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March 26, 2003

Guest Posting -- Yahmdallah

Friedrich --

I recently swapped some emails with our favorite commenter, the guy who goes by the online handle Yahmdallah, and wound up asking if I could use a few passages from his notes in a posting here on the blog. They were memories of life in the Minneapolis art scene and reflections about staying involved in the arts once equipped with job and family -- too interesting not to pass along to the rest of our readers. After an "aw shucks" or two, he agreed, so I'm pleased to pass these Yahmdallah observations along:

After a romance squashed my heart flat, a buddy in Minneapolis told me to come crash with him till I picked myself up. He was an artist deeply enmeshed in the art and music scene of the "Miniapple" (their cute little moniker for themselves). So, by default, I ended up in the scene, too. This is back when Husker Du, the Replacements, Soul Asylum, and Prince were all getting started or were firmly established.

Minneapolis was THE music scene in America a few years before it moved to Seattle. I mostly helped with a lot of gallery installations. Attended a lot of openings and house parties where some of the bands listed above played along with the ones who never made it. We also lived next door to a design genius who literally won every design contest he entered. So just by association to him we met some superstars.

The Minneapolis art scene was actually very un-P.C. and vibrant. Strand a bunch of Swedes, Norwegians, and Germans in the middle of a winter wasteland, close the liquor stores at 8 P.M. and Sundays, and you get some pretty interesting stuff. In my opinion, the only places in America where the galleries and the openings rival Minneapolis are New York/Boston and San Francisco.

The only odd-ball thing about the Miniapple art scene was a quirk that drove us to create a game we called "find the fish." Most of the artists who came down from the iron range and all the little Garrison Keillor ("Prairie Home Companion") towns around the 10,000 lakes had Christian, particularly Lutheran, backgrounds, so every show by a new artist would somehow have a fish in it somewhere. Sometimes it was in honor of the faith, but often it was, of course, for degradation and mocking. Still, it was something to do if the box wine was gone, and if you'd already completely checked out all the goths, punks, and weird art chicks' costumes. (Why do so many art chicks look exactly like what Picasso painted? -- that weird disjointed countenance and that face with those freaky eyes?)

My participation in the art scene these days is almost entirely via the web and the odd movie about an artist's life. The major city I live near now has an art scene that's truly abysmal. Many little towns in Michigan's wine country have better galleries and showings. I think James Lileks is correct when he says most REAL modern art is to be found in advertising, particularly those trade magazines they make for their internal audience. A local bookstore carries a rack of those big, glossy and expensive-as-hell yearly retrospectives and award displays. I take a ream of paper and copy down the URLs and surf for hours.The web is the best art gallery in the world.

As for how I make room for art these days, what with marriage, job and kid -- well, children take time, but they take time only in the way a family member does. It's a parallel process, so the time is not entire units of time, but shared units of time, if that makes sense. We look at a Miro painting together rather than me viewing it alone on my own time. "Daddy, he does squiggles just like me!" "Yes, dear, he does."

Some of my fellow avid reading buddies told me that once I had a child, my quality reading time would end. So, I pulled out the soapbox and made a speech to my pregnant wife -- on one of her "good" pregnant days, naturally. I said if I cannot continue to be an avid reader, the central passion of my triumvirate of joys -- books, movies, and music -- I would become a truly curmudgeonly person. As wives do during such speeches, she responded to me in a beleaguered but bemused tone: "Oooookaaaay." MPC (most precious child), when old enough, was told that daddy will read, mostly undisturbed, for a little while each day. So far, it's worked. It helps that my wife reads a lot, and now our daughter, who's six, sits and reads her own books while we grownups read. I'm lucky that way, I guess.

Im also pleased to pass along the news that Yahmdallah has started his own blog, Third Level Digression, where hes showing off chops even more enjoyable than the ones he shares with us here at 2Blowhards. Devout Christian, pop music aficionado, books-and-reading fiend, as well as avid discusser of matters erotic, hes an original, and his blog is a joy. It can be read here. Though I'm hoping, probably against hope, that it won't slow down his commenting here at 2Blowhards...

Many thanks to Yahmdallah.



posted by Michael at March 26, 2003


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