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Posts about Books

Patrick Scully's Walt Whitman show premieres

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: July 11, 2014 - 1:06 PM

Patrick Scully poses as poet Walt Whitman. Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler.

POST BY CAROLINE PALMER, SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE

Sometimes the best way to learn about an artist is through the perspective of another artist. With  “Leaves of Grass – Uncut” Patrick Scully summons  the radical spirit of 19th-century poet Walt Whitman. Over the course of the show, which had its first performance Thursday night as part of the Fresh Ink Series at the Illusion Theater, we learn that the two men have much in common when it comes to defying rules and embracing life.

Scully assumes the role of Whitman, talking through his life story, railing against the puritan morals of his day, lauding the love of other men, extolling his contemporaries (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oscar Wilde) and reading excerpts from his works. Whitman, as portrayed by Scully, is a confident man who explains how he would code his language to escape the wrath of a rabidly homophobic society. Despite these efforts, Whitman’s works were banned and critics were quick to denounce him with their harshest words, which is hard to imagine today given the significant influence and great beauty of his writing.

But Whitman was undeterred by these obstacles, which explains why he is such a hero to Scully, a proud rabble-rouser himself. With “Leaves of Grass – Uncut” Scully creates an onstage world that Whitman would have appreciated. Seventeen men dance together in tender, sensual and playful moments. In the opening scene they strip down entirely to bathe, setting the tone for an evening about relationships between men and how society has sought to deny them.

The movement itself is based in contact improvisation, which emphasizes the intuitive give and take of dancing with another person. Scully’s company members take great care to support and inspire one another. Kevin Kortan makes an appearance as Whitman’s lover Peter Doyle and in one of the work’s more poignant moments they discuss the poet’s refusal to use the pronoun “he” (instead using “she”) in his writing to describe their passionate relationship. Scully shows us that Whitman wasn’t always so bold.

The Fresh Ink series provides opportunities for artists to try out new ideas. Scully still has some work to do with tightening up the production – there are a couple of false endings – but it is a heartfelt salute to Whitman. Without this daring poet’s soaring words and his willingness to take risks in a hostile era, we may never know what it means to “sing the body electric.” Scully is the perfect caretaker for Whitman’s legacy.

“Leaves of Grass – Uncut” continues through Sunday, July 13 (8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m. Sun). Illusion Theatre, Cowles Center, eighth floor, 528 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. $14-$19, 612-339-4944 or illusiontheater.org.

Walker Art Center to publish its collection online in serial format

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: June 30, 2014 - 4:47 PM

Helio Oiticica and Neville D'Almedia's "Block-Experience in Cosmococa--Program in Progress (1973) as seen on a tablet.

In 2005 when Walker Art Center published the most recent catalogue of its 12,000 piece collection, the 616 page volume was years in the making and covered a mere fraction of the center's holdings. Film, video, music, dance and other performance activities--  which are a key part of the Minneapolis' institution's program-- were described but not as thoroughly represented as paintings, sculpture and other objects.

A new "Living Collections Catalogue" aims to be more interactive, flexible, and responsive to the multidisciplinary focus of the collection. The web-based project will be accessible via laptop, smartphone, a tablet computer or other digital devices. Published in serial form, the segments will include documents, original interpretations from scholars commissioned by the Walker, and a variety of media resources about selected work from the collection.

The first segment, "On Performativity," deals with performance-based work in relationship to the visual arts. Scholars Philip Auslander, Shannon Jackson, and Dorothea von Hantelmann provide an overview of contemporary performance. Individual works in the collection are discussed by Elizabeth Carpenter, Eric Crosby, Peter Eleey, Bartholomew Ryan, and Irene Small. Multimedia material enhances their comments.

Artists whose work is explored in "On Performativity" include dancer/choreographer Trisha Brown, installation artist Helio Oiticica, filmmaker Neville D'Almedia, performers Eiko & Koma, mixed media installation artist Tino Sehgal, and an Anthropometry painting by Yves Klein.

The current exhibition "Art Expanded, 1958-1978, will be explored in a future segment.The online catalogue is supported by grants from the Getty Foundation as part of its "Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI) which supports similar programs at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Seattle Art Museum and the Tate Gallery.
 

Minnesota photographer James Crnkovich launches new book

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: June 23, 2014 - 5:20 PM

"Reds, Virginia, Minnesota, 1985" by James Crnkovich

Former Minnesota photographer James Crnkovich returns to his home state for a five-day tour to launch a sweet book of his photos. Starting with a signing at the Saint Paul Saints game on July 1, the tour will include additional stops in St. Paul, Aurora, Gilbert, Virginia and Mountain Iron.

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Crnkovich has been featured on CBS's Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, has his work in the collection of the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and has exhibited around the world. Locally he's best known for his 1980s photos of the Iron Range which were included in the exhibition "At a Close Range," which traveled to colleges, universities and historical societies throughout the Midwest.

His new paperback, "Authentic Americana: The Art of Social Documentary," reprints about 50 of his color and black-and-white images dating from 1980 to the present. Taken in Minnesota, New York, Boston, Phoenix, Chicago and elsewhere, they capture the American scene in all its gaudy  vulgarity, latent violence, decay, cornball nonsense, and good humor. His commentary about the images is as insightful as the pictures themselves. There's a certain tenderness and big hearted acceptance of human frailty and loneliness that makes his photos very special.

Now a resident of Mesa, Arizona, Crnkovich will be back home in Minnesota to promote the book at the following events. The book also is available through: Naciketas Press, 715 E. McPherson, Kirksville, MO 63501.

July 1: 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Saint Paul Saints "Christmas in July" game, Midway Stadium, 1771 Energy Park Dr., St. Paul.

July 2: 7 p.m.-9 p.m., Common Good Books, Snelling at Grand, St. Paul.

July 3: 6 p.m., Aurora; 7 p.m., Gilbert. Patriotic Parades.

July 4: 1 p.m.-2 p.m. Aurora Public Library. 6 p.m. Virginia 4th of July parade.

July 5: 7 p.m.-9 p.m., Mac's Bar, 8881 Main St., Mountain Iron.

Eight Minnesota visual artists receive McKnight Foundation grants

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: June 9, 2014 - 1:20 PM

A MCAD staff member finished installing the last McKnight Foundation visual art exhibition in January 2014. Star Tribune staff photo by Richard Sennott

Eight Minnesota visual artists have received $25,000 each from the McKnight Foundation in a program administered by the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). The winners are: David Bowen of Duluth, and Sam Gould, Alexa Horochowski, Michael Hoyt, Alison Malone, Lamar Peterson, Joe Smith, and Tetsuya Hamada, all Twin Cities residents.

A support program for mid-career artists, the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists provides each winner with three things besides the money: critiques with national critics; a limited edition book about their work; a speaking opportunity. The public exhibitions that were an element of the program for 32 years were discontinued this year in favor of the book/talk component. When the exhibitions were cancelled, the number of visual art grants also was increased from four to eight.

Five of the 2014/15 Fellowship winners are academics. Bowden is an associate professor of sculpture and computing at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Horochowski is a sculpture professor at St. Cloud State University. Smith is an art professor at University of Northwestern in St. Paul. Peterson, an assistant professor of drawing and painting, and Yamada, an associate professor of art, both teach at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus.

The other three winners are engaged in various activities. Gould is a writer/ publisher who co-founded Red 76 and is the editor/designer of the Journal of Radical Shimming. Hoyt produces arts-based community development projects. Malone is a photographer who documents American subcultures.

Fellowship winners were picked by three jurors: Xandra Eden, exhibition curator at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Hesse McGraw, vice-president of exhibitions at the San Francisco Art Institute; and Deborah Willis, artist, professor and chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch Center for the Arts at New York University.

On Maya Angelou's last appearance in the Twin Cities

Posted by: Rohan Preston Updated: May 28, 2014 - 10:53 AM

“When it looked like the sun won’t shine any more, God put a rainbow in the clouds.

Maya Angelou, who died Tuesday at 86 at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., opened her last appearance in the Twin Cities on Oct. 23, 2012, singing those lines from an 18th-century slave song. She went on to mesmerize the crowd at the State Theatre, many of whom were devoted fans who had heard her hour-long talk before but had come again to be baptized in her sonorous words and to take bits of inspiration from her storied life.

An indefatigable fighter who also became an icon of grace, Angelou had long ago transcended the slights and horrors visited upon her as a black child in the Jim Crow South and as a woman in America. She has been a first-hand witness, confidante and participant in some of the most notable historical events of our nation as it shifted from segregation to fairness and opportunity.

She also transcended means that made her famous: her startling memoirs, her lyrical, image-rich poetry and her resonant public speaking.

She had become, for millions, a beatific figure and guiding light.

After her performance, she greeted a few well-wishers backstage at the State Theatre. The numbers were smaller than usual, at the instruction of handlers who wanted to protect her health. Angelou was a frail 84-year-old.

Still, she had a surprisingly strong handshake. And her voice also was firm, both in the performance and in the post-show encouragement she offered to well-wishers. While she could no longer move like she did as a young dancer, while she could no longer march like she did during the Civil Rights era, she still had her voice. And in her quivering and quaver, you could hear the echoes of history, and the walls that she had made come down.

“Goodbye, young man,” she said sweetly, her face almost twinkling. “I will see you again.”

Yes, indeed.

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