Weisman: “ordinarily here,” but not for long

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“South Minneapolis Tags” by Jenny Jenkins

Image courtesy of the Weisman Art Museum

The Weisman Art Museum’s latest exhibition, “Ordinarily Here” celebrates the work of local artists and everyday objects while preparing audiences for the museum’s closing this fall.

The Weisman will close on October 10 (10/10/10) for approximately one year while it completes its expansion, designed by the building’s original architect Frank Gehry.

For the past year the museum has been exploring the notion of what is “ordinary;” Curator Diane Mullin says this final exhibition in the series brings the idea closer to home, focusing on the work of artists who are “ordinarily here.”

There’s another meaning to “here;” these artists highlight that it’s place and context which makes the ordinary NOT ordinary. It’s talking about ordinary things in a new context or how we experience routine spaces.

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“Bow, bow, bower, ower, bower” by Diane Willow

Image courtesy of the Weisman Art Museum

A perfect example is the work of Diane Willow, who transformed a hallway that many patrons rush through to get to the main exhibit halls. Using bamboo, plastic tie-backs, moss and bells, Willow creates a meditative space that encourages people to linger, and heightens their awareness of moving from one place to another.

Jenny Jenkins transformed the graffiti in her neighborhood into precious, framed stitchwork (see top image). What often serves as a backdrop to city life suddenly pops into view, and shifts from vaguely menacing to kitsch and comic.

Adam Caillier’s work involves investigating the spaces in which people live, while challenging commonly held notions of privacy and trust. Caillier asks friends and relative strangers for the keys to their apartments. He then waits for a time when they’re not home, and completely rearranges their posessions to create a sculpture. He photographs it, returns everything back to its original place, and leaves. Mullins says Cailliers work discovers people through how they live and what they own.

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Pirate Play by Adam Caillier

Image courtesy of the Weisman Art Museum

In many cases the artists actually reference the Weisman and its expansion. David Lefkowitz took some bricks from the Weisman (saved from the expansion) and created an homage to architect Frank Gehry. The pile of bricks glints with silver; some of them are wrapped in aluminum foil, evoking Gehry’s iconic exteriors. Mullin says the work reflects the importance of this moment, the museum that was and the museum that will be.

The bricks spiral out of the pile and turn into these “possible new Weismans” with their foil ornaments. It’s like a representation of entropy; things go toward disorder, and then we constantly create order out of it.

Mullin adds the work also underscores the transitory nature of the bricks, and how they are both viewed and used. First they were individual building materials, then they became an integral part of the museum, then construction workers turned those bricks into rubble, and now they comprise a work of art. What will they become next?

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Peter Haakon Thompson created a series of tents as part of his MFA at the U of M, and as part of the Ordinarily Here exhibition people will not only be able to view the tents, but check them out and use them. The only condition is that users must document (to the extent they’re comfortable) the nature of the conversation they had while inside the tent. Their report forms will be posted on the walls of the museum and will accumulate over the course of the exhibition.

Haakon Thompson (co-creator of the Art Shanty project) says the project is inspired by his own desire to get to know new people.

I’m curious about people and love to hear their stories, but I’m a pretty shy person, so I couldn’t do it without coming up with some tool. My medium is really conversation; that’s what the art is, and the tents are the tools that facilitate that happening.

Haakon Thompson says there’s something primitive in all of us that inspires us as children to want to create forts and hang out in them. And that magic of childhood back comes back when adults sit in his tents. And he says the group activity of setting up a tent sets up a certain connection between the people who are going to talk to each other.

“Ordinarily Here” opens tonight and runs through October 10 at the Weisman Art Museum.

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