Sunday, September 2, 2007

Peter and the Art Shanty Projects

Silver Shanty

White Ice

Melting Lake

A high point of my summer was getting to spend a few days roaming the city with one of my closest friends, Peter Haakon Thompson, who was showing work in the exhibition, A New American Portrait, at Jen Bekman. Peter lives in Minneapolis, and I met him several years ago in the color darkroom at The Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I spotted a tall, skinny, dreamy-looking guy printing these quiet, sensitive, enigmatic photographs of himself in evocative landscapes and interior settings and was instantly smitten. At first, I fancied him an exotic exchange student from Norway, but it turns out this Scandinavian beauty was bred in Minnesota.

Peter's enthusiasm for the Minnesota landscape and for cultivating a sense of community amongst artists and those who appreciate the arts led him to conceive of an idea to create an artists' community on Medicine Lake in Plymouth, MN. Based on the model of ice houses traditionally used for fishing in the winter, Peter imagined these "shanties" created by artists where they might congregate and collaborate during the coldest winter months. The first shanty built by Peter and some friends was installed on Medicine Lake in January 2004, and some of my fondest memories of Minnesota winters include holing up with friends in a warm shanty on a frozen lake.

Peter's experiment snowballed as more artists erected their own shanties and creative activities abounded including karaoke, knitting, yoga, musical performance, photography and painting. The following winter, an arts organization called The Soap Factory got involved with the shanty project, and Peter joined forces with a partner, David Pittman, in organizing events and residencies. Now funded in part my The McKnight Foundation, the Art Shanty Projects is a vital and growing feature of the Minneapolis arts environment and welcomes submissions from artists for the 2008 season.

Open invitation for the Fifth Art Shanty Projects:

Seeking visual artists, musicians, composers, media artists, architects, poets, scientists, dancer/choreographers, writers, builders, fisher-people, outdoors-people, naturalists, puppeteers, set designers, vocalists, spoken word artists, craftspeople, storytellers, actors, playwrights, etc. interested in participating in the design and construction of ice fishing shanty-like structures, producing projects, art, events and shows on frozen Medicine Lake in Plymouth, MN during January and February 2008.

Find more information, photographs and the call for entries on the Art Shanty Projects website:

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