Item World: Black Diet wins trip to SXSW; St. Cloud's Electric Fetus to close; award for Barkhad Abdi, more

  • Updated: March 13, 2014 - 1:51 PM

Saga Blane and Jake Jeppson found the art at Walker Art Center quite engaging.

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An artful proposal

When Jake Jeppson and Saga Blane walked into the installation titled “and still this” during opening night of the Jim Hodges exhibition “Give More Than You Take” at Walker Art Center, they loved it so much that they decided to return when it wasn’t so crowded. When they did, Jeppson had one more thing on his mind besides basking in the cozy glow of Hodges’ 10 tall gessoed panels painted with 23- and 24-karat gold and arranged in an open circle, creating the effect of a golden womb. Back inside it, Jeppson proffered an engagement ring and asked Blane to marry him. “We stepped in and were transported into this warm and quiet place where it was just the two of us — and the security guard peeking as I got on one knee,” Jeppson told I.W. Blane’s immediate response was “Are you kidding me?” and then “WHAT?” he said. “She was kind of loud about it. But she finds a spirituality in those kinds of spatial experiences, plus she’s a lover of all things gold.” The couple recently moved to Minneapolis because Jeppson, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama who has had three plays produced, is a 2014-15 Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights’ Center. Blane, who studied architectural theory, will curate a pop-up Finnish design show this spring. Jeppson couldn’t have written a better script.

Kristin Tillotson

A local Diet

There were five wham-bam sets at 7th Street Entry at last week’s “Are You Local?” contest. Props to violin-rocking Americana-soul singer Jillian Rae, dissonant guitar-noodlers Teammates, rapid-tongued, neon-tinted rapper Botzy and ’80s-flavored band of twenty-something pop-rockers Step Rockets. But soulful garage-rock sextet Black Diet took the top honors. They earned a party slot in this week’s South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, plus some cash to get there. They also got to cross over to the First Avenue main room to perform a short set sandwiched between gorgeously electrified Dave Simonett and tight-as-toenails headliners, the Cloak Ox. A SXSW vet with Trampled by Turtles, Simonett said of Black Diet’s rushed changeover between rooms, “It’s good practice for South by Southwest: Push all your [stuff] on stage with two minutes’ notice.”

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

Not giving an inch

Lorrie Moore, author of the new “Bark” and “Who Will Run the Frog Hospital,” was at Talk of the Stacks last week, charming and befuddling the audience at the Minneapolis Central Library with her enigmatic answers to an interviewer’s questions. “Do you have anyone in mind when you write?” she was asked — any particular audience or reader? “No, I don’t,” Moore said. What about something Moore said in a recent New York Times interview — that she writes (or at least maps out) short stories in a single sitting. “I said that?” Moore responded. “I might have been lying.” The interviewer tried again. “Have you ever Googled yourself?” To this, Moore looked shocked. “No,” she said. “Have you?”

LAURIE HERTZEL

Electric Fetus unplugged

Bad news for St. Cloud area music lovers: The city’s Electric Fetus branch announced this week that it will be closing when its lease expires May 23, after 27 years in business. Before anyone could paint it as further proof that independent record shops everywhere are in decline, the Fetus staff reported that in recent years its Minneapolis and Duluth stores “have seen some record-setting sales and numbers we’ve not seen in two decades.”

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

Hometown heroes

In a bid to keep those red carpets rolling, the Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has tossed more awards at four already star-glazed Minnesota talents. Rip open the envelopes, please. The AILA 2014 Immigrant of Distinction Awards go to: Barkhad Abdi, the Somali-born actor nominated for an Oscar for his film debut in “Captain Phillips”; Joe Dowling, the Irish-born Guthrie Theater director; Nachito Herrera, Cuban-born jazz pianist and Dakota Jazz Club fixture who has more than 40 recordings to his credit, and Wang Ping, Chinese-born poet, novelist, short-story writer and Macalester College professor of English.

MARY ABBE

Crashing Driver

While “Girls” auteur Lena Dunham prepped for her “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig in New York last Friday, I.W. spotted her on-screen paramour, Adam Driver, dining in New Orleans, where he’s shooting “Midnight Special,” a movie with Michael Shannon and Kirsten Dunst. After Driver and his wife, Joanne Tucker, finished eating at the popular restaurant Cochon, we sheepishly approached him to fawn over his work on the hit HBO series and in the movies “Lincoln” and “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Unlike his brash, unpredictable character on “Girls,” Driver has a sweet demeanor in person. When it was mentioned that he was the only one on the show who didn’t grow up extremely privileged, he laughed and said, “That’s right!”

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