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Jerome Foundation announces "Emerging Artists" Fellowships

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: December 9, 2014 - 12:14 PM

Miranda Brandon's "Impact (Warbler)" photo was made in 2013 and has been shown at Soo Visual Arts Center.

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design has picked five Midwestern artists as winners of the 2014/15 Jerome Foundation Fellowships for Emerging Artists. Each will receive $12,000 and have various professional opportunities during the fellowship year.

Chosen from 252 applicants, the winners are Miranda Brandon, a bird-enthusiast who photographs and rehabilitates injured birds; Regan Golden-McNerney, who uses altered photos and drawings to document ecological change in the landscape; Jess Hirsch, a sculptor and installation artist concerned about health and healing; Sieng Lee, an installation designer drawing on his  refugee experiences as a first-generation Hmong American; and Jason Ramey, a sculptor intrigued by roadside signage and backyard furniture.

Judges were Candida Alvarez, an artist and professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Shannon Fitzgerald, curator and executive director of the Rochester Art Center, and David Norr, a New York City-based writer/curator.

During the fellowship term, the emergees will meet with visiting critics, participate in a group show opening in fall of 2015 at the MCAD Gallery, have an essay written about their work, and participate in a panel discussion.

Peter Vaughan, theater critic, dies at 76

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: December 8, 2014 - 2:37 PM

Peter Vaughan, a longtime theater critic and reporter for the Minneapolis Star and the merged Star Tribune, has died at his French home in the Loire Valley. His 77th birthday would have been Friday.

Vaughan moved to France with his wife, Dana Wood, after retiring from the Star Tribune in 1997.  They lived in a country manse in Saint-Senoch, in central France, where Vaughan was able to indulge his tastes for good wine and food.

Born in London, Vaughan and his mother moved to St. Paul when he was a child. His father, Tom Vaughan, was an amateur theater enthusiast who became a critic himself after he retired from an academic career.

Peter Vaughan graduated from St. Paul Academy and received degrees from Yale and the London School of Economics. He started his career at the Minneapolis Star as a reporter, winning an award in 1974 for working on a team that investigated the value and reliability of auto repairs. It was as a theater critic, though, that he was remembered best.

“Guys like me and Lou [Bellamy] over at Penumbra, owe our careers to him,” said Jack Reuler, who founded Mixed Blood Theatre about the time Vaughan started to cover Twin Cities theater. “His own personal world view fit in with what our mission was.”

Bob Lundegaard worked with Vaughan at the newspapers and shared an enthusiasm for the arts and sports. The two played a regular tennis match each week for more than 10 years, Lundegaard recalled.

“He was very enthusiastic about theater – he’d review three or four shows a week,” Lundegaard said.

Vaughan could also be irascible when he felt the occasion necessitated it. Lundegaard remembered that the critic would often look at his reviews after they had been edited and restore his original word choices.

He also had dry sense of humor. At a breakfast with Rohan Preston, his successor at the Star Tribune, Vaughan was asked how he kept up with the plethora of theaters producing shows.

“Your job is to kill half of them off,” Vaughan said without missing a beat.

In a valedictory when he left the Star Tribune, Vaughan called theater “a unique forum to probe the political, social and personal forces that shape our lives.”

“Probably the most disappointing aspect of Twin Cities theater is how often good, even exceptional work, is ignored by audiences,” he wrote. “One might argue that we have too much theater and that the
exceptional often gets lost, but I fear that too often, people shun theater for the very reasons I am attracted to it.”

Vaughan is survived by his wife, her daughter and his two sons. There was no news about a service.
 

Life of design curator Mildred "Mickey" Friedman celebrated in NYC

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: November 19, 2014 - 5:32 PM

Star Tribune file photos of Mildred "Mickey" Friedman

Mildred "Mickey" Friedman, the influential Walker Art Center design curator who died in September at 85, was remembered this week in New York City for her samba, her style, her curiosity, and her quiet grace. About 100 A-list artists (Chuck Close, Claes Oldenburg, Christo, Judith Shea), architects (Hugh Hardy, Billie Tsien, Frank Gehry), museum directors (Sam Sachs, Frick emeritus; Adam Weinberg, Whitney; Olga Viso, Walker) and past and present Walker friends gathered at the Century Association on a rainy Monday evening.

Former Walker curator Dean Swanson recalled dancing the samba with her on a "glamorous dance floor in Rio" in 1963 when they were helping Friedman's husband Martin, then the Walker's director, prepare a show of American art that took grand prize at that year's Sao Paulo biennial. With a nod to the Friedmans' long marriage (she died on their 65th birthday), Tsien compared "smart, tough, rational" Mickey to the character Rosalind Russell played opposite mischievous, fast-talking Cary Grant (Martin) in the classic 1940 film "His Girl Friday."

Recalling the "quiet grace and gentle beauty of a loving friend," Gehry took a jib at a Manhattan institution when he credited her with always "searching for uncharted water, unlike MOMA." Lise Friedman, eldest of the couple's three daughters, observed that one of their mom's "most important lessons was always to make an extra place at the table when someone unexpectedly comes."

After Hardy led toasts to the Friedmans, the crowd munched hors d'oeuvres, including a high-style version of  that old Midwestern standard, "pigs-in-a-blanket" (puff pastry, no cheese, Dijon mustard).

Soap Factory in Minneapolis to celebrate 25th anniversary

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: November 12, 2014 - 1:22 PM

Alexa Horochowski's 2014 installation at The Soap Factory. Star Tribune photo by Tom Sweeney

A lot has changed in the 25 years since The Soap Factory art complex started life as No Name Exhibitions.The popoular outpost for Halloween fun and experimental art is celebrating its quarter century anniversary with a benefit  party from 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, Nov. 15 in its cavernous, brick-and-timber warehouse, a former soap factory,  at 514 S.E. Second St., Minneapolis.

The Factory's presence there has been a spur to development in what is now a fast-gentrifying neighborhood near the Mississippi River. Back in 1989, what is now a rough-hew home to avant garde art was still a functioning factory.

"There have been a lot of changes in this building," said Ben Heywood, executive director of The Soap Factory. "Back then they were literally melting down animals and turning them into fat and then throwing lye into it and turning it into soap."

Back then a group of local artists banded together and started No Name Exhibitions in another quasi derelict building known as the Skunk House. On the opposite side of the Mississippi and just west of Hennepin Av., the Skunk House was subsequently acquired by the Federal Reserve bank to house its air conditioning plant, Heywood said. No Name then moved into the bottling house of the former Grain Belt Brewery and from there to the Soap Factory in 1995.

"Our exhibition space went from 600 square feet to 50,000 square feet when we moved here, so that's a big change," Heywood said.

The Factory building is still pretty raw, but it too has changed over the years. Now, for example, it has bathrooms. And in January it will add heating and air conditioning for the basement and first floor. Previously the place closed in winter months when there was no heat.

Other improvements include the addition of a permanent staff, rather than volunteers who ran the place until 2002. With staff came a year-round exhibition and performance program. And the ever-popular Haunted Basement Halloween shindig. And now the 25th anniversary party. 

Billed as a "day of citywide fun," the anniversary committee may have overpromised a bit. There won't be hot air balloons or marching bands on Nicollet Mall, much as Heywood would love such stuff. By "city-wide" they mean art impressario and cultural gadabout Andy Sturdevant leading a Soap Factory History tour starting at 3 p.m. Saturday in a vintage bus that will roll past previous Factory locales.

"Andy is a city-wide celebration in himself," Heywood explained. Indeed.

The Factory invited 9,000 people to the shindig and expects a good turn out.

"We can hold 700 people on the first floor and we should have a full house," Heywood said.

Party goers can expect Beatrix* JAR and Solid Gold to kick off the event with DJs Diarrhea (Jackie Beckey) and Christopher Saint Christopher (Christopher Allen) commanding the dance floor and emcee Ian Rans running the show.

There will be complimentary cocktails by Bittercube, gourmet nibbles from Fabulous Catering and Common Roots catering, small plates from Tilia, Heyday, Haute Dish, Third Bird, and the University of MN College of Design. Plus art by Aaron Dysart and Andy DuCett. Performances by artist Jaime Carrera and theater company Live Action Set. Plus an auction, of course.

(Party 6 p.m. to midnight, Nov, 15, tickets $50 to $2,000. The Soap Factory, 514 Second St. S.E., Mpls. For tickets: www.soapfactory.org)


 

Karen Armstrong: Study faith, stress Golden Rule

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: November 12, 2014 - 1:23 PM

After decades spent studying, researching and writing books about the history of world religions, British author Karen Armstrong (pictured) appears to have arrived at a stunningly simple resolution: follow the Golden Rule.

Armstrong spoke Tuesday night at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul as part of Talking Volumes, a series co-presented by Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio, in collaboratiion with The Loft.

In her new book, "Fields of Blood," Armstrong zeros in on myths and reality surrounding the role of religion in the history of warfare and violence.

With ISIS in the news, interviewer Kerri Miller of MPR asked Armstrong about the situation in Syria and Iraq, and the perception in the West that the violent leaders of ISIS are motivated mainly by their Muslim faith.

"First off, it is a mistake to think that all ISIS fighters are devout jihadists," Armstrong said. "Many are secular" militia, including troops left over from Saddam Hussein's armed guard. She said there had been a story about one ISIS leader who had ordered the book "Islam for Dummies" from amazon.com.

The resurgence of radical Islam in parts of the Mideast today, Armstrong said, is in part a response to the violence used to repress religion and impose a secular state in places like Iran and Egypt in the mid-20th-century.

Another factor, she said, "is a perception in many parts of the Middle East that the West is indifferent to human suffering."

While some have labeled Armstrong an apologist for Islam, she said she abhors the ISIS-sponsored aggression and says that it actually defies Islamic law that forbids violence against civilians and prohibits attacking any country where Muslims are allowed to practice their faith freely.

Armstrong has been a leader in the Charter for Compassion, a global effort to involving elected leaders, clergy and laypeople to sign on to this simple notion: "Do not impose on others what you yourself would not desire." She read an elaboration of that Golden Rule, which is available here.

Armstrong, who turns 70 on Nov. 14, lived in a convent, leaving it after six years, when she was 24. Since then, she remained unmarried and without children. She lives alone and spends much time in study, research, reflection and writing, so that her life today "remains very nun-like," she said.

But Armstrong is no stay-at-home. She travels globally to speak and promote her books. She has given TED talks and is a regular TV commentator. She has made numerous trips to Pakistan, where she has helped promote a chain of progressive schools.

While her topic is a serious one, Armstrong frequently displayed flashes of wit and self-deprecating humor. She acknowledged Britain's once-mighty status as a colonial power, but said "we now view ourselves as the poodle of the United States."

Star Tribune writer Graydon Royce recently interviewed Armstrong, here.

Armstrong's full talk is scheduled to be rebroadcast at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, on Minnesota Public Radio.

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