Minnesota artist Phil Hansen has had to overcome some obstacles in his life. Along the way he realized that those limitations actually helped him to be more creative.
Hansen recently gave a TED talk detailing his experience... it includes lots of fun samples of his art. For a more in-depth look at some of his projects, check out this interview with him from last fall.(0 Comments)
About one hundred students, faculty and alumni gathered on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul this evening to show support for a plan to keep the College of Visual Arts open.
Ben Levitz, an alum of CVA and president of CVA Action, speaks to supporters before meeting with the college board.
MPR Photo/Marianne Combs
In January the administration announced the art school will close its doors in June due to financial problems.
Since then, members of the group CVA Action have lobbied to save the school, and raised $70,000 for the effort.
College of Visual Arts alum Ben Levitz heads up the group CVA Action; tonight he's presenting the details of a plan which he hopes could turn the college's fate around.
"It's leveraging the real estate, the multiple buildings that the school has and using those to fill our short term operational cash need" explains Levitz. "But then also surrounding that with a group of professional fundraisers that can really strengthen the other cash resources that the school needs."
CVA Action supporters include current students and faculty
MPR Photo/Marianne Combs
The plan also includes broadening the board which currently has only six members. Senior Tara Shaffer says she hopes the current board will be open to giving the school a second chance:
"Why make sure it's broken before you leave? Why do that? Why take something away from the world before you're gone - you're gone either way. Why not give us a chance? If we fail miserably they can laugh from their houses if they want - that would be fair. But why say no to a chance? I just don't understand the point of that at all."
Representatives of the College's board were not immediately available for comment; CVA Action's meeting with the board was not open to the public or the media.
Editor's note: Look for more reporting on this story in the coming days...(4 Comments)
Today Ann Ledy, the President of the College of Visual Arts, announced her resignation in a brief letter.
I have done absolutely everything in my power to promote the success of the college and I want nothing more then for it to thrive. Unfortunately the economy and the financial circumstances have made it impossible for our dreams to be achieved. I am devastated by this reality and I know that you are too.
Today I decided that it is best for the college that I step aside at this time. I wish all of you the best.
The news comes in the wake of last week's announcement that the school will be closing on June 30 for financial reasons.
The decision to close came as a shock both to current students and alumnae, many of whom are still hoping to reverse the decision.
This evening they met with CVA's Board of Trustees; members of the press showed up to cover the meeting, but they were asked to leave by the board.(7 Comments)
Students of the College of Visual Arts are processing the news that their alma mater will close at the end of the spring semester.
College of Visual Arts' office building on Summit Avenue
For Theresa Ganzer, continuing her education would mean transferring for the second time:
At first I thought it was a bad joke. I literally started crying, this was so random and without warning. I am freaked out still, and this is a lot of unwanted stress. I originally was only worried about my internship next year...now I'm worried if I'll be in school or not next year.
I am a transfer student to CVA, I already have my 2 year associates degree. My original plan was to go to CVA for 4 years, doing the long route and obtaining my bachelors after 6. Now, this is my fourth year of college, I will have 2 more left after CVA's closing to get my bachelors. for me the most logical thing in my position is to open up to MCAD and give them a chance, especially if they understand CVA's position and are willing to work with the students. I'm nervous about transferring credits however, because the transition from Inver Hills to CVA, I had to take classes over. Hopefully, the transferring of credits will be smooth sailing.
CVA was my DREAM school, everything about it screamed my name, it felt right to go there. It was in a mansion, small classes that became a small community, it was dog friendly. Everyone was so nice, the professors knew you as an individual, It's going to be impossible to get that experience anywhere else.
From Sawyer Rademacher, Sophomore Photography Major at The College of Visual Arts, the loss is a deeply personal one:
When I first visited CVA for a tour I felt very comfortable, a feeling that stayed with me over the past year and a half. The staff here are all so friendly and knowledgeable and they all seem very eager to form close relationships. Whenever I would talk with friends about the different schools we were attending I always enjoyed bragging that I knew my instructors by their first names and even some of their personal cell numbers, just in case of an emergency I could get in contact with them or vice versa. The people that I've met and the skills I've learned I know will stay with me for the rest of my life and I feel as though I am losing a second home. I wish the best for all my classmates and the teachers and staff of CVA in the future. The Twin Cities is losing a truly special school.
Are you a current student at CVA? Share your reaction to the school's closing in the comments section.
The College of Visual Arts will close its doors at the end of June.
The four year art and design school saw a sharp decline in enrollment just as it was attempting to build up its financial base. President Ann Ledy said the school is simply no longer able to fill the gap between rising operating costs and students' ability to pay.
"We will meet all of our students academic needs and financial needs this next semester," vowed Ledy, "we want to do the right thing by our students and help them transition on to MCAD or other institutions."
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design has agreed to take on all those students in good academic standing who would be seniors next year. The remaining students will need to apply for a transfer.
The College of Visual Arts occupies several buildings in the Ramsey Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, including this former residence on Summit Avenue.
Image courtesy the College of Visual Arts
The loss of the school will be a blow to the Ramsey Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, where many students rented apartments and frequented local cafes and bookstores.
The College of Visual Arts currently serves 170 students. It employs 29 full time staff and faculty, and 45 adjunct professors. It has had to reduce faculty and staff compensation three times in the past five years, and cut seven positions this past fall, including a recently created director of development.
At this point, any further cuts would risk the schools accreditation.
Spring classes will begin as scheduled on January 22.
Read the full story here.(1 Comments)
The Minnesota Book Awards has named Jana Pullman the winner of the 2013 Minnesota Book Artist Award. The award is presented each year to a Minnesota book artist or group of artists that has shown excellence and innovation in the field over the previous three years, and has contributed significantly to the local book arts community.
Pullman is well known in the community for her work as a book binder and conservator, and especially for her work with leather and wood covers. But her knowledge runs deep in several veins of the book arts, including not just binding but paper-making, printing, box-making, and the history of bookbinding.
Pullman has been involved in the book arts for thirty years, studying the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at the University of Iowa, where she later worked for several years with noted paper maker Tim Barrett.
"Open Horizon" - a cover for the book Open Horizons by Sigurd F. Olson, about his love affair with the wilderness in Wisconsin.
Pullman arrived in Minneapolis in 1997. Since then she has become a pillar of the local book arts community, regularly teaching classes at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and running her Western Slope Bindery. She also teaches workshops throughout the country, and has received several prestigious awards.
Full disclosure: I've had the pleasure of taking several classes with Jana Pullman over the last few years. She is a treasure of book arts knowledge and a gem of a teacher.
In conjunction with the Minnesota Book Artist award, an exhibit of Pullman's work will be on display at the MCBA January 18 - February 24, and will subsequently tour to other venues across the state.
"Water" - Full bound goatskin over sculptured boards. Silk endbands and chiyogami endpapers. Air brushed background and title in aluminum leaf.
Images courtesy of the Minnesota Book Awards.(0 Comments)
Ballet Minnesota's dancers are impressive to watch on stage, but just as impressive is the work of the seamstresses who ensure their costumes are ready for the annual production of Nutcracker.
A single performance of the holiday show involves 130 dancers and upwards of 230 costumes. All of these costumes are designed by Ballet Minnesota's co-founder Cheryl Rist.
25 years ago Ballet Minnesota performed its first production of Nutcracker to an audience of 200. Now it plays annually to an audience of more than 10,000. Photo by Dave Trayer
Executive Director Cynthia Betz says the costumes are a huge asset to the production.
"Even though this is the 'traditional' Nutcracker production, there are lively things that occur in this company's version that are specific to the costumes and choreography," explains Betz. "Every single thing in the first act foreshadows what's going to happen in the second act, and that's supported heavily by the costumes."
Ballet Minnesota co-founder Cheryl Rist holds up the costume for the Sugar Plum Fairy, which she wore 25 years ago in the company's first production of Nutcracker. Each year the lace has to be cleaned with tiny brushes in order to avoid damaging the velvet.
MPR Photo/Marianne Combs
For example, Clara's mother's dress (seen up top) is reminiscent of a candy cane when she twirls in the first act. That effect is exaggerated in the costume of Madame Ginger in the second act. The masks worn by the adults in a waltz in the first act - Russian, Chinese, snowy, flowery - all reference dances performed in the second act.
"It's just like when you see or feel something in real life then it shows up exaggerated in a dream," says Ballet Minnesota's School Director Cheryl Rist.
The costume for Rose in 'Waltz of the Flowers' - seen up close, and on stage - has endured 25 years.
Left: MPR Photo/Marianne Combs
Right: Photo by David Trayer
In order to keep costs manageable, the company pays close attention to the cleaning and maintenance of its massive collection of costumes and props.
Starting in September, volunteers gather at Ballet Minnesota's headquarters in the Jax building in downtown Saint Paul for "sewing Sundays" to help with preparations. Rips are repaired, sequins are replaced, and rhinestones are brightened using alcohol applied with a toothbrush.
Lisa Gray, who serves as both a costume assistant and the President of the company's board, works on one of the costumes for the snowflakes.
MPR Photo/Marianne Combs
Many of the costumes are dry cleaned every year, a process for which all decorative jewels must be removed. Sometimes a new tutu needs to be made, a process which takes a full week (there are 42 tutus worn in Nutcracker). The Sugar Plum Fairy's tutu alone involves 14 layers of tulle.
After the Nutcracker performances have ended, Cheryl Rist takes home those costumes that don't need to be dry cleaned and washes them in a bathtub, or on the hand-wash cycle in the washing machine.
Thanks to this vigilance, several of the original costumes are still in use 25 years later.
Julia Swee, who dances the part of an angel in this year's Nutcracker, works on her ballet moves. Ballet Minnesota's Nutcracker is choreographed by Cheryl Rist's husband, Andrew Rist.
MPR Photo/Marianne Combs
Ballet Minnesota is not just a performance company; it's also a school, and the annual production of Nutcracker is an opportunity to get the more than 200 students performing before a live audience.
To make that happen, many of the parts are danced by different students each night. That means every day the seamstresses need to refit the costumes to a different body, in addition to handling any damage that occurs to the costumes during the run of the show. They work long days in a costume shop in the basement of the O'Shaughnessy that dwarfs the stage above it.
The inside elastic of the costume for the Reed Flute boasts a string of 19 names of dancers who have performed the role.
Photo by Carolyn Will
Over the years the costumes have become an important part of Ballet Minnesota's history. Dancers recognize they are taking their place in a long line of Claras, snowflakes and fairies, and to mark the moment they write their names in the elastic waistbands.
Thanks to the care of the seamstresses and their many helpers, dancers will have the opportunity to add their names for years to come.(0 Comments)
The expression "one man's trash is another man's treasure" finds new meaning in the documentary "Landfill Harmonic"
The film - which is still in production - centers around the town of Cateura, Paraguay, which is dominated by the presence of an enormous landfill.
When a new music program started up at the local school, the teachers soon had fifty students and only five violins. That's when they met Cola, a man who makes his living rummaging through the landfill, finding new uses for discarded things. Using aluminum cans and forks, he built them a violin.
Now they have an entire "recycled orchestra" making beautiful music together.(1 Comments)
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Gordon Parks, a groundbreaking African-American photographer, filmmaker, writer and musician who spent his teen years in St. Paul.
Student Peter Rodriguez (left) performs during a celebration of the life of Gordon Parks on Nov. 30, 2012, at Gordon Parks High School in St. Paul, Minn. The piano, painted by Twin Cities artist Jesse Golfis and the school's students, showcases images of the late Gordon Parks, who once lived in St. Paul.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
Recently MPR's Nikki Tundel visited Gordon Parks High School, an alternative learning center that provides a fresh start for those who struggled at other schools.
According to Principal Micheal Thompson students at Gordon Parks, the school, have a lot in common with Gordon Parks, the teenager.
"Gordon Parks started out when he was 15 years old on the streets of St. Paul with no place to live, no job and no prospects. And then he became this international Renaissance man," Thompson said.
Thompson highlights Parks' tenacity in hopes of motivating students to find their own paths to success.
On this morning, a group of students paints a mural to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Parks' birth. Their canvas: a grand piano.
As some students paint the instrument, others play its keys.
"It's like a tune which would set the tone for the painters and set their mind free and they would paint what they feel, which correlates to Gordon Parks because he loves music himself," student Tony Vang said.
"I'm just making designs for the piano. I think they represent me," student Pheng Lor said, continuing to paint.
Rodriguez agrees, "That's like putting our soul pretty much into the piano."
You can read more about the students at Gordon Parks High School - how the photographer continues to inspire them - here.
Dipankar Mukherjee and Meena Natarajan, the founders of Pangea World Theater, want to create more opportunities for women theater directors and theater directors of color.
This December, Pangea is launching the first phase of a National Direction and Ensemble Creation Institute designed to address the lack of training and opportunities for budding directors.
The theater company has invited directors from around the nation to share lessons and help build a curriculum.
The institute is inspired by what is common knowledge amongst theater professionals, and backed up by startling statistics. In 2009 the Directors Guild of America found that out of its 967 new members in the year 2009, 72.1 percent were Caucasian males, 16.3 percent were Caucasian females, 8.3 percent were minority males and 3.4 percent were minority females.
For Dipankar Mukherjee, that means the stories produced on stage often reflect a narrow world view.
"There are different ways to access a script, different avenues of imagination. Sometimes they're contextualized in culture, politics of experience, politics of race, and so forth. There is no one lens; there are multiple lenses," says Mukherjee.
Pangea World Theater, founded in 1995, works with diverse creative talent to shepherd new works into full stage production.
As schools work to increase student test scores in math, science and reading, arts education is often pushed aside, according to a survey to be released today by the Perpich Center for Arts Education.
According to the survey, fewer than half of all middle and high schools, and only 28 percent of elementary schools offer all of the required arts, drama, music and dance classes.
Joel Byer directs the Apple Valley High School select choir during a practice on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Arts is a big part of student life at Apple Valley High, on par with academics and athletics.
MPR Photo/Tim Post
Tim Post reports that, as schools shift resources to improve test scores, arts classes are often the first to go.
The authors of the Perpich study argue that music, drama and other arts should be elevated to the same academic level as math, science and reading.
That means schools should be held accountable for their arts education offerings, perhaps by requiring them to test students on the arts. They also want the state to better fund arts programs at schools, a goal that resonates with Minnesota teachers.
"I think it's really important that our state and our school districts realize that they need to fund and support the arts just as strongly as they fund math and reading," said Kris Holsen, an elementary art and theater teacher in Brooklyn Park and president elect of the Arts Educators of Minnesota.
Research shows students involved in music, art and drama, do better in math, science and reading, Holsen said.
Read the full story here.(1 Comments)
St. Paul artist Leslye Orr is finding new life for a show she created thirty years ago, thanks to the U.S. State Department.
Right now Orr is in Israel, where she is to perform "Hand in Hand," a production inspired by the stories of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan.
Earlier this year the State Department brought Orr to Lithuania and Latvia.
Leslye Orr has the people in her audience close their eyes and learn to 'see' with their other senses
Image courtesy: U.S. Embassy - Lithuania
Back in 1981 Orr was the first legally blind person to perform the role of Sullivan in the play The Miracle Worker, even though Sullivan herself was legally blind. Orr says on closing night, a woman in the audience stood up and spoke after the show.
"She said, 'I'm 35 and legally blind and seeing you up there made me believe I could do something myself.' Now up to that point my whole mission as an actor had been to acclimate myself to people who have vision - to look like I'm a seeing person. But this completely changed my tune - it inspired me to be an advocate for people with disabilities."
Orr created "Hand in Hand," the story of what happens to Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan after The Miracle Worker, based on letters and lectures. Part performance, part workshop, audience members are asked to close their eyes and learn to 'see' using their other senses.
Orr says she's trying to open people up to the "possibilities of disabilities."
"I'm not going to say limitations aren't hard... but what we have to enjoy is just as good as what we're missing. To me - witnessing people overcome these limitations to reach out to one another - it's the coolest communion of humanity you could ever imagine. It's Helen Keller's gift to me."
A performance of Hand in Hand in Lithuania, hosted by the U.S. State Department
Image courtesy: U.S. Embassy - Lithuania
Orr has performed Hand in Hand for numerous schools and other organizations across Minnesota, but now it appears her message is finding new audiences on the other side of the globe.
U.S. Ambassador Anne E. Derse introduced Orr's performance in Lithuania this way:
"Through the intimacy of her play and the power of her personality, I believe that Leslye carries a very positive message of tolerance and understanding. Humans are much more similar than we realize. Though some might not see or hear or walk as well as others, we all have similar thoughts and dreams. And we all have the right to realize our full potential and live an abundant life."
Orr says she's thrilled to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of her production with a new slew of performances abroad. But she says people with disabilities here in the U.S. are still far from being accepted in mainstream society.
"We still live in a world where E.T., Edward Scissorhands, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame either have to go home, or have to live far away in a castle, but god forbid they should integrate into society."
When she's not traveling, you can find Leslye Orr at Dreamland Arts, a theater she runs with her husband, performer Zaraawar Mistry.
Tomorrow night TPT will premiere a two-part documentary on the role art plays in both developing and healing the human brain.
Dancer Maria Genne in a still from "Arts & The Mind" which airs tomorrow night at 8pm on TPT2
Hosted by actress Lisa Kudrow (known best for her role in the TV show Friends), ARTS & THE MIND looks at how music, dance, painting, poetry and theater can improve physical and mental well-being in the young and old.
Footage for the program was shot around the country, but according to Executive Producer Gerry Richman it includes three major Twin Cities components: Maria Genne's intergenerational dance project Kairos Alive and her Dancing Heart Program, which brings dance to nursing homes; art therapy programs at Mpls Children's Hospital; and a moving segment featuring veterans with PTSD viewing artwork about previous wars at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
The profiles of successful art programs is interwoven with the insights of leading American neurologists, psychologists and educators.
The underlying message of the show is that art is not a "luxury," but central to the development of the human brain in youth and keeping minds sharp as they age.
Episode One airs tomorrow night at 8pm on TPT2; Episode Two airs on Friday Sept. 21.
Growing up, Phil Hansen knew he wanted to be an artist.
When I was in high school I did lots of pointilism, making images out of thousands of dots. I did so much pointilism that I ended up causing a tremor in my hand. I'd hold the pen too tight, and then my hand would shake a little bit and so I'd hold the pen even tighter. I went off to art school, but this tremor became so bad that I ended up quitting.
It was horrifying - my dream had always been to an artist, and I had to let go of that. At least I did for a while, but that creative urge just kept coming back.
Hansen eventually went to a neurologist, looking for a solution. Instead, he found out he had permanent nerve damage in his hand. But the neurologist said something that stuck with Hansen: "Maybe you should embrace it instead of fighting it."
I went home and started experimenting and what I found was that if I worked with different materials every single time - I avoid that repetitive motion, and my hand doesn't hurt as much.
Hansen realized he was actually becoming more creative because of his limitations. So he started creating new ones. For six months he worked on a series called "Art Happening" in which every week he would pick a news story and then create a work of art responding to the story within the next couple of days. Then there was his series "Goodbye Art" where for a year he destroyed every work of art he made once it was complete. Hansen says it forced him to stop coveting the end result.
If we're willing to destroy something and let go of the result, then we're more connected to the creation process. You're essentially saying the end result isn't as important as the creation process, as the experience. If you let go of what you've already made you'll stop trying to recreate it - you can move on to other things, new ideas.
Hansen says he became much more experimental, and found new ways to make art. One of his more popular projects on YouTube is his portrait of Jimi Hendrix made out of 7000 matches.
Now Hansen is sharing his creativity with anyone who wants a boost of their own. He's created a website of ideas for making art with everyday objects, and now he's published a book called "Tattoo a Banana" that provides instructions and templates for dozens of projects.
So you've seen a banana your entire life. Well the book is called 'Tattoo A Banana' because you actually take a pushpin and just by poking holes in a banana, you can put any image onto a banana. And so the idea is if you can see and experience materials you already know - if you can see them in a different way - you can take that new experience, that new way of viewing things, you can take that to your job or other aspects of your life.
Hansen says people are often encouraged to "think outside the box" - but it's also important to be extremely creative within the box, too.
When we're kids we have the ability to just do whatever and we don't care what the results are. But when we're adults we lose some of that, and not caring what your art is going to look like is tough for a lot of people. So the idea is that all of these projects have a starting point, but from there you can really expand upon it and make it your own.
Hansen says his hope is that "Tattoo A Banana" will encourage more people to make art, enjoy it, and bring creativity into all aspects of their lives.
Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies' current artistic director Amir Kats, a five-year veteran of the organization, has resigned. Kats will continue in his position through the end of August.
The GTCYS is conducting a nationwide search for a new artistic director and symphony conductor for the 600-student organization.
According to a news release from GTCYS, Kats resigned "to pursue new conducting opportunities and spend more time with his family."
Before leaving, Kats will conduct GTCYS' annual Summer Orchestras' concert at Como Park on July 17 and the Minnesota All-State Orchestra on August 6 - 11.
Now in its 40th anniversary season, GTCYS is one of the largest youth orchestra programs in America.
Many theater officianados have heard of the Public Theater in New York.
But have you heard of the Public Theater of Minnesota?
Nathan Cheesman, Ross Destiche and Briana Patnode in the 2011 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Photo by Andy Blenkush
In its third year, PTMN has been keeping a low profile while building a grassroots following in the west metro presenting summer productions of Shakespeare in Wolfe Park.
Now it's preparing for its first season of indoor professional productions in 2013.
Opening night of Romeo and Juliet in Wolfe Park
Photo by Mark Hauck
Artistic Director Mark Hauck comes with strong credentials - he founded the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona. But Hauck took a five year break from the theater business, instead teaching it to Hopkins High School teenagers.
Working at the high school and outside the cocoon of the arts world I started discovering anew how important the arts are for everyone. The act of art-making--creating something "special" and sharing it with someone--is fundamental to our health as individuals and as a community.
Jason Rojas as Oberon and Joshua Walker as Puck in the Public Theater of Minnesota's 2011 production of Midsummer Night's Dream
Photo by Andy Blenkush
Currently PTMN is performing Romeo and Juliet at Wolfe Park, and Hauck expects more than 2,000 people will attend the show by the end of its run.
Key to our success is the New Artist Company concept behind the summer productions. We hire 10-12 talented young artists (under age 24) from theater training programs. The combination of youthful energy, talent, evolving production values (as a our small budget allows), and a pleasant relaxed setting has proven magical for audiences and artists. We are thrilled that members of our New Artist Company have gone on to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Acting Company, The Guthrie Theater, and other well known theaters.
The ultimate vision for the organization, said Hauck, is to have three companies, one comprised of theater professionals, another by community members and a third made up of emerging artists ages 15 - 25.
The vision was in many ways inspired by the Citizens Theater of Glasgow, which has built a reputation for artistic excellence and community based programming by embracing the gifts and passions of artists of many ages and across the spectrum from amateur to professional.
Phil Eschweiler as Bottom and Anthony Simone as Peter Quince in the 2011 PTMN production of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Photo by Andy Blenkush
According to Hauck, working with young artists is key to creating civic-mindedness and to fostering a greater passion for art-making.
Our summer audience so far has trended a little younger--something we want to encourage. The connection between young artists and their peers or near peers is exciting to watch. For years we theater folks have talked about "greying" audiences and have tried to devise marketing and pricing and programming schemes to attract younger playgoers. Why not support highly visible work by young artists? What new understanding can they bring to the work?
Hauck says the company is still working on finding its new indoor performance home. Romeo and Juliet runs through July 22 at Wolfe Park in St. Louis Park.
While drama students study the classics all year at the University of Minnesota, the biggest dose of theatrical reality for many of them comes in the shape of melodrama on an old boat.
Chelzie Newhard practices an entrance from the ceiling as Emily Grodnik bows. "The Vampire!" begins its run on Friday, June 15 and ends Aug. 25 at the Minnesota Showboat on St. Paul's Harriet Island.
MPR Photo/Euan Kerr
MPR's Euan Kerr paid a visit to the cast and crew of "The Vampire" where he found out they're learning some serious theatrical lessons.
Scene designer Meg Kissel met one challenge head on as she cut a trapdoor in the stage. Working on a boat she knew there wasn't much room for error.
"It didn't sink!" she said. "We did puncture something and a little geyser happened and we were worried it was going to sink for a second."
There are challenges for the actors too. In addition to learning lines, and perfecting scene changes, they deal with things that could only happen on a boat: noise from passing barges and logs floating under the hull.
"You just hear thud! Bump, bump, bump," said actor Ryan Colbert. "It really is a shock at first, but then ... it's fine."
Colbert plays Lord Ruthven the vampire. This is his second production on the Showboat. He is a BFA acting student at the university, as is Joseph Pyfferoen who takes the role of the vampire's foe Lord Ronald. Pyfferoen admits this play leans more on spectacle than fact.
"Set in Scotland where there is absolutely no history of vampires whatsoever," he said. "It's quite interesting seeing a Scottish vampire in a kilt."
Find out more about "The Vampire" - and what the students are learning about melodrama - here.
This week, the hounds introduce us to a rapper with a mainstream sound but deeply introspective lyrics, an artist who takes us to a beautiful and unsettling future, and a group of a young people playing rarely performed music by a 1960s South African band.
Asia Ward is an aluminum installation artist who sees a kindred spirit in artist Alison Hiltner. Asia appreciates Alison's ability to create futuristic worlds that are beautiful and threatening at the time. You can see Alison's work at Gallery 122 in her show "Messages From The Event Horizon" through June 16.
MaLLy's music speaks to Ali Elabbady. Ali (aka EgyptoKnuckles), CEO and producer for Background Noise Crew, appreciates that even though MaLLy's production and beats are mainstream, his lyrics go much deeper. You can hear MaLLy's introspective rhymes at the release show for his new album "The Last Great..." at the 7th Street Entry this Friday.
Pamela Espeland is an arts writer for MinnPost and she wants you to give The Roseville Area High School Jazz Band a chance. On Friday they will perform music by Brotherhood of Breath, a multi-racial band that fled South Africa and re-formed in London in the 1960s. Pamela says that the RAHS Jazz Band might be the only group in North America playing this music thanks to the tenacity of band teacher Pat Moriarty who tracked down the charts.
For more Art Hounds' recommendations, check us out on Facebook and Twitter Art Hounds is also available as a podcast on iTunes.
Art Hounds is powered by the Public Insight Network.(2 Comments)
Editor's Note: This piece by Euan Kerr is part of a series called Minnesota Mix. Minnesota Mix is a project of Minnesota Public Radio News that examines the way youth and ethnic diversity are influencing Minnesota arts. Enjoy...
On May 4, 2012, White Space Poetry Project writer / director Maya Washington addresses the class at Sheridan Arts Magnet School in Minneapolis, as student Garrett Berg looks on.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
MINNEAPOLIS -- In the black box theater at the Sheridan Arts Magnet School in Minneapolis, the sixth-grade class warms up with an exercise.
"Poetry is! Poetry is!" exclaims Maya Washington as the students clap in rhythm.
Washington, a local actor, leads the students in calling out one word which describes poetry to them.
"Love!" calls one student. "Kind!" calls another. Others offer "happiness," "peace," "creative," "beautiful" and "sparkling" as their words.
Washington is in the classroom as a result of an epiphany she had a few years ago. She grew up in Minneapolis and performed at the Penumbra Theater, the Guthrie and others. Then she moved to Los Angeles and found work doing television. However, she thought it was unsatisfying.
"I, one morning, woke up with a dream or just this image in the waking hours of the morning of this deaf performance poet going to perform at an open mike night for a hearing audience," she says.
Washington turned that image into a short film called "White Space," named for the relationship poets have with the blank page. The film shows a young deaf man trying to find the courage to get on stage to perform. (He is so late he almost misses the show, but he gets there just in time.}
"For the first time on the sweet alabaster stage welcome my man," says the MC. "He calls himself the poet, y'all."
He initially stuns the audience by delivering his verse in American Sign Language. But that surprise turns to appreciation as he gets a standing ovation.
Ryan Lane as a deaf performance poet appearing before a hearing audience for the first time in Maya Washington's short film "White Space."
Image courtesy Maya Washington
Washington directed and acted in the film. But as someone who had worked as a motivational speaker, she wanted to take it further. She drew together three things: the film, an accompanying poetry anthology, and, she says, "The third component is to take the work, the anthology and the short film into schools, into communities and expose people both to deaf and hearing artists and specifically in the medium of poetry and film."
The staff at Sheridan Elementary heard about White Space and got a State Arts Board grant of Legacy Amendment funding to pay for Washington's residency.
And at Sheridan, Washington found an appreciative, if boisterous, audience.
"Focus!" she calls.
"Check!" the students respond.
White Space Poetry Project writer and director Maya Washington, second from left, leads students through poetry exercises at Sheridan Arts Magnet School in Minneapolis, on May 4, 2012. Washington snaps her fingers after hearing one student read his poem aloud. Here the snapping of fingers is used to indicate applause.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
"Focus!" she repeats.
As the sixth grade class progresses, Washington works to keep the students' attention. There's a lot of emotional energy on this Friday afternoon. In fact a few of the children are sniffling because they just learned a beloved student teacher in another class is about to leave the school. But Washington draws them in.
"Are we in a space where we need to collect ourselves, or are we ready to get on it?" she asks.
"Get on it," a couple of students respond.
These students watched the "White Space" movie. Sheridan's theater teacher, Kathleen Hession, who has been working with Washington, says the film left them mesmerized.
"You know they are a rowdy bunch of kids that have a lot to say," Hession says, "and when we screened the film, it was the quietest, stillest moment I have ever seen here." A few days later the students present name poems in which they, like the poet in the film, describe themselves to the world. The pieces are short but revealing. A number talk about family members no longer in the home. Some of the students rush through their work or mumble shyly. Others, like Ajoyia Hand, speak loud and clear.
"My name is Ajoyia. It means giggly, loving and caring.
"It is like a flamingo, or like eating a watermelon.... " she says.
The students listen and applaud using sign language when she finishes. The class learned some signs, and teachers report seeing the students signing outside the classroom.
Students, from left, Kia Lor, Laresha Jones and Sunnie Austin are among those participating in the White Space Poetry Project at Sheridan Arts Magnet School in Minneapolis, on May 4, 2012.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
Washington says she has been careful as a hearing person in her portrayal of the deaf community. She worked with several non-hearing artists as she prepared the project, including Twin Cities-based filmmaker and poet Raymond Laczak.
Speaking though an interpreter, he says she has done a good job. "So it's not just just her coming in and portraying the community as a hearing person. I think it's been done in a respectful manner, and I think that's the way to do it," Laczak says.
And Luczak says getting sixth-graders to consider poetry is a good thing.
"I think at sixth grade that was when I started to identify as a writer," he said.
While "White Space" is based in poetry, it's also a lot about identity. Not just who you are but who you could be. Washington says it's also about perspective. She says that as an African-American woman, it can be tough to get good acting jobs, but she knows if she were deaf, it would be much more difficult. It's a message she wants to pass on to the students.
Tiaira Martin holds her poetry assignment in front of her face and giggles as she gets up the courage to share her writing with her classmates at Sheridan Arts Magnet School in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 4, 2012.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
"You think you've got it so bad," she says. "You think it's so hard to speak up in class or read a line from your poem. But imagine if you spoke a completely different language and you had to get up and attempt to communicate. But you are communicating in a language we all understand, and so you can do it."
However, Hession, the theater teacher, sees a further advantage to having Washington in the classroom. Many of the questions in class have been about making the film itself. It's the first time many students have seen someone acting in a film and then been able to ask talk to that person. Hession says this led the children to consider their own futures.
"It was very clear that a lot of them began to think on this is a real life possibility," Hession says. "This is something I could do. Something people do, rather than something I pay money to watch other people do."
After completing classes at Sheridan, Washington will present "White Space" to the Young Authors Conference at Bethel University in St Paul.(1 Comments)
While the renovation of the University of Minnesota's Northrop Auditorium continues, that hasn't stopped the U of M from programming a full season of dance concerts.
"Political Mother" by Hofesh Shechter will come to the Orpheum Theater this November
Photo by Gabriele Zucca
Last night the Northrop team, headed by Director Ben Johnson, unveiled the 2012-2013 concert season, which includes performances in the State and Orpheum Theatres, Ted Mann Concert Hall and The O'Shaughnessy auditorium.
As part of the season the Northrop will present two radically different versions of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, in conjunction with its 100th anniversary.
In addition the Northrop will co-present with St. Catherine University a series of dance performances that bring exemplary female artists to The O'Shaughnessy as part of its "Women of Substance" series. The collaboration will include workshops for high school girls with an emphasis on building self-esteem, confidence, and a healthy sense of community and self. Choreographers include Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca, Rosie Herrera, Bebe Miller and Minneapolis choreographer Emily Johnson.
This year the Northrop will also take over responsibility for the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Dancers & Choreographers, and a concert presenting their work, titled "Solo." This coming September the concert will present work from McKnight fellows from the past two years at Ted Mann Concert Hall.
Renovation of the Northrop Auditorium is slated for completion in the spring of 2014.
Editor's Note: This piece by Nikki Tundel is part of a series called Minnesota Mix. Minnesota Mix is a project of Minnesota Public Radio News that examines the way youth and ethnic diversity are influencing Minnesota arts. Enjoy...
Mexican composer Jorge Cozatl directs the Burnsville High School Concert Choir on March 9, 2012. Cozatl is part of the Cantare program, which celebrates Mexico's musical traditions and shares them with students in Minnesota.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
BURNSVILLE, Minn. -- It's said that music is the language of the soul. But for composer Jorge Cozatl, it is also the key to hearing and understanding another culture.
Cozatl, a native of Mexico City, is an artist-in-residence at Burnsville High School, where he works with choral students on timbre and pitch. But his main mission is to teach the students about his homeland.
"This is a huge opportunity to share not just music, but culture, too" said Cozatl. "I want to tell them about my country. And I'm doing that with songs."
A cultural ambassador for Mexico, Cozatl came to Minnesota for Cantare!, Spanish for "I will sing." The year-long project, the brainchild of conductor Philip Brunelle, artistic director and founder of the Twin Cities-based choral group VocalEssence, pairs Mexican composers with student choirs to create works that bridge cultures.
Brunelle said he started the program because he was frustrated with the media coverage of Mexico, which he said too often focuses on the U.S.-Mexico border and the illicit drug trade. He wanted to offer Minnesota students another view of Mexico -- one that showcases its cultural and musical traditions.
"I'm hoping that, through this program, Vocal Essence can make just a little dent in helping people to have a very favorable and positive idea about our neighbor country to the south," Brunelle said.
Student Kristina Butler rehearses with the Burnsville High School Concert Choir on March 9, 2012. She is part of the Cantare program, which pairs Mexican composers with Minnesota students.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
On this spring day, Cozatl leads the Burnsville High School concert choir through rehearsal. At the end of his stay, his students will perform the original choral work in Spanish.
A big hurdle for the young Minnesotans is pronunciation -- especially mastering the different vowel sounds. Cozatl frequently returns to the fundamentals, sounding out their constant equivalents in Spanish: ah-ay-ee-oh-oo.
"Since he's not from around here, he knows that in Minnesota we say our o's like two separate letters," said Nick Nelson, 18. "It really was fascinating to have him come in and say, 'Oh. You guys are saying that weird so you should say it this way.' "
Performing a song in Spanish is a new challenge for Nelson, a senior who studies German. But he knows that singing in the composer's language is essential to capturing the essence of the song.
"Learning it in this different language, it seems more real," he said.
Classmate Zach Zambrano, 18, agrees.
"It's more pure in that way," he said. "You know, if it's a song about Mexico or whatever it is, it's gonna be more impactful in that other language even though you might not understand every word that they're saying. But just thinking this is the Hispanic culture, this is the Mexican culture, it hits more at your heart, I think."
Choir Director Martha Schmidt leads choral practice at Burnsville High School in Burnsville, Minn., on March 9, 2012. Her students are learning a song about the Aztec view of the afterlife.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
Besides learning to sing in Spanish, students are also learning about Mexico and its mixed heritage. The song they're working on depicts the ancient Aztec view of the afterlife.
"It speaks about the place where dead people go," said Cozatl, who composed the piece for the project. His goal was to offer Americans a different way of looking at life -- and death. The students are still processing the nuances of the work.
"It goes, 'Que, que dura de mi?' " explains student Kristina Butler, 16. "The phrase means, 'What will become of my body after this happens?' "
For another student, Nick Armstrong, 18, the song is about renewal.
"It's talking about more of a lifecycle -- and then actually dying and becoming one with the earth," he said. "We tend to think of death as grave and sad, where in Mexican culture it's like a rebirth."
The final piece speaks to that.
"It's so glorious," Nelson said. "It's like, you've reached it and now here's paradise kind of thing. Oh, I love that last piece."
Mexican composer Jorge Cozatl directs a rehearsal of the Burnsville, Minn., high school choir on March 9, 2012. Cozatl is part of the Cantare program, which aims to share the cultural and musical traditions of Mexico with students in Minnesota.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
The members of the Burnsville High School choir work their way through the sections of their new song.
For some students, the collaboration with Cozatl has changed the way they look at the world. Nelson said he's become much more interested in what happens beyond the borders of Burnsville.
"Everybody needs to see other kinds of cultures," he said. "Will you look at a country and be like, 'OK. That's, like, weird. What are they doing over there? ' But now you can say, 'Oh, now I understand why they do this. OK. Cool.' "
The Cantare! project will culminate with a concert for the community. The students will perform May 22 at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center.
A good education can take you to some amazing places. But Kaila Bibeau never thought her studies in apparel design would take her to NASA.
Apparel design junior Kaila Bibeau looks through different types of fabric that can be used to insulate space suits for a group project in her apparel design class. Photo: Eric Tanaka, The Minnesota Daily
According to a report by Claire Bramel in the Minnesota Daily, Bibeau and 11 other students have spent the semester working on spacesuit prototypes as part of a 3000-level apparel design class at the University of Minnesota. This summer Bibeau will continue working with NASA in Houston, hopefully contributing innovative ideas based on the research she's doing this semester.
Bibeau will work in the human interface branch of the Johnson Space Center and will help integrate computer interfaces and other electronics into a garment. Cory Simon, a human systems engineer at NASA, said she will be a "domain expert" in garment design and will also do some user testing.
"I'm developing a garment that can provide wearable displays, controls and sensors inside future space habitats," Simon said.
Bibeau's project in [Lucy] Dunne's apparel design studio correlates well to Simon's research and what she'll be doing this summer.
"[I am] exploring placement of different removable swatches on a suit for the astronauts to wear while on missions," she said.
Her work includes testing different fasteners and modes of application in addition to exploring problems related to the visibility and accessibility of the components.
You can read the full article about Kaila Bibeau's job with NASA here.
This Thursday night, March 1st, the University of Minnesota School of Music commemorates the 50th anniversary of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem.
Conductor Mark Russell Smith
Britten wrote it for the reconsecration of England's Coventry Cathedral, which was bombed by the Germans in World War Two.
MPR's John Birge spoke with U of M conductor Mark Russell Smith about the performance which is the culmination of what's being called the Britten Peace Project. The project brings together both American and German music students, and took U of M Music students to Germany to perform.
Smith says it's providing students with a deeper understanding of the suffering, sacrifices and triumphs of their grandparents and great-grandparents.
It's so much about the futility of war and even more so the human toll that war takes. It's a different world now thank god, but it's only a different world because we've lived through these things. So the greater their understanding - which they achieve through a project like this - it just enriches their lives.
Lets be frank about this: we could all polish up on our classical music knowledge. Luckily our colleagues over at Classical MPR are there to help, both on the air, and now in person as part of the "Learning to Listen" series.
Tomorrow night host Emily Reese and producer Jennifer Anderson will explain the finer points of the concerto in the UBS Forum at MPR's downtown St Paul headquarters.
That will be followed by what is likely to be a spirited discussion between host Steve Staruch, an accomplished violist and singer in his own right, and SPCO Associate Principal Cellist Joshua Koestenbaum on the theme of 'Is it the music or the marketing?' With many orchestras and and music companies marketing performers as much as personalities and clothes horses as musicians, where is the right balance between image and music?
The emphasis is on audience interaction, and there are still some seats available for the event which begins at 7pm. You can find details and reserve free tickets here.
Music is often described as "the universal language."
Playing for Change is using that language to create positive social change in communities around the world.
The brainchild of music producer Mark Johnson, Playing for Change raises money for schools in Africa and Nepal to teach music to students. Johnson has spread the word by creating compelling music videos that allow musicians all over the globe to work together on the same song.
Why raise money for music education? The PfC website puts it this way:
Many of the regions the Playing For Change Foundation works within suffer from extreme poverty, lack of basic resources, limited medical care and educational resources, past conflicts and genocide, unstable governments, and a host of infectious diseases.
Thanks to the amazing people we have met on our journey- people in the poorest towns and villages who still manage to find hope in the midst of their daily struggles- we believe now more than ever in the resiliency of the human spirit, and in music's ability to transform a dire situation into a hopeful one.
On Monday, January 23 Mark Johnson will introduce a video documentary about the Foundation, and afterward I'll interview him at greater length about projects his foundation has undertaken. The event starts at 6:30pm in MPR's UBS Forum, and is free, but seats must reserved in advance. You can find out more here.
Interested in seeing some of Playing for Change's musicians perform live? They'll be on tour at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts on February 12.
Choreographer Carl Flink and his company Black Label Movement know more about molecular biology than you might think.
The gist of the talk? Ditch your Powerpoint, and enlist dancers to communicate your ideas.
Here's the result, filmed on November 22:
John Bohannon says he learned a lot in the process of creating the speech/dance:
We had a shoestring budget, not even enough to get all the dancers to Brussels. So we had to create the dance and rehearse in Minneapolis in our spare time for free. Then we hired 6 Brussels-based dancers and arrived in Brussels 10 days early to rehearse with them. I'm amazed we pulled it off, but Carl wasn't surprised. Professional dancers find this kind of pressure routine.
The piece changed drastically over the course of its creation. As I got to know the dancers and see how they struggled to make ends meet, especially when injuries occur without healthcare coverage, my mood darkened. What began as a small piece of optimistic theater about science turned into a satire about the status of artists in the US. As inspiration, I looked back to Jonathan Swift's 1729 essay, "A Modest Proposal," It was a masterpiece of political satire that proposed a seemingly rational solution to the problem of the poor in Ireland: They should sell their babies as food, generating much-needed income and reducing their population in one stroke. It was a reply to some of the brutal utilitarian policies being discussed at the time by the aristocracy. Where you hear antique language in my presentation, I am quoting Swift verbatim.
Choreographer Carl Flink says the talk has been such a hit that TED organizers are talking about them creating another dance/talk for a conference in Long Beach this coming March.
Most colleges and universities celebrate the season by bringing out their choirs for special seasonal concerts. And the next couple of weeks are filled with programs across the state as students get ready to head home for the holidays.
But if you're not already on campus, it can be hard to find out when the events are taking place.
Some 500 St. Olaf College students sing in five choirs and play in the orchestra during the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival
The calendar lists 20 concerts on private campuses, from Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato to the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.
My colleague Alex Friedrich writes MPR's On Campus blog, and last week he decided to spend a day on the campus of MCAD, to find out just what it's like at an art and design school.
MCAD President Jay Coogan
MPR Photo/Tim Post
Here's what Coogan had to say about MCAD's high tuition:
Like other specialized schools, art and design schools in general are top net-tuition schools. It's an expensive form of education (small classes, lots of supplies and equipment), and unlike science, it doesn't get subsidized by the government or other organizations. But we have a very low default rate. We're below the national average -- 6.1 percent vs. 7 percent. That means our students are going out and getting jobs. But we're looking for ways that students won't have to take out more loans - such as by offering more institutional scholarships and then raising money for more financial aid. We're readjusting the financial aid formula so that it's more in line with the discount rate -- so net tuition will be dropping for students. We're not sitting by. We're definitely paying attention to this and doing everything we can to address this.
You can read the rest of Coogan's remarks here.
Now these students are committed to their art form.
There he found out that a couple of years ago the students actually went to Dominique Serrand (former artistic director of Theatre de la Jeune Lune, co-founder of The Moving Company) and offered to pay him out of their pockets to coach them in physical comedy.
Since then the arrangement has become much more formalized. The university hired The Moving Company artistic team (Serrand, Steve Epp and Nathan Keepers) to develop a show -- alongside the students -- through improvisation. And thus came to be "The War Within/All's Fair.
"There's not a big agenda, or political didactic statement we are looking to make," said Steve Epp. "We are in a sense trying to celebrate the humanity and stupidity and ridiculous qualities that come out of that."
The students are engrossed in what they are doing, but they also admit to being a little mystified.
"People keep on asking what the show is all about," said one actor.
"How long is it? What's it going to be? You've just got to be, 'I don't know,'" said another.
Yet they have confidence in what they are doing, and in the guidance they're receiving from Serrand, Epp and Keepers.
"They are geniuses," said one student. "They know exactly what they are doing. This is their craft."
"Except you don't understand what they are doing," another said with a laugh.
Find out what their improvisation evolved into by listening to the story below:
One of Minnesota's musical traditions for the holidays is going national.
Some 500 St. Olaf College students sing in five choirs and play in the orchestra during the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival
The St. Olaf Christmas Festival will present "Rejoice, Give Thanks, and Sing" live in movie theaters across the country, as part of its 100th anniversary celebration.
The concert will be broadcast on Sunday, December 4 at 2:30pm CT from Skoglund Center Auditorium on the campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield, as per usual. But now people will be able to hear - and see - the concert in such widespread locations as Anchorage, Alaska and Honolulu, Hawaii.
The two-hour program of hymns, carols, choral works and orchestral selections will be performed by St. Olaf Choir, the Viking Chorus and Chapel Choir, the Cantorei, and Manitou Singers, along with the St. Olaf Orchestra.T the event will begin with a special half-hour retrospective focusing on the 100-year history of the Christmas Festival.
You can see the complete list of participating venues here.
Stepping into the College of Visual Arts gallery in St. Paul, it's hard to know which way to look.
The room is covered with images and words all designed to grab your attention, and then intrigue, persuade, educate or seduce you. The show is titled WOMN: Women in Minnesota Design, and it celebrates the rather formidable community of female designers here in the state.
Target Team Member Communications
Cynthia Knox is the president of Kilter, a marketing and communications firm with a strong design edge. She says while most people get what they know about the advertising industry from Mad Men, the past 20-30 years have seen some real changes, especially in smaller design firms.
Ad agencies have to be more aggressive, and as a result they tend to to reward the people who are putting the long hours. In design firms it's less of a day to day battle for women. It's what you bring to the table, not how late you stay at the office.
Knox says the Twin Cities, populated with such retail and food-oriented companies as Target and General Mills, created opportunities for women to take on positions of leadership in marketing departments. She says you'll also find many independent design firms runs by women.
Now we have more women in senior roles - we have a bigger voice in bigger companies. There's a way for women to keep their careers and be flexible. We're seeing more real women and real scenarios in advertising, versus the idealized and glorified images of what women should be, according to men.
Knox says women create a more sensitive, nuanced message to give a portrait of a brand or product experience.
Werner Design Werks
Mrs Meyer's Clean Day, Packaging and Catalogs
Looking around the gallery, the Target brand logo pops up repeatedly. Knox says the company has an unusual amount of power and influence on the local design scene.
Without them the warehouse district would be a bit of a ghost town. Because Target pushes designers to do creative work and embraces it, it ends up in a lot of our portfolios. However I know there are lots of changes going on in Target, so this might not continue, which would have a huge impact on the local design scene.
There's also a distinct Minnesota design style, Knox says, which she can often pick out of a line-up of ads.
It's sensitive, detail oriented, with layers and subtext. There's a crafted quality that you don't see in New York. We're closer to San Francisco in terms of the level of sophistication.
Hurricane Katrina Poster
This is the 7th year the College of Visual Arts has put on a design-based show, and the first year it chose to focus on women in design. Out of the 25 designers it invited to attend, 23 participated in the show. Knox says she's not that surprised:
It's a large and yet closeknit group. I've lived in some other cities, and we have a large proportion of female designers here. NYC is more competitive; here we network more, support each other more.
Still, Knox says, woman have a long way to go to be on an equal stance with men in the advertising industry.
It's really funny working for cosmetic companies and hearing male execs talk about what women need, as though we're from a different planet. They rely heavily on research, not on their own women designers.I think it's absurd for men to be telling women what they want.
WOMN: Women in Minnesota Design runs through November 13 at the College of Visual Arts gallery on the corner of Selby and Western in St. Paul.
Children's Theatre Company (CTC) announced today it has found a replacement for outgoing Managing Director Gabriella Calicchio, who steps down November 11.
Photo courtesy Children's Theatre Company
Tim Jennings, the head of Seattle Children's Theatre, will take over the post in full in February, joining Artistic Director Peter Brosius at the helm of the Tony Award winning theater in Minneapolis.
Previous to his work at STC, Jennings managed the Roseneath Theatre Company in Toronto. Roseneath produces and tours original dramatic work for young people and, under Jennings' direction, grew more than 500 percent, becoming Ontario's largest touring theatre company. Jennings also earned Roseneath six Dora Awards, Toronto's equivalent to a Tony Award.
"Tim has made it his life's work to bring extraordinary theatre to young people," says Brosius. "His work in Canada was marked by national and international success as well as numerous honors for the creation of new work. He has been a true leader - building financial stability, deepening ties in the communities he serves and enthusiastically supporting the artistic work. I am delighted to have him as my new partner, here at CTC."
Jennings also serves on the Board of Directors for the Theatre Communications Group, which is currently led by former CTC Managing Director Teresa Eyring.
The folks at Young Artists Initiative in St. Paul say unless things change, they will have to shut the organization's doors.
YAI provides arts education to youth who aren't able to afford more expensive programs. So far it's managed to do this by tapping a large volunteer base, and through donations.
But in a notice sent out to patrons, YAI announced it's calling for a "town hall meeting."
The organization will be presenting a list of needs to those who choose to join us that night. To put it plainly, if we don have enough people step forward to help do the work that will carry the organization forward, YAI will be unable to continue with a 2012 season, and the organization will have no choice but to close its doors.
YAI went on to state that it has "too critically low a number of people running the organization, and we can no longer carry the weight of the company on our own."
The meeting is scheduled for 7pm on November 1 at First Lutheran Church.(1 Comments)
Can good graphic design make the world a better place?
That's something design critic Rick Poynor is thinking about, and is the basis behind a talk he'll be giving tomorrow night at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Poynor contends that however positive its intentions, design will always reflect the nature of the society it serves, and without a systemic change, it will remain an embodiment of wider failings at a time when the economic, social and environmental shortcomings of our system are increasingly clear. Given the inescapable political reality of being a designer, Poynor asks, are there some positive, progressive and achievable social goals on which most designers could agree?
In a recent article for Print magazine, Poynor wrote of "Design as Dictator." Here's a juicy excerpt:
Design has become much too closely aligned with interests that seek to neuter and control it for purely money-making purposes. Designers, by temperament obsessed with control, have been much too ready to comply. Within graphic design, there has always been a tension between its commercial applications and its cultural possibilities. Many designers have felt uneasy about the uses to which their work is put. The desire to resist, to configure design in alternative ways, can be seen in Tibor Kalman's subversive notion of "undesign"; in Adbusters' proclamations of "design anarchy"; in the Dutch design team Metahaven's concept of "uncorporate identity"; and in the periodic invocation of the term "anti-design"--first used in Italy in the late 1960s and most recently revived by Neville Brody, a designer prone to expressions of public ambivalence, for an "Anti Design Festival" in London, in September 2010.
Technology is turning us into switchboard operators in the communication networks of our own lives. Far from encouraging a sense of freedom, graphic design is implicated every step of the way. Why does everything have to arrive through a screen? Does it really make life richer and more interesting? Why not try rejecting the templated experiences, the social media, and the patronizing attempts to involve us in prescribed interactions? Unplug, disconnect, wander at random for a while, submit to app-free chance, rely on your own unmediated instincts and non-digital perceptions, and see what comes along.
Poynor will speak tomorrow night at 6:30pm in Auditorium 150 on the MCAD campus.
A graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Seekins is a bit of a work of art himself. He dresses either entirely in white, or entirely in black, with a trademark wavy mop of hair pushed up by a headband. Then there's the pencil-thin mustache, the chin-length sideburns and the round spectacles.
Scott Seekins (with scarf) surrounded by current MCAD students
Image courtesy of MCAD
Yesterday, a group of MCAD students paid tribute to their fellow alum by creating a flash mob of Scott Seekins look-alikes and descending on the Twin Cities marathon finish. One of them ran the marathon in Seekins-like attire for the entire 26.2 miles.
This is not the first time a crowd has dressed in Seekins fashion - just check out this video by Pink Mink for their song "Seekin' Scott Seekins."
This year the NPG has announced five finalists for the award, and one of them is right here in the Twin Cities.
Christina and Mark, 14 months, 2011 by Dona Schwatz © Dona Schwartz
Dona Schwartz is an Associate Professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, where she specializes in visual communication.
Her photograph "Christina and Mark, 14 months" is part of a series of photographs called "On the Nest" documenting moments of change in parents' lives. This particular photograph depicts Christina and Mark Bigelow in their son's vacated bedroom and explores the emotions experienced by parents as their children leave home.
Schwartz' photograph was selected from over 6,000 submissions, and will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery from November 10, 2011 until February 12, 2012 along with the other finalists and an array of photographs selected by the judges.
Last year, Schwartz's portrait depicting expectant parents "Andrea and Brad,
16 days" was chosen for the exhibition.
Closed a year ago for expansion, the Weisman Art Museum is now ready to throw open its doors to the public.
Weisman Art Museum's new galleries
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson
The newly expanded University of Minnesota museum features twice as much gallery space, and a new studio designed to house creative collaborations.
Both the original museum and the expansion were designed by internationally reknowned architect Frank Gehry. MPR's Euan Kerr spoke to museum director Lyndel King, who said it couldn't be any other way:
"We knew we had to go back to Frank, because the building is like a work of art," she says. "I mean we consider it a piece in our collection."
To do anything else, King says, would be like asking a sculptor to alter someone else's work.
The Weisman was the first museum Gehry designed from scratch. His later [works], the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain, the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Experience Music Project in Seattle got a lot more attention. But King is OK with that.
"We are the Baby Bilbao," she said. "We like to say we taught Frank everything he knows about designing museums."
This weekend the Weisman will celebrate its re-opening with a gala event on Saturday (sold out) and a public party on Sunday, featuring music, dance, and printmaking.
Posted at 10:18 AM on September 16, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Education
Thanks to a push from COMPAS, Governor Mark Dayton has declared September 11-17, 2011 as Arts in Education Week (that's right - you just found out about it, and it's already almost over).
COMPAS works with artists and schools to created arts education opportunities for students. In conjunction with the governor's proclamation, COMPAS is offering a free artist residency in a Minnesota school. You can find out all the details here.
Oh, and because I just love the formal language of these things, here's what the Arts in Education Week proclamation says:
WHEREAS: The State of Minnesota recognizes the arts, defined as dance, music, theatre, literature, media, and visual arts, as a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students; and
WHEREAS: Education in the arts fosters discipline, creativity, imagination, self-expression, cross-cultural understanding, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills which support academic success across the curriculum, as well as personal growth outside the classroom; and
WHEREAS: The arts can transform our schools into havens of creativity and exploration--places where students want to learn, teachers want to teach, and all members of the learning community are more engaged and motivated and
WHEREAS: High quality, school-based arts education involves a wide range of partners, including educators, parents, artists, arts organizations, community members, and local and statewide organizations; and
WHEREAS: We applaud the efforts and dedication of arts educators and advocates around the state, and call for school and community leaders to continue to broaden and strengthen their efforts to provide arts education for every student, in every school, in every year.
NOW, THEREFORE, I MARK DAYTON, Governor of Minnesota, do hereby proclaim the week of September 11-17, 2011 as ARTS IN EDUCATION WEEK in the State of Minnesota.
An acclaimed local photographer is joining the University of Minnesota's art department this fall.
Paul Shambroom is a nationally recognized photographer whose images explore layers of power in American culture, from town hall meetings to national security. Most recently, Shambroom has been looking at shrines made from artillary and aircraft on public display in communities across the United States.
Photograph by Doug Beasley.
Now Shambroom will be sharing his insights on the profession with students as a member of the U of M's Department of Art faculty.
A graduate of both Macalester College and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Shambroom has lectured and taught as a visiting artist at institutions including Harvard University, New York's International Center for Photography, and Westminster University in London.
Editor's note: As we near the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, I asked a few curators for their thoughts on how the event has influenced art-making. Today's response comes from Walker Art Center associate curator Bartholomew Ryan.
We live in a post 9-11 world, and as such one could say a post 9-11 paradigm, where all art is implicitly or explicitly enveloped in the events of that day and its aftermath. Of course, depending on where you live or on your cultural-political background, you may also be living in a post-Hurricane Katrina world, or a post- Iraq War world, or a post-other-major-traumatic-event world. Deciding what works to write about in this context is not simple. Because of the size and impact of the event, any list of art that has some relation to 9-11 is naturally going to be deeply partial, subjective and personal. I am going to mention four pieces briefly, and leave it at that.
Ellsworth Kelly, Ground Zero, 2003
Image: Whitney Museum of American Art
American artist Ellsworth Kelly's Ground Zero, 2003 was exhibited at the Walker in 2010 in a Yasmil Raymond curated exhibition titled Abstract Resistance . It is also one of the few works that directly references 9-11 in the upcoming MoMa PS1 exhibition titled September 11 , organized by former Walker curator Peter Eleey. The work features a green triangle collaged onto a New York Times Arts & Leisure section reproduction of the Ground Zero site. It is the artist's response to different suggestions for memorials and buildings at the World Trade Center of all of which he disapproved. He proposed instead a "visual experience," a mound of green grass that could function as a space for public communion.
Red Alert, 2007
Video on plasma monitors
Courtesy of Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Germany
© Hito Steyerl
Kelly's abstract representation speaks to something very key about how many artists respond to trauma, not trying for a literal representation of reality, but something less tangible and somehow broader in vision and possibility. Another work that responds in a directed way to the post 9-11 paradigm is Red Alert, 2007 by Berlin-based artist and theorist Hito Steyerl. A triptych, it features three identical computer monitors hung vertically side by side on a wall. They each play the same looped video of a deep red color. To look at the work is to see three static glowing fields of color emanating from the wall. The piece relates to the artist's deep thinking through of the status of the photographic image, digital particularly, in contemporary life. In recent texts, Steyerl has pointed out, cable news and other media have begun to set a value on images where the lower the resolution, the more fragmentary they are, the more they can be seen to be representing the truth. And so the highly pixilated cell-phone image of a foiled bomber on a plane, or the virtually abstract live-video feeds broadcast by embedded journalists during Operation Iraqi Freedom, are perceived to be the most authentic documents of real lived experience: the less you can see, the more that is being revealed. This observation led Steyerl to imagine a final state for the documentary in pure abstraction, though perhaps not that pure. The chosen color for the monochromes is based on the color of highest terror alert determined by the Department of Homeland Security. So even though visually abstract, the color is coded with significance: It has been ingrained in the psyche of those of us who live in this country as a constant symbol of ongoing dangerous potential. At any moment, the color reminds us, we may be attacked.
Eiko & Koma's Event Fission is a work that they performed in Manhattan's downtown Battery Park Landfill way back in 1980 when the Towers were spanking new. Japanese-American Choreographers who are no strangers to the Walker and the Twin Cities, Eiko & Koma's approach to dance has evolved over the years into a deeply subjective, personal style. In the video documentation of the performance, Eiko holds aloft a white flag on a pole. She dances along a ridge with the Downtown skyline in the background, seeming to joust with the buildings, most particularly the iconic towers rising steely from the ground. Herself and Koma join forces, move down the ridge, dance and dig a hole into which they fall creating a plume of dust. The work has an insouciant, innocent quality, but is also provocative, especially with hindsight. The exuberance and life of the dancers seems in strong opposition to the bold authority of the buildings in the background. For many people, many of them artists, the towers were symbolic of finance-driven values that they did not share, and while wishing them no material harm, they could critique the kind of world they seemed to represent. After the buildings fell, Eiko & Koma, New Yorkers since 1978, made a new work of mourning and commemoration titled Offering, 2002.
Michael Richards, standing next to his work "Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian"
Image courtesy: The Studio Museum in Harlam
The last work I will mention is titled Tar Baby vs San Sebastian, 1999. A bronze sculpture depicting an air force pilot with multiple airplanes penetrating his body, the work memorializes the Tuskegee Airmen, a celebrated and segregated air force unit during WW2 made up of African American pilots. The allusions to torture in the work reference in part the famous U.S. Government medical experiment in which African-American sharecroppers from Tuskegee were told they were being cured of syphilis when in fact they were being observed to see how the disease would develop in their bodies. The sculpture is part of a series by the artist Michael Richards, who understood that history is beset by traumas and wanted to help reveal them and make sense of them. Richards was artist in residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council on September 11th. Their studios were on the 92nd floor of Tower One. Consequently he was one of the many tragic victims of that very tragic day.
What art resonates most with you when thinking about the events of 9/11? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
The Minnesota Historical Society is launching an on-line encyclopedia about the state.
The site, www.mnopedia.org, is designed to offer multimedia entries about significant people, places, events and things in Minnesota history.
The site will grow and evolve over time, but MNHS is inviting the public to kick the tires of this new internet resource. Users are encouraged to test the site, give feedback and help make MNopedia an invaluable A-to-Z resource about Minnesota.
Currently, the prototype provides content in more than a dozen categories, including agriculture, women, architecture, sports and the environment.
In a release sent out this afternoon, Erica Hartmann, MNopedia Editor and Project Manager with the Minnesota Historical Society Press, said "MNopedia is a Legacy project, paid for by Minnesotans, so we want to give the public a real role in shaping it. We want users to tell us what's working and what's not, so we can refine and expand MNopedia in the coming year."
The MNopedia is designed to be a resource not just for history buffs, but teachers, students, journalists and the general public.
Most of the entries will be written by experts; Hartmann says historical society is continuing to recruit new parters and contributors to reflect the states diversity.
As I write this, a delegation of 14 administrators from one of the largest music conservatories in China are signing off on the final details of a hip-hip exchange program at the McNally Smith College of Music.
Representatives from McNally Smith in China last winter, including Toki Wright, Hip-Hop Studies Diploma Coordinator (bottom left), and Sean McPherson (of Heiruspecs), also on the Hip-Hop faculty (top left).
Photo: McNally Smith
Harry Chalmiers, President of McNally Smith College of Music, says this is only one of many cultural exchange efforts underway.
"The partnership's exciting potential for our students and our campus is matched by the enthusiasm of the Chinese officials coming to visit and the students back in Shenyang eager to study here," said Chalmiers. "It could be a major development not only for the Hip-Hop Diploma program but also for partnerships in our Business, Production, Composition, and Performance programs in the future."
McNally Smith describes itself as offering the only Hip Hop Diploma Program in the U.S.
For the first time in its history, the National Endowment for the Arts looked at future job prospects for a variety of artist occupations in Artist Employment Projections through 2018. The data are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)' Occupational Outlook Handbook: 2010-11.
Happily for artists, the news is good overall. Here's an excerpt from the report's summary:
This report examines the projected growth rate for artist occupations through 2018, over which time artist occupations will increase by 11 percent, compared with an overall increase in the labor force of 10 percent.
The artist occupations with the highest projected growth rates are museum technicians and conservators (26 percent), curators (23 percent), landscape architects (20 percent), interior designers (19 percent), architects (16 percent), writers and authors (15 percent), and multi-media artists and animators (14 percent).
Artist occupations likely to increase at a rate on par with the growth of the overall U.S. labor force are: graphic designers and actors (both 13 percent), art directors, photographers, and film and video editors (12 percent), and fine artists (9 percent), including painters, sculptors, and illustrators.
The artist occupations with the lowest projected growth rates are choreographers (5 percent), fashion designers (1 percent), floral designers (-3 percent), and media announcers (-4 percent).
The NEA note explores expected trends for more than a dozen artist and cultural occupations, including designers, writers, fine and multimedia artists, archivists, architects, camera operators, and musicians. In addition to occupation growth rate, the note also looks at the projected competition for jobs as well as the industry trends and macroeconomic factors that influence the demand for arts workers.
Ada Kysar learns to throw pots at the YMCA Camp Warren in Eveleth
Photo credit: David Searl
What are your kids doing this summer? How do you balance letting them enjoy their time off from school with keeping their minds actively engaged? For some, the answer lies in summer camps and classes that are really really fun.
Here's a list of artsy summer programs that come with recommendations from folks in the know. Click on the links to learn more.
2. The Children's Theatre Company offers a full range of classes in the performing arts for kids age 3 to 18.
3. In St. Cloud, Great Theatre also offers an extensive theater arts program for kids 3 and up.
4. Ditto for the Duluth Playhouse.
5. The Brave New Workshop offers week-long improv camps for youth (9-12) and teens (13-17).
6. Several people recommended clay camps at Northern Clay Center.
7. The Loft Literary Center offers classes in writing plays, myths and fairy tales. The Minnesota Center for Book Arts (located in the same building in Minneapolis) offers classes in printing, bookmaking and even creating your own comics.
8. The Walker Art Center offers free first Saturdays and Tuesday playdates with programming designed to encourage your kids' creativity.
9. Your kid can help beautify the community by helping create a mural in Minneapolis with the Aldrich Arts Collaborative.
10. Leonardo's Basement offers its perennial favorites LEGO Robotics and Giant Cardboard Castle along with Scientists in the Kitchen and To Infinity & Beyond!
11. Zenon Dance offers summer classes in everything from ballet to hip hop.
12. The Maple Grove Arts Center offers a five week Art Adventures camp, featuring a new art activity every Tuesday.
13. The Friends School of Minnesota offers a wide array of summer classes, including show choir, weaving, photography and plein air watercolor.
14. Last but not least, several different institutions have banned together this summer to create the Twin Cities Culture Camp this August, which will introduce kids to theatre, printmaking, dance, book arts, and puppetry. Depending on their age, kids will focus on themes of "Monster Jam," "Wild Safari," and "Myths and Legends."
So that's a pretty good start for someone looking to keep their kid creatively occupied this summer. Have something you'd like to add? Share it in the comments section.(7 Comments)
Jimmy Award winner Ryan McCartan of Minneapolis onstage at The 3rd Annual National High School Theater Awards in New York, Monday, June 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
18 year-old Ryan McCartan has a lot to be happy about.
Earlier this month the Minnetonka High School graduate won a statewide musical theater competition and qualitified, along with fellow winner Sarah Cartwright, to continue on to a national competition.
Then, this past Monday night, he was named Best Actor at the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City.
McCartan was one of two students to receive a Jimmy Award, the top honor in the program. Shauni Ruetz of Rochester, NY was named Best Actress. McCartan and Ruetz will receive $10,000 scholarship awards and consideration for other professional advancement opportunities.
Find out more here.
Today in the commentary section of MPR.org, economist Ann Markusen argues that hammering education with disproportionate budget cuts is a poor economic choice, because artists contribue significant revenue to the state economy. Here's an excerpt:
Take arts program graduates, for example. New evidence from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) refutes the "starving artist" stereotype. Of 13,600 graduates from 154 U.S. public and private college arts programs, conservatories and arts high schools -- including two in Minnesota -- 81 percent found jobs soon after graduation. Their current unemployment rates (6 percent) are substantially below the national average, and their job satisfaction levels are very high.
Artists and designers are core employees in our cultural industries. Minnesota's nationally prominent publishing, advertising and architecture firms, for instance, rely heavily on the creativity and training of the state's arts grads. More than 10 percent of the advertising industry's workforce consists of visual artists, writers and designers who provide the crucial creative content. Minnesota arts also create jobs in the public and nonprofit sectors. Think of the cast and crew that University of Minnesota English grad Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" has supported for decades, and the income the show has brought back to Minnesota.
Markusen goes on to talk about how artists contribute to the productivity of non-arts industries, too. She says arts grads are key to fueling the 21st century economy, because many of them are entrepreneurs who will start up their own businesses, and may eventually create jobs for others.
You can read the full commentary here.
Ann Markusen is director of the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a SNAAP National Advisory Board member. (MPR photo/Euan Kerr)
What does it take to convince skeptics that the arts are essential to our culture and to education, and therefore deserve our funding?
Mary Kay and Bob Zabel think arts advocates need a new, and better argument. On minnesotaplaylist.com they write the new argument should run along the lines of "Art is essential because art is language."
Many individuals with disabilities face challenges in the area of communication; they may have difficulty producing speech; they may rely on alternative communication strategies that are not readily accessible to others; they may find typical communication too emotionally charged; they may have emotional or behavioral blocks to using speech at all. For these individuals, some sort of alternate, but fairly universal, language is necessary, and this is where the arts can play an important role.
As educators in the area of emotional/behavioral disability, we have seen many examples of the power of story telling, writing, theatre, music, and visual arts to assist students and adults to more completely understand and express their needs. We have observed with disbelief as emotionally inaccessible, street smart kids hold profound conversations about feelings and behavior with a puppet; have heard kids quote song lyrics as a way to describe their emotions; have seen not only feelings, but actual information come out of a person's drawing or painting as they create with different art media.
Kay and Zabel cite numerous instances in which an arts program provided children with new tools for living with mental illness, managing anger, and sharing their stories.
You can read the full essay here.
Dan Keplinger is the star of the documentary "King Gimp." Born with cerebral palsy Keplinger has severe speech problems, but uses his painting to communicate his ideas.
According to Tracy Mitrano, we should be spending less time texting and tweeting, and more time reading and learning.
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Tracy Mitrano writes "BlogU" for Inside Higher Ed, and this past week has been tackling the issue of literacy. She argues that literacy means different things to different cultures, and at different times:
What does literacy means for American society? Historically we took our lesson from Ancient Greece: literacy was about citizenship. Different insofar as our government from the beginning was a republic and not direct democracy, literacy nevertheless has been regarded as the necessary tool for governance. Citizens must educate themselves about the issues, positions and people for whom they will vote to represent them in government.
Unfortunately, Mitrano writes, while literacy rates are rising globally, they're falling in the United States. And that could have some dire consequences:
Illiteracy or sub-literacy, it should surprise no one, is often found to be at the root of many social ills, crime not least and drug traffic the most. Illiteracy and sub-literacy are a reflection of an alarming financial and class disproportion, a trend that is growing rapidly. If the trend, propagated largely by tax policy in the last twenty years, continues unchecked, American society will surely assume the bimodal shape that current sociologists have depicted: a lot of money in the hands of a few people and families at the "top" of the society and many people in need at the "bottom."
Mitrano argues we simply don't appreciate true literacy, and the role it plays in supporting the well-being of society as a whole.
It is not the failure of administrators. It is not the failure of educators. It is not the failure of students. It is the failure of a society to value education as a social good. Rather than regard education as foundational pillar of citizenship, it has become a brand name to brandish or bandy about in a commercialized and commoditized marketplace, on the one hand, or a certification to get a position or a raise on the other. In the meaning we confer on education we seem to be in transition of what literacy meant from Ancient Greece to Ancient Rome.
Mitrano doesn't offer a solution to the literacy problem - but I'll happily take any ideas you have.
The Producing Director for the U of M's Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, Tom Proehl, died suddenly in early April.
Today the U of M announced it has found in interim replacement for Proehl while they search for a new producing director: Peg Guilfoyle.
Guilfoyle has worked in the Twin Cities for a long time, for both the Poets in the Schools program and the Guthrie Theater (she's the author of the book "The Guthrie Theater: Images, History, and Inside Stories." Her work has also included projects at the Ordway, at Mixed Blood and the Triple Espresso Company. Additionally, she has written commentary and nonfiction for newspapers and for Minnesota Public Radio.
The College of Visual Arts Gallery, located on the corner of Selby and Western in St. Paul
All images courtesy of the College of Visual Arts
Each year the Minnesota State High School League organizes contests in a wide variety of categories, including the visual arts.
And each year, the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul displays the winners of the "Judge's Choice" award. CVA's Director of Admissions, Elyan Paz, coordinates the event, which is now in its 6th year.
We wanted the Judge's Choice recipients to be recognized for their achievement and create an exhibition that celebrates some of the best high school artwork in the state. The artists have their work in a gallery and participate in an artist's discussion with their peers during the reception. We also recognize the high school art educators that submitted the artwork for their school.
Students will travel from all over the state with their parents in tow to attend the reception, held this Saturday afternoon. There they'll be treated to more than 80 works of art, including paintings, drawings, photography, ceramics, sculpture, stained glass and welding.
Luke Listad, Grade 12
Title: Dream Gear
Forest Lake Senior High School
The exhibition program was the idea of Anoka High School Art Educator Kevan Nitzberg back in 2006. Since then, Paz says she has since a steady increase in the sophistication of the work submitted.
The artwork medium has evolved along with the technology that is available for students within the classroom and beyond. We are seeing more digital artwork, and there are more pieces using mixed media within the sculpture and craft categories. I attribute this to the teachers and the increased exposure students have to the world around them.
Nancy Yang, Grade 12
Tile: World Maps (one of two paintings)
Century High School, Rochester
Paz says she's always impressed by those pieces which no doubt took up far more time than was allotted for in class, revealing a deep commitment on the part of the student. And she say the arts educators supporting these students are incredibly dedicated and passionate about the art.
A challenge for art colleges and art teachers is educating everyone on the importance of art within our schools and communities. Research has shown us that art is an important element of a strong and vibrant community. One way of bringing attention to our talented high school artists is by participating in the MSHSL Visual Arts festivals and the Minnesota State Visual Arts High School Exhibition.
If you want to see the award-winning work of these high schoolers, you'll want to hurry; the students get to take their work home with them after the reception on Saturday.
Perpich senior Ben Schultz and Dame Julie Andrews
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson
This afternoon, the students at the Perpich Center for the Arts were treated to an appearance by theater royalty. Dame Julie Andrews visited the Golden Valley school, which draws students from across the state.
She was there thanks to senior Ben Schultz, who has been corresponding with Andrews' agent for the past two years in the hopes of convincing her to visit.
So why is Schultz such a big fan?
She's always conducting herself with grace and poise. Everything you see her in - it's not a skanky role, it's not dirty. Every time she's on tv - like Oprah - she's never snotty or rude. Every single student here, we look up to her just because of the work she's done for theater and how successful she's become.
Andrews is in Minneapolis in part for a visit with Target Corporation, and also to promote her most recent children's book; it's thanks to Schultz she added the school visit to her itinerary.
The student body leapt to its feet with a roar when Andrews walked on the stage of the school theater.
She spoke to the students about the importance of the arts, and how they are a force for good in the world. When asked for her advice to budding performers, she offered this:
I think that if you're passionate about what you do - opportunities will float by when you least expect them. Since those moments could happen at any time, my best advice is do your homework. Learn what it is you love. Learn all about it, read as much as you possibly can, be ready because you never know when that special moment is going to be offered to you.
Afterwards, sitting in the makeshift "green room" (the boy's locker room), Andrews admitted that, while she attended an arts school herself, it was her family that played the most formative role in her career.
My mother was a fine pianist, my step-father was a wonderful tenor and he began giving me singing lessons when I was about seven years old - my mother's sister, my aunt was a ballet school teacher - actually she ran the local village ballet school and she did it very well. They encouraged and inspired me, and it just so happened that I was blessed with a kind of freak soprano voice that spanned four octaves. I didn't know anything else but theater growing up.
At the age of 75, Andrews is still looking at future film roles as well as directing opportunities. All this in addition to the more than twenty books she's published with her daughter.
I'm still learning, and I've worked my whole life. - I don't know how I would feel if I wasn't doing something that turned me on, so I'm always looking for the possibility of something fresh, something new something that I could embrace - I really love it.
Here's the audio from her talk to the students at the Perpich Center for the Arts, which includes a lovely recollection of her late husband Blake Edwards:(6 Comments)
Dave Hagedorn says there's been a new intensity at rehearsals for Jazz One, the St Olaf ensemble.
"Because they know they've got something to live up to in our concerts coming up next weekend," he says.
Hagedorn is the jazz band director and artist in residence at St Olaf, but to his students he may be currently known as the guy who entered them in the annual DownBeat Magazine awards - which they then won as best undergraduate large ensemble.
"When I told them they were pretty blown away," Hagedorn told me. "They kind of went 'Us?' Which was kind of cool," he laughed, "Because first of all they didn't even know I had entered a recording."
DownBeat has been making its jazz awards for three decades, and some awards have floated Minnesota's way in the past.
"We have been telling people our program is growing and getting better, and we haven't really had any outside evaluation of it."
With a slight sense of understatement Hagedorn says this award tells prospective students things are going well. He has high praise for the students currently in the band, and he looks forward to using them as a basis on which to grow the band in the future.
The St Olaf award is getting special attention from the magazine itself.
"DownBeat actually did an article on the band because I think we just kind of came out of nowhere. For a small college like this that people haven't heard of so far as jazz goes, they are kind of tickled by this," he said. He says the June issue will ship in about a week.
Meanwhile Jazz One has its final concert of the year coming up on Friday at 8.15pm and it's likely to be quite a celebration. Hagedorn says he hasn't slept properly for a couple of months since he learned of the award.
"Like I told a bunch of people, this is by far the peak of my teaching career so far."
You can hear more from Hagedorn and his students in a video put together by St Olaf. You can also listen to "Transit" one of the three pieces Hagedorn sent to Downbeat from the ensemble's fall concert by clicking on the button below.
Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies in rehearsal
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies have announced a new alliance in which they are going to remain independent organizations, while sharing resources and infrastructure.
It's the sort of collaboration that today's economy will probably continue to inspire in other non-profits, in order to remain financially viable.
While the two organizations will remain separate 501 (c) (3) entities, but the GTCYS administrative office will move from its current location in the Hennepin Center for the Arts to a shared space in the SPCO Center in downtown St. Paul, According to a release, this will allow the organizations to share resources such as information technology.
The two organizations already collaborate, with SPCO musicians coaching GTCYS chamber ensembles, and SPCO artistic partners conducting the youth symphonies. With the GTCYS moving to the same building as the SPCO, both organizations say there will be further opportunities for staff collaboration, and they believe the alliance will help them to grow their audiences.
The move is scheduled for the summer of 2011.
Photo by Leif Hagen of Eagan Daily Photo.
On May 7, Anthony Caponi, the founder and artistic director of Caponi Art Park, turns 90. In honor of that event, Governor Mark Dayton has declared May 7 "Caponi Art Park and Learning Center Day."
The art park, if you're not familiar with it, is a 60 acre wooded area that includes located a 20 acre sculpture garden, an outdoor amphitheater and miles of walking paths. The park regularly hosts free concerts and performances, and hosts "Family Fun" days where families can try out a variety of art forms and learn about different cultures. The park is open free to the public Tuesday through Sunday from May through October. For more information, check out this story by MPR's Chris Roberts.
Here's the language of the proclamation (I always get a kick out of these):
WHEREAS: Caponi Art Park and Learning Center, located in Eagan, Minnesota, is a nonprofit center for the arts and a place where visual and performing arts are presented and fostered in a natural setting; and
WHEREAS: Caponi Art Park and Learning Center was founded by former Macalester College Art Department head Mr. Anthony Caponi, an Italian sculptor, educator, poet, author, philosopher, innovator and engineer who has lived in Minnesota for over 55 years and made significant contributions to Minnesota's vibrant art community; and
WHEREAS: On May 7, 2011, the day of founder Mr. Caponi's 90th birthday, Caponi Art Park and Learning Center will celebrate the achievements of the Art Park, its founder, and create public awareness of the arts.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, MARK DAYTON, Governor of Minnesota, do hereby proclaim May 7, 2011 as:
CAPONI ART PARK AND LEARNING CENTER DAY
in the State of Minnesota.
The public is invited to celebrate this honor and the 90th birthday of park founder, Anthony Caponi, at the park's annual Open House from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. The park is located at 1220 Diffley Road.
The president of Minneapolis College of Art and Design Jay Coogan has proved you can grow money by growing facial hair.
The fundraisers at MCAD convinced Coogan he should grow a "creepy, early-1970s mustache" if the staff and faculty raised an additional $1,000 for student scholarships. The gimmick gave an extra incentive for people to donate now to what is a perennial campaign.
According to MCAD's P-R man Rob Davis, the 'stache did the trick:
In one week we have received gifts from 86 faculty and staff totaling more than $2,600! Nearly three-fourths of the gifts came from people who had never previously given, or hadn't given this year. Jay is already looking very scruffy, and next Friday, we'll get to see the mustache.
"I just thought a mustache would be funny." said Kate Mohn, executive assistant to Jay Coogan and the one responsible for the idea. She created the "'Stache" promotional image seen above.
Davis says MCAD is still (of course) accepting donations to the student scholarship fund - any gifts received through next Friday will be counted as "'stache inspired."
Howard Oransky is a man with a strong resume in both art and education. And so he seems a fitting choice to lead the University of Minnesota's Katherine E. Nash Gallery.
For 14 years Oransky worked at the Walker Art Center; among other duties he served as the museum's staff project manager on its internationally touted expansion project.
In the mid-nineties he taught critical studies as an adjunct professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design; when he left the Walker he then became MCAD's director of continuing studies.
In addition, he's a co-founder of Form + Content Gallery, where he has curated two group shows, including Love Never Dies.
About his new job, Oransky writes "I feel fortunate and excited to become the next director of the Nash Gallery. The University of Minnesota is a major center for research in many fields and my vision for the Nash Gallery is that it will become a research center for the practice and interpretation of the visual arts."
Oransky started his new job at the U of M today.
The Gallery Vault, in St. Cloud
Most stories you hear these days regarding tuition involves students picketing and protesting to either lower or freeze the costs of their tuition. Well not so at St. Cloud State University.
In fact, a group of art students have submitted a petition asking their university to increase tuition... by $2.40.
Why? To save a student-run gallery in downtown St. Cloud. Last year three students - Sara Larson, Blake Weld and Chalyn Day - applied and received a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board to open up the space, called the "Gallery Vault." The grant funded the operation from September 2010 - January 2011, with program-based tuition (from the student exhibition budget) funding its operation through May 2011.
Now the students want an increase in their program-based tuition to keep it open. Chalyn Day says the off campus space allows students to interact with the community, as well as local youth and other artists.
Continuing to keep the gallery open gives students first hand experience with how a gallery is run and operated. Students take there own initiative outside of class to make this space available to the public; this allows students to develop independence as artists and prepare them for a motivated career. Interaction with the community allows students to converse with patrons of the arts and prepares them for future relationships. We feel the experience and knowledge acquired by students greatly outweighs the monetary cost.
The cost of running the gallery amounts to $14,000, between rent and utilities. The $2.40 increase, multiplied by 5,000 students, would cover $12,000, with the remainder coming from the already established student exhibition budget.
According to David Sebberson, the Chair of SCSU's Art Department, the university's budget advisory committee is currently scheduled to hear the proposal to increase tuition $2.40 on April 7.
The SCSU Student Government will hear and vote to endorse or not endorse all tuition and fee increases. This will happen before or during the first week of May. The Student Government has a history of endorsing increases if the students affected by the increase support it.
Sebberson says the MnSCU Board of Trustees must approve all tuition rates, an action which normally takes place during the summer. Historically, he says, the Board has supported proposals for program-based tuition, since they cover program-specific costs that normal tuition wouldn't reasonably be expected to cover.
Carla Rodriguez and Ethan Holbrook stand in the rotunda where they've created a sound piece for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
For two seniors at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, making the journey from student to "legitimate artist" involved a trek of just a few hundred feet.
Carla Rodriguez and Ethan Holbrook beat out 17 other proposals by their peers - including graduate students - for the opportunity to create a site specific piece for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This is the first round in what is expected to be an ongoing collaboration between the school and the museum.
The piece, which is situated in the second floor Target rotunda (see image below), is a sound installation. Called "A Continued Presence," it features the sound of Rodriguez running around the rotunda with bare feet (Holbrook and Rodriguez were allowed into the museum after hours to make the recording). The sound is just loud enough that it doesn't seem like an intrusion, but gradually grabs your attention.
"It's an activation of the space," says Holbrook. "I'd like to think that it will make the viewer aware of this space, the architecture, of the building."
"I feel like a lot of people aren't going to notice it," says Rodriguez, "which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It depends on how aware they are in that moment."
Rodriguez is primarily a photographer, and Holbrook a filmmaker, so this project was a stretch for both of them.
MIA curator Christopher Atkins says the space the students chose is an area most people just pass through moving from one gallery to the next, but he believes the sound installation will get people to stop and notice their surroundings a little more.
"It's kind of creepy - you can hear it from all three floors," says Atkins. "And it's also breaking the rules - you can't run in a museum!"
The second floor Target rotunda in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Carla Rodriguez ran barefoot around the rotunda for 25 minutes while Ethan Holbrook recorded to create "A Continued Presence."
Image courtesy of the MIA
The students were also inspired by tales of certain rooms in the museum being haunted (ghosts?! plan to read more on that topic on this blog sometime soon), and liked the idea of creating a sound piece that was in essance an echo of what had once happened there.
While both Holbrook and Rodriguez have both shown their work in exhibitions organized by MCAD, this is their first real exposure to life as professionals. Their proposal was selected in December, and they've been working with the museum for the past two months to create and install the piece.
"I'm ecstatic that we could do something like this with the museum," says Rodriguez. "You get into kind of a bubble at MCAD, and things are easy - it's a safe environment, people are always there to help you. But in this situation there's this sense of professionalism, there's more riding on it. It's a well-known museum, it's a huge honor. We're graduating soon, now we have this on our resume; I feel like this makes us more legitimate."
Christopher Atkins predicts that after students see "A Continued Presence" installed, the MIA can expect even more proposals next year.
"It's gone really well - I think this will go a long way to get students interested in participating. It's been really nice to share our resources with MCAD, and work on this project together."
Atkins says MCAD president Jay Coogan brought the collaboration idea with him from the Rhode Island School of Design, where they had a similar program. Next year students will be encouraged to submit proposals for different locations in the museum.
"That was one of the coolest parts," says Rodriguez. "We could choose any part of the museum. It made me think outside of what I'm normally comfortable with, and look at the building differently."
"It's a great space," Holbrook adds, noting that the minimalist artwork on the walls in the rotunda partners well with the sound piece.
"A Continued Presence" is still in the final stages of installation, and will have an official opening reception on Thursday night. It will remain in the museum through May 22nd.
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents gave their final approval today for the financing package that will renovate the 1929 building that serves as a major performing arts venue for the Twin Cities.
According to a release, the renovation is estimated at $80.8 million dollars and is intended to restore the center with a "multi-purpose 2,800 seat hall, featuring state-of-the-art acoustics, significantly improved sight-lines, cutting-edge technologies and updated amenities, including a cafe and coffee bar."
The funding for the renovation comes from a combination of Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funds, private donations, university funds and savings and debt service.
The Northrop will close on Monday, February 14, with construction to begin on the 82-year-old facility later this month. The grand re-opening is scheduled for Fall 2013. In the meantime, university activities usually programmed for the Northrop Auditorium will be moved to other venues such as the State and Orpheum Theaters.
Anna Halvorson poses with her wall of tiles, the results of her artistic partnership with ceramic artist Kelly Cox.
Currently on display in the Interact Gallery in Minneapolis are the results of four artistic partnerships. Titled "Fame," it showcases the work that resulted from a sort of mentor/mentee relationship between four Interact artists and four artists who work in their field professionaly.
I say "sort of" because in some cases the mentors learned just as much from the Interact artists. Take for example the partnership between Kelly Cox and Anna Halvorson.
Halvorson spends much of her days throwing pots on a potter's wheel. She's also a very vivid visual artist. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Halvorson describes having psychic presences that influence her work, creating highly spiritual scenes featuring both vampires and angels.
For the Fame program, Halvorson was paired with ceramic artist Kelly Cox, who exclusively hand builds her pottery, and often creates sculptures that blend animal and human forms. Cox says it was a delight to work with Halvorson.
Since we both draw on our clay surfaces I tried to show [Halvorson] some materials that I thought she would have better results with, and to work with her on creating depth in the drawings by establishing a foreground and a background. With ceramics, the aesthetic is often more appealing if you loosen up and have confidence.
One of the many tile pieces Anna Halvorson made while working with Kelly Cox. This piece was drawn from reference material, something Halvorson wouldn't normally do.
Cox said sometimes the mentorship felt a bit odd, because "Anna knows just as much as I do if not more," however she found working together both very peaceful and a great break from her regular studio routine.
Halvorson agreed, it was good to work with someone new for a change, and to get out of the Interact studios into a different, professional studio.
I was having a little trouble with my colors - underglaze detaching. [Cox] gave me color mixed with slip - engobes - that helped keep the color and glaze intact.
Cox also works from references a lot - she collects a lot of pictures, and uses them in her artwork - which is something I could do more.
Halvorson said Cox actually reminded her of herself when she was younger.
Ceramic artist Kelly Cox
Welles Emerson, who organized the Fame program for Interact, says mentorship plays a crucial role in an artist's development.
It provides critical artistic feedback, emotional support, and an investment in the artist's professional evolution.
In addition, Interact artists often don't have access to the latest tools or equipment, so partnerships can expose them to ways of working they've never seen before. Emerson says this years program was a particular success.
I am extremely pleased with the personal and artistic outcomes of this year's mentorship experience. I have seen amazing growth in the artwork of the Interact artists and observed the power of the deep friendships formed over the mentorship period.
"Fame" is on display in the Interact gallery space through March 27.
The Hennepin County Library and the Guthrie Theater are partnering to bring theater classes to local libraries.
Starting in March, theater professionals will present classes on such topics as storytelling, stage combat, Shakespeare, and games actors play to warm up for a rehearsal.
Registration is both required and limited, with registration for some classes begins in February. The classes are funded with money from Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
What I want to know is, are the actors being paid union wages?
How would you react if your child said to you "I want to go to arts school"?
For Robin Gerchman, an artist herself, the statement was a bit of a wake up call. Even she was plagued by doubts and financial concerns, which she expresses eloquently in an essay for Inside Higher Ed.
I advocate for the importance of arts in education and against the severe budget cuts the arts are currently faced with from the perspective as both art educator and parent. Why then, do these seven words throw me into such a tailspin? Where will he work? How will he survive? The funding isn't there now; what will it be like in four years when he graduates? Is he prepared for this ever-changing artistic world?
Gerchman, an assistant professor and director of dance at Cedar Crest College, has reassured many parents that their dance major daughters will be just fine. But when her own son utters his intentions to pursue a career in the arts, she momentarily balks, worrying that his artistic passion will not be enough to sustain him financially.
My son is now entering an artistic world that has been enduring a tug of war with politics for the past nine years. He personally experienced this after working diligently on his portfolio submission to the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts. After waiting patiently for a response to his submission, he had the rug pulled out from under him. During the week the admission letters were supposed to be sent out, he was told by his school guidance counselor that funding for the school had been cut with the budget changes.
Ultimately, to Gerchman's relief, her son chooses a liberal arts college over a conservatory, and to double major in the arts and something more pragmatic.
How interesting that through this my son is the one that taught me the lesson. Yes, being an art major will open his eyes to the world in a way that he has not viewed it before. Yes, double-majoring with something "else" will give him an opportunity to merge his thoughts from discipline to discipline and communicate his new findings to the world. It is not hypocrisy. I am not leading my son or my students astray. I will watch my students grow, along with my son, as educated artists. He will be fine and will flourish as the interdisciplinary artist he is already becoming. It's time to let go and let him experience.
To read the full essay, click here.
Would you encourage or condone your child going to arts school? Why or why not?(1 Comments)
Here's a post for jazz lovers, rappers and science geeks alike. Researcher Charles Limb gives us a tour of our frontal lobes when reciting memorized music versus improvising new music. The process involved creating a keyboard that could be played while the musician was simultaneously undergoing a brain scan (lying down, in cramped quarters). Stick with the talk to find out just how improvisation is linked to communication skills, and to hear Limb himself give rapping a try.
This afternoon lawyers are gathering at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Not to worry - there's no scandalous lawsuit at hand. Instead they're taking part in a workshop that uses theater, and dramatic readings, to illuminate legal topics.
Today's topic is "Seeking Safety Against Borders," exploring the complex aspects of international child abduction cases involving allegations of domestic violence. The course includes staged readings of actual transcripts of interviews with U.S. mothers and their attorneys from a recent study supported by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In addition, a panel of related experts will discuss issues such as gender-bias, extenuating circumstances surrounding a person's residence in a foreign country, defenses for preventing the return of a child, and what happens after a child is returned when domestic violence is present.
Lawyers who attend the two-and-a-half hour workshop are able to apply for 2.5 continuing legal education credits. In Minnesota, each lawyer holding an active license must complete a minimum of 45 credit hours, including at least 3 ethics credit hours and 2 elimination of bias credit hours, every 3 years in order to retain their license.
Starting today, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design has a new look on the web.
The website redesign features a new logo and a new banner. The logo is pretty simple - it's an "X." MCAD President Jay Coogan explains the new logo this way:
The new logo mark shows two arrows that have come together to form an intersection. The Intersection is illustrative of the new MCAD vision statement, "transforming the world through creativity and purpose." MCAD is the place where creativity meets purpose, and increasingly where the student experience will take place at the intersection of the campus and the world at large.
The website banner, which used to feature silhouettes of the Minneapolis skyline, now shows students and their work. Visitors to the website can click on the images and be taken to a virtual gallery of student work.
The new look on the website is the first stage in a three part overhaul; the next two phases will be geared at adding services for students/alumnae and faculty/staff, respectively.
The website and logo were both created by MCAD alums. The redesigned logo was created by MCAD DesignWorks Director J. Zachary Keenan '05; Little & Company, the Minneapolis-based consultancy founded by Monica Little '78, designed the new website.
Dance to Learn students at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus. Photo: Erin Gomach.
Can a tango teach the rules of action vs reaction? How about swinging your partner to experience the powers of centrifugal force?
Today 25 teachers from around the state are at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts learning how to integrate dance into the curriculum at their schools.
And by dance, we're not talking about 15 minutes of ballet inbetween math and English.
Instead these teachers, with help from staff at the Perpich Center for the Arts, will learn to use dance as a tool for understanding things like photosynthesis. The "Dance to Learn" program helps teachers to integrate the principles of dance with other areas of study, connecting ideas of space, time, shape and line with choreography.
Now in its third year, this year's program involves select schools in Richfield, Saint Paul and Minneapolis. A total of 16 classrooms are participating and include students in 3rd - 8th grades. Three of these classrooms are specifically focused on working with students learning English as a second language.
As the year proceeds, these teachers will receive seven to nine days of hands-on coaching at their schools. Ultimately over 1600 students will participate in multiple dance lessons.
Denis Evstuhin in the final moment of Rachmaninoff's "Melody," performing on "A Prairie Home Companion" on February 20, 2010.
One of the University of Minnesota School of Music's piano students is about to compete in the final round of the International Paderewski Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Denis Evstuhin is one of five finalists in the competition and will perform at noon today, US Central time. The performance will be carried live on the competition website. Evstuhin, a student of U of M professor Alexander Braginsky, will perform Chopin's Piano Concerto #1.
Forty participants were selected to compete from applicants in auditions around the world. The two-week long competition in Bydgoszcz began on November 9.
MacPhail Center for Music has named former board member and non-profit consultant Tom Moss as Interim CEO. He takes the reigns December 1, replacing David O'Fallon, who recently accepted the position of President of the Minnesota Humanities Center.
Moss will hold the position until a new CEO is named; he's not a candidate for the position. That's expected to be completed by late spring of 2011
Moss has a very personal connection to the MacPhail Center for Music; his grandfather is the Center's founder, William S. MacPhail.
Audience members fill the amphitheater at the new Trollwood Performing Arts School facility for the opening performance of "The Wiz."
Photo credit: David Samson / The Forum
Trollwood Performing Arts School has decided that in order to increase its revenue, it needs to do more than teach.
For years, Trollwood Performing Arts School has run a summer program that taught hundreds of kids how to dance, act, write plays, build sets and more. In 2009 the school moved to a new, sprawling campus on the high side of the Red River in south Moorhead (its old home was regularly flooded).
While the TPAS had an ambitious vision for the new school (featuring a dozen or so buildings), it was only able to raise the funds for a fraction of the project. However it was able to construct a state-of-the-art outdoor amphitheater that seats well over 2000 people. Each summer the performing arts program culminates in a large outdoor stage production.
This last summer, when Garrison Keillor brought "A Prairie Home Companion" to Fargo-Moorhead, he chose the outdoor amphitheater to present the radio show. Despite bad weather and traffic, the audience was packed. Then Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater came to teach and perform, with similar success. Trollwood leaders realized their venue had the potential to generate more money for the school, and help it complete its original vision for the campus.
Now, the school is going to be part of a larger organization, named Bluestem Center for the Arts, that will program the amphitheater with all sorts of events for the general public. It's considering not just concerts, but corporate retreats, as well as summer and winter festivals that involve the entire community.
Steve Wurzer is the president of Future Builders, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises funds to support Trollwood Performing Arts School and now community arts programming at Bluestem. He says the name Bluestem is associated with native prairie grasses found in the area.
"The name has many qualities that we like. It is geographically relevant and we believe it reflects the character of the site and what we offer," added Wurzer.
You can find out more information about the name change and programming expansion here.
Tonight and tomorrow night mark the culmination of Pillsbury House Theatre's annual "Chicago Avenue Project," in which neighborhood kids get the chance to work with professional playwrights, directors and actors. The theme for this year's performances is "Over the Top"; joining the kids to help them create and stage their own plays are Christina Baldwin, Tyson Forbes, and Zoe Pappas.
Check out the video to get a sense of the experience, or go see the show for yourself. Performances are free, and cookies and milk are served afterward.
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts have long been neighbors, allowing art students to simply wander over to the museum for a dose of inspiration. Now those students may get to see their own work on display.
The MIA has put out a call to MCAD students for proposals for site-specific installations. Proposals are due November 15, and one proposal will be selected for installation starting mid-March, 2011. I checked in with Vince Leo, Vice President of Academic Affairs at MCAD to find out more:
Have the MIA and MCAD ever collaborated in this way in the past?
There have been discussions between staff of both institutions for several years with various outcomes such as class visits and MIA staff critiquing MCAD student work. That said, this is the first collaboration that is institution-wide for both MIA and MCAD. And before I forget, ti's absolutely amazing that MIA is welcoming MCAD students to show work in their museum. Not exactly business as usual for a world-class encyclopedic museum.
How significant is an opportunity like this for an MCAD student?
Very, and our students know it. I think the obvious benefit is that the winner(s) are going to land a big entry on their resume. But to my mind, the most important benefit is the opportunity to work in the real world with MIA staff, a budget (and budget constraints), and the kind of focus a call-for-proposal process brings to a creative intelligence.
What do you think of the project?
I'm more excited than I can probably put into words. It's not just the opportunity for our students, it's also the opportunity to see some great new work. it doesn't make any difference how long I work at MCAD, I see an amazing, surprising, new something several times a week every single week. I'm excited to share!
(FYI, several students at El Colegio will proudly tell that they've already got their work up at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts - they created their own Day of the Dead offerings for the annual "Young People's Ofrenda," now on display.)
Humphrey Institute's Professor Ann Markusen may be in Scotland on a Fulbright scholarship, but that's not stopping her from continuing to make waves state-side on issues surround the arts and economic development.
On Friday, Markusen presented a white-paper - via satellite - to the National Endowment for the Arts. The white paper is for the Mayors' Institute on City Design, which is dedicated to transforming communities through smart design.
The main thrust of the paper is that creating spaces that foster creativity - say, through the use of public art, or by converting empty warehouses into artist studios - fosters economic development by both reinvesting residents' money locally at a higher rate, and by attracting non-arts-related businesses and skills to the community.
You can read Markusen's full report here.
Earlier this week a package showed up my desk containing a bright orange book with the bold title "Fierce and True."
To my surprise, it was a collection of plays commissioned by Children's Theatre Company: Lost Boys of Sudan, Anon(ymous), Prom and Five Fingers of Funk.
Huh, I thought, the theatre company is getting in the book business.
To find out more I checked in with CTC Artistic Director Peter Brosius, who edited the book along with Elissa Adams, CTC's director of new play development. Here's what Brosius had to say:
What inspired you to publish Fierce and True?
We have been blessed by working with some of the leading artists in the United States to create new work for this age group. These plays have touched lives, ignited imaginations and started community wide conversations. These artists have set a new standard in theatre for young people in the quality of the writing, the vividness of theatrical imagination, and the profundity of their engagement with contemporary society. We are immensely proud of this work and wanted to share it to have it performed across the country, to inspire others to create work for this age group and to challenge accepted notions of what constitutes theatre for teens.Who do you see as the market for this book?
Theatre companies both professional and community based, schools, colleges, community centers, teachers, camp leaders, academics, youth workers, libraries. People who are curious, people who are interested in new developments in the arts, People who like to read good plays.Are there many theaters out there doing shows specifically for teens? If not, do you think it's possible to change that?
Not enough. I think that by showing the quality of this work and the breadth of the artists we can inspire artists and inspire theatres to think about this as an audience of importance and vitality. At the Children's Theatre Company, we have seen firsthand how engaging with this audience feeds the artists, gives them new perspectives, new energy and hope. We have been thrilled to see our theatre filled with teens eager to see new work-coming with their friends, a date, their parents or their school. This audience is optimistic, engaged, extraordinarily savvy and sophisticated. We know that the professional theatre field needs to embrace this next generation and needs to do it now so that we find new ways to be in dialogue and be challenged and transformed by this next generation. This is a critical audience--they are tastemakers, innovators, breaking new ground and moving this culture forward--they are a cultural and political force and play a huge role in defining fashion, music and new media and more.Now that you've published this collection, do you think you will do it again? Is the first in a series, or a singular event?
Funny, you should ask, I am writing an introduction now for the second in this series of new plays to be published by the wonderful University of Minnesota Press, which will look at the work that we have produced that examines the Face of America today. These are plays that we have produced for multi-generational audiences with a focus on 8-12 year olds that explore issues of assimilation and identity by a remarkable collection of playwrights.
Posted at 1:28 PM on October 25, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Education
Frank Lee had a nice piece in the St. Cloud Times this weekend on how art therapy is being used as a tool for dealing with the roller-coaster ride of cancer. Patients at the Coborn Cancer Center are encouraged to channel their emotions into paintings, clay models, plaster masks and collages. I found patient Sally Thayer's explanation of the value of art therapy particularly pointed and compelling:
"My husband, my church and my friends were very supportive, but as supportive as they were, they couldn't possibly understand [what I was going through], and that's where art therapy comes in."
You can read the full article here. In addition, St. Cloud Times writer Amy Bowen shared a similar story a couple of weeks ago... this time it was teenager Kate Stewart who was able to face her Leukemia through art and poetry.
A new website brings the stories of Minnesota immigrants alive for classrooms
The Minnesota Historical Society has just launched "Becoming Minnesotan" a new site dedicate to the stories of recent immigrants to Minnesota, including Hmong, Khmer, Asian Indians, Somalis and Tibetans. Designed for teachers and students, the website includes oral histories narrated by members of immigrant and refugee groups, photographs, maps, timelines, podcasts and classroom activities.
Meanwhile, tonight at 7pm folks are gathering at the West Bank Center in Minneapolis to celebrate the publishing of "Queer Twin Cities", a GLBT oral history project. It's billed as a collection of essays that takes a "pioneering look at the queer history, politics, and spaces of the Twin Cities." Topics include everything from moral reform to gay life among lumber workers in northern Minnesota, as well as profiles of such venues as the Viking Bar and the Dugout.
The Weisman Art Museum has been keeping its doors open for the first phase of its expansion and renovation. That will change this Sunday, when it shuts down for a year.
This Sunday the Weisman Art Museum is shutting its doors to the public and taking down the last pieces of art in preparation for the next phase of its expansion and renovation.
That phase will take approximately a year; Director Lyndel King says the museum plans to re-open in November of 2011.
However the museum will open to the public just once more this winter, this December, for a closing party that will allow museum lovers to do some things they normally never get to do in a museum. Like draw on the walls... or drink red wine.
Yesterday afternoon I was treated to a hard-hat tour of the new sections of the building now in progress, including a new collaboration space meant to serve as an incubator for projects that involve both artists and other non-arts-related university departments. That space juts out of the front of the building, and will be covered by a typical Frank Gehry shiny metallic drapery that will almost completely protect students walking in front of the museum rain or snow.
New gallery space
The most exciting part of the tour was checking out the expanded gallery space on the East side of the building. The rooms are monumental in size and will double the number of objects the Weisman can display at any given time.
And what appears from the exterior to be jauntily placed boxes on top of the Weisman's roof are actually new skylights, which add dramatic natural lighting.
Weisman Art Museum's expansion features two large skylights.
The next phase of construction is expected to finish in May 2011, after which the building will need to sit empty for a while as the new floors off-gas, and the new paint smell fades away.
Surprisingly, the date of the museum's re-opening has yet to be set, not because of construction, but because of the University of Minnesota's fall football schedule.
Director King says the museum is obliged to wait and see what Saturdays are taken up by home games; due to campus policy the museum's parking lot is forced to shut down on those Saturdays, making a re-opening celebration infeasible.
A rendering of the proposed Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center Commons as viewed from the East entrance
The board of Macalester College has given the thumbs up to move on the first phase of a $39.8 million renovation and expansion of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center. The project is scheduled to begin in January 2011.
The fine arts center, built in 1965, houses the Music, Art, and Theatre & Dance Departments. The first phase of the project will renovate and expand the Music building, including the concert hall, add rehearsal space, and create an "Arts Commons" (see above photo) which will house new art history classrooms and a new art gallery.
The first phase is expected to take 18 months, reopening in fall 2012.
A view of the renovated Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center from outside the Shaw Field entrance
According to a release, the renovation and expansion project cost is $33.8 million. In conjunction with the arts improvements, the college will also complete a $6 million, 31,000 square foot renovation of the facilities department, located in the lower level of the building, bringing the total project cost to $39.8 million. The college has raised $16.5 million towards a $24 million fundraising goal focused solely on the arts building improvements. The college will bond for the remaining $15.8 million.
HGA of Minneapolis is the architect and McGough Construction of St. Paul is the contractor.
The second phase of the project is set to begin once the first phase is complete and remaining funds are raised. Phase Two will include the Art, and Theatre and Dance Department buildings.
Teen programming at the Walker Art Center
Teenagers no longer need to wait for Thursday nights to get into the Walker Art Center for free. Thanks to some funding from Wells Fargo, the museum has announced it's making itself free to teenagers during all regular hours.
The Walker Art Center already has several programs dedicated to getting teenagers more interested in contemporary art, and also operates a teen-centric web site. This new initiative will make it that much easier for young art lovers to walk in the front door.
The new policy takes effect on October 14, the night of the Walker student open house.
Posted at 9:55 AM on September 15, 2010
by Molly Bloom
Filed under: Education
Students returning to school this fall can expect some changes in their arts classrooms. Revised K-12 arts standards go in to effect this school year and while not a significant departure from the last set of standards there are a few key changes.
Among them is that students will begin taking media arts in kindergarten instead of waiting until high school. Media arts includes film, photography, audio, digital arts and interactive media. The state does not currently license media arts teachers, so these classes will be taught by other arts teachers or computer instructors.
Under the new standards, all dance, theater, visual art, music and media arts classes will now emphasize the role technology plays in the field.
Another change is that all arts teachers also will be expected to cover the contributions of Minnesota's American Indian tribes and communities to the arts.
Teachers in our Public Insight Network shared with MPR News how they plan to incorporate these standards in their classrooms. Betsy Maloney, a dance teacher at the Main Street School of Performing Arts in Hopkins says she plans to meet the technology standard by teaching students how to document their performances using video. Noelle Johnson, an elementary music teacher in Pine River, plans to invite the nearby Leech Lake Band to demonstrate Ojibwe music for her students.
The way Minnesota schools implement the standards likely will vary. There are no tests or visits to make sure schools are complying.
Schools are required to offer three kinds of arts classes and Minnesota high school students must have at least one art credit to graduate as part of the state graduation requirements. Beyond that, it's up to individual districts and teachers how they will cover the standards.
Rusk said her teachers are committed to including the new standards in their curriculum, but she lamented that in a time of significant budget reductions, the state does not provide money to help adopt these standards.
The teachers "end up having to develop new curriculum on their own time and expense," Rusk said.
If you work in a school, we'd love to hear how you're school is implementing the revised standards: Share your insights here.
David O'Fallon, CEO of MacPhail Center for Music, has accepted the position of President of the Minnesota Humanities Center, beginning November 1.
O'Fallon is a Minnesota native with a distinguished career in the arts, from creating several arts leadership programs for the University of Minnesota, to serving as director of arts education for the National Endowment for the Arts, to his role as staff director of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
O'Fallon returned to Minnesota in 1995 to head the Perpich Center, then joined the MacPhail Center for Music in 2002. Under his leadership the student enrollment more than doubled in seven years, the center entered into several community partnerships and satellite teaching centers, and added a music therapy program. It also moved into a brand new building.
O'Fallon fills the position previously held by Dr. Stanley Romanstein, who joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as president and CEO in May after serving nine years as president of the Minnesota Humanities Center.
The MHC works directly with teachers, schools and communities statewide to create more engaging and meaningful learning experiences for all students. It also works with schools to make sure the curriculum connects with students from a variety of cultures, ethnicities and experiences.
MacPhail's directors are in the process of determining a succession plan; O'Fallon will remain with MacPhail through the end of October.
In honor of the close of Walker's inaugural summer of "Open Field" - it's physical embodiment of a "cultural commons" - renowned "commoner" Lewis Hyde is speaking tonight. Hyde is the author of "Common as Air: Revolution, Art and Ownership."
Hyde defines the cultural commons as "that vast store of unowned ideas, inventions and works of art that we have inherited from the past and that we continue to create." As opposed to intellectual property, which belongs to a person or a company, our cultural commons is something we all share, and are all influenced by in different ways.
Hyde argues that our cultural commons suffers from "a kind of public invisibility, a lack of political, economic, and juridical standing" that makes it hard to fully value and protect.
Hyde will talk tonight at 7pm at the Walker Cinema, but if you can't make it, check out the above excerpt from a talk he gave, in which he uses Bob Dylan to explain the influence of the cultural commons on an individual's work.
The University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education has announced a new graduate program aimed at Minnesota arts professionals.
The Master of Professional Studies in Arts and Cultural Leadership is designed for arts and culture professionals who've already been working in the field for at least five years.
Sherry Wagner-Henry, Departmental Director of Graduate Programs for the College of Continuing Education, says the program comes out of several meetings with people in the arts community, who were looking for professional development opportunities.
Through focus groups, surveys and one-on-one conversations, one of the main points we got back was that we needed to offer something for people who've been working in arts and cultural leadership for 5 years, and want to build on that.
The masters program, which begins this fall, is being scheduled so that students can keep working full-time, and just take a couple of classes each semester. At this rate the 32 hour program would take four to five years to complete. Wagner-Henry says it costs in the area of $32-35,000 including fees, and so spreading the program over four to five years would makes it more affordable for some.
The U of M's College of Continuing Education, in cooperation with the Hubert H Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, already offers a certificate in non-profit management, with an option to focus on the arts. But Wagner-Henry says the two programs have marked differences.
The non-profit certificate and the Hubert Humphrey grad program are very proscribed, with a set curriculum. The strength of our program is that it's flexible, and can be catered to a student's needs. So if you have five or ten years experience in marketing, there's no need for you to take basic requirement courses in marketing.
One of the classes Wagner-Henry is excited to offer is a non-profit board practicum. She says people in the non-profit sector often feel like they're vying for the same small group of people to serve on their boards. The practicum would teach best practices for recruiting new board members, and how best staff and board can work together.
And instead of an internship, common in programs for people with less professional experience, this masters program offers a mentorship, partnering the student with one or two professionals in the community.
Wagner-Henry says it's about building a professional network and access for the student.
We're trying to build capacity in community leaders who are working through the lens of arts and culture. We're helping them to think about how they fit into their communities, how they help build communities, and how to strengthen their organizations.
Wagner-Henry says by the summer of 2013 she hopes to morph the Arts and Cultural Leaderhip masters program into more of an "institute," bringing in people from all over the country for 2-3 weeks of intensive learning, followed by on-line programs during the academic year. She says this would allow the University to offer the program nationwide, and would also serve to shorten the program from five to three years.
The ACL program tentatively plans to admit 10-15 students per fall and spring term beginning in September 2010. For further information about the Master of Professional Studies in Arts and Cultural Leadership, contact the CCE Graduate Programs Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.(1 Comments)
Sir Ken Robinson argues that education reform is not the answer, because it would mean simply reforming "a broken system." Robinson calls for an "education revolution" that battles against the "tyranny of common sense" which hypnotizes into believing certain untruths. He cites Abraham Lincoln, who said:
The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
Robinson says we need to let go of our idea of a "linear narrative" - in which the college we attend determines our fate - and instead recognize the fact that we live - and learn - organically. He argues we have too limited a notion of "ability," and would do well to appreciate the diversity of talent and creativity, and encourage passion in our students as much as learning. The answer, he says, is to personalize education for the people you are teaching.
Robinson's talk is filled with great humor, as well as a particularly smart tale involving a student who wanted to be "just a fireman." It's a follow-up to his talk from 2006, in which he argues kids are "educated out of creativity."(3 Comments)
The Assistant Principal of Farnsworth Elementary introduces conductor Jay Fishman and the Minnesota Sinfonia to a group of kindergarten, first and second graders.
This past week I was treated to a delightful concert of Beethoven, Mozart and Smetana. The audience was so excited they absolutely squirmed in their seats, and the musicians, dressed in their finest professional threads, gave their all.
Where was I, you ask? Orchestra Hall? The Ordway Center for Performing Arts?
I was at Farnsworth Elementary School in East Saint Paul.
Minnesota Sinfonia offers solid proof that today's kids only need to be introduced to classical music in the right way in order to fall in love with it.
The Sinfonia is a professional chamber orchestra (made up primarily of musicians who also perform with the Minnesota Opera) whose mission is to bring music education to Minnesotans, with a special emphasis on families with children, inner-city youth, seniors and those living in poverty.
Since it's inception in 1989, the Sinfonia has reached well over 150,000 kids, now performing for up to 12,500 children each year.
Bassoonist Laurie Merz visits a classroom at Farnsworth Elementary.
On the afternoon of the Sinfonia's visit to Farnsworth Elementary, per their routine, the musicians took on additional duties above and beyond their musical performance. I followed bassoonist Laurie Merz as a second grader directed her to a classroom. There Merz talked about the bassoon, and quizzed the kids on the different parts of the instrument. When she blew into it and no sound came out (because she had yet to add the reed), one kid suggested "it's not turned on."
Over the next half hour Merz sampled some of the famous parts the bassoon is known for (the broom in The Sorceror's Apprentice and Peter's grandfather in Peter and the Wolf). The kids bombarded her with questions: "Why did you start playing?" "Where are bassoons made?" "Where do you practice?" "Do you play other instruments?" When she said she only had time to take one more question before getting back to the school gym for the concert, the entire group groaned in unison. Merz told them to look for her in the orchestra, and she'd give them a special wave.
Conductor Jay Fishman says it's these sorts of interactions that have him convinced classical music still has a vital role to play with today's youth.
The incredibly enthusiastic reactions that we get from the children - and their teachers and parents - in Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools when we play music by Tchaikowsky, Beethoven, Mozart, Smetana, etc, proves the point. It is all about exposure, education and on our part, enthusiasm for the music and performances.
It is no accident that when I ask the kids (300 at each performance) how many like the music, every, and I mean every hand goes up. And, when we play music that they have studied in their classrooms, they are already excited before we even begin to play. At one of our previous programs, "Music Tells a Story," we played some of Tchaikowsky's Romeo and Juliet. The children had been studying the story and listening to the music in class, and when I announced that we were going to play this music, they literally squealed with delight. I think this says it all.
Making her way back to the gym, Merz said she gets as much as the kids do out of these concerts. And she also makes a union wage doing it. The cost of its "Music in the Schools" program is $5,200 per school, per year, and is supported entirely by donations from corporations, foundations and individuals. That allows the Sinfonia to offer its concerts for free, while still paying its musicians a professional wage.
Jay Fishman says the Minnesota Sinfonia's long-term goal is to work with 40 inner-city Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools every year. Currently it's about halfway there.
Speaking of music in schools, have you heard about Classical MPR's "Play It Forward" instrument drive?
Open Book is the home of the Loft Literary Center, Milkweed Editions and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.
This Saturday Open Book is celebrating its ten year anniversary as a center for the literary and book arts.
After watching the center grow and thrive over the past decade, the biggest surprise is that Open Book remains unique in the country for what it offers.
There are centers for the literary arts (that focus on reading and writing), and there are centers for the book arts (that teach printing and book-binding). And in the years since Open Book opened, its three tenants - Milkweed Editions, the Loft Literary Centery, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts - have fielded numerous inquiries from organizations seeking to bring the literary and book arts together under one roof in their own communities. Yet nothing has emerged from those initial conversations.
So what makes Open Book such a singular entity?
Milkweed Editions Editor Daniel Slager points to the then directors of the three non-profits who, more than a decade ago, realized together they could become something greater than the sum of their parts.
I think it's really a Minnesota story, in terms of the level of cooperation between the three organizations. I got a whiff of that when I first arrived [in 2005], but didn't really get it until a few years later. I feel such admiration for the visionaries who put this together in the first place.
Those three founders were Emilie Buchwald (Milkweed), Linda Myers (Loft) and Peggy Korsmo-Kennon (MCBA). While their vision was in part aspirational, it was also practical; they were facing increasing rents in their respective buildings, and wanted a permanent, sustainable home. Thus Open Book was born, located on a strip of Washington Avenue in Minneapolis that was known best for metrodome parking and the Liquor Depot.
Since the spring of 2000 a lot has changed both inside and outside the building.
Open Book is looked upon as a pioneer settler in what is now a cultural corridor, featuring the Guthrie Theater, the MacPhail Center for Music, the Mill City Museum, a farmers' market, several restaurants and upscale condominiums.
Open Book Board Chair Moira Turner says the vibrancy of the community is feeding right back into the health of Open Book:
The building is buzzing; ten thousand people a month come through the doors. I'm just amazed.
None of the three original founders remain, but the legacy of their work is evident. Loft Director Jocelyn Hale says what once seemed like an excessive amount of classroom space is now almost at capacity.
Working in this building is an absolute pleasure. And all the run-ins, the coincidences that happen because there's so much activity in this building - it's really enhanced our work.
Hale recently ran into Milkweed Editor Dan Slager in the hall, and started talking about the Loft's newsletter, which has been offering insights on the writing process for 35 years. Fast forward several months, and Milkweed is now working on publishing an anthology of "A View from the Loft."
Jeff Rathermel, Artistic Director of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, says he's enjoyed having the freedom of letting his shows bleed out into communal spaces:
Something that I've been able to do over the past six years, is look at the building itself as an exhibition space - moving it out into the building in general - lobby, literary commons, there are many more opportunities for artists to present their work.
Rathermel says he's also thrilled to see other organizations adopt Open Book as their home base for meetings and events.
As for Milkweed's Dan Slager, he says by being based in Open Book, Mildweed Editions is able to have a direct relationship with the community and many of its readers - something few publishers have.
Yet for all its success, one key component has yet to fall into place for the center: a bookstore.
Over the years the space next to the coffee shop has been occupied by Rosalux Gallery and Ruminator Books, but nothing lasted. Daniel Slager says he's eager to see a place on the first floor where people can buy Milkweed's work. While past efforts have failed, Slager thinks now may be the time to try again:
My own take is that the book store was a little ahead of its time with the neighborhood. Our area has changed, we've changed. We have a new opportunity to engage with a growing community here, and to establish not just a traditional bookstore, but books in all sorts of formats. It would have to be something beautiful, in line with the aethetics of the three organizations, but also innovate and forward looking.
A bookstore was just one of the ideas discussed as part of a recently developed five year strategic plan to further "open" Open Book. Other plans debated - and approved - include removing a wall on the first floor so that the MCBA's gallery is visible as soon as a patron walks in the door, and installing more outlets to accomodate all the laptops people bring with them. And this fall the Loft Literary Center will offer its first online writing class, for people who can't afford to commute into the Twin Cities week after week.
Looking ahead to the next ten years, Slager thinks Open Book should work on raising its profile. While the individual non-profits have varying national reputations, the Open Book building does not. Considering its enduring singularity, and the community destination Open Book has created for book-lovers, it's time to spread the word.(1 Comments)
A recent report from the Center on Education Policy shows that boys across the nation lag behind girls when it comes to their reading skills. Over the years, that gap spreads, and many education researchers believe it's in direct corrolation to the declining numbers of boys enrolling in college.
So why aren't boys reading? And how do you inspire them to pick up a book?
That was the focus of this morning's conversation on Midmorning, which I had the pleasure of hosting (Kerri Miller had the day off). Teen lit author John Coy joined me in studio, while Professor John Chec, of the University of Florida, joined us by phone. Chec teaches children's literature, and has also served as the president of the Children's Literature Association. Coy has written several books aimed at young boys, including "Eyes on the Goal," "Crackback" and "Box Out."
One of the first revelations of the conversation was how the publishing industry helps perpetuate the problem by offering next to nothing for boys to read. The bookshelves for teens are dominate with fiction and fantasy aimed at girls. Girls (and women) are far more likely to spend their money on books, and so they get the bulk of the attention.
Secondly, boys are often embarassed to read aloud or discuss books in mixed company. Much success has been had with segregating reading groups by gender, so that boys can choose more action-oriented novels, and not fear what the girls will think when they speak up.
Also, there aren't many role models out there for male readers. Being bookish is for nerds, not the cool guys. The best inspiration for a young boy is a father or other male mentor who models reading as a cool thing to do. One caller said his father, whose eyesight was so poor he couldn't read, sat with him and they listened to audio books together, which then inspired the caller to check out books on his own.
For school teachers, there is the challenge of getting a boy interested in reading without getting in trouble with parents for recommending violent or "edgy" work. Professor Chec says edgy work is often the most compelling work, and no single book is going to destroy a boy's upbringing, so it's worth taking the risk. But still, librarians and school teachers may feel compelled to recommend the "safe" book in order to avoid controversy.
Finally both John Coy and Professor Chec agreed that there needs to be a broader definition of what qualifies as "reading." Families and teachers often place higher value on novels than they do on, say, a magazine about cars. But both are types of reading, and if the magazine inspires a boy to spend more time with the written word, it should be viewed as a valuable resource. As the boy grows up, it's likely his interests will expand, and the magazine will be replace by a manual, a biography or a novel.
Posted at 3:42 PM on April 19, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Education
One of Oliver Herring's "photo sculptures"
Oliver Herring has no end of creativity. His works range from life-sized sculptures of people made out of hundreds of photographs, to abstract object knit
from mylar, to portraits of strangers spitting up food coloring on their face in a spray, until their eyes peer out from what looks like a Jackson Pollock painting.
But for the last several years Herring's art has taken a back seat while he travels the United States, teaching other people to be more creative.
Herring describes "TASK" as a sort of creative platform that's unusually open ended, positive and inviting. It involves a space, lots of different materials, and a group of people who commit themselves to very simple rules
1. Write a task, depost it in a box.
2. Pull another task out of the box, and complete it.
3. Repeat step one (and so forth).
Herring, who created this "game" in response to a desire he saw in people to participate in his art projects, says it releases untapped creativity.
You experience a level of freedom that you probably abandoned when you were a kid. There's just a really unselfconscious playfulness that permeates everything during TASK. Everything becomes possible, it's very hopeful. You let yourself go and you play again. And I think a lot of people have stopped doing that since they were kids.
Herring says one of the most freeing factors is that there's no expectation of failure or success, and there's no judging the quality of your work. He says the written task becomes a sort of "permission slip" that lets you go places you otherwise wouldn't.
There have been thousands and thousands of tasks, from as mundane as "stand on your leg" to "start a revolution" or "marry the person on your right." "Call your mother and tell her what you did today," "build a fortress," or "write a letter about something really important in your life and post it." Actually at the end when we collect the tasks it presents a real window into the needs and hopes and wants of the community.
TASK has taken off on campus universities over the past few years. It's being used as a creative tool as well as a way for new students to get to know each other. And Herring says TASK is not just for artistic novices; he finds it can be helpful tool for artists, including himself.
I fall into patterns, and do simply what I need to do. From what I've observed, TASK is extremely helpful and useful for artists. It allows you to experiment with new materials in a much less self-conscious way.
Herring admits the name "TASK" might be a bit of a put-off, because it sounds so much like work, but if it's a success, people come away feeling as though they've been playing, and have also been productive. Herring says you might think there are plenty of creative outlets already out there, but there really aren't.
Even if you go to a museum or gallery, you're actually following a linear path, how the exhibition was created. It's a pretty limited experience. I mean I love museums don't get me wrong, but there has to be more. And while there's a lot of work out there that's interactive I think there's also a perception out there that's fed by the art world, that art is an elitist kind of thing for a small group of people, when in fact it shouldn't be. And so I think these open-ended, idiosyncratic, non-linear experiences are really unusual, helpful and necessary. At the very least it's a ton of fun.
Tomorrow MCAD will be hosting a TASK party from 7-10pm. Meanwhile Bethel University is showing an exhibition of Herring's work in its Olson Gallery through May 30. There's an opening reception for the exhibition tonight, starting at 5pm, and featuring live performance art.
Posted at 12:14 PM on April 17, 2010
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Education
Today marks the inauguration of the new president of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Jay Coogan. And in true art school style, the entire event is getting its own special graphic design treatment.
The inauguration has its own slogan, "The Next Now." And it has its own style guide, including type fonts, color schemes, and a particularly angled orange triangle (seen above in a 500 square foot mural by MCAD alum John Vogt).
The school has also designed and forged a presidential medallion for the event. And the campus center has been transformed with a 1500-square-foot screen of folded white paper and origami chandeliers. To top it off, select sculptural works by the MCAD President himself will be on display.
The reception for President Coogan begins at 4pm, with a party getting underway at 6pm.
This past weekend I decided it was time to put my learning cap on again, and headed over to Open Book, home of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, to take a class on box making.
Now box making might not at first seem like an art form, but it only takes a few minutes with instructor Jody Williams' work to realize that, with the right talent and skill, boxes can indeed become works of art. Her boxes contain miniature worlds, often decorated with prints of drawings she etched herself. The Walker Art Center has several of her works in its collection. You can see close up images of her work here:
Some of the tools you'll need to make a box of your own: scissors, cutting board with a measuring grid, ruler, exacto knife (or razor blade), and a bone folder. Other supplies include PVA glue (polyvinyl acetate), a glue brush, and a small awl.
The class took up most of the weekend, running from 9:30am to 5pm on Saturday and noon to 5pm on Sunday. There were six of us in the class - all women - ranging from college age to mid-career to happily retired. A few had been to - or were currently enrolled in - art school, but I didn't feel out of my league coming to the class with no prior experience.
Most of the basic tools you need for making boxes are quite ordinary. People who work with books or paper will recognize the 'bone folder' - it's used to smooth out paper once it's been glued to a surface.
The most important lesson of the class? Measure twice, cut once.
Over the course of the weekend we made three boxes - one with a simple fitted lid, another with a hinged lid, and finally a portfolio box (used traditionally for housing delicate objects or old books in libraries; one of the students was a librarian).
The title of the class was "Box making made easy," primarily because Jody Williams did a lot of the prep work for us in advance, namely measuring and cutting the board we were using to construct our boxes. Still we did a lot of measuring and cutting of paper ourselves, and learned quickly that it's easy to get your measurements wrong on the first - and sometimes even second - try. Check and double check!
My first box, with a simple fitted lid.
It's also tricky working with glue which affixes and dries relatively quickly. Sometimes we only had a few seconds to get our decorative papers in place on the board, before they were permanently stuck! Some papers (such as Japanese art papers) are resilient enough to be pulled off and re-affixed, but others will shred easily when they're wet.
Class participant Donna Nelson shows off two of the three boxes she made over the weekend.
Hinged lids appear simple, but it's important to space the lid far away enough from the box that it can open and close easily, yet still fit in place. And probably most important of all, the "grain" of the paper needs to line up with the grain of the board box, which needs to line up with the direction of the hinge. That's so when they paper and board are glued together they form a solid bond, and the hinge can withstand regular opening and closing without breaking. Phew - details!
Jody Williams stands by - and on - the strength of her work.
Before we knew it, the weekend was over, and we each had successfully assembled three boxes. Many of the students said they were already looking forward to "Box making made hard" despite the daunting name.
Now that I've learned the basics of box making, I'm interested in seeing what I might make using the marbled papers I made in a previous class.(4 Comments)
"To post, or not to post, that is the question... "
Well in this case, the Guthrie Theater has decided there really is no question; the company has recognized that it has a treasure trove of information about Shakespeare, and so why not share?
The new site, which you can find here, is meant to create an ongoing resource for educators and students who are studying Shakespeare, as well as everyday theater lovers, according to Trish Santini, Guthrie Theater director of external relations.
The site includes play guides, photo galleries, time lines of past productions and casts, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about Shakespeare and the Guthrie's productions.
All of this is part of the celebration marking the Guthrie's 50th Shakespeare production, Macbeth.
Could you compose a symphony for a building? Or write a sonnet for a painting? That's exactly what the students at McNally Smith College of Music have done. Drawing their inspiration from Minnesota-based painting, photography, sculpture and architecture (above you can listen to one students composition inspired by the Guthrie Theater), they created scores to accompany the visual image.
You can explore other pieces created by the students here, or you can check them out for yourself at the college gallery through the end of April. There's a public reception planned for March 27.
"Kidz in the Hall" shows off studio furniture by recent MCAD alumni
A new exhibition at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design brings together the work of 15 emerging artists from around the country to highlight new trends in studio furniture.
But I'm not going to write about that exhibition. Instead, I'm going to write about the one tucked back around the corner from the main gallery.
This smaller exhibition, called "Kidz in the Hall: Studio furniture by recent MCAD alumni" was created to complement the main gallery show, but in several cases, I think it actually upstages it.
Dean Wilson, head of the furniture design program at MCAD, curated both shows. He says the purpose of both exhibitions is to stimulate new thinking and new perceptions about the meaning and methods of contemporary studio furniture.
I wanted to highlight some up-and-coming studio furniture makers from around the country so that everyone could see what young furniture makers are doing. Its primary audience is the community of students, collectors, museum professionals, and designers eager to support and promote recent furniture and advanced design in this country. Most shows present the classic makers like Wendell Castle, Sam Maloof, and Gary Knox Bennett. I wanted to present younger makers who are somewhat undiscovered and who may be the stars of the future in studio furniture making. I also wanted to educate my current students at MCAD about the creative people who have just preceded them.
Nate Moren "Crinkle" 2008
The main gallery offers some really lovely pieces to look at, but many of them are only loosely based on the notion of "furniture." Several are far more sculptural than practical; the piece might make you think about a chair, but you probably wouldn't want to sit on it.
MCAD's new president, Jay Coogan, has a background in both furniture design and sculpture. Walking through the exhibition, he says the "Kidz in the Hall" selection stands out as a testament to Dean Wilson's teaching.
Considering all of the work in the featured gallery part of the show come from designers who have completed graduate programs I find the MCAD work by recent undergraduates to be as inventive if not more so than some of their older, more experienced counterparts. The level of craft also seems on a par and the inventive use of materials by the MCAD students is also very intriguing. This, to my mind speaks to the quality of the program that Dean has created. It not only is about a rigorous devotion to skill development but also to exploration; of materials, form, concepts and the definition of furniture and functionality.
Patrick Carmody & Kfir Shetrit "Untitled" 2010
It's easy to see that Wilson is both proud and admiring of his graduates. He points to a chair by MCAD alumni Patrick Carmody and Kfir Shetrit.
[It] is a good example of traditional joinery and newer vacuum bag technology married into a piece that is a nice blend of fluid and geometric shapes. The curved seat hovers effortlessly above the trapezoidal base.
Much of the work in the main gallery is more in the world of 'form' than it is of 'function.' By contrast the work in the "Kidz in the Hall" exhibition shows both innovation and creativity, as well as pragmatism and a concern for the environment. Wilson finds the folding stool by Erin and Nate Moren to be a really thoughtful response to society's increasing mobility and a desire to have a minimal impact on the planet.
Erin and Nate Moren's folding stool: right side up, upside down, and lying flat on the wall.
MCAD President Jay Coogan says everyday corporations like IKEA, Target and Room and Board are playing up the design of their products more than ever, and in fact is increasingly becoming the determining factor in the success of many commercial products.
All of this attention and awareness attracts young people to the design professions which are also proliferating to include not just object/furniture design but also experience and systems design. Design thinking is causing restructuring of business school curriculum as much as it is changing what gets taught in art and design schools.
John Bruhl "Vessel II" 2006
"Studio Furniture: The Next Generation" and it's accompanying exhibition "Kidz in the Hall: Studio Furniture by recent MCAD Alumni" are both on display in the Minneapolis College of Art and Design gallery through February 21, with an opening reception on Friday, January 22.(5 Comments)
The people behind the Whitney Biennial - a high profile exhibition which takes the pulse of the art world - have released the names of the artists who made the cut for its latest incarnation. It's an unusually short list, down from 100 artists in 2006 to 81 artists in 2008 to now just 55 artists in 2010. Two of the artists got their training at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design: Jim Casebere (BFA '76) and Kelly Nipper (BFA '93).
Posted at 1:20 PM on December 7, 2009
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Education
The Minneapolis Central Library is hosting a series of talks in February and March on the topic of aging. It's called "Age: Wide Angle" and the particular angle this line-up has to offer is firmly based in the arts.
Featured speakers include such local luminaries as dance activist Sage Cowles, MacPhail Center for Music CEO David O'Fallon, Actor Richard Ooms and choir director/composer Philip Brunelle. They'll each reflect on their lives and the lessons they've learned along the way.
In addition there are a few you might not think would make the "Age and Aging" guest list. Minneapolis Institute of Arts' youthful Director Kaywin Feldman will examine the quality of works created by artists in their later years. And still nimble James Sewell (of James Sewell Ballet) will reflect on "age in an ageless art form."
All talks will be held on Tuesday evenings at 7pm. You can find more details here.
The famous "Laramie Project" - is getting an update tonight on stages around the world with the simultaneous reading of "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later." The 'epilogue' focuses on the long-term effects of Matthew Shepard's murder has had on the town of Laramie, and includes interviews with both his mother and his killer, who's serving two consecutive life sentences.
In the Twin Cities area you can see the reading of the new work at the Guthrie Theater... or at the Blake School on its Hopkins campus. A cast of 14 Blake students and staff will take the stage to bring the town's story to life. The production is sponsored by The Blake School Gay Straight Alliance and all proceeds will go to the nonprofit Avenues for Homeless Youth.
The McNally Smith College of Music in St Paul is offering scholarships designed to encourage more women to enroll in its Hip Hop Diploma. The 18 month program which launched this year teaches both the performance side of hip hop and the business and history too.
The scholarships offer $15,000 which is half-tuition for the course. Applications, which will be accepted through December 11th must include an essay and a three and a half minute audio or visual piece.
Selections will be made by a panel with representatives of B-Girl Be, the sponsor of the annual B-Girl summit, (as featured last week on Art Hounds,) Intermedia Arts, which hosts the event, and McNally Smith College of Music.
In a release announcing the new scholarships Toki Wright, who co-ordinates the program, and is one of the performers in the video above, welcomed the news.
"Often in the media, the many rewarding aspects and innovations of women in Hip-Hop are overshadowed by their male counterparts. The 'B-Girl Be Scholarship acknowledges that women's contributions are important and essential to sustaining and expanding Hip-Hop culture. The work of MC Lyte, Tricia Rose, Queen Latifah, and countless industry representatives demonstrate the power, talent and tenacity it takes to make it in the culture and business of Hip-Hop. "
Fourteen students are in the first class in the hip hop diploma, and will graduate in 2011.
This morning on Midmorning I interviewed Jay Coogan, the new president of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. We talked not only about MCAD in particular, but the market in general for an arts degree in today's economy.
People like Richard Florida (author of "The Creative Class") and Daniel Pink ("the MFA is the new MBA") say creativity is essential for successful business. But many students and parents think an arts education is both pricey and dicey when it comes to finding steady work. Jay Coogan believes the most exciting work is being done in areas where arts and business combine to innovate new solutions (health care, for example).
What do you think an arts degree is worth today? Is it a smart investment? Or a losing proposition?(1 Comments)
Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch (a.k.a. Florence Henderson) and NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar teamed up yesterday to petition the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan . Their goal is to make music education- or at least the arts - a core subject in a student's education.
Currently, Minnesota standards require just one credit of arts education for a student to graduate from high school. That's compared to four credits of language arts, three and a half credits in social studies, and three credits each in math and science. That art class could come in the form of music, dance, theater, or media arts. In addition students are required to take at least seven electives.
What do you think? What would be the benefit of taking music, or any art class, every year of your education? Would it come at the cost of electives? Or some other core class? Students who have a natural affinity for the arts have the choice of taking those classes as electives, so why force students who aren't naturally interested? What's the benefit?(2 Comments)
Posted at 9:46 AM on June 16, 2009
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Education
20under40 is a project to collect unique perspectives on the future of the arts and arts education. If you're involved in the arts in any way, are under 40 years old, and have an opinion to share, they'd like to hear from you.
Posted at 3:45 PM on June 15, 2009
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Education
A new report suggests that arts and music education in 8th grade classrooms has not imroved over the last decade, and that the kids in those classrooms leave with a mediocre knowledge of the arts.
The most startling findings? The number of students reporting they went on an art-related field trip in the last year dropped
six percent six percentage points, to just 16 percent. And just half of students quizzed recognized the solo instrument in "Rhapsody in Blue" as a clarinet. You can read more about the findings of the study here.
So what does your kid know about the arts? Is he or she getting that education in the public school classroom, or elsewhere? When was the last time your kid went on a field trip to a museum, or a theater, or a concert?
MPR Photo/Tom Weber