The new House of Balls is all spiffed up and ready for action. The studio, gallery, and event space, owned by artist Allen Christian and his wife, Mary Jane LaVigne, will be the site of an unusual poetry reading, hosted by the Found Poetry Review, as part of this week's Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference. Poetry Jamporee will be the second event that House of Balls has hosted since moving to Cedar Riverside.
Christian was contacted by Beth Ayer, from the Found Poetry Review, about using the space for an AWP offsite event. Ayer had heard about House of Balls through Atlas Obscura, a website that profiles unique places in different cities.
"I realized we have some things in common," Ayer says. Christian makes art through found objects and Found Poetry utilizes found language to create new works.
Found Poetry Review publishes poetry using other sourced texts, which includes everything from existing books, overheard conversations, and other found materials. The AWP activity aligns with the magazine's National Poetry Month project, where writers will follow eight prompts through the conference itself as well as throughout the city of Minneapolis. Whether its overheard conversations or visits to local spots like the Whitney Bridge, the poets will be creating poems based on the language they find.
Since House of Balls' move last November, Christian has added a sound bar, a work space, and ambient lighting that frequenters of the old House of Balls will remember. He has also taken down an exterior wall and an interior wall, and built a new wall inside.
"I'm uncovering the original space that had been boarded over," Christian says. He's given the place a paint job, a new heating system, and two new rooftop units. Luckily, being an electrician is his day job.
In addition, Christian has put in a glass garage door, providing a beautiful view of downtown. This spring, he's planning on building a garden. The polar bear built for the Art Shanty Project two years ago sits outside, waiting for visitors.
IF YOU GO:
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with a reading at 7 p.m. Friday, April 10
The evening concludes with a dance party around 9:30 p.m, so bring your phone if you want to add your playlist to the music.
House of Balls is located at 1504 Seventh St. S., Minneapolis