Peter Haakon Thompson will spend the next four weekends amid 20 ice fishing houses on what he hopes will be a frozen lake.

As director of the Art Shanty Projects, Thompson hopes 8,000 or more visitors will join him there to experience the icebound sculpture park/artist residency/social experiment officially known as the Art Shanty Projects.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends beginning this Saturday and continuing through Feb. 5 on Medicine Lake in Plymouth.

The underlying idea, Thompson said, is that the unusual setting and the collection of interactive shanties -- which encourage participation in the form of dance, fort-making and other activities -- will trigger conversations between the artists who created them and those who come to see their work.

Thompson and Twin Cities artist and project board member David Pitman co-founded the event in 2005.

"If you're an artist and you're in a gallery, you may talk to people at the opening, but they're often people that you know," Thompson said. "The Art Shanty is this amazing venue for bringing artists and audience together."

That's been a theme in Thompson's art, which he describes as "tools that get me to have conversations with people." Thompson, who has a master of fine arts degree from the University of Minnesota, works at Springboard for the Arts, a St. Paul nonprofit economic and community development organization for artists.

If you go: Wear long johns and, most important, boots. The ice can get slushy from rain or on warmer days, so forget the Converse low-tops, Thompson said. Dress warmly, in layers, because there's nothing to stop the wind.

Three and out with Peter Haakon Thompson

Q: How do you stay warm all day on a frozen lake?

A: All of the shanties have a heat source, so you can go inside and warm up. We'll have the social shanty, which will sell hot dogs and hot chocolate.

Q: Do you ever go ice fishing?

A: I find fishing really boring, unless I catch something in the first five minutes. Which is partly why I had to think of some other reason to use a fishing house. I love eating fish and I'm good at cleaning them. But I don't really ever catch them.

Q: Do you get out on the water in summer?

A: I race sailboats on Lake Harriet. I grew up next to Medicine Lake and my family had a Sunfish [sailboat] so I sailed on Medicine Lake when I was starting junior high. It's always been something I've been incredibly fascinated by.