Betty Danger's Country Club ferris wheel, Minneapolis. Photo by Tony Webster.

A Magical Gathering of Artists

I left the shantyboat in Muscatine, Iowa and bombed up to Minneapolis in a borrowed beater car to go to an art conference and pick up my new ships mate.

This started as a selfie to show off my new pants, instead I show off my new face

This started as a selfie to show off my new pants, instead I show off my new face

Hand-In-Glove was an inspiring collection of artists and art administrators focused on social practice art, that is art that “focuses on social engagement, inviting collaboration with individuals, communities, and institutions in the creation of participatory art.”

Geek out at wikipedia about social practice art

Geek out at wikipedia about social practice art

There were panels on creating inclusive art spaces and communities, discussions about place, race, geography and power, workgroups on sustainably working as artists (read: how do we make money?), and connections with tons of inspiring artists.

The Hand-In-Glove Art Convening, in Minneapolis

The Hand-In-Glove Art Convening, in Minneapolis

A huge crowd of highly-engaged artists filled The Soap Factory in Minneapolis. The panels were a refreshing mix of race, gender, and class — such a change from my über-white art community in my California hometown of Santa Cruz.

So many art-makers in one room

So many art-makers in one room at The Soap Factory, Minneapolis

Hazel spent the conference hiding under my chair

Hazel spent the conference hiding under my chair

I picked James up from the airport and we hustled off to the conference’s delightful dance party in St. Paul.

James caught the tail end of the conference

James caught the tail end of the conference

Closing party in St Paul

Hand-In-Glove closing party in St Paul

We arted it up and then spent a little time goofing around Minneapolis. Near the house where we stayed (thanks, Brakeshoe!) we discovered one of those typical bar/restaurants with a full-size ferris wheel and wild animal mini golf course. You know, like you find everywhere.

Betty Danger's Country Club ferris wheel, Minneapolis. Photo by Tony Webster.

Betty Danger’s Country Club ferris wheel, Minneapolis. Photo by Tony Webster.

Betty Danger's Country Club mini golf with wild animals

Betty Danger’s Country Club mini golf with wild animals

We also discovered the magical Minneapolis Open Streets. A neighborhood block party spanning more than twenty blocks sprawling through at least three distinct neighborhoods. It was crowded with people from all over the city. Restaurants and bars moved their tables out into the street.

Restaurants moved tables into the street on a sunny Minneapolis autumn day

Restaurants moved tables into the street on a sunny Minneapolis autumn day

Food trucks and bars kept people fed and happy

Food trucks and bars kept people fed and happy

Alternative seating was moved out into the street

Alternative seating was moved out into the street

At one point while James and I were sitting on the curb drinking beers with Hazel kickin’ it in the grass, watching skaters ollie off of the urban landscape and kids throwing frisbies back and forth, we contemplated just how many laws back home we and others would be breaking.

The Minneapolis streets were packed

The Minneapolis streets were packed

When we got back to the place we were staying we excitedly described the scene. Our friend Alex delivered the punchline, “Oh, so it was a good one? They do that throughout the summer in neighborhoods all over town.” That’s it. A town that supports artists, has restaurants with ferris wheels, and closes down streets regularly so neighbors can hang out and have fun together? Aw jeez, harrowing winters notwithstanding, I’m there.

James and I consider how many laws we'd be breaking back home

James and I consider how many laws we’d be breaking back home. Note the mini-skate/bike ramp in the background

We picked up the trailer in Winona generously stored for the last few months in Secret History interviewee Louise Prondzinski’s yard and headed back down to Muscatine to rendezvous with our river home on the shantyboat.

Ships mate James bundled up on a cool autumn morning aboard the shantyboat

Ships mate James bundled up on a cool autumn morning aboard the shantyboat

Gray Man watches riverboats near Muscatine

Gray Man watches riverboats near Muscatine

1 comment for “A Magical Gathering of Artists

  1. Surprise
    May 31, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Looking forward to more pictures of Gray Man!

Leave a Reply