by Steven Lang
Installation-based contemporary art shows that deal with suburbia are nothing new. But installation-based contemporary art shows in suburbia? Now that’s cutting edge.
Someday, when all the McMansions in Osseo have been divided into multiplex public housing units and nothing lives beneath the oil-slick of Lake Minnetonka but Eurasian milfoil, our world might look like the world we see in Gettin’ Above Yer Raisin’s, a themed installation show by six Minnesota artists currently on display at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts.
moral fiber behind the work in this show—work that is stirring and somber,
but somehow hopeful in this pristine, airy gallery—may be strong enough
to help forestall suburbia’s bleak destiny. The show turns a critical
eye on the ideas of upbringing and transcending the past (thus the title, an
old Appalachian saying), and themes of home and identity are explored by artists
Christopher Hauseman, Patrick Maun, Don Myhre, Sonja Peterson, Monica Sheets,
and Melanie VanHouten.
Monica Sheets’ devotional chapel, “Last Train Out,” is a Rust-Belt-inspired,
yet rustic and almost bucolic version of a Great Lakes industrial community
church. Visitors can punch-in on a weary time clock, take communion with bearing
oil and canned beer and read a sermon from the biblical tome “Machinery’s
Handbook.” Sonja Peterson takes the viewer on a visual tour of her memories
in “Bamberwood Requiem.” Paper cuts and charcoal drawings are combined
in a wall-and-floor piece that addresses her return trip to the housing development
where she grew up, in Bamberwood, a Disney-worthy title if there ever was one.
But this part-theme-park, part-surrealist landscape is more like Anytown, USA,
as animated by Tim Burton and populated by twisted, navel-gazing characters,
many of whom seem all too familiar. Christopher Hauseman literally draws with
mementos—arrangements of newspapers and comic books, personal effects,
model railroad pieces and toy soldiers. The result is a startling assembly of
the fantasy life of a boy caught up in the fates of his alcoholic family members
during a time of private and public strife. ||
Gettin’ Above Yer Raisin’s is on display through Mar.
15. http://www.minnetonkaarts.org" target="_blank">The Minnetonka Center for
the Arts is located at 2240 North Shore Dr., Wayzata, 952-473-7361.