Ep 1.1: What’s Up With This?

Welcome to Artpal, both the podcast in general and Season 1 in particular. Host Keith Pille lays out some background and introduces the first season, which will act as a sort of guerrilla audioguide to a selection of works on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.


Hi there!

I’m Keith Pille, your new art pal. Let’s talk about art!

Let me start by saying this: this episode isn’t like the other episodes. It’s more of a general introduction to the series and its first season. If you want to jump into art, you can skip this and go straight to episode 2. You can always come back to this later. I understand. If you do, let me tell you the deal upfront: the entire season works together as kind of an alternative audioguide to some works on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. So you could just download the whole season and head to the museum if you feel like it! Or listen and look at online images, if that’s more your speed. I guess that’s all you *really* need to know

But if you decided to stick it out and listen to the entire intro episode… thanks! Let me give you some general context.

In each episode of Artpal, I’m going to focus on one or two works of art or architecture that are visible somewhere in the Minneapolis – St. Paul metro area and talk about them. Some times I’ll talk a lot about a particular object. Or some relationship or commonality between a couple of objects. Sometimes I’ll talk about the artist, or the historical context surrounding the work, or what the work means in the bigger picture. Who knows where this could go?

I’ll be writing each episode with the idea that, if you live in the Twin Cities, you can go and listen to the episode while looking at the work in question. Or at least do an image search and see it that way. I mean, I’ll describe things, too, but looking with your own eyes is best. What I’m shooting for here is a kind of rogue do-it-yourself audioguide.

Each season will be organized around some collection in the Twin Cities. Season one is about works visible at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which, by the way is an absolutely fantastic art museum that we’re incredibly lucky to have. We’re lucky to have several other great museums and a robust spread of public art, but if you’re talking about art collections in the Twin Cities, the MIA is the natural place to start. And yes, I know we’re supposed to call it Mia now, but it was the MIA when I fell in love with the place and I’m sticking to my guns on that one. Full disclosure, I’ve worked at the MIA twice. First, right after undergrad, I was an administrative assistant to the curator of textiles, which was a very mind-opening job. Then, several years later, I ran databases for the museum’s membership and development department. While I love the MIA very much as a museum, I do need to make it really clear that I have no official connection to them now, and haven’t since 2007, and they are in no way responsible for anything I say about art in their collection.

Also, you should either donate to them or become a member. They wouldn’t be able to put the fantastic collection that they have out for free if people didn’t support them. So support them! That’s not a museum hectoring you, it’s just me.

Two other MIA facts that I have to share, but can’t find a graceful way to do in the main episodes of this season. First: if you’re at the MIA, on the second floor there’s a Roman statue called the Doryphoros by the museum’s old front door. If you stand behind and a little bit to the right of the Doryphoros, there’s a spot where you can tap your foot on the floor and the acoustics of the room make this really cool super-echo noise. You should try it if you can do it without being disruptive.

And second: this actually isn’t at the MIA, but it’s right by it. Washburn – Fair Oaks Park is across 24th st from the museum. The park sign at the southwest corner of the park, facing the MIA and Stevens Avenue, is one of my favorite dumb things in Minneapolis. They give you the name of the park, which, sure, but then have to tell you that -oh my god – this was the site of the 1989 Arbor Day! That must have been one hell of an arbor day. Anyway.

About me, really quickly: I have an M.A. in art history from the University of St. Thomas. My thesis was on independent autobiographical comics by women, but my art interests are pretty broad. I’ve worked at most of the large museums in the Twin Cities- I already talked about the MIA, and then I did museum collections management work at the Minnesota History Center and at the Weisman Art Museum. So I have a lot of hands-on experience in the world I’ll be talking about.

That’s enough about me and enough of this in general. We’ll get to know each other better over the course of the show. Let’s go talk about some art!


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