Walker Art Center, Northern Spark 2012

Walker Art Center, Northern Spark 2012 from Northern Spark on Vimeo.

mnartists.org, Drawing NIGHTclub
Acoustic Campfire + Bedtime Stories, Brian Laidlaw
Scott Sayre and Vanessa Voskuil, Midnight Padhandling

Videographers: Nolan Morice, Tricia Towey

Editor: Brennan Vance

Ben and Elizabeth Johnson, PixelTron 150, Northern Spark 2012

Ben and Elizabeth Johnson, PixelTron 150, Northern Spark 2012 from Northern Spark on Vimeo.

Ben Johnson and Elizabeth Johnson, PixelTron150

Videographers: Allison Osberg, Nolan Morice, Brennan Vance

Editor: Brennan Vance

Jackie Beckey, Psychedelic Art Parade, Northern Spark 2012

Jackie Beckey, Psychedelic Art Parade, Northern Spark 2012 from Northern Spark on Vimeo.

Jackie Beckey, Psychedelic Art Parade

Videographers: Allison Osberg, Tricia Towey, Tom Johnson, Nolan Morice, Gus Ganley, Brennan Vance

Editor: Brennan Vance

Annicha Arts, In Habit: Living Patterns, Northern Spark 2012

Annicha Arts, In Habit: Living Patterns, Northern Spark 2012 from Northern Spark on Vimeo.

Aniccha Arts, In Habit: Living Patterns

Videographers: Allsion Osberg, Tricia Towey, Brennan Vance

Editor: Brennan Vance

Michael Murnane, Under Ice, Northern Spark 2012

Michael Murnane, Under Ice, Northern Spark 2012 from Northern Spark on Vimeo.

Michael Murnane, Under Ice

Videographers: Allison Osberg, Tricia Towey, Tom Johnson, Nolan Morice, Gus Ganley, Brennan Vance

Editor: Brennan Vance

Give to the Max Day

Northern Spark.  All people.  All arts.  All night.

Northern Spark in some pictures


NOW, THEREFORE, WE, R.T. RYBAK, Mayor of the City of Minneapolis and CHRIS COLEMAN, Mayor of the CIty of Saint Paul do hereby jointly proclaim June 4, 2011 as: NORTHERN SPARK NIGHT IN THE CITIES OF MINNEAPOLIS AND SAINT PAUL

NOW, THEREFORE, WE, R.T. RYBAK, Mayor of the City of Minneapolis and CHRIS COLEMAN, Mayor of the CIty of Saint Paul do hereby jointly proclaim June 4, 2011 as: NORTHERN SPARK NIGHT IN THE CITIES OF MINNEAPOLIS AND SAINT PAUL


WHEREAS, the Mississippi River is one of the natural marvels of the world; and

WHEREAS, the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul are two of the most marvelous cities of the world; and

WHEREAS,the inaugural Northern Spark “nuit blanche” Festival is a dusk-to-dawn participatory art event along the Mississippi River and in Minneapolis and Saint Paul; and

WHEREAS, more than 40 organizations from around Minneapolis-Saint Paul will participate in Northern Spark; and

WHEREAS, more than 60 public art projects will turn Minneapolis and Saint Paul into all night “cities of light”; and

WHEREAS, Northern Spark will include a wide diversity of art forms and projects including multi-story projections, audio environments with vistas, installations traveling down the Mississippi on barges, houseboats and paddleboats, headphone concerts, and the use of everything from bioluminescent alge and sewer pipes for organs to more traditional media such as banjos and puppets; and

WHEREAS, Northern Spark expands the boundaries of contemporary art by transforming the urban environment into a city-wide art gallery; and

WHEREAS, Northern Spark showcases the natural and urban splendors and the cultural magnificance of Minneapolis-Saint Paul;

NOW, THEREFORE, WE, R.T. RYBAK, Mayor of the City of Minneapolis and CHRIS COLEMAN, Mayor of Saint Paul do hereby jointly proclaim June 4, 2011 as:





Meeting the city halfway

Welcome to the inaugural Northern Spark, a free, all-night festival of public art and performances taking place outdoors and indoors in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul from sundown to sunrise.

There is magic in the night, when the familiar, like the city skyline, becomes majestic, and a starry sky can transport the imagination. One’s senses are heightened, attuned to the slightest noise or even the smell of the nearby river in a way that seems not so common in daylight. One’s regular bus ride or walking over the threshold of a building visited hundreds of times before becomes exotic and otherworldly at 3 am.

Imagining Northern Spark. Maquette and photography by Rasun Mehringer. Design: Matthew Rezac

It is in this context that more than 200 artists are presenting 100 installations and performances for Northern Spark from the top of the Foshay Tower to boat rides along the Mississippi to light sculptures and projections to performances galore, including car horn and brass band fanfares, color guards, river dancing, sewer pipe organs, lullabies, and storytelling. Perusing the festival program (PDF) will introduce you to the rich variety of offerings that will bloom for one night only. It is not our goal to take over the night like some giant big top tent, but to join it. We meet the city halfway. As you walk or ride a bike or take the bus from one venue to another, see and appreciate your surroundings with new eyes and ears. Celebrate one of the great rivers of the world through two magnificent cities and enjoy the next artistic intervention you come across. It’s an adventure. You make your own journey.

Northern Spark is presented by Northern Lights.mn, but it would not be possible without the amazing work of the artists, the generous participation of more than 50 organizations, a talented staff, and the steadfast support of our sponsors, including the people of Minnesota through funding from the Legacy Amendment. Thank you.

Steve Dietz
Artistic Director, Northern Spark
President and Artistic Director, Northern Lights.mn

Northern Spark program guide

The print Northern Spark program guide – 32 pages of not-to-be-missed projects and scheduled events along with essential “getting around” information – is hot off the presses and will be available at the following sites beginning on Saturday. Check websites for open hours.

The Soap Factory
Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis
W Minneapolis – The Foshay
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Intermedia Arts
Franklin Art Works
Walker Art Center
Saint Paul Central LIbrary
Landmark Center
Black Dog Cafe and Wine Bar

In the meantime, download a PDF of the program and start perusing your planned peregrinations.

Programs will be available at all Northern Spark venues the day and night of the Festival.

All-night event a chance for Twin Cities artists to shine

Amy Carlson Gustafson, via Pioneer Press
May 9, 2011

There’s nothing typical about the newest Twin Cities arts festival. From the time it takes place — sunset to sunrise — to the number of local arts organizations involved — more than 50 — Northern Spark has potential to be a monumental arts event. Inspired by the worldly ‘Nuit Blanche’ movement of nighttime arts festivals that originated in Europe, Northern Spark plans to turn the urban landscapes of St. Paul and Minneapolis into one giant art gallery early next month.

“I had always wanted to do an overnight event but had never been able to,” said Northern Spark artistic director Steve Dietz. “I think it’s an interesting way to get a different take on everything that seems normal to you. It started with an idea around the programming and, for me, it was the amazing richness of the art scene. And it was an opportunity to do something along the river corridor and with other organizations in the Twin Cities.”

Starting at 8:55 p.m. June 4 and continuing until 5:28 the following morning, the Twin Cities will be home to more than 100 public art projects, many of which are happening on or near the banks of the Mississippi River. Opportunities to check out work by more than 200 artists are seemingly endless during the event — here’s just a small sampling of what you can experience: select photographs for projection onto the Gold Medal Flour silos; singers performing lullabies if you want to snooze in a public space; ride on a houseboat and take in a dance performance; or listen to a sewer pipe organ installation that will be played back from speakers inserted at the storm drain outfalls by the Mississippi River.

“You think you know a view, a city, a building, a park — and then to see it at night, it’s a different experience,” Dietz said. “So to do that in a safe, fun, active environment where you’re more excited about what’s around the corner than nervous about it, it really changes how people can experience the city. And the flipside is our commitment to reaching a broa d audience and engaging them in really fine art. Part of the mission of the ‘Nuit Blanche’ is that it’s free culture for everyone.”

One of the event’s most anticipated pieces is “Scattered Light,” an LED light installation by San Francisco-based artist Jim Campbell (one of only a handful of non-locals participating in the festival). Located at Upper Landing Park in St. Paul near the Science Museum of Minnesota, the luminous three-dimensional piece — which was recently on view at Madison Square Park in Manhattan — will feature hundreds of hanging light bulbs that illuminate the night sky. Unlike other Northern Spark projects, “Scattered Light” will be on display through July 24.

For Minneapolis-based and internationally known artist Andrea Stanislav, Northern Spark presented a perfect opportunity to debut her new public video work, “Nightmare,” which creates the illusion of a white horse galloping on the Mississippi River. Led by a towboat, the 17′ x 25′ video screen carried on a barge will display the image of a horse with the river playing the part of a metaphorical racetrack. Viewers will be able to spot the unexpected image that Stanislav calls “ghostlike” from the banks of the Mississippi.

“I love the concept of the festival,” said Stanislav. “It’s so elegant within its simplicity, too, that it’s illuminating the city for one night. So many points in the Cities will be have video, light and sound installations. I think it’s literally going to be an electric experience. And I think the idea of staying up throughout the night will also bring the community together.”

Joe Spencer, director of arts and culture for the city of St. Paul, says the city has been working closely with the festival on logistical issues, including permits. He says he anticipates some people will be anxious about the all-night aspect of the event, but so far things have been going smoothly. One big question — will St. Paulites stay! up all night for the festival?

“Absolutely,” he said with confidence. “I’ve always had a hard time with all-nighters, though. I’m going to pick and choose my spots and I think that’s what most folks will do. I’m thrilled for folks who have it in their constitution to stay up all night. They’ll have plenty to do and see.

“The fact is this is very much a mission-driven festival that has a strong artistic curatorial element to it,” he said. “I don’t think success will be defined by how many people show up to a festival grounds, but rather by the artistic quality.”

To make sure folks have a chance to check out events in both cities, there will be free bus rides to select locations, volunteers to help people navigate festival events and security at various locales.

“The goal is that this will attract people to places — whether it’s going into a museum or down to the river or staying out past 10 p.m. at night — to a place they might not normally gather,” Dietz says. “They’ll congregate, they’ll have social interactions and it will really change how they think about their city and the relationship to it. That would be success for me if we have a lot of people out there enjoying themselves.”

A whiskey-jonesing-bar-hopper for art

IN 2006, NORTHERN LIGHTS.MN founder, president, and artistic director, Steve Dietz, helped organize the first Zer01 SJ biennial, a seven day festival of art highlighting the theme of “the interactive city,” which took place in San Jose, California. The event was a huge success, featuring the work of more than 250 artists representing over 40 different countries and drawing in excess of $9 million dollars in revenue for the city. The problem?  The activities ended at 2 a.m. every night, and like a whiskey-jonesing bar-goer just diving into his second wind, Dietz wanted still more.

“Four years of idea-percolating and 18 months of practical planning later, Dietz has turned his a.m. arts bender dream into reality. On June 4 and 5, Northern Lights.mn, a “roving, collaborative, interactive media” nonprofit art agency, will host Northern Spark: A Nuit Blanche, the Twin Cities’ first ever all-night outdoor art festival.

Read the rest of Regan Smith’s preview of Northern Lights’ all-night arts festival, Northern Spark: Nuit Blanche, featuring dusk-to-dawn interactive art happenings throughout the Twin Cities, with work by more than 100 artists and organizations, on June 4 & 5.

via mnartists.org

More artists selected for Northern Spark

We recently juried a number of open calls, and selected an amazing group of artists to present work at Northern Spark on June 4-5. This is not a complete list, yet. These projects will join those presented by Northern Lights and our more than 40 partners, many of which are listed on the Northern Spark website. Congratulations to these artists and thanks to everyone who submitted proposals.

Emily Darnell, Molly Roth, Terese Elhard. The Snap Shot Shanty is a portrait studio and multipurpose art space used to facilitate projects with its attendees, which are documented in photo, video, and sound formats and then archived online. Beyond documentary-style portraiture,  past activities have included mask-making, caricature drawing and musical performances. New activities will be introduced for The Snap Shot Shanty’s new context including long exposure photographic experiments, illuminated storytelling, and choreographed light shows.

Daniel Dean and Ben Moren. Mobile Experiential Cinema is a roving, bicycle-mounted cinematic experience that takes advantage of the specific sites at which a film is created. A short narrative film will be created and then projected at at least 5 specific sites within Zones A,B, C & D with audience and projection team travel via bike between sites as part of the narrative arc of the film. Props and actions will be included at the physical site that mirror the content of the film and draw the audience into the experience of the film.

Ben Garthus. Creative Outpost is a nomadic social gathering point that unpacks from a car trailer and is devoted to facilitating creative, self-determined activities. Inspired by the free open-ended play of adventure playgrounds, which are common in much of Europe but are a rarity in the United States, Creative Outpost will not have a specific program but instead will have a variety of loose parts, old building materials, tools and open ended equipment that challenges participants to come up with their own activities.

Leslie Kelman and Mark O’Brien. Domestic Storefront is a small hut resembling a Minneapolis mixed-use building and having fabric over the windows, lit from within. Working from within through the night modifying the shape of the windows using needles, thread, wooden strips and staple guns our silhouettes are visible from outside for curious observers to follow the progress.

Osman Khan. Ceiling places a horizontally scanning laser at a city site. Apart from a drawing a line approximately 10 ft in the air on surrounding buildings , the laser is invisible, except when particulates pass through the beam, such as fog, mist, dust, steam from sewers, laundromats, individual smokers or strategically placed fog machines.  Oscillating between visibility and invisibility, Ceiling plays with the public’s perceptions and fantasies of invisible forces.

Mina Leierwood and Mike Haeg. Paradice on the Mississippi is a pair of dice shaped shanties that host many opportunities for families, friends and even total strangers to connect through gameplay. Activities include The Holy Roller, which alternates between transportation and game board; a table game based on the Art Shanty Projects; and play and pick up plans for some Scandahoovian yard games.

Norbert Lucas, Jerry Riess, Craig Mary Verhoeven. GPS Shanty is an octagon-shaped shanty. Visitors use the direction of a large three foot compass in the center of the octagon shanty to determine Norht, South, East or West, and then locate their town and place a note on the wall including their town’s name, what the town is most known for, or why they like the town. Maps and photos decorate the appropriate walls of the North, East, West, and South suburbs.

Aaron Marx. MAW Mobile Hotspot creates a mobile 4G hotspot and human-powered projection unit used to allow other artists or participants free wireless access. The unit will also be used for projection experiments utilizing live streaming technology.

Megan Mertaugh. To pull up. is a mobile film installation to be projected on homes that are in the process of foreclosure or are foreclosed within festival Zone D of Northern Spark. Moving from one house address to another using MAW’s mobile projection platforms to project onto the structural features of each property, To pull up. is designed to provide a visual voice for those individuals and families within our community who have recently lost or are in the midst of loosing their home, to tell their story.

The Notion Collective (Andy Dayton, Jason Bahling, Michael Eckblad, Candice Heberer, Jon Wohl). Station Identification is an audio installation on the Foshay Tower Observation Deck, which will serve as an aural map of Twin Cities  AM/FM radio broadcasting as well as transform the historic skyscraper into a broadcast tower for transmitting information about participants’ relationship to the radio landscape.

Angela Olson. wanderlust will be a night of journey, wander, and search. A group of wanderers travel from site to site, observing the events around them. and searching for their end destination.

Stephen Rife. Firefall is a live-action, pyrotechnic display involving a modified grain shovel marking regular intervals of the Northern Spark nuit blanche.

Carissa Samaniego and Bridget Beck. GLOW-a-BOUT is a nightlong city game meant for large-scale participation that combines the spirit of nostalgic night games and the Holi Festival to create a new event specific to Northern Spark and involves fortresses, flags, pigmented powders, teams, and glowing orbs.

Skewed Visions (Charles Campbell, Gulgun Kayim, Sean Kelley-Pegg). Please Remain Seated is a performance tailored for 15 bus drivers, driving the 15 Festival buses for the duration of Northern Spark. The material for the performances will explore the inner thoughts and intimacies in the urban environment as seen through the eyes of the driver and the routine of driving a bus.

Angela Sprunge, Dana Maiden , Julie Kesti , Scott Kesti, Kaara Nilsso. In Art Swap Shanty adults and children are invited to swap an object of their creation for someone else’s. Our mantra- “if you call it art, we call it art.” Art Swap is fun, interactive, community building, economically and resource friendly, recession trendy, and contagious.

Imagining Northern Spark

maquette and photography by Rasun Mehringer | northernspark.org

Maquette and photography by Rasun Mehringer | northernspark.org

It’s always hard to imagine something new before it happens. Rasun Mehringer’s fanciful photo of Northern Spark taking place on the banks of the Mississippi with the downtowns of Minneapolis and Saint Paul on either side playfully hints at the transformation planned for the Twin Cities between sunset on June 4 and sunrise on June 5. See the cardboard construction maquette from which she worked her magic.