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Madison Snaps: January 4, 2008
Penguins walking to Iowa
Penguins walking to Iowa
Credit:Allison Jennings

Today's image is titled Penguins walking to Iowa and was photographed by Allison Jennings.

Tim Browning is back on Lake Monona. Or more specifically, his animals are, namely a colony of penguins and a pod of orcas. On Thursday, January 3, the artist hit the frozen surface of Madison's second lake to place his trademark creatures made of painted plywood. Leading the way was "Penguins on Ice," a group of Aptenodytes marching south from Monona Terrace in a single-file line running parallel to John Nolen Drive.

This display is the latest project in a new winter edition of BLINK, a public art series presented by the Madison Arts Commission (MAC). As described by the city agency, it is "an opportunity for experimental, ad-hoc, temporary works of art to sprout up throughout the community and vanish leaving residents and visitors eager to see what is next." Recent offerings through BLINK have included Khala Ghali, a mixed media extravaganza at the top of State Street last September, and Destination, which transformed the old brick bus shelters on the Capitol Square last July in advance of their demolition. A week before Christmas, the commission announced its latest BLINK program, a collection of five winter-themed projects. The latest of these is Browning's collection of creatures atop Lake Monona.

"I ran into him while taking pictures of the penguins today," wrote Jennings on Thursday. "He told me these penguins were heading to Iowa because the candidates will never come to Wisconsin. He said that they were sarcastic penguins." Browning has long used the frozen surface of Madison's lakes as a canvas. He got started in the '70s as a founding member of the UW Pail and Shovel Party at UW-Madison, a group that made a campaign promise to bring the Statue of Liberty to town. The group delivered, of course, famously erecting a bust of the lady seemingly emerging from the ice of Lake Mendota in front of Memorial Union.

More recently, Browning has displayed a flock of ostriches on a frozen Lake Monona. Last year, he placed the pod of orcas in front on Law Park by Monona Terrace, the cetaceans breaching en masse from the icy surface.

"When I ran into him, he was about to install some whales. I did not get the story about the whales but I wish I had," concludes Jennings, who published also several other photos of Browning's animals atop the ice. "I think this is a really cool project and I can not wait to see other projects from the Madison Arts Commission!"

There are three more BLINK displays slated through the winter. An interactive art "Hot Shanty" (as inspired by an ongoing project in Minnesota) will be built on the surface of Monona Bay by Christine Olson in late January, while Inverted Lakes by Jeremy Wineberg will be situated on the Yahara Parkway by East Washington Avenue. More details about these works and others are available from the MAC.

This is the latest entry of Madison Snaps: photos of Madison-area events and locations. The Isthmus group photo pool is the primary source for Madison Snaps, which are published here with the permission of individual contributors. If you are interested in having your photo eligible for Madison Snaps, please respond to the posting on the Flickr group page, or send a message. There is no compensation for Madison Snaps photos, which are © to the respective photographers.

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