Welcome to Artcetera. Arts-and-entertainment writers and critics post movie news, concert updates, people items, video, photos and more. Share your views. Check it daily. Remain in the know. Contributors: Mary Abbe, Jon Bream, Tim Campbell, Colin Covert, Laurie Hertzel, Tom Horgen, Neal Justin, Claude Peck, Rohan Preston, Chris Riemenschneider, Graydon Royce, Randy Salas and Kristin Tillotson.
Jack Reuler, director of Mixed Blood Theatre, is all smiles -- and should be, having just acquired a $100,000 NEA grant. Photo by Tom Wallace.
Mixed Blood Theatre Co. is top dog among 28 Minnesota arts organizations awarded 2013 grants from the National Endowment of the Arts. The small Minneapolis-based theater company will get $100,000 of the $877,500 coming to the state, and will use the grant to develop two new plays and send two commissioned works on tour.
Other top winners are three independent publishers located in the Twin Cities. Graywolf Press will receive $90,000, and Milkweed Editions and Coffee House Press will each get $65,000. The Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul got $60,000 for a retrospective of Naitve American artist George Morrison's work, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts got $40,000 to research its upcoming Delacroix exhibit.
See the complete list of grantees here: http://www.startribune.com/a1924
She labored over scraps and fragments for years, saying “I always thought about writing more than I actually wrote.” But when Erin Morgenstern finally gathered her pieces into a whole, she created an atmospheric world in her debut novel, “The Night Circus.” It captivated readers and made her a bestselling author.
Still just 34, Morgenstern appeared Friday, November 9 at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul and charmed a nearly full house with stories about her characters and her creative process.
Morgenstern was the final guest in a 2012 Talking Volumes author-appearance season that included Junot Diaz, Jeffrey Toobin and Abraham Verghese. She was interviewed by Kerri Miller of Minnesota Public Radio.
Among various things that influenced the Smith College theater major and visual artist was the British troupe Punchdrunk Theater and its “Sleep No More,” which sends audiences through an elaborately decorated series of rooms in a giant New York City warehouse to experience a wordless, nocturnal “Macbeth” based mostly on movement and atmosphere. “I loved that production,” Morgentstern said. “It was immersive and unforgettable.”
Morgenstern also credited her own “vivid dreams" for helping her develop the circus world surrounding her novel’s cast of characters.
A lifelong reader, Morgenstern said the as a girl she often took books into her closet, where nothing could distract her entry into fictional worlds. When she started trying to write her own fiction, she said, she “learned that writing is a really messy process” full of re-ordering, tossing out and revising. “I don’t write in chapters, and I don’t write in order,” she said. “I’m not really an outliner, as is probably dreadfully obvious.”
Morgentstern’s fans keep urging her to come out with another novel. She has three or four ideas in progress, but “my next book will be a while.” And it won’t be a sequel to “The Night Circus,” she said.
The Massachusetts native is in the process of moving from Boston to New York. There, she said, she hopes to get back to writing after a long period on tour to promote her first novel.
The autumn cool means one thing for comic book fans in the Twin Cities: FallCon is here. The annual comic book convention, organized by the Midwest Comic Book Association, invades the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Saturday, bringing a wave of dealers, artists and a few guys in Spider-Man costumes. Here's a look, by the numbers:
Info: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. $8 for adults. Children 9 and under are free. $1 off with canned food shelf donation. Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Education Building, 1265 Snelling Av. N., St. Paul. www.midwestcomicbook.com
Check out this profile of Gross, the artist behind Vertigo's "The Unwritten":
Photo by Arthur Pollock
Author Junot Diaz, pictured here at the living room window of his Cambridge apartment in August, has a special reason to smile today.
Fiction writer Junot Diaz has won one of the "genius" grants awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In addition to considerable prestige, the award means big money: Diaz will be one of 23 honorees to receive $500,000 over five years. Diaz, who teaches writing at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his novel "The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao."
Reached Monday afternoon via email, Diaz said "Hate to sound Hollywood but this one is for my community whose sacrifice and courage made me possible," referring to the Dominican immigrant subculture in which he grew up.
As the opening author for the Star Tribune/ MPR Talking Volumes series last month at the Fitzgerald Theater, Diaz was a smart, lively and salty-tongued guest. His third and latest book is the just-published story collection "This Is How You Lose Her," The MacArthur Foundation's release says he "uses raw, vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose to draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle."
Diaz also loves sci-fi, and recently published a story called "Monstro" in the New Yorker. What will he do with that substantial wad of cash?
"I want to write my monster book," he said. "That's what this fellowship will do."
Read a profile of Diaz here: http://www.startribune.com/a1763 and a review of "This Is How You Lose Her" here: http://www.startribune.com/a1764 Also, video excerpts from his Talking Volumes appearance, with host Kerri Miller of MPR, below:
Jeffrey Toobin backstage at the Fitzgerald Theater Wednesday night. / Photo by Claude Peck
Some of the highest drama at the Supreme Court in years occurred this summer when the justices issued their ruling about President Obama's hard-won healthcare-reform legislation. And Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst for The New Yorker and CNN, was in the middle of it.
At a Talking Volumes event in St. Paul on Wednesday night, Toobin described the events surrounding the Obamacare ruling. He has written about it and other conflicts between the Obama and the conservative-majority Court in his new book, "The Oath."
Toobin has been widely criticized for wrongly predicting and reporting that Chief Justice John Roberts and four other conservative justices would overturn the main impetus behind the Affordable Care Act. Toobin has since issued mea culpas in print and on-air for his premature prediction in the case, where Roberts surprised Toobin (and many others) by siding with the liberal justices in a 5-4 vote that upheld the main elements of health care reform.
The media have learned by painful mistakes that "it's better to be late than wrong," Toobin said. "On ACA, we were both early and wrong."
Toobin has since come to believe that Roberts voted as he did to avoid seeming to be an automatic conservative vote on an issue of national import and with a presidential election at full steam. "It pleased Roberts not be seen as a political hack," Toobin said. But, he added, "Roberts has not discovered his inner moderate, believe me."
Toobin predicted that the Roberts court would take up only the less far-reaching of two pending gay-marriage cases in the coming months, a challenge out of Massachusetts about the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. He said that Roberts' antipathy to affirmative action would also come to the fore in several cases coming before the Supreme Court.
In his talk with Kerri Miller of Minnesota Public Radio, Toobin told stories about current and past justices, including Clarence Thomas ("bizarre"), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (loves opera), Sandra Day O'Connor (struggled courageously when her husband, John, developed Alzheimer's) and Toobin's "favorite," David Souter (doesn't have a computer, doesn't like electric light).
In "The Oath," Toobin gathered information in interviews with the Justices and more than 40 of their law clerks, on the condition that none of it could be quoted directly or attributed.
Toobin didn't hesitate to predict that Obama would win reelection in November, saying "This thing is not even close anymore," and that "the debates will not change a thing."
Kristin Tillotson of the Star Tribune recently profiled Toobin.