Would you like to paint a giant canvas with your feet? Craft extra-long streamers and run down a grassy knoll with them waving behind you? Practice your cake-frosting skills? Be part of a drum and bugle corps? At the Walker Art Center’s Open Field in Minneapolis, you can.
My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Maddie and I took feet to canvas last Saturday. We had to wait a few minutes upon arrival while a completely paint-covered canvas was replaced with a fresh one, but no boredom was felt; a stock of mini-soccer balls, hula hoops, and individual containers of LEGO blocks entertained us while everything was refreshed.
Then it was painting time. We removed our shoes and gingerly stepped into a wide tin of thick, orange fingerpaint. It was cool and slippery, refreshing in the summer heat, and an entirely new experience for both of us. We tried tip-toeing across the canvas, while other people walked, skipped, jumped, or danced, inspecting the marks their movements left on the canvas. We washed our feet off and tried the green paint next. “Your footprint looks like a little monster’s!” I said to Maddie. “Yes, but a good monster,” she clarified. Then she washed off and tried twirling with her feet covered in blue paint. “This is fun!” she declared, and we all agreed. If you’ve never sunk your feet into fingerpaint, I highly recommend it. It’s extremely freeing, like you’re doing something you’re not supposed to.
Open Field is a “community-sourced” variety of activities. Anyone can submit an idea for an activity, and Open Field staff members select which ones to realize. Some ideas are really out there. On July 10, you can play a massive game of catch set to a musical score involving a mobile organ and wind chimes. Later, two people will prepare a gigantic salad while dancing to live music and then serve it to the audience. On July 12, 100 different choreographers will dance simultaneously in separate 4-foot-by-4-foot spaces mapped out in a grid on the field. It’s wacky and beautiful, it’s free, and it’s all outdoors.
This summer, Open Field has events running through August 14. You can check out the calendar and see what appeals to you.