Since 2004 Art Shanty Projects has created whimsical, weird and joyful winter art experiences for grown ass adults and kids of all ages. Inspired by pop-up ice fishing villages, artists use the frozen lake as a public platform to create a temporary, interactive community. With few regulations and no building codes – and against intense and unpredictable winter weather conditions – artists have the freedom and challenge to create wild and wonderful work that can’t be experienced anywhere else. Together, with our visitors, we celebrate, champion, and embrace the extreme winter sport of art making. And, to answer everyone’s #1 question: Nope! We do not fish in our shanties. You’d need a license for that!
Art Shanty Projects is a four-weekend, winter art program attracting over 27,000 annual visitors of all ages to explore interactive public art in an extreme environment. More than 150 artists are given stipends to use the frozen lake as a public platform to create and present interactive art shanty installations and a rotating schedule of daily performances. Visitors can ride bicycles decorated like butterflies, peer through a huge kaleidoscope, write a love letter to a park, or climb inside a giant bird house.
Art Shanty Projects was founded in by two artists taking inspiration from ice-fishing houses and pop-up communities that come together on Minnesota’s frozen lakes each winter. They saw potential to create an artists’ happening in an extreme environment; to embrace and reinvent a beloved cultural practice; and to encourage personal expression and community engagement through temporary structures and performances. This culminated in artists gathering to produce multi-disciplinary shanties and integrated programming on Medicine Lake.
Art Shanty Projects has since shifted lake sites and grown to become a (mostly) annual event. Attendance has risen from 5,000 in 2007 to more than 28,000 in 2022. The festival welcomes curious locals, regional artists, and visitors from beyond our borders to explore the “shanty village,” a one-of-a-kind art experience. Tens of thousands emerge to face subzero temperatures, deep snowfall, wind and even rain to experience this uniquely Minnesotan event.