Third Thursday: On-a-Stick prepares to render a Picasso in butter

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts takes on a State Fair theme for this month's Third Thursday. During the party, there will be live butter sculpting, art on a stick, blue-ribbon tours of the "prize-winning" art in the museum, music, and food-truck fare. MIA's Katie Hill, who plans the Third Thursday events, says they went with the theme because it's on the minds of locals this time of year.

Baboon and Young by Pablo Picasso, 1951
Baboon and Young by Pablo Picasso, 1951
Gift of funds from the John Cowles Foundation, ©Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Hill knew she couldn't do a fair-themed Third Thursday without incorporating butter sculptures in some way. Luckily, one of the MIA's corporate sponsors is Land O'Lakes. The company donated 50 pound of butter for the project, and museum staffer Bill Skodje, who is also a sculptor in his own right, agreed to take on the task. 

Skodje, exhibition designer and senior preparer for the museum, has previously done live-sculpture making at Third Thursday events, though this is the first time he's delved into the dairy medium. He's always thought sculpting in butter would be fun, though. "It's got such a unique translucent surface when you see a person's face in it," he says. 

After talking it over with Hill, Skodje decided Picasso's Baboon and Young sculpture would be a good fit for a replication. "It just seemed like the iconic image of the museum," he says. "It's on all the tours." Another plus is that if the butter starts to melt, the abstract nature of the piece will be more forgiving. 
Skodje thought about practicing before Thursday, but he changed his mind when he opened the refrigerator and saw two quarter sticks of butter. "Every time I make a sandwich, I cut into butter. I probably have more experience working with butter than clay. I'm hoping it's not going to surprise me -- I'm going in cold,"  he says.
Third Thursday: On-a-Stick prepares to render a Picasso in butter
Revelers at a previous Third Thursday

In some ways, butter sculpting is part of the trajectory Skodje's career has been following, as he creates work out of nontraditional materials. For example, at his MFA show at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he created a replica of a Roman sculpture of Apollo out of blue Styrofoam. He's built a guitar out of cardboard, and he made a relief sculpture for a show in Chicago where he cast it in plaster and had it sit on the floor leaning against the wall. "People don't value plaster very much," he says, though the amount of work to create a bronze cast and a plaster cast is exactly the same. 

Besides butter sculpting, which takes place in the Wells Fargo Room, the evening will include a "masterpiece-on-a-stick" activity where people can create works of art on a popsicle stick outside. There will also be stops from Andrew Zimmern's AZ Canteen and Lulu's Street Food, plus music by Sean Anonymous with Dream Crusher. Folks will be able to enjoy a State Fair-style photobooth, complete with jams and preserves in the background, and the Warby Parker Class Trip school bus, which will be showing off their showroom of eyeglasses. 


Third Thursday: On-a-Stick
6-8 p.m. Thursday, August 15
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis
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Minneapolis Institute of Art

2400 Third Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404


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