A couple of years ago, a friend and I visited the Art Shanty Project that is held on Medicine Lake near the Cities. Visited? That isn't the right word. Attended? Not quite right either. Experienced? Bingo. Visited and attended are too passive, implying that you go and observe the art. With the Art Shanty Project, you are actually a part of it.
I'll let the organizers explain. This is from their Call for Entries, used with permission. (Photos are my friend's, from 2006.)
"The environment in Minnesota is challenging; cold being the harshest. The desire to get out of the house requires significant amounts of energy and creativity. Lakes are an often-used medium for recreational activity in Minnesota; winter does not stop this use, but transforms it. One of these uses; ice fishing is a popular winter activity in Minnesota and indeed throughout the world, people often fish from a structure commonly known as an ice fishing house, shelter, shack or shanty. The absence of codes and building restrictions cultivate diversity and uniqueness, from portable commercially made shelters to homemade plywood boxes to deluxe fish houses approximating the comfort of home. The architectural common denominator is a trapdoor in the floor allowing access to a hole drilled in the ice with a hand or gas powered auger. Make shift communities position themselves over the best fishing spots. Deep in winter, the lake ice can get to be 2-3 feet thick, more than enough to support trucks and cars. The season begins when the ice is thick enough to support the weight (around the middle of December) to the last day of February, officially the end of the season."
"Last year was the fourth and to date biggest Art Shanty Projects organized by David Pitman and Peter Haakon Thompson as a program of The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, some 65 artists built Shanties, performed, created sculptures and interacted with the public. Over 3000 visitors braved the artic chill as temperatures ranged from –12 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit to interact with artists and shanties, see Art Cars
and participate in activities from boggle to knitting
to karaoke. The show received extensive media coverage, bringing a large and diverse audience including lake residents, ice fishers, suburbanites, city dwellers, artists and snow-mobilers."
"Mission: Art Shanty Projects is an artist driven temporary community exploring the ways in which the relatively unregulated public space of the frozen lake can be used as a new and challenging artistic environment to expand notions of what art can be.
Artistic Goals: The project provides a unique opportunity for artists to interact with their audience, and vice versa, in an un-intimidating, non-gallery like environment. Artists can choose to work in a way that directly engages the audience i.e. knitting or singing Karaoke or in a more passive way.
The focus of this project is on both process and quality of artistic product:
• Artists creating projects that push them and engage the audience.
• The project management providing a flexible structure to work, allowing for the development and realization of an artist’s idea.
• Smart growth, the project must self-govern to respect the environment of the lake and the community of fisher-people that already exists, we are bringing a new use to a place that already has an established relationship with its’ patrons.
• Audience engagement is essential to the success of the experience, for both artist and audience."
We value respect for the frozen lake community of which we are a part.
We value respect for the environment.
We value artists’ work and strive to pay them a fair wage.
We expand the definition of who is an artist.
We value the importance of artist and community interaction.
We expand notions of what art is and can be.
We believe in the value of artists and art in all communities."
So you're wondering why I even bring this up? I hope that at least a couple of you local readers might be able to experience it. This weekend looks to be perfect weather. Did you notice? There is knitting!
Their stated values really resonate with me. One of the reasons I even started this blog was to share Mom's art. At one time, I would have put quotation marks around art in that sentence. I view her installations as art. Then the question becomes, are the photographs that I take to capture her installations art themselves, or merely documentation?
Eh, anyway, if you can go, go. If you can't, at least go to their website and view the gorgeous slideshow.