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August 23, 2004 // UPDATED 3:27 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

Somewhere in Minneapolis, a superhero crisis

Earlier . . .

First there was Yoko Ono holding the Skyway newsroom hostage with her stark white billboard, "Imagine Peace." Then there was Frank Gaard's bold panel of watchmen peering suspiciously out onto the street, like a Crayola-colored jury from Mount Rushmore.

Now, you can almost hear the wipe-board squeak of the creature surfing across the sky-blue. Its fixed gaze, billowing cape and rigid electrical-plug-like limbs seem focused on getting somewhere. But we have no idea where "somewhere" is, whether the slick doodle pursues salvation, is destined for doom or is just in a rush because it is late for a dentist's appointment.

A little later . . .

Concerned citizens of Minneapolis, please do not be alarmed. We've isolated the caped wonder in question, taken it into custody and have begun interrogation. Unfortunately, we read it its right to silence and haven't been able to get a word out of him or her since.

In fact, we don't even know what the caped wonder is...a squashed beetle? It looks a little like a kamikaze exclamation point or flying carpet. A contemporary cave drawing depicting hunting season in the city? Bullet? Superhero? Escaped convict? Is this the culprit behind recent crop circles? How about a mischievous Caananite (land of giants) cartoon kicked out of its frame or just retiring?

Almost Godzilla-like, she/he glides easily across the summit of skyscrapers. But where is he/she headed and does he/she pose a threat? If you have any information regarding the identity or behavior of the airborne superhero/villain, please contact us immediately.

Later still . . .

For all we know, this might be Calvin Klein's fall hatching clinging to a hanger-like body. Except for not-so-helpful yet classically fashionable cape and bodysuit coordinates, there are no clues as to the origin of this meandering missile.

Later, much later . . .

After further investigation we've apprehended Boston-based artist Laylah Ali for playing Pictionary with our heads. She said in her artist's statement that she intended the figure's anonymity and enigmatic behavior. She also testified that the Walker Art Center made her do it. We'll be questioning suspect curators next. Stay tuned to the comic saga that unfolds above Skyway News.

On display thru Wednesday, Sept. 15, atop 1115 Hennepin Ave. S.

'Artists' Books: No Reading Required'

If a bookcase describes its collector, then what do image-laden books featuring melting chocolate bars, musical scores, food, smoking, mail art, local artists, history, conceptual art and photography say about the artist-authors?

These are just some of the miscellaneous topics covered by the 150-artists'-book exhibit "Artists' Books: No Reading Required." But these digests don't require tons of reading or previous study -- they're visual in nature, not bound by words.

Precursors of children's pop-up books must've been artists of such paperbacks and hardbacks -- with innovative and wide-ranging construction both in narrative and medium. On these shelves you'll find everything from books that open accordion-style to actual music-making pamphlets.

A Books and Sound display case features books specifically about musical composition. Additionally, the show zooms in on prolific book artists like Edward Ruscha, Dieter Roth, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Fluxus artists and more. To help put it into context, samples from the Walker Art Center's John Rogers Shuman Library collection describe the evolution of this hybrid literary-visual form of art.

The opening reception Saturday, Aug. 28, 6-9 p.m. features a gallery talk and a performance of John Cage's "Fontana Mix" by Mike Hallenbeck. As the instructions for "Fontana Mix" unfold, literally, it becomes an even greater puzzle, both as a visual object and experimental musical composition. There'll also be a family bookmaking event 1-3 p.m.

Reception: Saturday, Aug. 28, 6-9 p.m., Exhibit: Thru Nov. 6, Tuesday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Minnesota Center for Book Arts, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Free. 375-7651.

Anna Pratt can be reached at annapratt@artlover.com.