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A winter Fringe Festival is one of 69 ideas floated toward the Knight challenge grant committee that passed muster as a finalist.
A few months back, the Miami-based Knight Foundation dropped a big windfall on the city of St. Paul, pledging $8 million toward arts organizations and arts-related projects over the next three years. More than half that amount was earmarked for "arts challenge grants" for which anyone could apply, as long as they kept the idea to 140 words or less and the idea somehow benefits St. Paul. Of the 850 concepts that rolled in for the first year, 69 have been chosen as finalists. Many are predictable extensions of what existing arts groups already do, but there are also some fresh and quirky notions:
--Erik Barsness wants to bring a new chill to Saint Paul Winter Carnival audiences through concerts performed on xylophones, marimbas and vibraphones made entirely out of ice by Swedish instrument builder Tim Linhart.
-- Stahl Construction Company wants to preserve the legacy of St. Paul’s architecture by restoring the historical company signs that distinguish Lowertown.
--The Baroque Room aims to showcase the city's classical-music scene during the Art Crawl through performances in art gallery spaces.
--City of Skate would be a skateable art plaza that brings out the creativity of skateboarders and the community with skateable sculptures, a video screen and performance stage.
Winners (the number of them depends on how much the judges are wowed by final proposals) will be announced in September.
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.
The annual McKnight fellowships for dancers and choreographers were announced this week. Each midcareer artist receives $25,000.
The winning choreographers are Penelope Freeh, Wynn Fricke and Joanie Smith. The winning dancers are Sally Rousse, Kenna-Camara Cottman and Max Wirsing.
The dance fellows also can get funds to commission a choreographer of their choice to create a new solo work for them. The choreographer fellows are eligible to apply for additional support for a residency at one of four national partners.
The McKnight Fellowship winners are selected by a panel from submissions, and the program is administered by Northrop at the University of Minnesota.
Four Minnesota composers will get $25,000 each as winners of this year's McKnight Composition Fellowships. The fellowships are administered by St. Paul-based American Composers Forum. They were selected from 63 applicants. The judges for this year's selections were composers Amir ElSaffar (New York, N.Y.), Stacy Garrop (Chicago, Ill.) and Daniel Trueman (Princeton, N.J.) The 2014 winners are:
Alex Freeman, who teaches at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. and has written and recorded chamber, choral and piano works.
Jocelyn Hagen, of Minneapolis, who was a longtime composer-in-residence for The Singers, and is now composer-in-residence at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
Michelle Kinney, of Golden Valley, a cellist and composer who is Musician in Residence at the University of Minnesota's Dance Program and a member of the quartet Jelloslave.
George Maurer, of Minneapolis, a composer and jazz pianist whose work has been performed by orchestras, ballet troupes, jazz ensembles and musical-theater producers.
Another McKnight program awards $15,000 each to two artists from outside Minnesota to spend two months or more in the state working on projects. Robin Eschner of Forestville, Calif., will produce a song cycle related to the the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in northern Minnesota, and Pamela Z of San Francisco will compose a work focusing on Minnesota "farm-to-table" movement as it goes from farms to farmer's markets and restaurants.
The McKnight Foundation, founded in 1953, contributes about $1.7 million each year to individual artists via fellowships and other programs. American Composers Forum, founded in 1973 as Minnesota Composers Forum, has a worldwide membership of 1,700 artists, organizations and community members.
Kelly Nathe, producer
Documentary-filmmakers Norah Shapiro and Kelly Nathe have won a Legacy-funded grant from the Minnesota Film & TV Board for a film on the colorful moonshine-making history of Nathe’s home turf, Stearns County. The doc will trace the Prohibition-era activities of Depression-devastated farmers who turned to hustling illegal booze as well as look at the current revival of spirits made from the “Minnesota 13” heirloom corn being used by the Eleven Wells distillery located in the old Hamm’s Brewery in St. Paul. “We just got to taste some fresh-off-the-still hooch there, and it was yummy,” said Nathe. The grant, which will amount to about $40,000 in reimbursements intended to help cover pre-production costs, is very rare and very welcome because “it’s nearly impossible to raise money for a feature documentary before you’ve begun filming,” she told I.W. “It’s also a tremendous stamp of approval that hopefully helps attract other funders.” Filmmaker Michael McIntee also won a grant from Minnesota Film & TV for his work-in-progress on the fight for marriage equality in Minnesota.
Norah Shapiro, producer/director
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