7/23: Minneapolis Chess

In the article, I share photos from a walk I made with artist Alex Wolfe in Minneapolis on May 18, 2023. For months, we plotted a route, only to mostly abandon it in favor of something more improvised. In the postscript, I riff on some ideas collaborative walks and propose a 'Chess Walk Protocol."

7/23: Minneapolis Chess


This marks the fourth collaborative walk I've undertaken with Alex in recent years. Setting this one apart was the fact that our meeting took place in Minneapolis—a city neither of us called home. The months leading up to the walk were filled with emails as we crafted a map sketch of the walk, which we ended up significantly deviating from on the day of the walk, leading us to realize this might only be one puzzle piece in the project.

Collaborating with an artist equally invested in exploring the urban landscape and infrastructure creates a natural rhythm to the walk and conversation. We might connect on a few shared concepts and inspirations, but primarily, it's the act of the saunter itself that stands as the nucleus of our collaboration, rather than any creative output, which has mostly been in the form of photographs.

Over the weeks as I reflected on this walk, I grew increasingly fascinated with ideas around future collaborative walks. It's a rather simple formula. Most of the work is in logistics and planning. The point is to simplify in order to allow the narrative to emerge through collaboration.

Another way to look at it would be to view it as a nice excuse to take a short vacation to visit a friend or check out a new city, although with flight prices these days, and concerns around the environmental impact of flying, this perhaps might be an excessive use of energy for novel urbanism experiences. In theory though, it would be an interesting format for a project of some form, especially collaborative in nature.

I've found novelty walks have a unique way of imprinting memories, especially when they are planned, meditated upon and well documented. It's a lesson I've gleaned from my walks with Alex; they stand out as some of the most vivid walks I've undertaken.

Over the last few years, Alex has made several meticulously planned multi-day walks, including the length of Long Island in search of 'big duck energy' which was turned into a short documentary film I'm eager to check out.

His newsletter is always thoughtful and filled with interesting ideas and stories from his walks, definitely a must read.

Collaborative walks are ripe creative territory, but there is one significant caveat: few experiences rival the introspective depth offered by a long, solo walk, a time to truly focus on one's work and ideas.


  • The Walkable Neighborhoods Americans Want May Be Closer Than We Think: "We are not going to get rid of a lot of the roads – particularly highways — that we’ve already built," he added. "Those assets are in the ground; deconstructing an urban freeway is far more likely than an exurban and suburban one. But we can start making those streets more attractive, safer, and more enjoyable right now, particularly in these neighborhoods that we've flagged in this report."
  • To Save the Planet, Should We Really Be Moving Slower?: "...twenty-five per cent of sixteen-year-olds had a driver’s license in 2020, down from forty-six per cent in 1983, as some combination of cell phones, rideshare services, bike lanes, and environmental concern began to change the teen-age experience. Public policy can push some trends to happen faster: the city of Paris has made enormous investments in public transit, built hundreds of miles of bike paths, and closed many streets to cars. Car trips within the city dropped by almost sixty per cent between 2001 and 2018, car crashes dropped by thirty per cent, and pollution has improved. The city is quieter and calmer; test scores go up as the air around schools cleans up. Underground parking garages have been converted into warehouse space and mushroom farms."
  • A Vanishing Masterpiece in the Georgia Marshes: The “Marsh Ruins,” as they are called, are arguably the masterwork of the painter and sculptor Beverly Buchanan. She built them in 1981, her own intervention in a charged landscape. The work is partly a homage to Igbo Landing, a fundamental story of Black freedom-seeking that unfolded at the other end of these marshes. It also deals a gnomic retort to “Marshes of Glynn,” a 19th-century poem steeped in antebellum nostalgia. For four decades, the sculpture has sat unmarked and unknown, cracking and sinking into the marsh — just as the artist intended.

I’m an artist and marketing strategist based in Minneapolis. This is my newsletter on art, walking, urbanism and mindfulness.

Each issue, I share new work from my projects and try to make connections between ideas, articles and people that fascinate me. You can email me at info@bryanformhals.com or follow me on Instagram or Threads.