Saturday, April 10, 2010
Day 3: Weisman Museum (Gehry) to Guthrie Theatre (Nouvel)
Two cultural icons preside over opposite banks of the Mississippi: The Weisman Art Museum by Frank Gehry, currently in expansion mode, and the Guthrie Theatre by French Pritzker winner Jean Nouvel, upriver, in the Mill District.
Gehry's work employs the metaphors of the artist: waterfall and fish scales, reflectivity, playfulness and suits the busy multi-level intersection it marks. It teeters above the river, amid the cacophony of speeding cars below and the bustle of the student Union nearby. Bikes whiz by, separated from pedestrians.
Not only is it difficult to view because you're watching the bikes, other pedestrians, the river and its banks, but it is too close to the bridge to be regarded as you make your way across. It has to work to catch your eye, like hooking a shiny lure hooks a fish, and sometimes blinds the onlooker or oncoming driver in the process. It's aged like a bit of cheap jewelry, tarnished in spots, loose in places, and really what are those snowplow-eyelids for above the entrance doors? Does anything here serve a purpose?
In contrast, Nouvel's work sits in quiet repose, changing with great subtlety as you walk toward it, across the Stone Arch bridge. Here there was enough hydroelectric power to grind the nation's flour. A place to stop and contemplate, suited to the atmosphere of ruins, in the process of being preserved, below the waterfalls which brought Minneapolis into being. The birthplace of the Pillsbury Doughboy.