Monday, February 22, 2021

Art In Ice By MIA - A Winter Treasure Hunt

Minnesotans think of all kinds of cool stuff to keep being cool in the winter, and I've been really impressed by the creativity I've witnessed here since being back home to help out my family. No one lets winter slow things down much at all, and no one is afraid to be outside, as the old adage here goes, there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. So, I bundled up my Mom the other day and went all around Minneapolis to find Art In Ice, the ice sculptures of famous art works put on by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Minneapolis Park Board (site of my Mom's recent exhibition, Foot In The Door!) We decided to make a big circle around the city, and started with Longfellow Park, which featured Veiled Lady by Rafaello Monti done in ice. It was easy to find because there was a crowd gathered around the beauty, taking photos as it gently started to drip under the quickly warming conditions (Hurry if you go search for them! They're up til the 28th, but I don't think they'll last that long.). It was lovely, but we couldn't linger long if we wanted to find them all in the daylight. Off to Boom Island! 

I'd never been to Boom Island Park there on the banks of the Mississippi in downtown Minneapolis. The skyline outlines the park, and it's a lovely little bit of peace in the middle of the city. A little crowd had gathered there too, around the Aphrodisiac Telephone by Salvador Dali. The original lobster phones (?) created by the Surrealist actually worked. I'd have liked to have been privy to the meetings where they decided which MIA works they were going to create out of frozen water ... and I like that they went with funkier, less obvious choices. Like a lobster telephone. 

Our big circle took us next to North Commons Park in North Minneapolis, where the Celestial Horse was right there next to the parking lot - Mom didn't even have to get out to see it. The heavenly horse was done in bronze for a Chinese Emperor to be escorts to the afterlife. The ice version was so clear that I had to wait for people to get out of the way because you could see them perfectly through it. How do they get it so clear, I wonder? It was beautiful, and I believe it tied with the Veiled Lady for top in my heart. 

We were losing light, so raced on over to the park right across from MIA, the Washburn-Fair Oaks Park. There they featured Van Gogh's Olive Trees, but this time it was really just the picture in an ice frame. I suspect it is not the original. We spent the least time here, though were tempted to pop into the museum again. But our light was waning, so to Lake Bde Maka Ska we flew. 

There were a lot of people gathered around Your Dog by Yoshitomo Nara there at the end of the lake where they have the rentals and things, and the brightly painted Adirondack chairs. Everyone loves dogs, and this one was probably the most popular among viewers ... so popular, in fact, that someone had broken off the dog's tail, and replaced it in the middle of its back like a strange growth. It was still cool, and we particularly enjoyed the dog's little red nose. 

We did it! We saw them all in one afternoon, and greatly enjoyed being out of the house seeing art out there in our neighborhoods, and SO many people appreciating it. Minnesota - cold nose, warm heart. Thank you to MIA for another excellent curation of accessible art for the people of Minneapolis. We really enjoyed it, and very much look forward to seeing what you get up to next. You're cool.

{I hear the dripping of icicles off of our eaves right now as I type and the sun shines outside, telling me that you have increasingly less time to go see these ice sculptures as they were meant to be, and not puddles. Chop chop!}

Friday, February 19, 2021

Illuminate The Lock - Madweyaashkaa: Waves Can Be Heard. GO!

Happy 2021, Everybody! Phew, a LOT has happened since I last posted a story, and that's for many reasons, but here I am, and HI! I hope you're doing awesome (as awesome as can be expected during the still global pandemic and within such a deeply divided nation, but I bet you can think of SOMETHING awesome going for you), and are still here for good stories. Cause I am! The something awesome for me at the moment was the beautiful, excellent, deeply moving event I attended last night at the Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam in downtown Minneapolis. Illuminate The Lock was the highlight of 2021 for me so far (other than getting vaccination appointments for my Mom and myself), by far. Just WOW. 

Madweyaashkaa: Waves Can Be Heard was the title of the piece by Moira Villiard that was projected on the Lock above the Mississippi River last night, and for the next two nights, Friday and Saturday. I cannot recommend this event highly enough, and if you're in the area and you can still snag a time slot for this thing - just go and thank me later. Seriously. 


There have been so few cool things to do during the pandemic, that when I hear of something - ANYTHING - that might inspire or beguile, I go. Even in the dead of winter in Minnesota. My creative soul needs to be fed. And THIS event was magically delicious. 

We checked in at a little tent, and were then led across a metal gangplank out to the Lock and Dam. That alone was cool, as I'd never been out on this structure in my life. We lined up and looked way down over the railing at the bottom of the Lock and nearly frozen river. All were dressed for the occasion, bundled up to our eyes to protect against the cold. One woman stood out in a beautifully embroidered long skirt, and I dearly hoped that she had long underwear on underneath (while also admiring her style).

We had the first time-slot and the sun had just set over the beautiful skyline of Minneapolis - one of the most beautiful cities in this country all on its own. But when the animation began to be projected on to the Lock wall, it was truly magical. A Native American woman narrated the story, as illustrations swooped along the concrete. Speaking to how difficult it is to retain the Native culture in the middle of a Metropolis, especially during this pandemic, that is hitting our Native citizens extra hard. I have a deep love for Native Americans, as well as a deep sense of shame for what has been done to their culture and their people by our Government since the very beginning. We owe them SO much, yet they continue to give us beauty and wisdom and dignity, and always remind us to connect with our beloved nature. Thank you. 

She instructed all to remember to offer your tobacco to Grandmother Moon and Grandfather Sun, and always to honor our nature. Seeing this spectacular spectacle in its bright colors and Native symbology among the skyscrapers and industrial areas of the city made it all the more moving, and nearly all jaws watching had dropped (also because someone dropped a thing for their camera over the edge).


The time slots were for 30 minutes, so they can get more people through and still be social distanced, and we timed our visit perfectly. We watched the story twice, and then they let you go around the top of the Lock and look at St. Anthony Falls from the other side, which was also very cool (by now, COLD). Thirty minutes was just perfect for both body and mind. My heart was more than full. 

My friend, Tracy, and I were totally enchanted as we made our way back across the slick metal catwalk (Use caution!). I was so proud of my Minnesotans, both for conceiving of and putting on such an event, but also for all the hearty souls who will bundle up and go do something fun and amazing on a weeknight in the city. I LOVED IT. I saw the woman with the beautiful skirt again, and had to go compliment her - and to find out if she had long undies on, because now I was worried. She laughed and thanked me, saying she had many layers underneath, including sweatpants. I'm totally going to copy her now. A long skirt as a mobile blanket is genius!
We capped off the night with a martini and wings at The Monte Carlo - where I hadn't been in well over a year and it was a delight. When I got home, I went to look up Moira Villiard on Instagram so I could tag her beautiful work in my photos of the evening. Guess what? She was the woman in the beautiful skirt. Perfect. 

Illuminate the Lock was one of the coolest and best things I've been to in quite a while. It is my pleasure to share it with you here, and my hope that you will be able to see it for yourselves if you can. If not, remember to offer your tobacco and to honor your Mother Earth every day! So that waves will always be able to be heard ... 

*Thank you to the Mississippi River Park Connection, to Moira Villiard and her skirt, All My Relations Arts Gallery, and to all who helped to put on this utterly charming event. Truly.