He's Got Great Balls

In an industrial subbasement in Minneapolis, Allen Christian tends an elephants' graveyard of gutterballs

"It's hard to put into words what I'm trying to do," Christian says. "On some level, I think it fills a spiritual void." Christian, who is 49 years old and a divorced father of two, attended Ascension Catholic Grade School and North High in north Minneapolis. "In many ways, thematically, I kind of go back to the Catholic religion I was raised in but don't practice anymore. But those ideas about ascension and crosses...over the years [crucifixes] have come back into the work. And at this point in my life, they're really this symbol about taking flight. It's not about hanging there, deathlike. It's actually about spreading your wings. The whole posture, the gesture, is about flying.

"I believe we are creating our own heaven and hell here. We can choose what we want it to be, what kind of energy to take in and put out. It's a futile effort to know what lies beyond, so why not embrace the idea that we can make this heaven?"

Christian trails off, distracted by the sound of a chair rolling across the floor and the loud high heels click-clacking on the office floor above. "Sometimes," he says, "I just grab that broom and slam the hell out of the [ceiling] up there."

Jim Walsh can be reached at 612.372.3775 or jwalsh@citypages.com

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