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BEST ART GALLERY Minneapolis 2002 - Midway

Readers' Choice: Walker Art Center

It takes a keen eye and a steady nerve to run an art gallery. The eye is necessary to bag artists in their native habitat--the wild estuaries and studio complexes where they feed and breed and make their art. Sometimes, no one has noticed these beautiful creatures before. One false look and the artist will spook, stampeding away--slides and artist statement in hand--to calmer pastures and nonprofit art centers. After all, the Twin Cities have many options these days for artists to show their plumage and seek their mates over glasses of cheap wine. The steady nerve comes in handy after the sighting is made, and the artist is bagged, tagged, and turned loose in the confines of the gallery. Because then there is the public to deal with, and the press to court, and the money to bring home--all in the service of staying around and living another day to go after ever more big game. All that said, the two Johns (Rasmussen and Ballinger) who have run this small nonprofit gallery since early 2001 were the biggest trophy winners in the Twin Cities last year. Their game, er, artists, were among the choicest of specimens: postmodern, post-ironic cartoon landscapist Tao Urban, video-performance artist and sometime scribbler Kerry Tribe, mohawked performance artist and photographer Yasser Aggour. And Midway's shows--such as "On Location," "Drawn from L.A. (home is where the heart is)," and "Multiplicity"--were staid and minimalist and funky all at once (like a good menagerie should be). The hunting and tracking skills of the two Johns are superior to the norm. Two of Midway's artists (Omer Fast and Javier Cambre, both from New York) were chosen for the Whitney Biennial this year, at least in part because of recommendations made to Whitney curator Lawrence Rinder when he came to town tracking game for his big zoo. Marlin Perkins, eat your heart out.

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