Big numbers

The Twin Cities turned up in Billboard magazine’s year-end issue — but not necessarily where you might expect. The Orpheum Theatre ranked No. 7 for 2014 in North American venues with 5,000 or fewer seats. The venerable 2,600-seat room grossed $17,281,853 for 135 events. No. 1 was the 4,000-seat Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, which pulled in more than $72 million on 153 shows by the likes of Celine Dion and Elton John. Speaking of big draws, Target Center took out a full-page ad in Billboard to thank and trumpet Garth Brooks for most performances (and sold out shows) — 23 — and most tickets sold — 433,427 — in the 24-year history of the building. His 11-show run in November drew a record 203,235 fans.

Jon Bream


Gehry relocation

Owatonna is losing a contemporary architecture gem. The Winton Guest House designed by Frank Gehry and owned by the University of St. Thomas must be relocated from the Gainey Conference Center just outside the southern Minnesota town because St. Thomas has sold the center. The house, composed of five rooms with different geometric shapes connected by a 35-foot-tall pyramid in the center, may be transported as early as this summer, said Victoria Young, chair of the university’s art history department and curator of the house’s permanent exhibition. Where to has yet to be decided. Options include bringing it to the St. Paul campus, storing it until a new arts center is built, finding a private donor who can shoulder the considerable moving costs (it was split into eight sections, the largest weighing 80 tons, for its original move to Owatonna in 2008), or perhaps selling it.


Dream on

Laura Osnes stopped home before jetting to Las Vegas for a New Year’s Eve concert date. The Broadway star, who grew up on Twin Cities stages, will play one of her dream roles, Julie Jordan, in a production of “Carousel” at Lyric Opera in Chicago, opening April 11. Last time Osnes was through town, she was getting ready to play “Threepenny Opera” off-Broadway with F. Murray Abraham. Gazing in the crystal ball, Osnes has nothing scheduled for Broadway this year (officially) but hinted that something might emerge that has been in development. Asked whether she’d consider “Music Man” at the Guthrie this summer, Osnes told I.W., “Well, that’s another one of my dream roles.” Sounds like she’s getting enough sleep.

Graydon Royce

But is it ART?

During his long tenure as Walker Art Center’s director (1961-90), Martin Friedman organized a lot of exhibits, oversaw construction of a new museum building (1971) and the opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (1988). He also supervised a lot of goofy behavior that he has been recounting in amusing essays that the Walker is publishing online. Called “Martin Friedman: Art (re) Collecting,” the articles are droll accounts of the often bizarre antics that have masqueraded as “art” over the decades. His tale of going mushroom hunting with composer John Cage is well worth a read, as is his account of a 1965 performance by the ONCE Group, a bunch of Ann Arbor, Mich., miscreants who taped a girl to a museum wall and cut off her clothes while bombarding her with pingpong balls. Meanwhile another girl, blindfolded, walked a plank high over the museum’s unpadded lobby floor. ONCE was enough, Friedman decided.

Mary Abbe

Metsa without words

During the premiere of his “Blue Guitar Highway: the Musical” last Friday at the Phoenix Theatre, Minneapolis singer-songwriter Paul Metsa offered a bit of his own instant review. He called this a typical Metsa production of trying to cram 10 pounds into a 5-pound bag. For example, his 50-minute first act stretched to more than 75 minutes. He had some funny lines — both spoken or read from his 2011 memoir — and some terrific songs, including one moody new number, “Neverland,” that he’d written about his late mother. But Metsa clearly needed more rehearsal. At one point, he fumbled through a pile of sheet music on his music stand, looking for lyrics for “Franklin Avenue.” Finally, he announced to the full house: “I can’t find the words. It doesn’t matter. They [the theatergoers] don’t know them. They’ve never heard it.”

Jon Bream

Adieu to Allan

The exuberant and creative life of Coffee House Press publisher and founder Allan Kornblum will be celebrated later this month. Kornblum, who started a little magazine in Iowa City called Toothpaste, moved it to Minneapolis, and turned it into Coffee House Press, died in November. Coffee House Press grew from a very small press into one of the nation’s pre-eminent literary presses, with a special focus on publishing the work of women and people of color. Kornblum, 65, a master of the letterpress, was known for his passion for both the words and the appearance of books, and for mentoring young wordsmiths in the arts of editing and printing. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Jan. 17 in the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls.