Local sculptor Allen Christian established the House of Balls in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District almost 36 years ago as a physical incarnation of his idea that, “we all possess the creative impulse and we owe ourselves the balls to express it.”
In the process, he has developed a reputation as “the Willy Wonka of Twin Cities art.”
Originating from Christian’s belief that inanimate objects acquire a tangible life force when they come into contact with living beings, Christian opened the House of Balls as a public space. Guests are greeted with an open door policy in which, no matter the hour, if the artist is in-house, an unlocked front door serves as an invitation for all to enter and explore unique sculptures and curious animatronics.
Rooms packed with touchable, lovingly-crafted art give way to successive recesses of reanimated plumbing parts, false teeth, pistons, headstones, typewriter innards, pianos and, of course, the eponymous bowling balls.
If visitors happen to arrive at an off-hour, they can push a series of buttons to animate sculptures just inside the lighted windows. Depending on the button you push you will hear a cacophony of recitations and testimonies left by past wanderers answering various questions - “What is the oddest place you’ve made love?” “What do you do with the tears?” - posed by others on a nearby chalkboard.
Besides exploring, visitors are also encouraged to ‘leave their treatise’ at the intercom, contributing their voice to the perpetually looping audio that issues from the House of Balls. In the words of Christian, you owe yourself the balls to express it.
Know Before You Go
The studio has moved to a bigger and better location. Situated right at the Cedar Riverside LRT stop and visible from 35W and the 7th Street exit off 94 West, expect bigger (as the site is on a 1/3rd of an acre) and better (hopefully) This is the re-invention of Allen Christian. Come and watch it happen in real time.