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Matisse's "Large Reclining Nude," 1935
Break out the berets and head over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for a free stroll through the popular "Matisse: Masterworks from the Baltimore Museum of Art," show. Adult tickets for the special exhibition are normally $16 weekdays, $20 weekends, but for one night it will be free. Tickets are timed and limited in number, however, so savvy art fans will arrive early for the 6 p.m.-9 p.m. event March 20.
For this "Third Thursday" program the museum is embracing all things French. The Alliance Francaise Mpls/St. Paul will offer informal French lessons in the galleries. Arty types can "draw with scissors" as Matisse did when nipping out his famous and very colorful cutouts of dancers cavorting in space. Museum visitors will be encouraged to confine their cutouts to post cards or collages, however.
And everyone will be encouraged to indulge in a selfie with a life-sized cutout of Matisse in the MIA photobooth. Or visitors can take self-portraits in a life-sized replica of one of the artist's paintings. Music wiil be provided by the Atlantis Quartet, a modern jazz group.
The "Matisse" show features paintings and drawings from the collections of Claribel and Etta Cone, wealthy Victorian-era Baltimore women who were introduced to Matisse at the Paris salon of writer Gertrude Stein. Over 40 years, the sisters bought more than 500 paintings, drawings and sculpture by Matisse that they later bequeathed to the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Institute's show is on loan from the Baltimore institution through May 18.
Newly engaged Saga Blane and Jake Jeppson at the Cowles Conservatory in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden "still processing" the special moment, Jeppson said.
When Jake Jeppson and Saga Blane walked into the installation "and still this" on Valentine's Day during opening night of the Jim Hodges exhibition "Give More Than You Take" at Walker Art Center, they loved it so much that they decided to come back when it wasn't so crowded. When they did, Jeppson had one more thing on his mind besides basking in the cozy glow of the Hodges work, consisting of ten tall Gessoed panels painted with 23- and 24-karat gold and arranged in an open circle, creating the effect of a golden womb. Back inside it, he took out an engagement ring and asked Blane to marry him.
"We stepped in and were transported into this warm and quiet place where it was just the two of us -- and the security guard peeking as I got on one knee," Jeppson said. Blane's immediate response was "Are you kidding me?" and then "WHAT?" he said. "She was kind of loud about it. But she finds a spirituality in those kinds of spatial experiences, plus she's a lover of all things gold."
The couple recently moved to Minneapolis because Jeppson, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama who has had three plays produced, is a 2014-15 Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights' Center. Blane, who studied architectural theory, plans to work in advertising and will curate a pop-up Finnish design show this spring.
Heads up art fans. Walker Art Center will raise adult admission charges to $14, from $12, on March 14, coinciding with the opening of a show of Edward Hopper's drawings and paintings. Costs for seniors 65 and over will rise to $12, from $10, and for students with identification to $9, from $8. The previous charges were in effect since November 2012.
Admission to the Walker will still be free to everyone on Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. and on the first Saturday of each month.
"The adult admission of $14 is modest when compared to $20-$25 for other local museums and cultural institutions," said Ryan French, director of marketing and public relations in an email.
The Walker's general admission charge is the highest among metro area art museums. Admission to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is free, although the museum frequently charges for special exhibitions like the current "Matisse" show for which tickets are $16 weekdays, $20 weekends. The Museum of Russian Art charges $9 admission. Both the Weisman Art Museum and the Minnesota Museum of American Art are free.
Between 60 and 65 percent of Walker visitors enter the galleries free, French said, because they come on free Thursdays or Saturdays or they use their ticket stubs for gallery access. Tickets purchased for films, performances or mini-golf games also admit visitors into the museum's exhibition galleries.
In the 2013 fiscal year, that free gallery admission would have amounted to about 160,000 people, or roughly 60 percent of the Walker's 264,244 visitors.
The museum's 6,400 members also get in free as do kids under age 18.
Admission charges at the Walker bring in between $350,000 and $450,000 annually, money that is used to help fund the institution's mission and programs, said French. The museum's finances are stable and there is no shortfall in the annual budget which was $19.2 million last year.
"The Walker is proud of its fiscal discipline having balanced its budget for 32 consecutive years," French stated. "Like other well-managed non-profits, we examine revenues and expenses regularly to make sure we're stewarding our resources responsibly."
Photo: Roy Lichtenstein sculpture returns to Walker Art Center in December, 2013. Star Tribune photo by Bruce Bisping.
Cultural preservation expert Cori Wegener
With the George Clooney film "Monuments Men" now in theaters, the topic of cultural preservation in war zones and other disaster areas (manmade or natural) is a hot topic. The Clooney film tracks a group of art historians, restorers and aesthetes charged with saving cultural treasures in Europe, Japan and elsewhere during WWII.
The need for such skills remains, especially in the Middle East which is about equally rich in archeological artifacts and violent conflicts. Former Minneapolis Institute of Arts assistant curator Cori Wegener, a U.S. army vet, was an "Arts, Monuments, and Archives Officer" stationed in Iraq for 11 months during 2003-04 following the looting of the national museum and other cultural repositories there. She now bringsl that experience to bear as a cultural heritage preservation officer in the Office of the Undersecretary for History, Art and Culture at the Smthsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. A major in the U.S. Army Reserves, she retired from the service in 2004 after 21 years.
Wegener will talk about her experiences at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21 in the O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium, 2115 Summit Av., University of St. Thomas campus, St. Paul. The event is free. For accessibility information call 651-962-6315.
Fionn Meade @ Guillermo Riveros
Walker Art Center has hired two new curators including a Senior Curator of Cross-Disciplinary Platforms, a new post designed to reflect the center's focus on artists who work in many fields ranging from film, video and music to dance and such stationary visual arts as painting, printmaking or photography. That post will be filled by Fionn Meade starting May 5.
Meade is presently a curator, writer and faculty member at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and Columbia University in New York City. His expertise is in film, performance and museum practice. He will also be Interim Head of the Walker's Visual Arts Department while a search continues for someone to replace Chief Curator Darsie Alexander who is leaving to become executive director of the Katonah Museum of Art in suburban New York City.
Meade's first task will be to oversee the presentation of Radical Presence, an exhibition about black performance in visual art from the 1960s to the present. One of his future shows will focus on the work of visual artists who collaborated with choreographer Merce Cunningham whose archive the Walker owns.
He previously worked as a curator at the Sculpture Center in New York City and at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. He has a M.A. degree in creative writing from Columbia and a M.A. from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard.
Isla Leaver-Yap, photo provided by Walker Art Center
The second appointee is Isla Leaver-Yap who will take the new post of Bentson Visiting Film Scholar starting March 3. Presently living in Glasgow, Scotland she is expected to do research on the Walker's Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Collection which has a high concentration of avant garde films dated from 1943 - 1985. She will report to Meade but also work closely with Sheryl Mousley, the Walker's film curator.
Leaver-Yap has extensive experience with film groups in London and New York. She has an MA in art history and English and a MSc in Art History Research from the University of Edinburg, Scotland.
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