Art Shanty Projects returns to Lake Harriet this weekend with a COVID-proof plan

The omicron variant may be on the rise, but Art Shanty Projects, the popular outdoor winter art experience, is back after a two-year absence with a new COVID-wise approach.

The pop-up project kicks off this weekend on the frozen surface of Minneapolis’ Lake Harriet, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through February 6.

Arrangements have been made to ensure the safety of visitors. Although the annual event was inspired by ice fishing shacks in Minnesota, people won’t be entering tiny shacks this year.

“It’s all in the open,” said general manager Erin Lavelle. “Some are built to be outdoors and don’t look like boxes or houses anymore. We also decided to add more performance and action art, so we can be more spread out and things can happen all around us.”

A total of 18 booths and 20 performance groups will cover the northwest corner of the lake near the Band Shell. Some huts will also have their own performances held as part of the experience.

Most of the participating artists are from the Twin Cities, though one performer is from Finland, Minnesota, and Duncan Chase, the creator of “Hearsee Hall,” is from Rochester. Art Shanty Projects did not want to bring people from out of state because of the pandemic.

“I think more than anything artists react to isolation and want to be together,” Lavalle said. “None of the huts are specifically about the pandemic, but rather about finding ways to creatively adapt and engage with strangers, which we haven’t done in two years.”

Art Shanty Projects, launched in 2004, last took place in 2020, just weeks before the pandemic shut everything down.

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