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BEST MUSEUM EXHIBITION Minneapolis 2001 - "An Acre of Art,"

This past fall, the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) mounted "An Acre of Art," an exhibition of the rural-based work of Mark Knierim and Robert Lawrence in the Minnesota Artists' Gallery at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It was a perfect way to end the year--a spare and elegant exhibition that raised the national hackles of animal-rights protesters, most of whom had never seen the show. And while said protesters focused on the show's use of live caged chickens, no one could diminish the minimalist beauty of the artist's concept of the rural: a long table holding a line of golden corn, spare video projections of a single row of corn swaying in the wind, a strip of beaten lead mounted on the gallery wall, a gilt-framed chicken cage suspended like a landscape painting. To be sure, this category could go to just about any given show put on by the MAEP, a 24-year-old local institution whose goal has always been to exhibit the best local artists currently at work. In that time, this artist-run program has produced and presented more than 130 exhibitions with the work of living Minnesota artists. The year 2000, for instance, started with the "Foot in the Door Show 2000," an art exhibition open to any and all comers (which attracted more than 1,700 submissions), and ended with the controversial "Acre of Art" show. Here's hoping the MAEP continues to turn heads and fill galleries for another 24 years.

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