Arts Briefs: Penumbra announces new season

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

The Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul has announced a new season, as well as a continuation of a new mission first announced in 2020.

Leaders of the 47-year-old theater say its focus continues to evolve into becoming a “center for racial healing that nurtures Black art, advances equity and facilitates wellness for individuals and communities.”

The season will include a slate of plays. But the theater will also offer various equity and wellness programs, including a “Let's talk” series of community conversations on subjects that include Caregiving Through Community and Athletes and Activism.

Juxtaposition of ancient and contemporary

A major new exhibition has opened at the Minneapolis Institute of Art called “ReVisión: Art in the Americas.” On view are nearly 200 objects from both contemporary and ancient artists from Latin America and the U.S. Some objects date as far back as 100 BCE. It is a collaboration with the Denver Art Museum, where the exhibition started in 2021.

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The exhibition is the first official show under the leadership of Valéria Piccoli, who became Mia's first-ever curator of Latin American Art late last year. Piccoli pulled about three dozen objects from Mia's permanent collection to add to the touring show. 

She says the exhibition places ancient and contemporary objects in juxtaposition, so they can spark conversation. For example, a gallery filled with gold and silver objects — crowns, pendants, figurines — leads to another gallery exhibiting a famed series of black and white photographs that Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado took in the 1980s. Piccoli says she was surprised to find the images in Mia’s collection.

“It is a series about a gold mine that was discovered in the Amazon region in the late 70s. It provoked a gold rush to this place in the middle of the forest,” Picolli says. “At peak production, there were around 100,000 people trying to find gold in this place. And when you see, especially the two last photographs, they have this cinematic feeling … that you're looking at the construction of the Egyptian pyramids or something very ancient and no, it was like yesterday.”

Picolli says the site was infamous for its inhuman conditions and violence. 

“It speaks a lot about the violence of exploitation of natural resources that happened throughout the history of the Americas,” she adds.

“ReVisión” will be on view through Sept. 17. 

A painting of a cathedral
"The Cathedral of Mexico City," 1850, by Pedro Antonio Gualdi, is one of nearly 200 objects on view for the “ReVisión: Arts in the Americas” exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

Intercontinental inspiration

The Anderson Center at Tower View in Red Wing has begun its 2023 artist residency season. The program hosts visiting artists-in-residence, who work on specific projects for the length of their stays.

This year's participants include Minneapolis-based musician and composer Aby Wolf. She will compose and produce an album during the residency. 

Other guests include artists from Texas and Virginia, as well as from Austria and Lebanon. 

The residencies range from two weeks to a month and last through the end of July.

A collage of eight people posing
Participants in The Anderson Center at Tower View residency, including Aby Wolf, top row, second from left.
Courtesy Anderson Center at Tower View

Harborfront creatives

The 32nd annual Grand Marais Arts Festival runs Saturday and Sunday this weekend on the town’s harborfront. 

The juried event is put on by the Grand Marais Art Colony, which is rounding out its 75th year. According to the colony, attendance is supposed to exceed 10,000 (as of 2021, Grand Marais’ population was approximately 1,340), and historically, the event generates more than $3,000 per artist booth. 

In addition to 60 booths featuring paintings, ceramics, handcrafted jewelry and more, the festival includes artist talks and demonstrations.

Other Briefs

  • The North Central American Guild of Organists is presenting a performance tonight by Wayne Marshall, a British conductor, organist and pianist. This will be the final event of the North Central American Guild of Organists Regional Convention, which has paired performers with “noteworthy pipe organs” in the Twin Cities. Marshall will perform at the Northrop in Minneapolis.

  • The Minnesota Fringe Festival has announced its slate of shows for 2023, which runs Aug. 3 - Aug. 13 in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis and will include 101 separate shows. This year’s festival will also include a screening of the 2020 film “Hollywood Fringe” by Minneapolis filmmakers Megan Huber and Wyatt McDill.

  • Minnesota Orchestra and The Cedar will present Minnesota Orchestra's International Day of Music Saturday, July 15, at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. The event will include four stages and an impressive lineup of artists, including Miloe, Alma Andina, Bluedog, Cydi Yang, Douala Soul Collective, Di Bayke Klezmer Band, the Cuban American Youth Orchestra, Meridian Movement Co. and the Minnesota Orchestra.

  • ArtStart, a St. Paul organization dedicated to arts education experiences for children and adult, has announced Anne Sawyer as the new executive director. Sawyer is a Twin Cities-based artist, author and arts educator who has produced her own work with Magic Lantern Puppet Theater, which she co founded. She replaces Carol Sirrine, who served as ArtStart's founder and executive director for 35 years and is now retiring.

    Person in blue shirt smiles
    Anne Sawyer
    Courtesy Siri Berry

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.

Book: The Story of Art Without Men

This encyclopedic volume of women artists throughout history started as an Instagram account (@greatwomenartists) in 2015, followed by a podcast of the same name. 

Art historian Katy Hessel had a simple goal: to start building a foundation of knowledge, a canon, about non-male artists. This was sparked by Hessel’s horror at an art fair she attended in 2015 where no women were represented. Further research revealed a 2019 survey of major U.S. art museums that found that men’s work comprised 87 percent of collections.

The Story of Art Without Men,” (2023) not only grew out of “Great Women Artists,” but Hessel says it’s a corrective to one of art history’s tomes: E. H. Gombrich’s “The Story of Art,” first published in 1950 without one female artist featured. The latest edition published in 1995 cites only one female artist.   

Hessel has done something grand and unprecedented in bringing so many groundbreaking, fearless, creative and weird women under one big art umbrella. To see icons such as Artemisia Gentileschi, Lee Miller, Faith Ringgold, Alice Neel and Yayoi Kusama woven into an overarching history alongside more unsung (but no less important) artists including Katsushika Ōi, Marlow Moss and Sonia Boyce is invigorating and overdue.

Not only does Hessel  tell their stories, outline their impact and show the connections between contemporaries, she does so by moving the foci off male artists as the assumed central voice of art movements and innovations. 

There is a downside, however. Like Gombrich, Hessel is really telling the story of Western art.  She focuses on artists in Europe and the U.S. with brief sojourns to Latin America and Asia. 

And even with its U.S. focus, I could not find one Native American artist featured — an oversight that hurts our full understanding of this country’s art history. (Surely Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Wendy Red Star or Marie Watt would add crucial context?).

The book also follows the same sort of problematic tropes of categorization and valuation that created a canon exclusive to men (linear history, market-based value),  followed by rote prose and superficial summaries of the injustices that kept women out of the canon for so long. 

For the most bang for your buck, “The Story of Art Without Men” is really best read as a compendium to art historian Linda Nochlin’s 1971 still-thrilling treatise “Why have there been no great women artists?” Nochlin deftly outlined the systemic injustices that prevented non-male artists from receiving the training, access to materials and memorialization that were afforded to men. The essay is as relevant as ever.

— Alex V. Cipolle

a painting of two women decapitating a man
"Judith Slaying Holofernes" by 17th-century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the artists chronicled in "The Story of Art Without Men."
Public Domain
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.