In March, we spoke with Blaine Garrett about MPLSART.COM, a Twin Cities-centric visual arts website, event calendar and newsletter, about a project he was working on. In July 2020, with a global pandemic raging and the nation reeling from George Floyd’s murder, Garrett had invited artist friends to respond to the moment in a series of traveling sketchbooks.
At first, it was a way for artists to stay connected in a world that was trying to keep us all apart. Logistics was difficult. Nearly 70 artists got involved, some drawing or painting on one page, others on two. Every time a sketchbook changed hands, it was a risk, or a series of risks.
The project grew legs and wings. To raise funds for artists, Garrett launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of a hardcover book of selections from sketchbooks. An exhibition in April at the Gamut Gallery included the five original sketchbooks as well as new works by several artists featured in the book. At the end of May, the sketchbooks were part of an online community auction organized by Revere Auctions.
Happy endings were rare, but here’s one: The five sketchbooks sold for a combined total of $ 18,500. They all went to the same bidder, the Minnesota Museum of American Art. The MPLSART Sketchbook Project 2020 is now part of the permanent collection of the M. Sketchbooks will be available on its website later in July.
“We just learned that the M acquired the parts yesterday,” Garrett said Wednesday by telephone. “I had an idea, but the auction house had no right to disclose it. One thing I wanted, ideally, was for them to all go to one place. It just worked that way. It was really lucky.
“I can’t think of a better place for them. [The M] focuses so much on the artists of Twin Cities that it seems very fitting.
“It was definitely on the optimistic side of how I thought it would turn out.”
Garrett spends part of the week writing checks to 69 artists. “Between the sponsors, the net proceeds from the book that we collected through Kickstarter, and then the auction, we will pay each artist $ 350, which includes a $ 50 gift card of Fresh paint.
“It’s a welcome financial boost for the artists involved, especially since many of them kind of forgot about it. It was the job they did almost a year ago now. Several artists have moved over the past year.
When we spoke with Garrett in March, he mentioned that he was considering another sketchbook project for 2021. It’s already underway, started in April, again with five sketchbooks. Garrett plans to follow the same core playbook he used for 2020.
“A lot of important events have already been captured this year,” he said. “Things continue, this is a powerful project and we have to do it again. “
Finding artists to participate was easier the second time around, as many heard about the 2020 project. Participating artists for 2021 include Ta-Coumba Aiken, Mary Gibney and Hibaaq Ibrahim.
Meanwhile, things are picking up speed on MPLSART.COM.
“We’re doing a lot more calendar lists, and more articles are coming,” Garrett said. “And we dream of new projects.
“I’m starting to learn to trust my instincts when I come up with crazy ideas. I used to think, “These bold ideas are too complex, too far-fetched, too exaggerated” or “We can’t afford it” or whatever. The Sketchbook Project was proof that if you put the time and energy into doing something that benefits the community, you can do amazing things. I’m starting to trust these thoughts a little more.
V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.
L News from First avenue: Not only has First Avenue survived the pandemic, it’s making a comeback. According to a newsletter sent yesterday, “We currently have close to 400 shows on the calendar.” Therefore look around you, choose one and get tickets. Patti Smith and her band on August 7th? Fuck yes.
L Opens tonight (Thursday, July 1) at 7 p.m. at the Mill City Farmer’s Market (704 South 2nd St., Minneapolis): Rough Magic Performance Company: “Norma Jeane Baker of Troy.” Leah Cooper directs the regional premiere of Anne Carson’s play on the destabilizing and destructive power of beauty, bringing together Helen of Troy and Marilyn Monroe, twin avatars of female fascination. With Alayne Hopkins, Catherine Johnson Justice and Marcela Michelle. IMF and banknotes ($ 25-30). Closed on July 18. Rough Magic is a professional theater company dedicated to supporting female artists and telling stories of women. You might know them at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. This will be their first large-scale independent production.
V Tonight (Thursday July 1), 7 p.m .: Twin Cities Jazz Festival: Live Jazz Festival: The life force of Kenne Thomas. The Chicago-born drummer’s latest band is inspired by the styles of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Jazz Crusaders, and the Tony Williams Quintet. With Rich Manik on saxophones, Tom Krochuk on trumpet and bugle, Dave Graf on trombone, Ted Godbout on keyboards and Matt McIntyre on acoustic and electric bass. register here or look on the Twin Cities Jazz Festival website, Facebook or YouTube. Release.
L Saturday July 3, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m .: Minnesota Historical Society: Walking tour of Summit Avenue. A guided tour of the historic Summit Avenue district in St. Paul, highlighting its Golden Age mansions and the people who owned and built them. Tours start at James J. Hill House and cover 1.5 miles. IMF and banknotes (12/14/10). If you can’t come this Saturday, here is a list of dates and times until August 22. NOTE: The Hill House is now open Thursday through Sunday, with tours offered twice daily. IMF.
V Tuesday July 6 5.30 p.m .: Rain taxi presents J. Michael Straczynski. You have seen her work on television (“Babylon 5”), in comics (“The Amazing Spider-Man”, “Wonder Woman”) and in movies (“The Changeling”, “Thor”). This will be the publication date of Straczynski’s first work of literary fiction, “Together we will go”. The story of a struggling young writer and a bus full of discouraged people on a journey to the death sounds like a movie in the making. Free with registration.