Sarah Schultz, former Curator of Public Practice and Director of Education at the Walker Art Center (WAC), will be speaking tonight at 7pm at the Arthouse at the Jones Center. After 22 years at WAC, one of the most successful museums in terms of experimental programming, she can share some serious history of now-common buzzwords like “placemaking.”
We’re not sure what “placemaking” is (it sounds like an artsy version of colonialism; should it be called “placebranding”?; didn’t the place exist before the cultural folk “discovered” it?), but Schultz and her team certainly created a place with the Walker’s experimental Open Field. They didn’t make or discover the place; it’s actually just WAC’s four-acre backyard. They turned it into summer-long (it’s Minneapolis!) experiments in how museums can engage the public in new ways. Open Field hosts over 100 activities each summer season, created and led by interested members of the general public, alongside invited artists-in-residence and activities generated by the Walker.
Open Field is also home to the Internet Cat Video Festival, which on its first opening night, drew a humongous crowd that must have made the “real” art curators jealously insane. In conjunction with WAC’s current exhibitions, Art Expanded: 1958-1978 and Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art (curated by CAMH Senior Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver), both of which have a strong Fluxus presence, the Walker programmed a ton of “FluxField” artist events. Schultz recently interviewed former Houstonian (now L.A.-based) art critic Natilee Harren about the connection between Fluxus and social practice. (Read it here.)