Michael Bolin died on November 17. We became friends during the wonderful, risky and robust explosion of Twin Cities arts during the late 1970s.
We were part of the mix, part of the arts scene. Mike, legitimately as a painter and I, less legitimately, as a producer for KTCA-TV’s pioneering arts magazine, Wyld Ryce. Mike was a droll humorist who saw merit in the aesthetic value of the overlooked, of roadside motels, of a strip of fabric, of a portrait gallery of Winter Carnival Queens. He responded with canvass, air brush and knife to an internal radar that locked on to the visually and culturally ironic. I watched him work, so to did scores of other artists, performers and wags who were part of the daily 1978-1980 culture vulture buzz (pre pre emails, pre Tweets and pre texts), who, like Michel Bolin, were the lip smakin’ entres for the fashionably hip and the youngish, emerging strata of gallery and theater directors and editors and writers for the major dailies and the montly coffee table magazines.
On Friday, a good many of us will join Michael’s life partner Debra Jensen to celebrate Mike’s works at the Acme Academy of the Arts on West 7th in Saint Paul.
With Debra he was a scenic charge painter for Christmas, flower, and fashion shows at Dayton’s Minneapolis flagship store and the Minnesota Opera Company. Mike was also Trompe l’oeil artist, public space muralist, a designer and the finder and publisher of “Boint,” his limited edition journal. Going back to the late 1970’s, Michael was very much admired by those of us having trouble making rent, completing course work the U of M and regularly needing jump starts for the rusted Datsun — pretty much everyone in the arts and public TV and radio — for introducing a form of budget dining. Mike knew where starving artists could eat for free — motels, hotels and saloons from University and Payne Avenues to downtown Saint Paul — places that handed out free horderves with the drinks. One coud buy a single beer (or faked it with an empty mug) and eat enough for two days.
You can watch the 1979 Wyld Ryce essay I did with Mike at TPT’s Minnesota Video Vault right now. Just follow the link. No less than the Minneapolis Star’s Barbara Flanagan introduces the segment.
You need to go to the link: http://www.mnvideovault.org/
and in the search box type in “Michael Bolin”
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