I was walking by the Chambers Hotel a couple of days ago and noticed that the hotel restaurant is now a D’Amico and Sons. This is nothing spectacular in itself, but what is interesting is the way signage has been changed on the building. The previous restaurant was the celebrated/lauded (depending on how you looked at it) Kitchen by Jean-Georges. And the signs for this eatery were dimensional cast metal and attached to the hotel’s chic, Richard Serra, core-ten steel facade. Now, the funny thing is that the facade has changed so dramatically over the course of the last few years that “KITCHEN by JEAN GEORGES” is now etched in the surface of the rusty-colored steel.
In essence, the building is permanently branded with this moniker.
This got me thinking, as always, about all the little ways our lives are being “branded.” The biggest annoyance to date is the branding of the Walker Art Center. (Or, really any cultural institution in the Twin Cities) So, I would like to make a modest project proposal. It goes a bit like this:
In the current climate of corporate sponsorship of the arts, it is impossible to enter a gallery space, museum, or other art institution without being openly reminded of the corporations whose funds have made that particular space possible. Once the realm of private commissions and later the target of public spending through education and social programs, art has now become the a byproduct of corporate culture. It is impossible to be an avid viewer of art and not draw the conclusions that the purchasing of culture by wealthy corporations is in fact changing, editing, sanctioning, and altering our shared culture.
For the project I am proposing, I will strip the Walker of all of the demarcations of corporate sponsorship for the duration of 1 month. During this time, the Best Buy Galleries and Cargill Lounge will be renamed and freed of their associations with corporate ownership of culture. For example, the Cargill Lounge will be renamed Lounge. Imagine meeting at the Walker on Thursday Free Nights… minus the Target corporation.
Art is one facet of culture. Culture is never static. Static entities cannot be tied to the agendas of monolithic corporations.
(It could be everywhere)
For the first time in months (notice the dust on the top of the body) I am loading up my Canon A-1 and shooting some 35mm film. I’d like to think that 35mm is going to go through a renaissance this year… digital has become the status quo and large-format mega photos seem almost passé. Enter 35mm with all of its glorious film grain and beautiful quirks.
I am a simple person and I hope my each of my little posts from the edge of simplicity reflect this.
My experiences of the city are taken in mostly while walking to and from work each morning and afternoon. At 5:30 AM, the city of Minneapolis is absolutely silent. Only crazy people like me who work nonsensical hours are out and about, plugging our way through a city that looks like it has survived a zombie attack. Because I do this meditation twice daily, minute details of the cityscape creep into my consciousness. If the world around me is too hectic, or if I have just finished up a long day at the office, I can walk home… look at my feet and just… come into focus.
This week however, I have been introduced to an obnoxious intrusion into my bit of mental space. Apparently, Boost! Mobile has started to use the sidewalks of my neighborhood as advertising spaces. Large black squares with orange type and images of cell phones have been stuck to the sidewalks.
Is it possible that the only bit of reprieve from advertisements has been sold off? Is this legal? I am curious if the city has actually sold rights for the space of the sidewalk… and if Boost is just one of many advertisers that will be claiming the very ground I walk on as space to sell me something.
A new adjective has been used by my boyfriend, Curtis to describe me: sweet. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Cookies are sweet. Chubby girls in 6th grade are sweet. Kittens… sweet. Andrew Schroeder? No not all that sweet. Once, someone said that I looked “healthy”. After that I immediately set about losing at least 10 lbs. I am not healthy…
but… am I sweet?
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary:
- Main Entry: 1sweet
- Pronunciation: \ˈswēt\
- Function: adjective
- Etymology: Middle English swete, from Old English swēte; akin to Old High German suozi sweet, Latin suadēre to urge, suavis sweet, Greek hēdys
- Date: before 12th century
1 a (1) : pleasing to the taste (2) : being or inducing the one of the four basic taste sensations that is typically induced by disaccharides and is mediated especially by receptors in taste buds at the front of the tongue — compare bitter, salt, sour b (1) of a beverage : containing a sweetening ingredient : not dry (2) of wine : retaining a portion of natural sugar
2 a : pleasing to the mind or feelings : agreeable, gratifying —often used as a generalized term of approval <how sweet it is> b : marked by gentle good humor or kindliness <a sweet disposition> c : fragrant <a sweet aroma> d (1) : delicately pleasing to the ear or eye <a sweet melody> (2) : played in a straightforward melodic style <sweet jazz> e : saccharine, cloying f : very good or appealing <a sweet job offer> <a sweet sports car>
3 : much loved : dear
4 a : not sour, rancid, decaying, or stale : wholesome <sweet milk> b : not salt or salted : fresh <sweet water> <sweet butter> c : free from excessive acidity —used especially of soil d : free from noxious gases and odors e : free from excess of acid, sulfur, or corrosive salts <sweet crude oil>
5 : skillful, proficient <a sweet golf swing>
6 —used as an intensive <take your own sweet time>
Never in all of my 27,000 years on this fine earth has anyone ever said that I am sweet. I like being kind. I like being dear to someone… skillful? proficient? maybe on a good day…
I think I will take it…
While garage sale shopping this weekend I came across this wonderful gem of a book from the 1980s. Apparently someone had the brilliant idea of making Nancy Reagan a role-model for youngsters through the novel paper cut-out format. I can only imagine the conservative Republican mother buying this for her hopefully conservative daughter… never realizing it would end up in the kitsch-loving hands of a gay male, atheist, and socialist named Andrew. Read More
It has been a magical day, I won’t lie about it. However, here is a lesson everyone should learn: DO NOT eat protein salad from Kowalski’s deli before going to bed. You will sleep for about 2 hours and then… POOF! Awake! Here I am at 2:00 AM sitting around writing blog posts and reflecting on my day.
I managed to score some pretty amazing items today from a garage sale in North MPLS. My most prized find: an unused 70′s Swedish mountain-scape mural. You know… those paste-on wall paper things that had terrible color balance… chances are one of your grandparents had one in their dining room. Or, if you were lucky like I was, your 8th grad science teacher had one in the lab. I think ours was of the surface of the moon.
Speaking of the surface of the moon, the milky light that settled over Minneapolis today was like being on another planet. I wandered around town with Curtis today. Whittier has finally started to hit it’s tipping point with object saturation… all of the things that are going to be covered by the first snowfall are being pushed to the streets in anticipation. Treasures waiting to be made treasures.
I am a fan of the urban ideals pushed forward the New Urbanism movement. How could I not be? Any movement that encourages walkable, friendly, dense developments in our city centers is something I should appreciate if not support. But… however much I like the ideas, when they are implemented the resulting landscape is almost always less than desirable. For some reason we now equate urban living to be a viable lifestyle for only wealthy young people. If America’s cities are indeed experiencing a renaissance or re-inhabitation, let’s hope that someone comes up with a way to make New Urbanist practices and spaces that are available to those of us who do not have a trust fund. If this doesn’t happen… I imagine our city cores going from ghetto for the socially marginalized to ghetto for the socially marginalizing.
For those of us who do not remember what it is like to live in a city… here is a brief how-to.