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Coen + Partners, Minneapolis landscape architects, win national award

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: May 5, 2015 - 5:56 PM

Shane Coen, file photo by David Brewster, Star Tribune

Coen + Partners, a Minneapolis landscape architecture firm, has won a National Design Award from Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.

Established in 2000 by the White House Millennium Council, the National Design Awards promote good design as a "humanistic tool in shaping the world." Recipients will be honored at a gala dinner October 15 in New York City.

The New York-based museum announced 11 award winners including a posthumous Lifetime Achievement citation to Michael Graves who died March 12, age 80. Graves is best known for bringing high style and elegant fuction to a series of popular, low-priced products that he produced for Target, Corp. Graves also designed The Target Wing, a $50 million quasi-neoclassical addition to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that opened in 2006.

Founded by Shane Coen in 1991, Coen + Partners is a 12 person firm that prides itself on collaborative, environmentally sensitive landscapes using native plants. It has worked in more than 20 states and 10 countries. Locally it is best known for the prairie landscaping at the Jackson Meadow housing project near Marine on St. Croix and for terraced landscaping at the Hazelden Foundation in Center City.

The firm's present projects include redesigning Nicollet Mall with James Corner Field Operations, redoing a plaza at the Department of Transportation in St. Paul, and working on the Minnesota Senate Building at the State Capitol in St. Paul. Elsewhere its projects include Washington Square Park in Kansas City, Missouri and a masterplan for the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Additional 2015 National Design Awards and their recipients are:

Director's Award: Jack Lenor Larsen

Design Mind: Rosanne Haggerty

Corporate & Institutional Achievement: Heath Ceramics

Architecture Design: MOS Architects

Communication Design: Project Projects

Fashion Design: threeASFOUR

Interaction Design: John Underkoffler

Interior Design: Commune'

Product Design: Stephen Burks

Beach Boys composer Brian Wilson biography “Love & Mercy” debuts in director Bill Pohlad’s home turf

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: April 22, 2015 - 12:51 PM

While there are no tickets left for this weekend’s sold-out public screenings, Minneapolis is hosting the Midwest double-debuts of a film worth noting. After a decade as producer of acclaimed films including Ang Lee’s "Brokeback Mountain," Robert Altman’s "A Prairie Home Companion" and Steve McQueen’s "12 Years a Slave," Minneapolis financier Bill Pohlad moved behind the camera to direct the Brian Wilson biography "Love & Mercy." The drama, starring Paul Dano and John Cusack as the legendary Beach Boys composer in parallel stages of his talented yet troubled life, has been winning scads of praise. Variety called it "a vibrant cure for the common musical biopic" thanks in part to its soundtrack filled with Wilson hits. "A deeply satisfying pop biopic whose subject’s bifurcated creative life lends itself to an unconventional structure," wrote The Hollywood Reporter. The Washington Post said "Pohlad’s extraordinary, even visionary chronicle" with "unconventionality and form-busting structure" plainly "stole the show" at September’s prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. No wonder then that Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival partnered to present it Friday and Saturday evening respectively, with Pohlad on hand to discuss it. The official opening comes June 5, but for some things, you just can’t wait.

NEA head visits Twin Cities

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: April 21, 2015 - 1:48 PM

NEA chair Jane Chu was in the Twin Cities recently, one of many site visits she’s made around the country since being confirmed last summer to lead the organization.

Chu visited The Loft Literary Center, MacPhail Center for Music and the Hmong Cultural Center among other places. She took a few moments to munch on some almonds and answer questions about her trip. While at MacPhail, she got up to speed on the center’s curriculum, which includes an online learning program.

Chu, who ran the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City before coming to the NEA, said arts are not restricted to performances or exhibits. The NEA, she said, has a healing program for military service people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that uses art classes.

“Servicemen find ways through the arts to find their way back home,” said Chu.

She also said the arts can be a nice equalizer – a common language – for non-English speakers in programs that help people get integrated. Chu wasn’t at the NEA when the organization was under fire during the great culture wars of the 1990’s. She laughed when asked if there’s room for “weird art?”

“Of course,” she said. “Art can be weird, it can be all over. That’s the beauty of it. Art should be self expression and that covers all forms.”

Chu was born in Oklahoma of Chinese immigrant parents. She studied piano and music education in college and also holds an MBA and honorary doctorate in music.

"I point to myself when people talk about the variety in the arts because I have this combination of Bok Choy and Corn Dog background," she said.

Beth El Synagogue retraces the steps -- well, dives -- of the submarine Cousteau family

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: April 20, 2015 - 2:20 PM
Jean-Michel, Fabien and Céline Cousteau.     Photo: Beth El Synagogue

Jean-Michel, Fabien and Céline Cousteau. Photo: Beth El Synagogue

Sure, James Cameron has combined filmmaking and deep marine diving in remarkable ways. But exploring ocean worlds that few bipeds experience all began with the legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the most celebrated undersea explorer of the 20th century.

For nearly 60 years, the late trailblazer and his offspring have produced and starred in underwater exploration films and TV shows promoting marine conservation and education, a legacy that is still going strong.

Now there’s a chance to encounter their accomplishments personally. On Thursday, May 7, Cousteau’s son Jean-Michel, and his children Fabien and Céline will be featured in “An Evening with the Cousteau Family,” presented at Beth El Synagogue of Saint Louis Park.

The evening includes the Cousteau family’s remarks, high quality film projection highlighting their very colorful work, and a moderated audience Q&A session. The evening features gastronomy as well as oceanography. A VIP reception with the family will include coastal fare prepared by Robert Wohlfiel, executive chef of The Oceanaire Seafood Room in Minneapolis.

The evening is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. May 7 at Beth El Synagogue, 5225 Barry St. W., Saint Louis Park. Ticketing runs from $25 to $500. For additional information about the event, visit www.besyn.org/cousteaus or call (952) 873-7300.

(No) Cut and Run

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: April 10, 2015 - 1:18 PM
Victoria     Photo: Adopt Films

Victoria Photo: Adopt Films

Fresh into Berlin, an attractive young Spanish immigrant decides to spend her late night in a techno nightclub, dancing, drinking and looking to meet some handsome twentiesh locals. What can possibly go wrong? Hang on tight, here comes the answer.

The German action film “Victoria,” filmed in one continuous uncut shot across two dozen locales and 134 minutes, grabs viewers by the collar and pulls them along for a wild, antsy, bumpy ride. Spain's Laia Costa plays the clever, impulsive title character; German actors Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit, and Max Mauff play her new mates who need her help to pull off a quick job for a large stash of money. Don’t expect subtitle overload; because she doesn’t speak their native language, everyone uses English. Digging deeper into the plot details would be like telling the route of a roller coaster.

Cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen and director Sebastian Schipper stunningly merge the chases from “Run Lola Run” and the magical realist feel of “Birdman.” Berlin Film Festival Jury president Darren Aronofsky (“The Wrestler,” “Black Swan,” “Noah”) made it a prize-winner declaring, "This film rocked my world." Don’t bother to look for an editing credit; this one shot marvel isn’t a bag of technical make believe, it’s a showpiece of dynamic choreography right down to the improvised dialog.

New York/Twin Cities art movie exhibitor Adopt Films has the film’s North American rights. After its debut at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, it’s heading toward a late summer or early fall national release.

Grøvlen will attend tonight’s 6:45 presentation at St. Anthony Main,” Victoria’s” only screening at the festival. For ticketing and more information, visit the MSPIFF website at http://bit.ly/1DpUaOR

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