Arts and Culture

Arts Briefs: Arise, sir art knight — a Walker curator is honored

A man in a blue suit smiles
Philip Bither, Walker Art Center’s director and senior curator of performing arts, received the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government in recognition of his support of French artists on Monday.
Max Sparber | MPR News

Arts Briefs is a weekly roundup of Minnesota Arts News compiled by the MPR News arts team.

Chevalier celebration

Philip Bither has been the senior curator of performing arts at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis since 1997. On Monday June 17, he became something else as well: a knight.

Bither was honored by the French government for his work promoting artists from France and Francophone countries with the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, awarded by French Cultural Attachée Axelle Moleur at a small ceremony at the Walker.

In the past 20 years, Bither has brought nearly 50 French and Francophone artists to the Walker. At the event, Bither spoke of the importance of arts in France.

“I’ve always admired the centrality of the arts, where layers of carefully designed support structures enable forward-thinking performing artists to realize work of sometimes astounding ambition, refinement and intelligence.”

Past recipients of this award have included author William S. Burroughs, composer Philip Glass and actress Cate Blanchett.

Artistic relocation

In April, the Uptown Art Fair canceled this year's event due to construction in Uptown Minneapolis. On Thursday, it announced it has found a temporary location for this summer: The fair will now take place at Bachman’s Floral Home & Garden Center on Lyndale Avenue on Aug. 3 and 4.

The fair will feature around 150 artists, along with live performances and food and beverage vendors. Free transportation will be provided to the venue from designated parking spaces.

Haunting harmonies

Sunday night, the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis will be screening a rarely shown silent movie with a new soundtrack performed live by its composer.

“The Man Who Laughs” was made in 1928 and based on a Victor Hugo novel about a disfigured man whose frozen smile inspired the character the Joker from the Batman comics.

The screening will feature music by local electronic composer Chris Strouth, along with classically trained vocalist Natalie Nowytski. Strouth says his music is “aggressively ambient.”

”It’s very soundtrack-y and beautiful and sad. And if we do it right, you’ll cry.”

The film screens at 7:30 p.m.

Jazz jamboree

Tonight is the start of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, an annual free celebration of the iconic American music genre. It takes place at 20 venues in St. Paul, including two stages in Mears Park and other venues mostly within a short walk of the park.

The 26-year-old event is the largest free civic jazz festival in the upper Midwest and features more than 80 performers and groups. Performers, showtimes and venues can be found on the Twin Cities Jazz Festival website.

Puccini pilgrimage

The Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis is famous for its annual (recently restarted and moved to Boom Island) Basilica Block Party musical event, but will be the home to another musical event June 26-29: an opera.

“Suor Angelica” by Giacomo Puccini will performed by Out of the Box Opera as an immersive piece, moving through various locations in the Basilica. Out of the Box Artistic Director David Lefkowich commented on the venue: “The Basilica itself has so much theatrical beauty that just setting foot inside transports you.”

Tickets and additional information are available on the opera company’s website.

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