Currents: Charles Youel, ARTCRANK founder

October 4, 2018

Today: Charles Youel, founder of ARTCRANK, a poster show that is an homage to bikes and bike culture. The free, annual show (it marked its 10th anniversary in 2017) features original, limited-edition work of independent artists and illustrators for sale. This years show is Oct. 13 at the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis. Details at artcrank.com.


Im a rabid consumer of novels and speculative fiction. My current read is Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, by Kurt Andersen. It examines a few recurring themes in our history that, as the title suggests, predate the countrys founding and continue through present day in particular the idea that facts are subjective, and that opinions and feelings carry the same weight and veracity as facts. Ive described it to friends as a short history of the American history you didnt learn in school. Its destined to be one of my go-to book recommendations.


Locally, Im keeping an eye on the conversation (and regulation) around electric scooters. I saw them this spring in Los Angeles, and its been interesting to see how Minneapolis and St. Paul have responded to this new nonautomotive transportation basically appearing overnight. My interest isnt just purely academic: Im a regular bike commuter who works in various spots downtown. I think scooters have the potential to push cities to make more serious and thoughtful investments in street design that respect and protect people on foot, on bikes, and on scooters not just cars. The success of scooters depends in large part on a network of bike lanes and paths that the startups behind them didnt invest any time or resources in creating.


In my bike life, Im keeping a close eye out for deer in the local parks and on trails. I love living in a metropolitan area where wildlife is so close. But Ive come close to getting clocked by a galloping doe or buck on several occasions this year, so Im a little more wary. On the live music front, for a couple years Ive tried to catch bands or performers Ive wanted to see but never have, or old favorites that might call it quits soon. I traveled down to Chicago to catch an Irish instrumental rock band called God Is An Astronaut, and caught local shows by Midnight Oil, Mogwai, Son Volt, and Tool. And Ive got tickets to see Belly this Friday, which is pretty cool.


ARTCRANK is all about visual art, but my professional background is as a writer and creative director in advertising and design. I like listening to music when Im working, but I cant listen to anything with words or lyrics as that short-circuits the verbal part of my brain.

Ive got an instrumental music playlist that clocks in at something like 24 hours of music, including some of the bands I mentioned previously. Ive become an avid fan of Trent Reznors (Nine Inch Nails) soundtrack work with the composer Atticus Ross. I first heard their music for the movie The Social Network, which blew me away. More recently, they composed the music for Ken Burns Series on the Vietnam War, and a National Geographic documentary called Before The Flood. All very dark, moody and foreboding, which is kind of my jam.


I love to travel. My parents were big car travelers when I was growing up, so I got to see most of the Lower 48 by the time I turned 18. Ive since knocked off Alaska and Hawaii and am doing my best to make a dent in the rest of the world. This summer, I road-tripped through South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota, riding and hiking in the Badlands and the Black Hills. The scenery was beautiful, but the real reason for the trip was to meet my half-brother in Montana. I was adopted at birth, and never really knew much about my birth family. Earlier this year, I did one of those spit-in-a-tube genetic tests with the intent of finding out more about my medical history and what health hijinks might await me. I learned that Im the youngest of four brothers, born five years apart and adopted by different families. Ive connected with two of the three so far, but this was the first time Id met one of them in person. At a time in life when you begin to think that most of your big discoveries and adventures are probably behind you, its been fun to be able to live this one. Cant wait to see where it takes me.

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