Big audio disaster
The oft-maligned Metrodome rivaled Roy Wilkins Auditorium for worst acoustics in town. But no Twin Cities venue could compare to the Dome when it came to quality of headliners. The Metrodome, which closed Sunday, hosted a parade of Hall of Famers. In fact, every headliner of a Dome concert is either in the Country Music Hall of Fame (George Strait) or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, U2, Paul McCartney, Metallica, Genesis, Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath). There is one exception: ’N Sync in 2001. But Justin Timberlake and his boy-band buddies, who actually played the last concert in the Dome, came up with the perfect theme song for the inflated edifice: “Bye Bye Bye.”
Death, disease, ‘Downton’
We’ve seen “Downton Abbey”-inspired tie-ins ranging from cookbooks to fashion paper dolls to photos of dogs dressed as the characters. But the University of Minnesota has an unusual “Downton”-related exhibit where you can actually learn something. Lois Hendrickson, curator of the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine, and Ph.D. student Emily Hagens — both big fans of the show — put together an exhibit titled “Downton Abbey: Behind the Scenes of Health and Illness” (www.startribune.com/a2537). “We connected medical themes on the show, like Spanish flu, Lady Sybil’s childbirth, fear of cancer and the cook’s cataracts, to what was actually going on in medical treatment during that time,” Hagens said. Along with artifacts such as surgical tools and manuals, the exhibit features short films of World War I soldiers being treated for shell shock, and facts and figures (Lady Sybil showed four of nine eclampsia symptoms). Usual hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, but the exhibit is also open noon to 4 p.m. Saturday — the day before Season Four’s premiere.
A doc on McDonald
Laverne Cox, who plays hair stylist and women’s prison inmate Sophia Burset on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” is coproducing a documentary about CeCe McDonald, the transgender woman who became a cause célèbre after being convicted of manslaughter after a 2011 fight sparked by racist and sexual slurs outside a Minneapolis bar that ended in the death of Dean Schmitz. “I wanted to do a piece that explores the nature of how race, class and gender affect violence towards trans women,” said Cox, who is trans in real life as well as on the show, in an interview with the online magazine Persephone. “Free CeCe!” has begun production and will continue to follow McDonald outside prison if she is released, as the Minnesota Department of Corrections website indicates she might be, in mid-January.
Blueprint for success
Sean Smuda, a Minneapolis photographer, multimedia artist and ubiquitous fixture on the cultural scene, once unwittingly insulted Walker Art Center associate curator Bart Ryan. But Ryan hasn’t held it against him. He recently acquired a portfolio of Smuda’s work “Blueprints” for the Walker’s collection. “I’ve pestered various Walker curators over the years to stop by my studio, with no real expectations,” Smuda said, in his usual charmingly dry, affectless tone. “The first time I met Bart, he gave me a drink ticket at a Walker event, then I criticized a show I didn’t know he had just curated.” Smuda’s “Blueprints” is a series of collages made from photographs of modes of transport — from trains to hot-air balloons to a shopping cart — against barren, fantastic landscapes, with excerpts of poems translated from many different languages embedded at the bottom. Ryan said he was drawn to Smuda’s work for its “constellations of knowledge, the interplay of information, identity and geography.” Smuda told I.W.: “I now feel completely justified for dropping out of art school.”