I've had the displeasure of visiting the Walker Art Center, located just shy of Downtown Minneapolis, but just on the cusp of Uptown twice now in the past 7 years. My first trip to the Walker was with my Design History class at The Art Institutes International Minnesota. We were off to see "Past Things and Present: Jasper Johns since 1983." Before walking into this area, I was anticipating romantic talking hardwood floors such as the Minneapolis Institutes of Arts houses, or, have the great care to detail as Weisman Art Museum. Here in lies the point in my life where I realize, one should never assume things as it’s full of misjudgments and false hope. "Parts & Pieces Put Together To Present A Semblance Of A Whole."
Upon stepping foot through the heavy glass doors, my eyes couldn't pull my sight away from the floor. Was I back in high school? Vast memories of walking though my high school’s cafeteria with the lunch ladies ready to serve up their ice cream scoops full unrecognizable food onto your wet tray came buzzing into my mind. Knowing that you can't judge a book by its cover, I convince myself that it’s not as bad as it seems, this experience will get better, right? After getting the lay of the land, we're taken down these 20 ridiculous, 2 inch high steps to hang our coats. Now I'm convinced that the lunch ladies who won the lottery on a whim of a ticket sale must have designed the Walker.
The goal of our visit to the Walker was to pick one particular piece, not Jasper specific, and give your full thought on the piece without reading the description or title, to see if the artist was able to portray a feeling. I assure you, I was feeling many things, but pleasure or comfort from this location were lacking. Guards were scattered here and there but they may as have been high school drop outs that rather be playing video games in their Mom's basements. Without their obnoxious radios, you wouldn't be able to spot them from any other person. I chose Jasper Johns, "The Seasons." I believe I enjoyed it the most because it was off on its own, not being choked out by other nearby pieces. I gave the work a honey tongued devil's review, as I was flustered by the spitting radios, the bored faces, and the kaleidoscope floors to be able to enjoy the painting for what it was. I left the Walker angry.
Since its been many years, and a large cube added, I would venture to the Walker once again, in hopes that things had changed. Imagining that the floors had been updated, the new space was going to be very exhilarating and leave lots of space to let the paintings spread their wings a bit. After gaining access to the Walker, I look around and my worst fears were met. Not only had the retired lunch ladies passed on their wisdom to the next round of bad ideas. They handed them to Johnny Come Easy, a 21 year old male with a cocked polo collar who seemed to have extreme ideas, but if new blood is what we need, than new blood we shall find!! Considering the space, the sharp corners, tired ceilings, and the same busy floor, it was obvious that the changes were all dedicated to this large new cube space, Theater Tower. I take my time looking around, starting where I had years ago. It was as though my bread crumb trail hadn't moved. The screaming, spitting, bored, and kaleidoscope environment was just amplified 10 fold as Johnny had brought in all of his really cool friends who like to touch, mock, and disregard anything that the Walker holds on its heavy walls. The works are amazing, really something to behold, but not in its current environment.
By far the most disappointing part of their new space would have to be Benches & Binoculars. If the new found restaurants and space taking theaters were not bad enough, they then take some amazing pieces and put them on 30 foot walls, ask you to use a pair of attached binoculars, sit on a pressed wood carpet covered bench, and try to admire these works that you can't get close to. I have to ask Walker, where is the admission or member fee going towards? More 30 foot tall wall space? I've never been more astonished by art being so crammed in my life. Who would ever put Milton Avery, Max Beckmann, Chuck Close, John Currin, Marsden Hartley, David Hockney, Edward Hopper, Sherrie Levine, Franz Marc, Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Andy Warhol so high up on the wall that you were not able to get a straight shot of any particular painting. Are these elusive paintings that only a rare few get to view up close? In all reality, I do not believe that I will visit the Walker Art Center again. The cost is not worth the price, I know I have buyer’s remorse from the two times I've experienced the Walker Art Center. The Sculpture Garden on the other hand, I'll visit several times a year.