conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Posts Tagged ‘Minneapolis

If I had a hammer.

leave a comment »

I’d put it away for the weekend.

Hammers-2-05222015

Seen while walking in Northeast Minneapolis.

###

Image Credit:Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

May 22, 2015 at 7:56 am

Seeing may be the trickiest part of drawing

with 5 comments

Instinct and childhood definitions make poor interpreters of everyday life

Take this dumb sketch (Exhibit A). I made it while sitting in the lobby at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. Those green trees? Utter fiction. Apart from a few pine trees, there is very little green in Minnesota right now. Green won’t even think about appearing for weeks.

PeopleCTC-03202015

Exhibit A

Yet here we have green trees. I threw a dash of green there because trees are green. Except they weren’t green. They were brown. And scratchy and barren-looking. I commented to a drawing friend that my instinct said “green” from long use of my childhood definition of “tree.” And that slap of green was on before I even thought about it.

The gap between seeing and responding is the troublesome bit. If instinct drives my seeing, I miss pylons and electrical wires and gasoline tank farms and wireless telephone towers. All that industrial accretion I’ve seen one million times—all of it invisible. Even though it is really odd-looking stuff, jutting up into the sky at bizarre angles, like nothing in nature.

I don’t see people too: the clerk behind the counter. The janitor with the broom there, off to the side. I try to become practiced at not seeing the homeless man with his cardboard blessing at the end of the ramp. But that never works.

Mrs. Kirkistan and I volunteer at the Children’s Theater Company. It is simple duty: handing out programs. I was surprised this time by how invisible I became to children. Despite being squarely in their way so they must actively move around me to get into the theater. And when I verbally offer them a program, they twitch, suddenly surprised to see a human directly in front of them.

It’s not that I’m diminutive (I’m not). It’s because the entrance to the theater is awesome, like nothing a kid sees anywhere else. Walking through those double-doors into the dark red cavern with hundreds of seats stretching down and up into space and very strange objects akimbo on the stage—it’s hard for anyone to look away. All of that is purposeful on the part of the theater and adds to the experience.

It’s odd being invisible. And that makes me wonder how many people I miss in the course of ordinary life, simply because I have acted on instinct rather than actually believing the data from my eyes.

Instinct and childhood definitions are poor interpreters of everyday life.

###

Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston

When Buildings Dream

with 3 comments

WhenBldngsDream-3-03132015

###

Image Credit: Kirk Livingston. Dumb Sketch Credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

March 13, 2015 at 9:25 am

Tourist Trap

leave a comment »

Who can resist a solid bridge or two?

IndustryUnderBridge-2-02102015

 

###

Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

February 11, 2015 at 8:36 am

Little Known Fact: Minnesota’s Blue Bridges

leave a comment »

Deep in the winter, just before sunrise, bridges turn blue.

BlueBridgeTight-02042015

It must have to do with the bitter cold.

And you can also see the headlamps of the troll family making their way back to their cave after a night’s mischief.

So glad I caught all this action.

Minnesota! Weird, right?

###

Written by kirkistan

February 4, 2015 at 8:08 am

Charles Chamblis: Photographer’s Notes

leave a comment »

Story told by numbers

Charles Chamblis didn’t take too many days off from photography. With his camera he captured slices of life in the African-American community around Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota in the 1970s and 1980s.

CharlesChamblisNotes-10252014

Go see his collection of Minneapolis-Saint Paul photos at the Minnesota History Center.

More on numbers here.

###

Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Let’s Get Liminal: How to be a Co–Laborer/Co-Thinker/Co-Contributor

with 6 comments

Show up to explore the space between

My friend helps researchers at his Midwestern university organize their thoughts for publication. He also helps them apply for grants to fund their research—a function many universities are increasingly focused on.

To do this work, my friend has found ways to walk alongside new professors as they form their research interests. By staying beside them over time (years, even), he is able to help identify places where the work can go forward and also begin to locate potential funding sources. That’s when the hard work begins of explaining the research to a funding committee.

Approaches to Minneapolis

Approaches to Minneapolis

This space between—where the research shows particular promise but is still unformed—this is where a conversation can bear fruit. Maybe even the goal itself is starting to take shape, along with possible routes to that desired end. Sometimes it is the conversations surrounding the goal and routes to the goal that open it for exploration.

Michael Banning is an observer and painter of liminal spaces—those spaces and places that we typically don’t even see:

I am interested in the liminal spaces found at the edges of the inner city. Amid the trucks, weeds and railroad tracks of those often post-industrial surroundings, one can find compelling views of the distant skyline as well as a sense of peace and quiet uncommon in the urban experience.

–“Parking Lot near Train Tracks,” by Michael Banning, label from James J. Hill House Gallery

Parking Lot near Train Tracks (Photo courtesy Michael Banning)

Parking Lot near Train Tracks (Photo courtesy Michael Banning)

See Michael Banning’s work here.

When we are lucky enough to find ourselves talking about these liminal spaces with each other, we might be collaborating in a particularly effective way. Typically we don’t have a clue when we’ve entered such a verbal space. Years later we might identify a conversation that was a turning point. Perhaps the best we can do is to remain open to entertaining each other’s unformed thoughts.

Who knows what might result?

###

Image credit: Kirk Livingston

%d bloggers like this: