First Ever Northeast Night Market

IMG_1349

Night Market at Bauhaus Brew Lab, just after six.

The other day, I experienced one of those new events that pop up on occasion, the “first ever Northeast Night Market,” hosted by Bauhaus Brew Labs in Northeast Minneapolis. This is also the first time I’ve blogged on an entirely new event, too. The Night Market boasted a large group of local artisans and craftspeople, live entertainment, food, and, of course, beer. I was not disappointed.

IMG_1353

People begin to arrive, pausing to listen to music at the Night Market

Arriving just before six, people were already starting to filter into the old warehouses, airy tunnels open to the sky, atmospheric with rusty metal and weathered brickwork. The historic former industrial architecture has become home to various local businesses, not least Bauhaus, one of Minneapolis’ most popular and vaunted new breweries, and creators of the acclaimed “Wonderstuff,” a Neu Bohemian Pilsner. I started out by grabbing a pint of their seasonal offering, Hairbanger, a “Belgo-Style Pale Ale,” which made a great, refreshing summer beer. thinking that I should take advantage of the smaller line to grab one right from the bar. I had no way of knowing how prescient this spur of the moment thought was.

Sipping my beer, I walked around the premises, scoping out the food trucks, listening to the accordions and violins of local bands, I waited for friends to arrive. The arrived about a half an hour after I got there, and by that time, the lines had swelled, stretching down the parking lot and the warehouse interior had begun to fill up. Fortunately, I had the foresight to grab some delicious frozen lollies from Frio Frio first (the avocado-lime was particularly good) to pass out when people arrived. Why not have dessert first, right?

IMG_1361

Crowd at the Night Market just after 8:30, as the sun begins to dip low.

The lines for the rest of the beer and food, though, got a bit harrowing quite quickly. The crowd of people and dogs exploring, drinking, eating, and buying local cool stuff made walking a bit difficult, too. Still, enjoying one of Potter’s Pasties hot hand pies (Thai Veggie), sipping on a Sky Five Midwest Coast IPA and scoring some beard oil and an awesome print of the beautiful storm drains under the Twin Cities was quite worth it, overhearing amusing conversations and watching the free entertainment and music provided made it a great first event. As things wound down for me and I got ready to leave, around 8:30, the lines had not slowed down and, in fact, were even longer than before. I was amazed at how much food was being dispensed to the masses by the food trucks, though it seemed a few hot items were running low. People kept pouring in to join the festivities, and seemed a great success! It was a wonderful way to discover high quality, handmade local brands in person.

I’ll definitely come again, but I would stress arriving early- like, half an hour before official opening early. Also, if possible, bike, walk, or bus, to make things easier. MetroTransit Route 10 makes a stop at the nearby intersection of Central and Broadway every 15 minutes or so until midnight, The next Northeast Night Market is on July 21, and later on August 18, my birthday!

Bauhaus Brew Labs

1315 Tyler Street NE, MPLS

IMG_1363

Leaving Northeast Minneapolis, at sunset.

Advertisements

Third Thursday at the MIA: Myopia

IMG_1327

Mailbox, waiting to accept your handcrafted art postcard.

IMG_1319

Museum goers, working on their postcard creations.

The Third Thursday events at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is one of my favorite ongoing events in the Twin Cities; there is always something new and different put together by the museum and various cooperating local groups. I recall attending an event last year that celebrated the nostalgic and artistic power of the choose your own adventure novel, put on by the local literary magazine Paper Darts. Very fun!

I was able to attend this month’s event, and it was very interesting, a real treat to experience. On an absolutely stunning June evening, people gathered outside the MIA, enjoying the breeze and the perfume of nearby basswood trees as they sampled free wine and made their own postcard collages and photo creations. For June, the MIA was celebrating the arrival of the exhibit Myopia, a traveling exhibit organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Collecting the bizarre, quirky, innovative art works of Mark Mothersbaugh, head of the cult band Devo, the celebrated musician was on hand to perform a handful of surreal songs on his makeshift musical sculptures. The collection was a stunning cavalcade of Americana transformed in new, disturbing, and unique ways; antique photographs mirrored into symmetrical people, just a little bit (or a lot) off. Elaborate, intricate machines of bells, pipes, and electric motors which belted out strange, eerie musical notes.

IMG_1328

Crowd crushes close to hear Mark Mothersbaugh perform.

Of course, there was quite a lot of fun Devo memorabilia too, including the weird red “energy dome” hats most well known. Among the various interesting mediums used by Mothersbaugh was postcards, those little pieces of disposable correspondence that were kind of like email for the analog age. They still persist as a kitschy kind of tourist souvenir, one that I have been collecting for years myself- making my own, from a pile of old magazines and art supplies was a very fun thing; MIA always has plenty of hands on activities for adults and children alike during these parties. For July, it’s Bike Night, which should be a pretty awesome time. Best of all, like admission to the museum generally, it is all free (minus the drinks, of course!).

IMG_1331

Examining postcards. So many postcards!

Northern Spark 2015

IMG_1280

Mill Ruins, just before the beginning

Another ethereal, crowded, thought-provoking night of art and wonder in Minneapolis, here are a few highlights from my adventures this time around. This year, the weather held and the night sky began to clear out into the early hours of the morning. I wandered, by foot and by bike it from Mill City to Downtown, taking in the sights and the people watching. It was the first NS I traversed downtown Minneapolis, and I really enjoyed how downtown seemed to have been all but taken over by bicyclists and pedestrians. I certainly did not experience all of the , but that is part of the fun, as you never know what kind of scene or idea you’ll stumble into next on your exploration. I just chose a few must sees and let the rest of the night unfold as it happened, an open feeling that, I feel, enhanced by the free admission to all the night had to offer, though there were still plenty of food trucks on hand to choose from; it was hard to decide, and I ended up having a delicious wood fired pizza from Wild Earth Mobile Pizza Bakery, made in an oven pulled by a refurbished school bus. Here are a few highlights from my night in 2015.

IMG_1282

Images of Syrian refugees nestled in the American ruins.

Starting out in the Mill City ruins, I roamed around the riverside parks, with their crumbling remains of former industry, watching the crowds gather and trying to decide which food truck to visit.

IMG_1285

People prepare to brave the Night Library, to confront the horrors of censorship

I, of course, had a lot of fun in the Night Library, the Hennepin County Library’s first project at the Northern Spark, it proved very popular with a line backing up all the way up to the Stone Arch Bridge. Fortunately, I arrived early among many other librarians and library workers from the metro- delving into the maze proved a fun challenge- I’m excited to see what the library offers next year!

IMG_1295

Images of attendees projected onto the Mill City silos, ghostly and comical giants towering over the festivities below.

After biking downtown, among posses of cyclists, I explored what was going on in Peavy Plaza, Orchestra Hall, and the Convention Center. Everywhere you looked, people were doing amazing looking things, music was tinkling through the air, and celebration was under way, even at 2 am.

IMG_1305

Downtown at 2 am. Still awake!

IMG_1302

A couple of the Game Lounge games

Inside Orchestra Hall, the UCLA Game Lab had set up a variety of innovative, bizarre, and challenging video games, designed to “test the limits” of the art form. From the nostalgic rampaging of Burn and Turn, to the “refuge in audacity” parody of Perfect Woman, a motion capture game prompting players to craft the perfect woman’s life, from childhood to old age, from Child Worker or Princess to 7-11 Employee or Whale Hunter to Woman Angry About her Daughter Becoming a Man or Tribal Matriarch. Happily, everyone dies as an old astronaut at the age of 115, though trying to imitate the movements of the characters on screen is a fun and difficult trick.

IMG_1312

                                  IMG_1307

The constructed skylines of Mini_Polis, described by a passerby by as “A little baby Minneapolis!” invites viewers to wander among the tiny, but familiar, streets and leave messages of their love of the city on the buildings with chalk.

IMG_1313

Rival writers take on the weight of the Canon as they attempt to respond to a nautical, Moby Dick themed prompt in the dry pools of Peavy Plaza.

Write Fight, Revolver’s on going competitive writing event was a pretty awesome way to end off the year, as rival writers stepped up to prove their wordsmithing under the crushing weight of the seminal works that came before, while an audience hungry for blood and similes stood by waiting to lend their approval to one or the other contestant. Moby Dick was described, entertainingly, as “a Wikipedia article sandwiched between two short novels,” and there was much discussion of the thoughts of mermen. Next year, I pledge to attempt the rather medieval looking apparatus, and the formidable skills of Revolver writers, myself.

Free Stuff to Do in the Twin Cities: A Short List of Favorites, including Northern Spark!

IMG_1124

Dinkytown at night, near the Kitty Cat Klub. Free concerts offered frequently at this elaborate bar and lounge.

Some time ago, a young visitor to the Minneapolis Central Library, in town for a few months but low on funds asked me for my recommendations for the best free places to go in the metro. I listed off a few of my favorites, but I had to think for awhile. Do you remember a few years ago when the local metro libraries unveiled the Museum Adventure Pass program? I recall having a lot of fun with that, as, courtesy of MELSA, the regional library system, libraries offered brochures with cool checklists for planning your exploration of local museums and other attractions, which, if you were lucky, you could visit for free. Sadly, the program was discontinued but I still receive periodic questions about it, so people definitely remember it fondly. I certainly do. Now, when someone asks me what are some free places to go and things to do in the Twin Cities, I have to think about it. Here are so of my favorites!

Music: A new thing I discovered recently, the Kitty Cat Klub in Dinkytown, presents most of its roster of local and visiting bands, from a variety of musical backgrounds, free of cover. I saw a show a few weeks ago and was pretty impressed. The food and drink are not too badly priced, so this is a great place for the visiting student’s budget to see some unique and up and coming sounds. The atmosphere in the cavernous space, especially the basement restrooms, is worth checking out, too. I’ll definitely be back, and I’m a little depressed now I never went back in my U of M days. Here is their calendar.

2014 013

The ornate stairs inside the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Museums: Some of the Twin Cities most awesome art museums are always free, at least for their permanent collections. The most prominent, and my favorite museum, is the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, a place you can definitely become lost in for a whole day. Celebrating it’s hundredth anniversary this year, they have a lot of stuff planned. Even without the awesome special exhibits they continually have coming through, there is enough in the collections to keep you coming back for years, especially with the shifting exhibitions showcasing various themes. Another fun thing they offer is tours, with the Book Tours being my favorites, a great idea for book clubs. Each month, the museum choose several books for adults and children and makes a special tour based on its themes and period. A few years ago, I took on based on the Picture of Dorian Gray, and it was extremely thought provoking and a great companion for the novel.

Also, the University of Minnesota’s art museum, the Weisman, in its idosincratic metallic walls, is also always free, all the time. Perfect for college students to take a break between classes, as I often did. There are also always new things being showcased here, too.

Over in downtown St. Paul, the Minnesota Museum of American Art is another great place to check out. Hidden away in a downtown office building, MMoAA has a lot of great local flavor. The other year, I saw their awesome exhibit on zines and DIY printing, and it inspired me to start up some of my own, as well. It’s been some time since I last visited, so I’m planning a trip to check out their speical exhibit this season, celebrating Summertime.

Also, museums like the Walker Art Center and the Bell Museum of Natural History offer free days as well, Thursday nights and Saturday mornings in the case of the Walker, Sundays in the case of the Bell Museum. Check it out!

2014 summer 030

One of my favorite little parks in Minneapolis, Gold Medal Park in the Mill District.

Parks: Of course, there are loads of great parks to enjoy the weather and the glories of nature, both in the Twin Cities and in the suburbs. These just may be the crown jewels of the Twin Cities. Now that spring is turning into summer, the best months to enjoy them are coming, so take advantage while you can. Of course, I’m partial to September and October, but those go so quick!

Theodore Wirth Park, as I explored last month, is one such great place offering plenty of hiking, biking, and picnicking opportunities, such as the mysterious Quaking Bog, which seems amazingly wild to be so close to downtown. That is just one of many of Minneapolis’ well known nature oases; Minnehaha Park and its breathtaking falls, Mill Ruins Park with its legacies of Minneapolis past, and of course the iconic Lake Calhoun, to name just a few, all offer places where you can relax, maybe go swimming, or just do some people watching. Over in St. Paul, there is the incredible Indian Mounds Park, showcasing some of the last surviving archaeological relics of the great Hopewell Culture which lived in the region for millennia. Some of the mounds are thousands of years old, as ancient as many relics in Europe. With its great view of downtown St. Paul and on clear days downtown Minneapolis, it is definitely a place to check out.

The Three Rivers Park district, across suburban Hennepin, Scott, and Carver counties, also offer a lot of awesome opportunities for adventure. Referring to the Mississippi, the Minnesota, and the Crow rivers, the various parks in the system offer a lot of stuff to do, such as I explored in one of my first entries last year. Camping at Baker Park (for just $15 a night), kayaking, biking, hiking, winter activities, disc golf,  I have yet to experience everything they have.

Of course, one has to mention Como Park and its Zoo and Conservatory as well, which remain free to the public; I always enjoying visiting the Conservatory and Japanese Gardens, both in the summer and in the dead of winter. I’d recommend it to families as well as those who just like experience tropical conditions and verdant greenery in January.

Libraries: Can’t not mention the area libraries, which offer almost all of their services free; check out the metro alliance of area library systems, MELSA, which has oft updated lists of programs offered throughout, such as the Bookawocky summer reading program, in which kids can participate to score free books. Makes me nostalgic.

Events: Finally, there are a host of awesome free events, artistic and entertaining, that occur throughout the year, including tonight’s much anticipated annual Northern Spark, as I wrote about last year. Northern Spark 2015 is promising a new cavalcade of innovative, intriguing, mysterious events, taking advantage of the beauty of the urban space at night. Throughout the wee hours, downtown Minneapolis and the University district will be transformed into a venue of diverse adventures and surreal sights. The prominent band Cloud Cult will be playing the Convention Center, Mill City Museum will have live opera, and the Mill Ruin Parks will host the Night Library, the Hennepin County Library’s really cool sounding interactive maze, among many other wonders. I still don’t know exactly what I want to do. I urge everyone to take the chance to visit; it’s worth being a little tired tomorrow! It’s looking like a good time!

Other free events to keep on the calendar are the Ice Shanty projects in the winter, this summer’s Floating Library, and the Art Car Parade; I’m sure I’m neglecting a lot of them, but I’ll report on them later! I’m sure I’m neglecting a lot of stuff, that perhaps further explorations will unearth.

Downtown Minneapolis rainbow

IMG_1270

Biking home from work today on Hennepin, the sky seemed slightly ominous, with some of those mammatus cloud formations, darker skies contrasting with the light of the setting sun. Rain drops began to fall, heavier in certain areas as they seemed to be blocked by the skyscrapers in front of them. As I was waiting for a stoplight, I saw this, and thought it was one of those breathtaking sights you sometimes see during your daily life adventures. Wish I had a better camera, but a cellphone will do. If I had ridden down Nicollet, as I usually do, I probably would have missed it.

House of Balls and the Walker: Art Imbuing the Everyday with the Bizarre

IMG_1248

New location for the House of Balls, formerly the Medusa.

IMG_1256

Former duct work, transformed into the scales of a dragon.

The other Saturday, I biked over to the House of Balls studio in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood, after seeing the open house offered in celebration of Obscura Day. You can’t really be a student of weirdness in the Twin Cities without being at least slightly aware of the name “House of Balls,” sculptor Allen Christian’s ever evolving project, or coming across one of his creations at some point. I believe I first encountered his work at the new Science Museum of Minnesota (well, I still call it the “new” Science Museum, I guess). I had never witnessed the actual place of creation, though, so it was very fun to visit the actual house, peer into a Wonder Bread camper, examine the details of some creepy looking doll thingy, and marvel at the technological turned sculpture.  As Christian is quoted, “we all possess the creative impulse and we owe ourselves the balls to express it.” There is certainly no lack of that at the House of Balls.

IMG_1251

Some of the wonders inside the House of Balls interior

The House of Balls specializes in bizarre, unique, robotic sculptural creations, brought to life from the detritus of American junk. Bowling balls carved into faces, old air ducts transformed into dragons.The little studio in the old garage right off of the Cedar Riverside light rail station, former home to seminal underground music venue, the Medusa, is totally jammed with unique characters; in fat, the building was surrounded with them, including a few I recognized from around the city. Art cars I’d seen driving around town, the frame of that awesome polar bear bike from last year’s Art Shanty.

I’ve been a fan of taking these lost fragments of human lives and making meaning from them for a long time. Found Magazine, roadside attractions, found art of all kinds. My aunt used to look for rusty objects to transform into pieces o jewelry, so as kids, we always kept our eyes out for interesting pieces of lost metal. This stuck with me.

IMG_1263

Cedar Riverside light rail station, behind the House of Balls backyard.

I know I’m not the only one to look at a piece of rusty ironwork and see a face, eyes made of screws and an open, surprised looking mouth, from a hole of unknown us. I have always been fascinated with artistic visions that transform these forgotten pieces of kitsch, of old, neglected objects, into new, beautiful and strange creations. To me, it comes from the same impulse that causes people to assemble huge balls of twine or put up a huge otter statue; transforming the everyday into the unique and Minnesota seems to specialize in this sort of stuff. I cannot say that I am very knowledgeable about the art world, aside from a dilettante’s interest and a love of seeing human creativity on display, but I guess I’m going to try talking about it anyway! To my own uneducated eyes, there seem to be similar things happening over at the Walker Art Center. I mean, how about a huge piece of silverware expanded to gargantuan proportions (see last entry)?

IMG_1245

I find maps to be perfect for found work, here showing Walker Art Center history.

After stopping in at the Walker for the first time since I moved into the neighborhood on a Thursday, taking advantage of the free admission, and explored the very interesting current exhibit on International Pop. The Walker has had a very interesting collection of Pop Art, which has always fascinated me by imbuing the banality, the commonplace of everyday commodities in industrial culture, the media, advertising, the commercial with a significance that belie its mundane origins. Similar to imbuing everyday found objects with new life, I can’t really express my interest in this artistic vision of elevating visions of our everyday life into something more; creating the new from the old.

Some of the artistic styles represented among these intriguing pieces integrated found items and objects into their visions, showing that this is, of course, not limited to Minnesota or to North America at all. Pop art styles from South America, continental Europe, and Asia illustrate how, in the 20th century, such ideas evolved across the globe. There were some extremely interesting things to check out, and the exhibit continues all summer, into August, so I’d recommend a visit!

IMG_1255

House of Balls art car from studio entrance, with view of Minneapolis skyline