When I opened my computer after four days in the internet-less woods of Northern Minnesota for the New Year’s holiday the first thing I saw was a flood of links and congrats for the Floating Library being named one of the Top 5 Standout Public Art Works of 2015 according to Andy Sturdevant at MinnPost. Thanks Andy, “more boats” indeed!
I’m proud to share this accolade with some of the best Twin Cities artists I know, including Witt Siasoco, Molly Van Avery and Wes Modes*.
Molly and Witt produced the beautiful and moving project THIS HOME IS NOT FOR SALE. Molly paired poets with families living in formerly foreclosed homes that are part of the City of Lakes Community Land Trust — a collectivized model for affordable home ownership. (It’s the only just way forward, read about it.) Witt designed real estate-style signs that feature each home’s poem coupled with an image. A summer’s worth of sidewalk bbq’s unveiled each front yard sign.
(Full disclosure: I’m lucky enough to live in one of these houses and so get to enjoy watching neighbors read our poetry yard sign every now and again.)
Like a lot of artists who live here, I get frustrated sometimes at how small this place can feel, how there is a lack of deep conversation about certain kinds of art practice and how the “support local” movement can serve to isolate us in a way that demonizes institutions who support artists from elsewhere rather than only artists from here. I’m tired of that divide, and I believe deeply that cross pollination is how we’re all going to deepen our work, forge important connections and make change.
But I’ll say that reading Andy’s post was a bright spot to start off the year (FL acknowledgements aside), that reminds me not to be discouraged about these troubles but to take our generous arts funding and keep pushing.
So happy new year Minnesota artists (and all artists, everywhere). Keep making things, talking to each other, telling the truth, challenging. Criticize, offer support, reiterate, re-write, re-script. 2016, go.
*Okay, so Wes of A Secret History of American River People technically lives in California, but the depth with which he dove into this community all the times he’s been here to traverse the Mississippi makes him a Minnesotan to me.