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MIA in the black, still free — with collections growing

CC/Flickr/alles banane
The MIA will remain free to visitors.

Good news from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts: It’s in the black and still free, the average age of the audience is decreasing, collections are growing, it’s launching an iPad app in November, and the museum is now available for weddings. At a press event earlier this week, director Kaywin Feldman announced that an admission charge is still “firmly off the table” and it’s “absolutely sacred” that the museum remains accessible to all. The hugely successful “Rembrandt in America” exhibit, which ended Sept. 16, is being followed by another blockbuster, “China’s Terracotta Warriors,” opening Oct. 28. And if you think the MIA still means Old Masters while the Walker is contemporary art, the boundaries blur further next March with “More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness,” with works by 25 recognized and emerging international artists including Ai Weiwei, Zoe Beloff, and Mark Dion. Something new you might not love: Parking at the museum’s ramp and surface lots is no longer free.

Walker Art Center director Olga Viso has been nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Council of the Arts. Viso will join Ragamala Dance founder Ranee Ramaswamy and New Orleans resident Irvin Mayfield, the Minnesota Orchestra’s artistic director of jazz, on the council that advises the National Endowment for the Arts.

Sponsored by the Schubert Club, Theoroi is a select group of “arts ambassadors” ages 21-35 who attend a curated series of arts events and spread the word through social media. We’ve invited them to tell us why certain events are worth seeing (or not). On Saturday, Oct. 13, the group will see “Next to Normal,” a rock musical about mental illness, at the Mixed Blood Theatre. Here are Amy Fox’s 5 reasons why this show has piqued her interest:1. ‘Next to Normal’ won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and three Tonys.  2. Characters in musicals sing when their emotions reach a peak, and most of this story is told in song. So this is not your typical musical. It’s raw, powerful, and emotional. 3. Mental illness starts with the individual, affects the family, and radiates out into the community. ‘Next to Normal’ explores one woman’s struggle with bipolar disorder and how it affects her family.  4. Tom Kitt, who wrote the music, told NPR that he and playwright Brian Yorkey “wanted to strike that balance between telling a truthful, emotional story but also creating a positive experience in the theater.” I’m curious to see how they did that.  5. Mixed Blood is committed to creating and sharing work that “spawns a ripple effect of social change.” Its mission includes being egalitarian and unpredictable. It seems like the perfect place for a play like ‘Next to Normal.’ ” FMI and tickets.

Has the Minnesota Orchestra diaspora begun? Several musicians have accepted playing opportunities with other orchestras and two have been offered permanent positions elsewhere. Speaking with MPR’s Euan Kerr earlier this week, Tim Zavadil, head of the musicians’ negotiating committee, confirmed that violinist Peter Maguire will be leaving to serve as concertmaster in Switzerland’s Zurich Tonhalle Orchester. In March, Sarah Kwak left to become concertmaster with the Oregon Symphony.

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have firmed up the details of their Oct. 18 concert, now called “LOMoMO and the LEGEND: the Locked Out Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.” Time: 7:30 p.m. Place: Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium. Program: Dvorák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104, with principal cellist Tony Ross, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47. Tickets $15-$40. Order online or call 1-800-514-3849, extension 2. (The musicians hoped to honor patrons’ tickets to the canceled season opener, but that didn’t work out.) Where will Osmo Vänskä be on Oct. 18? In Chicago, leading the Chicago Symphony.

Minnesota Orchestra board chair Jon Campbell and negotiations chair Richard Davis restated management’s position in Wednesday’s Strib. “We are responsible for the future of the Minnesota Orchestra,” they wrote. “Even in the arts, we can only spend what we can realistically expect to earn. … The time has come to acknowledge the reality of what our community can afford.”

Back at MPR, Marianne Combs reports that Theater in the Round has canceled Saturday’s performance of Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke.” The reason: fear of zombies. This year’s annual Zombie Pub Crawl happens that night, and past experience has taught TRP not to compete. The theater is damaged each year during the crawl, and in 2006, they had to lock the doors against zombies trying to enter the lobby during a performance. On the one hand, that’s kind of funny. On the other, not so much. This is opening weekend for “Summer and Smoke” and it hurts the theater to close.

How literary are we Minnesotans? Enough to have three finalists for this year’s National Book Award. Ojibwe poet, novelist and memoirist Louise Erdrich is a nominee for her novel “The Round House,” William Alexander for his first YA novel, “Goblin Secrets.” Poet Susan Wheeler, whose “Meme” is also in the running, grew up in Minnesota, so we’re claiming her as well. The awards are announced Nov. 14.

Cars fall under the “Arts & Culture” header, right? Iconoculture reports that brown cars are back. According to Jane Harrington, an expert at the color-making company PPG, brown evokes feelings of stability, authenticity, and comfort , similar to good coffee, chocolate, and wood furniture (mmmm Stickley). You can buy your next Mercedes, BMW, or Porsche in brown – or your next Taurus or Tacoma.

At the Daily Planet, Lu Lippold interviews herself about the generous “New Media” arts grant from the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota Center for Media Arts (IFP). Lippold is IFP’s administrator of the $50,000 grant, which will support artists working in film, video, interactive games, mobile apps, radio, and any other forms of “new media,” which she describes as “a catchall term for media art that goes beyond traditional TV and movie screens.” Read the guidelines here (note the Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 submission deadline), then plan to attend a free information session or webinar FMI. $50K is a nice chunk of change. Thank you, McKnight.

And thank you, Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, D-Minneapolis; Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing; Sen. Terri Bonoff, D-Minnetonka); and Sen. Sandy Pappas, D-St. Paul, recent recipients of the Arts All Star Award from Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. All advocate for the arts at the Legislature and support the arts in their daily lives. Champion is involved in youth music education, Howe is a theater buff, Bonoff is on the Guthrie’s board, and Pappas is an actor.

Family portraits
Courtesy of Hennepin County Library
The Family History Fair at the Hennepin County Library helps guests learn to trace their family's roots.

Register now for this year’s Family History Fair at the Hennepin County Library, a full house of seminars, resources, and a tour designed to help you trace your ancestry. Saturday, Nov. 3, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Minneapolis Central Library downtown. Free. Register online or call 612-543-5669.

With much of today’s column devoted to news, here’s an at-a-glance list of this weekend’s most interesting events IMHO:

The Twin Cities Film Festival starts tonight at the Showplace Icon at the West End. The Strib’s Colin Covert calls it “the non-intimidating film festival.” We’re guessing that means no arguments in the lobby about French vs. Belgian films. Continues through Sunday, Oct. 20. View/download the schedule here.

The St. Paul Art Crawl starts tonight at 6 p.m. and ends Sunday at 5 p.m. That’s ample time to explore Lowertown, downtown and other parts of the city, where hundreds of artists and galleries will be open. Be sure to stop by the Minnesota Museum of American Art for a sneak peek of the new project space in the Pioneer Building at the corner of 4th and Robert Streets. And the Baroque Room on the second floor of the Northwestern Building (275 East 4th St.), where you can view Leo Simmer’s black-and-white photographs of “Nostalgic Minnesota (1960s-1980s).” And the imaginative, subtly surrealist Matthew Rucker’s studio in the Northern Warehouse (308 Prince St. #311).

Matthew Rucker, “Fire Flowers,” Oil on canvas - 18” x 24”
Courtesy of St. Paul Art Crawl
Matthew Rucker, “Fire Flowers,” Oil on canvas - 18” x 24”

If you Crawl on Saturday, you’ll be in the right place at the right time for the first concert in the Jazz at Studio Z 2012-13 season. Atlantis Quartet plays two sets starting at 7. $10 at the door, kids 12 and under free. City Pages named Atlantis Best Jazz Artist in 2011, and the Strib did the same in 2012.

The Twin Cities Book Festival happens this weekend at the Progress Center on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Here’s Amy Goetzman’s preview.

More jazz in St. Paul: On Friday and Saturday, the Artists’ Quarter hosts the Ari Hoenig Trio featuring pianist Bill Carrothers. New York-based drummer Hoenig is intense and musical, with a unique approach to drumming: using sticks, mallets, hands, and elbows, he plays notes, even melodies. Carrothers, who lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and makes most of his career in Europe, is endlessly fascinating, one of the finest pianists working today. They’ll be joined by Chris Bates on bass. Trust me on this one. 9 p.m.

Twin Cities musician (and former Electropolis saxophonist) Michael Ferrier has a new project, Fathom Lane, and a new album, “Down by Half,” to be released Friday at Icehouse in Minneapolis. It’s dark, deeply sad, ghostly and gorgeous. What kind of music is it? How about folk-pop-country-rock-indie-with-a-touch-of-Celtic-lullaby? Too many words. Let’s just call it good. Listen here. Doors at 10:30, music at 11. With Todd Clouser’s “Song.”

On Sunday and Monday, two-time Grammy winner Cassandra Wilson comes to the Dakota. One of our most important and acclaimed jazz vocalists, she’s touring behind her latest album, “Another Country.” Sample it here. Her performances will be jazz and blues and pure seduction. FMI and tickets.

On Monday, Accordo begins its 2012-13 season with “An Evening in Austria-Hungary.” Accordo member (and SPCO violinist) Kyu-Young Kim calls it “a Hungarian sandwich with some very substantial Austrian bread.” The string octet, comprosed of SPCO and Minnesota Orchestra principal players, has prepared a program of Haydn, Bartók, Dohnányi and Mozart, which is certain to sound delicious in Christ Church Lutheran, the National Historic Landmark in the Longfellow neighborhood where Accordo performs.  7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets.

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