Krystal Krunch and the art of intuition

Asher Hartman and Haruko Tanaka
Asher Hartman and Haruko Tanaka

Anybody can learn intuition, according to Haruko Tanaka and Asher Hartman, otherwise known as Krystal Krunch. The ability to read people is something that the duo have been practicing and teaching for a number of years. This Thursday, they will bring their experience to The Krystal Krunch Never Been to Me Tour at the Walker Art Center. Here, the two artists will give a workshop on how to tap into the hidden energies of people, art, and architecture. Afterwards, they will lead a tour of the "The Midnight Party" exhibition, inviting people to use their new found skill set.

According to Hartman, there are a number of different types of intuitive senses. For example, there's clairvoyance -- sometimes referred to as the third eye -- where you are able to see things that go beyond the physical reality. You might look at a person and see a rainbow around them. You aren't actually seeing a rainbow, of course, but you are seeing/sensing something about that person's energy in your own imagination. In clairaudience, you hear sounds, voices, or words. Clairsentience involves gut feelings, instincts, or hunches. 

"These are normal human gifts," says Tanaka. "They are very teachable." The trick, she says, is to let go of self-doubt. In their workshops, the two artists encourage people nurture that intuition, helping them connect to each other. The intuition exercises also enhance the ability to read art, because art is really a person. 

"The artist is attempting to communicate something," says Hartman. "As a viewer, you come to it and you say, 'Do I get it? What's it about? How do I feel about it?'" 

Hartman and Tanaka met when they were both in graduate school at CalArts. In 2006, they collaborated with artist Seema Kapur on Everything Wrong, a show about breaking down the pretentions of the art world. They wanted to create an environment that was goofy; where people talked about values and could be themselves. 

While they were working on that show, they began having meetings with their eyes closed. "We wanted to get beyond being guarded," Hartman says. He had been studying mediumship since 2001, after attending a new age workshop and turning to a Spiritualist church to learn the craft further. Hartman brought his training to his work with Tanaka and Kapur, and the group began doing body readings on each other. 
Krystal Krunch's Dreaming the Body Politic workshop at The Hammer Museum
Krystal Krunch's Dreaming the Body Politic workshop at The Hammer Museum
Photo: Marianne Williams

After Everything Wrong, Hartman and Tanaka decided to continue working with each other, and were asked by Adam Overton to participate in a series of art spas which would take place in galleries and other art venues. For TnT Explosive Advice: the 10 minute takeover at High Energy Constructs in Chinatown, Krystal Krunch gave intuitive energy readings while dressed in elaborate costumes with plants and other accoutrements. 

After that, they lost the costumes, deciding it was better to be themselves. They went on to lead workshops at places like the Hammer Museum, the Eagle Rock Arts Center, and Machine Project. 

During the workshop, Krystal Krunch start by taking the participants through a series of exercises. If you go, you can expect to do some breathing and meditation work. You'll also practice expanding your senses. For instance, once you're in a relaxed state, you'll be asked to notice all the colors in the room. You'll see how far you can hear, starting with the most immediate sounds, then expanding out to the different sounds in the room, and, eventually, into the street. "People can really take it pretty far," says Tanaka. 
One of the pieces in "Midnight Party": Plexus Blue, 2000 by Lee Bul
One of the pieces in "Midnight Party": Plexus Blue, 2000 by Lee Bul
Photo Courtesy Walker Art CenterT.B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2000
From there, you'll be taken on a meditation borrowed from Pastor Pina of the Spiritualist tradition, where you cleanse your body with white light, followed by a pink light, eventually becoming surrounded by a bubble. You'll imagine a person walking into the bubble in a state of disease, and then watch that transformation before that person leaves the bubble. The exercise is about giving love to a person. "That selfless act makes you feel good; it gives mutual benefit," says Hartman.

Following meditation work, you'll go on to doing readings on another participant. 

Sometimes, people have quite emotional reactions to the work that Krystal Krunch does. For example, one participant "cried because someone reflected right back to them so quickly some kind of interior they hadn't been able to verbalize before," says Tanaka. 

Conversely, sometimes people get frustrated that they aren't seeing anything, think that what they are doing it wrong, or that it's too invasive. Others are afraid that they are going to see something that is too personal, or have a feeling that it can't possibly be right and that it's too "witchy."

"On a certain level, it's very intimate," says Tanaka. "If a stranger is starting to tell you something that makes sense, but you've never heard that voice before, there's a fear."

However, for Hartman and Tanaka, nothing could be more natural than being open to another person. Rather than seeing the physical characteristics that are in front of you, it's all about "reading people from the inside," says Hartman. "We use these workshops to connect people to each other." 


Krystal Krunch Never Been to Me Tour
Workshop is in the Walker's Skyline Room from 6-7:30 p.m.
Tour of "Midnight Party" starts in the Hennepin Lobby at 7:45 p.m.

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