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A Think & A Drink: Members’ Cinematic Selfies

D Anderson and P Baum

A Think & A Drink: Member Events provide intimate looks at exhibitions, performing arts, and film followed by drinks and conversation.  

The evening of January 22 saw the opening of Mariano Pensotti’s Cineastas, a filmic drama which inundated its audience with myriad characters, sets, languages, and genres. Performers scrambled throughout a double-decker stage to project both the real and cinematic lives of four screenwriters in Buenos Aires, utilizing subtitles, scores, and Technicolor lighting to meld live action with film, reality with fantasy.

Walker members, after enjoying an introductory talk by writer and director Mariano Pensotti and performing arts curator Philip Bither, gathered in the McGuire’s Balcony Bar for a post-show toast with the artists. In the vein of Cineastas’ cinematic self-creation we asked members to envision their own biopics, whether it be directed by John Waters, narrated by Sarah Silverman, or starring Divine—or even all three. Here’s a few of our favorite responses:

B Beyer and M Beyer

Bill and Margareta Beyer

Bill Beyer
Director: Ruben Östlund
Narrator: “A college English professor with a longstanding interest in film”
Starring: “A cross between George Clooney and Woody Allen”

Margareta Beyer
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Narrator: Bill Beyer
Starring: Goldie Hawn

J Millikan and C Kalweit

Jeffrey Millikan and Carrie Kalweit

Jeffrey Millikan
Director: John Waters
Narrator: Amy Sedaris
Starring: Divine

Carrie Kalweit
Director: Martin Scorsese
Narrator: Orson Welles
Starring: John Waters

D Anderson and P Baum

Diane Anderson and Peter Baum

Diane Anderson
Director: Wim Wenders
Narrator: Sarah Silverman
Starring: Winona Rider

Peter Baum
Director: Woody Allen
Narrator: “Max, a character from East Enders with a classic cockney accent”
Starring: William Hurt

Our next A Think & A Drink event will invite members to take a tour of Art Expanded, 1958–1978, then join in casual discussion over light snacks and drinks from the cash bar. Free for members and a guest, you can RSVP here.

The Independent Spirit of Twin Cities Cinephiles

Last Tuesday, cinephiles from around the Twin Cities assembled at the Walker’s Gather restaurant to ring in what’s become a yearly tradition, a month-long screening marathon of Film Independent Spirt Awards nominees inside the Walker Cinema. For members of the Walker and the Independent Filmmaker Project MN, these free screenings offer the chance to catch […]

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Jeffery Perkey, filmmaker Ira Sachs, and Dean Otto, program manager, Walker Film/Video

Last Tuesday, cinephiles from around the Twin Cities assembled at the Walker’s Gather restaurant to ring in what’s become a yearly tradition, a month-long screening marathon of Film Independent Spirt Awards nominees inside the Walker Cinema. For members of the Walker and the Independent Filmmaker Project MN, these free screenings offer the chance to catch up on a year that was littered with brilliant films, including some that are finally making their first appearances in Minnesota. The festivities kicked off on Tuesday with It Felt Like Love, a film which earned director Eliza Hittman a nod for the John Cassavetes Award, and Love Is Strange, which is up for Best Feature. Ira Sachs, director of Love Is Strange, presented the two films and joined Walker and IFP MN members for cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and some meaningful conversations about the importance of independent cinema.

For many guests, including longtime Twin Cities arts advocate Robert Spikings, Ira Sachs’ films embody the difference between independent and mainstream cinema. “Major studios try to make movies for a generic audience,” Spikings said, “But there’s a specificity of story to independent film, especially in Ira Sachs’ work, and I think intelligence comes from that specificity.” Love Is Strange, a film about a same-sex couple (Alfred Molina and John Lithgow) who get married after thirty-nine years together, may not have been created to reach a massive mainstream audience. But, as Spikings noted, “If it’s done right, specificity will appeal to a lot of people.”

With a year that featured some artistically adventurous films coming out of relatively large studios like Birdman and Nightcrawler, it’s become difficult to determine what makes a film truly independent. Some guests, like Walker Film/Video Program Assistant Kate Rogers and local filmmaker Jeremy Wilker, believe independent cinema is ultimately defined by the size of a film’s budget. Wilker, whose last film was made for “less money than The Hobbit spent on coffee,” worries that “independent film” is a phrase that is increasingly being co-opted by mainstream studios. Still, he believes the Film Independent Spirit Awards continue to recognize great small-budget films that fly under the radar of other awards ceremonies, including one of his favorite movies of the year, Land Ho.

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A screen shot from Land Ho, starring Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson and directed by Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens.

Others found more conceptual definitions of independence in cinema. Nancy Paul, Development Director for IFP MN, argued that independent film comes from groups underrepresented in the blockbusters you find at the multiplex. Jeffrey Perkey believes that films untied to genre, like director Ana Lily Amirpour’s Iranian Neo-Noir Vampire Western A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (nominated for Best First Feature), embody the independent spirit of cinema. “Independent film is refreshing,” said actor, filmmaker, and Managing Director of the Twin Cities Film Fest Bill Cooper. Everyone seemed to echo Cooper’s sentiment. Despite the increased visibility for some outsider filmmakers, independent film will always go places where mainstream films won’t in order to show us something we’ve never seen.

The 2015 Film Spirit Awards Screenings continue every Tuesday and Wednesday until February 11. Screenings are free for members of the Walker and IFP MN.

The Higher Points of Printmaking

On a cold Thursday night in November, Walker Contemporaries members gathered in a room that looked somewhere between an industrial metal shop and a chic cocktail bar. The piping was exposed and the ceilings were unfinished, but the place was immaculately clean. A bartender passed out cocktails, and guests stood amongst all the massive pieces […]

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Featured image via Flickr

On a cold Thursday night in November, Walker Contemporaries members gathered in a room that looked somewhere between an industrial metal shop and a chic cocktail bar. The piping was exposed and the ceilings were unfinished, but the place was immaculately clean. A bartender passed out cocktails, and guests stood amongst all the massive pieces of stainless steel machinery chatting over Deviled Quail Eggs and Heirloom Tomato Tartar. No, it wasn’t the grand opening of a new industrial-themed lounge in the Warehouse District. This was the Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Lyn-Lake, where Walker contributing members were honored with a behind-the-scenes look at the nationally renowned printmaking shop.

Highpoint’s executive director, Carla McGrath, and artistic director/master printer, Cole Rogers began the night with a demonstration of the delicate process that goes into “taking ink from one surface and putting it onto another surface,” as Rogers so succinctly defined his craft. Highpoint’s Visiting Artists Program works with local, national, and international artists to create a series of original prints, which are sold and displayed in Highpoint’s gallery space.

Right now, the gallery is displaying prints from Parks Rapids, Minnesota-born sculptor made good, Aaron Spangler, and we were lucky enough to watch Senior Printer Zac Adams-Bliss press a sheet of lightweight Japanese paper against one of Spangler’s inked, hand carved woodblocks. While Adams-Bliss rubbed the paper with printing tools to transfer the image, Rogers spoke about the unique beauties of the printmaking process: “The first pieces Aaron brought in had a certain language to them, and all of a sudden, when you bring [the actual printmaking process] in, you’ve brought in another language.” Rogers also talked about the difference between digital printing and traditional printmaking: “If you do something that’s digital, everything happens in the digital environment, and then you output it to your printer. There’s not much of a chance for anything to happen between that and the final product. With printmaking, we’ve got this possibility to extend the idea.”

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Featured image via Flickr

On a tour through the gallery, we got to see the just what a difference Highpoint’s artisanal process can make. The prints in Spangler’s series, fittingly titled Luddite, have a remarkable sense of physical process to them. You can see the outlines of the plywood boards they were printed on. The wood also has thematic meaning for Spangler, who spent time working in his hometown’s saw mill.

For another piece, Rogers explained to us how Spangler used a Tandy leather stamp they had in the shop to create one of the crosshatched patterns on the woodblock. This is another one of the often underappreciated aspects of printmaking, Rogers says. “It’s not about reproducing something. It’s about an artist coming in and working with the material and exploring…if we were reproducing a painting or a watercolor, they would never get a chance to really have the material say something different to them.”

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Featured image via Flickr

Throughout the night, Rogers and McGrath answered questions from Walker Contemporaries: How involved are the artists in the printmaking process? Which framer do you guys work with? Is there a name for the technique you used in this print? Between their thoughtful answers and insightful anecdotes on the history of printmaking, the nature of the art market, and more, the night was an incredible opportunity to look behind the curtain at an artistic process few people ever get to see up close.

Seen: The Softer Side of John Killacky

Former Walker performance curator John Killacky is known for bringing edgy—and timely—artists to the Walker. In the height of the Culture Wars, he welcomed artists dealing with AIDS, sexuality, gender, politics, race, and cultural identity, including Karen Finley, Bill T. Jones, Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Peña, and Ron Athey, among many others. In the course […]

Keith HaringFormer Walker performance curator John Killacky is known for bringing edgy—and timely—artists to the Walker. In the height of the Culture Wars, he welcomed artists dealing with AIDS, sexuality, gender, politics, race, and cultural identity, including Karen Finley, Bill T. Jones, Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Peña, and Ron Athey, among many others. In the course of writing for us about the political side of another artist of the era, the late Keith Haring, Killacky dug up a photo of himself from during his tenure here (1988–1996): outfitted in Haring merchandise and surrounded by children of Walker staffers, the image captures the softer side of John.

Read Killacky’s recent writings for the Walker:

The Political Provocations of Keith Haring

Story/Time: Bill T. Jones on John Cage

A Performance Chronology: John Killacky Remembers the 1980s

Free First Saturday: Birthday Bash

  The Walker Art Center was filled with excitement and wonder at January’s Free First Saturday Birthday Bash. Visitors celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Walker Art Center by enjoying cupcakes, art making, films, and performances. Families had a chance to walk inside a hot air balloon, chat with tour guides about the history of […]

 

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The Walker Art Center was filled with excitement and wonder at January’s Free First Saturday Birthday Bash. Visitors celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Walker Art Center by enjoying cupcakes, art making, films, and performances. Families had a chance to walk inside a hot air balloon, chat with tour guides about the history of art in the galleries and dress up for an art opening. Photographer Erin Smith was there to capture the faces and the fun during the festive day.

Enjoying cupcakes by chef Kristi Varner of Gigi's Cafe

Cupcakes by chef Kristi Varner of Gigi’s Cafe were enjoyed by all

Families were excited to get cupcakes by chef Kristi Varner of Gigi's Cafe

Families were excited to get cupcakes by chef Kristi Varner of Gigi’s Cafe

Visitors were delighted with the pop-up card activity

Visitors were delighted with the pop-up card activity

Creating pop-up cards

Leia Wambach demonstrates the pop-up cards activity

Leia Wambach demonstrated the pop-up card activity

Making a museum of the future in the art lab

The art lab was filled with mini museums of the future

Dietr Poppen, Levi Weinhagen, Andy Kraft in the performance of  The Time Wanderers.

Dietr Poppen, Levi Weinhagen, Andy Kraft in the performance of The Time Wanderers

Andy Kraft in the performance of  The Time Wanderers.

Andy Kraft had fun including the audience in the performance of The Time Wanderers.

Having fun inside a hot air balloon

All smiles inside a hot air balloon

Celebrating inside a hot air balloon

Visitors enjoying the galleries

Visitors enjoyed the galleries

Check out the photo booth pictures on the Walker's Flickr page, https://www.flickr.com/photos/walkerart/sets/72157650098789105/

Smirks and giggles at the photo booth. Check out all the images on Flickr

Getting ready for the photo booth.

Getting ready for the photo booth was half the fun. See more shots on Flickr

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Culture Shock at the Cocktail Reception for New Society

At times it can be useful to reflect upon an experience by observing the setting and circumstances a person is currently in; to use the present moment as a mirror to the previous. In considering Miranda July’s world premiere of New Society on October 30, 2014 at the McGuire Theater, this approach is not only […]

Miranda July Reception

At times it can be useful to reflect upon an experience by observing the setting and circumstances a person is currently in; to use the present moment as a mirror to the previous. In considering Miranda July’s world premiere of New Society on October 30, 2014 at the McGuire Theater, this approach is not only useful, but necessary. To maintain the truth and novelty in this performance for all who will attend – or rather, participate in – it, July has asked that no explicit details be published about the piece for one year.

As the Walker’s Contributing members gathered at a post-performance reception to mingle and react, Philip Bither, Senior Curator of Performing Arts, emphasized the importance of this rule. Bither pointed out that the structure of New Society allows for “a completely different show every night,” and that each one remains “truly a surprise,” for both performer and audience, which is what live theater is all about.

But as daily life is different every day and quite often a surprise, was it required this rule be established because the experience of live theater has become the opposite: an expectation of knowing what will happen ahead of time? How often today do audiences attend a performance simply because they do not know what will happen during the course of two hours? Perhaps this is what gives contemporary theater its modern relevance, but even July flips this concept on its head with her latest creation. The uncertainty in New Society is not only a nervous experience for the audience, but for the performer. July admits she was curious, eager, and anxious about her initial participants, wondering “who will all these people be?” And like a performing artist would thank their fellow actors, Miranda told this group of audience members, “thank you for coming through for me.”

It was all slightly surreal, returning to a non-theatrical setting after taking part in New Society. Although it was simply a cocktail hour, it was difficult not to notice people gathering in small groups to have private discussions, the photographer documenting our actions, the ability to walk wherever one liked, or to even not interact with others at all, and the large windows on the north wall. This hyperawareness of space and socialization pointed out the freedoms of daily life, and the limitations as well as the possibilities available within the walls of a theater. A  group of a few hundred confined in a space for a specific number of hours has the potential to experience almost anything – if they decide to. This is, at the core, what July accomplishes with New Society: a stark examination of our lives outside of theater by creating a new world within one.

July’s eyes sparkle with this concept in mind, commenting that there is “so much raw enthusiasm to be shaped” in a piece like hers, in theater that asks an audience to sit down and let go. Whereas our everyday lives are chained to expectation, theater gives us a unique freedom in that it allows an experience to be shaped for, or with us. Yet as the reception ended, it can be noted that even in real life, people still don’t like when the lights come up and they have to go home.

The Citizens of Miranda July’s New Society

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Looking around the Walker’s Skyline Room, you could sense that everyone had just been through something big together. Following the debut performance of Miranda July’s brilliant theatrical experiment, New Society, contributing members gathered for a reception to meet July and talk over what exactly they’d just seen. The dazed looks on their faces began to disappear when they started to process the experience. I wish I could tell you precisely what it was that happened during New Society, but I can’t. In an effort to preserve the element of surprise for future performances, July added a note to the program requesting that everyone keep the internet chatter about the show to a dull roar. Still, without giving too much away, several guests at the reception were kind enough to share some of their raw reactions to New Society with me.

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Terry, left, and Emma, right, eagerly waiting to meet Miranda July.

Emma: I really had no idea what to expect from New Society coming in, but it was amazing and fun.
Terry: I’d say it was curious, not in the Minnesotan use of the word “curious,” though. The whole thing was hilarious, but she managed to make the end quite emotional and inspiring.

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Megan and Jeff found New Society to be surprisingly cohesive.

Megan: I was worried about the audience participation element we’d heard about going into the show, but it ended up being lovely. I was really struck by how Miranda was able to seemingly create something out of nothing.
Jeff: Exactly. It wasn’t just a hodge podge of people doing weird stuff. Everything depends on the audience, yet she was able to make it into something cohesive. There was also this really powerful feeling of just giving yourself up, of giving yourself over to the performance.

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Mark and Mary, longtime fans of Miranda July, meeting her for the first time.

Mary: The piece was so innovative. I was amazed by the talent of some of the people in the audience and how Miranda was able to bring it out of them.
Mark: She was so funny too.
Mary: She was, but it was humor with a message.
Mark: I am just in awe of a person with so much talent. I’ve seen a lot of theater, but this was completely unique. I’m usually an introvert, but we were totally game to participate. We sat in the front row, but she didn’t end up picking us for anything.
Mary: Maybe we looked too eager [laughs].

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Xandra ended up getting her fair share of stage time during New Society.

Xandra: I really didn’t expect to participate, but it was thrilling. I felt a real responsibility to the performance and the audience while I was up there. I even felt protective of Miranda because she put so much trust in me.

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July was nice enough to share a few of her own thoughts on the debut of New Society with me.

Miranda: The audience really had so much energy and willingness. Everyone was so enthusiastic, and the challenge for me was to sculpt that enthusiasm into an actual arc. The first thing I did when I got back to by dressing room was take notes.
Me: Were you worried about debuting a piece that relies so much on audience participation in Minnesota? We’re not exactly famous for our willingness to put ourselves out there in public.
Miranda: No, I wasn’t too worried about you guys. I knew you’d come through [laughs].

Walktoberfest: 75th Anniversary Party

Waiting for the opening of Walktoberfest, the Walker Art Center’s 75th anniversary celebration, as an art-lover and a Walker intern was like waiting for Christmas morning. The anniversary is a celebration of the 75 years that the Walker Art Center has been challenging the way we perceive art, creating safe spaces for radical artists and […]

Waiting for the opening of Walktoberfest, the Walker Art Center’s 75th anniversary celebration, as an art-lover and a Walker intern was like waiting for Christmas morning. The anniversary is a celebration of the 75 years that the Walker Art Center has been challenging the way we perceive art, creating safe spaces for radical artists and ideas, and inspiring us as individuals, cultures, and communities. And with it, of course, comes a celebration of epic proportions, kicking off with a huge Target Free Thursday Night opening party. I did my best to capture some of the highlights of this day jam-packed with activities and people.

Walktoberfest. Photo by Courtney Perry.

Walktoberfest. Photo by Courtney Perry.

The day started rather quietly actually, inside, the Walker Cinema was screening The Gold Rush, a silent film directed by Charlie Chaplin. However, the room lit up with laughter watching the Little Tramp in one of his most famous comedies and the film for which he most wanted to be remembered. Each night of this weekend-long celebration there will be one or more free film screenings.

When the evening festivities kicked off, I decided that because we are celebrating Art at The Center at the Walker Art Center, my first stop was… the beer garden! How often will we be able to see the Walker turn into its very own beer garden? Offering local craft beer (and root beer) from favorites like Summit and Fulton, there is nearly as much to enjoy outside as there is inside. And who could enjoy their beer without a freshly cooked brat and/or sausage from the Butcher & The Boar. While enjoying their tasty treats, DJ Christy Hunt spun laid-back tunes and made the outdoor party an instant success.

Walktoberfest Beer Garden

Walktoberfest Beer Garden

Next, I headed over to the Selfie Station. Located in the Medtronic Gallery, the station was filled with people of all ages posing with props and taking pictures in front of the large photo murals from Walker history that line the walls.

Visitors posing with a photo mural of Keith Haring.

Visitors posing with a photo mural of Keith Haring.

I finally headed to the galleries, with plenty of time to take in the Walker’s greatest hits as the galleries stay open until 10 pm during Walktoberfest. It was truly an incredible experience to trace the path of the Walker’s evolution through decades of former curators and their all-star acquisitions. The art exhibited wowed everyone with visual theatrical scenes from the Walker’s history; including pieces such as Franz Marc’s The Large Blue Horses, Chuck Close’s Big Self-Portrait, and Sherrie Levine’s Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp: A.P.). One of the final pieces in the exhibit, Lost Forty (2011), by Polish artist Goshka Macuga brings the exhibit to a beautifully self-reflective close. The piece is a monumentally sized tapestry depicting a pristine forest in northern Minnesota. The undisturbed forest harkens to the roots of the museum, as the Walker family formerly owned a lumber company. Within the image are references not only to the Walker’s history, but also to the history of contemporary art, and current politics. Macuga’s piece links the history of the Walker and contemporary art to the past, present, and future.

Visitors with Goshka Macuga Lost Forty tapestry.

Visitors with Goshka Macuga Lost Forty tapestry.

I highly encourage you to visit Walktoberfest and the Art at Center exhibition. Who doesn’t want an early Christmas present?

Visitors take in Chuck Close Big Self Portrait

Visitors take in Chuck Close, Big Self Portrait

Walker Selfie: Staff Kicks of WALKER@75 Celebration

An all-staff email Wednesday afternoon alerted Walker staffers to be in the Medtronic Gallery in eight minutes for a surprise. There, director Olga Viso was waiting with glasses of champagne poured to toast staff for all their hard work and passion in preparing for commencement of the WALKER@75 anniversary celebration and tomorrow’s opening of the […]

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An all-staff email Wednesday afternoon alerted Walker staffers to be in the Medtronic Gallery in eight minutes for a surprise. There, director Olga Viso was waiting with glasses of champagne poured to toast staff for all their hard work and passion in preparing for commencement of the WALKER@75 anniversary celebration and tomorrow’s opening of the Art at the Center exhibition. As we were all gathered in the Selfie Station—a gallery filled with massive murals from key moments in Walker history—we stopped in front of a photo documenting a 1940 children’s dance festival in the original Walker lobby for a group portrait.

Come celebrate with us during Walktoberfest this Thursday through Sunday (free admission! a beer garden with local brews! free films and live music! tons more!) and throughout the months leading up to January 4, 2015, the 75th anniversary of the Walker rebirth as a public art center. If you wind up at the Selfie Station—where you can reenact the Trisha Brown Dance Company’s 2008 performance of Man Walking Down the Side of a Building, pose with a Once Group performer who in 1965 was duct-taped to a wall, or vamp with Keith Haring in 1984—be sure to use the #AtTheWalker hashtag on Instagram.

What Makes a Crazy Cat Lady…?

We saw thousands of feline fans again fill the grass at our Internet Cat Video Festival as part of Open Field on August 14. What began two years ago as an idea here at the Walker has expanded into a global phenomenon with screenings from Stockholm to Boise. With more than 100 hours of video […]

We couldn't have asked for a better cat frenzy atmosphere

We couldn’t have asked for a better cat frenzy atmosphere.

We saw thousands of feline fans again fill the grass at our Internet Cat Video Festival as part of Open Field on August 14. What began two years ago as an idea here at the Walker has expanded into a global phenomenon with screenings from Stockholm to Boise. With more than 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, the infamous “cat video” genre has attracted more than its fair share of traffic, with such celebrities as Grumpy Cat and Lil BUB (who made a festival appearance this year) garnering enough attention to draw 10,000 people to our hillside for a 70-minute montage of this year’s best kitty clips.

But why cats? Are these people weird or something? Armed with two legitimating staff t-shirts and a microphone, Emily and I set out on our first field assignment as Walker PR interns. We were determined to hear what these crazies had to say and to find the answer to our question: How many cats make a crazy cat lady crazy? We compiled a list to guide us on our way.

Sure signs you’re a crazy cat lady:

1. You don’t think you’re crazy.

2. Your family won’t admit to knowing you.

3. You are dressed as a cat.

4. You came to the Walker alone to watch internet cat videos.

As we wove our way between the blankets on the grass, we talked to visitors young and old, from far and near, who all insisted they were sane! “It would be crazy not to love cats!” they told us, and we found it hard to disagree—this seemed like a pretty fun crowd. From the face-painting to the food trucks, we began to pity those who had not yet stumbled upon the joy of watching Shorty the Cat go through banana addiction withdrawal. As we looked around at all the fun-having, we began to realize the crazy ones were those who would miss such an event.

Yes the costumes were wacky, but what truly struck us was the community these cats created. It seems Lil BUB’s biggest fans were simply happy to know that they weren’t crazy for loving internet cat videos—or if they were, at least they could all be crazy together for one night at the Walker.

These two weren't the only ones dressed for the occasion.

These two weren’t the only ones dressed for the occasion.

Considering the breadth of content on the internet these days, it seems almost unreasonable that such a specific corner of the web could draw such a crowd, and one that’s not afraid to admit to who they are.

Though watching internet cat videos alone in a dark basement can be pretty isolating (from what I’ve heard), these kitty vids gave us a reason to ditch the laptop for the lawn, and share a screen with our fellow cat-loving citizens for a night. Oh, and we updated our guide to the #catvidfest at Open Field, too!

Even surer signs you’re a crazy cat lady:

1. You dig free stuff.

2. You enjoy being part of a global phenomenon.

3. You dress up for things.

4. You are not boring.

5. You enjoy gourmet food trucks and craft beer.

6. You like being outside on a gorgeous summer night in the greatest city in the world.

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