Artist Date: Minneapolis Institute of Art – April 13, 2018

A sneak peek into “Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty” at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

What a jewel of an art museum we have here in the Twin Cities! How incredible that anyone can step up to an original Van Gogh, Monet, etc., free of charge any day of the week (except Monday when the museum is closed). An added bonus? A free docent-led tour at 1 p.m. whenever the museum is open—just meet the day’s guide at the main desk for an hour-long “highlights” tour of his or her choosing.

Here are the highlights of what I saw and learned during my most recent visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA)

Technique: Collision of art & theater
As an MIA member, I was able to score free tickets to the MIA’s featured exhibit “Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty,” which was conceived and designed by Robert Wilson, a theater director and artist. If you plan to take it in, I don’t want to give too much away—in short, it was a sensory treat complete with sound, artifacts, etc., and a new experience around every corner. I examined the walls of the exhibition space just as much as the items on exhibit. Go, go, go if you can!

Term: Automatic drawing
I happened upon a room filled with works by Minnesota artist George Morrison (more about him below) and fell upon the term “automatic drawing” in the description of one of his untitled works. In his artist statement, automatic drawing is defined as a technique “in which the artist’s hand creates a mark without thought or intention in order to access the creative imagination of the subconscious.” Despite Morrison’s unintentional approach to the piece, I love the balanced, seemingly planful result.

Artwork: “Dining Room in the Country” by Pierre Bonnard
Our docent chose to introduce us to pieces by artists who were contemporaries and friends of James Abbott McNeill Whistler (even though there are no works by Whistler in the MIA’s collection). As the docent suggested, it’s a painting that makes you want to take in a big deep breath in hopes to inhale the fragrance of the rich floral background. I, for one, would love to shove that cat to the side and take my place in that chair to chat with my visiting friend, knit a few rows, and enjoy the colorful surroundings.

Artist: George Morrison
Back to George Morrison… The variety of his work is astounding—from painting, to pen and ink, to wood collage. It seems like this man could make any medium ultimately resemble a picturesque landscape. It’s interesting to note that his artistic talents may have taken root during a fourteen-month hospital stay at age 10. He was recovering from surgery necessitated by tuberculosis, says MNopedia.

Takeaway: Automatic drawing & “Other Side of the Room” project
It goes without saying that I’d love to try my hand at automatic drawing; I’m going to test it using my black ink pens of various tip sizes. In addition, while viewing “Dining Room in the Country,” I was reminded of another interesting red room I had recently come across in my studies: “The Red Studio” by Henri Matisse. In my mind’s eye, I imagine the rooms depicted in both paintings as one! This got me to thinking… What other pieces of art would I pair together using similar logic? This question birthed yet another assignment for my growing list!


Great Expectations

As a Timberwolves season-ticket holder, my husband, Terry, has become very familiar with the downtown Minneapolis parking scene. He knows all the slick tricks related to entering and exiting a busy parking garage. Though his routine is strategic with regard to timing and location, the order of things is quite simple: park the car, watch the game, visit the payment machine, exit the ramp. Nothing to it.

Terry’s “receipt”… or is it?

Last Tuesday, when it came time for Terry to visit the payment machine, his request seemed  pretty straightforward. All he wanted was a receipt. After  pushing the appropriate button, the machine made its typical scratching and spitting sounds. All signs indicated that it was hard at work documenting Terry’s comings and goings–that it was generating a perfect summary of his proof of purchase. However, when the apparatus eventually coughed out a “receipt,” it showed no date, no cost, no location. It showed none of the details that one would expect.

Expectations. We have them of each other. We have them of circumstances. And we have them of words. For instance, if the machine had offered a map or a menu  instead, Terry would have had an entirely different expectation, all in thanks to the intricate distinctions we make between words and the items or conditions assigned to them.

In my last post, I relayed the importance of fact checking. Here, I simply encourage my fellow writers to take great care with word choice. After all, our decisions will spur great expectations among our readers.

WRITING PROMPT 1: Make a brief list of basic terms (e.g., apple, book, calendar, diary). What makes each thing distinctive from any other thing in existence? Write your own definitions.

WRITING PROMPT 2: Think about the recent presidential debate. What if it had been called something else (e.g., a presentation, a cookie exchange, a talent show)? Write a scene showing how the event would have played out under this different title.