Arts and Culture

Art Hounds: Grand Rapids show celebrates ‘keystone’ creatures in our environment

A piece of art on a purple background
Layl McDill’s art exhibition "Keystone Characters," on view at the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, Minn. through April 29.
Courtesy image

Updated: 9:20 a.m.

Collage artist Karlyn Berg of Balsam made the trip to the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids recently, and she says the exhibit “Keystone Characters” there is worth seeing. Artist Layl McDill has created vibrant sculptures made from polymer clay and found objects, in sizes ranging from show-stopping large to downright tiny. 

“Really, you have to do yourself a favor and stay longer and look at the detail because that's where you really see the work that she does,” Berg said.

McDill’s exhibit celebrates the vital roles certain animals play in our local ecosystem. One example is her Eager Eco Engineer sculpture of a beaver, composed of found objects and small clay creations that reward close study.

Berg likens the experience of exploring this exhibit to a beautiful treasure hunt, encouraging viewers to appreciate not only McDill’s artistic skill, but also the important roles these animals play in our ecosystem. The exhibit is on view through April 29.

Retired educator Judith Feldman of St. Paul was first captivated by Out on a Limb Dance Theater Company and School when she was a chaperone for her school trip, and said she’s been to nearly every production since. Out on a Limb takes familiar stories and makes them their own through a variety of dance styles. 

The performance features the dance company as well as students, totaling over 70 dancers. This production incorporates music by local musicians Mike Nilles and Dan Israel, with background projection paintings by Kim Austrian, Joy Liberman and Oren Kramek.

“It's always so innovative that I just get excited every year,” Feldman said. 

“The Tails and Tales of Dr. Dolittle” is an 80-minute family-friendly performance with one intermission. The performance takes place Tuesday and Wednesday at the O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul at 7 p.m.

Paul Coate is chair of vocal arts and musical theater at St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. He loves the high-energy performances and dance-storytelling of Collide Theatrical Dance Company, and he’s looking forward to seeing their new show “SKOL!” 

The show is inspired by a 2019 archeological discovery of a Viking woman who may have been a warrior. The female Vikings in this show will perform to an original pop rock/rap score composed by Twin Cities musician Mike Michel of The Orange Goodness, with lyrics by vocalists Rush Benson and Katie Gearty. 

“You really can’t help but move to the beat, and you can’t help but be energized by the vibrant dancing. At the same time, you’re getting a really compelling story,” said Coate.

Performances are Thursday through April 9 at The Southern Theater in Minneapolis. 

Correction (March 23, 2023): An earlier version of this article misidentified the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. The article has been updated.

This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment's Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.
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