Arts and Culture

Art Briefs: Classic cinema, new Minneapolis dance and more

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

For fans of classic and international cinema, The Main Cinema in Minneapolis is hosting a bonanza this weekend in the form of a festival called Il Cinema Ritrovato On Tour.

The festival is dedicated to the history of cinema and features a wide range of films, including classics, retrospectives and newly restored movies. It will feature 11 films. 

New leader at Great Northern Festival

Minneapolis and St. Paul’s sprawling Great Northern Festival has announced a new executive director beginning Monday. Jovan C. Speller Rebollar will oversee various administrative and development tasks including finance and marketing.

Speller Rebollar was most recently a program director at the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council in St. Paul. At the Great Northern, she will work alongside Chief Programming Officer Kate Nordstrum, who continues to lead festival curation and programming.

black and white portrait of a woman
Portrait of Jovan C. Speller Rebollar.
Courtesy of Laure Vail

Fur hats and jazz cats

Singer Lea Kalisch, who offers a modern spin on Yiddish songs, will perform Monday at Hook and Ladder in Minneapolis. Kalisch is known for performing in a shtreimel, an enormous fur hat worn by men in Hasidic Jewish communities.

“It's become part of my brand. I don't wear it randomly,” Kalisch told MPR News. “I wear it in pieces where I actually play a rabbi because I'm also an actor, so much of what I do is not just music, but my performances are very theatrical.”

Kalisch was born in Switzerland, raised in New York and recently relocated to Minnesota. 

She will be joined by Jewbalaya, a band that fuses European Jewish music with traditional New Orleans jazz.

A harmonious quest for racial justice

a man reads in a theater.
Composer Carlos Simon listens to "brea(dth)".
Courtesy of Greg Helgeson

The Minnesota Orchestra will premiere "brea(d)th" May 18-20, a program commissioned to “honor the ongoing struggle for racial justice in Minnesota and beyond.” The piece is by Grammy-nominated composer Carlos Simon and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph and will be conducted by Jonathan Taylor Rush, featuring 150 choral singers.

The program will also include works by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Wynton Marsalis. The May 19 performance will be broadcast live and streamed live on the Minnesota Orchestra website.

The rhythm of Minneapolis: Cowles Center's upcoming dance season

The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis has announced its 2022-23 season.

Ten productions will feature a number of Minneapolis dance organizations. In February, The Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre will perform "The Conference of the Birds," inspired by a 12th-century Persian poem. Crash Dance Productions, a contemporary dance company, will perform in March.

The Cowles Center season will also include ARENA DANCES, BRKFST Dance Company, the James Sewell Ballet and Ragamala Dance Company.

Citywide open house

This weekend, more than 100 Minneapolis buildings will open their doors to visitors.

It's called Doors Open Minneapolis, and it offers behind-the-scenes looks at a variety of venues, including theaters, sacred spaces, private clubs and sports complexes. Caretakers will be available to answer questions and share stories.

The event is free. Registration and a list of venues can be found at the Doors Open Minneapolis website.

Artist and ocean advocate Courtney Mattison wants to bring the beauty of the sea above the surface. Her new show features more than 700 handcrafted ceramic sea creatures. Some are bleach white, showing the effects of a threatened environment.

“I think if people understand that it's coral and that there's a change happening, that might spark a sense of curiosity to make viewers want to learn more about what's happening to coral reefs and how threatened they are from climate change,” she told MPR News.

The show runs through Sept. 3 at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona.

a woman looks at an art installation
"Our Changing Seas III," the 12 foot by nine foot ceramic coral reef by Courtney Mattison, is up at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona.
Courtesy of Arthur Evans | Tang Museum

Other Briefs

  • Interact Gallery in St. Paul, an organization for artists with disabilities, will debut “Glaze Haze,” an exhibition that features sculptures, planters and masks by 26 artists. The exhibition opens on May 13 with a reception and zine release. The Interact Gallery is open by appointment.

  • Minneapolis’s HUGE Improv Theater will be moving from Lyndale and Lake Street to a larger space at 2728 Lyndale Avenue. The new venue will provide more space for the theater and include a larger stage. The Twin Cities Improv Festival in late June will be the last event in the old space.

  • St. Paul's Landmark Center has opened "Drawn To Saint Paul," a collection of over 40 illustrations by J. Kevin Byrne, emeritus professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Byrne spent 25 years sketching St. Paul. The exhibition will run through May 28.

    display of colorful masks on a wall
    A wall of masks by various artists, 2022-23, on display at the Interact Gallery in St. Paul
    Courtesy of Interact Center

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.

Publication: Twin Cities Writer and Artist Services Directory 

Located in the Twin Cities and need stilt-walking lessons? Group art therapy? An editor for your erotica? A bespoke gif? There's a directory for that.

Minneapolis artist India Johnson recently published the Twin Cities Writer and Artist Services Directory through her Late Night Copies Press (just a few photocopiers in her living room, she says).

The $3 directory zine is designed to demystify how regular folks can hire artists and creatives for services and projects. 

The directory, which features 50 artists, writers and creatives, is what Johnson calls a "proof of concept." She says artists should reach out to join and she'd eventually like to turn it into a website.

“There is an artist who will write you a song for a party or special occasion, including a retirement party, birthday, anniversary, memorial service, church service, Solstice party, Halloween party, Canada Day or Arbor Day,” Johnson told MPR News, laughing.

More practical services listed include “Get to Know your Sewing Machine” and “Dyke Does Handy Work."

The directory is also a sort of mini-manifesto, opening with a list of “foundational assumptions” including:

  • A career in the arts involves work that is creatively and/or professionally important, but unpaid/underpaid.

  • Access to basic income for artists is one way to increase equity in the art world.

  • Hiring artists is directly more affordable for individuals than relying on an intermediary (org, nonprofit, art fair, etc.)

  • When artists organize, we improve the conditions of creative labor.           

Johnson explains that too often, artists have to pay to get their work seen.

“The arts are a really inequitable industry to work in, and a lot of that is because rather than paying artists, we expect artists to pay to compete in opportunities to have their work in art exhibitions, in galleries and museums; We expect artists to pay tabling fees — there's just like an endless amount of fees and applications that kind of come with trying to bring your art to an audience,” Johnson said.

The directory is one way to try and “just imagine how could the art world function differently so that it could be a more equitable place and that you could earn a living there rather than having to already have financial resources and security in order to participate."

Late Night Copies Press will host a launch party from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday at La Doña Cervecería in Minneapolis. Johnson says there will be artist popup shops and demonstrations, including one artist who is bringing a sink and showing how to unclog it.

Find the directory online and at these locations:

  • Moon Palace Books

  • Eastside Food Co-op

  • Minnesota Center for Book Arts Shop

  • La Doña Cervecería

    display of five books in five colors
    The recently published Twin Cities Writer & Artist Directory features the services of 50 local creatives.
    Courtesy of India Johnson
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment's Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.
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