Category Archives: Art

Why Public Art is Cool

Me and Alexander Calder's FlamingoThe night before my trip to Chicago I started looking up public art. I found a handy guide to public art in Chicago (all it’s missing is a map) and during a few free hours I wandered around downtown, specifically looking for a few works of art (Picasso, Calder, Gehry, Kapoor) and stumbling across a dozen more (Hunt, Miro, Dubuffet, You Are Beautiful, Chagall, more Calder, Moore, Smith, Piensa, Di Suvero, Kearney and Johnson, among the ones I could identify).

I’ve never done that before–seeking out public art during a vacation. Aside from the fact that I run my own public art site, that seems kind of weird. I like art. Heck, I even minored in it. But I usually don’t go that far out of my way to seek it out. So since I spent part of my vacation checking out art and for the last nine months or so I’ve spent loads of free time checking out public art, I thought it might be time to explore what’s so captivating about public art.
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Start Seeing Art Passes 300 Works

International Academy LEAP student self portraitThis week my little side project/hobby, Start Seeing Art, posted its 300th work of public art. No wonder I can’t write a book, I’m too busy with art.

The project’s been a lot of fun. I get to check out cool artwork in the city and I usually bring my daughter along to climb on the sculptures (her most recent favorite is the one she called a “sculpture boat” even though it looked nothing like a boat).

While I do have Google ads on the site, it hasn’t been much of a money maker (maybe $10?). And I don’t expect it to be, at least not yet. It’s really too niche of a site for Google to work well and I need more traffic to attract my own ads. So in the mean time I’m just doing it as cheaply as possible. That means using WordPress and a couple plugins to make it work, though it doesn’t function as cleanly as I’d like. I also haven’t bothered with a real logo or a slick design. I’d love to make a lot of changes, but I can’t justify the time or the money. It’s a real bootstrap project, and for now I’m just putting the time into content. I think the content makes all the difference. When you have 300 works of art it suddenly becomes a lot more useful.

So we’ll see where it goes. Though currently I’m having a hard time keeping up with all the photos I’ve taken. I guess it’s better to load up on photos in the summer when it’s nice, and then when it’s not photo weather I can post them all to the site.

St. Paul Sculptural Complex is Torn Down

The Late St. Paul Sculptural Complex by George SugarmanA sculpture by George Sugarman that has graced a downtown St. Paul corner since 1971 is being torn down. A potential million-dollar masterpiece, “St. Paul Sculptural Complex” was left out when the building was sold and is being removed and shipped to Austin, Texas for restoration and reinstallation.

And if you want to say goodbye, you better hurry. The 44-piece sculpture is at least halfway down as of tonight.

“This is just wrong, so wrong,” Public Art St. Paul founder Christine Podas Larson told the Star Tribune. Her organization raised $20,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to save the sculpture. (link via Across the Great Divide)

Discovering Art in West Bend, Wisconsin

Art keeps following me. Apparently it’s not enough to be mapping public art in the Twin Cities. Last weekend we were in West Bend, Wisconsin (about an hour north of Milwaukee), helping my brother and his family move. While getting some lunch we drove past a shiny, metallic sculpture and I pointed it out to Lexi. She looked out the window and said, “Where’s ah art?”

I didn’t think much of it, though I thought it was cool the small town had some public art. Turns out that small town has quite the thriving art community. It’s home to the Museum of Wisconsin Art, which houses the largest collection of Wisconsin art anywhere, the West Bend Sculpture Walk, where I saw my shiny, metallic sculpture (“Wave Dancer” by John Mishler) among 20 others, and the Labryinth Garden Earth Sculpture (Warning: The site plays music and borders on the artsy-fartsy).

I discovered all that while researching a work of art in downtown Minneapolis. Brad Goldberg created “Continuum” in Minneapolis (as well as a few others, including Mears Park in downtown St. Paul) and also created “Place of Origin” in West Bend (though he calls it “Brownfield to Greenfield” on his site).

Twitter, Moving, History & Art

Blogging has definitely slowed lately. I blame Twitter—I’ve been enjoying its strength as a place to make temporary, pithy comments that don’t require much time or thought investment. Maybe that says something about how valuable/worthless my Twitter posts are, though I do try to avoid the Twitter equivalent of the cat blog and at least keep my tweets entertaining. Not sure if I’m accomplishing that, though 191 people don’t seem to be too bored.

Our big Memorial Day weekend was spent helping my brother’s family move. This is a borderline psychotic admission, but I think moving is kind of fun. Yes, it’s incredibly stressful (for those moving). But it’s an interesting opportunity to cram all your stuff into the back of a truck and redistribute it into a new space. It always makes me realize how much crap I own and wonder if I really need all that crap (and hopefully I spent enough time minimizing the crap before the move). All that said crap also makes me realize how unorganized I am, and how stuff I thought I needed so dearly I really don’t need. There’s plenty of stuff I haven’t touched since moving into our current home a little over a year ago, and that helps me let go a little bit.

Continue reading Twitter, Moving, History & Art

Caponi Art Park

Caponi Art ParkLast weekend I went to Caponi Art Park in Eagan, Minn., to check out the art. If you’re not familiar with it (I wasn’t), artist Anthony Caponi bought a chunk of land in the 1950s and build his home and art studio there. He started turning into his own personal art park and eventually secured a deal with the city and county to turn it into an official art park (MPR and Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine can summarize it better if you like).

It’s basically as far as you can get from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden’s manicured lawns and squared-off bushes without just dropping sculptures into the woods. Caponi has been shaping the land for 50 years, putting in paths, walls and even a ‘theater in the woods.’ And he also dropped sculptures all over the place, at least two dozen of them. The result is that you’re walking along the path and suddenly come upon a sculpture. Or you’re scratching your head and wondering whether or not that’s art. (Side Note: It reminds me of a friend’s farm in Frederick, Wis., where an artist family member installed sculpture. The tour consisted of “this is art,” / “this is old farm equipment,” and without the helpful guide you wouldn’t know the difference.) Parts of the park are like traipsing through the woods, while other parts feel like you’ve stumbled into the Shire.

Some of the especially cool artwork includes Struggle of the Elements, Snake, Monument to a Lumberjack and Walk in Outer Space.

Bottom line: It’s a cool park to visit (check out my set of pics).

Simple Living: Artwork for Darfur

Nadia Plesner Darfur posterI love this painfully poignant Darfur poster from Nadia Plesner:

“My illustration Simple Living is an idea inspired by the media’s constant cover of completely meaningless things. My thought was: Since doing nothing but wearing designer bags and small ugly dogs apparantly is enough to get you on a magazine cover, maybe it is worth a try for people who actually deserves and needs attention.”

She’s selling posters and T-shirts with the image trying to raise money and awareness for the plight in Darfur. She’s also getting sued by Louis Vuitton for using their product in her artwork.

It’s like many things I’ve come across recently that painfully remind me how wealthy I am and how easy I have it. And it demands an answer.