Here in Minneapolis it’s easy to walk by art and not even realize it. The City has commissioned and encouraged art in the most mundane settings, like the 1984 Art in Public Places manhole covers project. It’s crazy, but we even manage to walk over art without seeing it!
The Hennepin Gallery in the Government Center is another excellent example of under-publicized art. It’s in a hallway, basement level, near a cascade of water behind a clear panel. It’s below a street-level fountain that provides a popular meeting place for lunch. The gallery doesn’t show in my picture, but there’s a beautiful shot of it in the link.
I have been in this hallway a number of times over the years. At first I never stopped to look. It seemed bizarre to have art in this subterranean location. Eventually my curiosity was piqued by some photographs on display. I don’t know how many of the exhibits I’ve seen or what I’ve missed. I do know that at some point I started paying attention.
This particular exhibit, The Hennepin County Employees’ Art Show closed on July 28th. (Yep. Not quick enough.) But I did manage to get a few photo’s. Not sure how long the online images will be available. The website doesn’t seem to have a way to access them from past shows, which is very sad. (Is anyone out there affiliated with the Hennepin Gallery, who would encourage them to keep these images as a resource to the public?)
According to the display card, these are Ojibway snowshoes by Alexis McCarthy, a five-year employee of Hennepin County. They’re ash, adorned with winter vegetation motifs, wood-burned in a freehand style. Definitely heirloom quality.
I admired a purse that was quite unique, resembling a sleeping cat made out of blue beads by Tara Knutson and a panoramic photograph of a sunrise on Grand Teton by Larry Ingram (38 years of service with Hennepin County!).
The baskets are by Janet Prow who has been an employee for 29 years. My notes tell me that one of them is a German twill, cane woven of natural reeds and oak handles. They are so beautifully tactile looking, I would have loved to have held them.
Because I’m a fan of trees, I was drawn to the Tumbling Leaves applique quilt by Judy Ulrich, 28 years, but it was the Memory Quilt that captured my attention longest.
Bernie Farrell created this for Cecil “Butch” Farrell. It’s value outside the immediate family is in the short “dear dad” notes family members included in the blocks. I read one and then felt compelled to read the rest because they were so poignant. They had very little of a public sensibility to them. They were words meant to be read over and over by someone they loved and I felt honored they were shared with me.
If you find yourself in the Government Center, paying taxes or fines, getting passports or permits, or doing jury duty and find you have extra time on the meter, take an escalator or the stairs to the lower level and check out the current exhibit. You never know what you’ll see, even under your feet, once you start looking!
Enjoying the art all around us… –Chris