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This rendering depicts "Balancing Ground," this summer's temporary art installation for MCC Plaza.
Last summer, it was MIMMI, a giant inflatable sculpture that hovered over the Minneapolis Convention Center plaza like a giant mood ring, allegedly changing colors along with the emotional ebb and flow of passersby. This year's Creative City Challenge winner is "Balancing Ground," a series of wooden benches interspersed with teeter-totters and surrounded by a canopy of prisms that will cast constantly changing shadows, patterns and colors.
The interactive artwork by Amanda Lovelee, Christopher Field, Kyle Waites and Sarah West was one of several finalists the public could vote for online.The foursome will get $75,000 to build and install their project in early June. They intend it to be a "space without walls, open to all."
Begun last year as a way of attracting more people to hang out on the underused plaza and interact with both the art and each other, Creative City Challenge is now a collaboration between the the city of Minneapolis, the MCC and Northernlights.mn, which puts on the annual dusk-to-dawn Northern Spark festival.
"Balancing Ground" will be unveiled at 8:30 p.m. on June 14 as part of this summer's Northern Spark event.
MIMMI, an interactive sculpture lit from inside by LED lights that changed color, won the 2013 Creative City Challenge in the program's first year. Photo by Renee Jones Schneider.
Remember that giant multicolored UFO-like sculpture hovering over the plaza by the Minneapolis Convention Center last summer? The city is bringing back the program that made it possible, expanding funding for the winning entry from $50,000 to $75,000. They've also added a partner, Northern Lights.mn, the force behind the annual dusk-to-dawn outdoor arts extravaganza known as Nothern Spark, at which this year's winning public artwork will make its debut (June 14).
The Creative City Challenge competition for a "temporary destination artwork" was launched last year as a way of attracting more people to hang out on the plaza, actually a green roof across the street from the Convention Center. It is open to individuals or teams of designers, artists, architects and engineers, but at least half of the members must be based in Minnesota.
The public can vote online for one of this year's jury-selected finalists, all of which encourage interactivity. The proposals will be presented publicly at the University of Minnesota's School of Architecture and Design, Rapson Hall at 6 p.m. tonight (Monday Feb. 10). They are:
Voting runs through Feb. 28 at http://www.startribune.com/a2560
Vergne in a Thomas Hirschhorn 2006 installation at the Walker. Star Tribune staff photo by Tom Wallace.
Philippe Vergne, who was curator and later Deptuy Director and Chief Curator at Walker Art Center, has been picked as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. He follows Jeffrey Deitch, a former New York art dealer, whose controversial leadership of MOCA ended with his resignation last September after three years on the job.
The 35 year old museum in downtown Los Angeles has struggled financially in recent years as it tried to manage three sites and to develop an artistic vision that would please artists and excite support from wealthy collectors and potential donors. Within the past year board members raised $100 million to shore up an endowment that had dropped to $6 million in the 2008 financial crisis. The money is expected to produce income of at least $5 million annually to support operations.
Vergne,47, is fondly remembered in Minneapolis for his indelible French accent and his venturesome exhibitions which included more than 25 international shows including solo show and installations by Yves Klein, Thomas Hirschhorn, Huang Yong Ping and Kara Walker.
His decade long association with the Walker (1998 - 2007) was briefly interrupted by a return to his native France to run the private Francois Pinault Foundation in Paris. When the foundation's namesake mogul decided to relocate the foundation to Venice, Vergne in 2005 returned to the Walker as Deptuy Director and Chief Curator.
In 2008 he moved to New York to head the Dia Art Foundation which focuses on massive installations, conceptual, and earth-art primarily by mid-20th century Americans. He is credited with strengthening Dia's board of directors, consolidating its operations, and developing long range plans to stabilize its finances and artistic ambitions.
Artists have been deeply involved with MOCA since its founding in 1979 and their vociferous criticism of Deitch as overly commercial contributed to his departure. Conceptualist John Baldessari heartily endorsed Vergne's selection, saying in a statement issued by the museum, "I am 100% excited that Philippe Vergne will be the new director of MOCA. MOCA is very fortunate. I think it's a perfect marriage."
Other artists who touted Vergne in the museum's statement include Barbara Kruger who cited his "intelligence, vision, and ambition to lead MOCA forward;" Catherine Opie who declared herself "personally thrilled;" and Ed Ruscha who dubbed him "the most artist friendly and at the same time the most community friendly" candidate.
Richard Koshalek, a MOCA director in the 1980s, told the New York Times that, "The most important challenge for the new director is to raise the standard of expectations of the museum within this community and beyond, and that means new, original ideas for the future. If you don't raise expectations in every sense -- in terms of leadership, programs and such -- you will not have the chance to raise the funding needed for the museum to sustain itself programmatically and operationally going forward."
Koshalek, who began his career as a Walker curator in the 1970s, recently returned to L.A. after running the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D. C. for several years. In one of those small-world, musical-chairs coincidences endemic in the art community, the Walker's current director Olga Viso preceded Koshalek as director of the Hirshhorn.
Olga Viso, Star Tribune staff photo by Tom Wallace
Walker Art Center's director Olga Viso will oversee the contemporary art center's curatorial affairs in the interim following the departure of Chief Curator Darsie Alexander who is leaving for a new post as executive director of the Katona Museum of Art in New York.
"All of us at the Walker are very excited about Darsie's new appointment and I am delighted to have a new colleague among the museum director ranks," Viso said in a statement. "I look forward to overseeing curatorial affairs at the Walker in the interim as we search for new curatorial talent for the team."
Trained as a curator, Viso has continued to organize exhibitions since taking the Walker post in 2008. Her book "Unseen Mendieta," about the pioneering feminist artist Ana Mendieta, was published the year she arrived in Minneapolis, and her exhibition "Guillermo Kuitca: Everything," opened in 2010. Next month she will open a new exhibition "Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take," the first U.S.survey of the poetic sculptures and mixed media work of the American artist from whom the Walker commissioned a major outdoor sculpture in 2013.
The Walker's curatorial departments include visual art, performing arts and film.
Previously Viso served 13 years at the Hirshhorn Museum of Art in Washington, D.C., starting as an assistant curator and rising to be deputy director in 2003.
Aspiring designers apply from top colleges and universities around the country and world for the opportunity to intern in Walker Art Center's design office, founded by Mildred "Mickey" Friedman. The year-long internship, which is now accepting applicants, has been named the Mildred S. Friedman Design Fellowship after Friedman who headed the department from 1970 until her retirement in 1991.
Among her pioneering exhibitions were shows of furniture and designs by L.A. architect Frank Gehry (1986), the historic DeStijl movement (1986), and "Tokyo: Form and Spirit," an innovative 1989 exploration of Japanese culture that was co-organized with her husband Martin Friedman, then the museum's director.
Prior to joining the Walker, Mickey had worked as a designer for Minneapolis architect Robert Cerny. In consultation with architect Edward Larrabee Barnes she designed furniture for the museum's 1971 building, and then developed an expansive design program for the Walker. Throughout the 1970s and '80s she edited Design Quarterly, a quixotic and influential Walker publication that dealt with everything and anything design-related from Julia Child's kitchen to typography and the course of the Mississippi River.
In 1980 she established the Walker's design internship program whose participants engage in all aspects of museum work from designing brochures and publications to exhibitions and public spaces. Graduates of the program have gone on to work at Apple, Dwell, Nike and other firms and museums, to open their own studios, and to teach at colleges and universities around the country.
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