people’s square artists: fine, scam, make-out and otherwise
People’s Square is a wonderful place. I’ve seen it at many times of day, but I don’t think I’ve seen it all yet–a road runs through and I’m pretty sure there is stuff on the other side I’ve neglected. On the weekends there is a “marriage market,” in which parents make signs advertising their adult children who are of marrying age! I haven’t seen this yet, either, but hope to soon. . . I wonder if anyone’s ever tried this at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis.
Recently I was in the park at night with Sean. The middle of the park was cordoned off after dark, but we saw the last few rides of the amusement park for the day. The ride area was mostly empty as usual. Still not sure why. The benches and trees, however, were filled with couples taking advantage of darkness that is rare in such a brightly lit city. We suddenly realized we walking through Make Out Central.
I was also there in the late morning this week, and I saw men doing lengthy qi gong forms, women chatting under umbrellas, and dudes catching up while squatting in the shade. The qi gong is really fun to see–they go on and on and on and sometimes do very strange things, without the least bit of self-consciousness or embarrassment. Those are some of the moments when it is confirmed that I am indeed in a different place.
During that morning visit I checked out the current exhibit at the MOCA. It is called Nostalgia, and is an exhibition of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese artists, examining how East Asian art is establishing itself in the context of the global contemporary art world. It’s a great show, and I hope to go back and look again. I have a short museum attention threshold, and this one is the perfect size for me. I wasn’t sure about taking photographs, but you’ll see I’ve included a few–some faux rocks, and a wall of photographs that was a series of amazing dream-like surreal images based on the artists childhood memories in Korea. There was an amazing series in which a woman staged class photos, but she was everyone of the students, taking on different characters. There was another series of old photos of young people, I think during Cultural Revolution time, and then re-staged today with the same people–except for those who are no longer here. Fascinating.
Out in the park again, more people qigonging, resting in the shade, or wandering through the flower gardens. I was hit up by probable park scam artists 3 times in about 200 yards on my way out. I’ve read about the scam in several guidebooks, so I think it’s likely that’s what was happening. College-age kids ask you to take their picture, then befriend you, then take you to an expensive tea ceremony and leave you with a super-expensive bill. It’s a good strategy, because it is such a common scenario, and they are so friendly and fresh-faced, it seems mean to mistrust them and not take the photograph. But when it happens three times in such a short distance it starts to seem suspicious. I obliged the first group and walked off quickly when they began to excessively praise my snapshot skills and my one word of Mandarin. A girl in the third group yelled after me, “Why won’t you take our picture? Are you lazy?!” That did not entice me back to take the photo for them. “I am too lazy,” I thought to myself, “too lazy for scams, you young whippersnapper!”
Mostly people leave you alone, however, and it’s a lovely place to stroll and check out the park scene.