Walker Art Center

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A Culture Wars Chronicle

By Mia Lopez March 25, 2015

As identity politics made their way into galleries and museums in the ’80s and ’90s, social conservatives took note, lashing out at artists like Robert Mapplethorpe, Karen Finley, and Ron Athey for work that addressed sexuality, multiculturalism, and LGBT rights. Featuring many of these artists, the Walker found itself at the center of the conversation—and the controversies—that marked the Culture Wars. More

The Culture Wars time capsule is on view in Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections through May 10, 2015. Ron Athey speaks at the Walker March 26 as part of the symposium Culture Wars: Then & Now.


The Uncollectibles

By Andrew Blauvelt March 23, 2015

Some objects are too vast or ever-changing, too immovable or ephemeral to be collected or contained within a museum—from buildings and parks to digital apps and intangible ideas. These “uncollectibles” remain a source of interest for design curators like Andrew Blauvelt, who discusses these objects’ link to Minnesota By Design, a virtual collection that maps the state’s rich design landscape. More

Minnesota By Design is a virtual collection of more than 100 designs made around the state.


Ron Athey: Polemic of Blood

By Ron Athey March 19, 2015

Ever since a suicide attempt at age 15, death has been a constant companion for Ron Athey—even more so since 1985, the year he tested positive for HIV. Until it wasn’t. Healthy on the 30th anniversary of his diagnosis, the 53-year-old performance artist reflects on the “post-AIDS” body, the 1994 performance that put him at the center of the Culture Wars firestorm, and his homecoming after six years abroad. More

Ron Athey speaks at the Walker March 26, 2015, kicking off Culture Wars: Then & Now, a weekend of events, including a symposium and performance cabaret, copresented with the University of Minnesota and Patrick’s Cabaret.


Conceptual Commerce

March 17, 2015

Disappearing Snapchat images from a celebrated photographer. A voicemail performance by a ficticious punk band. A set of bespoke ringtones. Announcing Intangibles, an online catalogue of products that have no physical form. Partnering with an array of artists—including Alec Soth, Martine Syms, and Nico Muhly—the Walker Shop explores the ever-blurring lines between art, media, and commerce. More


Five Decades, Six Galaxies, and Counting

By Greg Tate March 12, 2015

Musical revolutions tend to have a spontaneous outlier quality about them, writes Greg Tate. Fifty years ago in Chicago, far from the Manhattan clubs that drew jazz luminaries like John Coltrane, Sun Ra, and Ornette Coleman, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians was born. Since then the group has carried “freedom swang” around the globe and, through a new wave of visionaries, into the future. More


Babes in Toyland’s Visceral Live Therapy

By Paul M. Davis March 11, 2015

“I said I’d never, ever do a reunion,” guitarist and singer Kat Bjelland told Rolling Stone recently. And yet this June, after a 14-year hiatus, her seminal punk band Babes in Toyland is returning to the city of its inception to play Rock the Garden 2015. Paul M. Davis looks at the obstacles the band overcame to get here and the “visceral live therapy”—in Bjelland’s words—the reunion represents.  More

Babes in Toyland plays Rock the Garden on Sunday, June 21, 2015. View the full schedule for this two-day festival.


The Moment of Enlightenment Is a Sound

March 5, 2015

Working as a filmmaker, visual artist, writer, actor, educator, musician, and inventor since the 1960s, Tony Conrad’s Long String Drone highlights his engagement with experimental music and can serve as a key to the elusive history of New York avant-garde sound. A look at Long String and its corollary musical form offers a sketch of a diverse artistic production that is both cohesive and expansive. More

Presented in commemoration of Tony Conrad’s 75th birthday, this essay is part of Art Expanded, 1958–1978, the just-launched second volume of The Living Collections Catalogue.


On Kawara: The Artist and his Twitterbot

By Yuki Okumura February 23, 2015

There are two On Kawaras: one is the late conceptual artist, the other a Twitterbot that has been tweeting “I AM STILL ALIVE” every day since January 2009. Here Yuki Okumura, possibly the only person to have directly interacted with both, shares his experiences meeting Kawara (whose real name is likely Atsushi Kawahara) as well as his recent video interview with Pall Thayer, the artist behind @On_Kawara. More

Art News from Elsewhere More


Via medium.com

Unequal Funding (External)

“If your theatre can’t afford to pay all your actors a minimum wage, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing a show with so many actors.” Community engagement specialist Jason Tseng proposes possible solutions to the unequal distribution of funds in the LA scene.


Via vice.com

Trans Icon (External)

Artist, model, and DJ Juliana Huxtable “exists at the crux of almost every type of intersectionality, but still thrives,” says Kimberly Drew in Antwaun Sargent’s profile of the New York–based trans artist dubbed the “star of the New Museum Triennial.”


Via washingtoncitypaper.com

Return to Splendor (External)

The art world is rediscovering Gilliam “for the first or second or maybe third time,” writes Kriston Capps, noting that Gilliam, the first black artist to represent the US at the Venice Biennale (1972), is today making “some of the most pressing artworks of the moment.”


Via pitchfork.com

Significant Sounds (External)

The Library of Congress is adding 25 more recordings to its archive, something it’s done annually since 2000. The “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” new works including Radiohead’s OK Computer, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and Joan Baez.


Via artnet.com

“Shame in Venice” (External)

Criticized as “a total outrage” and “neocolonialism as multiculturalism,” Kenya’s pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale—its second ever—will include a roster of mainly Chinese artists, one Italian, and only one Kenyan, Yvonne Apiyo Braendle-Amolo.


Via theatlantic.com

PC Music (External)

“Here we were at this festival devoted to supposedly the hippest things in music, at this night devoted to one of the most blogged-about music collectives of the past year, where just about the least-cool song on earth had been turned into a touchstone.”

Minnesota Art News

Via mnartists.org

Culture Wars & Culture Gaps

Lauren DeLand looks the facts and apocrypha surrounding a 1994 Ron Athey performance that galvanized the country’s conservative backlash against government funding for artists.  More

Via mnartists.org

In Heavy Rotation

Art historian Sheila Dickinson grapples with art, transformation, and ethics in action—inside the studio and out—by way of Chris Larson’s mind-bending work.  More



Lynda Benglis Discusses Adhesive Products

After beginning her career as a painter, Lynda Benglis began seeking a “more sensuous kind of surface.” Her nine-piece work Adhesive Products (1971)—commissioned for the Walker Art Center’s Edward Larabee Barnes–designed building—is… More



Chuck Close Discusses Big Self-Portrait (1967–1968)

“There’s no question, I had some attitude about the way I wanted to be perceived,” said Chuck Close in discussing his Big Self-Portrait (1967–1968) at the Walker in 1980. “Now it seems very funny… More



Valerie Cassel Oliver Discusses Radical Presence

Exhibition curator Valerie Cassel Oliver of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston discusses the development of Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary ArtMore

Walker Channel

Dialogue / Interview

Filmmakers in Conversation: David and Nathan Zellner with Scott Foundas

Following the September 19 screening of Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, filmmakers David Zellner and Nathan Zellner were joined by Variety chief film critic Scott Foundas for a discussion. After… More



Insights: K-HOLE, New York

K-HOLE exists in multiple states at once: it is both a publication and a collective; it is both an artistic practice and a consulting firm; it is both critical and unapologetically earnest. Its five members come from backgrounds… More



Insights: April Greiman, Los Angeles

Through her Los Angeles–based studio Made in Space, visionary graphic designer and artist April Greiman has been creating vital work in a variety of media for more than 30 years. She helped pioneer the integration of technology… More


Ongoing Series

Art (re)Collecting

In celebration of the Walker’s 75th anniversary, Martin Friedman—Walker director from 1961 to 1990—shares his reflections on encountering artists from Duchamp to Cage.

Artist Op-Eds

A series of commissioned opinion pieces featuring provocative reactions to the headlines by artists James Bridle, Liam Gillick, Metahaven, and others.

9 Artists

In 10 chapters, curator Bartholomew Ryan presents his keystone essay “If You Are Willing: The Army of the Individuals” from the 9 Artists catalogue.

Lowercase P

An election-year series on personal politics and the way artists contribute to the conversation on making a better society.

From the Archives



A Timeline of Design History

For nearly fifty years, the Walker’s Design Quarterly chronicled the changing terrains of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and product and graphic design. Featuring provocative thinkers—including Muriel Cooper… More


Ghost Building: Walker Galleries 1927

A ghostly image of T.B. Walker on the grand staircase of the 1927 Walker Galleries reminds us that before the brick-and-aluminum facility we know today there was another home for the Walker. More


Shall We Take It? The Walker’s Founding Question

The Walker was founded on a question. “Shall we take it?” In 1939 Minneapolis citizens were offered the chance to start a federally funded art center. The answer? Yes. But how did this offer come about, and what did it mean? More