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Posts about Culture

Weisman Art Museum showcases 20th century talent, gifts

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: February 27, 2015 - 6:06 PM

In two small exhibitions, the University of Minnesota's Weisman Art Museum showcases gifts of 20th century sculpture, prints and drawings from Minneapolis collectors Lillian (Babe) and Julius Davis, and topical sculpture by Hungarian-born emigre Peter Dallos.

The Weisman overlooks the Mississippi River at 333 E. River Road, Minneapolis on the East Bank campus of the University of Minnesota. (10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Tue., Thu., Fri.; 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Wed.; 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sat., Sun.; closed Mondays. Free. 612-625-9494 or www.weisman.umn.edu)

"Acid Rain" by Peter Dallos.

Selections from "The Struggle" series by Peter Dallos: As a child in Hungary, Dallos survived the German occupation, the siege of Budapest and the Holocaust. Then came the repressive post war occupation by the Soviet Union. After the Hungarian revolution in 1956, he escaped and emigrated to the United States where he settled in Chicago. He is now an emeritus professor of neuroscience at Northwestern University.

Only fragments of his improbable and ultimately fortunate life are evident in the small, wall-hung sculptures on display at the Weisman. Part of a series Dallos calls "The Struggle," the polished steel and rough metal objects suggest the tensions between order and chaos, civilization and anarchy, rebirth and environmental degredation that are omnipresent in human society.

An earlier series called "War" more directly alluded to the horrors of W.W. II and the existential alienation that followed. Dallos' entire "War" series is now in the permanent collection of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D. C. (February 14 - March 22, 2015).

"Element Bleu 1" by Jean Dubuffet.

Artful Giving: Lillian (Babe) and Julius Davis: Longtime supporters of both Walker Art Center and the Weisman, the late Babe and Julius Davis were avid collectors of contemporary art as well. Between 1975 and 2013, they gave more than 85 artworks to the Weisman, virtually all of them dating from the post - W.W. II era when they were most deeply engaged in collecting.

Their taste ran to abstract and somewhat conceptual pieces including lithographs for unrealized sculpture projects by Robert Morris and a wall-hung sculpture by French artist Jean Dubuffet made of polyester resin covered with acrylic paint. Dubuffet made it based on doodles he scribbled while talking on the telephone.

About 15 of the Davis gifts are featured in a small show that offers a tidy sample of leading names of the era including Chuck Close, Helen Frankenthaler, Sol LeWitt, Louise Nevelson, Claes Oldenburg, Lucas Samaras, Jonathan Borofsky, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, George Segal, Brice Marden, James Kielkopf and Takeshi Kawashima. (February 28 - August 9, 2015)

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden art to be relocated during $10M renovation

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: February 12, 2015 - 1:42 PM

 

Frank Gehyr's "Glass Fish" sculpture in the Cowles Conservatory at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; image provided by Walker Art Center

Art from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will be stored or shown at other Twin Cities museums and parks during the garden's $10 million renovation starting in June 2015.

Five of the garden's 40 sculptures, all owned by Walker Art Center, will be loaned to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, or the Gold Medal Park adjacent to theGuthrie Theater near the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The remainder will be placed in storage during the 18 month renovation.

Three of the loaned sculptures will be transplanted to Gold Medal Park:

1) Brower Hatcher's "Prophecy of the Ancients (1988)," a circle of pillars surmounted by a domed mesh- canopy studded with astrological symbols and glyphs; 2) Mark di Suvero's "Molecule (1977-83)," a wide-legged steel tripod painted bright red; 3) Tony Cragg's "Ordovician Pore (1989)" consisting of metal funnels, rough  balls and a bent droplet cascading over the edge of a stone base.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts will take in Jacques Lipchitz's "Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II (1944/1953), and the Weisman Art Museum will house Frank Gehry's "Standing Glass Fish (1986)."

The Gehry sculpture, which is presently the centerpiece of the Sculpture Garden's Cowles Conservatory and palm house, is expected to be displayed inside the Weisman whose building was designed by the Los Angeles architect.

The loans are renewable annually for up to five years, after which the agreements will be reevaulated.

The Minnesota legislature has approved $8.5 million to renovate and upgrade the 11 acre garden's infrastructure including irrigation, drainage, walkways, retaining walls and other features. The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization chipped in an additional up to $1.5 million for storm-water-management-systems on the site.

The renovation money went  to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board which owns the land on which the park sits. Walker Art Center, the adjacent contemporary art organization, owns the sculptures and will pay for their storage, maintenance and relocation costs in conjunction with the temporary hosts of the art.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts to extend Friday hours starting Feb. 20

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: January 21, 2015 - 5:00 PM

Fashionistas attended a preview of the Italian Style show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo by Bre McGee.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts plans to stay open until 9 p.m. on Friday nights starting February 20. It has been open until 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings for years, so the addition of Friday doubles its evening availability.  It is now open until 5 p.m. on Fridays.

Admission is always free.

In the past year the museum jazzed up its Thursday evening programming by featuring local bands, craft beer, games, retro fun, and exhibition-themed events like a fashion show that accompanied the recent "Italian Style," exhibition of post WWII Italian clothing on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

"Thursday's programming will remain lively and very participatory while Fridays will have more of an art opening theme," said Anne-Marie Wagener, the museum's director of press and public relations.

Hours starting February 20: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Av. S. 612-870-3000 or www.artsmia.org

British calligrapher Donald Jackson to talk in St. Paul on February 12

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: January 12, 2015 - 6:04 PM

Donald Jackson photo provided by Concordia University

Officially known as scribe and calligrapher to the Crown Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Donald Jackson is more familiar in Minnesota as the founder and creative force behind The Saint John's Bible, the first handwritten Bible produced in the past 500 years which was commissioned by and produced for St. John's University in Collegeville, MN.

Jackson will be in the Twin Cities for a presentation at Concordia University in Saint Paul from 7 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. February 12 at the Buetow Music Center Auditorium (Hamline and Marshall Av.). The event is free and seating in the 480 seat auditorium will be on a first-come first seated basis. Expect it to be packed early.

The University is hosting an exhibition of the seven-volume "Heritage Edition" of The Saint John's Bible through the month of February with two of the volumes on view  through July 2015. The Heritage Edition is a facsimile of the handwritten version that Jackson and an international team of calligraphers worked on for more than a decade. The free exhibition is on display in Concordia's Library Technology Center at 1282 Concordia Av., Saint Paul. Exhibit hours: 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 10 a.m. -3 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays; 1 p.m. -7 p.m. Sundays.
 

Richard Hillstrom (1915-2014), Lutheran minister, art collector, museum namesake

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: December 16, 2014 - 5:14 PM

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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