"Hello, are you here to have a quantum experience?" asked artist Sarah Honeywell, clad in a shiny silver jumpsuit. Then she pointed to a small, two-paneled window covered in a reflective material, part of a pink-and-blue ice shanty adorned with paintings of New Age-y crystals.
This is the temporary winter home of the Amermanaughti, a secret society that "explores the holographic reality, which is the universe." To begin the quantum leap, "just look in the mirror and speak the thing that you're sick and tired of," said Honeywell. "Imagine how it would feel to be rid of it, then walk around the shanty and back to the window, and a new holographic reality awaits."
Apparently, healing is just a 10-second walk and a few thoughts away.
This shanty is one of 18 at Art Shanty Projects, which has returned after a pandemic-induced one-year break. Running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 6 on the frozen surface of Minneapolis' Lake Harriet, this year's pop-up project feels more like an on-ice sculpture park. To keep things COVID-safe, every shanty is open-air, with some built to be simply exterior experiences that people walk around or through.
"It's going to feel different in terms of the structures, but I think that the same spirit of winter joy that brings us together will of course be the same," said Art Shanty Projects Executive Director Erin Lavelle.
Saturday's events coincide with the Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival, which starts at noon.
There's also a new feature this year: A 60-by-80-foot ice field that boasts different activities, from kicksled demonstrations this weekend to Native lacrosse on the last one.
Magical elf haven
Jerry Carlson's Huldufólk Hall Village — three miniature wooden houses modeled after the Icelandic elf houses in the film comedy "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga" — embody Art Shanty's wintry spirit. Made of repurposed logs, each house has tiny windows, tiny mysterious doors, and bushy swaths of hay covering the roofs.
Carlson's son, Cyprus, wore a bright red full-body suit and roamed about the village, keeping watch over wandering visitors. The elves, as Jerry describes them, are "fae folk" — you can only see them when they want to be seen, and they help grant people's wishes if you give them an offering.
Rory Tummel, 7, peeked into one of the houses that had a Norwegian flag on top.
"Is anybody home?" he asked, looking around. "Nobody is home!"
"At first I thought the elves lived there," said his sister, Alivia, 9.
At the HearSee Hall Shanty, visitors lined up to walk into an open-air structure filled with mirrors cut into triangles and various hanging slices. Artists Derek Ahlberg, Jeff Berg and Paul Owen wanted to give people a chance to create their own perceptions and twist sensibilities.
Megan and Kerry Nichols of south Minneapolis played around with the options, pushing levers and dancing in mirrors.
"We are controlling our own universe," said Megan. "We are spinning, we can see everything around us."
"Soon we'll have complete clarity," said Kerry, before the two of them darted out, back on the village trail to the next shanty stop.
The Fake Healing Shanty, by artists Jacob Carrigan and Stephani Pescitelli, calls into question the whole "healing" theme that runs through this year's icy village.
The Amermanaughti "are our dueling cult, except we are the anti-cult," said Pescitelli. "They are worshiping some sort of mermaid guru and we say no — no one has any healing powers, you guys. It's fake, it's totally fake."
Before entering the shanty, participants recite the three commandments of fake healing: We do not have any healing powers. We do not need any healing. But we are going to do the best we can with what we have.
"Beautiful, the fake healing has already begun!" shouted Pescitelli. "And clearly it is not working."
Visitors Susan Gray, Michele Smavy and Paul Waytuz, all of Minneapolis, wandered curiously inside the sanctuary in search of fake healing. Rolled-up yoga mats leaned against the walls. Mushrooms cropped up all over the place. Small pieces of paper on a table offered healing suggestions.
Gray offered the group some "holy medicine" and then shouted: "Tin foil is life!" Smavy had everyone chant "you are released!" 10 times. Waytuz hummed a song, "Summertime," and everyone sang along.
The point of the shanty is to call out the fakeness of people who claim to be healers, but something magical happened when the group sang together. A chance to feel connected, close to someone — even if for a fleeting moment on a sunny winter day.
Art Shanty Projects
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays through Feb. 6.
Where: Northwest corner of Lake Harriet, near the Band Shell.
Parking: Extremely limited; a shuttle will operate Saturday only in conjunction with Winter Kite Fest.
Concessions: Food and hot beverage vendors are on shore.
Admission: Free, but donations at the gate are encouraged.