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Day One

January 17, 2010

I’d like to say that everything went without a hitch but that would inaccurate. As some of you know, I had to leave the rest of the Black Bania team for few days to carry on while I returned to New York for the installation of my show, First Supper at Josee Bienvenu Gallery. When I came back to the ice at 6 pm on Friday, it was dark and cold and five brave men had been struggling for two and a half days to get a square room to fit in a round tipi on a frozen lake. The poles were in place but there was a fit problem with the skin (the footprint of the tipi had shrunk considerably for planned and unplanned reasons); there wasn’t a flashlight in sight; and my warm clothes and snow boots were locked inside the truck along with the keys to that truck. Even on the warmest days, when then sun goes down the temperature drops radically and it tickles a sense of panic in even the best of us.
Judi, the newest member of the team, went to get flashlights and hardware. Thomas called Amex for a locksmith and I squatted on the cold ice re-jiggering grommets and position of the tipi skin as best I could. Shawn’s paents had a pizza delivered to the lake. The early shift left when the skin got clamped together. And the walls were sawn down to fit by hand (the sawzall batteries were drained by then). By 11 pm we were out of batteries, certain vital hardware, and the desire climb ladders in cold and wind, and decided that we should get an early start in the morning before the adoring public showed up a 10 am.
Judi and I were the only customers at the Home Depot when it opened on Saturday morning, but it had nothing we wanted. We went to a Menards instead where a helpful salesperson scratched his head at my odd list of parts. Then Rik and Judi and I headed off to the ice with a clear headed mission: stop the skin from flapping around and make the wooden room really hot.
It was nearly noon before Rik was stoking the stove. Minnesotans had been swarming the ice for nearly two hours pulling their infants in sleds and peaking into our tipi with words of awe and encouragement.
By 2:30 pm the first of the Riot Act Readings was presented on our front deck to a mezmerized crowd of at least a hundred people and a several hundred passersby. (We’ll post video later.)
By 5:30 it was dark and most of the public had left the lake. Dwayne and I sat in our now warm, quiet tipi a bit shell-shocked but very happy. Day one was done.
The hundreds of people who had visited the sauna and tipi in those few hours was astonishing and rewarding. Most people just peeked in stood a minute in the sauna and left. One woman took off her socks and had her husband dry then over the stove with a stick. I’ll post Dwayne’s photos as soon as I can.
We locked up the tipi as best I could and went for a shower and a hot bowl of soup at Judi’s. I start sleeping in the tipi on Monday.
The big work is over. Now it’s all about fun. This is what the Black Bania Team does best: have fun.

Day two and another thousand Minneasotans in a couple hours.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. john Corbin permalink
    January 18, 2010 4:58 am

    I’m in awe and in wonder of it all and I’ll admit a slight bit concerned.

  2. Chris Pennington permalink
    January 18, 2010 11:23 pm

    Congratulations on getting your teepee up and running! Stay warm out there. I will be inspecting in person next weekend.


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