Art Hounds: 2012 Highlights, part one

We've asked our Art Hounds to tell us about their Minnesota arts and culture highlights of 2011. Here is the first installment (look for more next week -- and share yours here):

Luverne Seifert and Darcy Engen's production of The Cherry Orchard

This site-specific production of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard was performed in houses on the Historical Register in five farming communities around the state. Getting in the car and driving out to the production in Taylors Falls made it a great summer adventure--theatre as road trip! It was amazing to see how a historic landmark--Fulsom House--was brought to life by serving as the setting for the play. Watching some of the best actors in the Twin Cities--Luverne Seifert, Sarah Agnew, Elise Langer and Stephen Cartmell make Chekhov's characters relevant, immediate, hysterical and heartbreaking was also incredible. It was an artistic endeavor that brought the best elemenst of Minnesota -- its history, its natural beauty and its amazing artists -- together to create an extraordinary theatrical experience.

-Elissa Adams, director of new play development at Children's Theatre Company

Aniccha Arts' In Habit: Living Patterns, at the Northern Spark Festival

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One of the most exciting things about it is where it happened: under the Central Avenue Bridge. Each section had a corresponding evocative word projected on the underside of the bridge that you could see as the dance unfolded. One of the sections was slow and meditative, another used fast, furious footwork in tandem, and another used only gestural language from the elbow to the hand. It felt like a dream watching bodies move with extreme individualism and unison in the middle of the night, under a bridge, against the cityscape and along the water.

-Penelope Freeh, dancer and choreographer

Todd Boss's poetry collection Pitch

In his second collection (winner of the 2012 Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for Poetry), Boss expertly balances plain-enough Midwestern subject matter and a sophisticated sense of play. His language has a music considerably more beautiful than the dropped piano recalled in the book's title poem. Pitch was my introduction to Boss. He's become a poet I expect to follow wherever his muse leads him.

-Brian Beatty, writer, comedian, poet, host of's You Are Hear podcast