Crossover to Balance: Q&A with Mark Wheat of MPR’s The Current

17 Oct

Interview by Luna Allen-Bakerian, Transcription by Hannah Germaine

105 community members gathered in the Riverview Gallery this gloomy fall morning for the October installment of Minneapolis’ Creative Mornings series. Mark Wheat of MPR’s The Current prepared a lecture for the theme of Crossover, discussing his extreme geographical and career transitions. I followed Mark and Luna into a conference room for their pre-lecture interview. Mark said that this event would be new for him, as his DJ slot falls at night and he is not typically a morning person. We chatted about our astrological signs (he’s a Libra) and about his reliance on the moon calendar before settling into the interview. Look out for Luna’s Radio K DJ set next Monday night, where she will share Mark’s picks (amongst her own)!

 

Which crossover [in your life] do you think has been the most significant so far?

I’d have to say crossing the ocean. Living in two separate cultures, joined by familiar language, is an interesting experiment. It forces you to reevaluate some of the things that you grew up thinking were set in stone. That’s good. I think that’s what crossovers are all about. Pushing your comfort zone. If someone had asked me twenty years ago, I’d never have said that I’d become an American citizen. I was not totally convinced that I would stay for my entire life, but two years ago I did become a citizen and I don’t foresee going anywhere, even within the United States. I love Minnesota now. It’s become very special to me because of the success of The Current. There’s no way that I’d be able to have the job that I have now [if I had stayed in England].

What do you think you’d be doing if you hadn’t come here? What do you think you’d be doing in England as a job?

Well I [had] hoped to be a teacher. That’s why I loved Radio K. I thought that was a dream job because I got to hang with students and I got to do radio, too. But that’s because I couldn’t have even dreamed up The Current twelve years ago. I went to teacher training college after University and that’s how I first got over here. I worked for two years on summer camps in upstate NY. That was the easiest way for a Brit to get over here, they found you the job and they gave you the six weeks travel time afterwards. I couldn’t get a job as a teacher when I graduated. I went back to where my mother lived and I couldn’t even get on the substitute roll [because] there were so many unemployed experienced teachers. To answer your question, I have no idea. I wasn’t having a very good start at [teaching] and the last job I had before I came over was as a chauffer. So maybe I would have been a chauffer, because I love driving and that was fun.

That’s perfect that you mentioned Radio K. I DJ at Radio K. I’m wondering, if you could DJ a four-song set now at Radio K, what would be your picks? Assuming [they were] in the library.

Which [they] would be, because I would have to make [the set] Radio K significant. I would have to have a song by The Fall because historically I’ve said they’re my favorite band of all time. I think [I would incorporate] Low, too, because obviously the K has a huge tradition with local music, and those guys have been special to me as a fan, and just sharing experiences with them. When Paul Wellstone died they were in the [Radio K] studio and did a special set for him, so that was kind of crazy. They’ve been a band I’ve grown up with in the scene and they exemplify what’s great about local musicians: they stay here; they help younger musicians. They foster the community that we’ve got here in Minnesota. So that’d be symbolic. But how would I mix from The Fall to Low?

Segway Band.

Yeah, good idea! Well, and I’m not just saying this because you happen to be of the same gender, but I always like gender balance, too. I struggle with that sometimes on The Current. It is tough sometimes to fit two or three voices of female origin in every hour, which is what I try and do. So there would have to be a female artist. Who would that be? Maybe Stereolab. I don’t know why they come up to me, but they’re one of those Radio K Bands. They’re probably a band that I might not have discovered without the K. And they were one of those bands that we always played way too much. Then something dance-y. Maybe St. Germain. You know, I used to be a live DJ, too, and electronic music was a big part of it. Or Daft Punk. I remember us playing “Around the World” too much, too, because that’s, like, 9 minutes long or something.

It’s fun, though. I think that’s a good balance.

Stereolab could [transition] into dance-y.

That’s the Segway.

That’s the Segway!

Right now we have exhibits that are all about yearning to roam, and since you’ve moved quite a bit in your life, I’m wondering if you think wanderlust is a good thing or a bad thing. Some people think it’s this romantic idea and some people are like, ‘eh.’

I think you need a balance. I think it’s a good thing at certain times in your life. I’ve always said to young people, ‘travel if you can.’ The experience, for me, totally changed my life. Coming over here for the first time from a small rural community and seeing something like New York literally blows your mind. I think the same thing can happen for you guys going back to Europe or going to South America or wherever. Wanderlust at a certain point is good. And until I got [to Minnesota], I hadn’t stayed in the same place literally for more than two or three years. And when I got here I decided, ‘if you keep doing that you never reap the rewards of whatever it is you’ve put your time into.’ I looked around at First Avenue when I went there one of the first times and I thought, if I can do something that means that I get to be known in this club, I think that would be a good thing to do with my life. And now I get recognized all the time. I think wanderlust is good to learn and figure out what you want to do with your life, and then at a certain point you have to figure out, ‘now I’m going to stay here and do this.’ But then, that’s me. I’ve often said, [and] I’ve often heard, that the Twin Cities is a good community because it’s got a lot of people who grow up here and stay here, a lot of people who’ve come here (like myself), and it’s got a lot of people who grew up here, left, and then have come back. And that makes a nice mix. We have aspirations way beyond our size, in terms of music and art. The expectations have been raised because of people who have gone away and come back, and because of people who come here to live because they like that community. So wanderlust [is] good, but it has to balanced, too.

You’re answering with “balance” throughout. It’s the Libra [in you]! You’ve kind of Segway-ed perfectly into this, but if you could give advice to your 20-year-old self, what would it be?

It actually would be about spirituality. I was just writing a piece about Bob Dylan’s Slow Train Coming, which came out when I was 19. It’s the only Dylan album I ever bought, and you look back now and it’s actually disrespected in terms of his work. But he asks the question, ‘who do you serve?’ The idea of Bob Dylan saying you’ve gotta serve somebody blew me away when I was 19. Even when you’re Dylan you’ve gotta serve somebody? I didn’t realize his background of being Jewish. We didn’t have a Jewish community where I grew up so I didn’t understand that, [but] the Christianity aspect of [serving somebody] was interesting for me. I wasn’t brought up from a Christian household and I grew up in the most Pagan part of the country, so those were my roots. When I was 20, I thought about [spirituality], but I never did the work to figure out what I was. I always said, ‘I’m agnostic,’ or, ‘I’m atheist.” But I didn’t really pay attention to it. It’s only been the last 10 years, specifically since I met my wife, that I’ve really paid attention. What is going on here? What are we supposed to do? What are we connected to? Who do we serve, if anyone? And how can it help my life? Yoga or meditation, and paying attention to the moon and the planets and the universe, and respecting [them] as a spiritual force has been huge for me. And it’s brought balance. I’m glad you picked up on that key word, because to me I was always imbalanced. I was too much in my head, and didn’t pay attention to the physical entity that we are. I hadn’t asked those questions seriously and I hadn’t developed a spiritual discipline. I think we all have to figure out what that is for each of us. I’m not convinced by any of the major religions because they tend to all tell you to do something that everybody else does, where the way that I understand [that] spirituality works is that we’re all different, and therefor we all need different spiritual keys to make us function at our highest level, highest consciousness. So you can take a bit from everything. I just did this thing with Cloud Cult. They’re a very spiritual band. The audience wanted to know what [Craig] was. You can’t [put a label on him], but his work is really spiritual. He does a little meditation — just trying to find some stillness. It’s funny being [here at Creative Mornings] where it’s all kind of [about] social media. [It’s] the Western way [to] always be busy and engaged and connected. I don’t think it’s the right balance for me. I just have to counter that with a little stillness.

WAM-O-RAMA : recap

12 Sep WAMORAMA

In partnership with the fine folks over at The Whole Music Club we welcomed over 1000 students to our fall kick off party on Friday Sept. 5. It was a night filled with art, music, food and dancing: Bohemian Press held it down and screen-printed over 400 t-shirts with their original designs, Radio K blasted jams on the plaza and Coco Wagner shared the beautiful art of Henna. If you’re like us, then you can’t get enough of the sweet sounds by our three performing acts: Aubades, Hippo Campus and Koo Koo Kanga Roo. Our WAMigo Hannah Germaine sat down with the bands to get an insider perspective on their process, influences and what they’re currently obsessed with.

AUBADES

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How did your band come together?

Ross Koeberl: Two summers ago I worked retail. After work I would go hang out with the brother of a guy I worked with and we would play guitar and drums. We were called “Take Me to the Beach” and we just did, like, punk Kanye covers. We ended up playing at the Whole last winter and then at the beginning of the summer we got an e-mail saying, “Hey, do you guys wanna play?” But he was back home and I was here. And I thought, well, I don’t want to mess up the opportunity and I’ve always wanted like a band that played more than Kanye covers. Musical people just always go, “Hey we should make a band one day!” So I just picked all of those people.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?

Eva Moe: I like the electro pop type thing.

RK: Noise pop.

EM: Plus violin.

Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

EM: Gorillaz for me, always.

noRK: I really like the Dismemberment Plan, Ava Luna and the Talking Heads. I try to rip off this movement in the 60s called no wave. I wish it was still around, but it’s not. So I try to rip that off all the time. Eva Moe. I’m a big Eva Moe fan.

EM: I was going to say the same about you, but I was like I’m not going to go there.

RK: Right because you’re in the band, it sounds like you’re a big fan of yourself.

EM: No, I was going to say Ross….

What is the weirdest show you’ve ever played?

EM: This is our first show.

What are you obsessed with right now?

EM: Tea. I’m really sick.

RK: I am obsessed with popular rapper Drake. I don’t care about the stigma of liking Drake. I know he’s the softest in the game, but you know what? So am I. Sometimes I’m the softest in the game. I’ve learned more Drake songs than my own songs.

HIPPO CAMPUS

How did your band come together?

Short story or long story? We were all kite surfers in Florida.

Real story!

So high school wasn’t that long ago. And we had known each other throughout high school. We all attended the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists.

*Door flies open, girls screaming*

It wasn’t until the end of senior year when we all got together because we were all in different bands. We sort of formed a super-group of two different bands. It was actually not even supposed to be serious. We were planning on joking as a band, being funny, making fun of an idea. We kind of did it to piss of our other bands. We were just like, “we won’t tell anybody that we’re in this band.” We didn’t tell anybody. We started playing shows. And people found out by the first show. But then we started playing shows and it was awesome.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?

I would just say, “Come see a show sometime.” But rock. Surfer. But rock. A lot of people would compare it, just right off the bat, a mix between Vampire Weekend and Two Door Cinema club. We’ve recently been telling people hypothetical pop. We don’t’ know, it changes.

Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Celine Dion, first and foremost. Sarah McLachlan. I really like Sandy Patty.

Together as a band we’d say Little Comets, Last Dinosaurs, Bombay Bicycle Club. We all listen to different music all of the time. Non-musical influences…. Smash Bros? Travel. We all love the idea of travel. Zach has lived all over. He’s been to like 40 countries.

What is the weirdest show you’ve ever played?

The park show, in the middle of that sculpture garden. We get there, we show up, and there’s no one. Like 50 8-year old kids. 20! And like six adults.

What are you obsessed with right now?

As a band, I’d say we’re obsessed with Super Smash Brothers. The Nintendo 64 version, mind you.

Nathan Stocker: I’m probably obsessed with women.

Whistler Allen: I think my obsession is honestly doing nothing. Because this last year has been so much work. Half of it I haven’t enjoyed because it wasn’t my music. So my obsession is to try to find nothing to do.

KOO KOO KANGA ROO

How did your band come together?

We came together as college pals. We were like, “how can we make a silly different kind of show?” We were just trying to do something different, interactive high-energy. Along the way it became a kids’ band.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?

It’s difficult to describe even after you’ve seen a show. It’s like hyper pop. A lot of people call it Sesame Street meets the Backstreet Boys. We say we’re an interactive dance duo, not a band.

Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Probably Spice Girls, Blink 182. We grew up listening to pop punk stuff. Dinsey’s Alladin. Disney stuff. Camp cheers. Show choir musicals. It’s a mash-up between 90s pop punk and show choir musicals. Non-musical influences… Theater. The Flaming Lips shows: the big ball he climbs in, the confetti, big giant hands. Beach volleyball, that’s important. Board games with like a community element to [them]. Nachos. Milk Duds.

What is the weirdest show you’ve ever played?

Every show. We play shows for kids, we play for adults. There were a couple of senior high school all-night parties. After the hypnotist. The kids have gone through the most emotional day of their life , they’re all hyped up on cotton candy. Then they have the hypnotist. The lights are off for like an hour, kids are sleeping. The Cat Video Festival. We opened for a bunch of people holding their cats.

What are you obsessed with right now?

Bryan Atchison: I’m obsessed with whatever the new top 40 person. Right now it’s the new Arianna Grande record. Also, I like teen pop. Do you know Five Seconds of Summer? They opened for One Direction last summer.

Neil Olstad: I’m obsessed with my new puppy. Her name’s Josie. You can follow her on Instagram.

Welcome back to WAM!

28 Aug

Back-to-school means new friendships, new opportunities, and new experiences! The Weisman is a space for the University of Minnesota community to enjoy and cultivate all of the newness.

The galleries are always FREE. Students are welcome to visit at any time, study at the tables in the Riverview gallery, or eat lunch upstairs on the outdoor terrace.

The student tour guide program is open to students from any academic discipline. Students lead public tours in the galleries and encourage discussion about the museum collection. Applications are due on September 12th!

WAM offers students the opportunity to affordably rent original works of art to hang in their personal home or office. The selection is on view at the WAM Shop.

WAM O RAMA is on September 5th, 2014! FREE music (Koo Koo Kangaroo, Hippo Campus, and Aubades), FREE Mesa pizza, FREE screen printed t-shirts, FREE henna, and FREE massages are all part of this beginning-of-the-year celebration!

UMN Students’ Choice

9 Jul

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The summer portion of WAM@20, the yearlong 20th anniversary exhibit that explores different methods of choice, is curated by Minnesotans. This includes input from Minnesota artists, Minnesota “notables,” Minnesota State Fair goers, and University of Minnesota students.

Students had the opportunity to vote for their favorite pieces at two events last winter. They scrolled through images on iPads set up at the Flashback party, and at one of WAM Collective’s study nights, and chose their favorite accession from each year since 1993.

 

The chosen works are currently on display in the gallery (and a few are shown below)!

2007.26

Mudman, Hidden Beach
Katherine Turczan
gelatin silver print
2007.26

Students that live on campus in the summer usually find their way to “Hidden Beach” on Cedar Lake near Uptown Minneapolis. The Mudman keeps an eye on the mud pits there. He picks up trash, counts mud pit attendees, and lets everyone know where the “good” mud is on any given day. He is even mentioned on Wikipedia!

 

Mentioned on the “UMN Students’ Choice” gallery plaque:

1999.4.804

Ex Libris Hedda Deutsch
Jaro Beran
bookplate print
1999.4.804

1997.40.4-1

Untitled
Red Grooms
offset lithograph
1997.40.4

2005.32_02

Untitled (music box)
Christian Marclay
wood, metal
2005.32

 

How to read an accession number: Accession numbers are used to catalogue objects in a museum. Each piece has its own unique number. Usually, part of the number refers to the year the object was acquired. The other numbers can indicate the order it was acquired that year or refer to different categories, such as period or geographical region, in the museum.

ELEMENTS: WAM Collective’s 3rd Annual Design Competition & Runway Show

29 Apr

Last Wednesday, April 23, WAM Collective hosted Elements, the third annual design competition and runway show featuring University of Minnesota student designers at the Weisman Art Museum. This year, 16 student designers were asked to take inspiration from the museum’s spring exhibition. “Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined.” Siberia is as much a mythic construct—associated with vastness, remoteness, and coldness—as it is a physical place that occupies more than 12 percent of the land on earth. Its rich natural resources have sustained indigenous populations for hundreds of thousands of years, but have come under threat over the course of imperial colonization, Soviet industrialization, and post-Soviet development. In response to this, students designing for the competition used non-traditional materials and sustainable best practices while creating their garments. Elements reimagined Siberia as both a place and a concept, drawing on traditional aspects of Siberian culture, such as chai tea from Verdant Tea House, and more conceptual design choices including vast, white, airy spaces juxtaposed against intense colors and rich textures. It was a rainy afternoon, but the mix of colorful lighting design by the University of Minnesota Theatre Arts and Dance department, the sharp white runway, and the textured tea lounge designed by Bungalow 6 turned the museum gallery into a high-fashion hang-out.

The event gathered about 250 guests who were lucky enough to snag tickets before they sold out. Local stylist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sarah Edwards, emceed the evening’s show. Hand-selected judges, Laura Joseph, Martha McQuade, Christopher Straub, Jahna Peloquin, and Lisa Hackwith drew on their personal experience and knowledge to pick out the best designs of the bunch. Models walked the runway to a playlist curated by the designers themselves, including tracks by Passion Pit and Bastille. Designs took inspiration from all aspects of Siberia. A popular topic was the vast Siberian forests, which translated into a full length fur coat, a dress made completely of newspaper, and headpiece made from deconstructed branches. Other designs took inspiration from the traditional textures and tribes of Siberia, using vegetable steamers as “beaded” decoration and blackberries to naturally dye different fabrics.

Prizes were generously provided by Treadle Yard Goods and Juut Salonspa – who also donated the time of their artists to style all of the models’ hair and makeup that night. Mill City Summer Opera  singer, Allison Schardin, performed during the intermission.

Honorable mentions that evening were awarded to U of M sophomores Tabitha Andelin, who designed a two piece, highly versatile outfit based on the lives of nomadic people in Siberia; and Elizabeth Bischoff, who created a full-length fur coat inspired by the Taiga forest.

Third Place was awarded to Holly Welwood, who created a modern bib overall look incorporating some decorative beading and black leather, inspired by the documentary Happy People and the fur trappers of Siberia.

Second Place winner, Thanh Nguyen, created a full-length, mermaid-style dress completely from newspaper clippings that was inspired by the enormous amount of trees in Siberia and the dusty color of snowy tree tops during the winter months.

First Place was awarded to U of M Apparel Design senior, Paul Erling, who put together a four piece outfit inspired by the idea of survival in Siberia. His look was created entirely from deconstructed materials that were then woven on a self-invented loom. The final product’s details were inspiring and unique. Paul’s model even wore a fully constructed backpack which included a small pocket holding an original mixtape – because what else do you need to survive in our modern Siberia?

Check out the photos from the event, all courtesy of local photographer Erin Pederson.

FLASHBACK! RECAP

27 Feb

Last Wednesday, I stayed up late on a school night. It was the U Choose Student Voting Night Flashback Party at the Weisman! One of the selection methods used for assembling WAM@20, the museum’s special anniversary exhibition, involves students voting on their favorite pieces from all 20 years that we’ve called the Ghery building home. Naturally, we had to throw a party.

20 years ago was 1994. We all have fond memories of the 90s because it was our childhood. I remember riding around the old neighborhood in one of those Barbie Jeeps and writing in my Lisa Frank diary and spying on my neighbors with my composition notebook a la Harriet the Spy, like it was yesterday.

So on Wednesday night, I slipped into my Doc Martens, twisted my hair into two little buns on the top of my head and tied my cardigan around my waist. I felt a little bit like my cool teenage babysitter I used to adore, but mostly I just felt like I was 8 years old again.

Mean Girls was projected on the wall. Cubes, in the appropriate hues of fuchsia, teal, tangerine and lime, acted as seating. Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys serenaded everyone as we ate too many Gushers, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Pixie Sticks. We slurped down Capri Sun after Capri Sun in anticipation of the boy band.

To protect their identities, the mysterious boys of Hippo Campus each gave me an alias. Pepper, Brick, Falsmash and Beans were full of youthful energy and humor.  Pepper had a sweet, versatile voice. Falsmash kept us bopping along with him and his crazy dance moves. The skillful group answered our roaring encore with a sneak peek of their new song!

The last chords faded, the Plastics completed their rendition of Jingle Bell Rock, and I could feel my sugar crash coming on. It was time to let the 90s buns down.

photo

Written by: Hannah Germaine, WAM Collective member

 

Spring Semester Preview

30 Jan

What happened to January? If you’re a student on the University of Minnesota campus, welcome back and happy Spring semester. Winter break went by more quickly than usual here at the museum; but, we are excited to give you a peek at what we’ve been working on! Though we’ve been living through another Ice Age over the last couple of months, I hope you can look forward to celebrating spring fever with us by checking out these upcoming events around town:

WAM Warmer “Pops Up” on Northop’s Plaza beginning Thursday, January 23 and lasting through Thursday, January 30, 2014 before it moves over to the Weisman Art Museum. The pop-up is inspired by WAM’s spring exhibition, Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined, a collection of photographs spanning over 130 years by 50 Russian photographers exploring the depths of Siberia, never before showcased in the United States. While researching Siberia, WAM Collective and the Weisman Art Museum have made connections between the characteristics of the Siberian terrain, weather, urban and rural environments, and folk culture with that of our own home, Minnesota. To celebrate the exhibition, as well as to celebrate Minnesota, WAM Collective will be building a pop-up inspired by a traditional chum (pronounced “choom”), a temporary dwelling used by the nomadic Yamal-Nenets and Khanty reindeer herders of northwestern Siberia, Russia. A space for students to stop and warm up on their trek through the snowy campus, the “WAM warmer” will also incorporate an interactive tour of the U of M campus, highlighting the many under-explored gems of the University. This tour, inspired by the vastness of Siberia and the many unexplored areas it contains, leads students on an adventure including secret sledding behind Coffman union, star-gazing at the Tate Physics Lab, and, of course, a trip to the Weisman Art Museum.

Exhibition Preview Party for Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined at the Weisman Art Museum on Friday, January 31, 2014. 7:00pm. FREESiberia: Imagined and Reimagined, organized by the Foundation for International Arts and Education, brings photographs of Siberia by Russian photographers to the American public for the first time. The photographs chronicle the reality and myths of Siberia and allow viewers to discover surprising parallels between the landscape, weather patterns and culture of Siberia and our own home, Minnesota. So, what exactly is Siberia? This collection of over 100 photographs spanning from the 1870s to the present engages viewers in answering this deceptively simple question. Come find out for yourself with an exhibition preview party! Grab your puffy coat and fur hat and celebrate your inner Siberian with an indoor/outdoor preview party. Outdoors, check out our Russian inspired specialty drinks at the ice bar, slip into the WAM warmer (traditional chum) to defrost your feet, and don’t forget to Instagram that picture you take with the real, live reindeer that will be there! Back indoors, hang out with  DJ Jonathan Ackerman while you nosh on small bites from D’Amico in the Riverview Gallery and sip on a drink from the hot cocoa bar. WAM members get 2 free drink tickets at check in. After-party at Icehouse with music by Red Daughters and the James Apollo Five. $8 includes your cover charge + one specialty drink ticket (enter code: wamsiberia).

Siberia_invite

Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined Exhibition Preview Party takes place January 31, 2014

Made in Minnesota is a group exhibition taking place at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery and the Regis Center for Art at the University of Minnesota between January 21 and February15, 2014. Some say that even if you didn’t grow up in Minnesota, you can still become a true “Minnesotan.” This exhibition, curated by Wayne E. Potratz, Professor of Sculpture and Howard Oransky, Director of the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, features over 20 local artists all exploring and celebrating the diverse practices of sculpture across Minnesota. While we are disappointed to hear that the exhibition does not include an example of sculpture made in butter (first presented at the Minnesota State Fair in 1898), many other materials and methods are represented, including acrylic, bone, canvas, clay, concrete, diamonds, enamel, gelatin, gold, granite, motorcycle parts, mousetraps, nylon, plastic, silver, steel, stone, wood, etc. Find more information on the event and its artists here.

Study Night @ WAM begins its monthly residency at the museum beginning Wednesday, February 5, from 5:00-8:00pm. Sometimes all you need to focus is a little change of scenery. Get out of that dreary dorm room and come study in the most interesting building on campus – the Weisman Art Museum! Surrounded by art, and a perfectly curated playlist, you will feel inspired and enlivened by that once daunting textbook sitting in front of you. Necessary studying provisions will be provided, including coffee, tea, and all-natural snack bars from KIND. Feel like taking a study break? Take a tour with WAM’s own student tour guides. Study Night @ WAM will be held once a month until the end of the school year, but the galleries are always open for your studying, writing, creative pleasures…

The Art Shanty Projects is an artist driven temporary community exploring the ways in which relatively unregulated public spaces can e used as new and challenging artistic environments. The project expands notions of what art can be and offers projects that both push the artist and engage the audience. These special projects take place once a year and add a bit of fun to winter in February (a time of year that can seem incredibly daunting). This year, the projects will take place on White Bear Lake, weekends only, from February 1-23, 2014. Read up on the artists and plan your visit by checking out the Art Shanty Project website.

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Art Shanty Projects on White Bear Lake

U Choose: Student Voting Party What does it mean to be a curator in the 21st century? The traditional notion of the term meant a specialist who had extensive training in a specific area – an expert on the quality of objects, who thoughtfully presented them with regard to their social, historical and material character. Today, the term isn’t so clear. We are living in an information and visual rich society with “iphone photography curators” and “pinterest curators” and “netflix queue curators”. But what is the difference between curating and choosing? Nothing? Everything? You decide. Join the conversation on February 19 with WAM Collective for U Choose: Students Night, an event that invites all University of Minnesota students to discuss and deconstruct the curatorial process. Students will have the opportunity to survey 60 pieces of art from the Weisman’s permanent collection and vote, in a variety of ways, for their top 20. As a part of the celebration of 20 years in our iconic home, students will be voting on pieces organized by the year of their accession into the museum. The highest ranked choices will be exhibited in a special section of the summer 2014 exhibit “WAM@20:MN”. The evening will include light refreshments, snacks, and music. U card required for admittance. Free. More information on the year-long celebration, WAM@20, can be found here.

Elements: a Design Competition & Runway Show This April, as the ice shrouding Minnesota thaws, WAM will host its third annual design competition, in collaboration with University of Minnesota’s College of Design. Participating designers are asked to create a ready-for-the-runway garment inspired by the Weisman’s exhibition of Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined, a collection of photographs that offers glimpses into Russia’s far eastern territories from the late nineteenth century up to present. Garments must include non-traditional materials, innovative textures, and/or structural shaping with an emphasis on sustainable best practices. The runway show will take place at the Weisman Art Museum on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Think you’ve got what it takes? The most effective and compelling designs will draw upon the landscapes, materials, textures, and traditions of Siberia, while also responding to the environmental questions the region raises. Over the course of their design process, contestants should consider questions such as: What is sustainable design? What environmental, ecological, and laboring support structures have enabled my garment’s production? How might garment producers rely upon such systems of support without exploiting or depleting them? What elements, both ecological and emotional, can influence sustainable design? Reserve your tickets here. For more information, visit wam.umn.edu or email wamcoll@umn.edu.

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