Legos in the garden
As if the tulip beds, lilacs and other flowering shrubs weren’t enough reason for a spring visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, it now has Lego sculptures, too. Its “Nature Connects” show, opening Friday, features 26 colorful sculptures made of Lego bricks, including a life-sized peacock, a giant snapping turtle, a doe and fawn, a hummingbird and a gigantic monarch butterfly perched on a huge milkweed blossom. With an 8-foot wingspan, the butterfly and its favorite food are made from 60,000 Lego pieces. The sculptures are glued together and often have custom-built interior metal frames.
No rolling on this river
The University of Minnesota is canceling its summer season at the Minnesota Centennial Showboat this year, citing financial shortfalls. The showboat, which is anchored at Harriet Island in St. Paul, did not have a season last year because of flooding, which resulted in lost revenue. In previous years, the 200-seat showboat has been the site of melodramas such as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” which had more than 60 performances. “It costs a minimum of $30,000 just to open the doors of the Showboat and another $40,000 to produce” the shows, Marcus Dilliard, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, told I.W. He added that total production budget for the entire academic year is $75,000. “Showboat losses have a significant impact on the department’s ability to create performance opportunities for our students in our West Bank facilities,” he said. A real-world business lesson.
Last weekend’s three Gear Daddies concerts at First Avenue opened with a terrific video recap of the band’s original, fun-filled 1986-92 heyday, with David Letterman’s introduction of the Minnesota boys from his original NBC set serving as a beautiful raise-the-big-screen moment. Alas, things were much uglier down in the audience. Too many of the shows’ middle-aged concertgoers seemed to be reliving their own rowdy heydays. Saturday’s crowd was the drunkest I.W. has seen at the club in a long time. Fans frequently stumbled over each other, grasped the walls for support and/or struggled to find the staircases to the bathrooms (which, to be fair, were relocated during the 2012 remodel). By contrast, the college-aged crowd next door in 7th Street Entry for the wild and frantic Afro-punk/electro-rap Young Fathers seemed like a church banquet. Ironically, the Gear Daddies themselves sounded sturdier and more transcendent than ever.
Swedish light and fog
Minneapolis photographer Stuart Klipper’s assignment was to photograph, in both winter and summer, “places where land meets water” near Stockholm, Sweden. Given that there are some 24,000 islands in the Stockholm archipelago, he had options. The results — 16 color photos that are each 5 by 15 feet — are part of “Land Meets Water, “ a 300-image survey of European and American photos opening May 29 at Artipelag, a contemporary museum perched on a promontory overlooking the water in Värmdö, Sweden. Dating from the 1860s to the present, the show includes photos by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and contemporary star Olafur Eliasson. “There are a lot of vacation homes on the islands, but the Swedes know how to keep things in perspective so I was able to get natural settings devoid of any human presence,” said Klipper, who made two trips there last year. “And it helped that in the winter there was a lot of fog.”
Like a mild breeze
How much rock is too much rock at the Dakota Jazz Club, where more and more rock veterans have been playing? Alejandro Escovedo seemed to answer that question last week when he followed up last year’s well-received acoustic show with a full-volume set by his band, the Sensitive Boys. Heavy, rowdy rockers such as “Big Station” and “Castanets” sounded great but were met with only polite applause and clinking salad plates. Things soured when Escovedo asked the crowd to sing along on a fiery take on Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane.” The response was close to crickets. “I know I’m late in my career, but I really expected better than that,” he said, visibly flabbergasted. Try the Turf Club next time, Al, and save the Dakota for the softer stuff.
Dylan Days in Duluth
The fine folks in Hibbing pulled the plug on Dylan Days after last year’s 24th annual festivities but devotees in Duluth, where Bob Dylan was born on May 24, 1941, are staging the weeklong Duluth Dylan Fest 2015, starting Sunday. It includes poetry readings, a singer-songwriter contest and performances of Dylan songs by Black-Eyed Snakes, Feeding Leroy and others in coffee shops, brewpubs and the armory. There’s also the first Duluth to Hibbing and Back Tour of Dylan sites via bus on May 23. As a good Minnesotan, you do know the music icon lived in Hibbing from age 6 to 18, then moved on to the University of Minnesota and New York City. And you probably know the rest of the story.