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Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota history’

2012-06-10 04.48.28 - foshay 4 yes

Top Of The Foshay Tower, Droid Shots, Northern Spark, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June, 2012, photo © 2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



It was 4:45am when we walked into the Foshay Tower lobby, hoping to catch the sunrise from the 30th floor observation deck. We had stayed up the entire night of June 9th for the second Northern Spark; it was now June 10th. After a random tweet from the Northern Spark app, I won a Jump The Line At The Foshay prize, a gift that proved fruitful. We walked straight to the front of the line and flashed my Droid screen toward the guard. “Wow, that’s cool. Off you go,” he said, shooing us in the direction of the packed elevator.

My stomach dropped on the ride up; the tower view to the east took my breath away. The light was just beginning to change. The deck was crammed with Northern Sparkers, waiting for the sun. It was the perfect ending to the Nuit Blanche, a community shared art event for the soul. Sunrise on top of the sky; a tour of the Foshay museum. Details. Details. Details. Not just tree, what kind of tree. Not just building, what kind of building. A Minnesota icon, built to last, still inspiring sunrises after all these years.



FOSHAY FACTS


  • Named for Wilbur Foshay, the original owner & builder
  • Modeled after the Washington Monument as a tribute to George Washington
  • 32 stories high, tallest building in the Twin Cities for 4 decades
  • Construction began in 1927 & ended August 1929. Built completely by all-union labor.
  • Wilbur Foshay & Gottlieb Magney patented the shape and method of construction
  • Faced with Indiana Bedford limestone, 750 window bays, able to stand up to winds of 400 mph
  • Numbers: 447 feet, 3 inches high, mast on the top 160 feet; 81 by 87 feet at the base; 59 by 65 feet at the top; contains 2,599,666 cubic feet
  • 60 feet below ground with four basement levels
  • John Philip Sousa wrote the Foshay Tower-Washington Memorial March for the Foshay Dedication Ceremonies
  • Tower Observation Deck is located on the 30th floor where you can see 30 miles on a clear day
  • Foshay lights are 10 feet tall, 44 feet across, lit by 900 60-watt bulbs
  • Placed on National Register of Historic Places in 1977
  • In 1987 the Tower was adorned with a 50-foot by 50-foot banner (the largest ever installed on a highrise office building) congratulating the Minnesota Twins for their championship year
  • In 2008, the renovated Foshay opened as the Foshay Museum & Observation Deck, part of W Minneapolis — The Foshay


2012-06-10 05.33.05 - foshay moon

Foshay Moon, Droid Shots, Northern Spark, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June, 2012, photo © 2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






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2012-06-10 05.35.07 - foshay 7




-related to posts:  Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche, Northern Spark 2012 – Night Owl Paradise, Northern Spark — Sunrise To Sunset

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

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Tyrone Guthrie Outside The Guthrie – 64/365, Archive 365, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2010-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


The Archive 365 practice and collaboration continues with a photograph taken outside the Guthrie Theater in August 2010. With each new image, I feel compelled to look into tidbits about the subject’s history. It’s no secret that Sir Tyrone Guthrie and Midwest architect Ralph Rapson did not see eye-to-eye on the design of the original Guthrie Theater (the play Tyrone & Ralph was written highlighting this piece of history). The two fought over the thrust stage which Guthrie wanted and the asymmetrical design Rapson desired. They also disagreed over the color of the seats. Guthrie ordered Rapson to make sure the seats were all the same bland color; Rapson wanted brightness and vivacity and decidedly disobeyed. By the time the hundreds of multicolored seats arrived, it was too late for Guthrie to do anything about it.

In spite of their disagreements, Rapson’s modern design prevailed and the Guthrie opened on May 7, 1963 with a production of Hamlet directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie; it became one of the most respected theaters in the country. An idea that began in 1959 during a series of conversations among Guthrie and two colleagues—Oliver Rea and Peter Zeisler—who were disenchanted with Broadway, sprang to life. They realized their dream to create a theater with a resident acting company that would perform the classics in rotating repertory with the highest professional standards.

Sir Tyrone Guthrie was the Artistic Director from 1963 through 1966 and returned to direct each year until 1969. He passed away in 1971. Architect Ralph Rapson died of heart failure in 2008 at the age of 93. The original Guthrie was torn down in 2006; the theater dimmed its lights 43 years to the day that it opened — also with a production of Hamlet. It reopened across town by the Mississippi River in a new, $125 million three-stage complex with the faces of Tyrone Guthrie, August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Anton Chekhov, Eugene O’Neill and George Bernard Shaw etched into its walls.


Resources:

Guthrie Theater History – The Guthrie

Ralph Rapson, architect of the original Guthrie, has died – MPR News

The Old Guthrie Goes Down – photos at The Masticator

Guthrie Theater brings curtain down on original home – MPR News

Guthrie & Rapson battle again – MPR news


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, September 3rd, 2012

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Miners Mural - Ely, Minnesota

Miners Mural – Ely, Minnesota – 22/365, Archive 365, Droid Shots, Ely, Minnesota, July 2011, photo © 2011-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


When I passed this mural yesterday on the corner of Sheridan Street and Central Avenue, I was reminded that I had a photograph in my archives from the trip North last year. The art catches my eye every year when I visit Ely, Minnesota for an annual trip to the North American Bear Center. Ely was a thriving mining town 50 to 100 years ago, with rumbling steam locomotives that pulled train loads of iron ore over to Lake Superior to be shipped out of the Midwest. The town of Ely was named after Samuel B. Ely, a miner from Michigan who never actually visited there.

Most of the mines have closed now. On the north side of town, the bones of Pioneer Mine stand tall over the abandoned quarry where tons of iron ore were extracted by a thriving community of miners; it is now a large body of water called Miners Lake. The mural is one of many around Ely that honor its mining past. It was painted by artist Bill Defenbaugh, part of the Ely Greenstone Public Art Project.


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ARCHIVE 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, July 24th, 2012. Related to posts: MN Black Bear Den Cam: Will Lily Have Cubs? and Jewel Under The Bear Moon

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Cake For Dylan -6/365, Archive 365, Hibbing, Minnesota, May 2005, photo © 2005-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


In May 2005, Liz and I traveled to the Iron Range to attend Dylan Days in Hibbing, Minnesota. We took a tour of Bob Dylan’s childhood home, stopped by Hibbing High to hear the original band from Blood On The Tracks, visited the ghostly abandoned street corners where they had moved the town a few miles south to expand the biggest operating open pit iron ore mine in the world (more than three miles long, two miles wide, and 535 feet deep). In the evening we celebrated with dancing, poetry, and good food at Zimmy’s where I took this photograph of Dylan’s cake.

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ARCHIVE 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, July 6th, 2012. Related to post: I’m Not There — The 6 Faces of Dylan

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Camp Savage – 4/365, Archive 365, Camp Savage, Savage, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Independence

Banging fireworks against pre-dawn chatter.
Red night, white galaxy, blue smoke
in the air, flowers made of fire.

Freedom does not rest
or sit softly on her laurels.
She is war-like and stubborn,
not blind to the truth.

“Fight for what you believe in” she liked to say.

Independence remains passive,
13 stripes, 50 stars
but fiercely springs to life
when freedom is stripped away.

never rest easy –
in the dawn’s early light
there is much work to do





ABOUT THE PHOTOS:

Liz and I stumbled on Camp Savage in 2009 while out on a day trip to take photos. I was shocked and surprised because I had no idea such a place existed in Minnesota. The Nisei (second generation) at Camp Savage were translators of language, maps, and documents during World War II. When Marylin submitted her piece about her childhood friend whose family was sent to a Japanese internment camp, I was inspired to go back and take a look at these photographs again. It’s the first time I have consciously written haibun (more about the form at haiku 4 (one-a-day) meets renga 52). I like working in the format of both prose and haiku. Independence Day in the United States reminds me of all the ways that people fight hard to gain freedom, independence, and equality, even within our own country. Below are the words on the plaque at Camp Savage:

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Independence, flag at Camp Savage, Savage, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

During World War II, some 5,000 to 6,000 Japanese American soldiers, members of the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Service, were given intensive and accelerated classes in the Japanese language at Camp Savage.

Their subsequent work translating captured documents, maps, battle plans, diaries, letters, and printed materials and interrogating Japanese prisoners made them “Our human secret weapons,” according to President Harry Truman, who commended them following the war.

The Military Intelligence Service (MIS) program began in the fall of 1941, a few weeks before Pearl Harbor, at the Presidio in San Francisco.

For security reasons it was moved in May, 1942 to Camp Savage, a site personally selected by language school commandant Colonel Kai E. Rasmussen, who believed Savage was “a community that would accept Japanese Americans for their true worth — American soldiers fighting with their brains for their native America.”

The 132-acre site had served as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the 1930s and was later used to house elderly indigent men.

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Plaque At Camp Savage, Savage, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Conditions there were extremely difficult in the early months of the war, when the first students studied without desks, chairs, or even beds. By August, 1944 the program had outgrown Camp Savage and was moved to larger facilities at Fort Snelling

Most of the English-speaking Japanese Americans, known as Nisei, were from the West Coast area. Some were already in the U.S. military service when they were selected for the language school, while others were volunteers from the camps in which American citizens of Japanese ancestry had been interned following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

According to General Charles Willoughby, chief of Intelligence for General Douglas MacArthur, “the 6,000 Nisei shortened the Pacific war by two years.”

-erected by the Savage Chamber of Commerce, 1993



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ARCHIVE 365: Since the completion of BlackBerry 365, I have missed a daily photo practice. There are so many photos from my archives that no one has ever seen but me. So I asked skywire7 if she wanted to do a daily practice for one year, taking turns posting an unpublished photograph from the past.

Archive 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

-posted on red Ravine, Independence Day, July 4th, 2012. Related to post:  Abraham Lincoln & Nikki Giovanni (On Poets & Presidents)

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Princess Kay Of The Milky Way, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Princess Kay Of The Milky Way, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

The Minnesota State Fair kicks off this week and it’s time for our annual State Fair post on red Ravine. We’ve covered a lot of history in the past, so this year I’m focusing on one of my favorite attractions at the Minnesota State Fair — the Princess Kay butter sculptures (I fondly call them the Butter Queens). Would you believe it takes 21.8 pounds of whole milk to make a pound of butter? And 90 pounds of butter to create one princess.

 
 

Traditions Of Butter Sculpting

 
Butter sculpting is a long-time tradition at many State Fairs. The first recorded North American sculpture was created by Carolyn Brooks for the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In 1910, the first Buttercow was created by a sculptor only recorded as Mr. Daniels at the Iowa State Fair. Though the Midwest Dairy Association and its 5000 dairy farmers sponsor butter sculpting at State Fairs in 9 states (including North Dakota), sculpting in front of Fair-goers using a live model is unique to Minnesota (click for slideshow of past butter sculptures from Iowa and Minnesota).

This year marks artist Linda Christensen’s 38th year creating butter sculptures at the Minnesota State Fair. Carving busts from butter is no easy task. The dizzying temperature inside the rotating booth is a cool 40°F (notice the sitting Princess is wearing mittens?). Linda spends 6 to 8 hours on her feet to complete one sculpture. She builds her body of work on a long tradition of American frontier women from the 1800′s who molded and imprinted their homemade butter.

Butter sculptures were first featured at the Minnesota State Fair from 1898 through 1927 to highlight Minnesota’s claim as the “Butter Capital of the Nation.” In 1965, the American Dairy Association of Minnesota began its tradition of having the likeness of the dairy princess sculpted in butter and constructed a booth which was expanded in 2008 for better viewing.

While researching this piece, I also discovered that butter sculpting is a Tibetan tradition that goes back 400 years. Butter sculpture originated from Tibet and was introduced to the Tar Monastery, also known as Kumbum Monastery, in the early 17th century. Originally made with pure yak and goat milk butter as the raw material, the sculptures were hand formed and painted with mineral dyes.

They were created as symbols and secret offerings for the Tibetan New Year and other religious celebrations, and sometimes depicted stories about the life of Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), the founder of Buddhism. Today monks create traditional butter sculptures with staples of the Tibetan diet: barley flour, butter (mixed with a little wax) and water.

 
 

Dairy Princess Alysha Thompson, Sculptor Linda Christensen At Work, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Princess Kay of the Milky Way Butter Sculptures

 
The Princess Kay of the Milky Way coronation ceremony at the State Fair band shell on August 26th at 8:30 p.m. kicks off this year’s Minnesota State Fair. Reigning Princess Kay Kristy Mussman will pass the crown (don’t you think the winning Princess should be crowned a Queen?).

On opening day, August 27th, the newly crowned Princess Kay will spend up to 8 hours in the rotating butter sculpture booth in the Dairy Building having her likeness carved out of a 90-pound block of butter provided by Associated Milk Producers of New Ulm. The 11 other finalists will have their likenesses sculpted in butter throughout the remaining days of the fair.

Princess Kay candidates, and Minnesota’s county dairy princesses, are daughters of dairy farmers, employees of dairy farms, or daughters of dairy farm employees. Each year, over 100 young women from across Minnesota are crowned county dairy princesses, and 12 are selected as finalists to become Princess Kay. Princess Kay acts as goodwill ambassador for the dairy industry and the state’s dairy farmers, but all dairy princesses across the state serve in that capacity in their local areas.

For the first time, Princess Kay will be blogging from the Butter Booth this year! And you can also follow her on Facebook by becoming fans of her new Facebook page (and Midwest Dairy Association) at a kiosk in the Dairy Building, just across from the butter-sculpting booth.

 
 
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Frozen Pickle On-A-Stick (Leprechaun Legs in the background!), Wild Rice Corndog On-A-Stick, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

MN State Fair – Foods On-A-Stick

 
Our Minnesota State Fair post wouldn’t be complete without the annual foods on-a-stick list. Here’s the luscious lineup for 2009 along with a few photos from foods we tried last year. If you are looking for the location of specific foods at the Fair, here’s a link to their FoodFinder with a map of the Fair. (Oh, and check out ybonesy’s post on Chinese food on-a-stick.)

The Minnesota State Fair begins this Thursday, August 27th and runs through September 7th. Be sure to stop and enjoy the crop art and the work of Minnesota State Fair commemorative artist Leo Stans. You’ve got one more day to purchase your Blue Ribbon Bargain Book and save a little cash. Enjoy!

  1. Alligator Sausage on-a-stick
  2. Bacon (Fried) on-a-stick
  3. Bananas (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  4. Beef Kabobs on-a-stick
  5. Beer Battered Brats on-a-stick
  6. Bomb Pops on-a-stick
  7. Butterscotch Cake on-a-stick
  8. Candy Apples on-a-stick
  9. Candy Bars (deep fried) on-a-stick
  10. Caramel Apples on-a-stick
  11. Catfish on-a-stick
  12. Cheese on-a-stick
  13. Cheese (fried) on-a-stick
  14. Cheesecake (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  15. Chicken on-a-stick
  16. Chicken Bites on-a-stick
  17. Coffee (frozen) on-a-stick
  18. Corndogs on-a-stick
  19. Corned Beef and Cabbage on-a-stick
  20. Cotton Candy on-a-stick
  21. Dessert Pizza on-a-stick
  22. Dixie Wings on-a-stick
  23. Espresso (frozen) on-a-stick
  24. Fiddlestix (chocolate-dipped ice cream) on-a-stick
  25. Fruit (fresh) on-a-stick
  26. Fruit (fried) on-a-stick
  27. Fry Dog on-a-stick
  28. Fudge Puppies on-a-stick
  29. Hot Dago on-a-stick
  30. Hot Dish on-a-stick
  31. Hot Dogs (wrap) on-a-stick
  32. Key Lime Pie Dipped in Chocolate (frozen) on-a-stick
  33. Lamb (leg of) on-a-stick
  34. Macaroni & Cheese on-a-stick
  35. Marshmallows (Chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  36. Meatballs (porcupine wild rice & ground pork) on-a-stick
  37. Meatballs (Scotch) on-a-stick
  38. Meat Kabobs on-a-stick
  39. Nut Roll (chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  40. Pickles on-a-stick
  41. Pickles (deep fried) on-a-stick
  42. Pizza on-a-stick
  43. Poncho Dogs on-a-stick
  44. Pork Cheeks on-a-stick
  45. Pork Chops on-a-stick
  46. Pronto Pups on-a-stick
  47. Rueben on-a-stick
  48. Sausage on-a-stick
  49. Scotch Eggs on-a-stick
  50. Shrimp on-a-stick
  51. Shrimp (grilled) on-a-stick
  52. S’mores on-a-stick
  53. S’mores (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  54. Spaghetti & Meatballs on-a-stick
  55. Spudsters on-a-stick
  56. Steak on-a-stick
  57. Taffy Pops on-a-stick
  58. Tater Tots (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  59. Texas Steak Dinner on-a-stick
  60. Texas Tater Dog on-a-stick
  61. Tornado Potato on-a-stick
  62. Turkey Tenderloin (bacon-wrapped) on-a-stick
  63. Vegie Fries on-a-stick
  64. Vegetable Kabobs on-a-stick
  65. Waffle (Belgian) on-a-stick
  66. Walleye on-a-stick
  67. Wild Rice Corndog on-a-stick

 
Total Number of Foods-On-A-Stick: 67*

 
 

Catfish Cajun Style, Bull Bites, MN State Fair, St. Paul,
Minnesota, August 2008, photos © 2008-2009 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

New Minnesota State Fair Foods In 2009
  (including *4 new foods on-a-stick not on list above)

    Beignets (Sweet, fried dough)
    @Ragin Cajun, located inside The Garden
    Brat Burger (Ground bratwurst in a grilled patty served on a pretzel roll)
    @Ball Park Cafe, located between The Garden and the Food Building
    Breakfast Spam Sandwich (Spam, egg, cheese)
    @Spam Burgers, located on Cosgrove St. across from the Creative Activities Building
    Deep Fried Norwegian Banana Split (Banana rolled in lefse, deep fried, topped off with ice cream and all the toppings)
    @Ole & Lena’s, located on Liggett Street at Carnes Avenue
    Fiddlestix (Premium vanilla ice cream hand sliced, skewered, dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped nuts)
    @Wells Concessions, located inside the Mighty Midway
    Foot-long Dessert Pizza on-a-stick (Pizza dough, sweet cream cheese, cinnamon and sugar on-a-stick)
    @Green Mill, located in Baldwin Park
    Fry Dog (French fry encrusted deep-fried hot dog on-a-stick)
    @Blue Moon Dine In Theater, located on corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street
    Funnel Cake Fries (Funnel cake formed like French fries, served with chocolate dipping sauce)
    @Apple Lil’s, located just inside Heritage Square
    Krumkake (Thin, crisp pastry made fresh, rolled into a horn shape, filled with whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit)
    @Ole & Lena’s, located on Liggett Street at Carnes Avenue
    • Open-faced Grilled Spam Sandwich
    @Spam Burgers, located on Cosgrove St. across from the Creative Activities Building
    •Peach Glazed Pig Cheeks (Pork cheeks marinated in garlic, herbs, spices and honey, served on-a-stick and grilled with peach chipotle glaze)
    @Famous Dave’s, located on Dan Patch Avenue at Liggett Street
    Pot Roast Sundae (scoop of mashed potatoes covered with roast beef, gravy, corn and a cherry tomato)
    @Main Street Butcher Block, located on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Liggett Street
    Sunfish (Sunfish filets served in a boat)
    @Giggle’s Campfire Grill, located on Cooper Street and Lee Avenue
    Swedish Meatballs and Gravy
    @Lynn’s Lefse, located inside the Food Building
    Tornado Potato (spiral cut potato on-a-stick)
    @Sunny’s Spiral Potatoes, located inside the Food Building

 

Spaghetti & Meatball Dinner On-A-Stick, Fried Fruit On-A-Stick, Macaroni & Cheese On-A-Stick, Bull Bites, Deep Fried Tater Tots On-A-Stick, Grilled Shrimp On-A-Stick, Vintage Kids & Fair Food!, Leprechaun Legs, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

State Fair photos on Flickr.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

-related to posts: MN State Fair On-A-Stick (Happy B’Day MN!), On-The-Go List Of Must-Haves (MN State Fair)Nightshot – Carousel, MN State Fair On-A-Stick II – Video & Stats, food on-a-stick haiku

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Minnesota State Fair Poster Art, detail of art by painter Leo Stans, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

The century-old Grandstand stood quietly in the distance when I rounded the corner by the historic J. V. Bailey House. I was driving to St. Paul for an ice cream social at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The occasion was the June 11th unveiling of the 2009 State Fair commemorative painting by Belle Plaine artist Leo Stans.

Summer cottonwood flew through the air when I lined up for my root beer float. A few minutes later, I walked into the historic Bailey house and literally bumped into my friend Teri who works at the Fair. She introduced me to her coworkers, we talked a little Minnesota State Fair history, then she led me over to meet the artist.

Like poet Ted Kooser, Minnesota artist Leo Stans started out as an insurance salesman, dabbled in art, and began painting full-time in 1980. He painted wildlife, golf courses (he’s an avid golfer), and eventually transitioned into historical street scenes. In a newspaper quote, he said: “My thinking was that if you wanted to buy something nostalgic or historical, the only thing being offered was small towns and barns. I thought I would create a niche.”

According to an article by John Brewer in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Stans said he had been trying for the last 5 years to get a booth at the Grandstand to sell his work during the Fair. Ironically, that led to his applications making their way to the Fair staff and to his being awarded the 6th commission in the commemorative series last November.

 
 

Artist Leo Stans & MN State Fair 2009 Commemorative Oil Painting, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Minnesota State Fair Commemorative Oil Painting (Detail), St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Artist Leo Stans & Minnesota State Fair 2009 Commemorative Oil Painting, Minnesota State Fair Commemorative Oil Painting (Detail), St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

I shook Leo’s hand and immediately began asking him about the 28″ x 42″ oil painting. He said he did the research for summer’s “Great Minnesota Get-Together” in the dead cold of a Midwest winter. It took him 3 weeks to sketch it out, another 3 weeks to put paint to canvas.

He explained to me that the painting moves back in time as you walk from the Grandstand to the Ferris wheel, blending clothing styles of the past with those of the present. And like Hitchcock who appears in many of his films, Stans paints himself into all of his paintings. (If you stare long enough at the top photograph, you can spot him walking down the Midway.)

For many, the Minnesota State Fair is about making memories, a family tradition going back for generations. By choosing the 100th birthday of the Grandstand as the central theme for 2009, and including other historic icons like the carousel and mascot Fairchild, Stans captures and brings those memories to life through paint.

I’m a history buff and drawn to his dreamlike Twin Cities street scenes. The 2009 Fair painting has much the same feel and has been reproduced on postcards, posters, and buttons with proceeds benefiting the Minnesota State Fair Foundation. (The State Fair has a long history of being independently funded and has not received government appropriations since 1949.)

 
 

  Minnesota State Fair Postcard, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Minnesota State Fair Poster Art (II), St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Minnesota State Fair Postcard, Minnesota State Fair Poster Art (II), St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
 
 

The Minnesota State Fair 2009 begins August 27th and ends September 7th. And if you become one of the Friends of The Minnesota State Fair you will receive exclusive benefits including gate tickets, pre-sale access to Grandstand shows, bricks, benches, and more. Purchasing a $50 Yellow Ribbon package by August 1st, 2009 grants you the following:
 

  • Friends of the Fair card
  • FunFair news
  • Invitation to annual pre-fair event
  • Hospitality invitation to J.V. Bailey House during the State Fair
  • 2 State Fair and/or parking admission tickets
  • 1 State Fair annual pin
  • 1 Blue Ribbon Bargain Book with 100 great State Fair deals

 

There are also Green, Red, Blue, Purple, and Silver packages to choose from. Liz and I are looking forward to this year. Happy Fair going!

 
 

Belle Plaine Artist Leo Stans & MN State Fair Commemorative Oil Painting, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

 

Thanks to Leo Stans for permission to photograph him and his work, to Teri for reminding me about the art event, and to John for providing me with the newspaper clipping from the June 12th St. Paul Pioneer Press article by John Brewer – Painting Celebrates Fond Fair Memories.

 
 

Minnesota State Fair Space Tower, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

 

Below are links to past red Ravine posts and photographs about the history, foods on-a-stick, and fun available to all at the Minnesota State Fair. And if you check the comments on several of the posts, they are dripping with little-known Fair facts, trivia, and nostalgia from a mutual friend of ybonesy’s and mine, Teri Blair. For more of the Fair experience, you can also view my Minnesota State Fair Series on Flickr.

 
 
 

 

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

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By Teri Blair


St. Paul's Icelandic Lutheran Church, March 2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved

St. Paul’s Icelandic Lutheran Church, Minneota, Minnesota, where the services for Minnesota writer Bill Holm were held, March 2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.




Early on a Sunday morning in March, I drove three hours to attend the funeral of writer Bill Holm. Since that day, I’ve wanted to write about it. But I keep getting stuck. I pace. I try again. The paper is crumpled and thrown in the trash.

What’s wrong? I’m trying to make my writing as grand as Bill was, or as eloquent as I think he deserves. When I stop writing and try to do the dishes instead, I consider what Natalie Goldberg would tell me to do. She’d say, Just tell the story. The story is enough.




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The First Settlement, sign outside the St. Paul’s
Icelandic Lutheran Church, March 2009, photo
© 2009 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.





Bill was born on a Minnesota prairie farm, educated at the local public school, and grew to be six-and-a-half feet tall. He had a huge shock of red hair that turned white with age, ruddy cheeks, and a beautiful, booming voice. He left Minnesota after college to live around the world, but by the time he was 40 he had returned to his hometown, to his roots. He taught English and poetry for 27 years at Southwest State, and proceeded to publish 16 books. He bought a house in Iceland, and split his time between Minneota, Minnesota and a cottage near the Arctic Circle. He was bold and certain and convicted. He was funny and irreverent and warm.

I heard Bill speak a year before he died. He was reading from The Window of Brimnes at the Minneapolis Public Library. He was three weeks shy of retirement, and could barely contain his excitement for the next phase of life. No one in the audience could have guessed his new life would only last a year. When Minnesota Public Radio announced he had died after collapsing at the airport, I was crushed. Bill couldn’t be dead. I had just seen him. And he was just starting his new life, remember?

I knew I would go to his funeral. It was obvious. I now consider that I may have ignored that quiet voice telling me to go. I’ve done that before, argued myself out of following my instincts. But this time I didn’t.


Minnesota River, March 2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair, all rights reservedI packed a lunch the night before, and got on the road the next morning before daylight. The funeral was at St. Paul’s Icelandic Lutheran Church, built in 1895 by immigrants. Because I knew there wouldn’t be much room in the small church, I got there two hours early. After securing a space in the back pew with my coat and bag, I went to the front to look at the floral arrangements. The flowers had come from around the globe, from everyone. An open copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was in the bouquet from his wife. When I returned to my seat, another early-arriver walked in. Poet Laureate & Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser. When I saw him, I knew what the day was going to be like.

One by one they began to arrive, the gray-haired authors. Many of them I knew, and some I only recognized from book jackets but couldn’t place their names. Ten of them were pallbearers. I was awed. Humbled. I’d watch them approach each other, hug, and weep together over losing their friend. Not competitive. Tender. Attached to each other. I was in the company of greatness, and I knew it. They were steady. Present. The media wasn’t allowed into the church, and there was a hush of holiness. We gathered, and honored, and were still.

The funeral service was a full two hours long. In addition to writing, Bill was an accomplished pianist. There were Bach piano solos and Joplin’s ragtime. An octet from the college sang Precious Lord Take My Hand. Bill’s poetry and essays were read. The preacher made us all laugh when he told how Bill sat in the choir loft during sermons and read the newspaper. Though he didn’t agree with all the theology of Lutherans, he valued his roots in that little church.

When the service was over, Bill’s wife was led out first. A tall woman who looked sad and grounded and strong and peaceful. The author-pallbearers followed her out. Some of them held hands, and they stood very close to each other. I wanted time to move slower, to be with them longer in that small place.




Minneota's library, the librarians would call Bill Holm, and he'd walk there to sign books for the tourists, March 2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved

Minneota’s Library, the librarians would call Bill Holm,
and he’d walk there to sign books for the tourists, March
2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.

 

 

After ham sandwiches at the American Legion, I found the farm where Bill had been raised. On a deeply secluded road, the old farmstead sat on top of a hill. I got out of my car and looked at the beautiful rolling hills that Bill grew up on. I imagined the hundreds of times he walked down the same long driveway where I stood to wait for the school bus. I drove to the Icelandic cemetery and looked at the graves of his parents, imagining some of his ashes would soon be inurned there, too. I drove home slowly, filled with all I had seen.

Bill would appreciate me going to his funeral, but he wouldn’t want me to stay sentimental too long. He’d expect me to get on with it. Get on with it, now, he’d say. Be alive.




Westerheim Icelandic Cemetery, March 2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved

Westerheim Icelandic Cemetery, March 2009,
photo © 2009 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.





 
___________________________________________

 

Letting Go of What Cannot Be Held Back

by Bill Holm


Let go of the dead now.
The rope in the water,
The cleat on the cliff,
Do them no good anymore.
Let them fall, sink, go away,
Become invisible as they tried
So hard to do in their own dying.
We needed to bother them
With what we called help.
We were the needy ones.
The dying do their own work with
Tidiness, just the right speed,
Sometimes even a little
Satisfaction. So quiet down.
Let them go. Practice
Your own song. Now.

 

___________________________________________

Poem copyright (c)2004 by Bill Holm, from his most recent book of poems “Playing the Black Piano,” Milkweed Editions, 2004.




 

Poet Bill Holm, 1943-2009, from the program for his Memorial Service in Minneota, Minnesota, original photograph by Brian Peterson, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Poet Bill Holm, 1943-2009, Memorial program photograph by QuoinMonkey, original photograph of Bill Holm © 2009 by Brian Peterson.

About Teri Blair:  Teri Blair is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis and founder of the Poetry & Meditation Group of which QuoinMonkey fondly and frequently writes. (See Postcard From Billy Collins — Kicking Off National Poetry Month for the latest post on that group and Teri’s piece titled Desire And A Library Card — The Only Tools Necessary To Start A Poetry Group for a step-by-step on how to start your own.)

Teri is an active and valued member of the red Ravine community. Her other posts include A 40-Year Love Affair, about Bill Irvine’s passion for the Parkway, a landmark theater in Minneapolis that closed in 2008; and 40 Days, 8 Flags, And 1 Mennonite Choir and Thornton Wilder & Bridges, both prompted by the August 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. Teri was also one of our first guest writers, with the piece Continue Under All Circumstances.

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Mississippi Drive-By, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Mississippi Drive-By, sunset on the Mississippi, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.








Spring thaw spills over
Mississippi’s swollen banks;
Red River rages










I’ve been thinking about rivers this week as the Red River border between Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota spreads out over the land. Happy for Spring, this mighty south to north flowing river is swelled and overreaching her banks, leaving human devastation in her wake. The Red River stood at 40.71 feet shortly after 8:15 a.m., down a bit from the 40.8 feet at the stroke of midnight. That’s nearly a foot higher than the Red River has ever before reached in recorded history.

Rivers have minds of their own. And the Red River is a rebel. I remember a 1970′s flooding of the Susquehanna River when I was in college in Pennsylvania. Everyone was evacuated to higher ground; we were out of school for a week. My hometown hosts the mighty Mississippi, a river that writer Mark Twain knew intimately. He wrote about her history and human habitation in Life on the Mississippi. He also had this to say about trying to tame her:


The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise…

       – Mark Twain in Eruption

The same appears to be true of the Red River. This week, citizens of the area have lost homes and businesses swallowed up by the river. Thousands of Midwesterners in the Great White North rose to the occasion, sandbagging between the echoing dribbles of basketball’s March Madness. Cheering for the home team kept their minds from spinning, a kind of in-the-moment relief.

But yesterday, officials in the flood-plagued Minnesota community of Moorhead asked about one-third of their households to evacuate ahead of the rising river. Moorhead along with neighboring Fargo, North Dakota, a city of more than 90,000, are preparing for further evacuations. The river is not expected to crest until Sunday afternoon, an all-time high of 42 feet. Thank goodness the cold weather this week left the Red frozen to the bone, unable to push the higher limits that were predicted.

Our prayers are with our communities to the North, though the odds may not be. It has always been this way with rivers; and so it shall always be. And if it’s true what Twain says that “we form our opinions of our country from what other people say of us,” then Midwesterners will always go down as a people who show up for each other when the chips are down. Middle of the country. Middle America. High regard for the land, the rivers, the habitat, and the people who commingle there.



It is strange how little has been written about the Upper Mississippi. The river below St. Louis has been described time and again, and it is the least interesting part. One can sit on the pilot-house for a few hours and watch the low shores, the ungainly trees and the democratic buzzards, and then one might as well go to bed. One has seen everything there is to see. Along the Upper Mississippi every hour brings something new. There are crowds of odd islands, bluffs, prairies, hills, woods and villages–everything one could desire to amuse the children.

Few people every think of going there, however. Dickens, Corbett, Mother Trollope and the other discriminating English people who ‘wrote up’ the country before 1842 had hardly an idea that such a stretch of river scenery existed. Their successors have followed in their footsteps, and as we form our opinions of our country from what other people say of us, of course we ignore the finest part of the Mississippi.

 - Interview in Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1886, from Mark Twain Quotations


- For up to the minute coverage, photographs, and history, read about the Red River Floods of March 2009 at these links:


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 28th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), susquehanna haiku, savannah river haiku

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Sage & John Cowles Convervatory, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Sage & John Cowles Convervatory, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



In keeping with last week’s Writing Topic, hundreds of windows turn Winter inside out at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden adjacent to the Walker Art Center. Established in 1927, the Walker began as the Upper Midwest’s first public art gallery. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which opened in 1988, is one of the nation’s largest urban sculpture parks and visitors to the Twin Cities don’t often leave without walking the 11-acre home to more than 40 works of art.

The Sage & John Cowles Conservatory on the western edge of the Sculpture Garden is a community contribution from philanthropists John Cowles, Jr. and his wife Jane Sage Fuller (who also had key roles in bringing the Guthrie Theater and Metrodome to Minneapolis). John Cowles Jr. was named president and CEO of Cowles Media in 1968, after beginning as a police reporter in 1953.

His father, John Cowles Sr., made the cover of TIME in 1935 when he and his brother, Gardner (Mike) Cowles Jr., bought the Minneapolis Star, then the 3rd weakest newspaper in the community. The brothers are descendants of a small-town banker, son of a Methodist elder in Iowa, who started out with little money until turning the Des Moines Register & Tribune and the Minneapolis Star Tribune into well-respected national newspapers.


According to a 1997 article in the Star Tribune:

John Sr. was president of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Co. from 1935 to 1968, and chairman from 1968 to 1973. Through the influence of his newspaper and his own activities, he is credited with turning Minnesota from an isolationist state to an internationally engaged one, and leading the fight against the anti-Semitism that was openly practiced in the state when he arrived.


    RainGrate, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.      Standing Pink, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

RainGrate, Standing Pink, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Sage Fuller Cowles is a dancer from Bedford Village, New York, and the stepdaughter of Cass Canfield, Sr., one-time chairman of Harper & Row. In the 1950s, she danced on Broadway and television and served as president of Planned Parenthood of Minneapolis from 1957-59. Her approach to philanthropy leans to the holistic, and our community receives the benefit:

I needed to have a new definition of philanthropy. The Greeks came to my rescue. “Love of mankind” was in the dictionary and that suited me fine. Philanthropy is not just about dollars and cents. It’s about giving time, energy, commitment to some idea or cause that we care about. We can all be philanthropists fueled by our individual passions, and we can do a better job of identifying our passions if our early experiences give us confidence to pursue them.

If we focus on educating the whole being would it make a difference to the quality of our communal life? Would we grow a different kind of citizen?

     -Sage Fuller Cowles from Getting Ahead of the Curve: Engaging Our Youngest Citizens, April 2006


We take a leisurely stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden every time we head to the Walker for a show. The main section of the three-part Cowles Conservatory houses Frank Gehry’s 22-foot Standing Glass Fish that you can just make out in the photograph. It also houses palm trees, pass-throughs covered in creeping fig, and striking seasonal displays in the Regis Gardens designed by landscape architects Barbara Stauffacher Solomon and Michael Van Valkenburgh.

When we walk by Deborah Butterfield’s horse, Woodrow, we are walking on the same ground where a 1913 convention of the Society of American Florists and Ornamental Horticulture was held in Minneapolis’ old armory. It was there that Theodore Wirth designed temporary display gardens to show what could be grown in Minnesota’s wintry climate. They were such a success that they were kept in place for decades as demonstration gardens until finally becoming casualties to freeway construction.


     String Theory, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Ghostwalker, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Palm Red, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


But the seed had been planted. Architect of the museum, Edward Larrabee Barnes, picked up the torch and designed the original 7.5 acre Sculpture Garden. In winter months (which in Minnesota can run from October to April), the cave-like city dwellers of Minneapolis and Saint Paul bask in places like Cowles Conservatory where walls of glass allow warmth and light to penetrate the Vitamin D deprived, sun-kissed face of a long dark Winter.



Resources:


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 14th, 2009

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Minnesota State Fair -- Happy Birthday, Minnesota!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Minnesota State Fair – Happy Birthday, Minnesota!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Let’s Talk History

Summer is winding down; it’s time for the Minnesota State Fair! After 4 years of territorial fairs, the first Minnesota State Fair was held in 1859 near downtown Minneapolis, one year after Minnesota was granted statehood (2008 is the Minnesota Sesquicentennial). The Minnesota State Fair found a permanent home midway between Minneapolis and St. Paul when Ramsey County donated its 210-acre poor farm to the governing body of the State Fair, the State Agricultural Society.

The Fairgrounds now cover 320 acres and contain a number of architecturally and historically significant structures. And this year, there are Sesquicentennial Celebration events taking place under the Big Top at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, including a 150th birthday cake and Minnesota Memories, conversations with some of Minnesota’s most colorful residents.

Many famous people have walked through these gates. It’s hard to believe it’s been 80 years since F. Scott Fitzgerald reminisced about the Minnesota State Fair in his book, A Night at the Fair. Since 1859, rain or shine, the Minnesota State Fair has been held every year except five:


  • 1861 — the Civil War
  • 1862 — the Dakota Indian Conflict
  • 1893 — scheduling conflicts with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago
  • 1945 — war-time fuel shortages
  • 1946 — polio epidemic


Grandstand Show, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Grandstand Show, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.


Classic rides grace the Mighty Midway; a couple of new ones, too, like the Heartbreaker and the Wind Surf.  I’m not much of ride person (I get too seasick!). I attend the State Fair for the tradition, the food, and the music (Alabama has performed 18 times in 13 years). This year, Liz and I have tickets to see Gnarls Barkley at the Grandstand. We plan to make a day of it. And if you’re into history, the Minnesota State Fair is full of odd and choice moments in time:

  • 1887, 1888, 1889, 1898 – Battle Reenactments of Minnesota at Gettysburg
  • 1906 – St. Paul Growers Association built a model of the new State Capitol out of onions
  • 1915 – a Baby Contest pitted city babies vs. country babies, Minneapolis babies vs. St. Paul babies
  • 1927 – John Phillip Sousa was the Fair’s first big name entertainer. He performed in the Plaza Park outside the Grandstand.
  • 1938 – the last year the Fair started on the Saturday before Labor Day
  • 1949 – the last year of horse races
  • 2002 – the last year of Grandstand auto racing


Close Up Nightshot - Carousel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Close Up Nightshot – Carousel, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


I’m particularly fond of the carousel, and the tradition of outdoor sculptures at the Fair. Over the years, there have been many: the 36-foot-tall Pioneer Woman made of gold fiberglass erected in 1958 to commemorate the State’s Centennial (she’s 50 years old this year); the 1959 statue of Neptune (a tribute to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway); and my personal favorite, Fairchild the Gopher, a 24-foot fiberglass statue dressed as a Midway barker, complete with striped jacket and straw skimmer.


Stella Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Stella Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.


In 1966, Fairchild the gopher became the official mascot of the State Fair and was joined by his nephew, Fairborne, in 1983. Fairchild (a play on the institution’s title) got his name after a state-wide naming contest. It is also a tribute to Henry S. Fairchild, the man who suggested the Ramsey County Poor Farm become the permanent site of the State Fair (more Fair photographs in my Flickr set Minnesota State Fair.)

You can learn more by visiting The State Fair History Museum in Heritage Square. The museum, open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., showcases memorabilia and artifacts from the Fair’s past and admission is free. Or, for little known Minnesota State Fair trivia, visit the comment section of last year’s MN State Fair On-A-Stick where our friend Teri (who works at the Fair) knocks our socks off with her bounty of State Fair knowledge.


Worlds Greatest, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Dairy Barn, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

World’s Greatest, Dairy Barn, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



What’s New In Food at the Minnesota State Fair?

I’m going to wrap up with my favorite subject — FOOD! Corn fritters, fried green tomatoes, and blooming onions debuted 15 years ago (1993); nearly 500,000 corndogs are consumed at the Fair each year. This video of Minnesota State Fair food lovers snarfing Fair food on-a-stick is a must see. And there’s a breakdown below of all of this year’s foods on-a-stick, as well as what’s new in food at the Fair in 2008 (check out the Minnesota State Fair Food Finder).

I’ll come back after next week to give you a rundown on all the foods on-a-stick I ate (and let you know how Gnarls Barkley turned out). Oh, one more thing — if you want to save a little money, look for the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book Bonus Coupon. Liz just came home from Cub Foods with groceries, State Fair tickets for $8 each (Admission is $11 at the door), and our Blue Ribbon Bargain Book ($4 before August 20th). She’s a big Minnesota State Fair fan and early bird bargain shopper!



Ways To Save $$$ At The Minnesota State Fair

(BRBB) BONUS COUPON -

  • The State Fair Blue Ribbon Bargain Book has 100 coupons worth over $500 in savings on food, merchandise and attractions. New this year, the book contains a bonus coupon good for a free ride or admission at one of the five favorite fair attractions, including the Butterfly House, Pirate Island Shootout, Space Tower, Sky Ride and Ye Old Mill.
  • Blue Ribbon Bargain Books are available through August 20th for only $4 wherever pre-Fair discount admission tickets are sold. During the Fair, books may be purchased at State FairWear Gift Shops on the Fairgrounds for just $5.

SUNSET SUNDAY SAVINGS -

  • On Sundays, August 24th and August 31st, this evening promotion will feature a minimum of 20% off at participating vendors from 8 p.m. until close.



Fried Fruit On-A-Stick Family, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Fried Fruit On-A-Stick Family, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


MN State Fair – Foods On-A-Stick

  1. Alligator Sausage on-a-stick
  2. Bacon (Fried) on-a-stick
  3. Bananas (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  4. Beef Kabobs on-a-stick
  5. Beer Battered Brats on-a-stick
  6. Bomb Pops on-a-stick
  7. Butterscotch Cake on-a-stick
  8. Candy Apples on-a-stick
  9. Candy Bars (deep fried) on-a-stick
  10. Caramel Apples on-a-stick
  11. Catfish on-a-stick
  12. Cheese on-a-stick
  13. Cheese (fried) on-a-stick
  14. Cheesecake (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  15. Chicken on-a-stick
  16. Chicken Bites on-a-stick
  17. Chocolate Chip Cookies on-a-stick
  18. Coffee (frozen) on-a-stick
  19. Corndogs on-a-stick
  20. Corned Beef and Cabbage on-a-stick
  21. Cotton Candy on-a-stick
  22. Dessert Dumplings on-a-stick
  23. Dixie Wings on-a-stick
  24. Espresso (frozen) on-a-stick
  25. Fruit (fresh) on-a-stick
  26. Fruit (fried) on-a-stick
  27. Fudge Puppies on-a-stick
  28. Hot Dago on-a-stick
  29. Hot Dish on-a-stick
  30. Hot Dogs (wrap) on-a-stick
  31. Key Lime Pie Dipped in Chocolate (frozen) on-a-stick
  32. Lamb (leg of) on-a-stick
  33. Macaroni & Cheese on-a-stick
  34. Marshmallows (Chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  35. Meatballs (porcupine wild rice & ground pork) on-a-stick
  36. Meatballs (Scotch) on-a-stick
  37. Meat Kabobs on-a-stick
  38. Nut Roll (chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  39. Pickles on-a-stick
  40. Pickles (deep fried) on-a-stick
  41. Pizza on-a-stick
  42. Poncho Dogs on-a-stick
  43. Pork Chops on-a-stick
  44. Pronto Pups on-a-stick
  45. Rueben on-a-stick
  46. Sausage on-a-stick
  47. Scones on-a-stick
  48. Scotch Eggs on-a-stick
  49. Shrimp on-a-stick
  50. Shrimp (grilled) on-a-stick
  51. S’mores on-a-stick
  52. S’mores (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  53. Spaghetti & Meatballs on-a-stick
  54. Spudsters on-a-stick
  55. Steak on-a-stick
  56. Taffy Pops on-a-stick
  57. Tater Tots (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  58. Turkey Tenderloin (bacon-wrapped) on-a-stick
  59. Vegie Fries on-a-stick
  60. Vegetable Kabobs on-a-stick
  61. Waffle (Belgian) on-a-stick
  62. Walleye on-a-stick
  63. Wild Rice Corndog on-a-stick


Total Number of Foods-On-A-Stick: 63


Freshmade Nutrolls, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Freshmade Nutrolls, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.


New Minnesota State Fair Foods In 2008

    Chicken Bites on-a-stick (blackened chicken breast meat served with horseradish sauce)
    @Axel’s, located on the outside southeast corner of the Food Building
    Deep-Fried Ice-Cream
    @San Felipe Tacos, located in the Food Building
    Deep-Fried S’mores on-a-stick (marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker, battered and deep-fried)
    @Oodles of Noodles, located inside the Food Building
    Deep Fried Tater Tots on-a-stick (tater tots made with hashbrowns, cheese, bacon, onions and sour cream deep-fried)
    @Axel’s, located on the southeast corner of the Food Building
    Dessert Chocolate Pizza
    @Pizza Shoppe, located inside the Food Building
    Fish Tacos (southern California-style fish tacos)
    @San Felipe Tacos, located in the Food Building
    Fried Bacon on-a-stick (Big Fat Bacon) (1/3 lb. slice of bacon fried and caramelized with maple syrup and served with dipping sauces)
    @Big Fat Bacon, located on Carnes Avenue near Nelson Street in front of the DNR Building
    Grilled Shrimp on-a-stick
    @Grilled Shrimp, located on Underwood Street near the Ye Old Mill
    Italian Breakfast Strata (layers of Italian sausage and cheese with Italian bread)
    @Oodles of Noodles, located inside the Food Building
    • Italian Ice (frozen non-dairy confections with up to 20 different flavors)
    @Isabella’s Italian Ice, located on the corner of Liggett Street and Dan Patch Avenue
    •Leprechaun Legs (lightly battered, deep-fried green beans with dipping sauce)
    @O’Garas, located inside the Food Building
    Neapolitan Cream Puffs
    @Cream Puffs, located on the corner of Liggett Street and Dan Patch Avenue
    Norwegian Style Cheese Curds (cheese curds battered in a Scandinavian batter, deep-fried and served with Lingonberry-flavored dipping sauce)
    @Ole and Lena’s, located on Liggett near Carnes
    Pickle Pop (pickle juice frozen in a plastic push-up sleeve)
    @Preferred Pickle, located inside the Food Building
    Pig Lickers (chocolate-covered crisp-fried bacon pieces)
    @Famous Dave’s, located on Dan Patch Avenue near Liggett Street
    Walking Taco (taco ingredients served neatly in a Dorito bag)
    @Church of the Epiphany, located on Underwood Street between Carnes Avenue and Judson Avenue
    Yaki-Soba Noodles (buckwheat style noodles, wok-fried with spices and vegetables)
    @Island Noodles, located inside the International Bazaar



MN State Fair Poster 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.MN State Fair Poster 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

MN State Fair Poster 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



More Nuts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. More Nuts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. More Nuts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

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Carousel, MN State Fair, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Carousel, Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. 


Carousels have a rich history at the Minnesota State Fair. I snapped this as we were leaving the Fair grounds Friday night. I receive a great deal of joy from the vibrant color, gritty glitz, and gauzy glamour of the night lights and carnival atmosphere of walking the Fair after dark.

The daylight was fun, too, but it was hot, dusty, and humid. When night cooled the air, the antique buildings creaked with relief from the heat, the moon rose over the Grandstand, and the 300 plus acres were electric with energy. That was my favorite time to prowl.

The original Minnesota State Fair carousel was called Cafesjian’s Carousel. In 1914, Austin McFadden paid the Philadelphia Toboggan Company $8,500 to build it, transport it to St. Paul, and assemble it on the grounds of the Minnesota State Fair, where it ran for 74 years. You can read what happened next when a St. Paul couple decided to fight the good fight to preserve its history and heritage at Our Fair Carousel. 

As for the carousel pictured in this photograph, I was not able to find any history from my brief research tonight. Maybe my friend that works at the Fair will be able to shed some light.

I remember riding the carousels as a child when I visited amusement parks with my parents. I always felt like I was tall and powerful, sitting atop a jumper. The standers bored me, even as a kid. I wanted to be moving, moving, moving.

Here’s a writing topic – do a 10 minute writing practice about your memories of carousels, or merry-go-rounds as we called them in my family. You can learn more about carousels at the Merry-Go-Round Museum.  Write everything you know about carousels – Go!


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

-related to posts: MN State Fair On-A-Stick and MN State Fair On-A-Stick II – Video & Stats

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Foods On A Stick At The Minnesota State Fair 2006, YouTube Video by TKordonowy.

Whoa! After 8 hours at the Minnesota State Fair, Liz and I made it home at 10:30p.m. last night, not much worse for wear. Unless you count the fact that we could hardly walk and had giant food hangovers!


Here are our MN State Fair Stats for August 2007:

  • Money Spent: $102 (not counting the $41 we saved with Cub coupon book & ticket discount) [See WCCO Good Question with Ben Tracy: How Much Does The State Fair Make?]
  • Time Spent: 8 hours (just at the Fair, not including travel & walking time)
  • Photos Taken: 642 digital day & night shots (by the two of us)
  • Events Covered with $$$: admission tickets, Butterfly House, walking, walking, walking, digesting, all food & drink, people watching, shiny blue 100% cotton State Fair hoodie
  • Fair Booty: autographs from Don Shelby, Amelia Santaniello, and Frank Vascellaro from WCCO, 11 kinds of food (5 on-a-stick, favorite was Fried Fruit On-A-Stick), 7 kinds of drinks, Swine, Sheep, Cattle, Goat, Poultry Barns, J.V. Bailey House, Fine Arts Building, polka band and coffee cup hat at Farmers Union Coffee Shop, opera, Air America Talk Radio 950am, Al Franken for Senate booth, wonder and awe in the Butterfly House, joy and laughter all around


We ran out of time for the full tour of the J.V. Bailey House or our annual viewing of the Dairy Princesses carved from butter. And we missed A Prairie Home Companion at the Grand Stand and the escaped bull that ran amuck through the crowd. For more insight into our food hangovers, check out the YouTube video by TKordonowy, Foods On A Stick At The Minnesota State Fair 2006.

I know Minnesotans that go to the Fair at least 4 or 5 times in one week. Ralph Cornelius has attended the Minnesota State Fair for 80 years without missing one year. Ralph was even there as an infant in 1928. But I’ve got to say, for me, once every one or two years is enough. We had a great time this year. More photos to come. Enjoy the video!


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, September 1st, 2007

-related to post, MN State Fair On-A-Stick

-another video link you might enjoy that includes video in its infancy, 80′s hair, and brief footage of the butter sculptures:  Minnesota Stories, Just Plain Big: MN State Fair 1988

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Minnesota State Fair Button 2007, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved.

-Minnesota State Fair Button 2007, quick snapshot after breakfast (notice the little piece of dirt on the middle right edge!), Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


It’s Minnesota State Fair time! And after over 150 years, it’s a Minnesota tradition. The Minnesota State Fair is the 2nd largest State Fair in the U.S., second only to Texas. However, while the Texas State Fair runs for 24 days and has a larger annual attendance, the Minnesota State Fair is only 12 days with a greater number of people attending each day.

One of the most significant dates in the Fair’s history was September 2nd, 1901 when then-vice president Teddy Roosevelt was visiting and first uttered the famous phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Liz and I are heading to the Fair tomorrow afternoon. If it’s not raining, we’ll take the motorcycle and park in the lot set aside especially for us. Sweet! I don’t like crowds (attendance at the MN State Fair in 2006 was 1,689,579), so the highlight of the Fair for me is the food (what else?).

We are famous for our Fair food on-a-stick. Below is a complete list (from the Minnesota State Fair Press Kit, a great resource for everything Fair). Liz and I wrote down a few we want to try: espresso on-a-stick, hotdish on-a-stick, chocolate-covered nutroll on-a-stick, wild rice corndog on-a-stick, deep-fried fruit on-a-stick, and, let’s not forget, SPAM curds!

We’ve also got a friend working at the Fair this year (thanks for the buttons!). So we’ll be sure to stop by and visit her. And the Minnesota State Fair is a photographer’s paradise. There’s the fantastic people watching, the amazing art in the Fine Arts Building, the Milk Run, and the Princess Kay of the Milky Way Coronation organized by the Midwest Dairy Association.

Since 1953, the Princess Kay competition has recognized young women whose families are involved in Minnesota’s dairy industry (have I ever mentioned that Liz comes from a North Dakota dairy family?). Regional dairy princesses compete for the yearly title and the entire court have their likenesses carved out of butter during the Fair.

If you’ve never seen a butter sculpture, you are in for a treat! Hope to see you at the The Great Minnesota Get-Together. Or if you can’t attend, tell us about the Fairs in your part of the world!


MN STATE FAIR – FOODS ON-A-STICK

  1. Alligator Sausage on-a-stick
  2. Bacon Wrapped Turkey Tenderloin on-a-stick
  3. Beef Kabobs on-a-stick
  4. Beer Battered Brats on-a-stick
  5. Bomb Pops on-a-stick
  6. Butterscotch Cake on-a-stick
  7. Candy Apples on-a-stick
  8. Candy Bars (deep fried) on-a-stick
  9. Caramel Apples on-a-stick
  10. Cheese on-a-stick
  11. Chicken on-a-stick
  12. Chocolate Chip Cookies on-a-stick
  13. Chocolate Covered Bananas on-a-stick
  14. Chocolate Covered Cheese Cake on-a-stick
  15. Chocolate Dipped Nut Roll on-a-stick
  16. Coffee (frozen) on-a-stick
  17. Corndogs on-a-stick
  18. Corned Beef and Cabbage on-a-stick
  19. Cotton Candy on-a-stick
  20. Dessert Dumplings on-a-stick
  21. Espresso (frozen) on-a-stick
  22. Fried Fruit on-a-stick
  23. Fried Jalapeño Pepper Cheese on-a-stick
  24. Fried Swiss Cheese on-a-stick
  25. Fudge puppies on-a-stick
  26. Hot Dish on-a-stick
  27. Hot Dogs on-a-stick
  28. Key Lime Pie Dipped in Chocolate (frozen) on-a-stick
  29. Kiddi Kabobs on-a-stick
  30. Macaroni & Cheese on-a-stick
  31. Marshmallows (Chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  32. Meatballs on-a-stick
  33. MinneKabobs on-a-stick
  34. Pickles on-a-stick
  35. Pickles (deep fried) on-a-stick
  36. Pickles (Kool-Aid) on-a-stick
  37. Pizza on-a-stick
  38. Poncho Dogs on-a-stick
  39. Pork Chops on-a-stick
  40. Pronto Pups on-a-stick
  41. Rueben Dog on-a-stick
  42. Salmon on-a-stick
  43. Sausage on-a-stick
  44. Scallops on-a-stick
  45. Scones on-a-stick
  46. Scotch Eggs on-a-stick
  47. Shrimp on-a-stick
  48. Sloppy Joes on-a-stick
  49. S’mores on-a-stick
  50. Spaghetti & Meatballs on-a-stick
  51. Spudsters on-a-stick
  52. Super Dog on-a-stick
  53. Taffy Pops on-a-stick
  54. Vegetable Kabobs on-a-stick
  55. Wild Rice Corndog on-a-stick
  56. Walleye on-a-stick

Total number of foods on-a-stick: 56

NEW MN STATE FAIR FOODS IN 2007

Apple fries (julienne apples crumb-coated and deep-fried)
@Coaster’s, located on the corner of Liggett Street and Carnes Avenue
Blackened steak wrap with steak, eggs, potatoes and cheese
@Ragin Cajun, located on the west wall in The Garden
BLP (bacon, lettuce, pico de gallo) quesadilla
@Tejas, located on the north wall in The Garden
Buffalo chips and cheese
@Delicious Potato Skins, located inside the south door of the Food Building
Butterscotch cake on-a-stick (a cream-filled cake dipped in butterscotch)
@Scotch Eggs, located east of the Horse Barn on Liggett Street
Cajun shrimp wrap with shrimp, eggs, potatoes and cheese
@Ragin Cajun, located on the west wall in The Garden
Calamari Fish and Chips
@two locations: inside the Food Building on the west side; west of Liggett Street on the northeast corner of the Horse Barn
Coca-Cola cheesecake dipped in chocolate on-a-stick
@Apple Lil’s, located in Heritage Square
Corned beef and cabbage on-a-stick
@O’Gara’s, located inside the east door of the Food Building
Fried fruit on-a-stick (pineapple, grapes, bananas, strawberries, apples, cherries, kiwi, honeydew and cantaloupe skewered, dipped in a sweet batter and deep fried)
@Fried Fruit, located in Carousel Park near the Grandstand Ramp
Jambalaya with eggs, potatoes and cheese
@Ragin Cajun, located on the west wall in The Garden
Knuckle sandwich (brined pork with sweet & zesty sauce and caramelized onions on a hoagie bun)
@Famous Dave’s, located north of Adventure Park on West Dan Patch Avenue
Kool-Aid pickles
@Famous Dave’s, located north of Adventure Park on West Dan Patch Avenue
Lingonberry turnovers
@Rainbow Ice Cream, three locations: east of Underwood Street and just south of Carnes Avenue under the Skyride; southwest corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street; west of Underwood Street, between Wright Avenue and Dan Patch Avenue
Old fashioned ice cream sodas
@Bridgeman’s, located on the northwest corner of Judson Avenue and Liggett Street
Peanut butter hot dog
@Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street
Rocky road scones on-a-stick (scones with chocolate chips, caramel and marshmallow, rolled and baked)
@French Meadow, located inside the southeast door of the Food Building
S’mores on-a-stick
@Ultimate Confections, located inside the east door on the lower level of Grandstand
Soda fountain funnel cakes (topped with Coca-Cola, Cherry Coke, Sasparilla, whipped cream or custard)
@Apple Lil’s, located in Heritage Square
Sloppy joes on-a-stick
@Axel’s, located on the southeast corner outside the Food Building
SPAM burger, Hawaiian SPAM burger, SPAM curds
@SPAM Burgers located in Carousel Park under the Grandstand Ramp
Uffda brat (Norwegian brat wrapped in potato lefse)
@Sausage Sisters, located inside the east door of the Food Building

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, August 26, 2007

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Riverview Theater, vintage 1948 sign, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

Riverview Theater, vintage 1948 sign, designed by Liebenberg and Kaplan, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved


A good friend called me last Sunday completely revved up about a film she had seen at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis. The last showings were scheduled for Sunday at noon and 5:30p.m. and she said we had to go see it. Both the director and the producer were going to introduce the film and stay afterwards to answer questions.

As soon as I heard it was a documentary on the model most often photographed in Edward Weston’s work, I knew I wanted to see it. It was a rainy Sunday and at 10:30, Liz and I were still in our pajamas, drinking morning coffee; we didn’t have long to get ready. We tried to make the noon showing but got there too late. Instead of missing the first 15 minutes, we decided to head downtown to take photographs and come back for the 5:30. Were we glad we did!

Eloquent Nude – The Love And Legacy Of Edward Weston & Charis Wilson is directed by Ian McCluskey. Ian appeared down-to-earth, excited, and passionate when he talked about the film. He did an excellent job of interviewing, editing, and paring the footage down to just the essentials.

The final product skillfully reveals his vision for the film – to capture the essence of the relationship between photographer, Edward Weston, and poet, writer, and model, Charis Wilson. The film reaches far past their marriage, to reveal the minds and hearts of two people bound by artistic love and creative drive.

Eloquent Nude. The Love And Legacy of Edward Weston & Charis Wilson, image of movie poster provided by director & producer, © 2007 McCluskey explained that he had always wondered who the woman was in the Weston photographs. When he started to dig into it, he discovered Charis and in a moment of bravery, contacted her, filmed over 8 hours of interviews, and, well, the rest is history.

He talked about the tender moment when he worked up the courage to give her a call and then stumbled over his words. “It’s an honor to finally talk to you,” he said. In the cut-to-the-point, direct humor that carried over into the film, Charis laughingly said, “Oh, he says it’s an honor.”

Producer, Julie Gliniany, originally from the Twin Cities, eloquently spoke about the project and how she met Ian through an ad on Craigslist. A few years and a lot of work later, Eloquent Nude is a reality. Julie was beaming when she talked about nervously screening the film at the home of Charis Wilson, now 93 and legally blind. They set up a big screen TV and Charis sat close to the action.

About half way into the film, Charis asked her daughter to stop the viewing, turned to Julie and Ian and said, “If my tear ducts hadn’t clogged up years ago, I’d be crying my eyes out. These are the home movies I never had.”

I can’t recommend this film enough. I was riveted to Charis Wilson’s expressive face, honest commentary, and candid sense of humor. And after hearing Ian and Julie speak about their work, I walked out of the Riverview completely inspired to tackle my own creative projects.

Julie and Ian took a chance; they went out there and did something that was close to their hearts. They didn’t have a lot of money but they had an idea that they believed in; they placed ads, got the crew together, contacted Charis and made their vision a reality.

Before we left the historic Riverview Theater (designed by Liebenberg and Kaplan in 1948, with many of the original furnishings), Liz signed up for their email list. Today she got an email from the producer, Julie, that the film had been held over at the Riverview another week. I had already planned to blog about the experience, but Julie’s email gave me that extra zip I needed to get this post out tonight.

Here’s what she said:

Thank you so much for such a warm welcoming in Minnesota over the weekend. Ian and I are safely back in Portland, enjoying the August sunshine and already missing the friendly crowds, Scandinavian accents, and potato salad of the Midwest (I know, my accent isn’t too far from gone).

We wanted to write and let you all know that due to the huge success of ELOQUENT NUDE, the Riverview Theater has decided to hold the film over for an additional week!

As this obviously wasn’t included in the beautiful press we received we’re asking for as much help as you can offer to spread the word about the additional screening dates. Feel free to post this info on blogs, forums, work email lists, etc.. Although Ian and I will no longer be able to attend the screenings, we hope you will help us fill those seats and continue sharing this story.

Riverview Theater
3800 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis
612-729-7369

Wed. Aug. 22nd at 5:30
Friday Aug. 24 – Thursday Aug. 30 at 5:30pm
Weekend Matinees at Noon on Aug. 25-26
Tickets are $2

Keep in touch!

Julie Gliniany & Ian McCluskey

Don’t miss this film! When it comes to your town, rain or shine, rush out in your pajamas, coffee clutched in hand, and see it. Grab some buttered popcorn and a box of Raisinets. And prepare to be moved.


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007


related links:

-Weston Photography – Kim & Gina Weston’s site – Historic and current photographs of the Weston family and history, including Charis Wilson and Wildcat Hill

-Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Interview with Charis Wilson, Conducted by Mimi Luebbermann, In Aptos, California, March 24, 1982 – Great candid interview with Charis, well worth the time.

-Weston Book Leads To Documentary Film, Oregon State Website, updated 2006 - Wendy Madar co-wrote the Charis Wilson memoir, Through Another Lens: My Years With Edward Weston. We checked a local bookstore last weekend and found the book to be out of print. But you may be able to find it used.

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Gold Medal Park, July 2007, near the I-35 bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Gold Medal Park, August 3rd, 2007, blue light from the Guthrie, and the old Gold Medal sign, a few blocks from the I-35 bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


I ended up in downtown Minneapolis Friday night, by the I-35 bridge. I didn’t plan to walk down by the river. But that’s what ended up happening. Liz and I took her Mom into Minneapolis to pick her brother up at the Hilton. The four of us went to Harry’s by the old Milwaukee train station for dinner. Liz had seen a write-up in City Pages.

The chocolate banana cream pie was sizzling and creamy, the Robert Cray a little too loud, the beer bottle chandelier campy, the energy electric. The fresh shrimp appetizer stared back at me from a clean, white plate with beady, black eyes and centipede feet. I had to work too hard to snag the meaty centers. But the butterbeans and ginger dipping sauce were delectable. And we had a good time.

Eat At Harry's, August 2oo7, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. After dinner, Liz decided to try to drive over the 10th Street Bridge. It was blocked off. So we went over by the University of Minnesota to see what was happening. Things were buzzing: summer students, slow-moving SUVs, curious tourists, and everyday people like us. People who live here and want to steal a fleeting glimpse of what’s happened to their city.

We couldn’t see much. But we did pass by the blue and yellow media tents precariously perched on the edge of the University Bridge. There was a lot of neck-craning navigation through slow-moving traffic. People seemed unusually eager to let us in. Kind. Polite.

Grain Belt Chandelier, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Later, we dropped Liz’s family off at the door of the downtown Hilton. We were tired and knew we wanted to get home. But we were so close. So Liz took a chance. “Wanna go down by the river to the parkway?” she asked. “Yeah, let’s try,” I said. Liz has amazing luck with parking. She found a spot under the gangly shadow of the Ceresota sign, right across from the old Whitney hotel. We grabbed our cameras and started walking down to the Mississippi.

It had taken me a few days, watching endless loops of media coverage, to figure out that my favorite part of West River Parkway was no more. The closest we could get was a short span of road under the Gold Medal Flour sign, next to the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater. There were groups of people gathered on a little outcrop across from the Stone Arch Bridge. They stood two by two, talking one on one, quietly discussing what they were seeing.

There was pointing and head bowing and quiet honor. Shared solitude. Silent prayers, inner mourning, deeper understanding. Solidarity. The I-35 bridge over the Mississippi had caved into the river. And yet we were still here. All that was left were the bright lights, twisted beams, and green vertical V’s of mangled metal. Everything else was under the river.

The 10th Street Bridge was standing behind the collapsed bridge. The illusion was that it stood in front of it. We walked past the Guthrie, down to within a block of the Red Cross building. A twenty-something policeman with a green flashlight, blue cooler, and yellow tape, roped us off from going further. It would be a long time before I drove the Rebel on that stretch of road again.

From the last barrier, we could see the section of the bridge that had smashed into the parkway. It stood brightly lit through the dark foliage that covers the river banks. I’ll never forget the woman on the news who had gone under the bridge on the parkway seconds before it collapsed. Her account of the deafening noise, immediate silence, confusion, horror, disbelief, and helplessness, will stick with me always.

Ceresota, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

-Ceresota, August 3rd, 2007, on a walk to see the I-35 bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Liz and I walked silently back to the car. We took a few photographs, and checked in with each other when one of us would stop to stare at the river. My camera battery died. I wasn’t much in the mood anyway. I was taking it all in. And trying to hold the enormity of it. I’m not there yet. But the cover of night offered solace. By the time we were ready to leave, there were only a few people milling around near the Stone Arch Bridge.

We slowly walked up the hill by the old mill ruins. Liz snapped a few hundred ghostly orbs. We didn’t realize until we looked at our photographs this morning that bright blips of ghostly light were peppered throughout her photographs. The Spirits of the old mills are restless.

Perhaps they are shaken up by what they have seen. Or are surfacing to offer comfort to the living. There have been countless accidents and fires on that stretch of the Mississippi. Minneapolis grew up on her banks; she’s suffered a new scar. Loved ones have been lost. They are holding up the sky.

While we were driving home through the city that night, I realized how much I love it here. I was not born and raised in Minnesota. And it took me a long time to feel like I fit in. But after 23 years, this is my home. I love the Midwest. And Minnesota. I love Minneapolis.

I was surprised to feel the tears well up in my eyes this morning when I looked at the night shots of our town. I felt a strange sense of pride.

The pride has always been there, a hidden undercurrent. But Friday night, when I stared at the swollen Mississippi, quietly holding the severed, crumpled aorta of our city, the root was unearthed. I tapped into a vein of strength: a deep layer of connection and community; a place I know I belong.

Saturday, August 4th, 2007


-Bridge To Nowhere – The Great Connector posted on red Ravine, Sunday, August 5th, 2007

-related posts:  Fear Of Bridges, Minneapolis At Night, Natural Wonders: A Pentagram

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Gold Medal Flour, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 Gold Medal Flour, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, the building is now the Mill City Museum, all photos © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I’m pulled to write about the ordinary, the two mile chunk of land surrounding the Mill City Museum in a place once deemed “The Flour Milling Capital of the World” – Minneapolis. The riverbank near the “A” building of the old Washburn flour milling complex, under the Gold Medal Flour sign, has called to me since I moved to Minneapolis in 1984.

I was young. And lost. I had no job. I was searching. I used to take long drives by the urban snake of the Mississippi to clear my head. On those pilgrimages, I fell in love with West River Road, particularly the land closest to Saint Anthony Falls. Saint Anthony was originally the only falls on the upper length of the Mississippi River. And Spirit Island, sacred landmark to the Dakota, used to rise from the water to the west.

Legend has it that Dakota women would go to Spirit Island to give birth. But, at some point, industry, and a series of misrepresented treaty negotiations, got the upper hand, and the island was bulldozed away. I will never step foot on her. But ghosts of the old mill buildings rise like sentinels on my early evening motorcycle rides through the dense river odors and splatted mosquitoes of the humid Midwest summers.



    River Stems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.River Stems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.River Stems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



In July of 2003, I had just started to date Liz. The first time she rode on the back of my Honda Rebel, she had on knee length jean shorts, a tank top with plummeting cleavage, and white Doc Martens. It was humid and hot; the tail pipe sizzled when we motorcycled to the Mill City Museum opening.

The Minnesota Historical Society sponsored the event. The place was packed. We listened to a band she loved named Iffy and danced under an open air tent in the heat. By the time we made it into the museum, we were sweaty, and it was 15 minutes until closing. But it didn’t matter. I loved being there.

The original structure was designed by Austrian engineer William de la Barre and built in 1880. The Washburn A building is the predecessor to what would become the father to Betty Crocker’s wide-mouthed kitchen, General Mills. At its heyday, enough flour was generated from that building to produce 12 million loaves of bread a day. There was a volatile grain dust blast in 1882. And another fire in 1991 gutted the building.

After many incarnations, the building still stands. And the Mill City Museum won the 2005 Honor Award for Outstanding Architecture by the firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle. It’s easy to see why. The design encompasses both inside and out, leaves some of the enormous milling machines intact along the interior brick walls, and keeps the rough hewn rusticness alive. Minneapolis gummed its pink lipped baby teeth on Gold Medal flour, and seeing the city’s industrial roots is thrilling. It’s an eerie Matrix-like combo of old and new.



   Treads, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Treads, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Treads, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I was a few months away from moving in with Liz in July of 2006. The Guthrie Theater opened its new building by the river, complete with what a friend of mine calls “Jean Nouvel’s electrifying blue steel phallus” – an urban 4th floor cantilever that comes to a screeching midair halt, right next store to the museum.

Liz used to work for the Guthrie before its divorce from the Walker Art Center. She graciously bought tickets for me and her Mom to see F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby. We ate at a trendy restaurant cattycorner to Jean Nouvel’s “endless bridge” and people watched enter condos that seem to multiply like flies near the museum.

Even the elegant old Whitney Hotel closed and is being converted into million dollar sky dwellings. I used to drive by the North Star Blanket building across the street with the vine covered walls and wish I could afford to purchase a unit. Ten years ago my therapist told me to buy a condo when the West River Road concept was in its infancy. The Twin Cities warehouse-converted-to-artist-studio craze had just begun.

I never did buy. And now, here I am, living in a first ring suburb, but happy as a clam. I love the peace and quiet. And I don’t miss the crime. It’s perfect for a writer. But I do love to visit my beloved river haunts. I take the parkway drive whenever I go into the city.



Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



And at least once a week, I drive by the Mill City Museum, the Stone Arch Bridge built by James J. Hill, local railroad tycoon, and Bohemian Flats where I sat in the winter of 2005 in the middle of a snowstorm and watched a bearded man with a black beanie cap fly a yellow kite.

Bohemian Flats used to be a shanty town of immigrants; some of the local elite called them squatters. The immigrant population changed from year to year as out-of-towners migrated to the city to work in the mills and lumber yards.

As the ethnicity of the immigrants changed, so did the names used for the Flats:  Little Bohemia, Little Ireland, Connemara Near Bohemian Flats, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Patch, the Cabbage Patch, Little Lithuania, or the Danish Flats (the first couple to establish residence there was Danish). But Bohemian Flats is the one that stuck. I always liked the word “bohemian” for its artistic connotations. But the name Bohemian Flats is rooted in the Czech population that once settled there.

Bohemian Flats was driven to extinction in 1932 by eminent domain laws and a few porcelain skinned Northerners who may have had a hidden agenda. But this isn’t a political piece. (Is it?)

The two mile river corridor nestled close to downtown and curving by the Mill City Museum (that I lovingly call the Gold Medal building) is my little oasis in the city storm. In 1870, the population of Minneapolis was 13,000. By 1890, it had grown to 165,000 led by a powder keg of flour dust and the power of Saint Anthony Falls.

Estimates are that in 1900, only five percent of bread consumed was bakery-made. But by the time the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, bakeries were making 30 percent of the nation’s bread. Breaking bread became the great American past time.

In 2005, the population of Minneapolis/St. Paul was 647,000. I’m just a little doughboy dot, a blip over the falls of Minneapolis history. The lime and sandstone tiers on the two mile mill corridor by the Mississippi are magical in a Gold Medal Mill, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Winter 2003, C41 negative print film, photo © 2003-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.snowstorm – and my Natural Wonder.

They say there were 79 steps down to Bohemian Flats, a place few dared to roam in the late 1800′s (except those seeking cheap housing or the free dead wood that floated down the river in spring). I can only imagine what it must have been like to survive a turn of the century Northern winter. But preservation of the history of places like Bohemian Flats, Mill City, the Stone Arch Bridge, Spirit Island, and Saint Anthony Falls makes it easier for me to time travel.

Ironically, what I sought in 1984 when I moved from the jagged tops of Big Sky Country to a bustling Midwestern metropolis, was peace and solitude. I found it in my drive-by views of the ghost town mills near sacred islands on the Mississippi, and brownstone buildings in constant battle with the elements.

I watched the Mississippi from a sidewalk cafe last summer. The old mills are alive with 21st century faces. Joggers, bikers, motorcyclists, Guthrie seekers, history buffs, the rich who inhabit the condos, and homeless vagrants who sometimes pass and sleep by the river.



-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, November 28th, 2007

-an essay about 5 Minneapolis Landmarks: the Mill City Museum, Bohemian Flats, the Stone Arch Bridge, Spirit Island, St. Anthony Falls, that started as a Writing Practice

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – NATURAL WONDERS

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