Bits: 07.25.11

Ceramic milk crate, Matthias Merkel Hess, via C-Monster

• Combat photographer Adam Ferguson in the audio slideshow, "War is boring": "One can feel like a predator working as a conflict photographer, looking for those extreme moments, the ugly ones that ram the absurdity of this war home... War strips the child out of being human, because war talks in absolutes. I guess many grunts can't find that child inside again..." Via Yumi Goto.

• Also via Yumi, the late photojournalist Tim Hetherington's last photos.

• Long silent on his blog and Twitter, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is now on Google+.

• Over the weekend, "Bono and Somali–born singer and poet K’naan met in Minneapolis with several Somali Minnesotans to discuss and draw attention to the growing famine in Somalia, where a food crisis has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people and is putting nearly 12 million more lives at risk. There has been very little coverage of the crisis in the US media to date, despite the gravity of the situation."

• Meet Dyslexie, a typeface designed to help people with dyslexia read. Via Leif Utne on paper.li.

• Jen Graves on bear poop, volunteerism and Mark Dion's living Seattle installation, Neukom Vivarium. Via MAN.


Bits: 07.21.11

Irina Werning, La Negra 1980 and 2010, Buenos Aires

• Irina Werning's been asking people to reenact childhood photos, to awesome effect. Via Andy Ducett on Facebook.

Clash Music picks up on yesterday's story of the band Sigur Ros using the photographer John Yang's iconic image of a sleepwalking boy for its 2005 album without permission, noting "that Sigur Ros have been the victim of this sort of thing in the past. Publishing an article on their own blog, the Icelandic group bemoaned ad agencies who use 'sound-a-like' versions of their material without giving any credit to the original composition."

The Mighty Flynn responds via a Tumblr comment to the story with a link to Jonathan Lethem's Harper's essay, "The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism."

RIP Lucien Freud.

• Fossil fuel interests in Wyoming are none too thrilled by British environmental artist Chris Drury's forthcoming sculpture, Carbon Sink, which will feature a "flat whirlpool of beetle-killed logs spiraling into a vortex of charred, black wood and studded with large lumps of Wyoming coal." A Wyoming mining official said of the piece, which was commissioned by the University of Wyoming: "They get millions of dollars in royalties from oil, gas and coal to run the university, and then they put up a monument attacking me, demonizing the industry. I understand academic freedom, and we're very supportive of it, but it's still disappointing."

• Culturejamming preacher Rev. Billy took his tour -- and his gown-bedecked Earthalujah gospel choir -- to Tate Modern Monday to exorcise the "evil spirit" of BP, a major financial sponsor, from the gallery.

• Worth reading of the day: "Testing the Limits: Cultural Activism in the Gateway City" at Art21. Via Erik Moe.

• Minneapolis exhibition: Finally, We Are All Young Again: Adam Caillier and Michael Mott and Movie: Scott Nedrelow, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, opens tonight Thursday, July 21.

• Also tonight at the MIA: It's Bike Night!

• Also tonight in Minneapolis: Eat Ramen! Help Japan!


In the age of derivatives, reasserting an original: John Yang's “Blindman's Bluff”

Yang’s work adapted as stencil art on a boxcar in Minneapolis, 2011. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Sometimes in the life of images, derivatives end up eclipsing the original, leaving creators of unique works unacknowledged—and, often, unpaid—for their creative endeavors, even as spinoffs of their art zoom around the globe. And that’s the case with a 1960 photo by the late John Yang called Blindman’s Bluff. The first time I saw a version of Yang’s photo of a sleepwalking boy was in 2005 when I spotted a stencil rendering of it outside an art squat in Berlin. I quickly learned that it was wha the band calls an “adaption” [sic] of Yang’s photo, used to promote the Icelandic band Sigur Ros’ album ( ). I forgot about the image until I noticed another stencil version of it on a boxcar in Minneapolis earlier this month. It’s showed up in Reykjavík, Melbourne and elsewhere—likely by artists who know little, if anything, about the original. 

Determined to figure out the back story of this arresting image, I contacted the estate of Yang, who passed away in September 2009. The reply I got back from his daughter was both beautiful and disconcerting.

 Yang’s work adapted as stencil art on a Berlin wall, 2005. Photo: Paul Schmelzer

Born in Suchow, China in 1933, Yang emigrated first to the UK with his family, then, when he was six, to the United States. A U.S. citizen living in New York, he attended Harvard where he got his philosophy degree, then went on to architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania before being drafted into the military. Stationed in Germany, he played cello in the 7th Army Symphony and performed throughout Europe, according to his daughter, Naomi Yang, herself an artist (graphic design) and musician (Galaxie 500). It was in Strasbourg, France, just across the border from Germany, where he encountered the iconic sleepwalker: “The photo was not posed, my father was taking street scenes at the time and happened upon the boy,” Naomi writes in an email. 

John Yang later focused his lens closely on details of urban life, including ornamental stonework on the facades of New York brownstones and memorial photographs on headstones at an Orthodox Jewish cemetery in Queens, but at the time he shot Blindman’s Bluff, he took a broader view, shooting documentary-style streetscapes. The photo was reproduced in the Time/Life book Photographing Children, which Naomi surmises, is where Sigur Ros found it—and took it.

Blindmans Bluff, courtesy the John Yang Archives 


“[Sigur Ros] did not ask permission and they have never paid for the usage of the photograph, which as a musician and a graphic designer myself, I really, really object to,” says Naomi, who is now half of the music duo Damon & Naomi. “Approaching their management for some compensation has just met with indifference.” (Interestingly, the one place Sigur Ros gives Yang credit is on Flickr, where the band’s composite of Yang's photo and the stencil is copyrighted and marked “all rights reserved.”) 

Upon seeing the graffiti version of her father’s work, Naomi wrote, “Wow, that image really gets around.”

After retiring from his architecture practice in 1978, John Yang committed himself to photography full-time. His final project explored the remnant of Indian Ladder Trail, a path threading the ridge known as the Helderberg Escarpement, in John Boyd Thacher State Park, near Albany, New York. Near the end of his life, Yang conducted an interview—with himself—that was included in the catalog for the “Indian Ladder” series. His words reference the seemingly unpeopled cliffs of the park, which he photographed mainly from the shadows in a style that has echoes of Ansel Adams, whom he admired. But they could just as easily apply to that 1960 photo—much more resonant than later works it inspired—of a French boy, silently and undisturbed in his private world of sleep, walking down a rain-damp street:

Am I correct in noting that there is also an unearthly silence that can be heard in many of your photographs?

Could be. Someone once said that my pictures have a distinctive elegiac tone, that they are pictures taken in a minor key.
For more on John Yang, visit johnyangphoto.com.


Bits: 07.18.11

California Department of Corrections by Eyeteeth.org
• Pete Brook of Prison Photography and Wired's Raw File blog offers a great look at the California Department of Corrections, a culture-jamming group that since 1994 has described itself as "a private correctional facility that protects the public through the secure management, discipline, and rehabilitation of California’s advertising." It's most recent project (above), released as guerrilla bus shelter ads just prior to the July 4 holiday, commemorates the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

• The "Shared Sacrifice" mural at Intermedia Arts has a blog, with posts ranging from developmental sketches and in-process photos of the piece to news stories related to the political themes behind the work.

• Stumbled upon at the Intermedia site, images from photographer Dirk Anschütz's series of portraits of people with cognitive or developmental disabilities, created for Upstream Arts.

• Just like the title says: uglybelgianhouses.tumblr.com.

• Legendary Minneapolis artist Frank Gaard, blogged about here, here and here, has a solo show scheduled at the Walker Art Center. Dates: Jan. 19–May 6, 2012. Here's an (excellent) interview Permanent did for Gaard's (excellent) CO Exhibitions show this spring.

• At OPEN Magazine, the war photographers of India.

Gun-shot Avedon still at home in Minneapolis German restaurant

A Minneapolis German restaurant is home to a work by famed photographer Richard Avedon, but the tale of the work's current state -- peppered with a few bullet holes -- makes it an even better story (via @artsmia).

Minneapolis Institute of Arts associate curator of photography Christian Peterson blogs about Avedon's 1963 work Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In town for a 1970 MIA show of his work, Avedon frequented the Black Forest Inn a few blocks away and befriended its owners, Erich and Joanne Christ. Before leaving town, he gifted the first print of the photo to his new friend, and it still hangs in the restaurant's bar today. But it now bears two signs of age: Many years later, a customer pulled out a gun and shot it.

Writer Christy DeSmith chronicled the event in a 2004 piece for The Rake:
Sixteen years later, Ellis Nelson, a regular at the bar, was sitting on his favorite stool when he pulled out a revolver and opened fire on the photograph. “That was a wild day,” remembers Erich, who was walking his wife and infant son through the parking lot when the shooting occurred. “People came running out of every hole in the place shouting ‘He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!’ and I said to myself, ‘Ellis, this time you really did it.’” When police later questioned the shooter, trying to uncover a motive, Nelson was reported to have answered, “That photo always bugged the hell out of me.”
"[S]ince you could smoke in the bar until fairly recently, those holes are now rimmed in a distinctive nicotine brown," writes Peterson.

The Black Forest nicely chronicles its art on its website, but only nods to the photo's history by calling it "infamous." The restaurant's online image of the work, however, shows evidence of the two shots -- a chest wound and an eye shot -- that make two of the Daughters of the American Revolution look more like soldiers in the American Revolution.


Tonight in Minneapolis: Auction of works by Yoko Ono, Alec Soth, Laurel Nakadate, others, to benefit Leon Shambroom

Leon Shambroom

Some of the art world's big names are stepping up to help a fellow artist and his parents, Minneapolis-based independent curator Joan Rothfuss and photographer Paul Shambroom. Last July, 25-year old Leon Shambroom, a musician and DJ, was found unconscious from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning after being trapped in a house fire in South Minneapolis. He's unable to speak or walk, and his medical bills are sure to mount.

Tonight, a benefit art auction will be held at Weinstein Gallery to help defray the costs. Organized by Chicago photographer Brian Ulrich, Alec Soth, Soth's studio manager Carrie Thompson, MCAD and Weinstein, the event will include a silent auction featuring works by more than 50 artists from around the world: Edward Burtysky, David Goldis, Todd Hido, Glenn Ligon, Sharon Lockhart, Richard Misrach, Yoko Ono, Martin Parr, Soth, Ulrich and many others. Channy from the band Roma di Luna will perform.

That's tonight, July 14, 6-9 pm, at Weinstein Gallery, 908 West 46th Street, Minneapolis. I hope to see you there.

Martin Parr, England. New Brighton, from "The Last Resort" (1983-1985)


"Shared Sacrifice": Intermedia Arts mural tackles Minnesota's government shutdown

Perhaps you've heard: The State of Minnesota's government has shut down. At issue is a budget impasse between the Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, and the GOP legislature: While Dayton favors bridging the budget gap with solutions including tax increases for the 7,700 richest Minnesotans, Republicans are holding firm with their no-new-taxes pledge. As compromise seems to have ground to a halt, people statewide are suffering, including (but certainly not limited to) teachers whose licenses are in limbo, grant-funded nonprofits serving some of the state's most vulnerable people, out-of-work state workers and average folks who are required to pay taxes during the shutdown but won't be getting any refunds, rebates or tax credits -- or many of the services they've paid all year for.

So Intermedia Arts' ever-changing mural wall caught my eye today for its timely political message: "Shared Sacrifice." I don't know anything about who made it -- although I'll ask -- but its carnival typeface is reminiscent of the politically charged boxcar graffiti of Impeach and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Its sentiment -- that all of us should bear the burden of the budget mess and the poor economy, instead of the wealthiest being treated with deference -- hits home for me, and I'd bet, many, many Minnesotans.

The mural's theme, of course, has national significance as the debate rages about raising the United States' debt ceiling. Just this afternoon, the U.S. Senate failed to get enough votes to pass a symbolic resolution calling for "shared sacrifice" from the wealthy in addressing the debt-limit conflict. The text of the non-binding resolution:


(a) Findings - Congress makes the following findings:

(1) The Wall Street Journal reports that median pay for chief financial officers of S&P 500 companies increased 19 percent to $2,900,000 last year.

(2) Over the past 10 years, the median family income has declined by more than $2,500.

(3) Twenty percent of all income earned in the United States is earned by the top 1 percent of individuals.

(4) Over the past quarter century, four-fifths of the income gains accrued to the top 1 percent of individuals.

(b) Sense of the Senate- It is the sense of the Senate that any agreement to reduce the budget deficit should require that those earning $1,000,000 or more per year make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort.

Emphasis mine.


Chairs -- including Ai Weiwei's -- gather at the Walker Art Center

As I write this, chairs are gathering along Minneapolis' Hennepin Avenue in anticipation of an observation tonight of the 100th day of artist Ai Weiwei's arrest and the continued imprisonment of hundreds of dissidents in China today. Inspired by Ai's work, Fairytale: 1001 Qing Dynasty Wooden Chairs, the Walker Art Center has asked the community to bring chairs, and they have -- 250 or so already. While many more are yet to come -- yours, hopefully -- one has yet to be placed: An office chair from Ai Weiwei's studio has been sent from Beijing and will be present for a moment of silence at 6 pm tonight.

The urgency of Ai's plight has diminished some -- he's been freed, although he remains under a media gag order that, according to the BBC, includes Twitter -- but I commend the Walker for sticking with the event nonetheless, and using it as a way to bear witness to China's continued crackdown on creative expression and political speech among those without Ai's star power.

And for making the event so visible. For those unfamiliar with Hennepin Avenue, it's a major thoroughfare near downtown Minneapolis, and while it often provides an unpleasantly cacophonous front yard for the Walker, the eight or 10 lanes of roadway provide a perfect stage for such a highly visible event. As I dropped off our chairs, quizzical passersby peered from car windows and cyclists rolled up with cameras to shoot the quirky scene: an artist's sculptural chair, children's toy furniture, rummage sale chairs, a plywood chair by ro/lu, a "gold-plated" lawnchair, among them.

Most fitting, though, is the event's placement beneath Lawrence Weiner's wall piece, a Walker icon placed on the building's facade of bricks, that simply reads, "BITS AND PIECES PUT TOGETHER TO PRESENT A SEMBLANCE OF A WHOLE" -- a testament, in this context, to the potential power of collective action. Naysayers may scoff at the effectiveness of this kind of arty assemblage of mismatched chairs in affecting Chinese policy half a world away, and I suppose they're right. But this is the realm of art, which, for me anyway, puts the power of this collectivism more in the realm of spirituality than policy. If we ask what the effectiveness of art is, then we should also ask about the effectiveness of a prayer or a hope or a spiritual practice that connects its adherents with those in their community or those around the world.

Maybe that's why the Walker's site is perfect for the event: This repository of art -- which I've called "divinity for the reality-based community" -- is situated across the road from a line of churches, including the country's first Catholic basilica.

Update: Here are some photos from the event, including this shot of the chair Ai would sit at to use his studio computer.
Ai Weiwei's studio chair


Tuesday in Minneapolis: The Walker gathers 1001 chairs for Ai Weiwei -- and artistic expression

Ai Weiwei, Fairytale, 2007
While Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is free, it's not the kind of freedom I'd want: He can't speak to the media for one year, he can't travel, he hasn't been back on Twitter or his blog, and you can bet he'll be monitored non-stop by "China's all-seeing eye," to use Naomi Klein's words. Noting that more than 500 people associated with democracy movements have been detained in the last four months, Newsweek reports that "China’s persecution of dissidents and political enemies of the state hasn’t been this ruthless in decades."

To mark the 100th day since his detention by Beijing police -- and to express solidarity with Ai and the many unnamed artists, journalists, bloggers and dissidents who are still imprisoned in China -- the Walker is hosting a 1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei event on Tuesday, July 12. Like the April protests worldwide, the event takes its inspiration from Ai's 2007 work Fairytale: 1001 Qing Dynasty Wooden Chairs — an installation at Documenta 12 consisted of 1001 empty late Ming and Qing Dynasty wooden chairs. The Walker asks people to drop off chairs at the Walker's Open Field anytime tomorrow to be assembled with other chairs for a 6 pm observation, which will be kicked off with remarks by museum director Olga Viso.

"We believe that no artistic voice should ever be silenced in any society," said Viso, who also spoke out when Ai was still detained. "We envision the chairs on the Open Field as a reminder of artists across the world -- artists we may not even know --- who have been lost and who face repression and censorship every day. Weiwei's art and his recent detainment have brought this reality into disturbing and important focus."

The Walker will be screening Alison Klayman's 18-minute Frontline segment, "Who's Afraid of Ai Weiwei?" throughout the day. It notes that it also plans to screen Klayman's documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry at the museum after it is completed next spring.

The Walker notes that museum admission is free all day tomorrow because of the event, and asks that chairs be dropped off during the day and picked up between 6:15 and 8. Viso speaks at 6.


Video: Minnesota Artists for Equality

Minnesota artists put out a video urging voters to stand against the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which will be on the ballot next year. Learn more at the all-volunteer group Minnesota Artists for Equality.

(Thanks, Kelsey.)


Bits: 07.07.11

Evan Drolet Cook, Places I Haven't Been (North America), 2011. 

• I particularly like Evan Cook's work above in light of the revelation that presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has signed a vow to, among other things, ban pornography. According to a 2009 study, conservative states -- like those in Cook's Bible belt (at least that's what I think he's conveying here) -- consume pornography at higher rates. Could Bachmann be killing her presidential bid with this vow? [Apparently, I misread this piece, which actually depicts Cook's drive from Minneapolis to L.A., where he now lives.]

• Greg Allen, of Greg.org fame, has started a new nonprofit, The Jetty Foundation, and its first order of business was to apply to the State of Utah in an attempt to win the lease of Robert Smithson's seminal earthwork Spiral Jetty after its lease expired and with no clear indication that leaseholder and artwork owner the Dia Foundation will get a new one. "In the simplest terms, I'm bidding for the lease because it seems irresponsible not to," Allen writes:
As weeks passed, with no resolution, the possibility that Dia might not automatically get a new lease grew, along with the uncertainty of Spiral Jetty's fate. Once I received assurance that submitting an application would not automatically trigger an open bidding situation, I felt the responsible thing to do was to present apparently undecided State officials with the most constructive, credible set of choices: the status quo, or an independent, locally based institution whose purpose is to manage the site and collaborate with the artwork's owners as they fulfill their own missions.
• Felix Salmon, noting Allen's nod to the Dia Foundation's "undisputed" ownership of Smithson's work, writes that said ownership isn't quite that clear-cut:
Indeed, if Greg’s bid is accepted, there will be no fewer than four entities with ownership claims here: the Jetty Foundation, with the lease to the land; the state of Utah, which owns the land; the Dia Foundation, which owns the artwork; and the Smithson Estate, which owns the intellectual property rights associated with the artwork. Clear? I didn’t think so.
• Kevin Kelly's ever-awesome Street Use looks at what he terms "jailhouse tech," improvised tools -- from weapons to cook stoves -- made out of re-used materials by inmates. Worth an entire post of its own, had I time, the fascinating topic is covered well at Tóxico, which features an interview with Toño Vega Macotela, the artist whose work in prisons unearthed the illegal innovations.

• The Walker interviews its new senior curator for visual arts, Clara Kim. The former director of REDCAT starts in Minneapolis Aug. 1.

• Artist Brad Downey goes from urban interventions into The Studio.

• Design I like: A coffeemug with a plug you remove so others don't swipe it at work. And the "love mattress" by Mehdi Mojtabvi, made of foam slats that make it "possible to wrap your arms around someone without cutting off your circulation, or sleep on your belly while sticking your feet straight down."


Steve Lambert: "Capitalism works for me!"

Steve Lambert -- the artist behind familiar projects including The Yes Men's fake New York Time edition, the ad-blocking Firefox extension Add-Art and a wonderful "Utopia" letterpress poster -- is back, this time planning his biggest project yet: A giant interactive sign that reads, "Capitalism works for me!" The metal sign will be mounted on a truck that'll hit major cities; wherever it stops, people can walk up and push true or false buttons to have their say on the question of capitalism.

Thing is: Steve needs your help. He's fundraising on Kickstarter to gather the $9,500 he needs to fabricate the sign, fund the national tour and produce a book documenting the project.

Like anything he does, even the Kickstarter pitch is art. For instance, kick in $40 or more, and you'll get both a copy of the book and a personal phonecall from Lambert's parents. He writes:
Brief, but not boring, and you can ask questions. Mom used to be a nun, has an MA in Theology, and can spray lacquer like a pro. Dad used to be a monk, built custom furniture, and coached a championship high school soccer team from inner-city Oakland. Just note: they will probably put you on speaker phone.
A thousand dollars or more will get you, among other things, a personal performance by Lambert of "Free: a talk and walking tour with jokes." At just about every tier of giving you get something: the book, your name in the book, a work of art, his one and only Do It sculpture (at the $2000+ level).

Here's part of his rationale:
The word "capitalism" is a red flag. And for good reason – pretty soon some dude is talking your ear off about "The System, man." Ugh.

At the same time, capitalism is discussed every day using euphemisms like "jobs," "job creation," "the business climate," and discussing whatever "crisis" is deemed relevant; a housing crisis, financial crisis, social security crisis, tax crisis, or fill-in-the blank crisis. But the whole is rarely a topic of frank discussion - much less alternatives or meaningful reform.

As a culture, we need the vision and boldness it takes to discuss the problem itself. The idea that "there is no alternative" to the way our world works takes away our ability to dream! And as citizens we need the courage to begin these discussions on order to move on to new and better visions for the future.
But what to do? Start a conversation about capitalism and friends edge away slowly, and strangers even faster.

Feds visit artist behind People Staring at Computers, confiscate laptops

One of the many images McDonald's app captured at NYC Apple stores

In yesterday's Bits, I linked up Brooklyn artist Kyle McDonald's project People Staring at Computers, in which he created an app that took snapshots, one every minute, of people shopping for computers at Apple stores in New York, and uploaded them to his site. His project description says the project is "exhibited on site with a remotely triggered app that displayed the photos full screen on every available computer."

Now it appears that project may be in jeopardy. On Twitter, McDonald reports that he received a visit from the Secret Service today and they took his laptop. "Please assume they're reading any emails you send me," he tweeted. The site, for now, is still up and running.

McDonald, whose work was featured in last month's Eyeo festival of digital art in Minneapolis, discussed the case a bit more on Twitter today:

Here's a video McDonald created about the project:

People Staring at Computers from Kyle McDonald on Vimeo.

Update: Before noting that the Secret Service took "two computers, an iPod and two flash drives, and told McDonald that Apple would contact him separately," Mashable describes how McDonald made it happen:
On three days in June, McDonald’s program documented people staring at computers in Apple stores. Since the stores wiped their computers every night, he had to go back in and reinstall the program each day he took photos. He uploaded a collection of the photos to a Tumblr blog, and last Sunday he set up “an exhibition” at the Apple stores. During the unauthorized event at the Apple stores on West 14th Street and in Soho, when people looked at an Apple store machine, they saw a picture of themselves. Then they saw photos of other people staring at computers. Amazingly, nobody made a fuss.


Over the course of the project, McDonald set up roughly 100 Apple store computers to call his servers every minute. That’s a lot of network traffic, and he learned that Apple monitors traffic in its stores when he received a photo from a Cupertino computer of what appeared to be an Apple technician. The technician had apparently traced the traffic to the site McDonald used to upload the program to Apple Store computers — and installed it himself.
Here's the U.S. code McDonald may be in violation of, entitled "Fraud and related activity in connection with computers."

Via Andy Gifford on Twitter.

HOTTEA's Wildlife: 12 skeins of yarn, a stencil and an empty urban lot

Minneapolis yarn artist HOTTEA emails about a new project on Nicollet in South Minneapolis which, like the last one, goes away from straight yarn throw-ups (for lack of a better word) of the artist's tag:
I took 12 skeins of yarn and two stencils to create my latest piece. I strung the yarn between two points around the existing architecture within the space creating an alternate surface. Once the surface was strung I painted an image on top that speaks of the fragility of non-destructive street art and how vulnerable it is.
I like the swaths of color, although not necessarily the figurative stencil piece, and the further exploration of interventions in three dimensions.

Here's the time-lapse:

WILDLIFE from Hot Tea on Vimeo.

Photos by Thomas Dunning.

Broken Crow time-lapse: Brunch

Brunch. from Broken Crow on Vimeo.

Minneapolis art duo Broken Crow has a sweet new website, plus a new time-lapse of their recent South Minneapolis mural, which I blogged about here. Check it out (if you look carefully, I'm in there with Finn, the street-art dog).


Bits: 07.06.11

Ben Venom, Don't Wake Me Lucifer!, quilt, 2010

• Heavy metal quilter Ben Venom, interviewed here, has a piece in Yerba Buena's exhibition BAN6, which opens in San Francisco Friday night. The SFAI grad says he was pondering a piece he was to make for a show in 2008 when, looking at all his metal shirts in his closet and recalling the exhibition of Gees Bend quilts he saw at the De Young, he had a catharsis: "So...I decided to combine the two: Metal and Quilts!"

• RIP Cy Twombly.

• So Minnesota's government has shut down. What's that mean for the arts?

PopTech finds a creepy work: "Kyle MacDonald created an app that snapped photos of people who were using computers in Apple’s retail locations in New York, and uploaded them to his site. He logically called the project, People Staring at Computers."

• PRI's The World created a nice audio-visual piece on AFP reporter
Rory Mulholland, who spent three weeks documenting anti-Qaddafi graffiti with his iPhone in Libya.

• Radiohead has joined China's largest microblogging platform, Sina Weibo.

• It's no Miss Rockaway Armada, but I've gotta hand it to anti-Scott Walker protesters in Wisconsin, who created a flotilla to bring their voices to Walker's home, the lakeside governor's mansion.


Guerrilla bike culture: Urban interventions

In my Northeast Minneapolis neighborhood, I've spotted a few interventions by and for bicyclists.

My favorite is the simplest: Under Broadway Avenue -- the neighborhood's busiest thoroughfare, a four-lane that takes cars over the Mississippi -- someone poured a concrete ramp, just the right width for bike tires, up the curb to take bikers through a sidewalk gate and beyond an often-locked chain-link fence across the road.
Guerrilla bike ramp
(Update: Contrary to what commenters at Reddit say, the design does incorporate a drain hole to let water pass beneath it, as these photos document. While the image above does show dried grass clumped into one side of this hole, it's not a fair argument that the ramp is the problem, as the unobstructed sewer grate down the street was even more clogged following the last big rainstorm. Can't blame guerrilla ramp-builders for that.)

On the other end, a sandbag makes a downramp. A simple, useful, anonymous and much appreciated urban modification.

More whimsical is a Sharpie addition to the lane marking on the nearby 18th Avenue bike path. A wear-your-helmet admonition, perhaps?
Modified bike lane marker
Farther afield, less bike-centric and more symbolic are British artist Pete Dungey's pothole gardens. While the plantings will quickly get destroyed, Dungey's site says the project's aim is to highlight "the problem of surface imperfections on Britain's roads," something we in the Twin Cities ought to consider highlighting.
Got tips on similar urban interventions in Minneapolis or elsewhere? Send them my way!