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WAM's Wanderlust Hopes to Get You in the Mood for Travel

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The Weisman Art Museum (WAM) takes on travel at an event this Friday. Wanderlust -- meaning a strong desire to travel, explore, and roam -- is a running theme for the three current exhibitions now on view: O. Winston Link's train photography, decorated bikes from Native children ("Anishinaabensag Biimskowebshkigewag [Native Kids Ride Bikes]), and "Lust for Leisure," a show exploring the birth of modernism in marketing from the 1930s that is focused particularly on marketing travel.

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The event will offer a number of activities and happenings related to the travel theme. Roger Nieboer will be remounting "Existentia," his performance from the Minnesota Fringe Festival and Northern Spark about a philosophical travel agency. The piece involves having your hand scanned, and getting paired with a consultant who tells you where you want to travel and what that says about you. 

The highlight of the evening may very well be at 7 p.m., when University of Minnesota art professor Paul Shambroom and a group of students channel their inner O. Winton Link by taking a photograph of the light rail as it passes the museum.  

Link is revered by many contemporary photographers because of the complex method he used to take a picture. In the late 1950s, Link was obsessed with trains, and took many photos of them based on his personal interest outside of his commercial photography business. For the photographs, Link employed single-use flashbulbs, which contained a "little bomb in a glass shell that would go off when the picture was taken," Shambroom says. For a single photograph, Link would have a dozen different lighting positions, with each light having up to 10 flashbulbs, all connected with a half-mile of cabling. 

For the recreated image, Shambroom and a group of photography students from the University of Minnesota will have between eight and 10 different light sources in position. The camera will be located just east of the Weisman, capturing the train just as it emerges from the bridge. 

"We're going to do it old-school," Shambroom says. The project will use a 4x5 View Camera, which requires the photographer to put a cloth over their head. For the flashbulbs, instead of wiring them together as Link would have done, they will be radio operated and triggered from the camera. In the foreground of the image, two student models will be looking at an iPad image that references one of Link's original photographs. 

The photograph will be developed that night at a table in the middle of the party, using a large format printer that has a special tank that allows the operator to put their arm through holes without having to be in a darkroom. 

To pull the whole stunt off, Shambroom has gotten cooperation with MetroTransit, so that one of the students will be riding in the train, where flashbulbs will be located as well. Everybody involved will have walkie talkies. "It all has to be carefully coordinated," he says. 

The evening also includes Jessica Zeglin's Cycle Saint, a project that takes aspects of bicycling and envisions them as glowing lanterns that hang from the ceiling. What's your biking spirit animal? You'll be able to find that out and take home a spoke card to boot. 

While at the party, you can check out a LEGO train display, created by the Greater Midwest Lego Train Club and the Twin Cities Lego Train Club, and a smoothie machine powered by bicycle. There will be snacks, a cash bar (bring your bike helmet or train ticket for $1 off a specialty drink), and music provided by DJ Jonathan Ackerman. 

IF YOU GO:

Wanderlust

7-10 p.m. Friday

Weisman Art Museum

Free