Above: Jason Moran, STAGED: Three Deuces, 2015, Photo: Farzad Owrang © Jason Moran; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.
Walker Art Center (725 Vineland Pl, Mpls.)
Hours: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tues., Wed., Sun.; 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Thurs.; 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Fri., Sat.; closed Mondays
Cost: $15 adults; $13 seniors (62+); $7.50 active military; $10
If you stay still and listen to the various soundtracks playing in Jason Moran’s new exhibition at Walker Art Center, you’ll hear a moment that’s like the perfectly harmonious vibing frenzy of an improvised jazz concert. It happened for me while watching Glenn Ligon’s “The Death of Tom” (2008), abstracted and blurry black-and-white film footage that reflects on America’s history of racism. It is set to the 1905 song “Nobody,” the signature theme of Bert Williams, vaudeville blackface performer and Broadway’s first black star, as performed by Moran. This is just one of many films screening in Moran’s refreshingly interdisciplinary solo show, which proves that no artist is confined to one medium — if they don’t want to be, that is.
Better known as a jazz pianist, Moran has released eight albums with his trio the Bandwagon, scored the film “Selma,” and worked on more than 30 albums as a sideman. Contemporary art entered the picture in 2005, when the Walker and two other arts institutions invited him to create music through residencies. That experience, and the resulting album “Artist in Residence,” began his foray into the art world, and other jazz musicians have followed his lead.
Now here we are, with Moran’s first museum show at the Walker. As part of the live-ness of this exhibition, he will perform two multimedia concerts May 18 and 19 with the Bandwagon (bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits), DJ Ashland Mines and visual artists Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin. Moran is calling it “The Last Jazz Fest.” When I asked why, he simply said: “It’s time.”
The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue., Thu. & Fri.-Sat.; noon-5 p.m. Sun.; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wed. Ends July 15.
American Swedish Institute (2600 Park Av. S., Mpls)
Info: 612-871-4907 or asimn.org
Cost: $10 adults, $7 ages 62 and above, $5 ages 6-18 and full-time students with ID, free for members and kids under 5
No, this was not a fan-fiction mashup video from YouTube. This is the weird, twisted, horror-film-esque work of Finnish artist Kim Simonsson, on display at the American Swedish Institute through July 15. Simonsson, who lives in the town of Fiskars (of scissors fame), an artist enclave west of Helsinki, has carved out something of a niche with these haunting childlike warriors, or “shamans,” as he calls them.
Arranged in various rooms of the institute’s 110-year-old mansion, each creates its own creepy scenario. A set of twins, “Lisa and Louise” (2016), actually stand at the end of the hall much like the ones from the Stanley Kubrick film “The Shining.” Except they are ceramic sculptures, not ghosts. Still, their presence is haunting.
Group show: Kelley Shipwreck, Jaffa Aharonov, Josie Winship, and Marc Lamm
Hours: Saturday, May 5, from 4-7 p.m. only
801 Gallery (801 W Washington, Mpls)
In this eclectic show, Twin Cities artists Jaffa Aharonov, Marc Lamm, Kelley Meister and Josie Winship present new work in a variety of mediums. Aharonov’s photography series offers glimpses of a haunted future. Lamm’s touchable art – yes, you can touch it! – is made of wood, yet with a painterly and sculptural edge. Meister made their large-scale charcoal and pastel work in response to the Anthropocene era, when humans have irreversibly changed the climate and environment. Winship’s sculptures and paintings recall a circus vibe, creating a sense of magic. Exhibition runs through May 2018. More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1614752965284044/
Sunday, May 6
Parade assembles at 11 a.m., starts at 12 p.m.
Starts at 25th & Bloomington, ends at Powderhorn Park
Summer is finally here! The annual MayDay Parade, which takes place on the first Sunday of May, welcomes the warm weather with a procession of hand-built puppets (some as tall as 10 feet), masks, music and performance. Click here to see the parade map. To read some useful tips about attending the parade, click here. For even more info, go to the Facebook page here. The streets will be packed. See you there!
Izzy Commers: Creature
Opening Saturday, May 5, 7-11 p.m. Sat.
Ends May 19.
Public Functionary, 1400 12th Av. NE., Mpls.
Izzy Commers’ photography is set in the internet age, but unlike the cerebralness of the ’net, Commers deals with the tangibleness of human bodies. In the exhibition “Creature,” self-exploration and navigating the body are done with love and awareness through the camera. In some images, Commers uses almost fluorescent colors and bright globs that look at once human and also otherworldly to create another reality altogether. Others are striking portraits of people Commers met. A pretty young artist at 20, Commers is also hyperaware of the ways in which marketing and advertising affect how we see ourselves and others, and serve to commodify life itself. There’s a rawness in these photographs that feels like a mode of empathizing. In an interview with ThisUsedToBe.us, Commers said: “For me, taking a photo is like combining yourself with your subject.” In addition to this exhibition, Commers has released a ’zine with contributions from Minneapolis, Chicago, New York and Atlanta artists. More info: http://www.startribune.com/commers-creatures-come-over/481645311/