The following are responses to a question from the 2011 Northern Spark survey (over 500 people participated in person during the festival and online afterwards): Imagine you are out to dinner with friends who were also at Northern Spark and each person is taking a minute or two to describe the most memorable part of the event. It’s your turn—what would you say?
"Northern Spark opened my eyes to more of the arts in the Twin Cities. The places I want to go to collaborated and stayed open late, and I was able to see what they were all about without feeling intimidated. It’s a great chance to check things out!"
"I liked the opening ceremony on the Stone Arch Bridge. The music was beautiful and it was great to be in a public space with so many people. There was a lot of anticipation and excitement about Northern Spark—a very very great idea!"
"Northern Spark has tremendous opportunity to become a signature summer event for the Twin Cities, much like the White Nights in St. Petersburg, Nuit Blanche in Paris, or Fête des Lumières in Lyon. There was fantastic energy on the Stone Arch Bridge—you could tell people were loving strolling outside on such a beautiful night and craving artistic inspiration."
"The weather was perfect, the river setting enchanting, magical: it provoked thought, stirred the senses (sight & sound), and made me want to see more."
"Hands down, the most memorable event was definitely Empty Words. Very theoretically engaging, great participatory elements, and just beastly! They were still going right up until 6 am."
"The best part was that so many people were out and experienced Northern Spark. Some people lived in the Twin Cities, some came in from the suburbs; some came specifically for the event, some just happened on it in the course of their evening. A great cross-section of the population was out exploring the Cities."
"Seeing hundreds of people out in St. Paul at night by the river, eager with anticipation, talking about art, discussing what they're seeing and what they might see next, and enjoying it all thoroughly."
"It was amazing to see so many people out in so many different locations and so early into the morning! It was magical to be immersed within Jim Campbell’s Scattered Light and to see the moving images from a distance—like orchestrated fireflies!"
"My son was on my shoulders at the puppet show with the dinosaurs,. My husband kept trying to talk to me; when I would turn to talk to him, my son would turn my head back to the play."
"How often do you get a chance to see an experimental community band on a bridge with 10,000 people, draw under the stars, and wander through a gallery at 3 am—all in the same night?"
"Strolling along the river with friends was lovely. We played with our silhouettes in the video projection on the grain silos by the Stone Arch Bridge in the wee hours of the morn."
"Watching my friends dance in silver costumes on top of the Foshay Tower and seeing the projections on the MIA, miles in the distance. The city felt so alive! The lovely weather, the huge crowds, and the lack of sleep contributed to a warm, fuzzy feeling full of potential."
"When my friends and I were taking the last free bus from the Soap Factory to the Walker at 5:30 in the morning, all covered in paint and glitter, we burst out into 'I Don’t Want to Wait' and even random people we didn’t know joined in."
" Seeing people out + about, enjoying the arts together, is as good as it gets. I ran into so many friends. The shared experience with Twin Citians was great!"
"I loved not knowing what was going to happen next. It was a beautiful summer evening and we just headed into the night, ready to be surprised."
"I liked how different it was from the typical art festival that has rows of tents with individuals selling their wares. None of the artists were trying to sell me anything. I felt like more of a participant than a patron."
"The night had its amazing moments: the utter chaos of capture the flag at Loring Park, catching the sunrise at the Foshay Tower, running into a bunch of friends at Stone Arch Bridge. The entire night was a blast!"
"We sat in the Landmark Plaza for more than 20 minutes watching the face of Landmark Center change and come alive over and over again."
"I think it was the transformative feeling—it really did induce a dreamlike state. It was really cool to experience the familiar (riding the bus, for example) as something new and reinvented."
"This event showed that we need more all-night activities, and that if we provide these opportunities people will attend. This also showed that we can peacefully enjoy events in this city until 6 am."
"I had so many beautiful interactions with the city and her art, but the part I never expected was walking back to my car across the Stone Arch Bridge, sun rising over the smokestacks of the power plant as the city was slowly waking up around me. The river was inexorably making her way to NOLA, and I stopped and realized how amazing the little apple is. I have lived here for ten years and never experienced her in such a way before. It was our little secret: the river, the little apple, and me. A magical night!"
"Art is everywhere. The night of Northern Spark transforms your consciousness. Yes, you read the brochure and move from installation to installation, but you’re also always on the lookout for what might be new or different. Suddenly, everything becomes art: the lights under the 35W bridge; couples stealing a kiss under an archway; even spaces you had previously never considered as anything other than no-man’s-land. The next morning, the sensation continues, and your senses are heightened for hours."
"The attendance last night at this unique event said a lot about our state’s interest in the arts."
"I loved that so much art was so accessible—I could walk, bike, or bus to wherever I wanted to see art. My most memorable moment was biking from St. Anthony Main to the Foshay Tower to see the sunrise over Minneapolis."
"Aside from all of the fabulous works of art (there were so many, I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite nor could I have seen everything that was going on) and creative opportunities to explore the Twin Cities, what stands out in my mind is the variety of people who experienced Northern Spark. A friend commented that she expected the “usual art-nerd suspects” but we saw many people who may have never participated in a public art event before. What a great way to expose the entire community to the arts!"