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A "Paint the Pavement" project drew lots of neighborhood participation during last year's first Arts on Chicago program. It's coming back this summer. Photo by David Joles.
After a successful first run last summer, Pillsbury House Theatre and other partners are bringing back the Arts on Chicago program, featuring artists engaged in interactive work designed to draw in people who live in, work in or pass through a ten-block stretch of Chicago Avenue (32nd St. S. to 42nd St. S.) in south Minneapolis.
Three new artists who live or work in the area have received $5,000 each for their ideas. Ester Ouray is going to get giggly, hosting a series of "laugh-ins" as well as random appearances by a laughter flash mob. Peter Haakon Thompson is going to cart around a pop-up ping-pong park (aka temporary table tennis trailer -- say that fast three times) to different yards and public spaces in the neighborhood to encourage spontaneous games and conversation. David Luke will animate poems -- created by participants in the Upstream Arts program for people with disabilities -- into short movies.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is funding the program,which focuses on stimulating physical activity as well as art appreciation.
Friday night's Walker After Hours party is a celebration of the Jim Hodges exhibit that officially opens Saturday. But for a few hundred rabid fans, it's also a chance to see indie music hero Sufjan Stevens with his trio Sisyphus, featuring Chicago rapper Serengeti and Los Angeles sound wizard Son Lux.
Inspired by the art of Hodges, the group is making a cameo appearance at the party and selling early copies of its forthcoming self-titled album, commissioned by the Walker and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music Series.
However, fans should be advised: Only about 200 partygoers will be able to squeeze into the 20- to 25-minute performance, scheduled around 11 p.m. in the 8th floor space of the Walker's original building once known as Gallery 8.
More than 1,600 tickets had been sold for the party by late afternoon Friday. The largest-ever After Hours drew about 2,000 for a Frida Kahlo opening in 2007.
As for the album, more than 30 people had queued up at the Walker shop by about 4 p.m., waiting for the disc to go on sale at 9 p.m. The Walker has 50 limited-edition, numbered, signed copies for $50 each, plus another 21 copies unsigned. After seeing the scrum outside their store, museum staff negotiated for an additional 50 copies.
Fans of Sisyphus at least have another chance to see the group at 2 p.m. Saturday, in a public conversation with Hodges in the Walker cinema. Tickets for that event are $10-$12, but expect a sellout.
And if you aren't one of the lucky few to see Sisyphus? Well, the record will be available more widely March 18 through Asthmatic Kitty Records and Joyful Noise Recordings. And you can at least listen to a sample here:
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.
MIMMI, an interactive sculpture lit from inside by LED lights that changed color, won the 2013 Creative City Challenge in the program's first year. Photo by Renee Jones Schneider.
Remember that giant multicolored UFO-like sculpture hovering over the plaza by the Minneapolis Convention Center last summer? The city is bringing back the program that made it possible, expanding funding for the winning entry from $50,000 to $75,000. They've also added a partner, Northern Lights.mn, the force behind the annual dusk-to-dawn outdoor arts extravaganza known as Nothern Spark, at which this year's winning public artwork will make its debut (June 14).
The Creative City Challenge competition for a "temporary destination artwork" was launched last year as a way of attracting more people to hang out on the plaza, actually a green roof across the street from the Convention Center. It is open to individuals or teams of designers, artists, architects and engineers, but at least half of the members must be based in Minnesota.
The public can vote online for one of this year's jury-selected finalists, all of which encourage interactivity. The proposals will be presented publicly at the University of Minnesota's School of Architecture and Design, Rapson Hall at 6 p.m. tonight (Monday Feb. 10). They are:
Voting runs through Feb. 28 at http://www.startribune.com/a2560
The Walker Art Center is bringing back its cat-video festival back to its Open Field, were this family of feline fanciers were photographed at the fest's 2012 debut.
Cats may roam, but eventually they come back home.
On Aug. 14, the Walker Art Center will reprise its stunningly popular Internet Cat Video Festival for a third year -- this time back on Open Field, the rolling green expanse next to the museum where 10,000 people gathered for rhe first fest in 2012.
Intended only as an experiment at first, the festival became a stellar example of togetherness in the Internet age, a place where people fond of viewing cat videos, one of the most universally popular online time-wasters, could gather IRL (in real life) for communal enjoyment of the same thing on a giant screen.
The event drew international media attention from sources as varied as the New York Times, the BBC and CHEEZburger, a website largely responsible for popularizing cat videos in the first place. The fest has also helepd to make stars of Grumpy Cat, Lil Bub and other furry little divas, as well as spawned several -- ahem -- copycats, but do not be fooled: The Walker can rightfully lay claim to conceiving the original animal.
Last year the fest was moved to the Grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair, because construction at the Walker made field access problematic and they anticipated an even bigger crowd. The move drew criticsm from purists who felt the magic would be lost due to both the less-than-sylvan venue and the cost. The first fest was free, but last year attendees had to pay $10 on top of fair admission.Still, it drew an even bigger crowd of 11,000.
Sarah Schultz, the Walker's director of education and curator of public practice, called the State Fair "an excellent alternative venue to host a large crowd" but said that a return to Open Field was always the plan, now that construction is complete.
This summer’s fest will be programmed by inaugural Golden Kitty (people's choice) award-winner Will Braden, the video producer behind perennially angst-filled Henri le Chat Noir. Information about video submissions and event details will be announced next month.
Some observers wonder whether the cat-video supernova burned too bright, too fast, to last. The Walker folks aren't worried about its enduring appeal.
"Cat video fans are a passionate bunch,"said publicist Rachel Joyce, noting that the festival's tours to other cities has increased the fan base. "I don't think it's time for the cat to jump the shark just yet. But it might make a cool video."
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