This blog exists to inspire people to seek out all the great art that lives in and around the Minneapolis skyway.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Head and hat in the skyway... any info out there on this art?

This amazing suspended bit of artistry hangs outside what is now Palomino but is becoming Crave. If you have info on it, please comment. I've long admired it, but did not want to bother the Palomino-ites for info about it in their time of farewell.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Interview: Leslie Holt discusses Hello Kitty and the responses she inspires

 Hello Rothko 2009 oil on canvas 8x10 inches

Leslie Holt is bringing her deceptively complex show "Hello Masterpiece" to the Burnet Gallery, where it opens tomorrow, Nov. 12. The party goes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and should boast an audience of both seasoned patrons and eager neophytes as these paintings feature popular commercial character Hello Kitty dwelling within some of the most famous artworks of all time. Kitty takes on the mood of each piece, dressing appropriately to its style, whether inspired by Caravaggio, Matisse, Picasso or Klimt (just to name a few of the artists she has paid homage to). Most of Holt's creations are postcard sized to reflect how most of this internationally known art is consumed -- as items for sale in a museum shop. Holt wants us to see that these celebrated images are bought and sold in much the same way that our friend and tour guide, Hello Kitty is.

Leslie took a moment to chat with me about her work and inspiration before coming to Minnesota. Hope you enjoy the conversation -- I found her to be amusing and personable, and she admits that old Kitty has lightened her art up quite a bit (though it is no less compelling).

Hello Magritte (eye) 2010 oil on canvas 4x6 inches

Skyway of Love: "Hello Masterpiece" is a sly and smart show, but also shows your skills as an artist.  What led you to use Hello Kitty as your way in?

Leslie Holt: People always ask me that. It came to me not in the shower exactly, but Hello Kitty has always been a force in my life. She came up in the seventies when I was a kid, but then I wasn't that into her. Too Girly. It seemed like she resurfaced about eight years ago, showing up all over the place. I just started thinking about her sort of sub-consciously as a pop icon, but it wasn't even that deep. Basically I started teaching art appreciation and I had been working with Hello Kitty in another art series that I was doing. I had two hundred figurines of her and one day I actually put one of the figurines on a painting. That's how it began. And when I first did these I used to stage her on photographs of the works -- a still life set up. It's funny -- people sort of just started to responding to her and the work. And I have to say it's been so much fun as a painter. I've learned a lot as an artist from doing these paintings -- working in all those different styles. 

SOL: It seems your mixture of commercial elements with a fine art style has been in play for awhile. The "Hello Pills" and "Pills and Spills" series from years past show that. Was that your first foray into that theme?

LH: I think the pills were the beginning of that and it has extended into "Hello Masterpiece." It‘s always been about juxtaposition for me, which, I know, is an overused word. But in those older collections I wanted to show the tension between what is handmade and what is mass produced.

SOL: I know that you’ve been very candid about having a family member with mental illness. Did that inform those earlier works?

LH: Absolutely. Both pill series and the "Unholy Ghost" works were about dealing with my mom who is pretty seriously ill. Those works are all about how that can very much skew your vision of the world. The Hello Kitty paintings are definitely lighter in theme.

SOL: You're from back east, correct and now you live in St.Louis?

LH: Yes, I'm from Delaware originally and honestly I didn’t really know where Missouri was until I moved here to go to college at Washington University. But now, I’ve lived here for 20 years.

SOL: What’s the art scene like in St. Louis?

LH: It's great and growing. We have a nice mix of established galleries and museums as well as new non-profit spaces popping up each year. It's a burgeoning and youthful art scene with a lot of experimental stuff happening. With all of the university students in town, it is fresh and vibrant -- plus it's affordable to live here. You can be starving artist in St. Louis, or even a chubby artist. People here have the opportunity to do their own thing because, it's cheap enough that they can find time to make art. They don't have to work at paid jobs all the time.

SOL: Has the "Hello Masterpiece" show extended? I see that you have two other sets of works on your website -- "More Hello Masterpiece" and "Hello Modern Art."

LH: They are all part of the same concept. In St. Louis I did do a "Hello Modern Art" show, which is on the website. Those extras happened because the challenge has been to create enough work for each new show. The pieces sell so well, that for every show I often have to make several new paintings to fill in the spaces. The Burnet show includes a range of some pieces I've done in the past but, about half the work was made specifically for the Minnesota show. I definitely favor some artists -- like Matisse. I think there are a million Matisse's that I've made. And, for Burnet, I tried to get to 50 paintings, but I think I only have 47 or 48. Because they are so tiny, I have to make many of them to fill a gallery. 

SOL: Are the works all postcard size?

LH: Some of the modern stuff is 8" x 10" or 6" x 12". Previous to last year I only made the actual museum postcard size, to help make clear the conceptual connection to museum postcards. But I’ve loosened up on that as I felt that some pieces would be better in a larger size. For example, I feel that Jackson Pollock deserves at least an 8" x 10" size for his work. And, some of my newest work is Matisse cutouts. At the end of his life, Matisse was quite sick and could not paint so he did colored paper cutouts. I believe my cutouts will be placed in the windows of the Burnet Gallery

SOL: Did the idea for "Hello Masterpiece" come from your teaching? (I think it’s great that you teach both art technique and art history).

LH: Honestly, I never really think of the art work and my teaching as being connected. I teach art appreciation, which gets a bad wrap as a class in general. I guess in a way I was making fun of it of with "Hello Masterpiece", although I don't really think it is a bad class to take.

SOL: What have been some of the more interesting responses to your "Hello" shows?

LH: People are very responsive to them. It’s interesting to meet people while showing at an art gallery and find that several folks are not art lovers. For a lot of people the entry point is Hello Kitty. It's interesting to see what compels someone to look at the art. But whatever brings them through the door is fine with me.
Hello Venus of Willendorf 2009 oil on canvas 4x6 inches
At the David Lusk gallery in Memphis, an upper middle class woman responded to Hello Venus of Willendorf, inspired by the 60,000 year old fetish piece. It has a huge belly and breasts. The woman told me that she just loved it because it reminded her so much of herself. I asked her, “Do you know who that is?” and she had no idea. So she missed the point, but came away with something anyhow.

Another set of women at a show -- it’s happened to me a few times and I find it sort of troubling – said, “This series is just beautiful but can I give you some advice? The paintings are lovely but we highly suggest that you take the little cat thing out of it.” Also I've received a lot of advice about what paintings to do next and how to do them. Someone wanted Kitty in the Dali piece to be dripping, just like the clocks.

SOL: What else are you up to?

LH: I’ve got a new job as the Executive Director of VSA Missouri, which promotes access to the arts for people with disabilities. I’m all about bringing art to larger audiences, so in a loose way it is connected to the "Hello Masterpiece" work I've been doing. This series is about accessibility - even if you don’t get what I was going for, you can enjoy the show in your own way.

SOL: Have you ever been to Minnesota before? Anything on your must-see list?

LH: I have an old friend in St. Paul who I'm going to see, but basically no. Once I drove across country and I did see St. Paul, but only for a little while, and in the dark. I'm coming in Thursday and leaving Sunday night and my friend is going to take me around. I've requested visits to the Walker Art Center and the Soap Factory, which looks really cool.

SOL: Good choices!
The Details:
"Hello Masterpiece" at the Burnet Gallery
Le Meridian Chambers Minneapolis
901 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Opening: Friday, Nov. 12 6-9 p.m. (free to the public)
Show: Nov. 12, 2010 - Jan. 9, 2011

Monday, October 25, 2010

James Victore: Coming to school us in Minneapolis

From Victore or, Who Died and Made You Boss?
By James Victore; Introduction by Michael Bierut
Published by Abrams

The landscape of design has its heartthrobs, clean freaks and iconoclasts and James Victore is clearly in the latter category. A School of Visual Arts dropout, he stormed the trade, making poster art and doing design on his own terms with help from some compelling mentors and a singular style. Now, the world is his oyster, as Victore is on the faculty at SVA, designing for the likes of Moët and Chandon, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum and Target (yes MSP'ers), and just published a book of his greatest hits called "Victore, or Who Died and Made You Boss?"  He's coming to W Minneapolis - The Foshay on Nov. 3 for the latest installment of AIGA Minnesota's Design Conversations series, produced by Rocket Design Resources to benefit The Brand Lab. With the national AIGA president, Debbie Millman on hand to stimulate the conversation, Victore will present his new tome. Known for his raucous style, the night should prove to be a blast -- a learning experience hidden within the best kick in the pants you've ever experienced.

Want to get a line on his sensibility before attending the festivities? Victore shared a few words of wisdom with Skyway of Love which should whet your appetites.

36.2 Milton, Plates, Self-authored 10" diameter © James Victore

Skyway of Love: What makes you want to wake up every day and be a designer? Are you happy with that moniker, as opposed to "artist" or some other term?

James Victore: The driving force of my day is the opportunity to try something that scares me, to put myself out on a limb and saw the end closest to the tree. Just to see what happens. Only sometimes do I fall. "Artist" is fine -- "Designer" is groovy, too.  Neither work really well. I tend to believe by naming things (or people) we kill them.

SOL: Where are you from originally? How do you think it informs your work?

JV: I am what is commonly called a "Military Brat" which means I do not come from one place. It also means I come from the military. This shapes my work completely. I find myself in love with my country, but at odds with the system the drives it. As a commercial artist, this makes things a bit confusing at times and forces me to think and question my actions.

SOL: Where would you say you got your training, assuming it was NOT at the School of Visual Arts?
JV: I learned to design the same way one learns to swear -- I had to pick it up in the street. Plus, I’ve had the good fortune to find quality mentors and examples of excellence to guide me. A short list would include the book cover designer Paul Bacon, the Polish poster artist, Henryk Tomaszewski and the French designer, Pierre Bernard.

SOL: Can you describe your studio? What would a visitor see happening there on any given day – not a lot of working on computers, I assume…

JV: We have three computers and all the necessary printers, scanners, bare wires and accoutrements that go along with them. But the centerpiece of our environment is a large wooden table where I sit and stare at a piece of blank paper, waiting for something to happen.

SOL: What exhibit or work has been most satisfying for you? Or is teaching most gratifying?

JV: Teaching is the most satisfying--and difficult part of my work. This new book of mine is essentially a "teaching book" and not a "picture book"-- or it is if you actually read it.

SOL: What made you interested in compiling “Victore or, Who Died and Made You Boss?” at this point in your career?  It’s essentially a greatest hits album of sorts and you seem to have a lot more art to create. Is it a mid-career milestone?

JV: This book is a tombstone for a body of work created in what essentially is the "early" part of my career. I am off and running creating new work and starting new projects and fires. The new exciting projects include more ceramics and possibly another book.

SOL: What advice would you give young people who are interested in becoming designers?

JV: To make sure that this is what they love. If so, they will be committed to it, have fun and make work an audience can appreciate.

SOL: Debbie Millman will be your partner in crime at this event. Will she be a good foil for you?  Or a compatriot?

JV: I think Debbie has been training hard for this. She hasn't lost a match yet. I can only say that I'm going to come out swinging, and hope it's a fair fight.

SOL: Have you been to Minnesota before? Any thoughts on the arts scene here, or the Twin Cities in general?

JV: I visited Minnesota years ago. I was invited by the Walker Arts Center to speak. I have fond memories including cold weather, great beer and beautiful women.
5: Racism, Social poster, Self-authored, Silkscreen, 26 x 40", 1993 © James Victore
Check out Victore's appearance in Minneapolis where he'll discuss his new book with Debbie Millman. It features his in-your-face designs and how they were made. He'll warm the belly of your creativity and give it a (much-needed?) shot in the arm. And, you can see if he'll accept a fine Minnesota craft beer from you as well.

W Minneapolis - The Foshay, 821 Marquette Ave., Mpls.
5 p.m. cocktails, 6-8 p.m. V+M, 8 p.m. book signing/chatting
Tickets: $25 for AIGA members, $35 for nonmembers, $20 for students

Moët & Chandon
Advertising Poster
Moët & Chandon
CD: Alain Weill, Offset
39.5 x 27.5", 2000
© James Victore

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cut paper art injection - Stephanie Beck at PHL

Returning from a victorious Bucks Fever Film Festival to the Twin Cities, I hit the Philadelphia airport in search of a cheesesteak hoagie. While I knew it would not be nearly as good as the one I had in Richlandtown that weekend, it would allow me to live without for another six months or so. Rushing to the bar near my gate, I ran smack into a great exhibit of Stephanie Beck's Cut Paper Sculpture.

Three clear plastic cases are lined up at the end of walkway, causing traffic to disperse into many separate gates. The centerpiece is called "Aviary" (2010) and suits its Terminal D location to a tee. All are made of paper, found objects, thread and glue, and sit largely ignored by Delta travelers. The odd person leans against the boxes to chat on their cell phone, but otherwise, not many folks give the display a second look.

A kind of partially constructed, yet empty city, only shadows of birds live in its intricate structures. The feel of Philadelphia is in this piece, reflecting its ongoing construction, cranes and varying types of buildings. The use of white is striking, because it is somehow lonely, but clean. I believe it is what gives these pieces a sense of being a snap shot in time, as if humans were once here but left in a hurry.

This one, called "Neighborhood Arrangement #1 Circle" (2009), is to the right of "Aviary" and is a more orderly arrangement of edifices. Perhaps it recalls more of a suburban landscape? Beck resides in Philadelphia but surely she has experienced at least some of the expanse of suburbs that stretches out in all directions from the City of Brotherly Love.

While the photos of these at Beck's website and flickr account have the benefit of no reflections, I do love the working airport as a backdrop. The stillness of these paper cuts as juxtaposed against the hustle and bustle of PHL gives the pieces an oddly appropriate temporary home (until January 2011).

"Neighborhood Arrangement #2 Maze" (2009) is to the left as you approach. I'm lifting Beck's words directly from her website, because they sum up the exhibit so well:

I enjoy seeing the bones of these structures, on top of which strong skin is hung, yet which is so easily torn down again. I see these buildings as surrogates for ourselves, revealing our attempts at order and stability despite, or because of, our very human frailties. But secretly, I am most driven by a sense of wonder and play.

I am a new fan of Beck's as these works are both accessible -- made of cut paper -- and skillfully executed, a simple set of communities in white that are rife with contrasts. See Stephanie Beck's flickr page for more shots, as well as the Skyway of Love Facebook page. And, I'm proud to say that I discovered her by keeping my eyes open at the airport. I had that cheesesteak hoagie too. Ahhh, Cheez Whiz and public art can surely sate this wayward traveler.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interview: James Chronister on "Ceremony" at the Burnet Gallery

"Ceremony"/James Chronister
Burnet Gallery/Le Meridian Chambers Hotel
Opening: Friday, September 24, 2010, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Gallery run: September 24 - November 7, 2010, FREE

James Chronister's six paintings at the Burnet Gallery reveal his process as well as an astonishing finished product. Opening Friday, the show combines seemingly unrelated subject matter with a very specific technique giving the entire presentation literal and figurative depth. The native Montanan's four treescapes and two rocker portraits, of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, reflect shards of his youth but also speak to the construction of the art. This set of works were made by covering the canvas entirely with black and then adding a lighter color like white or tan to create the ground. From there, a grid is applied to the ground, and Chronister fills in the image square by square. The effect makes for small disconnects in the full painting, that become apparent at close range. In that way, there are layers of oil paint on the canvas that hint at the process, in addition to creating a whole image.

Usually, I stick to the visuals on this site, but I got the chance to interview James, who now lives in San Francisco. His responses are smart and accessible and truly shed light on the show. One caveat though -- this is by no means a substitute for seeing James's art in person.


Skyway of Love: Where did the title “Ceremony” come from?

James Chronister: Wikipedia says: "Ceremony" is a song by Joy Division, released as New Order's debut single in 1981. The song, as well as the B-side, "In a Lonely Place", were created by the band prior to the death of Ian Curtis. Both tracks were carried over to the band's re-incarnation as New Order, after Curtis' death.

So, the show is named after the New Order song “Ceremony.” I wanted the title to tie back into music in some way because music is a partial theme of the show. My show at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in 2009 was titled “All We Ever Wanted Was Anything” which was a riff on the Bauhaus song “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.” I wanted to keep that tradition going. “Ceremony” by New Order, is not only a classic song from a fantastic band, but it embodies a kind of longing that I find interesting. If I ever need to get my brain into a certain place, I can always listen to early New Order.

On a literal level, a ceremony can relate to the act of making art, presenting it and celebrating it at an opening. Plus I like the way the letters look together. Kind of like when the founders of Kodak came up with that name. They just liked how the K’s and D look together.

SOL: What led to your interest in revealing the process in the presentation of the art?

JC: In about 2004 my friend Ryan Thayer and I were talking about my new paintings and he mentioned that he enjoyed the notion that the process was evident in their making. He was referring to the fact that I use a grid in my process and the delineation between squares was apparent. This was something I hadn’t thought about before and I enjoyed the idea that the ‘wizard behind the curtain’ could be revealed, at least to a certain extent. Having said that, I’ve worked pretty hard to conceal that wizard in the last few years. Ideally there would be a tension between what the paintings look like and how they are actually constructed. I try to divulge clues but not the entire story. To me both complete opacity and absolute openness are less interesting than a tango of both.

SOL: You've said that the paintings reflect times in your youth walking in the woods listening to rock and roll (in the most obvious connection). What are you listening to now?

JC: Yes, that is a very tidy explanation that I offered for the inclusion of both rock imagery and landscapes. Perhaps it is a little too literal. Behind the surface of the paintings and what they overtly depict, I try to imbue a sense of the past. I’m not interested in a particular rock star or patch of forest, but rather what they might connote. I try to combine source imagery with my process of painting in order to point to the past. A memory that I always conjure is looking out of my little bedroom window towards the forests and mountains and listening to my father’s vinyl copy of ‘Hot Rocks’ by the Rolling Stones. On the other hand, I would not paint the guys from Rush because I never listened to Rush growing up.

I listen to a wide variety of music now. I enjoy new music like Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti and Holy Shit as well as older bands such as The Moody Blues and Neil Young. I’m also in a band named NeoLance based here in San Francisco.

SOL: Is music influencing you the same way as it used to?

JC: It is influential in a different way. When I was 12 and listening to my father’s old records and walking around in the forest, I was not making art. Back then I was more interested in Dungeons and Dragons and playing guitar. Now that I am older (32), I try to channel those memories into the studio. The music and art that I am interested in creates a unique mental space. The best musicians and artists are able to surmount the materials they employ and create a place that is entirely new. I am interested in worlds, not just notes and colors of paint.

SOL: Any particular visual artists that have influenced you?

JC: Like many painters in my generation I enjoy museum favorites Luc Tuymans, Gerhard Richter and Victor Man. These guys really take painting seriously and make work that accomplishes a lot. It is interesting what they can say with a tube of paint. Of course there are also a lot of bad asses who are more my generation. Allison Schulnik and her boyfriend Eric Yahnker are some pretty great LA artists. Kathy Grayson’s gallery The Hole in NYC is full of artists with new visions like Evan Gruzis, for example. Eleanor Harwood Gallery in San Francisco has a lot of energy right now, too. On a musical level, look for Ariel Pink’s song “Jagged Carnival Tours" on YouTube. It’s an unofficial music video for the song filmed by Jon Leone. The marriage of the audio track and the visual film is flawless.

SOL: Any other random things that inspire you? You know, architecture, TV shows, pets...

JC: While this is not inspiration per se, at the end of the day, I am a person who likes to spend eight hours a day in a shitty room, by myself, making dot after dot on a canvas for months on end. I have no idea why I can do this. My father, who is a law clerk in Montana, has made amazing, intricate reproductions of Native American bead works for most of his life. He has even had pieces in movies; Dances with Wolves, for example. I must of gotten the knack for detail from him. Support from those around me never hurts either. And, our cat Izzy Wu has always been a BIG influence.

SOL: Have you ever been to Minnesota before? We respect Montanans because we know they understand what winter is.

JC: I have never been to Minnesota before, although my wife’s side of the family hails from the Twin Cities. Regarding the weather, I’m really glad the show is in September and not February!


Word on the street is that curator Jennifer Phelps is dazzled by these paintings. Can't make the opening? You'll miss the artist, but will still be able to see the show which runs through November 7.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lunch at the US Bankcorp Building equals DQ, Asian Max and Curvilinear #1 & #2

The US Bancorp Center has a secret hidden within its mini food court just behind the dramatic front parlor -- and no I'm not referring to the DQ/Orange Julius combo. Say hello to your new friends, Curvilinear #1 and #2. Painted by Deanna Sirlin, these colorful works are both oil on 24 panels such that each panel functions on its own, but also as part of the whole. The squares are at differing widths coming off the wall, making the piece have texture on the viewing plane. Sirlin would like the observer to feel enveloped by the art.

Curvilinear #1 is at the north end of the hallway. The art is hung in such a way that it is not far from the skyway denizens, who whiz by in search of hot black coffee or a noon bento box. The movement of the curved lines and flowing colors mirrors the motion of the commuters charging through the space.

Curvilinear #2 is to the left, with a small brown door between the two.

What a pleasant surprise to find across from the D. Brians. This time, I'll sign off and let the visuals speak for themselves (Links: Deanna Sirlin, US Bancorp Building, more pics, The Art Section).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Know More Funny Business until the end of August

No, no it's not that a whole lotta funny business will start at month's end, but rather that Peter Geyen's artwork will no longer grace the ersatz living room of the Fifth Street Towers come September. On display are a few of his mixed media 3D works from 2008 - 2009. Barrel in the Mouth (as captioned on his website) above, is 4 feet x 6 feet and made of steel and bronze.

Getting Away With It?! is comprised of steel, bronze, ceramic and glass. Here are some detail shots of the two glass figures in it.

One tiny headless figure lies in the bottom left quadrant, while the other, also in a pink glass dress, looks to be running off the top right corner of the piece. The art has a dystopian feel, and its stark modernity matches the high gloss corporate lines of its present home, the Fifth Street Towers, a set of two buildings completed in 1988.

This 2 x 6 lovely shows a face spitting out a tooth up top, with a hand balancing a tower of teeth underneath it. But don't be fooled, Geyen is not simply an artist, or even just a U of M grad with a double degree in chemistry/biology and art. He is using his talents for good as well.

In addition to being an arresting and thought-provoking mini-show, a portion of the proceeds received from the lease or purchase of this art goes to Geyen's choice charity, Children's Heartlink. He'll continue his promotion of the non-profit when he reveals ten new pieces at the IDS/City Center at the end of October.

For all of these reasons, I recommend you head over to the Fifth Street Towers to see Peter Geyen's work.  Maybe even consider picking up some multi-media art for your collection in the name of helping a 501(c)3 that serves needy children in the developing world with heart trouble. Use this link from the Skyway My Way guys to find the Caribou that's next door. Then, enjoy the comfy and hip seating area replete with fireplace (probably unnecessary, but keep it in mind for the winter) while sipping coffee and taking in the visuals.

Later at your desk/cubicle, check out a few more photos of the Geyen art nook at the Skyway of Love Facebook page. And of course, stay up to date with Geyen's plans and see great photos of how he created some recent works by following his Facebook page.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Main Street on Marquette - Michael Birawer in the window

On a mundane mission to find an ATM, I was confronted with First Avenue in the window of the Main Street Gallery & Gifts in the skyway. This art perfectly suits its location, reminding the good people rushing from Caribou back to their cubicles that there are not simply clean silhouettes and straight modern lines in downtown Minneapolis. Sure, Target has taught us the power of the graphic symbol on white, but there are curves and a variety of colors in this metropolis as well. St. Paul native Michael Birawer understands his Twin Cities subjects, and has carved out an individual style that is both compelling and commercial. 

This painting entitled 35W Into Downtown encapsulates the feel of demarcation between downtown and the rest of Minneapolis. In addition to this, Birawer has captured the important places of this burgh: Nye's, the Gay 90's, Matt's, the dearly departed Uptown Bar, Murray's steakhouse and even Target Field (a commission). His style is a kind of contemporary urban, with roots in graffiti and comic book art, and he plays with depth perception by adding "plains of dimension" as can be seen in this video posted on his website. It shows stills taken as he creates a painting of downtown St. Paul.

If you'd like to purchase First Avenue, I'm sure that the Gallery will fill its easel with another of Birawer's works so that I can re-experience the coaction of time, place and art in my every day life again. So go for it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Natural and Public - Arty bits in Portland

I've been neglecting my webby duties lately in order to help my mom find an apartment in Portland, Oregon. This photo taken with my beleaguered 3G Iphone serves as proof of my travels. To me, it looks similar to the Paramount Pictures logos of old, although this shows two mountains. Taken en route from Seattle to Portland (ah the glory of the layover), famed volcano Mt. St. Helens is in the forefront, with majestic Mt. Adams in the back.

The Willamette is no Mississippi, but it has its charms. The city has industrial elements on the river and the downtown area is ringed by freeways. The office towers are small by Twin Cities' standards, yet the walkability index here is nearly perfect.

Our favorite restaurant to date is Kin in the Pearl District downtown. Local ingredients, on-site preparation of all elements, delicious and innovative cocktails, plus art, art everywhere, make this two month old newbie a keeper. The hamachi ceviche and duck ramen plus a cocktail echoing the latest trend of fresh herbs plus a bit of spice, made us glad to be on the left coast.

And just one morsel of downtown Portland public art. Visitors to the Pearl District should seek out the Tikitotemoniki totem poles by Kenny Scharf. Each one is 30 feet high and weighs 2,500 pounds. It was the first project commissioned by the now defunct Pearl Arts Foundation in 2000, which later had William Wegman make them a large dog bowl. Paige Powell, a friend of Andy Warhol's ran the foundation until its demise on the heels of Maya Lin pulling out of a proposed work.

More info about Kin (the restaurant and bar) will be at the Skyway of Love Facebook page along with a pic of the one skyway I found in the city. And I'll be back in the 612 in just a few days...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Art underfoot - Minneapolis manhole covers

This original 1984 Art in Public Places project featured manhole covers designed by eleven different artists. Lining 6th and 7th Streets between Nicollet Mall and Hennepin Avenue, the manholes were meant to celebrate the entertainment options in the city.

According to the City of Minneapolis website, it is the most asked about public art in town (along with the 1990 Kate Burke manholes on Nicollet which are fabulous and can be seen here). There are two ironies related directly to that fact.

1. Whether in line for the bus, setting patio tables at Forum, or simply pounding the pavement, people fail to notice these gems on 6th and 7th street every day.

2. The City has taken down the original documentation about the artists and their work from its website. All that remains is a picture of all 11 manhole covers (here and click Eleven artists at the bottom of the page).  

An archival search uncovered this old brochure with missing photos of some of the covers, and a link to the original description of the artist selection process. It was a statewide juried contest that decided which designs ended up cast in brass.

This posting has photos of just a few of the lovelies, which definitely beg to be seen on the street and underfoot in their full metal finery. Leave the protection of the skyway and enjoy treading lightly on the eleven manholes on a cool summer day.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dream Weaver - The Multifoods Tower

The colorful tapestries in the Multifoods Tower break up the otherwise austere entry to 33 South Sixth Street. The building is managed by Brookfield Properties, who own the four wall hangings. The New York firm Iu + Bibliwicz Architects commissioned the work as part of the redo of the lobby and elevator areas of the building, which succeeded at making the street level entrance more accessible and modern.

The tapestries themselves are custom made by a company called Sam Kasten Handweaver. Their projects are all handwoven (hence the name) and this one is 'CW Cotton and Linen' per the company. The fact that these are textiles and not paintings give them great texture and motion. The yellow ones live in the entryway and the tan works are on the other side of the elevator bank leading into the center of the building. 

The security guard in the lobby told me he liked the tapestries but wished there was something else to go along with them. The granite walls and floors are amazing, as is the curved aluminum leaf ceiling. But maybe he has a point...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Paper cuts, spiderwebs and commentary - Sonja Peterson at the Burnet Gallery

The Artist Conversation series at the Burnet Gallery featured Minnesota native Sonja Peterson presenting her first major solo show, Second Nature on June 23. Her collection of layered paper cuts, laser etched glass and spiderweb wall installations looked fantastic, and having her there to give context made the experience even better.

Sonja Peterson's show runs through July 11, 2010 at the gallery inside the Chambers Hotel. The intricacy of her pieces deserves a personal visit, so that the underlying tension of the work is visible. Her monochromatic style belies the violence of of the forms and images that appear to the viewer upon closer inspection. Inspired by the book The Age of Wonder, Peterson is intrigued by the definition of what is wild and uncontrolled both in that time and now.

These pictures represent the tip of the iceberg as far as this exhibit is concerned. Plan a visit to the Burnet Gallery, which is free and open to the public, and allow extra time to see all the contemporary art displayed in the Chambers Hotel itself.

Keep an eye on Sonja Peterson's career, as this is just the beginning for the MCAD and University of Minnesota grad. There's a great 3 Minute Egg piece on this show and I wrote a small Examiners story announcing the Artists Conversation that has more details. Both 3 Minute Egg and the Artists Conversation series at the Burnet Gallery are great ways to stay involved with champagne art on a beer budget in Minneapolis.
(The pictured works - Money Never Sleeps - full and partial, The Day That Cracked - partial only, The World Is Too Much With Us, Reinvention)