Crate 1 of 2 Opened

It’s the middle of July and the melons on the fruit stands are sweet. I see a woman in a cotton dress, its translucence making visible the form of her body under the skirt. She is lovely. She isn’t stuffed into jeans; she’s wearing a dress of diaphanous cotton, compared to which denim is about […]


There are certain works of art the body wholly understands before the mind kicks in with its distancing powers of disembodied detachment and analysis. In the Twin Cities, there is very little art in the public realm — in what we now call "the commons"– that does this. Most public art, strained through the cheesecloth […]

Pavane for a Dead Sculptor

The melancholy in the eyes of the gorilla imprisoned in the zoo, I think it is real. He is confounded by the loss of his freedom. He sorrows at what his captors have evolved into. Minneapolis has two life-size bronze sculptures of gorillas by the late British artist Angus Fairhurst, who this past March committed […]

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Starchitecture

Art museums are host to two species of rats, those that skulk in the basements, gnawing on the art in storage, and, lower on the food chain, the people who handle the art. “Museum rat” is trade slang for the stagehands, the workers who hump crates of art off trucks at the loading dock, maneuver […]


The world is a cold, hard, lonesome place. Despite ads telling you to pull yourself together and develop buns of steel, what the hardness and the coldness make you want to do is touch things that are warm and softly upholstered, like pets, or other people. Since creatures with a pulse are not always available, […]

Meat Ball Driven Design

Ikea has sold more than six million Swedish meatballs since opening its outpost in Bloomington last year. The trumpets announcing the opening almost convinced me that the End Times for snotty overpriced design had finally arrived. People were flocking to Bloomington as though to Lourdes. You had only to enter this cathedral of immaculate consumption […]

Great Balls Of Fire

Every year under the sunny skies of a June weekend, the Minnesota Street Rod Association stages its dazzling annual hot-rod show, “Back to the Fifties,” at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. With the fifties receding further and further into history, however, it takes a greater effort with every passing year to heave yourself out of the […]

Riverfront Follies

By coincidence, two relatively new bandstands have come to grace the St. Paul riverfront less than a thousand yards from each other. The Heilmaier Memorial Bandstand is situated on Raspberry Island, a neglected little spit of land in the middle of the river below the Wabasha Street Bridge, while the Target Stage hulks over the […]