April 17, 2010

Last week, I spent an afternoon at Barnes and Noble immersed in the work of designers – and the wonderful photos in Super Potato Design stayed with me. Over and over images resurfaced all week of how Takashi Sugimoto used common elements in unique ways to form backdrops, partitions and intimate spaces. From coiled rubber tubing to a wall of colorful bottles; from perforated metal screens to precast perforated cement blocks; from patterned brick walls to vivid handmade paper sandwiched between glass and backlit to reveal fiber patterns of the paper – every application wrapped the observer in light in a distinctive way and drew the visitor through the space. Inspired, I made a commitment to look at my events differently, to see if I could use common elements-perhaps a client’s products- to help me create client-unique zones within an event that support the story I am telling.

With that in mind, I made Friday a field trip – something I have not done much of in recent months. After a quick stop to look at the status of the emerging Dancers Studio venue under construction, I was off to experience the American Craft Council Show in St. Paul with one mission foremost in mind: I did not want to look at the art in a personal context, but how I might apply it as a purposeful element in one of my events. What a wonderful exercise in creative thinking I had! Not to mention some fabulous conversations with the artists.

I especially enjoyed Nancy Bjorge of Mixed Media Art. Her backlit origami framed under glass caught my eye, but as we talked, we shifted away from the medium towards the impact of the lighting-particularly in a piece of layered origami constructed of varying paper types including wax paper, and then backlit with the changing colors of LED . And before I left, I got her daughter’s name who is finishing design school here in Mpls. and will be accompanying her mother to the Lighting Show in Las Vegas next month. I promised to connect with her later in May to hear what they learned at the show, plus see what possibilities we might have of working together.

Ziya Tarapore, also generous of her time, brainstormed with me on possibilities of creating her vivid batik designs on a “green” product of recycled materials, formed into panels that could be suspended from the ceiling or within acrylic to form event partitioning and intimate spaces; and Myra Burg’s Quiet Oboes have my mind racing with possibilities – using an art application I have never encountered with an event environment.

From architectural blown glass to copper art; from stainless steel to silk art wall hangings that take your breath away; from a wonderful selection of handmade papers to some very unique stained glass pieces, it was a stimulating two hours! And for the most part, I did keep my mind on events – although I confess, the Sarmite Wearable Art definitely distracted me and drew me in, with their wonderful unique and colorful clothing designs.

If you can’t fit in visiting the show yet this weekend, consider getting the St. Paul Art Crawl on your calendar next week – or, like me, plan to take part in the 2010 artOpener, the St. Croix Valley Studio Tour scheduled for May 1 and 2 from Stillwater to River Falls as many of the artists have studios along the route.

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