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Abby and Orin Rutchick, co-founders of the Mpls Photo Center, at the popular Minneapolis venue. Star Tribune photo by Sara Glassman
After seven years nurturing the Mpls Photo Center, co-founders Abby and Orin Rutchick are looking to sell the business and move on. By next winter they hope to be settled in northern California, most likely Oakland, near their daughter Andrea, 36, and her four children, and not far from their son Maxx, 27, who lives in Sonoma.
"We're not looking for somebody just to manage MPC and we'd own it from a distance. We want out," said Orin, 63. "This is an opportunity for a younger person with passion and energy to create a future for themselves and take it to the next level, or for someone older and retired who wants to continue to be of service to the community."
Incorporated as a for-profit business, MPC is unusual in that it provides many of the educational opportunities and community features common to nonprofit organizations such as Highpoint Center for Printmaking or the Northern Clay Center. They all operate galleries that stage regular exhibitions, complete with publications, in their respective fields. All offer lectures, discussions, classes and workshops primarily for adults. They all have studios, work space and equipment for rent or cooperative use. Highpoint and the Clay Center have more ambitious and extensive educational programs for kids, but the basic services are similar in the three organizations.
The chief differences show up in the organizations' basic structures. Highpoint and the Clay Center have boards of directors to oversee their operations, and staff members who seek grants and help stage fund raising events. Their exhibition programs are more sophisticated and often feature international artists and complex exhibitions that require museum-style security and transportation. And both Highpoint and the Clay Center own their buildings.
By contrast, MPC is owned run by the Rutchicks with the assistance of a facilities manager, a part-time staff member, a bookkeeper and an accountant. Classes are taught by professional photographers operating as independent contractors. It's so down-home and personal that Orin even cooks the lunchs and prepares the snacks set out at openings.
"We offer about 25 classes per month taught by 10 different photographers," Orin said. "We try to provide classes that mold photographers from just learning how to use a camera to framing, editing, creating a personal project and then getting them out there to work."
The Rutchicks rent 12,000 square feet in an old brick warehouse into which they've invested "quite a bit of leasehold improvements," including building studios, digital labs, dark rooms, a gallery, storage and meeting spaces. They own the equipment -- printers, cameras, computers, lights and other photographic gear.
"This was always built to be a self-sustaining entity that survives on its own revenue; it's a revenue generating machine," Orin said.
Even so, they investigated the possibility of transforming it into a nonprofit organization "but it appears to be so complicated to get anything out of it that a personal sale, a for-profit sale, makes the most sense." he continued.
"We have certain things that we make money with, things we spend money for. There's no secrets," Rutchick said. " Nobody is going to get rich but they can enjoy what they're doing. It's like a community center or a hobby farm for photography. Rather than playing basketball, they're doing photography."
Art Shanty Projects is looking for cash to support its 2016 plans. For the past decade it has staged clever events in arty shacks on frozen lakes around the Twin Cities metro area. It iced that program this year for want of money and organizational moxy.
Even so Art Shanty Projects has won accolades. It claims to be among 32 candidates for the 2nd International Award for Public Art (IAPA) and one of 90 finalists for an ArtPlace America 2015 National Grant. Not content with those birds-in-the-bush, the organization is now seeking cash-in-hand.
In September the organizations' board-of-directors hired a new executive director, Dawn Bentley. Recently it gained official recognition as a non-profit organization with 501(c) (3) tax status.
A fund-raiser next month will feature performances by local musicians, appearances by former art shanty artists, a raffle, prizes, food-and-beverage sales to benefit the shanty project. It will be held from 5 p.m.- 9 p.m. February 28 at the Fulton Brewery, 2540 2nd St. N.E., Minneapolis. $15 advance tickets are available online through Brown Paper Tickets and artshantyprojects.org; or $20 at the door. Tickets include one free drink.
Dianne Hill-Hines as "Mother Goose" at Children's Theatre Company in 1995 (with Robbie Droddy and Cassie Fox). Photo by Rob Levine.
Dianne Hill-Hines “never thought of herself as God’s gift to the stage,” said Gary Gisselman, who directed Hill in many theatrical productions. “But she was. She could sing and act, she had great warmth and you could put her in any role and she’d be terrific.”
Hill-Hines, 67, was a longtime presence in the Twin Cities theater scene under the name Dianne Benjamin-Hill. She died Monday of cancer at N.C. Little Hospice in Edina.
“She was everything I wanted to be,” said Molly Sue McDonald, a veteran actor and singer who counted Hill as a close friend. “There was something about Dianne. She had that gift you can’t describe that made you want to watch her.”
Hill-Hines was born in Aberdeen, S.D., with an early love for theater. After receiving an MFA in Theatre at Wayne State University in Detroit, she moved with her then-husband to Los Angeles. After a divorce, she relocated to the Twin Cities.
She and actor Jim Cada dated for years while they were both working with Actor’s Theatre of St. Paul.
“She had a lot of trust from actors and directors,” Cada said. “She took it very seriously — a real pleasure to work with backstage and on stage.”
Actor Sally Wingert, who notably worked with Hill-Hines in “Blue Window” at Actor’s Theatre, considered her a mentor.
“I idolized her,” Wingert said. “She was really gorgeous and such a good actor — just a beautiful, wicked sense of comic timing but also very heartfelt.”
She was one of the top performers at Chanhassen from 1977-85. Gisselman remembered her appearances in “Hello Dolly” (There has never been a better Irene Molloy,” he said), “Beyond Therapy” and “Blithe Spirit.” She also filled in for Susan Goeppinger in “I Do, I Do” for eight months and “Quilters,” which ran for 12 months in 1984-85.
Hill-Hines also acted at Old Log, Mixed Blood and other theaters locally.
For several years in the late 80s and 1990s, Hill-Hines stepped away from the stage to raise her son, Matt.
“She was definitely a hands-on mother,” said her husband, Paul Hines of Minnetonka. “We used to tell her that eventually she couldn’t accompany Matt wherever he went, especially to school. But she got a bus pass and got on the bus with him for the first day. True story.”
She returned to the stage at Children’s Theatre Company, where she developed a strong kinship with director/choreographer Matthew Howe. Hill-Hines played the Wicked Witch in two productions of “The Wizard of Oz” and also performed in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Pippi Longstocking” in 2001 under Howe’s direction.
“Dianne brought so much to the rehearsal room and the stage,” Howe wrote in an email from Vancouver, B.C., where he now teaches. “She had talent, a generous heart, and a deep love and appreciation for those she worked with.”
Paul Hines said that in recent years, Dianne worked in the Hopkins school district with special-needs children. She also spent recent summers working for friends who owned Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre Company. She and Twin Cities actor Clyde Lund performed “On Golden Pond” there in 2013.
In addition to Paul and Matt Hines, Hill-Hines is survived by her mother, Doris Evenson, stepchildren Brad Hines and Lesli Launer Hines and four siblings. Her life will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday, at All Saints Lutheran Church, 15915 Excelsior Blvd., Mtka., with visitation one hour before the service.
For the past two summers, a different giant artwork has appeared on the plaza adjacent to the Minneapolis Convention Center downtown. Get ready for a third to make its debut at Northern Spark June 13, as the Creative City Challenge finalists have been chosen. Each will get a stipend of $2,500 to present a final proposal in February to a panel representing the city, the convention center and northernlights.mn, the arts organization behind all-night-long arts extravaganza Northern Spark. The winner gets $75,000 to create their temporary dream, which will remain available to visitors through the season.
"Shadow Swings" (computer-generated model pictured above) a concept by a team from the architecture firm Perkins+Will, combines a series of wind-chime-outfitted swings under a canopy. Each has a different musical tone, encouraging visitors to make up a song together.
"We All Share the Same Skies" (above) by the design firm PLAAD offers outdoors-related sensory experiences -- wind through pines, images of constellations and clouds, simulated downpours -- in three separate enclosed structures, bringing a bit of the north woods to an urban setting.
For "Mini_Polis," (above) artists Niko Kubota and Jon Reynolds will erect plywood miniatures of buildings in Minneapolis' downtown and environs, rigged interactively to share the memories of and hopes for these places expressed by their makers, groups of volunteers in community workshops.
Richard Hillstrom at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts,1993. Star Tribune photo by Rita Reed
The Rev. Richard Hillstrom, a Lutheran minister who parlayed a modest salary, a discerning eye and a passion for American art into a museum-quality collection, died at his home in Edina on Dec. 16. His health had been failing in recent weeks, and his death was announced by Gary Langness, a longtime friend. He was 99.
Though Hillstrom devoted his long professional career to the ministry, it was as an art collector that he made his most enduring mark on the culture of Minnesota. His most important legacy is likely to be the collection of about 250 American modernist paintings and drawings that he donated to his namesake Hillstrom Museum of Art at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, his alma mater.
Over the years he also gave the museum an endowment totaling $1.5 million as of 2012. Asked how a minister could amass so much money, he credited smart investing through Lutheran Brotherhood (now Thrivent Financial) at a time when the stock market was strong, according to the Gustavus Quarterly.
He was also founding curator of the Lutheran Brotherhood (now Thrivent Financial) art collection which features Old Master prints and drawings on Christian themes by Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt and others.
Starting in the 1940s when Hillstrom was ministering to a parish in the hard-scrabble steel milling town of Gary, Indiana, he would visit the Art Institute of Chicago on his days off and then poke through the city's galleries and antique shops where he was drawn to paintings by Swedish American artists. His budget was extremely modest, and he later recalled the guilt he felt at having bought, for $5 each, original lithographs by Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton, three of the country's leading regionalists. Each of those prints would be worth thousands now but, at the time, his $15 purchase felt like a fortune on a minister's salary.
Over his 70 year career, Hillstrom amassed a refined and important collection of paintings by early 20th century American modernists Maurice Prendergast, Guy Pene du Bois, Everett Shinn, John Twachtman, Willard Metcalf and Reginald Marsh plus prints and drawings by John Sloan, Grant Wood, George Luks and Edward Hopper among others.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts staged a show of his collection in 1993, and he gave pieces of art to the Institute as well as to the Weisman Art Museum, the Minnesota Historical Society, the American Swedish Institute and the Minnesota Museum of American Art among other venues.
"I admired Rick greatly, both for his deep, self-taught knowledge of art and for his supportive friendship," said Donald Myers, director of the Hillstrom Museum at Gustavus." He was eager to make it possible for others to be affected by art in the way that he was. And he was always happy to guide and encourage friends in their interest in collecting art and in supporting art institutions.
"He was a great mentor and friend to me, always ready with encouragement and advice but never insistent on having things done just his way," Myers continued. "He enjoyed his friends and loved to be able to joke with and tease them and have the same kind of good-natured ribbing come his way."
Born in Dassel, Minn, a town of 800 about 50 miles west of the Twin Cities, Hillstrom and his four brothers were first generation Americans, their parents Alma and Martin Hillstrom having immigrated from Sweden to the United States. Following his 1938 graduation from Gustavus Adolphus College, he studied theology and was ordained as a Lutheran minister in 1942.
After serving the Gary parish for five years during World War II, he was an assistant minister at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis for five years. He spent the bulk of his career, 30 years, as chaplain at St. Paul's Bethesda Lutheran Medical Center from which he retired in 1982. In retirement he went on to establish the Lutheran Brotherhood (now Thrivent) art collection which has toured exhibitions to communities and churches throughout the Midwest.
At the time of the 1993 Minneapolis Institute of Arts exhibit, his friend Edward Lindell, a senior vice president of Lutheran Brotherhood, said that Hillstrom's generosity was characteristic of a man who was by temperament "a great mixture of art sophistication and Lutheran piety."
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