Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Field Trip: Minneapolis

Sculpture Garden: "Spoonbridge and Cherry"
Before we arrived in Duluth we stopped to visit some good friends in Minneapolis for two days and we packed in a bunch of fun outings and activities.  We went to the Walker Art Museum, where we sauntered through the Sculpture Garden, played 9 holes of artist-designed mini-golf, puzzled over exhibits of contemporary art from the permanent collection, and watched about an hour of Christian Marclay's amazing video collage, "The Clock."  We had no idea what we were seeing when we wandered into the darkened screening room, but gradually realized that the piece was an assemblage of clips from movies and TV shows that showed clocks or mentioned time in the dialogue.  First I realized that it was progressing in real time as 5 minutes of screen clips was registered with clocks showing that five minutes had passed.  Then I realized that the time on screen was in sync with our time; in other words that when it said 2:55 on screen it said 2:55 on my watch.  It's hard to explain how cool this discovery was! I would imagine most people seeing this piece knew something about it going into it since it is rather celebrated, but we didn't, which only added to the wonder of the experience.  Part of the pleasure for the adults in our group was recognizing movies and actors; N. didn't get much of this since he's seen so few movies but he did recognize Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last," which he's seen parts of and read about in Hugo Cabret.  Despite his limited viewing history, N. loved the piece as much as we did. We all loved the visual jokes created by the conjunction of disparate scenes, like someone in a black-and-white movie opening a door followed by a color film scene viewed through an open door.  And the meticulously edited sound, with dialogue or music spilling from one clip to the next, is a crucial, gorgeous part of the work as well.  (You can read more about it in The New Yorker and The NYRB).

We also took the new Green Line light rail from Minneapolis to St. Paul -- end to end! -- and back, stopping to tour the newly renovated St. Paul Union Depot.  N. of course was very excited about this outing, and loved the depot.

St. Paul Union Depot
One of our favorite traditions with our Minneapolis friends is our evening jam sessions.  Our friend plays the electric guitar, he's taught me to play basic bass lines on the electric bass, and N. plays electric keyboard.  We played and sang some of the 50s and 60s classics N. became obsessed with this spring, like "Twist and Shout," "Chantilly Lace," as well as other rock and blues tunes.  N. absolutely loves doing this; it's thrilling to make music on the fly, and you can see his mind racing as he's working out chord progressions and improvising solos.

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