How we connect: The scenes, settings, parties, and people of the Walker’s world.
On May 11th, Walker Contributing Members gathered in the Cargill Lounge to celebrate the opening of Hold your breath, dance slowly, the first U.S. solo museum exhibition of Taiwan-based artist Lee Kit. The instillation combines Lee’s paint-based practice and his object-based practice to explore the poetics of everyday materials and household items. Contributing Members were […]
On May 11th, Walker Contributing Members gathered in the Cargill Lounge to celebrate the opening of Hold your breath, dance slowly, the first U.S. solo museum exhibition of Taiwan-based artist Lee Kit. The instillation combines Lee’s paint-based practice and his object-based practice to explore the poetics of everyday materials and household items. Contributing Members were treated to a sneak-peek inside the Burnet Gallery a day before the exhibition’s public opening. Those present were immersed in what Walker Executive Director Olga Viso referred to in her opening remarks as Lee’s “spatial flow,” an experience at once otherworldly and familiar.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 […]
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.
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.
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 […]
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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].
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.
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].