Free Art and Black Fridays

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Still recovering from hammering out slightly more than 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo over the month of November, I find some of the most relaxing places to visit to unwind are some of the Twin Cities art museums. There are a couple of very interesting exhibits in town right now that you should definitely take the chance to see, both exploring very different but equally creative times in art history- the shift into impressionist and modernist art in France between the 1860s and the 1900s, and the rise of contemporary art a century later in the 1960s. Both of these exhibits, Delacroix’s Influence at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Hippie Modernism at the Walker, explore shifting ideas of artistic expression, whether through painting or through other creative pursuits.

Celebrating their 100th anniversary this summer with a huge bash last August, the Minneapolis Institute of Art re-branded itself as Mia, and slated all sorts of awesome programs in the coming months, including Delacroix’s Influence: The Rise of Modern Art from Cézanne to Van Gogh, a unique and exhaustive celebration of the work of Eugene Delacroix, a painter from the Anglo-French Romanticism school whose groundbreaking work in color and optical effects inspired much of the next generation of European painters, who in turn revolutionized the art world by the 20th century; people like Cézanne, Manet, Renoir, and all of those other big names.

Following the my new personal holiday tradition described last year, Black Friday at Mia, so much more relaxing a reason to get up early on the day after Thanksgiving. For those who still needed to do some holiday shopping, the museum store was 20% off, but the real draws were free coffee and cookies from Agra Culture, and, of course, free admission into the special exhibit. I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the event next year.

I personally do not know too much about art history, but as a history major, I enjoy looking at pieces from certain periods and imagining how they fit into the cultural and social world of the time, and the curators at Mia did an awesome job putting together an informative and thought provoking collection, drawing in works from Delacroix and those he influenced from museums and private collections throughout the United States and Europe, including Mia’s own collections. It seemed that none other than James J. Hill himself, in that mansion over in St. Paul, was among the foremost collectors of Delacroix’s works in the US and many of the pieces in his collections made their way to Mia. While you’ve got to buy tickets for Delacroix’s Influence during the rest of its run, until January 10th, the rest of the museum is, of course, always free.

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Meanwhile, the other week I took advantage of the Walker Art Center’s Free Thursdays to visit the latest cool looking offer organized by the Walker, Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia. Centered around a decade’s worth of artistic output from the North American and European counterculture from 1964-1974 Hippie Modernism is a pretty stimulating exhibit. Showcasing artistic takes (or aesthetic radicalism) on how to live in the contemporary life, whether an idealized future and the nostalgic past, it is easy to see the tense period of history reflected in these myriad works. The sheer variety of items and ideas shared, from vehicle diagrams, to plastic suits, to orange trees reflected a truly creative era. It was amazing how innovative and strange the represented works were, and I especially enjoyed the vintage furniture you could relax on.

The Walker Art Center, including its special exhibits, are always free every Thursday night from 5-9, as well as on the first Saturday of every month. Oftentimes, these times coincide with other events as well. Hippie Modernism will be at the Walker until February 28th.

 

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