• Tag Archives Walker
  • Still Alive.

    Beltane                                                              Waxing Garlic Moon

    Oh, boy.  I’ve not gone a day without a post in a long time.  Yesterday went by so fast.

    Worked on Latin for a bit, but a brightening day pulled me outside.  I plucked tulip detritus out of a bed where some tomato plants needed to go.  These were full grown ones, liable to produce tomatoes as opposed to my healthy, but still immature seedling started back in April.

    At the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers meeting Tuesday I learned that honey filling what could be brood frames means the bees in colonies 2 and 3 felt crowded.  I got out my honey supers, scraped them free of propolis, something I realized I could have done last fall, and excess wax, then plopped two each on 2 & 3.   These are the colonies that will be allowed to die out over the winter.  Colony 1 already has its 3rd hive box on with the queen producing brood at a quick pace.  All three of these colonies started out on drawn comb which reduces the initial work load significantly and allows the bees to focus on brood raising, foraging and honey and pollen collecting.

    All of this means Artemis hives have positioned themselves for the start of the honey flow.

    Then it was quick get into my nicer clothes for a 3 hour stint at the Netroots Convention in downtown Minneapolis.  I volunteered for service at the Sierra Club table in the convention’s exhibit hall.  We highlighted our Beyond Coal campaign.  I got into a snit with an organizer who felt that chairs should be anathema at tables.  He feels this creates a climate that forces staff and volunteers out into the stream of traffic, pressing cards and information into people’s hands, getting names and addresses.  At 64 standing on a concrete floor for 3 and 4 hours in a row is not something I choose to do.  A chair gives me an opportunity to take a break now and then.   Which I need.

    The organizer’s view saw volunteers as numbers useful for gaining more numbers, rather than people.  This is an instrumentalist view of the person, an error in judgment not unusual among utopians who willingly sacrifice today’s people in service of a better future.  It ignores the true and only reason for organizing which is to gain a better life for others, a better life which begins in the present, not in some imagined or hoped for more powerful future.

    Do we need to sacrifice to move our political ideas forward?  Of course.  Do we need to sacrifice our health and well-being?  Only in extreme situations.  Which the Netroots Convention in the Minneapolis Convention center is not.

    After three hours of hawking underwear (I’ll explain later) and moving beyond coal as a source of electrical generation, I drove over to the Walker where I began a two session seminar at the Walker Art Center on THE BLURRING OF ART AND LIFE: IMPACT OF MASS CULTURE ON ART. Taught by an art historian from Hamline College, Roslye Ultan, this seminar approaches modern and contemporary art especially since Dada and Marcel DuChamp.  There are ten or eleven of us in the class, all women save for me and all Walker guides save for me.

    This means I find in myself cast in the unusual role of traditionalist.  The MIA is an encyclopedic museum with an emphasis on the historicality and the geographicality of art from the earliest to the most recent, extending from a 20,000 year old Venus Figurine to a finished last year installation, Dreaming of St. Adorno by living artist, Siah Armajani.

    Roslye takes her art historical cue from DuChamp who said he wanted to put art in the service of the mind.  Rosalye has expanded on or extended this idea into an assertion that it is not the object that is the universal, transcendent work but the idea given form in the object.  Seemingly entrenching my traditionalist orientation, I disagreed, holding out for the work of art itself as the what that transcended time.

    She tried to tell me this was not right, but I am not easily budged by an argument from authority, so we had a tussle.  A mild one.  I backed off, as I often do in classroom settings, not wanting to waste other peoples time.  In this instance, as the class progressed, I found the tussle invigorated the class, gave it an edge and increased my focus.

    That was two instances of conflict in one day.  On the drive home I turned them both over in my mind, like teasing a hole in a tooth.  Was I too much in the argument with the organizer?  Yes, my tone was over the top.  Did I regret?  Tone, yes. Content, no.  I’ll apologize for the tone to him today.  But not the need to treat volunteers as people not instruments.

    The tussle in the class left me with no negative hangover.  In fact, when I put the two together, I realized they meant I’m alive and still living.  I felt good about that.

  • Northern Park II: The Morning After

    Beltane                                                          Waxing Garlic Moon

    “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

    An apt quote for another run at Northern Spark.  There was a lot of self-creation on display in Minneapolis last night, from the sperm and egg crew (seen here in the orange light of a 2011-06-05_09111sodium vapor light) to the freshmen of Washington High wandering around in the park for the Battle of Everyouth to many other, very varied events.

    The organizer of Northern Spark also nailed it on the way night changes everything.  The whole event felt special, almost like a secret only the hundreds, maybe thousands, of us who knew.  It changed, for example, the context of the Voyeurism and Surveillance show at the Walker.  The first time I saw it I went in daylight and left in daylight.  This time I went into the exhibit at 11:15 pm and left near midnight.

    How many people took the challenge to stay up all night?  No idea.  I got home at 1:00 am.  And felt pretty damn proud of myself for having lasted that long.  Geez, geeze.

    While I sat at the Walker last night, looking at the IDS, couples wandered past, many in the early stages of their relationship.  I thought back.  When did I first come to the Walker on a date?  Must have been 1971.  How long ago was that?  OMG.  40 years.  How did that happen?

    Anyhow, I went on and calculated that I was the age of many of these couples then, 24.  I had no idea where my life was going.  Seminary was a brand new experience and I still thought I’d probably get out after the first year.  It was so much fun to be out then, the promise of life and of the night ahead.

    It surprised me to learn that I didn’t feel much different being out now at 64.  I still anticipate the life ahead and the promise of the night.  Well, except for the niggling fact that 1 am meant more to me than it did to my companions out at Northern Spark.  It meant I’d better be home.  Not because I particularly wanted to be, but because my body just doesn’t handle late, late nights the way it used to.

    I didn’t get up this morning until 10:40, for example.

    Oh, and back to the George Bernard Shaw quote.  I agree that life is not about finding yourself.  But I don’t agree that we are an act of self-creation alone as he implies.  We come into the world a Self, a larger than our self Self, a Self filled with opportunities not yet expressed, not yet plumbed.  Life is living into the larger, richer Self, a process of co-creation, not an ego only show.

  • Northern Spark

    Beltane                                                                       Waxing Garlic Moon

    1:03 AM with a sickle moon, stars and a warmish night fallen over the Twin Cities.  Just back from Minneapolis and the Northern Spark Festival.

    There were lots of people, mostly in their twenties and early thirties, but not all.  I was there, for one.  As the organizer said, folks from other parts of the country can’t believe we roll up the sidewalks at 9:00 PM.  This event, which spread folks over several venues, made each place but one feel safe and accessible.  The feeling of people out, just out to be out, made me feel glad, joyful.  Walking along the River Road behind the Guthrie and the Mill City Museum reminded me of an evening I spent in Savannah a couple of years ago.

    With one exception.  We have no small shops, restaurants and candy makers along the river.  We preserve our riverfront in a solemn, Scandinavian manner.  The upside is that it has not given way to tourist kitsch as parts of the Savannah area has; the downside is that it has no color, no life, only ruins and water.  Except for tonight.

    I went to three venues after I realized the free bus ride would take two hours to get me back to my car.  I drove first to the MIA, walked to MCAD, then drove to the Walker and finally the area around the stone arch bridge.

    The night itself was perfection.  I can’t imagine a more perfect combination of humidity and temperature and clear skies.  Not to mention the moon.

    I began at the MIA because the Battle of Everyouth was a 10:00 to midnight affair and I wanted to be sure to see it.  Unfortunately, the only venue where it did not feel totally safe was this one.  The Battle of Everyouth, though it projected large, interesting images on the Museum’s north facing facade, did not have a very big footprint in the park, so the bulk of the park was dark.  This project, which I visited with some eagerness, was a bit underwhelming.  Part of that came from the darkness of the setup in a dark park.  It got swallowed up as a big event by the bigger park.  It’s primary impact may well have been the prep work with the kids from Washington High.

    MCAD had three different venues that I saw and a couple I didn’t.  I’ll talk more about those tomorrow, but one, projected on a white wall just to the right of main entrance of the class wall featured a machine programmed by an artist with an algorithm that draws flowing shapes.  It got me attention.

    At the Walker I revisited the show about Voyeurism and Surveillance and the It Broke From Within show again, too.  I wandered around outside, watching folks make small art projects and sat on the terraced wall and looked at down town.

    The Stone Arch bridge had lots of people, the most of the three places I visited.  An excellent projection lit up the four grain elevators silos next to the Mill City Museum.  On the bridge there was the sperm and egg ride, a moving illustration of the classic of mountains and seas and a laser set up that baffled me as to its intent and its result.  but no horse on the barge.  I don’t know whether the floating white horse was elsewhere, but it was one I wanted to see and that I missed.

    It was a fun evening, giving me a sensation I enjoy, that of being a tourist in my environs.  I hope it happens again next year and becomes bigger.  Maybe I’ll take a room in downtown for the event.

  • Banned Art

    Winter                                                             Waning Moon of the Winter Solstice

    I have now seen “A Fire in My Belly.”

    What did I think of it?  Much of the movie disturbed me:  scenes of lucha masked wrestlers throwing each other to the mat, a grainy clip of bull fighting, occasional interpositions of an Aztec priest lifting the heart out of a sacrificial victim, gamecocks fighting to the death, legless beggars walking a city street and panhandling in traffic, a man’s mouth being sewn closed, young boys breathing fire on Mexican city streets to make a few coins.  Frankly, the ants crawling across the crucifix, I didn’t see them biting the ivory figure but maybe the Catholic League paid closer attention, didn’t have near the shock value I anticipated from the news releases and very little compared to the much more violent or voyeuristic images I’ve already mentioned.

    I’ve added some material below from the Catholic League and the Walker.  The Catholic League’s argument is a farce from a logical perspective.  It suggests, for example, that because the first amendment prohibits the state’s establishment of religion that it should not be able to fund things that “bash” another.   Whether or not this is bashing may lie in the eye of the beholder, but the argument that prohibiting establishment somehow contains a negative constraint against critiquing religion just doesn’t follow.  At all.

    As a work, I found “A Fire In My  Belly” obscure as to meaning and intent, though with some powerful images that display the underlying violence of Mexican culture.  Just why he chose the savagery of Mexican cockfighting, wrestling, bull-fighting and human sacrifice, I don’t know, but linking it to the kind of brutality that could crucify a god on earth seems like a powerful pro-religious statement.

    Images of Coatlicue, She of the Serpent Skirt, show up frequently in the film and may provide an interpretive key.  Among other things, she is the birth giver from whom all life comes and to whom all life must return in the eternal cycle of death and rebirth. An art historian familiar with this sculpture from the Mueso de Antropologica in Mexico city, says:  “In effect she symbolizes the earth, but also the sun, moon, spring, rain, light, life , death, the necessity of human sacrifice, humanity, the gods, the heavens, and the supreme creator:  the dual principle.”  (material quoted from The Flayed God, pp 220-223)

    Thus, her presence signals the deeper mythic significance of the individual images from Mexican culture and places the crucifix, certainly bound up in the eternal cycle of death and rebirth, in an artistic context.

    This is not an easy piece, either viscerally or art historically, and may be as much a cry of pain as anything else.  The more I think about it, the more powerful it becomes.  So there, Catholic League.

    Continue reading  Post ID 10649

  • Contemporaries and Art

    Imbolc                                        Waxing Wild Moon

    Into the Walker today to pick up doggie meds from Mark O. who brought them back from Mexico last week.  He’s a wounded traveler, struck down by a bug and a bum knee.

    Mark went with us on the first round of our tour.  Grace Jiang-Goggins gave us a tour of the Walker’s new installation of its permanent collection.  Ginny Wheeler, Morry, Allison, Bill, Jane McKenzie and Merritt were along.

    Grace has such a nice, unassuming way of treating the art, her knowledge and the participants in her tours.  We began with a multi-colored object that looked like wooden cylinders 4-5″ high strung on a long central shaft.  Which, it turns out, was essentially what they were.  What a great story Grace told about them.  This guy, I forget his name, couldn’t break into the art world.  He was self taught and made these walking sticks, working the patterns in permutation after permutation, always putting in a mistake, just like the ancient Greeks and their architecture.  Anyhow, he’d wander around with these sticks through various cities in Europe, go into museums and then leave one behind.  You gotta love this guy.

    Next we saw a German artist who loved white and nails.  Loved them so much that he pounded many nails into a board and painted the board and the nails white.  Trust me it looks better than I’ve made it sound.  Somehow there are patterns, waves, fields of grain, motion in this mass of nails.

    Onto Andy Warhol’s Jackie.  16 portraits of Jackie Kennedy, related either to the immediacy of the assassination or the funeral.  When I looked at them, I didn’t reference the whole grassy knoll death of camelot moment, but the Marilyn Monroe multiples or the Mao Tse Tung’s portraits brightly colored.  When we got into the specificity of it, there were those layers there, but I didn’t see it at first, nor did I feel it was the most important visual aspect of the piece.

    A shattered mirror, a circular mirror divided into long thin slivers all broken and replaced.  Broken images, like pixels.  A play off a vanity mirror in which the reflections are more distorted fun house than Vogue.

    A Fool’s House by jasper johns.  An old broom hung on a hook.  A cup from his studio.  A canvas stretcher marked stretcher.  A towel marked towel.  The broom.  The cup.  Words and references.  Playing with proverbs?  A new broom sweeps clean.  Merritt pointed out that the hook was not named.

    A complex piece by a Thai artist who taught himself English by each morning taking a marker and blacking out the words he already knew.  Then he pasted strips from these newspapers on an old bed sheet and painted over all but the a’s and p’s with a blue field.  The a’s and p’s he filled in with an orange paint. A luminous work, like stars in the heavens or Australian aborigines.

    We stopped, too, at a work by an Iranian artist who lives in the twin cities.  He wrote excerpts from Rumi and Hafiz all over a large canvas, at various angles and in various shapes.  A Prayer, he called it.

    The tour ended in a room with about 75 paintings hung salon style, a large portion apparently of the Walker’s holdings.  Paintings make up 20% of the Walker’s collection.  This is a great collection of works from the well-known to the obscure:  Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keefe, Franz Marc, Max Beckmann, Morris Louis, Mark Rothko, DeKooning….and on and on and on.

    Seeing art with friends is a rich experience.  A valuable experience.  Reminds me of my seminary years when I would come to the MIA every Sunday with my friend David Grotrian, himself an abstract expressionist and his wife, Carol, an art historian.  It was fun then and it’s fun now.

  • Double Checking Enlightenment

    38  bar falls 30.06 5mph NNE dewpoint 9 Spring

                Waning Gibbous Moon of Winds

    a clip from the Groveland e-wire 

    E-Wire, Vol. 13, March 27, 2008    Last Sunday’s Service    Groveland UU:  St. Paul 

    It’s always a treat to hear our old friend, the Rev. Charles Ellis. Last Sunday, Charlie offered a wide-ranging, in-depth presentation on transcendentalism.

    While focusing on Emerson, Charlie interwove threads from Des Cartes, Kant, Freud, Jung, Thoreau, Channing, Parker, and other intellectual and spiritual leaders who have influenced Unitarian-Universalism.

    The discussion that followed touched on important topics of interest such as the interplay between individualism and community.

    We’re grateful to Charlie for deepening our understanding of both transcendentalism and our UU heritage.

    Continue to knock items off my list.  The generator folks will come out on Tuesday at 10:00 AM to give us a bid on a natural gas generator.  Finalized information for the Headwater’s UU bulletin.  Reviewed my tour outline for the two Weber public tours I have tomorrow.  I also read the relevant chapters in the Tale of Genji, the one’s that relate to the two screen painting that I will use.  In addition I double-checked on the meaning of enlightenment and found that I had it right after all.  Never hurts to look one more time.

    Tonight I’m going into the Walker for a movie, “The Mourning.”  I made a pledge to myself a year ago that I would get to more of the Walker events since that’s a place where they shine.  Got tickets to 4 movies this month and April. It’s a start.