Art Hounds: The past and present of Native art

A sculpture with wings in a circle shape in the corner of a room.
Metal sculpture by Darren Landgren, featured in “Native American Art: Past and Present" at Northwoods Friends of the Arts
Courtesy of Northwoods Friends of the Arts

Artist and photographer Theresa Drift of Cook, Minn., and theatermaker Payton Counts of Net Lake, Minn., both saw the “Native American Art: Past and Present” gallery show at the Northwoods Friends of the Arts in Cook.

It’s a mixture of contemporary and historical pieces by local artists, including paintings, metalwork, birchbark baskets, beadwork and quilting. The show also includes a few pieces from Grand Portage artist George Morrison, a well-known mid-century painter. 

Counts appreciated the range of the show, which is presented in one room. “I thought it was nice to see a mixture of contemporary as well as older pieces of work, kind of this like partnership of art connecting to the community." 

“It definitely shows the changing culture and [that] it's not a static thing,” agrees Drift. “It's constantly evolving and growing.” 

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The exhibit runs through Sat., Nov. 25. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. 

Art teacher and illustrator Heather Zemien of Brooklyn Park, Minn., has been following Off Leash Theater Productions for the past year, ever since she saw their original “Off-Kilter Cabaret.”

She’s looking forward to seeing the second annual production this weekend. The cabaret features seven artists living and making art with a range of mental and physical abilities.

The performance includes dance, comedy, puppetry, musical composition, spoken word and storytelling. The show is emceed by storyteller Amy Salloway, whose work Zemien has followed since seeing her on stage last year. 

The show strikes a special chord for Zemien, whose late partner was in a wheelchair. She says she’s excited to see and support this all-inclusive show.  

“Off Kilter Cabaret” will be performed at the Cowles Center for the Performing Arts in Minneapolis Fri., Nov 17 and Sat. Nov 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Nov 19 at 2 p.m. 

The building is fully accessible. All three shows have American Sign Language and audio descriptions available. Masks are required. 

Please note: the accompanying music in the radio piece is “Interlude 4” from A.J. Isaacson-Zvidzwa’s composition “Angels Sang to Me.” Isaacson-Zvidzwa is one of the seven artists featured in this weekend’s “Off Kilter Cabaret.” 

Nine dancers in shades of red on a stage with blue-white lighting.
Young Dance in “Organic Knitting” at the 2022 Off-Kilter Cabaret
Courtesy of Off-Leash Area

Philip Muehe, managing director of the Rochester Repertory Theatre, suggests a romantic comedy musical in Lanesboro, Minn., for your entertainment this holiday season. The Commonweal Theatre Company in Lanesboro is staging the musical “She Loves Me” through Dec. 23. 

The show features cheerful, catchy numbers about two shopkeepers who get on each others' last nerve. Secretly, though, they’ve become pen pals through a lonely hearts group.

When they finally find out that the person with whom they’ve fallen in love over letters is, in reality, the person right across the shop, heartwarming hilarity ensues.  

If that plot sounds familiar, the Commonweal put on an adaptation of the play “Parfumerie” on which the musical “She Loves Me” is based back in 2011.

The story was the inspiration for several movies, including the 1998 romcom “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.  

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