Forecast Mid-Career Grantee Alyssa Baguss is reshaping her project to support artists and encourages socially distant happenings.
“When public practice work looked nearly impossible at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, I realized that with the mid-career project grant I had the ability to financially support the work of other artists and foster creative experimentation in a time of little opportunity. This funding has allowed me to mine this project to a depth that I could not have imagined when I originally applied for the funding in 2019.”
A Project Continues
Alyssa Baguss’s Open Water began in July of 2019 as an experimental space for artists to interact with the Mississippi River. Continuing in 2020 via a Forecast Mid-Career Project Grant, the project now encourages socially distant happenings and supports artist experimentation during the pandemic.
Situated aboard the Minneapolis Water Taxi on the Mississippi River in Northeast Minneapolis, Open Water includes nine artist-led boat tours containing a variety of visual, performing, and social practice art projects. This season’s invited artists—Anna Metcalfe, Bart Buch, Beatrix*JAR, Ian Hanesworth, Jenni Undis, Megan Mayer, Laurie Van Wieren, Sarah Peters, and Harper Steinbach—are each producing an hour long happening on the river to explore their artistic practice.
The Artists + Projects
In order of their Open Water happening on the Mississippi River, with commentary from Alyssa Baguss for those projects which have taken place as of September 30, 2020.
August 24, 2020
Project: Beatrix*JAR recorded Episode 24 of The Beatrix*JAR Show—their season finale—on August 24th live from the Mississippi River Water Taxi. Since the Covid-19 pandemic the duo has had to reimagine their creative practice. The Beatrix*JAR Show is a playful weekly podcast/radio program in which the duo shares stories and music. The Beatrix*JAR Show can be streamed at beatrixjar.com.
Bio: Beatrix*JAR is an Art Collective/Dynamic Duo made up of couple/creative collaborators Bianca Janine Pettis (Beatrix) & Jacob Aaron Roske (JAR). Formed in 2003, the duo works in tandem collaborating on everything from Video Projects, Sound Art Lectures, Circuit Bending Workshops, Live Performances, Albums, DJ Sets, Sound & Set Design, Audio Playgrounds, Community Engagement, Hand Sewn Fabric Birds & Cats, Curating Sound Performances, Screen Prints, Murals, Art Installations, Interactive Sound Collage and more.
Alyssa says, “We LOVED having Beatrix*JAR on [the river]. You can hear their live stream (ha) from the river on their website. [Their performance] was the first night they interviewed someone on the show. ALSO; captain Corey has actually sound engineered one of their shows! Small world, great artists, beautiful views.”
August 26, 2020
Project: Having grown up alongside the Mississippi River in Southeastern Minnesota, interdisciplinary artist Ian Hanesworth recalls their childhood intimacy with the river as inspiration for this project. Amidst weekly multi-generational gatherings on the river, Ian remembers swimming with their sisters in the murky water and dredging up fistfuls of dark stinking river mud to plaster over their sunburnt bodies. They recall fondly the spontaneous burial ceremonies they had for the dead fish, bird, or bug they found on the river’s shores. With these memories in mind, Ian has curated an evening of food, prayer, and river mud. Ian hopes to engage participants in conversations about kinship, specifically how one feels and expresses kinship with the land, while acknowledging the histories of the places we live and the Indigenous peoples who are the traditional stewards of this knowledge and this land.
Bio: Ian Hanesworth is a non-binary artist/farmer from Winona, MN (occupied Dakota land). Their work and research centers on ideas of deep ecology, plant medicine, and environmental stewardship. Ian uses wild plant fibers and dyes to create artwork that asserts the critical interconnectedness of human and ecological wellbeing and argues for the place of gardening within a contemporary art practice. They received a BFA in Fine Arts Studio from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD) in 2018. Since graduating they have participated in residency programs such as Caldera AiR in Sisters, OR, and exhibited their work in numerous group and solo exhibitions. They are the recipient of the 2019 Jerome Emerging Fiber Artist Project Grant through the Textile Center of Minnesota and the 2020 Artist Initiative Grant through the Minnesota State Arts Board.
Alyssa says, “Ian is our second artist and we are SO happy to have them.”
“To briefly introduce our artist’s project: Ian has curated an evening of food, prayer, and river mud. Ian hopes to engage participants in conversations about kinship, specifically how one feels and expresses kinship with the land while acknowledging the histories of the places we live and the Indigenous peoples who are the traditional stewards of this land.”
“Besides Ian’s project being thoughtful and all around wonderful, one of our favorite parts was the mask dying done off the boat using natural dyes found in plants.”
“Thank you for floating with us, Ian.”
August 27, 2020
Project: Great Minnesota Keep it Together. Jenni packed a vintage State Fair bag with homemade cookies, a letterpress printed notebook with matching pencils that say ‘Keep It Together,’ two lotto tickets, and a pressed penny from the Kare 11 booth at the fair. This care package is an homage to the Minnesota State Fair, an event that, like so many other events, has been put on hold due to COVID-19. To channel the fair Jenni planned to have nature and animals perform, trains and treats. End-of-the-night fireworks were replaced by a magical sunset.
Bio: Jenni is passionate about words, language, and paper. This comes together in her letterpress printing. She strives to use printed text to stimulate thought, conversation, and connection in unexpected ways.
Alyssa says, “After taking some time to reflect, we are happy to share Jenni Undis project the Great Minnesota Keep it Together.”
“Jenni packed vintage State Fair bags with cookies, handmade notebooks, and pencils all inscribed with ‘Keep it together.’ There were 2 lotto tickets for each guest and a pressed penny from the Kare 11 booth at the State Fair.”
“Overall it was a magical night where we reflected on the fair, the past year, and the water.”
September 8, 2020
Project: People on the River are Happy to Give is a floating conversation and resilience practice amongst creative thinkers of a certain age. Our discussion will culminate at sunset to signify our transition out of Summer into darker Fall and Winter. As we weather this unprecedented year through a pandemic, civil uprising and a pivotal election, we will share the ways in which we are resilient and reflect on how that kept us safe and strong. These strategies will eventually be shared with the public to promote courage, foster tenacity and provide personal, unique tools to navigate the unknowns of the coming seasons.
Bio: Megan Mayer is an award-winning artist working with choreography, dance, experimental video and photography .She obsesses over minimalism, mimicry, tenderness, wry humor, loneliness, fake bad timing and exacting musicality. Drawn to the edges of the experience of performing: the anticipatory rapid heartbeat before going onstage, and the regretful relief after exiting, her work often reveals where that switch lives in the body.
Alyssa says, “We took our trip bundled up [on September 8] with Megan Mayer. We had many discussions for Megan’s project about resilience practice for creative thinkers of a certain age. The project titled ‘people on the river are happy to give,’ paired with the cool night, still weather, and relevant conversations was a nice project to kick off the September projects.”
September 14, 2020
Project: Illustrator and community artist, Harper Steinbach created the River’s first community cookbook by collecting recipes from boat riders and illustrating them. By continuing the dialogue between her multigenerational relationship with food, recipes, and creating community surrounding nourishment, Harper attempted to honor the stories and care that goes into feeding others. This cookbook focused on water, the understanding of water in nourishment, and seeing food as a community building tool.
Bio: Harper is an illustrator, designer, and a public artist that lives and works in the Twin Cities. Her more recent work focuses on community building and care as well as providing free and low-income ways to create art. On top of her applied and personal practice, Steinbach also co-runs The Corner Store, a team of small businesses that works together to support each other.
Alyssa says, “[On September 14 we welcomed] Harper Steinbach onto the river with her Mississippi community cookbook. The cookbook is inspired by recipes collected from her guests and generations of eating. She sent us a select page from her book.”
“We had a lot of fun with Harper talking about food, cooking, and family. She combined both illustration and discussion as an art practice.”
Laurie Van Wieren
September 19, 2020
Project: Shoreline Portraits
3 dance solos with cello. At dusk. Created for the Mississippi.
For it’s beauty and grief. For it’s slowness and darkness.
For the landscape and its movement.
On the River: Piers 1, 2 and 3
Dance Artists: Pramila Vasudevan, Julia Bither, and Jinza Thayer
Music artist: Michelle Kinney
Boat: Captain Greg
Director: Laurie Van Wieren
Producer: Alyssa Baguss
Bio: Laurie Van Wieren is a performance/dance artist, curator and teacher. Her solo and ensemble choreography has been shown in the Twin Cities, Chicago and New York as well as in Germany, and Russia. Van Wieren has curated performances for the Southern Theater, Ritz Theater, Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, and Soo Visual Art Center. Van Wieren’s work includes exploring the poetics of the human body within the architecture of large parks, mega gyms, art galleries and small theaters.
Laurie says, “Created for the deep, dark, grieving mother of all rivers that runs right through us: the Might-ey Mississipi. In the Time of COVID, as we come to terms with. Our racism. Living on stolen land in this swamp of environmental exploitation and economic free-fall. Why are we making dances?”
Alyssa says, “Thank you to everyone who came out to the performance yesterday for Laurie Van Wieren.”
“We had an amazing turn out and we loved watching the dancers perform.”
September 21, 2020
Project: Bart Buch hosted a Peace Day Cruise on International Peace Day, Monday, September 21 at 7pm. The cruise included lanterns, art-prayer, ritual, silence, and puppetry. Buch collaborated with artist Masanari Kawahara on this project.
Bio: Buch is a puppet artist, poet, teaching artist and community art organizer who creates intimate performance and educational experiences using puppets, masks, lanterns, strong visual languages and immersive musical languages.
Alyssa says, “We had an amazing time with Bart Buch last night on the river. On international peace day, the cruise took off and includes lanterns, lights, art prayer, silence, and puppetry. Bart collaborated with Masanari Kawahara.”
“We [posted more than one video] of the experience because it was magical and so fun to be a part of. Thank you, Bart.”
September 24, 2020
Project: Into the River, Disappear. Ever since the entire collection of the Floating Library fell in the water in the summer of 2018, Sarah Peters has been interested in what happens when you purposefully dunk printed matter in a body of water. On this river ride, poet-participants were provided with non-toxic, water soluble ink, pens, brushes and water proof paper. While cruising the Mississippi near dusk, they wrote or drew from the prompt “what should disappear?” and then gently washed their pages in the river.
Bio: Sarah Peters is an artist who also administers public art projects, the latter of which takes much of her time these days. She is interested in how people interact with each other in public spaces in the presence of uncommon art experiences. For many years she ran a participatory public art project called The Floating Library; a collection of artist-made books and printed matter accessible by boat from a raft on a lake. Sarah is curious about other ways to engage books and writing on water while the FL is on a COVID and administrative / logistical exhaustion-related hiatus.
Alyssa says, “Tonight we were joined by The Floating Library. Sarah created tiny books made with stone paper (waterproof). We could choose from permanent and impermanent markers to draw with and then dip them into the river.
“We thought it was beautiful and such a relaxing and kind way to spend the night.”
October 10, 2020
Project: Ceramic artist Anna Metcalfe and composer Joshua Clausen are partners in life, and recent partners in creative collaboration. We will be assembling an instrument made out of clay bowls and filling them with water from the Mississippi River to create different tones. This instrument is fashioned in the same way of an ancient Indian instrument called Jal Tarang, which literally means “waves in water.” We are calling our experiment “Water Lines,” and we are contextualizing it in several ways: water lines are the visible markers left on the bank of a body of water that indicate past water levels, and we will mark our bowls with lines that will help us tune the instrument to different keys. We know from archaeology that clay was dug from the banks of rivers and was eventually used to create pottery. This confluence of water, earth and fire will be the container for a sonic river experience.
Bio: Metcalfe lives and works in Minneapolis where she graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009 with her MFA. Metcalfe currently teaches at Minneapolis College in downtown Minneapolis. Interested in the junction of public art and craft, she makes work inspired by water, agriculture, food and community. As a teaching artist, Metcalfe loves to promote collaboration and interdisciplinary learning environments between the sciences and art-making. She is a recipient of a Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist’s Project Grant for Public Art in 2009, a MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, a Jerome Foundation Study and Travel Grant in 2013, 2015 and 2017 and in 2018 was an open studio fellow at Franconia Sculpture Park.
At a time when we are all craving creative work, we at Forecast are thrilled to see so many artists benefitting from and expanding their practice through this project. We know a lot of artists have creative ideas like this, and we want those artists to feel empowered, able to reach out with questions, and supported. Artists are invited to learn more at our Public Artist Grants page, browse our Grants FAQ section, watch a recorded artist support information session, or reach out to our Artist Support Grant Coordinator, Aki Shibata, at email@example.com.