|Reconstituting the Landscape: A Tamarack Rooftop Restoration, by Christine Baeumler|
A rooftop swamp and a garage sale dating site may not be what you expect when you go to an art exhibit, but they were among the highlights of this year's "McKnight Visual Artists Fellowship Exhibition
" at MCAD. Christine Baeumler's Reconstituting the Landscape: A Tamarack Rooftop Restoration
and Marcus Young's I'm looking for love, so let's fix the system
both defy traditional categories of what is considered visual art, but they also offer an intriguing counterpoint to Liz Miller and Elizabeth Simonson's sculptural installations.
|From I'm looking for love, so let's fix the system, by Marcus Youn|
|Titiwai by Elizabeth Simonson|
Each year, the McKnight Foundation
awards four visual artists with a $25,000 grant to use to work on a new project, take advantage of an opportunity, or set aside time for exploration. In the case of Baeumler, the artist collaborated with engineer Kurt Leuthold and ecologist Fred Rozumalski, both from Barr Engineering. She received funding not only from McKnight, but also the Smaby Family Foundation, the Mississippi Watershed Management Foundation, and Barr Engineering. Prior to the McKnight exhibition, her piece had been a part of the Northern Spark
Festival with accompanying visual projections.
You might not notice the rooftop restoration at first when you enter MCAD. It's actually above the awning by the door. To get a better look, go to the second-floor skyway where there's a good view of the assembled wetland, complete with a contraption that gathers the rainwater into a barrel that pumps it back up to water the plants.
But is that art? You could say that Baeumler captures a rare and fragile beauty, placing it in an urban context at an art gallery. Doing so not only brings awareness to the wonder of wetlands (as well as their endangerment) but also suggests that perhaps nature itself is an art form.
|From I'm looking for love, so let's fix the system by Marcus Young|
If Baeumler pushes the boundaries between art and nature, Marcus Young does the same with art and sociology. His entertaining I'm looking for love, so let's fix the system includes a random selection of furniture items for sale, complete with interspersed commentary and text about himself and what he's looking for in a relationship. "This work expresses my simple hope of improving my life through two related acts: finding love and de-cluttering my home," reads a postcard about his exhibition.
His "sale" includes items such as couches, rugs, and black lacquered chairs from his family's restaurant in Iowa, which Yong says named "Chinatown," and where he made the Mai Tais too strong.
|Imperious Decorum by Liz Miller |
There are also two wall hangings that at first sight look like Chinese calligraphy, until you realize they are actually little drawings. It's all very sweet and endearing, but like Baeumler's work, you don't really know why it's in an art gallery except that it's in an art gallery. But so what? Young captures the essence of vulnerability, and what it really means to be human, despite living in a consumerist world.
While Baeumler and Young have the most thought-provoking work in the exhibition, that's not to say that Miller and Simonson don't have excellent work on display as well. Indeed, Miller's Imperious Decorum certainly is the most eye-catching piece. The mixed-media installation looks like a giant ornament, and it is the first thing you see when you enter the gallery. It's beautiful. Simonson's Titiwai, a conglomeration of wires and beads that hang from the ceiling, is beautiful as well. However, Young and Baeumler get you to not only appreciate their work, but to think about the world and society in a whole new way.
IF YOU GO:
2501 Stevens Ave., Minneapolis, MN