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Night On Fire, BlackBerry Shots, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Original BlackBerry photo June 2011, part of Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche.


Northern Spark 2012 begins next weekend in the Twin Cities at dusk on Saturday, June 9th and ends at the crack of dawn, Sunday, June 10th. Northern Spark is a free, dusk to dawn, participatory arts festival that presents visual arts, performance, films, and interactive media. Tonight at the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis we plan to attend the Pre-Spark Bridge Lighting where planners will flip the switch for Northern Spark’s signature artwork, Robin Schwartzman’s THINK AND WONDER, WONDER AND THINK.  They will also be giving out festival guidebooks to preview before June 9.

Last year’s inaugural Northern Spark was magical. In 2011, over the course of the night, there were 50,000 visits to 100 projects by more than 200 mostly local artists at 34 venues in collaboration with 60 partner organizations and sponsors. I have listed a few of the places we visited in 2011 and a little history of the Nuit Blanche (“white night”) movement in the piece Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche.

The three photographs in this piece were taken while I was standing in the middle of Jim Campbell’s Scattered Light installation, part of Northern Spark 2011. In Annotated Artwork: The Making Of Jim Campbell’s ‘Scattered Light‘, Jim says moving from 2-D to 3D art is about “exploding an image, tearing it apart, and spreading it out.” His tips: 1. Pick a spot 2. Grab Source Material 3. Turn it into code 4. Create depth 5. Consider the planet. Honoring point 5, he and his assistants revamped thousands of standard lightbulbs, sawed them open, stuffed them with LEDs, and glued them back together, making handmade, unique, energy-efficient hybrids.

I am looking forward to Northern Spark 2012. At the Northern Spark website, there is a Planning Your Night page with a full list of events, including a link to download their new Northern Spark mobile app. We’ve already got ours loaded on our Androids. I only hope there is enough time to make all the events we’ve listed. It’s perfect for all of our fellow NightOwls! Hope to see our local readers there! If you can’t make it, you can follow Northern Spark on their Facebook page and at Twitter @Northern_Spark #NSPK.



IMG02620-20110604-2304#NorthernSpark - Scattered Lights by Jim Campbell - 23/52

Out Of The Darkness (L), #NorthernSpark – Scattered Light by Jim Campbell 23/52 (R), BlackBerry Shots, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Original BlackBerry photos June 2011, part of Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

-related to posts: Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche, Suspended In Light (Reprise), Insomnia Haiku: Counting Syllables In My Sleep, Mickey’s Night Owl Sandwich, Dreams Of A Creative Insomniac

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Suspended in Light (Haiga)

Suspended In Light (Haiga), 23/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 23, June 2011, haiga © 2011 by A~Lotus, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Medium: Original BlackBerry photo Scattered Light taken by QuoinMonkey in June 2011 as part of Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche. Poetry for the haiga created and edited by Lotus using Adobe Photoshop CS2 & MS PowerPoint 2007.






No longer Earthbound,
after the melody ends —
we take refuge in the Wind.






-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Storyboard response to the haiga collaboration with Lotus. We will continue to bounce off of each other’s BlackBerry Jump-Off photos with text, photography, poetry (however we are inspired) for the 52 weeks of 2011. You can read more at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration. If you are inspired to join us, send us a link to your images, poetry, or prose and we’ll add them to our posts.

-related to post: haiku 4 (one-a-day) Meets renga 52

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NS2011_RomanVerostko

Northern Spark Installation by Roman Verostko, Three-Story Drawing Machine, Minneapolis College of Art & Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2011, photo © Creative Commons by Northern Spark. Some rights reserved.


I walk in the tradition of the Night Owl, and revel in the sleepless rituals of nuit blanche. Tonight from 9pm to 6am, Liz and I will be traversing the Mississippi River (from Minneapolis to St. Paul and back!) to visit the art installations of Northern Spark. Various corners of the Twins Cities will be lit up from dusk until dawn with venues that include: the Mill City Silos, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, poetry at All My Relations Arts, the GLOW-a-BOUT at Loring Park near the Walker Art Center (open all night and featuring the Lullaby Experiment by Marcus Young, creator of Everyday Poems For City Sidewalk), and four site specific installations (see Three-Story Drawing Machine by Roman Verostko above) at my alma mater, the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.

The information below is from the Northern Spark Media Kit. The Northern Spark website includes a complete list of events that you can add to your own interactive map that charts your night’s events. You can also download and print this PDF of the Northern Spark Guide listing the details of each installation across the Twin Cities. Hope to see you at this community event for the Arts, public art at its best!



The Nuit Blanche Movement


The idea of a nuit blanche (translated as “white night” or “sleepless night”) is an art event/tradition first seen in St. Petersburg, Russia and Berlin, Germany in the mid 1990s and first named “nuit blanche” in Paris in 2002. Since that time, the idea of the nuit blanche has expanded dramatically becoming a popular art event in cities throughout the world.

Today, a Nuit Blanche event consists of art installations and events in public spaces and museums, art galleries, and other cultural institutions opening their doors free of charge to the public from dusk till dawn. In effect, the host city itself is turned into a de facto art gallery, providing space for art installations, performances (music, film, dance, performance art), social gatherings, and other activities.

Besides St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Paris, nuit blanche events have taken place in Toronto, New York City, Tel Aviv, Santa Monica, and Montreal.



Northern Spark 2011


Spearheaded by Northern Lights.mn, Northern Spark is the first ever nuit blanche event in the Midwest. Northern Lights.mn is a roving, collaborative, interactive media-oriented, arts agency from the Twin Cities but for the world. It presents innovative art in the public sphere, both physical and virtual, focusing on artists creatively using technology, both old and new, to engender new relations between audiences and artwork and more broadly between people and their built environments.

Northern Spark will take place from June 4 (sundown ~8:55 p.m.) to June 5, 2011 (sunrise ~5:28 a.m.) at various locations along the Mississippi River and surrounding areas in Minneapolis and St. Paul. More than 60 artists from Minnesota, the surrounding area, and select locations across the country will be represented at the event.


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Northern Spark Installation by Deborah Miller, Mill City Silos, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2011, photo © Creative Commons by Northern Spark. Some rights reserved.



Northern Spark:
First All Night Take Over Of The Twin Cities



MINNEAPOLIS, May 3, 2011 – It’s no secret Minneapolis St Paul is one of the leading centers of art in the United States. But on June 4 this year, the Twin Cities will join for the first time, the worldwide Nuit Blanche arts movement by hosting “Northern Spark,” the area’s first ever, all-night long arts festival.

For one night only, more than 60 regional and national artists together with the Twin Cities’ arts community will display new art installations at public places and unexpected locations throughout the city. Directed and produced by Northern Lights.mn and funded by the MN State Arts Board, Northern Spark takes place this summer from sunset on June 4 (8:55 p.m.) until the morning of June 5, 2011 (sunrise 5:28 a.m.).

“The Twin Cities has an amazing art culture and reputation,” says Northern Lights director, Steve Dietz. “Our aim is to really showcase that artistic excellence in a way never quite seen before by transforming the cities’ urban landscapes into a Twin Cites-wide art gallery for one special night.” The Northern Spark event will include a wide diversity of art forms and projects including multi-story projections, audio environments with vistas, installations traveling down the Mississippi on barges, houseboats and paddleboats, headphone concerts, and the use of everything from bioluminescent algae and sewer pipes for organs to more traditional media such as banjos and puppets.

One of the most highly anticipated installations is Jim Campbell’s “Scattered Light” from New York’s Madison Square Park, in which LED light bulbs suspended in a cube-shape on high tensile wire blink on and off to recreate the forms of pedestrians’ movements in three dimensions. Other artists involved in the nuit blanche include Christopher Baker, Phillip Blackburn, Body Cartography, Bart Buch, Barbara Claussen, Wing Young Huie, Debora Miller, Minneapolis Art on Wheels, Ali Momeni, Janaki Ranpura, Red76, Rigo 23, Jenny Schmid, Andréa Stanislav, Piotr Szyhalski, Diane Willow, Roman Verostko, Liu Xuguang, Marcus Young, and others.

The event is a collaboration — rarely seen on this kind of scale — of more than 40 partners each of which will sponsor one or more projects for the duration of the night. The goal is to showcase the urban splendor of the Twin Cities in a unique way, introducing a broad and diverse audience to innovative local and national talent in an inspiring journey through the night.


NS2011_WingYoungHuie

NS2011_DeboraMiller

Northern Spark Installations: Wing Young Huie (TOP) by Nomad World Pub, St. Paul, Minnesota, Deborah Miller (BOTTOM) at Mill City Silos, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2011, © Creative Commons by Northern Spark. Some rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, June 4th, 2011

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HaNoi ceramic wall (one)HaNoi ceramic wall (two)
HaNoi ceramic wall (three)HaNoi ceramic wall (five a)
HaNoi ceramic wall (six)HaNoi ceramic wall (seven)
HaNoi ceramic wall (eight)HaNoi ceramic wall (nine)
In a flash, HaNoi’s Ceramic Mosaic Mural as seen from the taxi, October 2010, iPhone photos © 2010 by ybonesy, all rights reserved.




Entering the city of Hanoi last week, I immediately notice that the ceramic wall is done. This four-kilometer-long work of art, which has been in progress for the three years since I started visiting here, runs along the city’s Red River dyke system. Earlier this month, just in time for last week’s celebration of Hanoi’s 1000th birthday, the completed wall officially became the world’s largest ceramic mosaic, as recognized by Guinness World Records.

The idea for a ceramic wall along Hanoi’s Red River came from young journalist and painter Nguyen Thu Thuy. About the world record, she said:

We are very proud to have successfully gained a Guinness World Record achievement. This project reflects the vibrancy and complexity of Vietnam’s capital city, and is the ideal way to commemorate Hanoi’s 1,000 year anniversary. The integration of international artists and children’s art depict many different moods, cultures, eras of history and styles, and they have all been created with the greatest craftsmanship. We hope that this achievement brings pride to Hanoi and that the people of the city enjoy the mural’s beauty for many years to come.


The collective public work of art—Vietnam’s first—began in 2007. The mural is organized in 21 sections and was designed by 35 professional artists from ten countries and supported by hundreds of artisans from traditional ceramic villages in Vietnam, Vietnamese and other children, and students from fine arts colleges throughout the country. The murals depicts Vietnam’s landscape and peoples, and is said to be a visual narration of the country’s history.

The mural embodies the country’s rich tradition in ceramics, of which I barely scratched the surface during a day of sightseeing to the town of Bat Trang. The entire village, it seemed, was dedicated to the making and selling of gorgeous plates, cups, vases, sculptures—you name it, they made it.

More than anything, Hanoi’s Ceramic Mosaic wall reminded me of the color and buzz and energy of Hanoi and all of Vietnam.

You can read and see more about the wall, including video clips showing artists working on the mural, in the official Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural website. The Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural blog includes many interesting photos, such as the original Photoshop artist renderings of the mural back when it was only a concept. That site also talks about the artist and staff of the project. Finally, this Travel Blog entry includes close-up photos of the wall in progress.

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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

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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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Greetings from Artesia, folk art on the roadside in
southeastern NM town of Artesia,  November 2008,
photo © 2008-2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.












folks in artesia
so friendly they’ll fall over
to lend you a hand















Postscript: Artesia, NM, a town named for the Artesian wells found at the turn of the 20th century, is, oddly enough, an oil and gas town today. Driving in from the north, you’re greeted by the sight of a huge blackened oil refinery, its tall stacks discharging clouds of steam. The air has a headache-inducing odor of natural gas, and if you ask locals how they manage to live with it, they’re likely to say, “Oh that? That’s the smell of money.”

But there is also a part of Artesia that looks and feels like 1950 small-town America. Brick department stores whose signs remind you of driving to Fedways downtown with your mom (before Fedways became Dillards), and a sense that time stopped.

One of my dearest friends is from Artesia, and I can tell you that there’s a lot of goodness in this place. Generosity is produced here.


-related to posts PRACTICE: Roadside Attractions – 15min, WRITING TOPIC — ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS, and haiku 2 (one-a-day).

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