Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


27 Minnesota artists are new Jerome Hill Artist Fellows; Ayana Elizabeth Johnson at Westminster Town Hall Forum

ALSO: “Out of the Depths: Winter Stories,” a livestream from First Avenue; Minnesota Orchestra to be livestreamed on TPT and MPR Friday; and more.

Jerome Hill Artist Fellows
Jerome Hill Artist Fellows include, on top, from left to right: Chamindika Wanduragala, DejaJoelle, Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. Bottom, left to right: Michael Torres, Pavielle French, and Witt Siasoco.
Photo credits: Sarah White (Wanduragala), Bobby Rogers (DejaJoelle), Joel Field (Corbine), Henry Jimenez (Torres), Sharolyn B. Hagen (French), and Dan Huseby (Siasoco).

The St. Paul-based Jerome Foundation on Wednesday announced its 2021-22 Jerome Hill Artist Fellows. A total of $3 million will be split among 60 early-career artists, 27 in Minnesota and 33 in the five boroughs of New York City.

Each fellow will receive $50,000 in direct support over two consecutive years ($25,000 each year) to create new work, advance their artistic goals and/or promote their professional development. Fellows are also offered individualized professional development guidance through the MAP Fund of New York’s Scaffolding for Practicing Artists (SPA).

Among this year’s fellows, 85 percent identify as black, Native American Indigenous, Latinx, Asian or Arab American or as artists of color.

Jerome will also award one-time grants of $5,000 each to 60 additional finalists and $7,500 each to 24 additional finalist applicants designated as alternates, in the event that a recommended fellow had been unable to accept the award. Foundation President Ben Cameron explained, “Given the extraordinary promise of the applicant pool and the unprecedented challenges facing artists in this moment, the Foundation felt it was essential to expand the Fellows program with additional smaller grants to all the finalists that the panels had discussed at their meetings.”

Article continues after advertisement

These additional smaller grants add up to $480,000. Also including the individualized professional development support, Jerome’s total direct investment in individual artists is more than $3.8 million.

Fellowships are offered in six fields. These are the Minnesota fellows for 2020-21:

In dance: Vie Boheme, DejaJoelle, Herb Johnson III, LeilAwa, Taja Will.

In film/new media: Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr., Cy Dodson, Joua Lee Grande, Benjamin May.

In literature: Carson Faust, Sherrie Fernandez-Williams, Junauda Petrus, Michael Prior, Michael Torres.

In music: Jay Afrisando, Kashimana Ahua, PaviElle French, Eric Frye.

In theater/performance/spoken word: Amoke Kubat, Ifrah Mansour, Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Chamindika Wanduragala.

In visual arts: Leslie Barlow, Catherine Meier, Witt Siasoco, Delina White, Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra.

Learn about the individual artist fellows here.

Article continues after advertisement

Wondering why these grants go to artists in Minnesota and New York City? Because they were founded by Jerome Hill, grandson of James J. Hill. Jerome was born and grew up in St. Paul. He lived in many places including New York. An artist himself – he was an Oscar-winning filmmaker, painter, photographer and composer – he supported the arts and artists in the United States and Europe.

A prize for poets

Submissions are open for the 2021 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry. Established in 2011 as the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, continued by Ballard Spahr when the two law firms merged under the Ballard Spahr name, this is an especially generous poetry prize: $10,000 cash and publication by Minneapolis-based Milkweed Editions, with national distribution backed by a marketing and publicity campaign.

The competition is Upper-Midwest-centric; it’s for poets residing in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin or Michigan. View the previous winners here. (Such beautiful books!) See 2020 winner torrin a. greathouse’s book launch here; this would normally be a public event with a live audience, but not during COVID.

Submissions close Feb. 15. This is not exclusively a first book contest, and there is no entry fee. This year’s judge will be Jos Charles, a trans poet, editor and author of the 2019 Pulitzer finalist “feeld.” The finalists and winner will be announced April 2021. The winner’s book will be published Nov. 2021.

This is Milkweed’s 40th year, and celebrations are being planned. Two Milkweed titles spent most of 2020 on bestseller lists: Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass” and Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s “World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments,” which Barnes & Noble named its Book of the Year.

Milkweed will publish Minnesota Book Award winner Diane Wilson’s new book, “The Seed Keeper,” in March. On Sunday, Feb. 7, at 3 p.m., the Great Northern will present an exclusive book preview hosted by MPR’s Brandt Williams. Wilson, a Mdewakanton descendent, is the executive director for the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance. “The Seed Keeper” centers on the forced march of Dakota women and children in Minnesota in 1862. FMI and registration.

The picks

V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Courtesy of Westminster Town Hall Forum
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
V Today (Thursday, Jan. 28) at 12 noon: Westminster Town Hall Forum: Ayana Elizabeth Johnson: “Climate Science, Policy, and Justice.” Johnson fell in love with the ocean when she was 5. Today she’s “the most influential marine biologist of our time” and “the climate leader we need.” Working at the intersection of climate, policy, and race, she’s a writer, storyteller, policy expert, organizer, TED speaker, co-host with Alex Blumberg of the “How to Save a Planet” podcast, founder of the Urban Ocean Lab think tank and co-founder of the All We Can Save Project for women in the climate movement. She’ll be in conversation with MPR’s Dan Kraker. Free. FMI here and here (no registration needed). Watch at the Westminster Town Hall Forum website, YouTube, or Facebook; listen live on MPR. A partnership with the Great Northern.

Article continues after advertisement

V Today at 4 p.m.: “On Being With Krista Tippett and J. Drew Lanham” podcast episode release. Hear Tippett’s conversation with poet, teacher, birder and conservationist Lanham before its public radio broadcast on Sunday, Jan. 31. Lanham is the author of “The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature,” published by Milkweed. This release is a partnership with the Great Northern. FMI.

Mike Marks, "Snake River Cloud Echo," woodcut
Courtesy of Highpoint Center for Printmaking
Mike Marks, "Snake River Cloud Echo," woodcut
L and V Tonight at 7 p.m.: Highpoint Center for Printmaking: Artist conversation with Mike Marks, 2020 McKnight Printmaking Fellow. Marks’ work focuses on critical habitat and landscapes under duress. His McKnight gave him access to Highpoint’s state-of-the-art printmaking studio, technical support, studio visits with invited arts professionals, a $25,000 unrestricted award, and a solo exhibition. His original intaglio and relief prints, objects, and a video installation are on view at Highpoint now. See the talk, then catch the show before it closes on Feb. 6. (Observe protocols; wear a mask.) FMI and Zoom link. Free.

V Tonight at 7:30 p.m.: First Avenue and the Great Northern: “Out of the Depths: Winter Stories.” In a world premiere livestream from First Avenue’s stage, Ifrah Mansour, Aegor Ray, Moheb Soliman, and 3wadallahs (Leila, Noelle and Jamal Awadallah) share their perspectives on winter, nature and the things that get us through. Curated by Mizna, the St. Paul-based Arab arts organization. Explicit language and mature themes. FMI and tickets ($15).

The reception area at Brown’s Hotel, Agatha Christie’s favorite hotel in Mayfair, London.
Courtesy of Knickerbockerglory TV
The reception area at Brown’s Hotel, Agatha Christie’s favorite hotel in Mayfair, London.
V Streaming now at TPT: “Agatha Christie’s England.” What places inspired the Queen of Crime? Which made their way into her work? Part biography, part literary tour of England, this new documentary includes access to Christie’s private homes, people who lived with her, and her family. If you love Agatha Christie – the books, the TV series, the movies – you’ll eat this up with a pudding spoon.

V Friday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m.: Minnesota Orchestra: “Heart and Hope.” Eight months after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, members of the Minnesota Orchestra will perform Philip Herbert’s “Elegy,” written for Stephen Lawrence, a Black British teenager murdered in 1993 by a gang of young white men. Livestreamed from Orchestra Hall’s stage, the program will also include Enrique Crespo’s “Bruckner Etude,” Bach’s Concerto in C minor for Oboe, Violin and String Orchestra, and Dvorák’s hopeful Serenade in D minor for Wind Instruments, led by Osmo Vänskä. Hosted by Sarah Hicks, free on the Orchestra’s website. Also broadcast on Twin Cities PBS (TPT) and Classical MPR.