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Posts about Minnesota artists

Cody, Streep, Demme team up for "Ricky and the Flash"

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: May 7, 2014 - 11:42 AM

Photo: Dan Steinberg, AP

Diablo Cody's next feature arrives next summer with a top star and teriffic director attached. TriStar Productions will release "Ricky and the Flash" June 26, 2015. The comedy drama stars Meryl Streep as a woman who abandoned her family to find fast-lane fortune and fame as a rock star. Decades later she returns,trying to reconnect with her estranged kids, one of whom is navigating a rocky divorce. Jonathan Demme ("Stop Making Sense," "The Silence of the Lambs," "Philadelphia") directs.

Tee time at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: May 6, 2014 - 3:30 PM

University of Minnesota art students designed this distorted room mini golf hole for the 2013 course. Star Tribune photo by Brian Peterson.

Walker Art Center's popular artist-designed mini golf course returns for summer 2014 with fresh novelties (chickens, snake, gumball machine) and old favorites from past seasons including a giant maze, a gopher hole, a watering can and garden gnomes playing foosball. Plan for wait times due to course popularity.

The course will be open daily from May 22  through Sept. 1. Hours: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Sunday - Wednesday; 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Thursday - Saturday. Closed June 20 - 22 for Rock the Garden concerts.

Tickets for a full 18 hole round are $18 adults, $15 students, $13.50 ages 7 - 12. For a half-course of 9 holes, fees are $12 adults, $10 students, $9 ages 7 - 12. All tickets include free admission to Walker's galleries. Excellent snacks are for sale at the Dog House cart adjacent to the course.

Call 612-375-7697 for weather-related closing information.

Above: Jan Tank of Milwaukee played the "Garden Gnome Foosball" hole in the 2013 course. Star Tribune staff photo by Rick Sennott.

Above: Nathan Pukal of Plymouth played the Watering Can hole on the 2013 course. Star Tribune staff photo by Brian Peterson.

Above: University of Minnesota art students designed a minature Minneapolis Sculpture Garden hole inside a giant golf ball for the 2013 course. Star Tribune staff photo by Brian Peterson. 

Textile Center in Minneapolis hires interim director

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: April 30, 2014 - 2:01 PM

Textile Center image by Star Tribune staff photographer Bruce Bisping

The Textile Center of Minnesota has hired management consultant Nancy Lee as interim director, a post she is expected to retain for about six months while the organization seeks a permanent leader.

"She's a perfect fit for what we need right now," said Donna C. Peterson, president of the Textile Center's 12 member board. Peterson is a former associate vice president of government and community relations at  the University of Minnesota.

As a consultant, Lee specializes in non-profit management and the development of strategic business plans. She is a former CFO of Minnesota Goodwill and Easter Seals, and a former vice president of the Minnesota Children's Museum.

Lee began work at the Textile Center April 28th. Over the next few months she is expected to oversee the Center's ongoing operations and to assist the board in defining the organizational qualities and expertise needed to run the organization. The difficulty is striking a balance between management skills and knowledge of an artform that encompasses everything from historic rugs to contemporary art clothes.

"We're taking our time to really understand what are strengths and capacitiy are, and to define the profile of our members and potential funders" Peterson said.

The Textile Center is an umbrella organization whose members are professsional and amateur arists engaged in textile crafts ranging from weaving to lace making, batik, knitting, crochetting, custom tailoring, hand dying and doll making.

The non profit organization at 3000 University Av S. E., near the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus, has a staff of 14 full and part-time employees and an annual budget of about $800,000. It runs an exhibition gallery and a small shop selling handmade clothing, accessories and textile-related crafts. Its professional services include a library and facilities for dying and weaving textiles, classrooms and meeting spaces for school kids and adults.

Large-scale dance work ponders big questions

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: April 4, 2014 - 11:09 AM
Photo by Grant Halvorson.

POST BY CAROLINE PALMER, SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE

Vanessa Voskuil’s “The Student” premiered Thursday night at The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University. The evening-length work makes an impression, not only for its cast of over 150 dancers and singers but also for its strong conceptual vision, albeit one that is only partly realized. The thematic connections are both brilliant and tenuous. There are spellbinding moments of visual and kinetic harmony. And while ultimately “The Student” loses its way over the course of two hours, it still shows a fascinating journey through its creator’s mind.

This ritual-like work is built around the massing of groups of people engaged in repetitive movement and idiosyncratic breaks. As the performers enter the auditorium walking backwards they move with a sense of gravitas, slowly and purposefully, determined to maintain a respectful order. Their neutral-colored costumes and spare environment suggest a stark futuristic society, one in which emotions are stripped down and repurposed.

And that is an important point – Voskuil actually delves into an array of human states in “The Student” and yet they are not dramatic. The work, set to sternum stirring compositions from Janika Vandervelde and sound designer Jesse Whitney, is about the process of learning and, consequently, the process of becoming through learning. This evolution is deliberate, marked by visual and textual tableaux. We see hints of pioneering avant-garde theater director Robert Wilson’s influence here. Voskuil’s peeling back of layer upon layer of meaning from subtle sources reflects a shared approach.

“The Student” stands out for its intelligence and questioning spirit. Both Paul Herwig and Chris Conry ponder the existential quandaries Voskuil poses, but they also add wit and wordplay to the mix. There’s black humor in the recurring appearance of a hanging noose, complete with a cardboard cutout of Voskuil. The performers sit and scribble in the air around them, rote learners eventually overwhelmed by the task. A gorgeous sense of flow unfolds as movement ripples through the crowds onstage, especially as the performers roll from the back of the stage and fall into the orchestra pit, as if controlled by a force far bigger than them. And they are – Voskuil, despite her slight frame, is a powerful presence with a command of how to move large groups of people for her creative ends.

But the work has diminishing returns, despite an injection of impressive voice work from members of the Perpich Center for Arts Education Chorale Ensemble, Hamline University Women’s Chorale and St. Catherine’s University Women’s Choir. The questioning grows weary in its circularity and the work struggles to find an ending. The themes become repetitive and less interesting, too self-involved. In some respects one could argue this is the moment of mastery, when everyone in the piece (and watching it, too) finds an answer. But Voskuil’s intentions are not that pat. The process of learning often reveals nothing more than the need to continue searching.

“The Student” will be performed again Friday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. For information go to http://oshag.stkate.edu.

Dance world honors (and roasts) Sally Rousse

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: April 1, 2014 - 1:44 PM
Sally Rousse / Star Tribune photo by Richard Tsong-Taatarii

Fans filled the seats at the Cowles Center on Sunday night to celebrate James Sewell Ballet co-founder Sally Rousse. “Sally Jubilee!” marked the dancer/choreographer’s 50th birthday and the end of an era as she is moving on from the company after 24 years. So it was only fitting that the evening began with a tongue-in-cheek eulogy from animator Bill Burnett, who created the cartoon "Tutu the Superina" for Nickelodeon with Rousse.

“She who danced has gone on to join the other late greats in ballet heaven,” he intoned. “Suzanne Farrell, Gelsey Kirkland, Mikhail Baryshnikov, John Travolta.” Of course the joke is that none of these folks have passed on but people react to career changes like they are a sort of death.

Video of Rousse and Sewell working out moves early in their partnership showed two young innovators with a lot of creative chutzpah. When they stepped onstage Sunday night to perform the beautiful duet “Tryst” each showed that the passage of life events – including their marriage, two children and divorce – can deepen an onstage bond.

While there were many tender moments including the return of former Sewell members Christian Burns and Brittany Fridenstine-Keefe the evening was also filled with plenty of fond jokes at Rousse’s expense. According to Sewell her studio nickname is “tree frog” because of an uncanny ability to climb around on other dancers’ bodies. Dancer/choreographer Penelope Freeh, a Sewell Ballet member for 17 years, recalled how Rousse hopped into the cab of an idling beer truck blocking an alleyway in order to move it so they load up their car for a tour. “The driver was dumbstruck,” said Freeh, “But it got the job done.”

And speaking of making things happen, Patrick Scully, who introduced contact improvisation to the Sewell Ballet, described Rousse’s activist spirit by recounting how the petite ballerina stood up to the Cowles Center architects who were entertaining the notion of having the dancers use the same bathrooms as the patrons.

Perhaps the funniest scene of the night, however, belonged to the performance trio Mad King Thomas (Theresa Madaus, Tara King and Monica Thomas) wearing tutus and toe shoes, assuming ballet poses while reciting a list of  wild rumors about why Rousse was leaving Sewell Ballet. “She was fired,” they hissed. “She was hit by a bus! She slept with the boss! She’s moving to a cattle ranch in Australia where the cattle are in dances narrated by Hugh Jackman! She had Hugh Jackman’s baby! She quit and tore up all the costumes! It was a frenzy of tulle!” It was a brilliant send-up of the dance scene’s catty side.

Many expressions of appreciation for Rousse came from the heart. Freeh described Rousse’s willingness to share her roles with other dancers. Longtime friend, the poet Heid Erdrich, called her “intrepid not tepid.” All of the evening’s performers waltzed with Rousse while wearing costumes from her roles (including Sewell modeling Rousse’s hamburger tutu and French-fry headpiece from 2011’s “Le Dance Off”). Former Sewell and current Minnesota Dance Theatre member Justin Leaf serenaded Rousse with a sweet rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

The show concluded with Rousse and Noah Bremer of Live Action Set dancing an excerpt from a work they are developing for the American Swedish Institute. “What’s next?” he asked Rousse. “It’s in the lobby!” she exclaimed, while being carried off funeral-style by her fellow dancers. The Brass Messengers struck up a festive march.It was time for birthday cupcakes.  

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