Seeking culture amidst Vikings fans...and (surprise!) finding it elsewhere
April 29, 2007 - 00:36.
This morning, a girlfriend and I attended the Minnesota Vikings draft party at the team’s Winter Park training facility. We actually paid for the tickets. It had started as a joke, and then we had buyer’s remorse and I tried to sell the tickets, but to no avail. In the end, we decided that we might find single men there (never mind they might be single for a reason), so we checked our pride at the door and sauntered in.
Keep in mind, I’m not a sports fan. Most of my friends are not sports fans. In fact, I once had free tickets to the Super Bowl and gave them away. That’s how little I care. But when I started my arts and culture radio program, a listener asserted that I couldn’t pretend to be covering culture if I didn’t talk sports. He also said that sports is an art form, like dance.
While I believe that sports and culture are not mutually exclusive—as in the Olympics, for example, or the saga of the Fugees soccer team in Atlanta—I disagree with the art comparison. After all, sports doesn’t try to interpret the world or to enlighten its audience. Certainly athleticism has its own beauty, but in the end, it’s a contest.
Anyway, we watched with completely unabated breath as 22-year-old running back Adrian Peterson from Oklahoma accepted the nod from the Vikes. Balloons dropped. Whoops and pumping fists filled the air. Hyperbole spilled from the lips of the announcers on KFAN.
Meanwhile, my companion paled and security guards stuttered as I forced my way past the VIP fence toward three men with horned helmets, for a photo. Later we snapped one with mascot Ragnar, whose beard I tugged to produce the requisite Viking snarl. At 10am, whole families were snarfing beer and brats. The place was a madhouse.
Devoted Vikings fans—people who’d pay to spend Minnesota’s first sunny, 78-degree day beneath a dome, watching a 20-something kid on a big-screen TV smile and nod into his cell phone as he got “the call,” and then standing in pens, just like cattle, for autographs—are a smiling, salt-of-the-earth lot. But this is not culture. And there’s certainly nothing artistic about the blow-up Purple People-Eater doll presiding over the party.
I wanted to take an exit poll and ask, “Have you seen this man?” while holding up a picture of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Not because I am religious, but because I imagine that most of today’s crowd of several hundred have not traveled beyond many borders, nor gazed up at anything in wonder but the inflatable Caucasian figure of a football player, or, perhaps, the little silver blimp that floats around the Metrodome promoting beer.
Needless to say, I was in pain after this morning and needed a cure. The weather helped, as did brunch with girlfriends at Eden Avenue Grill, followed by a nap in the sun. But before venturing out for dinner/clubbing, I stopped at Bloomington Art Center for solace, and found it. How great is an art gallery that stays open until 10:00 on a Saturday night?!!! This is “my” gallery, as my tax dollars funded it, and I take full possession. It is a wonderful space.
Leaving home early, I had a chance to wander through the Inez Greenberg Gallery to see work by Thomas Allen, Kyle Fokken and Adam Ritchie, while the voices of the players in Bloomington Civic Theater’s Funny Girl wafted across the spacious hallway. Nirvana.
Most of Thomas Allen’s new work is on display at Thomas Barry Fine Arts, but some of his best-known originals are here at BAC. Many, unfortunately, are not for sale, and these are good investment pieces (see Thom Barry if you want one…his exhibit runs through May 26 at 530 North 3rd Street, Minneapolis). I find Fokken’s headless monkey-like creatures on wheels to be disturbing, but they serve to underscore the joyful self-assuredness of Ritchie’s sculptural collages that are reverent toward history but are fun and modern, too.
Once again I am writing in the wee hours, after a night out, when I could be in bed. But I want you to share, dear reader, all that is cultured (and, okay, un-cultured in the case of football fandom) in our Twin Cities. My only wish is that I could be in several places at one time on any given night in Minneapolis-St. Paul, as there is more than the eye can see, more than the ear can hear, more than the palate can discern, and more the intellect and soul can process in one evening. We are lucky to live here.