AP Photo/Cody Duty
The hounds have uncovered a dance troupe that uses the sides of skyscrapers as a stage, a musical about the modern workplace and an art exhibition that spans three south Minneapolis neighborhoods.
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Painter and Graphic designer Ronnie Droher says what's most exciting about "Constellation, A Backyard Art Exhibition" is that it takes the experiential phase of art out of the gallery and into the homes and living spaces of artists. "Constellation" features the work of more than a dozen DIY artists and 'creatives' in the south Minneapolis neighborhoods of Seward, Philips, and Powderhorn. It's happening May 27th - 29th.
Beth Comeaux didn't know what to expect when she went to see "Got It Made" at Pillsbury House Theater. She came away very pleasantly surprised. A musician and development officer with the Minnesota Opera, Beth says "Got it Made" is a sharp, satirical musical about the modern American workplace with clever, sometimes hilarious songs written in diverse musical styles. On stage through June 12.
Look! Up at the Lawson building in downtown St. Paul. Are they pigeons? Superheroes? No, says Christine Tschida, agent for touring performance groups, it's "Project Bandaloop." Project Bandaloop is a aerial dance group that stages breath-taking dances on the sides of buildings, bridges, towers and cliffs. As part of the Ordway Center for Peforming Arts "Flint Hills Childrens Festival," the group will hang suspended from the top of the Lawson building and dance, Wednesday June 1 at noon, through Sunday, June 5.
And you can get an early sneak peek at the Art Hounds' picks every week by texting the word ART to 677-677.
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When the Walker Art Center announced its multimillion dollar purchase of Merce Cunningham materials, Philip Bither knew what part of his new season had to be.
"When we announced the purchase of sets props and costumes that have been part of Cunningham's works for 60 years a couple of months ago we also realized we have to bring the company back one last time," Bither said in his office yesterday afternoon.
Cunningham, who died late last year, first performed at the Walker almost 50 years ago, culminating with "Ocean," a huge production in the round performed in a granite quarry near St Cloud. His company will disband after one final tour with a show in New York on New Years Eve. Despite this long association, the MCDC has never actually performed at the Walker itself, always using other stages around the area, so this show will be both a first and a last.
Bither has build a 10 day festival around the MCDC performances. It will feature an exhibit of pieces Robert Rauschenberg made for Cunningham, the first of several such shows planned for coming years featuring other artists who worked with the choreographer. There will also be a Cunningham inspired performance by French choreographer Jerome Bel.
The centerpiece of the show will be the performances of three works from throughout Cunningham's career.
"It's a piece from 1958 called "Antic Meat" with sets and props designed by Robert Rauschenberg and costumes," said Bither. "A piece from '68 with sets by Andy Warhol and then a piece from '98 with a set by Roy Lichtenstein and music by Brian Eno."
The release of the Walker performing arts season is always a little daunting because of its size and scope.
"Our 2011-2012 season spans from experimental theater and performance art through contemporary dance in all its various styles into avant-guard jazz, experimental rock, new sounds from all over the globe, contemporary classical music and then all the hybrids in between," he said.
There are six commissions in the season, including a residency and new work called "Story/Time" by Bill T. Jones which is actually based on a piece called "Indeterminacy" created in 1959 by Cunningham's long-time collaborator and partner John Cage where he told 90 stories in 90 minutes. Jones, who is riding high with his Broadway hits "Spring Awakening" and "Fela" will perform stories he has written himself as members of his dance company move around him. (below)
Other highlights include: a festival of new music and dance from the Congo call "Despair Be Damned" and "Structures and Sadness" by Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin which was inspired by the collapse of a bridge in Melbourne and is likely to have local resonance given the I-35 bridge disaster.
'Out There 2012: New World Performance' will feature works from Tokyo, Buenos Aires, and Beirut, and "Untitled Feminist Multimedia Technology Show" by Young Jean Lee's Theater Company which explores feminism and gender fluidity with a cast of performers who are nude for the entire show.
There is a two day mini-festival featuring the work of jazz composer Vijay Iyer, and a multimedia collaboration between spoken word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph and visual artist Theaster Gates. Contemporary classical darling Nico Muly will reunite with several of his collaborators in the 802 tour, and Seun Kuti, son of Fela Kuti, will bring his incarnation of Afrobeat.
Another Walker commission features Brooklyn indie band the Lisps, performing "Futurity" which imagines a correspondence during the Civil War between a
Union soldier and Ada Lovelace as they attempt to design a steam-powered brain to save humanity. The season rounds out with the return of indie band Tortoise to collaborate with Twin Cities jazz musicians, and then David Zambaro will turn the Maguire stage into a club with a performance of "Soul Project."
Posted at 10:50 AM on May 26, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Events
OverUnder collaborated with Broken Crow to make this mural in northeast Minneapolis. Confused? See number 4.
Want to make sure that this Memorial Day Weekend doesn't just fade away? Well then, do something memorable. Here are a few ideas:
1. Get to know your neighbors: This weekend numerous home-owners in the South Minneapolis neighborhood are opening up their garages, backyards and maybe even their livingrooms for a little urban exploration. The event, titled "Constellation: A backyard art expedition" features everything from an art swap to knitting a tree cozy.
2. REALLY get to know your neighbors: Walker Art Center presents "Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera since 1870" which features art made of people without their knowing.
3. Lament those you have lost: It is Memorial Day, after all. Open Eye Figure Theatre presents "Refreshments," three miniature performances staged in different parts of their theater space. These lamentations tell of epic battles between Dark and Light and are inspired by the puppetry and dance of Java and Bali.
4. Support deviant art: NYC street artist Erik Burke also goes by the name Over Under, and his street art flips our notions of security and shelter. His show "Building on Building" opens Saturday at the XYandZ Gallery in Minneapolis.
5. Run away with the circus: The extremely flexible folks at Cirque de Soleil are taking over the north lot of the Mall of America to present Ovo, a production that focuses on the drama and adventure of a bug's life.
So what are you doing this weekend?
Posted at 12:29 PM on May 26, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Culture
A Norwegian epidemiological study finds that men who engage in cultural activities are happier and healthier. Really? Even when they look at art like this?
The Scream, by Edvard Munch (a Norwegian, I might add)
According to a report on livescience.com, study author Koenraad Cuypers found that beneficial results depended on the type of cultural activity. There's "creative culture" in which you make stuff, and "receptive culture" in which you see stuff.
Church attendance and going to sports events were linked to increased life satisfaction in women; women who attended sports events also were more likely to describe themselves as healthy. Men felt healthier when they did volunteer work and participated in associations, outdoor activities and physical exercise. Strikingly, the researchers found that all receptive cultural activities, whether musical, theatrical or artistic, were also associated with good health in men.
"Men seemed to get more of a percieved health benefit from being involved in different receptive cultural activites than women did," Cuypers said, adding that in both genders, there was a dose-response effect: The more activities a person participated in, the happier they tended to be.
Well, this is an issue I have no personal experience with, so I turned to my colleague Chris Roberts (a man) for some perspective. Would he agree, that his exposure to art has made him healthier and happier?
First of all Marianne, I'm honored you've chosen me to represent my gender. You should know I've always considered myself a real man's 'cultured man.' No treats for me during intermission at a play, unless I'm willing to balance every 50 calories with a set of 20 push-ups. I try hard not to smile or emit audible gasps when I see art that moves me at a gallery opening. Why show emotion when a solemn fist bump with the artist very sufficiently communicates what I'm feeling?
That said, I think the researchers might be on to something. Art connects people, even men, to their humanity, to the excitement of being alive. It teaches us things, ignites our emotions, overwhelms our senses, makes us laugh, gives us insights into ourselves we couldn't gather on our own. In the eternal quest for dopamine release, art is a powerful ally. I'm happy to report men are beginning to understand this. In fact, some of my fondest memories are of a gallery hopping weekend in Chicago with my sister and brother-in-law. Stupendous art viewing from one gallery to the next, and I didn't have to report on any of it.
There you have it. Art makes you happy, as long as you're not on deadline.
Over on the classical side of MPR, Emily Reese has been having a bit of fun.
Reese has been interviewing composers about their work creating scores for video games. So far the series - called Top Score - has featured such games as Dragon Age II, Stacking, Dead Space and Bioshock.
Reese admits, she had a motivated self-interest in producing these interviews:
I love classical music, I'm a classically-trained musician with a masters in music theory - but I'm also a serious gamer. I began to notice an upward trend in the quality of video game scores and knew that if someone like ME loved the music in games that other people would too. I wanted to share the insights of composers with listeners, and give gamers who love game music the opportunity to hear a conversation between composers and someone who knows a bit about music.
Composers of game music are often also composers of other music, but Reese says composing for video games presents its own set of unique challenges:
Music in games is responsive, far more often than not, to what the player is doing in a particular environment, and since individual people control the player on the screen, the music will often respond differently for every player. Video game composers often are involved in the development process long before composers for film or television, simply because the music is one of many components of the interactivity of the game. What happens musically if I pick up this wrench? What will happen if I move toward the door? What will happen if I move toward the door, but then decide not to go inside? Music can change depending on the slightest action of a player, so composers spend a great deal of time thinking about how their music can achieve that type of interaction.
Here's an excerpt from Bioshock that gives you a sense of just how the music is incorporated into game-play - it really comes to the fore at about four minutes in:
How do you get an artist to pay attention to you? Make them laugh.
And that's just what Andy Sturdevant has been doing of late. In honor of Springboard for the Arts 20th anniversary, he's been taking viewers into his magical "Wayback Machine" to see the organization's offerings through a particularly retro lens.
RW001-001, 2004, from the series Real World I, 2004
Courtesy Gana Art Gallery, Seoul
What is "reality?"
I mean, if a person spends hours of their time role playing on Second Life, isn't their experience still part of their reality?
And hasn't American political debate proven time and time again that there are people out there who have a completely different understanding of reality from your own?
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, under the direction of contemporary art curator Elizabeth Armstrong, is taking a look at how we perceive reality in the modern age.
The exhibition is still a ways out in the future - it will open at SITE Santa Fe in July 2012, then travel to the MIA in February 2013. But I know from past conversations with Armstrong that this idea has been on her mind for quite some time, and she's extremely excited to be putting the show together.
It's titled "More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness," a reference to a term coined by humorist Stephen Colbert, but which has since made its way into our English lexicon. The American Dialect Society defines truthiness as "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true,"
Armstrong says "the exhibition proposes that we now live in an 'Age of Truthiness,' a period in which the slippage between fact and fiction has become increasingly blurred. Today artists in all parts of the world are exploring the pervasiveness of "truthiness" in art, politics, and the culture at large."
One of the featured artists in the exhibition will be Ai Weiwei, whose own understanding of reality appears to be at conflict with that of the Chinese government.