Arts Briefs: A rare screening of a Minnesota heavy metal documentary

A graphic with the state of minnesota and pieces of art
The MPR News arts and culture team's arts briefs offer a weekly guide to the ever-evolving art scene in Minnesota.
Sam Stroozas | MPR News

Minnesotans will soon be able to see rare screenings of two documentaries about a singular subject. Filmed over seven years until 2001, “Driver 23” and “The Atlas Moth” are movies about the tempestuous life of Dan Cleveland, heavy metal musician, delivery driver and inventor.

Director Rolf Belgum focuses, often hilariously, on Cleveland's relentless optimism, even in the face of obsessive compulsive disorder, band issues and a troubled marriage.

“There's a scene where he builds this ramp to pull his equipment out of the basement. It's a huge complex ramp to pull this stuff out of his basement. And that is the moment when I knew, it just hit me. I am making this as a nature film. This is exactly like watching the beaver build the dam,” Belgum told MPR News.

The films can be seen May 10 at the Trylon Cinema in Minneapolis.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

vintage photo of a a shirtless man
Dan Cleveland, the aspiring Minnesota heavy metal rock star who is the focus of the documentaries "Driver 23" and "The Atlas Moth" playing May 10 at the Trylon Cinema in Minneapolis.
Courtesy Rolf Belgum

Remembering Barbara Bryne, Guthrie Theater icon

Guthrie Theater mainstay Barbara Bryne has died.

The actress was born in 1929 in London and made her stage debut at Minneapolis's Guthrie Theater in 1970 in “Arsenic and Old Lace.” She would go on to appear in more than 60 productions at the theater.

Byrne was also known for her work on Broadway, including the premiere productions of two musicals by Stephen Sondheim. She died Tuesday.

Two people sit on a couch
Barbara Bryne and Rainn Wilson on stage at the Guthrie Theater.
Courtesy of the Guthrie Theater

Bookworm heaven: Wordplay returns to Minneapolis

It has been four years since the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis hosted its Wordplay festival, a celebration of “readers, writers and great books.” But July 8, the organization is bringing the festival back, with tickets now on sale.

The lineup features national authors and poets as well as locals, including Minneapolis novelist Antonia Angress, Minnesota Book Award-winner Shannon Gibney and Minnesota author David Mura.

Author David Mura.
Courtesy of TPT

Black Fashion Week Minnesota begins

Black Fashion Week Minnesota kicks off Friday. Events include a Minnesota Met Gala at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and a runway show celebrating 50 years of hip hop. Founder Natalie Morrow created the event for local BIPOC designers and artists. This year, Morrow is seeing a trend toward the environmentally friendly.

“What I'm seeing is a lot of sustainability, reusing and refreshing materials,” she told MPR News. “And people are really going the green way and using thrift shop clothing to create something new. And I think that's really interesting.”

Morrow says a must-see is the nail art competition. The event series runs through May 13. 

Natalie Morrow is the founder of Black Fashion Week
Natalie Morrow is the founder of Black Fashion Week. Photographed at designer Jacqueline Addison's studio in Minneapolis.
Courtney Perry for MPR News | 2018

Meet the 2023 Minnesota Book Awards winners

The Minnesota Book Awards announced the 2023 winners May 2. 

Books honored this year include “Wilhelm’s Way: The Inspiring Story of the Iowa Chemist Who Saved The Manhattan Project” by Teresa Wilhelm Waldof for nonfiction. 

The winner in the novel category, "The Barrens," is a book by father-daughter writing team Kurt and Ellie Johnson. 

The awards are organized by Friends of St. Paul Public Library, and is in its 35th year.

Other briefs:

  • The Dreamland Arts community theater in St. Paul is for sale. It’s attached to a house via an underground tunnel, which is also for sale. Co-owners Zaraawar Mistry and Leslye Orr hope to downsize and move into a nearby apartment, but also hope to find a buyer who will continue its use as a performance space. The theater has been an important development space for local arts and performance organizations for 17 years. The asking price for the theater and home is $600,000.

  • Four of the Midwest’s top handbell ensembles will perform at a mass concert called "United in Song: A Handbell Extravaganza” May 6 at St. Philip's Lutheran Church in Hastings.

  • Friends of the Hennepin County Library has announced the 27th season of Pen Pals, the longest-running literary series in the Twin Cities. The season features five internationally acclaimed authors, including two Pulitzer Prize winners, a Costa Novel Award winner and a National Humanities Medal honoree.

  • Temple Israel is honoring Cantor Barry Abelson and celebrating the life and legacy of Leonard Bernstein on Thursday, May 11. The event will feature Jamie Bernstein, daughter of Leonard Bernstein, who will speak about her experiences growing up in the Bernstein family and will also perform some of his most beloved works. Broadway star Andréa Burns will also perform at the event.

  • Actor Brian Baumgartner, who played Kevin Malone in “The Office,” will be at Maplewood Mall's Barnes and Noble to promote his cookbook “Seriously Good Chili Cookbook: 177 of the Best Recipes in the World” on May 6. Before his appearance on “The Office,” Baumgartner was a regular performer in Minnesota theater productions, including at the Guthrie Theater and Theatre de la Jeune Lune, as well as having been artistic director for Hidden Theatre.

  • The Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art in Duluth is holding its 2023 Student/Instructor Exhibition Friday from 5-9 pm and May 6th from 12-5 pm. Attendees will have the opportunity to view the work of the academy's students and instructors.

Absolute Bleeding Edge

The MPR News arts team offers suggestions for the best in avant-garde, experimental and off-the-beaten-path arts and culture.

Literature: “The Nature Book” by Tom Comitta

Minnesota’s Coffee House Press has published a book by New York author Tom Comitta that is less a book than an assemblage. Comitta himself admits it in the preface: “This novel contains no words of my own.”

Instead, it is constructed from hundreds of texts, or, more properly, from the moments in these texts when the authors wrote about the natural world. That’s all you get in the book: page after page of descriptive prose about foxes, fish, weather, landscapes and various plant life. 

This is artfully done, a textural version of a collage or a mash-up. Each section focuses on one aspect of nature, and each paragraph seems to flow logically into the next. But, again as in a mash-up, it’s also very clear that this is the work of many authors, as the tone and style change dramatically, sometimes within a single paragraph. 

The one thing each sentence seems to have in common is a desire to represent nature in rapturous prose — or, sometimes, with equally excessive crudeness. At first, it’s too much, these laden paragraphs about pigeons and fish and insects. Then it becomes fascinating, for how long can this go on? And then — as often is the case with meticulous gags and acts of whimsy that are sustained far longer than you think possible — it becomes frequently hilarious.

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