Art for the Fun of It

Experimental art venue Open Field lets patrons pick the exhibit
by Adam Regn Arvidson from Landscape Architecture
May-June 2011
Add to My MSN

Photo courtesy Walker Art Center


Content Tools

Related Content

The Future of Art: Shattered, International, and Incomprehensible

Emerging artistic disciplines are poised to shake up accepted notions of art history, criticism, and...

How to Tell Art from Trash: Label It

David Bartley is responsible for overseeing the art in storage at the Walker Art Center. In this vid...

Marc Bamuthi Joseph: Less About Green, More About Life

A dynamic performance artist brings environmentalism to underserved urban communities through the pr...

An Art Studio Grows in Rwanda

Two years ago, visual artist Collin Sekajugo established an arts center where there weren’t any befo...

There may be only one outdoor venue that has played host to a weekly drawing club, a Suzuki youth violin performance, square dancing and flamenco, an outdoor rock concert for 10,000 fans, and instruction in the art of the bullwhip. The place is the Walker Art Center’s Open Field, in Minneapolis.

“The whole idea behind the Open Field is that we’re doing experiments,” says Andrew Blauvelt, the Walker’s director of design, who, with the center’s education department, spearheaded the creation of this four-acre space. One of those experiments was to simply let people do whatever they wanted. The Walker programmed some events but also set up a website where people could create and promote their own. More than a hundred events have originated this way.

Even in the absence of events, Open Field offers food, beer, free wireless Internet access, and board and field games housed in the “toolshed,” a custom-made wooden tower. The toolshed sits on a simple flat plaza with a rubber surface. Farther away from the museum’s door is another flat plane, of gray trap rock bounded by curbs and steel walls. There are picnic tables shaded by a grove of honey locust trees. Beyond that, the land slopes upward to the surrounding streets, creating the perfect grassy lawn to roll down, fly a kite on, or throw a Frisbee across.

Blauvelt says the main inspiration was the concept of the commons, a phrase he uses to refer not to space, but to the notion of collective ownership. By that thinking, Open Field is the truest of commons: Not only is the land for everyone, so are the programming, the World Wide Web, and even the hula hoops.

Cover-165-thumbnailThis article first appeared in the May-June 2011 issue of Utne Reader.








Post a comment below.

 








Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!