Friday, May 6, 2011

Back from Minnesota

My project in Rochester was officially and sucessfully finished yesterday... a good night's sleep and a slightly lazy morning found me heading North.

Instead of the straight-line route, I diverted myself through Red Wing, Minnesota -- apparently home of the shoes by the same name, and amusingly in Goodhue County (get it, Red Wing, Goodhue?) -- I'm not sure if it was a tongue-in-cheek decision from decades ago or just plain coincidence, but I'll admit to chuckling when I passed Goodhue County Road 3 and made the connection. Passing through downtown Red Wing, I crossed the river into Wisconsin for my second "visit", and followed Great River Road north, passing back in to Minnesota just outside of Saint Paul.

The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, was my stated destination -- it's one of my favorite museums and with my level of membership at the Cleveland Museum of Art and a reciprocity agreement admission is free which makes it even that much more enticing. I parked in the garage adjacent to the museum. Before entering the museum I wanted to take a few moments to peruse the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Which I did. I noticed today there were more people in the garden today than I think I've seen from all of my previous visits combined. Contemplating that I realized that I think this was the nicest day I've spent in Minneapolis.

One corner of the garden hosts a pedestrian bridge (the same bridge where I had one of the strangest conversations I can recall, mixing classical music, relative rankings of orchestras, with an offer of weed and public consumption of alcohol). Enjoying the nice afternoon -- and being a bit hungry -- I figured I'd see what laid on the other side of the bridge. I wound up in a park.

I wandered some more. This is, as I've said before, one of my favorite ways to explore a city... just aimlessly walk about. This walking, however, wasn't completely aimless: I was seeking food. I was just about to admit defeat and return to a place I had glanced near the park when I stumbled across what I now know is Nicollet Mall. I had lunch in a pub with wonderfully attentive service -- there were three waitstaff for the 5 people at two tables in the corner I was seated in -- but completely unremarkable food.

Cleaning my plate, I resumed my walkabout. Instead of turning toward Walker, I pressed further away a bit more. I realize I'm just a block away from Orchestra Hall, home of the Minnesota Orchestra, and by extension just two blocks away from the hotel I stayed at on a previous trip... I had never realized the spatial relationship between these two locations and Walker.

I stumbled upon Target's Headquarters at 1000 Nicollet Mall and did a lap around the building -- the lower windows are covered by artists interpretations of the Target Logo. Deciding it was time to return to Walker, I started heading back. A stone's throw from Orchestra Hall I find in a hoodie playing a well worn violin on a street corner; steps away from her a disheveled gentleman in a top hat sits against the wall.

She stops playing for a moment, I ask her how long she's been playing "A long time" she answers. "Have you seen all the bad stuff on the news?" she asks, not waiting for an answer "We've all got to stick together. I'll play you a happy song." and she launches into an Irish jig, which after a few minutes turns Scottish and then grows some classical influences. Certainly fun to listen to. A small audience has formed and I drop a few bucks in her case -- it's not clear if that's her goal, but others followed. I ask if she minds if I take her picture, she doesn't, I do.

If I had been feeling more creative (and had the foresight to have camera with better control of depth of field with me) it would have been great to capture her free-form playing on a sidewalk -- not necessarily somewhere you expect to encounter a violinist -- a mere thousand feet, give or take, from the formal confines of music known as Orchestra Hall...and you can see the Target logo through the window across the street.

I make my way back to Walker, though via a completely different path. I find a couple automated where passers by can, it seems, rent bicycles. I'd love to see something like that in Cleveland.

My visit to Walker's galleries was largely uneventful -- the collection on display seemed to include a larger number of multimedia pieces than previously, and I have a difficult time connecting to those (not to mention that an impending flight notwithstanding, I don't have the attention span to completely take in a 74-minute film that consists of a blue screen). The more museums I visit, the more I realize how each's collections help me to understand the others and the artists in the collections.


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