The Art Shanty Project is a month-long art show featuring ice fishing houses custom designed by artists; it’s located on White Bear Lake. It opened February 1 and with temperatures well above zero, it felt almost balmy on opening day. According to the program, there are 21 Art Shanties; I’m pretty sure we didn’t visit 21 shanties, but we saw a lot. The bad news with the outside lake location is that once you’re cold, you’re cold and you have to go home. The good news, we can come again. That being said, you can always buy yourself a few minute of warmth by checking out the Dace Shanty with its Christmas smell, geometrically round windows and great tunes going on.
Some shanties are just beautifully made, such as the curling clubhouse with a modern build and an observation deck that overlooks the curling rink. Some are fun, such as the Jigsaw Shanty where each wall of the shanty is crated out of sturdy puzzle pieces. You can step inside and help to color today’s wall or stay outside and try to piece together the puzzles of yesterday’s wall, turned traditional puzzle. Some shanties keep you moving, such as the Pedal Bear, which is like a super furry bear-like pedal pub – well minus the pub. Some shanties can keep you warm, such as the Cook Yourself Kitchen and Ski Up Refrigerator. It included a Finnish sauna in the back. The sauna was created out of recycled wood and an old stove purchased from a secondhand store. It was toasty and so well constructed.
One of my favorite shanties was the Elevator Shanty. Positioned in an icy office building hallway setting, you just push to call the elevator, get in push more buttons and hold on while you feel like you go up and down the imaginary shanty elevator. The Ice Ice Maybe Shanty is fun for kids. It’s peppered with treasures encased in ice to keep your chosen treasure you must pass a rigorous interview of questions about why you might want the objet d’art. There’s really something for everyone –play all sort of instruments in the Music Shanty, see a puppet play in The Creep Shanty (although waiting for the play while you listen to hate sonnets is just as fun!), make a clay animal in Noah’s Ark Shanty, post a classified ad in the Lost, Found & Wanted Shanty, and huddle next to strangers to keep warm.
It is a classically Minnesota tradition and worth the drive. The Art Shanties will run Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 4 pm until February 23.