"Delicate Balance" by Judy Onofrio
The show is called "See Acts of Audacious Daring! The Circus World of Judy Onofrio" and features four of Onofrio's life-sized floor sculptures from the last decade, ten recent wall sculptures, and two smaller floor sculptures alongside examples of historic circus banners, posters, and carvings that have influenced her work.
Plains Art Museum Director Colleen Sheehy says Onofrio is a perfect candidate for the "Mothers of Invention" series because she's bold, innovative and inconclastic:
She's bold because she has never let obstacles get in the way of pursuing her art career. She comes from an unconventional background, not having gone to art school but learning from her Aunt Trude, from other artists, from the culture around her that she found captivating, and from her own experimentation.
Her work has shown an impressive level of ambition--whether in the large, outdoor "fire" pieces that would be burned at the end in a big spectacle, to the large scale environments she's created in 'Judyland' exhibitions and her own home to the large circus sculptures that are in our exhibition.
"Three of a Kind" by Judy Onofrio
Sheehy admires Onofrio's inventive use of materials in her sculptures, from bottle caps to Mrs. Butterworth bottles of syrup to, more recently, bones.
Her work has such a pleasure in viewing it, as your mind and eyes switch from the overall piece to the minute details and back and forth. And you end up being so awed by the passion, the obsession, and the joy of it all. It's a rare work of art that engages you so fully.
Onofrio's exhibition runs through January 8; the next in the series will be Marjorie
Schlossman, an abstract artist based in Fargo. Sheehy says what joins these women together is they're part of a generation of artists who came of age in the '60s and '70s and who worked to dismantle barriers for women in the visual arts.
They made art, formed collectives, started galleries, taught at art schools, and gave each other critical and moral support to dismantle the barriers that had existed against women in the visual arts. They changed the art world profoundly, altering ideas about the canon of art history and the meaning of terms such as "masterpiece," "artist," "gaze," and "body," as well as expanding what could be considered acceptable art materials, subjects, imagery, and boundaries between art forms. Their impact has spread throughout art and culture and is not confined to their own or other women's work.
Sheehy says the tendency to overlook, ignore, or forget the artistic contributions of women has been particularly prominent in the Midwest; she sees this exhibition series as an opportunity to rectify that.
Ajax in Iraq, by Ellen McLaughlin, weaves together Sophocles' classic play AJAX and stories from today's newspaper. Parallel narratives follow Ajax, a Greek warrior, and A.J., a contemporary female soldier on duty in Iraq, both of whom are undone by the betrayal of a commanding officer.
Reviewers seem to agree that - just like war - this show is messy and brutal.
There are no minor characters in this play, everyone stepping forward at some point to deliver a speech that may stop you in your tracks, but always advances the story.
Some may feel a bit bludgeoned by the many variations on "What are we doing here?" asked by the soldiers, but rarely does a play give you so much to chew on in such a short amount of time. It says something about the deft touch of director Wendy Knox and her talented cast that this rewarding production never pushes you into overload.
Ajax In Iraq sprawls. Frank Theatre describes the piece as a "mash-up" and it is that for sure. ...The soldiers often serve as chorus, in both the modern and Greek stories. Characters often speak directly to the audience. The play has a savage, almost insane momentum (kudos here to Knox).
Does all this work? Well, yes, very often. I was blown away, for example, by the angry, choreographed, wordless choric dance of the soldiers. The play's climax, in which the contemporary and Greek stories twirl together, is heartbreaking.
That director Knox's staging of MacLaughlin's poetic mashup of mythical Greece and contemporary Iraq is a mixed bag is almost beside the point. That the acting company has a few strong performers? Eh. That there is a nice symmetry of the chorus of soldiers switching between ancient times and today is nice.
That indelible scene [in which a sergeant rapes a soldier] , in which the word "dismissed" flies like a dagger, makes this gritty, unsparingly directed show, well worth seeing...this "Ajax in Iraq" is bluntly affecting.
There are times... that both McLoughlin and Knox let the play get away from them. The connection between Ajax and A.J. feels underutilized; for the number of difficult questions that could have been asked - for instance, who is the Athena of the Iraq war? - very few of them actually were. There is also a strangely exhibitionistic baring of souls that at times feels too self-critical to be plausible for the character and the situation. Similarly, some events - including a staged rape scene - seem to be aimed more at fanning the flames of the audience's outrage than with communicating new ideas.
Ajax in Iraq is like a stomach punch--a messy, disturbing merging of the ancient tale of Ajax going mad on the beaches of Troy and similar events playing out amid the sand of modern-day Iraq. It's not a pretty or always cohesive piece, but the overall effect is gut-wrenching.
...At times the script seems to have trouble finding its focus, taking side trips such as introducing Gertrude Bell, the British writer and political administrator who drew up the borders of modern-day Iraq. In the end, these issues don't matter, as the performances--especially Katie Guentzel as A.J.--strip away the distractions and leave us with a heartbreaking tale.
Have you seen Ajax in Iraq? If so, what did you think? Share your review in the comments section.
Posted at 11:57 AM on November 9, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Funding
The third annual "Give to the Max Day" supporting Minnesota non-profits is a week away, and there are a few changes to the 24-hour give-a-thon worth noting.
The event, which has quickly become Minnesota's biggest fundraiser of the year, starts at midnight on November 16, runs all day Wednesday, and ends at midnight on November 17.
From 10am-9pm the online event will base its operations out of the Mall of America's rotunda, with live performances and giving stations. People who participate at the MOA will receive discounts from participating mall retailers that day.
In other words, the Mall is encouraging you to give, and then encouraging you to spend.
In addition, it's now possible to give online on your smart phone or tablet.
The minimum donation is $10.
The fee assessed on all donations is 2.9%.
And, as in past years, GiveMN will offer several incentives to encourage participation.
Here's how this year's prizes break down:
A $15,000, $10,000 and $7,500 prize grant will be awarded to the top three nonprofit organizations (colleges and universities excluded) which receive the most dollars during Give to the Max Day.
$5,000 prize grants will be awarded to nonprofits in 4th through 10th place.
A $15,000, $10,000 and $7,500 prize grant will be awarded to the top three small nonprofit organizations - with budgets under $750,000 - which receive the most dollars on Give to the Max Day (Nonprofits must register online to compete in this category).
$5,000 prize grants will be awarded to nonprofits in 4th through 10th place in the small nonprofit category.
A $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 prize grant will be awarded to the top three Minnesota colleges or universities which receive the most dollars on Give to the Max Day.
In addition to the 24 "Golden Tickets"--$1,000 prize grants given randomly every hour--one $10,000 "Grand Golden Ticket" will be randomly given at 11:59 p.m. on November 16, 2011.
In its first Give to the Max Day in 2009, GiveMN raised more than $14 million from 38,000 people. In its second year it raised around $10 million, but increased its donor pool to 42,000. It will be interesting to see how the economy effects this year's numbers... which I'll be tracking closely next week.