Wednesday, September 3, 2008

In Which: Art Museums get checked out of the library

My librarian keeps track of what's going on at the Minneapolis and Hennepin County libraries.  For one thing, they need a new director.  So if you're a high-powered librarian executive type, look here. 

For another thing, the libraries just ended a year-long partnership with businesses and museums in the metropolitan area, in which library patrons were able to "check out" a membership to a museum for a week, and thus enjoy some of the cultural icons of the area.  And my librarian knows a good (free) deal when she sees one. (UPDATE: the year-long agreement has been extended for another year!)

So it is that she's been to the Walker Art Center and the Weisman Art Museum in the last two weeks.  Of course, no pictures are allowed inside, but the outsides are fascinating as well.

Behold the Walker Art Center:

And behold its sculpture garden (very famous cherry-on-a-spoon fountain)

And the ramp for the pedestrian bridge that goes across eight lanes to Loring Park:

and Loring Park itself: 
The librarian's Mom (AKA Maggie; she has kitty treats) told her to walk across the pedestrian bridge.  Never having learned to drive, Maggie is somewhat of a pedestrian activist (she once pounded on the hood of a car that was nosing her along a crosswalk.)  I think I shall take after her and become a kitty activist.  Hmmm, I need to think of a slogan....
But, as usual, I digress.  The Walker was predictable, in that the art was so avant garde and abstract that it became boring.  Nothing connected to anything else.  Rows of brushed aluminum cubes.  The iconic 70's artist who had naked women roll in a trough of paint and then roll on a canvas.  Sigh.  The Walker prides itself on being cutting edge, but the librarian found it quite dull for the most part.  Except for the sculpture garden, and this wonderful concept: Artist Designed Mini Golf.  Now there's a concept!
Today, the librarian (and Lisa Dean) went to another museum.  This one was architecturally designed by Gehry, of Experience Music Project in Seattle (the librarian thinks that building looks like a booger.)
As for the Weisman: talk about your brushed aluminum!  It's actually stainless steel.
The Weisman is on the campus of the University of Minnesota, and the librarian has personal experience that the bus stop on that bridge above is the coldest place in the world on a Minnesota winter's day.
If the Experience Music Project is a booger, than this is a sand castle built by The Mad Welder.  What would Prince Charles say?  Yes, it's visually interesting, in fact, I rather like it just because of that.  I could perch in a window and be right up there with the birds.  A few windowsills with pigeons would assist my fantasy, but we all know about those pigeons.  No Good, No Good!
The librarian's favorite exhibit there was Hindsight is always 20/20, a project by R. Luke DuBois.  She's been talking about it to everyone, so I may as well let her blog a little bit about it, while I go beg Maggie for a treat:

The exhibit was based on an algorithm that took the 66 most-used words from each President's State of the Union Addresses.  Lisa and I enjoyed discussing the differences between the Presidents.  For instance, Washington's most-used word was "gentlemen" and George W. Bush's most-used word was "terror."  We thought Lincoln would have "slavery" in his list but he didn't.  The President before him, James Buchanan, had "slavery" as his most-used word.  Lincoln's most-used word was "emancipation."  
Other things came up: Reagan had more emotional words than other presidents: blessed, needy, victims, honored, love, hearts, etc.  And more recent Presidents - say, after Jimmy Carter - used poorer vocabularies than previously.  Are they becoming stupider?  Or are they just trying to dumb down to the lowest common denominator of their constituents?  (I'll bet they wouldn't use the word, "constituents.")  
At the very least, it was an interesting overview of issues during each President's incumbency.

And there you have it: my librarian's review.  It was hard to pull something even mildly intellectual out of her.  She's all about biking and knitting these days.  I suppose she's trying to get in all the fun she can before she starts school in 18 days, 9 hours, and 43 minutes.  Ha ha!  I'm so glad to be a Cat, with its perquisite schedule: eating; personal grooming; playing with the occasional feather; submitting to caresses, all surrounded cosily by naps.  Cat-naps.'s time for one now.  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz