Ten 2012 visual arts moments to remember

Photo by Mackenzie Orth
Photo by Mackenzie Orth
Frank Gaard, Satanic Housekeeping
The Twin Cities art scene is alive and thriving. This year saw a wide variety of visually stimulating events, including retrospectives on controversial artists, self-guided tours, 24-hour parties, and a miniature Prince. Let's take a stroll down memory lane.

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Artists in Storefronts turns Eat Street into an art installation


Rudy Fig's storefront at Blacklist Vintage
Rudy Fig's storefront at Blacklist Vintage
Photo by Steven Lang

This year, local artist Joan Vorderbruggen transformed the Whittier neighborhood not once, but three times with her Artists in Storefronts series. The project uses business storefronts, abandoned spaces, and pop-up installations to create artsy surprises along Nicollet Avenue and its side streets. The third event, ongoing now through February 16, boasts bar crawls, tours, live performances curated by Jaime Carrera, new murals, and fashions featuring work by local designers who used the drawings by Louis Bustos, a five-year-old boy, as inspiration.

David Byrne turns Aria into a musical installation for "Playing the Building":

Ten 2012 visual arts moments to remember

This November, the Talking Heads founder visited Minneapolis to celebrate the opening of "Playing the Building." The interactive art installation -- previously hosted on Stockholm, New York City, and London -- turns older buildings into a playable instrument using the space's plumbing, beams, electricity, and natural creaks and groans to create a truly unique sonic statement.

Field Trip Day Minneapolis introduced participants to the quirkier side of northeast Minneapolis

Ten 2012 visual arts moments to remember
Brickmania, one stop along the way

How well do you think you know your city? Last September, Permanent Art and Design Group invited folks to explore the unusual areas of northeast Minneapolis in a self-guided tour (via a smart-phone app). There were about 30 stops along the way, including  mixed-media artist Lauri Svedberg's home studio, Michael Thomsen and Keith Holmes's installation space and workshop, and a bocce-ball court built on an old cemetery.  

Constellation DIY festival

Ten 2012 visual arts moments to remember
Photo by France Barbeau

For the second year, Constellation DIY festival invited folks to south Minneapolis for a weekend filled with fun, information, and creativity in various garages, backyards, and porches. There were pop-up galleries, guided meditation walks, skill-share talks, and even a mobile karaoke machine roaming the Powderhorn and Seward area. What a great way to get to know your neighbors.

Soo Visual Arts Center founder Suzy Greenberg, artist Daniel Kaniess pass

Ten 2012 visual arts moments to remember
Suzy Greenberg image by Tom Sweeney

Sadly, this year the Minnesota artist community saw that loss of two talents on the scene. This past spring, artist, musician, and poet Daniel Kaniess passed away after a long battle with cancer.  Kaniess was an award-winning painter, and was a recipient of the McKnight and Bush Fellowships. Over the years, he had exhibited at the MIA's MAEP Galleries, the Walker Art Center, and the notorious Speedboat Gallery, were he was one of the first artists to show in the space.

SooVAC founder/curator Suzy Greenberg died suddenly last summer of natural causes. Over the years she nurtured up-and-coming local talent while bringing in national artists to the space. Friends and family celebrated her life with a party in the gallery and the nearby C.C. Club. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak also proclaimed September 10, 2012 to be Suzy Greenberg Day.

  FLO(we){u}R drops seeds, not bombs at Soap Factory

Ten 2012 visual arts moments to remember

Last April, visiting artists Joseph Madrigal and Amber Ginsburg brought flower power to the Twin Cities in a big way with their interactive installation. The duo literally turned the Soap Factory back into a production space, turning it into a terra cotta dummy bomb factory. Historically, the structures were originally used to test the accuracy of missile drops during World War I. However, the artists had something different in mind. Together, they hosted a series of events where folks created over 350 bombs, which were then thrown about the city on walking and bike tours. These dummy missiles weren't meant to destroy; each piece was dusted with seeds, so that targeted areas grew little white blossoms. Flower power, indeed.

Le Petit Prince is awesome, though Prince does not agree

Ten 2012 visual arts moments to remember

Seattle-based artist Troy Gua has a cool hobby. He takes joys in recreating some of Prince's best looks over the years by hand, photographing the results, and posting them online. Though Le Petit Prince is not for sale, Gua was selling a calendar with his Thunderbirds-style doll in various iconic poses. Le Petit Prince project went viral. Unfortunately,  Prince also took note and sent Gua a cease and desist letter. 

Rosalux turns 10

Ten 2012 visual arts moments to remember
Bart Vargas

The longest-running artist collective is alive, well, and thriving, as the space celebrated its 10th anniversary with a big group show. Over the years, Rosalux has exhibited up-and-coming artists as well as established folks around town. Previous shows include a yearly benefit party featuring naughty art, a show exploring the color black, and more.

Frank Gaard Retrospective at the Walker

Ten 2012 visual arts moments to remember

This year, local artists Frank Gaard exhibited over 75 pieces spanning over 50 years of work. The show included older, more controversial pieces exploring religion, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, as well as some of his more recent portrait works featuring friends and family in the artist's day-to-day life.

Northern Spark parties all night
Ten 2012 visual arts moments to remember
Revelers at the Walker Art Center

What happens when a festival invites folks to stay up all night? This year, Northern Spark made sure the Twin Cities didn't sleep with an insane amount of random activities and happenings. There were pop-up installations, boat rides, art-making meet-ups, dance parties, literary readings, ice shanties, bike rides, and more.

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