Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2010 PASPider Workshops in Western Park!

Public Art Saint Paul presents
The PASPider: A Summer of Art in Western Park!

The 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 12 times throughout the summer in Western Sculpture Park, on select Tuesdays and Saturdays from June 12th to August 28th. Join us on Saturday, June 12th from 1:00-4:00p, for the summer kick-off workshop!

On Art Days, the PASPider will be open for 3 hours, from 1:00-4:00pm. The PASPider promotes sustainable art making: all art-making materials will be environmentally friendly, organic or collected from the waste-stream. Each 3-hour workshop will consist of interactive art making activities with professional teaching artists from the Twin Cities area. The workshop content and medium will vary each Art Day: storytelling, drumming, dancing, plaster sculptures, mosaic tiles, poetry, performance, painting, metal stamping and, of course, spider marionettes!

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. Last year the PASPider served nearly 300 young artists; this year we are hoping to reach even more!

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. Once in the Park, PASPider’s 8 legs will stretch 25 feet, providing a webby sun canopy to shade art-making below!

Public Art Saint Paul’s continuing commitment to Western Sculpture Park. For 12 years, since the re-designed Western 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). The exhibition is curated by John Hock, artistic director of Franconia Sculpture Park.

Says Public Art Saint Paul President Christine Podas-Larson, “the sculpture exhibition was our response to the initiative of neighborhood residents and artists. They approached us to give this park in the heart of a densely populated neighborhood a purpose. They wanted it to be a safe place for community gathering and for creative activity. We have kept it going for 12 years.”

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.

“Saint Paul Parks and Recreation has been tremendously supportive of these efforts. The park was specifically designed by city landscape architects to accommodate and feature the sculpture display and Parks Operations has bent over backward to provide advice and special assistance,” says Podas-Larson. “However,” she notes, “all cash costs of the exhibition and special programs such as PASPider have been paid by Public Art Saint Paul with support from generous private donors.”

An Artist With Whimsy and A Sustainable Vision: Christopher Lutter-Gardella, founder and artistic director of Puppet Farm Arts, 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 and R. C. Lilly Foundations, the Constance Otis Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation, and contributors to Public Art Saint Paul’s 20th Anniversary Fund.