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A little more than luck

Karl Unnasch’s “Suspension of This Belief” performance makes SooVAC’s annual gala a more happening place.
A little more than luck
Image by Anthony Kwan

What: SooVACâÄôs 2011 âÄúGet LuckyâÄù Gala

When: Saturday Jan. 29

Where: SooVAC Gallery


It is a crushing reality in the art world (as in almost any creative or professional field) that not everyone can be the paramount example of notoriety and success.

While few artists achieve Damien Hirst-levels of fame or fortune, most will go on leading humble and honorable âÄî albeit obscured âÄî careers. And this is an aspect largely centered on basic market interest rather than any aspect of skill or artistic quality.

The expressive profiteers of the past, the Picassos and the Pollocks, lived in an era of the intellectual celebrity. With such a concept long gone, it only reasserts the significance of local spaces and artists.

In its tenth year, UptownâÄôs Soo Visual Arts Center continues to offer exhibitions of substance. Although the group moved to a smaller space in 2011, it has allowed them to maintain their two galleries, one local and one national. This SaturdayâÄôs annual âÄúGet LuckyâÄù Gala is one of the larger events each year that assists in keeping the galleryâÄôs space open and services available.

âÄúWeâÄôve had to get creative with fundraising,âÄù SooVAC Executive Director Carolyn Payne said, âÄúbecause there arenâÄôt grants and big donations that used to be out there.âÄù

And the evening seems to back up such attitudes. Along with a silent auction of both local and national work, southern Minnesota artist Karl Unnasch will be performing his installation happening, âÄúSuspension of this Belief,âÄù as well. The skillfully punned title seems more artsy than literal, but it is. Unnasch will spend the evening recontextualizing and remolding submitted guest objects into works of art as he is suspended from the galleryâÄôs ceiling.

âÄúIâÄôm all about efficiency,âÄù Unnasch said, âÄúso that was my structural, functional approach.âÄù

Unnasch is no stranger to found or ephemeral materials. The artist, vocal about nature and isolationâÄôs role in his work, takes up residency in rural southern Minnesota. Much of his work utilizes animal corpses either for immediate display or casts. However, this personal and intimate approach taken in his work will likely be rethought as he molds these miniature gifts throughout the event.

âÄúThatâÄôs the risk,âÄù Unnasch said. âÄúThatâÄôs the trust that these participants are enacting when they let go of an object, whether itâÄôs a hunk of junk or a precious object. ThereâÄôs trust involved.âÄù

For a fundraising evening, UnnaschâÄôs concept seems entirely appropriate; this notion of inviting donors and guests to literally place trust in these creative minds with the assurance that the investment will not be regretted. There is confidence that such sentiments will be shared by those who have chosen to participate in UnnaschâÄôs conceptual experiment.

âÄúTheyâÄôre really cool,âÄù Payne said. âÄúIâÄôve been getting glimpses and hints of what heâÄôs doing and theyâÄôre pretty mind-blowing.âÄù

An event such as this offers the aforementioned reminder that regardless of the hard times regional art communities may face, the spirit and quality remain very much alive in this day and age.

Unnasch, with his simple albeit powerful methods of found objects and restructurings, will spend Friday evening floating above a workbench tirelessly crafting for those in attendance. ItâÄôs a community that thrives on both sides giving, and it is hard to imagine that ever going away completely.

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