In two days I fly off to my home town of Minneapolis, Minnesota for ten days of bone-chilling, back-breaking, ear-warming good times with my pals Brady Clark and Kelly Peach. Together we are making a piece for the Art Shanty Projects, a recurring winter arts fest on Medicine Lake that I’ve been wanting to see for years.
Even though I’ve never been to the ASP, I’ve been describing it to my Portland friends as “Burning Man without heat.” Since 2003, Minneapolis artists and roustabouts have been installing various decorative or interactive art-huts on Medicine Lake, all inspired by the local architectural vernacular of ice-fishing shanties. Like all good ideas the ASP has grown year-by-year and is now supported by an organized, funded non-profit with a website, a hotline and some modest ability to provide grants. (Here is an excellent historical summary with lovely photos.)
For many years now, my usual January practice has been to construct a temporary shelter in my backyard and throw parties in it. This year, we’re constructing a shelter on a frozen lake and delegating the party.
But our project, the Audio Adventure Shanty, is about more than the transpyramid pictured above. The real meat of our project is to provide interpretive audio tours of the action on the ice. We’ve got dozens of MP3-playing pink earmuffs to hand out, and we’ll be documenting, conducting interviews, field recording and editing audio for the duration of the event. (Here you can read our project description, and a dozen others.)
This project is going to combine my core skills like never before. Writing and editing, designing & building, audio recording, public speaking, looking fabulous in a furry pink suit — these are my strengths! But when before have I ever gotten to use them all on the same project? Working with superheroes like Brady and Kelly, our victory is assured. Color me psyched!
The only downside, if you want to call it that, is that there will be no LIGHTBAR-per-se this year. Sorry, Portland. I have a new book out and need to focus on promoting that. (In fact, I’m squeezing in a reading while I’m in the Twin Cities.) LIGHTBAR will live on, don’t worry. And if you already bought your outfit, there is another all-white party you can attend instead. Maybe Art Shanties are the new Lightbars. They certainly do inspire.