Above: Sculpture artist Aldo Moroni left, and author Penny Petersen spoke during a press conference in 2017 about public art in Minneapolis. Photo: Jerry Holt.

There’s no time like the present. This weekend Minneapolis artist Aldo Moroni stages a retrospective of his 45-year career in his renovated studio space, called Legacy Makers Place, in the California Building.

The three-day exhibition beginning Friday will be one of his last. Moroni is in the late stages of pancreatic cancer. 

Moroni is known for recreating civilizations at a small scale, which he calls “mock civilizations.” These structures are meant to engage viewers in conversation about how people live in cities, where civilizations come from, and the tradeoffs and darker consequences of creating urban environments. 

This weekend's event — part of a larger open-studio weekend in the California Building and elsewhere in northeast Minneapolis — includes the release of a limited edition art book by Moroni, “The Synoptic Codex of Mesoamerica." It chronicles the creation of his latest mini-civilization, “M.EX. — Mesoamerican Experience.”

For “M.EX.,” he has created thousands of petite ceramic buildings that chronicle the history of Mesoamerica, Olmec, Maya, Toltec, Mixtec, Aztec, Spanish imperialism, the Republic and contemporary Mexico. 

He will unveil that work on Nov. 8, the 500th anniversary of the meeting between Aztec emperor Montezuma and Spanish conqueror Cortez.

This weekend's events are a celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and will include food, live music, and a lecture from Moroni about his art career.

His projects have ranged in scale up to super large commissions, such as the 112-foot long steel installation “Mill City Dance” at the Cedar-Riverside light-rail station to a ceramic-tile depiction of St. Anthony Falls for the Minnesota Historical Society. Moroni has work in permanent collections at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Weisman Art Museum, Tweed Museum in Duluth and the Minnesota Museum of American Art.

A sculptor and urban planner, Moroni grew up in Chicago and came to Minneapolis in the early 1970s to attend the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. His career took off when he landed in the 1977 Walker Art Center exhibition “Scale and Environment, Ten Sculptors,” curated by Walker director Martin Friedman, which included work by Charles Simmonds, Siah Armajani, Donna Denis, and other famous artists.

He has won many Minnesota arts grants, including three McKnight Foundation fellowships.  He is a resident of the A-Mill Artist Loftsartist live/work loft spaces in the old Pillsbury A-Mill on St. Anthony Main, where he shares a two-bedroom flat with his twin sons and makes regular use of the ceramics studio and state-of-the-art kiln.

(4-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat., Nov. 2; 11-7 Sun., Nov. 3. Aldo Moroni Studios, 2205 NE. California St., Ste. 113, Minneapolis)


Aldo Moroni's new limited-edition art book. (Photo by Lisa Roy)

A squirrel climbed out of a garbage can in front of the artwork at the Cedar-Riverside station in Minneapolis titled 'Dancing Mill City' by Aldo Moroni. Shari L. Gross • shari.gross@startribune.com


Above: November 5, 1990 Minneapolis Sculptor Aldo Moroni inspected the concrete and terra Cotta buildings of the Gloria Civitas, or Glorious City, a Sprawling model of an imagined Etruscan city. Moroni later lobbed rocks at the model, destroying most of the buildings. He did it, he said, because "it was time." Photo: Richard Sennott.