How do you make energy - something we generally can't even see - compelling to kids?
In the case of the most recent exhibition at the Bakken Museum, you invite artists to help tell the story.
The Bakken Museum's rooftop terrace
All images courtesy the Bakken Museum
The Bakken Museum, located just a block from Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, is currently presenting a Green Energy Art Garden on the museum's rooftop terrace.
Kelly Finnerty, Deputy Director for Programs at the Bakken, says the museum wanted to talk about green energy, but not give that "same old presentation that's been done a hundred times."
We're a museum about electricity and we wanted to talk about the energy challenges facing our world. The Minnesota Legislature has mandated that 25% of our energy come from renewable resources by 2020; we want to raise awareness about the potential for renewable energy uses in our daily lives.
The museum partnered with Forecast Public Art to create a sort of cross-pollination between artists and engineers. They asked a group of artists to use energy the way they use paint - not just for functional use but with aesthetics in mind. Because, says Finnerty, "renewable energy can be funtional and beautiful."
The artists then met with a team of experts to help them figure out just how they could bring their "energy sculptures" to life.
The results of this collaboration are four different works of art powered by the sun and wind, that invite the public to experiment and play. Marjorie Pitz' "Solar Spitters" are three fountains powered by solar panels. As I toured the garden, young boys came running up to the fountain, and by placing their hands over the panels, could control the flow of water shooting out of the mouths of Pitz' "pond goblins."
Infinite Flower Garden
In Mayumi Amada's "Infinite Flower Garden" a panel of pinwheels made from plastic bottles powers LED lights inside view boxes, forming a kaleidoscope of images and patterns.
Finnerty says the public response to the exhibition has been just what she was hoping for.
They find it creative, cool and fun. I hear people say "I bet I could do that in my garden" or "what a clever use of plast ic bottles!" We take the sun's energy for granted, and this makes it visible.
Finnerty says the exhibition is just one component in the museum's ongoing effort to raise public awareness of green energy, including an outreach program in St. Paul Public Schools.
The Green Energy Art Garden will remain on the museum's rooftop terrace through September 3; families who visit the museum on "Super Science Saturdays" will have the opportunity to participate in conversations on renewable energy.
MPR Classical has chosen its latest "artist-in-residence," and he's only 17.
Photo: Donna Wheatley
Youth hasn't prevented violinist Chad Hoopes from racking up a remarkable resume.
He's performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony and more. He's also appeared at several European festivals and received substantial media attention.
Hoopes first began his violin studies at age four in Minneapolis, and continued his studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music after moving with his family to Shaker Heights, Ohio.
You can read more about Hoopes and his remarkable career here.
Classical MPR's Artists-in-Residence program began two years ago with the residency of the Parker Quartet, and continued last year with the local choral ensemble Cantus. The Artists-in-Residence participate in performances, interviews and other interactive projects in collaboration with Classical MPR.
Today's nomination for the Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series takes us to Owatonna, and comes from one of the world's leading architects.
National Farmers' Bank of Owatonna
Image courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
Not long after I started this series, I recalled an interview I did with architect Cesar Pelli on Midmorning back in 2006. He was in town for the opening of the Minneapolis Central Library, which he designed. But while we were on the air he raved about another architect's work - the National Farmer's Bank in Owatonna, designed by Louis Sullivan:
Louis Sullivan's bank in Owatonna is one of the great buildings in the world. It's a great jewel - the proportions, the forms, the materials are all so exquisitely well used. It's a joy to see it, to be in its space.
Well, that sounds like a nomination to me! Here's what the Minnesota Historical Society has to say about the building:
Location: 101 N. Cedar St., Owatonna, Steele County Built: 1908 Architect: Louis Sullivan and George Elmslie Listed on NRHP: August 26, 1971
One of the first American architects to break free from the influence of classical revival styles, Louis Sullivan completed a series of eight banks in small Midwest towns during the last years of his career. The National Farmers' Bank of Owatonna is arguably the best. Sullivan, known for a "form follows function" philosophy epitomized in his prototype skyscraper designs, applied those principles to the smaller scale of the Prairie School bank's still-monumental form.
Sullivan designed the bank to resemble a jeweled strongbox, giving depositors a sense of security. The building is bathed in a symphony of color, as Sullivan described it. Green and brown terra cotta panels and blue and gold glass mosaic bands contrast with the reddish brick walls and the red sandstone base that anchors the bank to its site. Elegantly arched stained-glass windows are mirrored on the interior by murals of dairy and harvest scenes painted by Chicago artist Oskar Gross. The lavish organic ornamentation, designed largely by Sullivan's partner George Elmslie, carries through all interior elements, from 18-foot-tall light fixtures down to the tellers' window grills.
National Farmers' Bank of Owatonna interior cast iron electrolier, 2001
Image courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
Have a building you'd like to nominate to the Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series? Send a photo or two, along with your explanation of why you like the building, to firstname.lastname@example.org.(1 Comments)