Monday, June 22, 2009

PASPider Art Workshops in Western Park

Public Art Saint Paul presents
The PASPider

A new center for imagination and creativity is open and the artists are in at Western Sculpture Park!

The PASPider is a mobile art center that seeks to foster curiosity, imagination and appreciation of public art by engaging the community in creative interactive workshops. The PASPider will appear throughout the summer in Western Sculpture Park, crawling in on select Tuesdays and Saturdays from June 27th to August 25th. June 27 will be its dress rehearsal. It will be dedicated in a PASPider hatching July 7, details to be announced.

On Art Days, the PASPider will be open for 4 hours, from 12.30 – 4.30. PASPider promotes sustainable art making: all art-making materials will be environmentally friendly, organic or collected from the waste-stream. Each 4-hour workshop will consist of interactive art making activities with professional teaching artists from the Saint Paul area. The workshop content and medium will vary each Art Day: bridge and cardboard yurt construction, African song and dance, storytelling, fabric sculptures, pot decorating and planting, metal stamping and, of course, spider marionettes! The first workshop will be held June 23 under a more traditional tent as the PASPider prepares for its debut.

The workshops are free and open to children and families. Special efforts are being made to serve children of the Western Sculpture Park neighborhood just west of the State Capitol, on Marion Street between I-94 and University Avenue.

Eek – I saw the PASPider! This tent-like shelter itself is a giant artwork – a kinetic spider puppet, created by artist Christopher Lutter-Gardella. Installed atop a custom-built 13-foot Scamp trailer, the PASPider is mobile – even its mandibles are animated! With its 8 googly eyes rolling and winking and a small megaphone in its smiling lips, the PASPider will creep through the neighborhood streets to announce its arrival in the Park. Once there, PASPider’s 8 legs will stretch to a total width of 25 feet (with an “at rest” upper reach of 11 feet). The legs provide a webby sun canopy to shade art-making below!

A nurse spider provides Letter-Gardella’s inspiration – with its rear end high in back and pushing its egg sac in front! The Scamp is the egg sac and the rear-end unfolds from the back of the Scamp like a huge Chinese lantern, with an aluminum tubing boom holding successive hoops in formation. PASPider will be plenty hairy! It’s abdomen and legs will be covered with hair made of ribbons of screen.

Public Art Saint Paul’s continuing commitment to Western Sculpture Park. For 11 years, since the re-designed park opened in 1998, the non-profit Public Art Saint Paul has produced a display of sculpture by leading mid-career American Artists. Currently 20 artworks are exhibited, on loan from artists coast to coast. The park is anchored by a 70- foot kinetic sculpture by the eminent American artist Mark di Suvero: Grace à Toi (Homage à Michel Guy). See PASP web site for complete list of art on display:

The park is a story of vision, risk, determination of the local Fuller Aurora Neighborhood Association; it is credited over with increased civic attention to larger neighborhood needs and public safety, improved housing conditions, and public space improvements and for new confidence among residents and property owners. In a neighborhood that is home to an increasingly diverse population, art is becoming a common language.

An Artist With Whimsy and A Sustainable Vision: Christopher Lutter-Gardella met Public Art Saint Paul when he was awarded one of the organization’s Sustainable Artmaking Fellowship in 2008. Founder and artistic director of Puppet Farm Arts based in Minneapolis, Lutter-Gardella is a sculptor and theater artist, whose work revolves around the design, construction and performance of masks, puppets, contraptions, costumes, theatrical accessories, and sculpture installations. They are all produced from waste stream materials. His work is seen in schools, parks, festivals and art centers. For years he delivered his services through a waste vegetable powered vehicle as part of his effort to maintain a sustainable practice. This is evident in PASPider: the legs are made of salvaged thin-walled aluminum tubing detailed with waste nylon window screening. The leg joints are from recycled bicycle wheel bearings, the shoulders are adapted pedal crank hubs. Then there’s the PASPider’s song – a symphony of antique car horns rasping along.

The Scamp -- Egg Sac and Art Shop: As Public Art Saint Paul and the artist considered how to transport the spider and house the art workshop supplies everything from yurts to campers were considered. The ideal solution was found in a compact aerodynamic trailer made right here in Minnesota. Kent Eveland, President of the Scamp Company, had never quite considered this as a use for the popular camper trailer, but was game for the adventure and on a field trip to the Scamp headquarters in Backus, Minnesota, Lutter-Gardella and PASP worked with the shop to agree upon a design that, among other things, reinforced the roof to carry this extra 1000 load. Says Podas-Larson “Scamp has been so generous and in helping us make this happen!”

The PASPider is made possible with generous support of the Elmer and Eleanor Andersen Foundation, the Constance Otis Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation, the R. C. Lilly Foundation and contributors to Public Art Saint Paul’s 20th Anniversary Fund.