Black like Brown

St. Paul sculptor Frank J. Brown notched another first last month when his monumental sculpture "A Community Within Reach" was installed at a park in Sarasoya, Fla. Made of 7,000 pounds of clay, the 168-piece ceramic sculpture depicts people reaching out to help each other, including a teenage boy lifting up a baby. It took a year to make the $75,000 piece at his studio in Lowertown and at Concordia University, where he fired the clay, and another eight weeks to install it in Sarasota. "They wanted a sculpture that would reflect the community it's in, which is 95 percent African-American," Brown said. "There are so few sculptures that show African features that it was enjoyable creating it." 

MARY ABBE

'Prey' on Pirner

If you were detective Lucas Davenport working on a case of two missing girls, whom would you turn to for a little info on the mean streets of Minneapolis in 1985? Why, Dave Pirner, lead singer of Soul Asylum. In bestselling novelist John Sandford's new "Buried Prey," Davenport meets up with Pirner in a Hennepin Avenue bar. The tête-a-tête goes on for two Leinie's and three pages, as Davenport and Pirner discuss "Purple Rain," Prince's feud with Morris Day and Madonna -- and, of course, the case. (Turn to page 70 in your Sandford bestseller.) Pirner gives up the name of a groupie who works at Lutheran Social Services and knows all kinds of street people -- and who might lead Davenport to some key information. I.W. did not read any further, but we knew Pirner back in '85 and he wasn't hanging with any cops.

JON BREAM

Great Scott expectations

The larger-than-life Scott Hansen knows he carries a haunting figure, and he's putting it to good use in his first acting role in nearly 20 years. The Twin Cities comedian has been cast as the Ghost of Christmas Present in "Channeling Dickens," which is being created by the Twin Cities' Nine Turtles Productions and is slated to air on PBS and the BBC late next year. The TV special imagines Charles Dickens traveling back in time to visit his great-great-grandson Gerald Dickens, who will play himself. How did Hansen snag the role? "I fit the costume," he said. His scenes won't be shot until October but he already has an acting strategy: "Make him scary, but not so scary that he scares kids."

NEAL JUSTIN

Luck of 9/11

Launching a New York career in the shadow of the 9/11 disaster is not a plan anyone would recommend, but it worked, improbably, for Minneapolis artist David Rathman. His Western-themed watercolors are now the toast of Manhattan, Miami, Los Angeles and Minneapolis (see story on page E16). Rathman made his New York debut at Clementine Gallery in early September 2001. "We chalked it up to really bad timing and figured a loss," Rathman said recently. But then his work got written up in the New York Times, Esquire, Art in America and Time Out New York. With those endorsements, the show sold out. "I didn't have a strategy" for my career, he said. "There was serendipity there and you have to have good luck."

MARY ABBE

Doobie brothers

Waiting on the Mississippi River shore as others tried to erect a rain shelter last Friday night in northeast Minneapolis, Marijuana Deathsquads drummer Shawn Walker wondered aloud, "How late do they have a permit?" If there was any kind of legal licensing for opening night of Creative Electric Studio's floating "Czeslaw's Loop" music/multimedia show, it would've needed to cover not only construction but live music, movie projection and even fishing. Performing on docks and houseboats, the Deathsquadron finally got a break from the rain and offered an hour-plus of droning, throbbing, quaking, howling free-form electro-improv jams under a trippy film backdrop reflected on the river. At one point, somebody came floating by on another boat, blowing a trombone to the music. Some dude was also casting a fishing pole alongside the six drummers as part of the show. It gave new meaning to "rolling on a river."

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

Don't tell Michele

Chris Colfer, the gay actor who plays the gay character Kurt on "Glee," wrote a first-person story for New York magazine about his star-struck impressions of the Big Apple -- especially the Time (magazine) 100 dinner that honored him and 99 other influential people, including Minnesota's own rising political star. "I didn't meet Michele Bachmann, but she got a picture with Darren [Criss, who plays Kurt's boyfriend on "Glee"], which is a little hypocritical: 'I don't believe in your rights, but can I have a picture with you?'"

RICK NELSON