Art beat: A decade of SooVAC

A decade of SooVAC

Gallery celebrates 10 years during Northern Spark

THE WEDGE — Skee-ball! Ring toss! One token a play!

No word yet on whether there will be an actual carnival barker outside of Soo Visual Arts Center’s midway-themed 10th anniversary celebration 4 p.m.–midnight June 4. The Lyndale Avenue gallery is, however, expecting a visit from “The Enigmatic” Zoraya, Lady of Mysticism, aka performance artist Jaime Carrera, who will offer a chilling glimpse of the future.

This anniversary for SooVAC conveniently coincides with Northern Spark, the after-dark art event taking over Minneapolis and St. Paul until sunrise June 5 (see the story on page B1). What better way to kick off an all-night art party than with a carnival?

For SooVAC founder and Artistic Director Suzy Greenberg, 10 years is more than enough reason to celebrate.

“For any gallery to be open for more than a couple of years is pretty tough,” Greenberg said. “It’s not an easy world to survive in.”

While at the helm of SooVAC, which opened just months before 9-11, Greenberg weathered two recessions, including the recent, “great” one. But since the gallery closed temporarily last spring and reopened in an adjacent space, things seem to be back to normal for the Southwest stalwart.

To celebrate, they’ve let a few of their favorite local installation artists design and construct carnival games, like the sculptural ring toss dubbed “Escape from Unicorn Mountain.” Among other high-concept games will be a tabletop tennis game worn by the participants.

After 10 years, Greenberg said she’s enjoying the chance to step back from day-to-day operations (leaving them in the capable hands of Executive Director Carolyn Payne and Gallery Manager Alison Hiltner) while she refocuses on her own artistic practice.

“I’m not leaving altogether, but my plan is to do less,” she said. “What I’m excited about more than anything is that I’m going to really focus on [curating] one show next year.”

Go see it
“Sideshow Soo: SooVAC’s 10th Anniversary Celebration” runs June 4–19 at Soo Visual Arts Center, 2638 Lyndale Ave. S. 871-2263. soovac.org

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George Morrison in New York

KENWOOD — George Morrison’s driftwood collage on the second floor of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts must be one of the most-viewed pieces in that building, on par with Dale Chihuly’s yellow sunburst hanging above the lobby.

The collage, an abstract panorama of the Lake Superior shoreline, is prominently placed — the last “free” piece one encounters on the way to the paid exhibition galleries, just before the left turn into the galleries of American Indian art. But, unlike Chihuly’s glowing bauble, it doesn’t so much demand attention as quietly lure viewers in.

The pieces of driftwood display the full range of colors produced by the action of water, sun and sand on wood, from silver and tan to blue and even rusty red. No two alike, the pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, with only the tiniest of seams.

In a selection of his paintings and works on paper now hanging in Bockley Gallery, Morrison often selects a palette of colors and lets them warmly mingle in loose grids or patchworks — arrangements that are sometimes strikingly similar to that driftwood collage. But there’s more, too: a small drawing on paper with patches of crosshatching to fence in blobs of lurid color; a cluster of white lines that dance and bend like woozy partygoers.

Morrison, who died in 2000, was Anishinabe and grew up on the North Shore, but left Minnesota in the mid-1940s to study and paint alongside New York City’s rising abstract expressionists. That’s where the Bockley exhibition picks up, following Morrison through the early ’60s, a period before he began a teaching career, when he traveled abroad but remained tethered to that city.

Go see it
“George Morrison: New York School” runs through June 11 at Bockley Gallery, 2123 W. 21st St. 377-4669. bockleygallery.com

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Get in the G.A.M.E

THE WEDGE — Intermedia Arts has for years provided budding graffiti artists with an essential but hard-to-come-by resource for their work: a large, visible and — most importantly — legal wall space.

In May, Intermedia announced it was seeking proposals for The G.A.M.E. (Graffiti Art Mentoring and Education), its summer graffiti art program for up-and-coming artists. The program is run by JoJo, the nom d’aerosol of an affable veteran muralist who, particularly within the realm of Intermedia’s rear parking lot, is also a respected mentor to young painters.

Proposals for individual or team productions must include at least one Twin Cities-based artist. Those proposals that reflect Intermedia’s multicultural mission will get preference in the selection process.

For more information on The G.A.M.E., or to download an application form, go to intermediaarts.org. E-mail JoJo at thegame@IntermediaArts.org to request a spot to paint on Intermedia’s walls any time this summer.