Highlights and lowlights from ‘Northern Spark’

The reviews from this year’s cultural all-nighter are decidedly mixed. Here’s what people are saying:

Larry Miller:

The projection of the fish on an old Pillsbury building was pretty cool. Puppet show on the bridge jamming traffic, not cool.

Scott Pakudaitis:

I loved the projections on the walls of the Mill Ruins and on the Pillsbury A Mill. The various shanties were pretty sweet and I enjoyed a late-night shadow puppet show there. Aniccha Arts’ dancing was inspiring. I was deeply disappointed by the firefly bike ride. (I was one of the riders.) We bikers were cut off frequently by several drunk pedestrians and instead of a giant swarm of blinking lights, we rode in small packs thus diminishing the intended effect.

Matt Guidry:

The Black Pirate screening with music by the Poor Nobodys on the Greenway was great, and because it was the only thing going on at that sight made it a unique happening. Indeed the building projections on the river were very cool, especially the one on the A Mill.

Patricia Owen:

Highlights: Under Ice (projections of fish onto Pillsbury A Mill) accompanied by cello and didgeridoo); Mom’s Cookies, Ten Second Film Festival, Body Pong, Shin’m Pinata, Foshay Observation Deck and best of all Jim Campbells’s Material World. The latter should have gotten a lot more publicity. And even better was the double moonbow arching over the the sky at dusk, created by just the right conditions. Unfortunately there were many lowlights, primarily because the preceding buzz far outweighed the actual event or installation. Last year, in St. Paul, there were just a few events (Jim Campbell’s Scattered Light; sewer organ, and crazy car parade) which were really amazing. This year’s seemed amorphous and amateur.

Curt Lund:

Unfortunate lowlight: the regular construction on the East Bank campus, plus special and untimely temporary closures on River Road and all over campus/Dinkytown, making it next to impossible to get to the Weisman except by bike or foot. Heard from a handful of others who similarly tried to get anywhere close but ended up throwing in the towel.

Edward Vogel:

I think performances on the Stone Arch Bridge should be better monitored. A bridge is definitely not an artery you want clogged.

Mike Olson:

More of a State Fair vibe this year, (and not in a good way). Hung out around the Stone Arch Bridge, but in hindsight, I wish I had gone to the Walker instead. Still, a net positive.

Amy Salloway:

I’m a night-owl all year ’round, and as I did last year, I loved the feeling of the arts community getting to sort of “own” the city all night long. There’s nothing like running into a group of my friends in face makeup and glow in the dark accessories and having loud, laughter-filled conversations on the sidewalk at 3 and 4 am.

Susan Gillette:

Of what we saw, Under Ice was the most beautiful, 10 Second Films most surprising, and Sit and Spin Shanty most fun. So glad that we could all celebrate and enjoy creativity without mini-donuts in sight.

Jessica Lee DuRose Shimek

I was at MCBA all night doing photo documentation of the letterpress pieces being made – it was so amazing to get to talk to the participants who were so excited and proud of the artwork they had just created! I wish I could have seen more events, but seeing that awesome reaction from so many people made my night!!

Chuck Terhark:

Under Ice was mesmerizing! I could’ve stared at four-story fish all night.

Did you attend Northern Spark? If so, what did you think?

  • Hannah

    My experience of Northern Spark was more fueled by the thrill of being in the streets of the city alongside so many others all night than it was by the actual projects.

  • Northern Spark was a splendid way to celebrate our 45th Anniversay; on the Stone Arch Bridge at midnight surrounded by flickering fireflies and two grandchildren and one daughter! Pramila and her crew at Aniccha Arts: In Habit was my personal favorite. There were no disappointments for me! Never saw so many $75,000 BARCO DLP projectors in one place. Never saw so many citizens and no police! Never stayed out all night since… 😉

  • I echo the overwhelmed feeling from the state fair ish vibe in the Main Street/Stone Arch Bridge area. Yet feel guilty because we should be happy so many people came out to see these wild, innovative art projects! Wish it could have been spread out more into the park somehow to alleviate foot traffic on Main St.

    My favorite places were MN Book Arts Center, Busk til Dawn from the Artists in Storefronts project, and also really liked the stuff at the MIA/MCAD area although it was our last stop and things already felt like they were winding down at 3am.

  • i get the State Fair comparison, but i personally enjoyed the crowded, festive atmosphere. nothing at the Stone Arch/St. Anthony Main area really wowed me, though. (esp since i saw the Art Shanties back in January) MCAD/MIA was an unexpected delight. i made it to the Weisman by car, but most installations were winding down by then (2am).

  • Caleb

    I thought it was all really beautiful, there’s so much potential in a city to inspire each other, and create beautiful refuges in normally overlooked spaces. I really enjoyed talking and laughing with strangers, (that video installation with the coffee and strawberry shortcake was a nice break to chat with people) The planetarium thing at the weisman was awesome, being reminded of our tiny little place in the universe and then going out and seeing the sun rising and moon setting. Also the spontaneous talent show/dance party near the weisman was pretty funny. This was one of the coolest events I’ve been to because it was really relaxed, and fun, and inspiring.

  • Aniccha Arts : In Habit, time lapse at http://youtu.be/jhrugqi3oro

  • Marianne Combs

    Bill – nice! Thanks for the link.