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This rendering depicts "Balancing Ground," this summer's temporary art installation for MCC Plaza.
Last summer, it was MIMMI, a giant inflatable sculpture that hovered over the Minneapolis Convention Center plaza like a giant mood ring, allegedly changing colors along with the emotional ebb and flow of passersby. This year's Creative City Challenge winner is "Balancing Ground," a series of wooden benches interspersed with teeter-totters and surrounded by a canopy of prisms that will cast constantly changing shadows, patterns and colors.
The interactive artwork by Amanda Lovelee, Christopher Field, Kyle Waites and Sarah West was one of several finalists the public could vote for online.The foursome will get $75,000 to build and install their project in early June. They intend it to be a "space without walls, open to all."
Begun last year as a way of attracting more people to hang out on the underused plaza and interact with both the art and each other, Creative City Challenge is now a collaboration between the the city of Minneapolis, the MCC and Northernlights.mn, which puts on the annual dusk-to-dawn Northern Spark festival.
"Balancing Ground" will be unveiled at 8:30 p.m. on June 14 as part of this summer's Northern Spark event.
Abdulkadir Said played traditional Somali music during the grand opening of a Minneapolis Somali musuem in October. A new grant will bring more Somali musicians to town. Photo by Kyndell Harkness.
The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art has given the Cedar Cultural Center and Augsburg College $200,000 to bring internationally known Somali musicians to Minneapolis over the next two years. The grant, one of only six given nationwide, is intended to fund efforts to promote understanding of Islamic cultures through art. This one will be used not only to present concerts by Somali musicians based as far away as London and Kenya, but to connect them -- as well as local Somali musicians -- with Augsburg students and faculty.
The cultural center and Augsburg are located close to each other on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota, which has the highest concentration of Somali residents in the Twin Cities. Dubbed "Midnimo," the Somali word for unity, the goal of the Cedar's project is to not only expose students and the broader community to a traditional Somali music art form, but to have them jam together as well, said Adrienne Dorn, director of development for the Cedar. After the deadly New Year's Day fire that destroyed a nearby apartment building, the Cedar hosted a benefit concert with Somalis singing and an American jazz band playing along.
"People just loved it," Dorn said. "Somali music is traditionally heavy on vocals without a lot of instrumentation so it was great to get them together."
A bonus of the project might be helping to reunite musicians who have been dispersed by the ongoing civil war in their native land.
"Music was seen as a form of protest and often suppressed," Dorn said. "I hope we can get some old bandmates who are living far apart from each other to play together again."
MIMMI, an interactive sculpture lit from inside by LED lights that changed color, won the 2013 Creative City Challenge in the program's first year. Photo by Renee Jones Schneider.
Remember that giant multicolored UFO-like sculpture hovering over the plaza by the Minneapolis Convention Center last summer? The city is bringing back the program that made it possible, expanding funding for the winning entry from $50,000 to $75,000. They've also added a partner, Northern Lights.mn, the force behind the annual dusk-to-dawn outdoor arts extravaganza known as Nothern Spark, at which this year's winning public artwork will make its debut (June 14).
The Creative City Challenge competition for a "temporary destination artwork" was launched last year as a way of attracting more people to hang out on the plaza, actually a green roof across the street from the Convention Center. It is open to individuals or teams of designers, artists, architects and engineers, but at least half of the members must be based in Minnesota.
The public can vote online for one of this year's jury-selected finalists, all of which encourage interactivity. The proposals will be presented publicly at the University of Minnesota's School of Architecture and Design, Rapson Hall at 6 p.m. tonight (Monday Feb. 10). They are:
Voting runs through Feb. 28 at http://www.startribune.com/a2560
Now Intermedia, known for its community involvement and outreach to all demographics, can expand on that initial effort, because the Kresge Foundation has given them $ 1 million to do just that over the next three years.
Intermedia will help to select local artists to work with up to five city departments, said Theresa Sweetland, executive and artistic director of Intermedia Arts. Both current mayor Betsy Hodges and former mayor R.T. Rybak were on hand at an early afternoon gathering at Intermedia's space on Lyndale Ave. S to announce the news.
Results of the 2013 pilot program are on display in an exhibit called "This Is Our City!" at Intermedia through March 8.
Photo: Director Theresa Sweetland of Intermedia Arts, which announced a $1 million grant from the Kresge Foundation Monday.
The Victoria Theater at 825 University Ave. in Frogtown will be refurbished to put on live shows once more. Photo by Kimmy Tanaka.
If the walls of the Victoria Theater could talk, they'd sing. And dance. Singing and dancing will be happening there again if a neighborhood booster group can raise enough money. The century-old space with a colorful history in St. Paul's Frogtown won't become a parking lot, said writer/director Tyler Olsen, founder of the St. Paul troupe Dangerous Productions. The Twin Cities Community Land Bank will buy the Franklin Ellerbe-designed theater on behalf of the Victoria Theater Arts Initiative, a group that wants to restore the vacant eyesore, most recently a lamp store, and turn it into a combo-use space including an intimate (200-seat) theater and possibly elements of a community center.
Built in 1915, the theater originally showed movies before becoming a nightclub and then a speakeasy during Prohibition."Moonshiners' Dance: Part One," an historically influential song included in the American Anthology of Folk Music, was recorded there in 1927.The St. Paul City Council granted the Beaux Arts building historic designation in 2010.
The bank paid about $275,000 for what is “right now, a shell,” Olsen said. “No furnace, no bathrooms, but if you look hard, you can see a theater.” He said that while Bedlam Theatre’s move to Lowertown is a good thing, the closing of Gremlin Theatre on University last year leaves a need for another small performing space in St. Paul. “This brings theater out to a part of the city that thousands of people will be commuting through every day, the Central Corridor. Our goal is to engage those people as well as the neighborhood.”
A fundraising campaign is being planned, Olsen said.
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