cumulus & thunder.

You know how they say April showers bring May flowers?  Well, how about April snow, sleet and freezing rain?  That’s what we had here yesterday and I felt so sorry for the vendors at Junk Bonanza.  I hope they still had a great showing!

Last Saturday we also had a few of those April showers, but it was too warm for snow or ice.  That made it the ideal weather for a visit to the American Swedish Institute with Mr. Q, my sister and my niece.

The American Swedish Institute is housed in the Turnblad Mansion which was built between 1904 and 1908 for Swan and Christina Turnblad.  Swan Turblad made his fortune in the newspaper business and by making good investments.  Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, ‘The family moved into their new home in 1908.  While it was their official residence, they spent most of their time living in an apartment across the street after 1915.  After Turnblad’s wife died in 1929, he and his daughter moved into the apartment full-time and turned their former home into a museum.’

That kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  Swan was descended from generations of Swedish farmers.  Perhaps having come from such humble beginnings he felt out of place in such a massive home.  Or maybe the house was simply too large to heat well during cold Minnesota winters.  I don’t know, I couldn’t find an explanation as to why they didn’t live in the mansion much.

 It definitely has a foreboding appearance in the gloom though, don’t you think?  It reminds me a bit of the Haunted Mansion in Disney World …

Maybe that’s the real reason the Turnblad’s didn’t inhabit it for long, it’s haunted!

Currently (through April 28) the ASI is exhibiting surreal photography by Swedish photographer/visual artist Erik Johansson.  If you are local you really should try to get there to see this exhibit.  There are some amazing, thought-provoking pieces like this one called The Cover-Up.

Actually, pretty much every piece is amazing.  I loved this one called Leap of Faith.

If you look closely at the yellow diamond sign on the staircase, it says ‘one balloon p.p.’.  Don’t we all feel a little bit like that some days as we head off to work with our briefcase in hand and our one allotted balloon?  Or is it just me?

My sister really liked a piece called Impact.

They were showing a short video explaining how Johannson creates his art (here’s a link if you’d like to watch the video for this piece).  There is far more work behind these images than I realized.

As we were wandering around the exhibit there were moments when I couldn’t decide what I should be looking at, the photography or the mansion itself.

I was torn between looking up at the beautiful ceilings …

or checking out some of the 11 tile stoves imported from Sweden …

But in the end it was definitely the thought-provoking art that drew my eye.

 I was totally fascinated by a piece called Demand & Supply.

Take a closer look at what is happening in that photo.  Those backhoes are digging away at the very precarious structure that is holding up that entire city above.  It definitely makes you pause for a moment to consider the implications.

I’ll leave you with this charming photo called Cumulus & Thunder.

I guess this explains where all of those clouds came from last weekend!

I’m sure glad they were there though because we had a really enjoyable time at the ASI.  I’m not sure we would have chosen to go there had it been a gorgeous, sunny, spring day.

Be sure to check out Erik Johansson’s website to see more of his work (and definitely some better images of his photos than that ones I took above).  And if you are local and you’re looking for something to do while the snow melts this weekend, I highly recommend checking out this exhibit before it closes at the end of the month.

27 thoughts on “cumulus & thunder.

  1. Fascinating juxtaposition of altered art photography and serene decorated mansion! I loved it, the photography and the architecture. Although the Swedish stove was my absolute favorite. What a fun way to spend the day with your sister and niece, along with Mr. Q. Thanks for a little culture.

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  2. One of the perks of retirement has been the ability to visit museums and galleries during the week when they are slightly less busy. Last year we enjoyed our visit to the American Swedish Institute and were saddened to learn the story of the Turnblad family. Despite their new-found wealth they were never accepted into local Society and lived in their gorgeous home for only such a short period. There were art installations when we visited but they were confined to the main floor galleries. Was it very distracting to see such modern art hanging about the house? The building is an impressive architectural gem but we felt that it lacked a certain personality that comes from being a loving, functional home. However, the Mansion and it’s story is part of the history of Minneapolis and we enjoyed our visit through that lens.

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    1. Thanks for sharing those details with me Kim! I wondered why they didn’t live in the house for very long. In answer to your question, I’d have to say yes, it was distracting. Certainly we didn’t focus on the house as much as the art. But we had been there before too, so this time we were just there for the exhibit. We are definitely planning to go back again this summer to see the Vikings exhibit when it opens too.

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  3. The artist’s gallery was really fun to look at! I think your field trips should be called “Stranded…” Getting “Stranded at the American Swedish Institute” 😉

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  4. I love the artwork…so thought provoking. I have never been there (crazy I know) but I need to get there!
    We were dealers at the first spring Junk Bonanza and had a huge snowfall then, too. There was no business and it was such a job to dig out and drive home. But by Saturday people came out in full force and it ended up being record attendance and sales. Hope things are like that for them this year, too!

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    1. The ASI is definitely worth a visit Linda! As for Junk Bonanza, I have a confession. I am planning to go tomorrow with my sister, but with the continued snowfall today I’m betting that it’s going to be a zoo tomorrow. So we may change up those plans. I’ve been there when it’s so crowded that you can’t even get into the various booths, and that’s not such a fun experience. But for the vendor’s sake, I do hope that they get record attendance tomorrow too!

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  5. Love the post from the Swedish Institute…the art display is amazing! You are such a gifted writer and photographer…thanks for sharing your jaunt!

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  6. Loved seeing this mansion and the artwork was incredible. That fireplace was amazing. Would be so weird to build such a fantastic home and then not live in it. If he had the money to build it, I’m sure he had the money to heat it…hard to figure out why they wouldn’t live there. Maybe just too grandiose, like you said. Love the architecture…great job storytelling and capturing the essence of the place.

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    1. Check out Kim’s comment above, she gives a little more of an explanation. Yet, despite not being accepted by society, you’d think they still would have lived in the house. I’m still leaning towards ‘haunted’ 😉

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      1. I believe the wife passed away and the husband, bereaved, moved to the penthouse apartment across Park Avenue where he lived until his death. When they immigrated, she worked as a domestic and he started the eventually hugely popular Swedish newspaper, the only Swedish paper NOT on the east coast, or some such. It’s subscribers and advertisers were from far and wide, hence his fortune was made. Local “high society” shunned them because of their humble beginnings (a fact that was especially grievous to the wife) despite the fact that the Turnblads had more money than many of them. They also were key investors in the old Swedish Hospital in Minneapolis. Very interesting tour!

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  7. I would have gone through twice. Once to look at the art, which was amazing, and then to look at the interiors. Love that chandelier.

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  8. Beautiful place Linda. I can’t imagine how you create a cozy feel in such a large amount of square footage but I suppose they were aiming at grandeur.
    The art is pretty interesting too.
    My favorites are the fish island and that last one very imaginative.
    Is it okay to say I would take your cottage and carriage house any day of the week over the mansion.

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    1. Awwww, that’s so nice of you to say Victoria! And I suspect that the Turnblad’s would agree with you. Perhaps that’s part of why they only lived in the mansion for a short time.

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  9. Thanks so much for sharing, this is so fascinating! I love the art pieces and the mansion is so beautiful! I’m adding this to my “must visit” list!

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