Sunday, February 16, 2014

Art Shanties on White Bear Lake

After an adjustment to the location and frequency, the Art Shanty Project is back!  I haven't participated since 2011, so it was a fun treat to visit the shanties again.  And, this time, it was a whole new set of shanties!  In case you are new to the concept, let me share the mission of the project as they declare it:
"Art Shanty Projects is an artist driven temporary community exploring the ways in which relatively unregulated public spaces can be used as new and challenging artistic environments to expand notions of what art can be."
What that amounts to is a collection of fun and interactive artist created shanties on a frozen lake outside of the city in the dead of the Minnesota winter.  It brings people of all ages, from all over the place to the ice and creates a space for us to play together for a little while.

This year I met Jamie and her family for a morning visit to the shanties.  Little Violet and slightly less little Sylvia were not so thrilled about the experience.  It was pretty cold and windy, which might have contributed to their discomfort with the shanty experience.

Noah's Art was toasty warm inside and packed with people and the little clay animals they made.

The wind shanty (on the left) was quite appropriate considering how much of an impact the wind made on the "real feel" temperature that day.

A reflection shanty, literally reflective on the outside and figuratively reflective on the inside.

The music shanty had a lot of DIY instruments for people to play, which made for a cacophony of sound you could hear even before you went into the shanty!

Another shanty that announced its presence before entering it was the Dance Shanty.  I think this was the only shanty that has been a part of the project every year I have attended.  And, I am grateful for it!  Dancing around a shanty helps get the blood flowing to your toes again!

My favorite shanty this year was Ice Ice Maybe. Lea Devon Sorrentino & Kayla Campbell explain their shanty's premise:
"The Shanty’s primer high-end boutique specializing in the commodification of timelessness, Ice Ice Maybe offers the finest ice encased objects that money can’t buy."
If you found something on the shop's shelves that you thought was essential to or representative of your identity, you could bring it in to the shanty and see if they will let you take it.  I witnessed a few conversations at the checkout counter and loved how the questions asked of the customer were aimed at picking apart what purpose the item would serve, its meaning and potential usefulness to you.  After you talked it through with the shopkeeper, she would let you know if she would let you have it or keep it in the shop.  Apparently, I made a strong enough case for the spool of vintage thread frozen into an ice heart that I was only the 12th person this year to be able to take something home. That is significant because hundreds have tried and been denied the "thing" they desired.  I even got a certificate of authenticity!  

As someone who values functionality yet also values connections to the past and things with stories, I very much appreciated the line of questioning I heard in the shanty.  I felt it was a great lesson in informing our own internal conversations around acquiring stuff.  It reminds me of a William Morris quote that I love and find to be a guiding thought when I am in "purge" mode: "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Just as I was heading off of the lake, a snowstorm came through.  It was beautiful!  It made for slow driving, but since I didn't have anywhere to be in a hurry, I relished the scenery of the falling and blowing snow and the trees around me.

If you too want to check them out, the shanties are out through next weekend.  Go and play, but be sure to bundle up!


  1. How fun! Plenty of ice shanties here in Michigan, but I have never heard of anything like this here. Congrats on your convincing argument for the spool of thread.

    1. Why, thank you! I think I might use it on a sewing project this weekend. Part of my argument was that it is useful, so I need to be true to my word.

  2. You can add Zoe to the list of another person who got to bring something home from the ice shanty! We went this weekend and she made a great argument for why she needed the ice-encrusted frozen lego pig shape! Yay for Trinity and Zoe! And yay for the Art Shanties. We went on Saturday and had a great time. :)

  3. Replies
    1. Totally. Everyone needs a coping mechanism!


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