by Juleana Enright
The weird and wonderful love child of installation, performance art, winter festival and peeps generally cavorting about on a frozen lake — also known as the Art Shanty Projects — returns this weekend for another round of chilly shenanigans. This four-week exhibition — running every weekend through February 23 — is part sculpture park, part artist residency and part social experiment inspired by Minnesota’s ubiquitous ice fishing houses and spurred on by cabin fever. After calling Medicine Lake home since its inception in 2006, the Shanties make a move to White Bear Lake for its annual petite Burning Man-esque affair. The 20+ shanties this year include: The Elevator Shanty, a disorienting ride from the creators of 2012’s popular shanty, The Monsters Under The Bed; Pedal Bear, where folks can engage in sustainable conversations while pedaling a larger than life polar bear across White Bear Lake; Ice Ice Maybe, an intimate shopping experience offering the finest ice encased objects that money can’t buy; Town Hall Shanty, where visitors can participate in governing an Art Shanty Town (go inside the construction of the Town Hall Shanty HERE); Sunrise Shanty, a solar-powered dawn simulator that unites strangers; The Meta Shanty, a geodesic dome where visitors can experience astrological readings, tarot cards and essential oils workshops, plus, dip out on the ice to participate in Snowga (aka yoga in snowsuits), Qi-gong, and Tai-Chi; and, of course, the return of The Dance Shanty, because nothing warms the bones like a good shimmy. These and the many other shanties represent some great ideas and ridiculously creative efforts from a slew of local artists, oddballs and designers. The event is sure to offer loads of silly fun as well as some moments of pure artistic transcendence. What better way to usher in our sudden resurgence of winter than getting bundled up to get your Shanty on?!
As the 2014 Art Shanty Projects near, director Melinda Childs chats with us about what this year’s projects will bring to the ice, why the move from Medicine Lake and fills us in on a special Valentine’s Day addition which doubles as a fundraiser.
l’étoile: The Art Shanty Projects have been operating on Medicine Lake since their inception in 2006. Why the move this year to White Bear Lake?
Childs: We are often asked to come to different communities and “share the love.” White Bear Lake was particularly vocal with many local residents making the suggestions. The White Bear Center for the Arts reached out as well and were excited to participate in the project as a way to celebrate the opening of their new building. We’ll miss Medicine Lake but all in all its been a good move.
We saw a few pics of artists constructing shanties in below zero temps. Why do you think this project draws such enthusiasm, participation and attendance despite being held during (as some might say) the most severe weeks winter?
Because in the most severe weeks of winter you need something to do! I think it has a lot to do with the challenge aspect: why do people run marathons? Winter biking? Its so unique and the community that builds on the ice is the warmth that everyone is craving.
Aside from the shanties themselves, is there anything special about the 2014 projects that differentiate them from previous years?
This year is the first year we are offering the opportunity for our audience to have a private shanty experience. On Valentines evening, select shanties will be open to groups of four for a catered dinner. There will be on ice antics, the Dance Shanty will be open and attendees will take home a special gift. This event is a fundraiser to help us close our funding gap and get back out on the ice next year. Never before have the Shanties been accessible on this intimate level. (Tickets are available HERE).
We hear there’s a shanty sojourning all the way from Seattle to participate in this year’s shanties. Can you fill us in on this?
Every year our call is open and has no geographic boundaries. We even had an application from England. The Shanty from Seattle has been doing a great job getting their own community excited and as I write is making the trip to MN to install in time for Saturdays opening day. (The surreal Seattle shanty, The Mailroom, conceived by Timothy Smith-Stewart & Charles Spitzack, is a roving sanctuary – a traveling caravan of anonymous secrets and stories – where a single red door invites the viewer to enter. Read more about the shanty HERE).
We wouldn’t dream of making you pick favorites, but are there any shanties you think attendees definitely shouldn’t miss?
All of them for sure – its really not about any one shanty but the energy and adventure of trekking out to see the event as a whole. That said, I am very curious to see how The Elevator Shanty crew simulate the experience of riding on an elevator out on the ice. It will be made by the same Art Shanty Projects veteran artists that created the Monsters Under the Bed Shanty in 2012 and the Tiny Shanty in 2010. They are all going to be awesome though!
Photos courtesy of the Art Shanty Project’s website gallery and Anthony Kwan.
The Art Shanty Project kicks off this Saturday and runs every weekend through Sunday February 23. The interactive experience is free and open to the public and runs from 10 am to 4 pm on White Bear Lake. For more info, visit their website or Facebook page.