Who’s Got the Power

In 2015, I spent the day as the honorary mayor of Rochester, Minnesota. Ephemera and a video of my day shadowing Mayor Ardell Brede around the city were exhibited later that year in the Rochester Art Center. We started in his office, attended a baseball game, and visited the world renowned Mayo Clinic shaking hands and taking selfies along the way. Rochester’s city government functions as a Council–manager government, in which the mayor is largely a ceremonial title. Phoenix, Arizona is the largest city in the United States to retain council–manager government. Although, Brede’s actual power was limited, his influence was incredibly substantial. His face was plastered all over the baseball stadium and in the game’s program. Kids waved from across the street. Executives from clinic stopped to chat him up.  A figurehead for the government. Seemingly, the only power he had was reversing my parking ticket I got at the Rochester City Hall. There’s a fine line between influence and actual power.

Honorary Rochester Mayor Chris Cloud and Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede pause for a moment in Downtown Rochester, MN.

A selfie with Rochester Mayor Brede .

Installation view of “Chris Cloud: Mayor for a Day” exhibition at the Rochester Art Center

Honorary Mayor Cloud shakes the hand of Slider, mascot for the Rochester Honkers.

Citizen of Rochester, MN

Rochester, MN

Citizen of Rochester, MN

Citizen of Rochester, MN

Cloud taking a selfie in the “Chris Cloud: Mayor for a Day” exhibition at the Rochester Art Center

Mayor Brede is spotted in the Rochester Honkers program.

Mayor Brede expunge’s Cloud’s parking ticket.

Chris Cloud is an artist, curator, and cultural developer. When Cloud isn’t cultivating projects and businesses, he is the Marketing Creative Director at Meow Wolf, an arts and entertainment group in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Social Forms of Art (SoFA) Journal is a bi-annual publication dedicated to supporting, documenting, and contextualizing socially engaged art and its related fields and disciplines. Each issue of the Journal focuses on a different theme in order to take a deep look at the ways in which artists are engaging with communities, institutions, and the public. The Journal seeks to support writing and web based projects that offer documentation, critique, commentary and context for a field that is active and expanding.

The SoFA Journal is published in print and PDF form twice a year, in June and December by the PSU Art & Social Practice Program. In addition to the print publication, the Journal hosts an online platform for ongoing projects.

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