Local Current Blog

UPDATED: Massive Grant Hart artwork now being installed on Palace Theatre exterior

A mockup of the installation, courtesy First Avenue.

While Grant Hart was best-known as a singer-songwriter and the drummer of Hüsker Dü, he was also a visual artist, and created the artwork for many of the band’s albums. Soon, the exterior of St. Paul’s Palace Theatre will be decorated with three massive 3D pieces of art based on collages that Hart created.

Update 6/21: The artwork is now being installed. Scroll down for images.

The work’s title comes from the Hüsker Dü song “Flexible Flyer” from 1985’s Flip Your Wig. Times, Places, Situations is a posthumous collaboration between Hart and artist Chris Larson. The three sculptural reliefs will be installed on the building’s facade within the next two weeks, on a wall facing St. Peter Street.

Each of the three works began as one of Hart’s collages, which Larson transformed the into 3D pieces. Larson works as a multimedia artist and professor at the University of Minnesota. Larson and Hart became friends and collaborators, creating various art installations together exhibited around the Twin Cities.

“I see the project as a collaboration between Grant and I,” Larson told the Star Tribune. “I am appropriating his work to make this work.”

Hart produced the original collages by pasting together scraps of magazines. Then, the Minneapolis company SignMinds transformed the works into three dimensions through a process of layering laser-cut aluminum and acrylic decals.

After the Palace Theatre’s renovation and reopening in 2017, Joe Spencer, president of the St. Paul Downtown Alliance, began brainstorming ways to incorporate art into the space. He got the idea to use Hart’s artwork after watching the documentary Every Everything: The Music, Life and Times of Grant Hart.

While playing in Hüsker Dü, Hart would spend his free time pasting found images together into collages, and would rummage through St. Paul’s Midway Books for old magazines to use.

He first worked with Larson on Crush Collision, a 2006 installation at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which features a video of Hart spinning in circles on an “elaborate, archaic-looking machine that endlessly creates a circle of clay.”

After a fire broke out in Hart’s home, Larson repurposed some of Hart’s damaged belongings in the exhibition Land Speed Record (named after Hüsker Dü’s 1982 debut album, recorded live at 7th Street Entry), which appeared at the Walker Art Center in 2016.

Colleen Cowie runs the blog Pass The Mic.

Above photos by Jay Gabler/MPR