—Frank Gaard: Poison & Candy

Minneapolis-based artist Frank Gaard is here this week installing Frank Gaard: Poison & Candy, his first Walker solo show since 1980’s Viewpoints. Opening Thursday night, the exhibition spans more than four decades and features Gaard’s unique perspective on the world as illustrated through paintings, zines and drawings. His content veers from wry commentary on the […]

Minneapolis-based artist Frank Gaard is here this week installing Frank Gaard: Poison & Candy, his first Walker solo show since 1980’s Viewpoints. Opening Thursday night, the exhibition spans more than four decades and features Gaard’s unique perspective on the world as illustrated through paintings, zines and drawings. His content veers from wry commentary on the art world to renderings of placid ponies, references to revered philosophers and artists to overtly sexual themes–all presented in Gaard’s trademark DayGlo paint. Here’s a sneak peek of the exhibition as it’s being installed.

Crew member Emily Lyman ponders a wall installation in progress.

Gaard considers the placement of a work that bears a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: “We have need of lies in order to conquer this reality, this ‘truth,’ that is in order to live. That lies are necessary in order to live is itself part of the terrifying and questionable character of existence.”

Assistant Registrar Jessica Rolland catalogs work beneath a wall of Gaard’s portraits.

A detail of Gaard’s Untitled (Bottlecaps).

Art world references frequently make their way into Gaard’s work. One portrait of Christi Atkinson, former head of Walker Teen Programs and program director at the Soap Factory, features panties emblazoned with the names of those art organizations.

Gaard’s 1999 piece The Time Painting awaits hanging in the galleries.

Karl Marx and Adam Smith Drop in on Occupy Wall Street

Last week Karl Marx and Adam Smith, two of the stars of the Pedro Reyes exhibition/video series Baby Marx, made an impromptu trip from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis to Occupy Wall Street in New York’s Financial District. The artist had been tracking the protests and decided the puppets should check them out. Among other activities, Marx interviewed OWS protesters, while Smith set up the first Occupy Wall Street bank.


Adam Smith launches the First Occupied Bank. Photo: Natalia Nakazawa

Last week Karl Marx and Adam Smith, two of the stars of the Pedro Reyes exhibition/video series Baby Marx, made an impromptu trip from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis to Occupy Wall Street in New York’s Financial District. The artist had been tracking the protests and decided the puppets should check them out. Together with the director of photography Vicente Pousso and the Minneapolis-based puppeteers Janaki Ranpura (Smith) and Marc Berg (Marx), Reyes shot several new scenes. Among other activities, Marx interviewed OWS protesters, while Smith set up the first Occupy Wall Street bank.

Normally museums don’t let their art objects go on field trips during an exhibition. For one thing, they might get damaged. But Pedro’s idea was so obviously in tune with the project as a whole — exploring as it does the intersections of art, ideology and entertainment, not to mention the clash between Marxist and capitalist theory — that the registrars and curators worked out a way to make it happen and released them back into the world. Visitors to the Walker last week saw two empty stands where Karl and Adam normally hang out, plus labels letting them know that they would return soon.

The videos of the visit should be ready in the next few weeks and posted online, in the meantime here are a few snapshots:


Marx prepares to interview a protester at Occupy Wall Street. Pictured: Michele Fiedler, Pedro Reyes, Karl Marx, Vicente Pousso and Marc Berg. Photo: Natalia Nakazawa

Marx is not so happy with Smith’s new profit-making scheme. Photo: Natalia Nakazawa

Walker Loading Dock: Puppeteer Marc Berg returns puppets to the Walker’s Assistant Registrar for Exhibitions, Pamela Caserta. Photo: Bartholomew Ryan

Walker Receiving Area: Adam Smith is doing OK after his trip to New York, according to a condition report that reflects any changes. Photo: Bartholomew Ryan

Karl and Adam in situ at the Walker. Photo: Gene Pittman

UPDATE: Here’s video of the Occupy Wall Street segment from Baby Marx.

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