Edit ModuleShow Tags

Why the Art Shanty Projects Lure Locals Outdoors


Art Shanty Projects, White Bear Lake
Photos courtesy of the Art Shanty Projects

The annual Art Shanty Projects continue to prove that art can thrive in any setting—even on a frozen lake in below-freezing temperatures. In a nod to the ever-present winter pastime of ice fishing, artist-made shanties sitting atop White Bear Lake serve as vessels for artistic innovation throughout the month of February. A jury-selected group of visual and performing artists will brave the cold each weekend to provide a variety of programming from educational, to musical, to absurdist, in a setting not normally devoted to art-making.

Since its inception in 2004, the event has expanded from a small pet project of founders (David Pitman and Peter Haakon Thompson) to a staple of the local arts community. Annually drawing upwards of 10,000 visitors from across the state, the move this year to White Bear Lake is a culmination of the event’s transformation from a volunteer-run artist collective into a grant-funded non-profit with local and national clout. ArtPlace America and Springboard for the Arts are among the non-profits whose grant money goes toward funding the event. Part of this money also goes toward supporting the artists’ work—this year, each participating artist received a stipend of $1,500.

Executive director Dawn Bentley says that White Bear Lake is the perfect setting for the event due to the charming town’s “focus on making the arts a part of the community.” Their greater community focus parallels a major drive behind the event to blur the line between artist and observer through audience participation. Bentley calls this is an intentional way to bring the “rich” local arts community together.

“The event was born out of an interest in celebrating winter in Minnesota in a unique way, and bringing people outside during a time of year when people tend to be isolated,” says Bentley. “Visitors should expect the unexpected, and be willing to participate at whatever level they’re comfortable with.” This spirit of inclusivity permeates all aspects of the event, which is consciously disability-friendly in both its programming and its logistics.

Art Shanty Projects, White Bear Lake

The 19 shanties are designed and constructed by artist teams and will be present on the lake throughout the month. In addition to their unique looks, including a giant train as well as an accurate fish house replica, the shanties’ environmental impact is always taken into account during the selection process. The artists are encouraged to power their shanties through solar panels or portable batteries.

“The only impact left should be from people’s footprints,” says Bentley.

The programs take place both inside and out, and around the shanties. Highlights from this year’s event includes an organized scavenger hunt, flamenco dancing, interactive music, art, poetry, and a Sparkle Parade that travels around the village in celebration of the arts. Spectators are free to participate actively or passively, but the event truly has something for everyone.

“Not many states can boast that their citizens would come out into the cold for this kind of event,” says Bentley. “The Art Shanty Projects really celebrate Minnesota’s rich artistic and cultural heritage.”

For more information about the Art Shanty Projects, running Feb. 6-28 on White Bear Lake, visit the event’s website.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Journeys: How to Love Baseball While Knowing Little to Nothing about It

Whether you’re a fan for life or an ultra casual like me, baseball is a sport for the summer

A Gala Befitting Glensheen

At the Glensheen Gala, you can explore the gardens, see normally closed-off spots, and relish in the after party along Lake Superior

Seven Days of California Adventure

New adventures await in California, even for Travel Club guide and travel editor Todd Walker

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Traditional Powwow This Weekend

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe welcomes the public to enjoy traditional dancing, drum ceremonies, and contests

A Day Trip to the North Loop

Just north and west of Target Field, North Loop has some of the best restaurants and shops in Minneapolis

The Museum of Pizza Has Minnesota Ties

Todd about Town: New York's new museum dedicated to pizza came from a U of M alum

Spa Central

When it comes to relaxation and rejuvenation, the Twin Cities do it right

A Bay Area Break

Go on a worry-free, weeklong vacation to San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and Napa Valley, with the Minnesota Monthly Travel Club

This Week’s Top Artist Picks

Sam Smith, Reba McEntire, and Rod Stewart come to Minnesota

3 Fairs This Weekend

Celebrate Minnesota’s heritage—by raising a glass at the country’s biggest free Irish fair, by marveling at fierce lumberjack competitions, or by slipping into Civil War re-enactments

Ramsey Falls: A Photo Essay

Picturesque bridges, four miles of hiking trails, a gorgeous waterfall, and more await at Ramsey Park in Redwood Falls

Journeys: A Civil War Woman

Pipestone Civil War Days reenactor Kate Heller talks about what the festival is like, how she began reenacting, and how her Civil War Days wedding went

Destination: Pipestone

Civil War Days and Pipestone National Monument make Pipestone a rich historical destination

Irish Fair of Minnesota

Pure bagpipin' bliss
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags