Posts Tagged ‘arts funding’

Not A Velociraptor, Lake Creature spotted in Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, by QuoinMonkey. All photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey and SkyWire7. All rights reserved.

Liz and I set out on my birthday to geocache around the Minneapolis chain of lakes. One of the joys of caching is the chance to learn about local history that might otherwise be swallowed by day-to-day routines. We dropped off two Travel Bugs and scooped up three caches that evening. Along the way, we headed over to the edge of Lake Harriet to listen to a full orchestra perform at the band shell and waved to passengers on the retro streetcar rumbling along tracks that stretched all the way from Minneapolis to Lake Harriet in the 1880s.

Perched high on glacial debris, Lake Harriet was formed when continental glaciers spread over Minnesota during the Great Ice Ages. Starting with the Mississippi River channel at the Plymouth Avenue Bridge, a preglacial valley runs almost directly south beneath Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet to the Minnesota River at Bloomington. Lake Harriet lies 250 feet over this ancient valley filled by glacial deposits, and is nestled between hills that piled up when the ice front paused in its final retreat about 10,000 years ago.

At dusk, we were making our way home when Liz spotted a shadow skimming the lake surface with a shape much like Dino, the Flintstones’ pet dinosaur, or a distant relative of the Loch Ness monster. Quickly pulling over to the side of the road, we scooted down the hillside Indiana Jones style, and landed right smack dab next to the Minneapolis Lake Creature. Had it risen from the depths of a preglacial valley?


Several fishermen paddled behind the creature oblivious to any danger; we decided it was safe to approach. The air smelled like honey, the night quiet and breezy — no mosquitoes. The sun fell behind the oaks, ash, and elm. A couple on a tandem bike stopped to photograph the 13-foot creature. Kids could not resist leaning over the edge of the rails to get a closer look. “I wonder if it’ll move,” one boy said. “Yeah, we wouldn’t be standing here for long!” his sister replied.



Everyone was drawn to the mystery — the power of public art.




After Lake Creature’s mysterious appearance in Lake Harriet on July 8th, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation came forward on July 16th to formally announce that it was the sponsor of a special art project in the parks with its first sculpture being the collaboration with New York City artist Cameron Gainer who now resides in Minneapolis. According to Cecily Hines, President of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation:


The Minneapolis Parks Foundation and artist Cameron Gainer came together because of our shared passion for the arts and belief that public works of art can truly enrich a community and the lives of its residents. We are proud to bring that passion and belief to life with Gainer’s _[ and invite people to share in her beauty while enjoying the Minneapolis parks with family and friends.

Gainer’s work includes film, video, sculpture, and performance art and explores human perception and the notion of “cinema inside out” when you encounter something in an environment and are not exactly sure what you are looking at. Symbolically titled _[, Lake Creature is based on the iconic, “Surgeon’s Photo” of 1934 that was presented as evidence of the existence of Scotland’s Loch Ness monster. Though later proven to be a hoax, the photograph remains a universal representation of the mystical lake creature.

In support of the Arts, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation has also established a new Public Arts Fund to support future art projects in Minneapolis parks. The Foundation believes that public art is important, especially in tough times, and can make a difference in a community’s quality of life. Public art is not only free, it’s accessible and:

Φ  inspires imagination
Φ  can be enjoyed by all age groups
Φ  helps foster a sense of community and mutual enjoyment
Φ  accesses audiences that may not be going to art museums
Φ  allows people to encounter art in their environment which creates an unexpected “moment of access”
Φ creates opportunities to reach audiences not expecting to see art which increases appreciation for the Arts

  -from the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, Public Art In The Parks, Lake Creature


Lake Creature At Sunset, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, by SkyWire7. All photos © 2009 by SkyWire7 and QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Lake Creature project leads me to think of Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk, another public art project collaboration between Saint Paul Public Works and the City of Saint Paul. These projects are living reminders of how the Arts matter and I’m grateful to all the people and organizations that make them possible.

_[ has been seen in New York City, the Salt Marsh Nature Preserve in Brooklyn, and Key West, Florida and is making plans to explore another Minneapolis lake sometime this summer. Keep your eyes peeled on a lake near you.

There is also a storytelling contest to name the Lake Creature and create the mythology surrounding her life. What nickname would you give to the Lake Creature? You can enter the contest and tell your story at Nickname the Lake Creature.

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

-related to posts: State Of The Arts (haiku for Kuan-yin), Wet Cement (It Only Takes A Second), A Little Less War

Read Full Post »

The Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Bodhisattva Kuan-yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of
Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

A few weeks ago, Liz and I and a studio mate visited the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to attend a panel discussion addressing the question — What Is the Current State of the Arts in Minnesota? There are differing opinions; it depends on who you are.

Though Minnesota has traditionally been one of the most well-funded and supportive states in the U.S. for the Arts (and Minneapolis one of the most literate cities), many writers and artists will tell you that over the last 10 years, funding at the state, community, and individual levels has begun to dry up.

Before the talk, we glanced around the room and wondered why the discussion was not better attended. Where was the community? Where were all the artists and writers? Where was everybody?

Opening remarks were from Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson, and we listened to representatives of the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Minnesota Orchestra, Loft Literary Center, Guthrie Theater, and McKnight Foundation frame the discussion through a rose-colored prism. It soon became apparent that the institutions and well-oiled machines that house and fund our arts and creative programs had a totally different take than many artists I know. With few exceptions, nearly every person on the panel thought the Arts in Minnesota were doing well.

One exception was program director for the arts at the McKnight Foundation, Vickie Benson who made a reference to how we can’t forget artists who live with poverty, have no health insurance, and face a lack of retirement money. And Fox 9 news anchor and moderator, Robyne Robinson, stepped in with a personal experience about how a Fox 9 news segment on the Arts she once hosted had been cut from the local news. It took courage for her to go out on that limb.

You can read more about dissenting opinions at mnartists.org’s Commentary: What is the State of the Arts in Minneapolis? by Michael Fallon. Everything is conflicted. I’m an artist and writer. I attend events at the Guthrie, the Loft, the MIA. I’m a member of the Walker. Yesterday I heard an MPR piece about how funding is drying up for a local history museum in a rural Minnesota town (many museums receive Arts funding). Staff has been cut. Volunteers can’t afford the gas to get there and are asking for reimbursement.

          Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.      Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.      Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

What is the state of the Arts in your hometown, state, province, or country? Are you experiencing differing opinions between Arts institutions and the writers and artists who create the work? One will not survive without the other. It is a reciprocal relationship. There is room for debate; there is always room for healthy discourse.

For the time being, I’m choosing to focus on the compassion of the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin. After the panel discussion, we attended an art opening downstairs, Smoke and Mirrors by photographer Vance Gellert, and strolled through a few floors of the MIA permanent collection. Kuan-yin had a window seat next to a series of ten to fifteen Buddhas and Bodhisattvas spanning thousands of years.

Bodhisattvas are Buddhist deities who have forgone entrance into Nirvana until all beings have attained enlightenment. In China, Kuan-yin became the most popular bodhisattva and was widely worshipped as the deity of mercy and compassion. She is often depicted as female or androgynous, even though she sometimes has a mustache.

According to the MIA, the Kuan-yin in these photographs is seated cross-legged in the lotus position (vajrasana), and is from the Sung dynasty (960 to 1279) noted for its art, literature and philosophy. The bodhisattva is carved from movable sections of wood; the eyes are inlaid crystal, and the robes of gold leaf. Both hands are turned up with thumbs touching the middle fingers in the gesture of discourse or argumentation (varada mudra). The hair was originally encased by a gilt metal crown that is now missing.

Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

haiku for Kuan-yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo
© 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

love disguised as art
mercy steeped in compassion
cracks open the door

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

-related to posts: haiku (one-a-day) , Walking Your Talk (Do The Arts Matter?), Does Money Soil Art?

Read Full Post »