Blogs Walker Seen

Walker People’s Archive: Guides, Crew and Guards, Seen 1929-2015

At the Walker People’s Archive, we’ve been collecting photographs and stories illustrating people’s most vivid Walker memories. Walker visitors, staff members past and present, arts luminaries and all kinds of scenesters have contributed to the project.  But this contribution takes the cake (there’s cake at the WPA site, too!): Tom Berglund passed along this picture, […]

Anna Jorgenson, Walker Art Galleries, 1929

Anna Jorgenson, Walker Art Galleries, 1929

At the Walker People’s Archive, we’ve been collecting photographs and stories illustrating people’s most vivid Walker memories. Walker visitors, staff members past and present, arts luminaries and all kinds of scenesters have contributed to the project.  But this contribution takes the cake (there’s cake at the WPA site, too!): Tom Berglund passed along this picture, of his mother’s mother, Anna Jorgenson, at work as a docent in the Walker Art Galleries in the 1920s.  In 1940, the Walker Art Galleries were rechristened the Walker Art Center, and the institution began a new life–with a new orientation toward the public–under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration and its Federal Arts Project.  It’s that anniversary we’ve been celebrating–but it’s a thrill to have this photo from even further back.

We’ve got many other photos of guides and other Walker workers through the years, like this one of Richard Parnell and Willie Willette, members of the Walker’s exhibition crew in the 1990s, horsing around for the (Polaroid) camera during preparation of Jenny Holzer’s The Living Series for installation in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in 1993.

Richard Parnell and Willie Willette, Walker Art Center, 1993

Richard Parnell and Willie Willette, Walker Art Center, 1993

Or this recent shot of Todd Balthazor, gallery guard and illustrator, and his story about his ultimate Walker celebrity sighting.

Todd Balthazor, Walker Art Center, 2015

Todd Balthazor, Walker Art Center, 2015

We’re wrapping up this project over the next few weeks; we’ll close the submission side of the web site after March 30.  That means you have just one more week to share your Walker memories!  All contributions to the archive over the course of the project will remain online, and they will be preserved by the Walker’s Archives and Libraries department as a special collection that will help future generations see how we thought of ourselves at this anniversary moment.  Go to the Walker People’s Archive to upload or learn more.

Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon 2015

Edit-a-thon Participants

Art +Feminism Sign

On Sunday, March 8, many Wikipedians, both new and seasoned in editing, filled the Walker Library and Art Lab to contribute to the second annual Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, in celebration of International Women’s Day. This satellite event was one of more than 70 that took place internationally over the weekend. The goal of this event is to narrow the vast gender gap that exists on Wikipedia by representing more feminism and art related topics. In 2011, the Wikimedia Foundation found that women only account for 8.5 percent of Wikipedia editors. This enormous disparity accounts for the general lack of women in the arts being represented on the world’s largest online encyclopedia and seventh most popular website, globally.

Art + Feminism’s first Wikipedia Edit-a-thon event was in February of 2014. Following the success of this event, organizers of the event were included in Foreign Policy Magazine’s List of 100 Leading Global Thinkers.

Edit-a-thon Participants

The day started off with an introduction to the event and its deeper purposes by Walker hosts Amy Fox, Jill Vuchetich, and Margit Wilson, followed by an informational crash course in Wikipedia editing led by Wikipedia experts. They went over the Wikipedia coding language, which included the general layout of an article, how to bold and italicize words, and how to add citations. There are also many rules and guidelines for editing and creating Wikipedia pages that must be taken into account to avoid criticism from the Wikipedia community experts. Articles must be written objectively, have citations from reliable sources, be respectful, and be notable subjects or considered important by the rest of the Wikipedia community.

In a recent article from Hyperallergic, Sarah Cowan writes about the flagship event that took place at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She comments on, “how deeply skewed Wikipedia’s measures of importance are.”

What actually makes something important? Wikipedia’s five pillars state that they, “strive for articles that document and explain the major points of view.”

If the majority of editors are men, then subjects and points of view that women may find to be very important can easily be shot down and deleted. Cowan found this pillar to be a bit ironic for the purposes of the event, in that part of the feminist initiative is to, “give underprivileged members of society a voice.”

List of Edits

Thirty-five topics and artist pages were created or improved upon during the afternoon. Pages were created for artists internationally such as the Canadian artist collective, FASTWÜRMS, and Chinese multimedia artist, Cao Fei. Pages were also created on American painters, Sarah Crowner and Dianna Molzan, whose works have been featured at the Walker Art Center exhibition, Painter Painter.

It is likely that participants will take their editing skills home with them, continuing their efforts on expanding topics on art and feminism. What was accomplished by the participants on Sunday was a fantastic addition to the ever expanding topics on art and feminism being represented on Wikipedia. However, the more important accomplishment of this event was empowering both men and women, alike, to create a more equal representation of gender on Wikipedia.

“Looking and Choosing”: The Walker Contemporaries Collecting Panel

How do you start an art collection? This was the question on the minds of members of the Walker Contemporaries at last month’s Collecting Panel. The night offered Contemporaries a chance to pick the brains of some Twin Cities art professionals: Curator for the General Mills Art Collection Lisa Melander, founder of exhibition space and art consultancy Waiting Room Jehra […]

How do you start an art collection? This was the question on the minds of members of the Walker Contemporaries at last month’s Collecting Panel. The night offered Contemporaries a chance to pick the brains of some Twin Cities art professionals: Curator for the General Mills Art Collection Lisa Melander, founder of exhibition space and art consultancy Waiting Room Jehra Patrick, David Petersen Gallery’s owner and director David Petersen, and Walker associate curator Eric Crosby. Calling the event a “Panel” might have been a bit of a misnomer. Everyone in attendance had the opportunity to sit around a dinner table over a couple glasses of wine to discuss what it is they want out of an art collection and to hear from these local experts on where to begin.

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Walker Contemporaries in discussion with Jehra Patrick, Lisa Melander, and David Petersen.

So how did the panelists approach this fundamental question? None of them had a step-by-step guide, but one consistent theme did arise: collecting art is a social activity. Whether it’s by forming relationships with artists, gallerists, or other collectors, you need to create a “dematerialized collection” of connections, in Petersen’s words, that can you can draw on when you’re interested in certain artists and certain types of work. They also encouraged everyone to try to speak directly to artists about their work whenever possible. Patrick pointed out that when you talk to an artist and learn more about their process, you then become an “ambassador” for the artist to people who see the work in your space.

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David Petersen and Lisa Melander

The panel wasn’t without more concrete advice as well. For those looking to get their feet wet with some low-budget pieces, the guests suggested the MCAD Art Sale and Midway Contemporary Art’s Monster Drawing Rally. Artist and musician Nicholas Larkins-Perez came prepared with some very specific questions about the legal maneuvering he might have to do in order to purchase pieces of net.art, and Patrick directed him to the free legal counsel for artists provided by Springboard for the Arts.

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Nicholas Larkins-Perez

Focusing on one piece of work at a time seemed to be another one of the main keys to embarking on what seems to some like a monumental task. Patrick advised attendees not to think of their collection as a single body of work or as some sort of thesis. Instead, she suggested people open themselves up to a wide variety of works, artists, and media. Exploring is the only real way to begin to understand the aesthetic priorities that will drive your purchases, or put in Lisa Melander’s graceful phrasing, “Buy what speaks to you.”

What’s Happenin’? A Think & A Drink.

On Friday night’s A Think & A Drink, Walker members held a Happening of their own. Interactive tours of the exhibition Art Expanded, 1958–1978 encouraged discussion of this wonderfully disorienting era and provoked questions ranging from the profound (“What is art?”) to the puzzling (“Why is the cellist topless?”). When asked to imagine their own […]

On Friday night’s A Think & A Drink, Walker members held a Happening of their own. Interactive tours of the exhibition Art Expanded, 1958–1978 encouraged discussion of this wonderfully disorienting era and provoked questions ranging from the profound (“What is art?”) to the puzzling (“Why is the cellist topless?”). When asked to imagine their own Happening, here’s what some of our Walker members suggested:

Sarah Vig:
“The experience has to be both pleasant and repulsive, with no explanation of the elements involved. Live animals should be included – probably lizards. For my Happening I’d have people walk past progressively larger terrariums housing progressively larger lizards until you encounter the biggest enclosure, which is empty. Then through a door participants would enter a room which is actually a giant terrarium, turning them into the lizards! And maybe I’d include someone in a French maid costume dusting and a bad tuba player performing while facing the wall. That sounds about right.”

Jonathan Gross
“There would have to be vintage ’60s clothing – leather vests with fringe, jumpsuits, headbands, and frizzy wigs – with everyone performing a set task, the more mundane the better.”

Susan Spray
“For me Happenings were like a Kafka play with no established cast. There would be food, music, lighting, plenty of props, and costumes for people to take, structural objects to stand on or against, and an agitating person to get things moving. Let’s throw some taxidermy cats in there, as well.”

Glen de Guzman
“Drinks, decorations, and door prizes!”

Amy Ilstrop
“I’d take every museum gift shop postcard and bring each corresponding work into one gallery, like my favorite museums combined. There would be a massive concert and top chefs serving dessert. And, if I pull a John Lennon and Yoko Ono, I can claim that it’s all for peace and is completely worthwhile.”

Kristi Running
“I cannot top that, so I’m going to Amy’s. I’m also going to use the line ‘But it’s for peace!’ as an excuse in everyday life.”

“Kristi and Amy, would you mind if I took a photo of you for the blog?  Come on, it’s for peace!”

A Think & A Drink: Member Events provide intimate looks at exhibitions, performing arts and film followed by drinks and conversation. Our next A Think & A Drink evening offers an insider’s introduction to Tere O’Connor Dance BLEED with curator Philip Bither, a discounted performance ticket, and a complimentary drink in the Balcony bar after the show. Space is limited, so RSVP here.

Winter Walkerland, Meet Free First Saturday

On February’s Free First Saturday, the Walker Art Center was bursting to the seams with families of all ages, ranging from babies in strollers, to energetic elementary-school kids, to delighted grandparents. Everyone made the trek for Winter Walkerland, a jubilant celebration of the Walker’s 75th anniversary. Visitors were astounded by the bevy of choices available to […]

On February’s Free First Saturday, the Walker Art Center was bursting to the seams with families of all ages, ranging from babies in strollers, to energetic elementary-school kids, to delighted grandparents. Everyone made the trek for Winter Walkerland, a jubilant celebration of the Walker’s 75th anniversary. Visitors were astounded by the bevy of choices available to them: they could ice skate in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, make watercolor masterpieces in the Art Lab, sip hot cocoa in the café, and ask experts their burning questions about art. And that was just the beginning!

A young visitor prepares to ask a question about art at Hotline

A young visitor prepares to ask a question about art at Hotline

These kids were enthralled by Erwin Wurm's Truck

These kids were enthralled by Erwin Wurm’s Truck

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Enjoying a break from all the excitement

Using foam and wire, families made three-dimensional masks and sculptures

Using foam and wire, visitors made three-dimensional crowns, masks, and sculptures

Families worked together to make art

Families worked together to make art

Hanging out at the Art Lab

Hanging out at the Art Lab

...while others sipped on homemade hot cocoa

Some kids stayed warm by drinking hot cocoa…

...while others dressed up for the occasion

…while others dressed up for the occasion

It was a beautiful day for ice skating in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

These boys sped past Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's Spoonbridge and Cherry

These kids sped past Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry

All in all, it was a day of fun activities for all families visiting the Walker

All in all, it was a fun day for all families visiting the Walker

A Wintry Walker Celebration

Gliding past the Spoonbridge and Cherry on a crisp winter evening. Sipping cocktails served from an ice bar. Discovering new artworks among old favorites. Delighting in asking and answering questions about art. On Thursday evening Winter Walkerland festivities celebrating the opening of 75 Gifts for 75 Years filled the building and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with […]

Gliding past the Spoonbridge and Cherry on a crisp winter evening. Sipping cocktails served from an ice bar. Discovering new artworks among old favorites. Delighting in asking and answering questions about art. On Thursday evening Winter Walkerland festivities celebrating the opening of 75 Gifts for 75 Years filled the building and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with laughter and energy. Throughout the night the crowd bundled up to enjoy the delights outdoors or shed their many layers to wander the galleries.

Skaters by the Spoonbridge and Cherry

A few skaters stopped to pose with Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry.

Skaters by Spoonbridge

But they were soon on their way again.

Hotline phone back at Winter Walkerland

Hotline made a reappearance and people stepped up to ask questions about art.

People writing down questions at Hotline.

People posed their questions and wrote them down.

People talking on phones in Hotline.

Question in hand, curious visitors picked up a phone to be connected to art experts on the other end.

People answering the phone for Hotline.

Art experts—including artists, curators, writers, critics, educators, and collectors—were ready to answer each question.

Ice bar outside Walker building.

What do you name a drink served at an ice bar in the dead of a Minneapolis winter? The North Star, of course!

Women holding drinks in front of ice bar.

Some lingered outside to enjoy the North Star, artfully served via an ice luge.

Yaoyi Kusama's Passing Winter is back in the galleries, this time part of the 75 Gifts for 75 Years exhibition.

Everyone was glad to see that Yayoi Kusama’s Passing Winter is on view again, this time part of the 75 Gifts for 75 Years exhibition.

Visitors looking at Kuitca.

Visitors stepped back to take in all of Guillermo Kuitca’s Everything, then moved closer to take in the details.

Couple kissing in front of LOVE.

Robert Indiana’s Cor-Ten LOVE was the perfect place to stop for a photo.

 

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

“Seen” highlights one-off photos of Walker life as captured by our staff.

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