Welcome back Art Shanty Projects, we’ve missed you. Yesterday, upon leaving the pop-up arts colony on Medicine Lake, my arts-skeptical husband sighed, “Only the Minnesota arts scene…” As I dramatically inhaled and prepared to launch into one of my arts-do-matter diatribes, he cut me off, “I meant that in a good way.” Was this skeptic sincerely expressing a sense of wonder and appreciation? Well done Shanty folks!
Officially, The Art Shanty Projects are “an artist driven temporary community exploring the ways in which relatively unregulated public spaces can be used as new and challenging artistic environments to expand notions of what art can be.” Unofficially, they are a great time when open to the public on weekends and a truly thought-provoking arts experiment only imaginable in Minnesota.
The cold temperature was the only reason we left before we had time to fully discover what all 24 shanties are about. Some highlights from our first (yes, we’ll be back) brief icy outing included:
–The ICE-cycle Shanty offering tricked-out ice-bikes complete with animal costumes and a skate of a ski in place of a front wheel — for the more daring visitors to try out
–The Robot Reprise is innately cool even if you don’t have the time/inner body heat to wait in line for your turn to climb in and play
–The Letter Press Shanty, printing hand set newsletters daily, complete with tweets from around the web and the world that have been sent to the Shantyquarian
There were so many great projects, much more than can fit into this pithy and light-hearted blog post…
My favorite spot, however, was the Dance Shanty. Sure, it sounds straightforward: go inside and bust-a-move. So I began to think, how is this original or artistic or interesting? Then the music drew me in, the sign on the door read “Enter in Back,” just like any hip dance club, and the bumping “Whoomp! (There it is)” forced a nod of the head or bounce of the step until I was through the backdoor.
Then BAM! A full-fledged dance party underway, complete with colored lights, a DJ wearing Dwayne-Wayne-style flip-up sunglasses, and puffy-coat-clad dancers. Granted, the toddler in the snowsuit bouncing up and down to a remix of The Knife’s “Heartbeats” may have unfairly influenced my opinion (and melted my almost frozen heart).
But, when I realized that I, too, was unabashedly dancing in my Sorels, among strangers, in the middle of the day, in a temporary structure on a frozen lake, and so was my skeptical husband – well, that’s when I knew that the Dance Shanty was more than just a portable nightclub. It is an original and artistic experiment, diffusing the performer/audience boundary and exploring the art of play through music and movement, all the while making people feel good.
So bundle up (seriously, its cold) and get out there before it’s too late – the Art Shanty Projects close Feb. 5th! I’ll see you in the Dance Shanty.
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