Chris Larson Holds Our Hand, Tells Us We’ll Make it Through Another Winter

Is it just us, or is the local art scene wrapping up the 2012 season with unusual bombast? In just the last week alone, we’ve seen David Byrne, of Talking Heads fame, swoop into Minneapolis with an epic John Cage impression, converting a warehouse into a wheezing, plinking, post-music fantasia. We’ve seen Madonna splatter a dude’s brains with a gunshot blast on the stage of the Xcel. And the Walker just welcomed MOMA’s Cindy Sherman retrospective with a blockbuster, come-as-you-aren’t party, replete with make-up artists and costume stylists.

By Haley Prochnow, courtesy SooVAC

Fun stuff, for sure. But as we stare down another winter, we’ve got a hankering for something quieter, more meditational, maybe even melancholic—a little pathos for the ruminative slide into the darker months. Where can we get that?

Well, if you’re around this weekend, you can get it at Soo Visual Arts Center. The Uptown art space opens its ninth-annual juried show, and this year’s competition was judged by a big-name doozy of a local artist: the adored prairie-land poet Chris Larson.

We have loved pretty much everything this guy has ever done. Remember when he drenched a quaint rural cottage in thick sheets of ice? Or when he installed that strange tree house in the Walker Art Center, breaking hearts with sense memories tied to the scent of wood? Or how about when he arranged shotgun-blasted wood sculpture in the hoity-toity Chambers hotel? Larson is often referred to as our most quintessentially “Minnesotan” artist—which is maybe unfair and too limiting. But his work evokes a very place-specific introspection; his aesthetic is that of snow-muffled farmland sounds. And with the SooVAC show, we get to peek into his artist’s mind.

By Jesse Draxler, courtesy SooVAC

So what did he pick? In his words, “murmuring” works from local artists that “noiselessly manipulate, cut, dissect, blur, and disintegrate architecture, bodies, and the landscape.” Sounds about right.

Stand-out names include collage man Jesse Draxler, whose architectural deconstructions seem to merge M C Esher with the opening sequence from The Twilight Zone, and Sean Connaughty, who’s known for his slightly alien “pods” made from earth materials. But on preview, we’re most impressed with delicate collages from Haley Prochnow. We’re most intrigued by the promise of hidden crawlspaces behind the gallery walls, installed by Leslie Kelman.

Check SooVAC’s website for a full listing of the artists. Or, better yet, swing in Saturday, November 10, for the opening. See you there.

Untitled 9, juried by Chris Larson
Opening reception Saturday, November 10, 6–9 p.m.
Soo Visual Arts Center, 2638 Lyndale Ave.S., Mpls.