Arts and Culture

Arts Briefs: Unexpected public art

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

Minneapolis-based men’s vocal ensemble Cantus has announced its 29th season.

The season will include five programs at 14 Twin Cities venues, masterclasses and performances. 

Scheduled programs include "Brave," which will explore evolving ideas of masculinity, and "Mountain Nights" highlighting the music inspired by mountains.

A group of eight performers in matching navy suits
Musical ensemble Cantus
Courtesy of Cantus

Capitol wonders

The Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul will offer "Art & Artists of the Capitol" June 10. 

The event will include a 90-minute guided journey through the Capitol's legislative chambers and historic spaces, showcasing murals, paintings and sculptures.

More information and registration are available on the Minnesota Historical Society's website.

Minnesota Legislature
The sun comes up over the State Capitol in St. Paul on May 22.
Steve Karnowski | AP

Pop culture paradise

Minnesota Con is an exposition featuring cosplayers, celebrity meet-and-greet opportunities and artists. Brad Vigesaa is the event’s promoter and says he organized Minnesota Con to give Minnesotans the chance to attend a local pop culture convention. 

“In the last couple of years, it's just been really rough with certain events coming in and leaving and whatnot,” he told MPR News. “So I've just wanted to give it a try and see if a local guy can make something local for local people.”

The event runs through Sunday. 

Pencil me in

Last summer, Amy and John Higgins converted a dead tree in front of their house into a statue of an enormous No. 2 pencil.

For its first anniversary, they're going to sharpen it. Supervising will be humorist David Rees, who sidelines as an “artisan pencil sharpener.”

He explains that the inspiration came when he was working for the census bureau.

“So I joined up on the first day of staff training, the first thing we did was sharpen number two pencils. And I just kind of challenged myself, I said, I wonder if there's a way I could get paid to just sharpen pencils?” Rees told MPR News. “You know, it's artisanal because I charge a lot of money. And I wear a black apron while I'm doing it. And I also pay very close attention to my tools and to the pencils.”

The event will take place at 1 p.m. on June 3 at Lake of the Isles. Just look for the house with the giant pencil. 

Person shaves wood sculpture, another stands on ladder
David Rees supervises the unveiling of the No. 2 pencil statue at Lake of the Isles on June 4.
Max Sparber | MPR News 2022

Other Briefs

  • Art in the Hollow is a multidisciplinary arts festival at Swede Hollow Park in St. Paul on June 3. 

  • Pangea World Theater will present “The Lake Street Story Circles Projects 2020” on June 7, looking back at work produced during the pandemic and Minneapolis protests, featuring artists who were part of the project during its duration.

  • The Rochester Art Center has opened a solo exhibition titled, "जत्रा (Ja-tra): A Feeling At The Beginning Of Time," by Minneapolis-based artist Roshan Ganu. The exhibit is named after — and explores the concept of — the Marathi word for a town/village fair.

  • Registration is currently open for Podcast Camp at the Pavek Museum in St. Louis Park, Minn. The program will run June 21-23 and will teach students ages 9 to 14 the fundamentals of creating a podcast.

  • The Hilde Performance Center in Plymouth, Minn. will host The Twin Cities West Metro Asian Fair on June 3. The event will include food booths and opportunities to experience a range of Asian cultural activities, including performances and dance troupes.

  • The Cowles Center has announced its 2023 McKnight Choreographer Fellows and 2023 McKnight Dancer Fellows: Joe Chvala, Rita Mustaphi and Deneane Richburg.

  • The six-year-old Making Vinyl Minneapolis conference will take place June 7-8 at the Lowes Minneapolis Hotel. The event looks at the vinyl music industry, which is experiencing a renaissance. Between 500 and 600 industry professionals are expected to attend.

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.

MUSIC: “Sugar World” by Jonatan Leandoer96

Swedish musician Jonatan Aron Leandoer Håstad is perhaps best known for his persona Yung Lean, a rapper influential in the microgenre of “cloud rap,” a dreamy, lo-fi brand of hip hop that has mostly lived on the internet. 

But Håstad enjoys a second career as Jonatan Leandoer96, whose music maintains the hazy, dreamlike, drum-machine and synth sounds of his hip hop career, but in service of songs that sound lifted from Lou Reed in his glam era.

The album’s songs have delightful titles, including “Nightmare Amusement Park” and “Swedish Elvis Storm,” and feature Håstad talk-singing in a manner that sometimes feels like he had just been nudged awake. (At one point he deliberately mumbles lyrics as though he forgot what he was saying.) But the music frequently swells and swells, growing increasingly dramatic and operatic. 

Håstad here captures something that Reed and glam understood, and is always welcome: That sometimes the most avant-garde posture is that of a surly, sneering rocker muttering juvenile lyrics over a pounded keyboard and a few guitar power chords.

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