Before everyone got excited about our “New North” branding and embrace of wintery-fun lifestyles—like us—a bunch of artists trekked out on to a lake and build a bunch of funky, artsy ice house-style shanties and the MN Art Shanty Projects were born! And the Shanties have big news for 2018: They’re moving from White Bear Lake to Lake Harriet (Bde Unma), much closer to home.

To help celebrate the new season of Art Shanties, the organizing organization will be throwing a party at SooVAC on Saturday to celebrate shanties past and introduce the new crop of artists and performers to everyone. Ahead of the bingo, snacks, sparkling waters, films of past years, and Eastern European dancing, we checked in with Lacey Prpić Hedtke, Artistic Director for Art Shanties about the move, the themes, becoming a member, and more. 

Secrets of the City: Do you have any personal favorite shanties from years past? Or highlights in general you’ll be sharing? Ours are probably thinking every single year “Oh right, White Bear Lake is really quaint” and “Why aren’t there dance party shanties on every frozen lake?”

 Lacey Prpić Hedtke: I love each shanty equally. With that being said, I really loved last year’s Shanty National Park, with their thousands of felt and cardboard species, the Arcade Shanty—a 90s air hockey arcade that awarded medals to champions, the Sci-Fi Book Club shanty—a crashed space pod, and Body Cartography’s Action Movie, which was a one-on-one performance that had me running across the ice with my eyes closed, in the safe care of of one of their dancers. In general each time I visit Art Shanty Projects’ On Ice Program, I’m reminded why I live in Minnesota in the winter (and year-round)—our artists come up with the most original, unique, out-there shanties and performances, and I hope everyone is left with the same feeling of joy I do after being on that ice.

Since our winters are warming up thanks to climate change—and it seems like early thaw makes the shanties move in-land before the end of the month—has been how many years until Art Shanties just start out on the shore? Maybe transforming into Art Cabanas?

Ahhh knock on ice! Don’t jinx it! At least not for this year. First off, I need to say that the Art Shanty Projects On-Ice Program WILL BE OPEN RAIN, SNOW, ICE, NO ICE, SUNSHINE OR IF FROGS FALL FROM THE SKY. Hopefully we won’t have to move onto shore this year, but we’ll still be open if we do. Art Shanty Projects has always been about reacting and adapting to the environment, and will continue on in this way, no matter what weather we’re presented with. We’re called Art Shanty Projects, not Ice Shanty Projects, so we’ll see what the future brings. We have no immediate plans to change from being an on-ice program, but we’ll continue to adapt.

People maybe don’t realize that there’s a really great performance component to the Art Shanties—it’s not just static artsy ice house installations. How can people best plan to mix in things like Snowga or hearing a set from the Prairie Fire Lady Choir into their visit?

Check the performance schedule on our website to plan your trip! ( This year we’re expecting bigger crowds than ever, due to being in MPLS for the first time and the Super Bowl, so we have more performances to engage audiences outside of the shanties. Visitors can rewatch the Tonya and Nancy drama unfold, ’90s opera style, experience what might be the first human-sized hamster wheel on ice, and the Art Cars will be back with small remote-controlled art cars.

We recommend people sign up for a membership to Art Shanties, is that something they can do at the kickoff event?

Thank you for recommending that! Yes, there will be a spot to become a member at the SooVAC kickoff event. There are two members only evening on-ice events this year that are offered if you become a member at a certain level. And at any level, members can feel good about helping to pay artists a fair wage. Plus members get a cool sticker and can say they have a part in making one of the only art events on a frozen lake happen. If someone can’t make it to the kickoff event, or just can’t wait another second to become a member, you can become a member on our website:

This thing is way bigger than just icehouses on the lake. What are we forgetting here?

Metro Transit is sponsoring free rides to Art Shanty Projects the first weekend of our On Ice Program, January 20-21! Go to our website to print out a pass—you won’t regret it. Come dressed to be out on a frozen lake, and if you have them, put on Yaktrax or cleats. And if people want a real piece of the action, we’re looking for volunteers to help build the shanties on the ice during load-in weekend on Jan. 13, and for volunteers during the program. More info here:

The kickoff party for MN Art Shanty Projects is at SooVAC on Saturday at 7 PM and they hit the ice starting Jan 20th.