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Fireworks, ‘Captain America’ and ‘The Vampire!’ beckon

There will be no shortage of fireworks in the Twin Cities on Wednesday.

The Fourth of July is tomorrow, in case the holiday sneaked up on you, too. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul beckon. “Minneapolis Red White and Boom” offers live music on multiple stages, family activities, music (Romantica) and a movie (“Captain America”) at the Nicollet Island Pavilion, and fireworks. FMI. St. Paul hosts a traditional fireworks show downtown. FMI. Tip: It’s a good night to see “The Vampire!” on the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, docked on Harriet Island. After the performance, you can stay on board and watch the fireworks from the upper deck. The view should be spectacular, the boat is air-conditioned and the bar stays open. Bonus: Park free in the lot next to the ticket booth. FMI and tickets.

Get into the spirit of the Fourth with the Minnesota Historical Society. The Capitol is closed, but MHS sites and museums are open throughout the state. Historic Fort Snelling hosts an Independence Day Celebration complete with cannon salutes, patriotic speeches, and a military dress parade. At the Minnesota History Center, you can view the “We the People” Constitution exhibit (closes July 4), make “Spin-Around-the-State” pinwheels, and see a short play. The Oliver H. Kelly Farm in Elk River hosts a Farmer’s Fourth of July that takes you back to the 19th century. There’s more. View the calendar here.

Mixed Blood Theatre has announced its 2012-13 season. This is the theater that shook things up considerably last year with a program called Radical Hospitality – in which a number of free tickets to all shows are available, first come, first served. (The theater also sell tickets for guaranteed admission.) With Radical Hospitality, ticket revenues fell, weekly attendance rose, and the audience became more diverse. “Most important for the future of the theater,” Sharyn Jackson reported, “36 percent [of the 2011-12 audience] had never been to Mixed Blood.” Free and low-priced tickets draw audiences more willing to take a chance, less hung up on “getting their money’s worth” from a performance. Theaters can take bigger programming risks and produce more challenging works. Mixed Blood’s new season is deliberately, commendably and gloriously non-fluffy. Opening Oct. 5: “Next to Normal,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about a family’s struggle with mental illness. Directed by Jack Reuler. In mid-October: “Center of the Margins,” a triple feature mini-festival exploring the complex world of disability. Feb. 22, 2013: “Elemeno Pea,” a caustic social satire written by Molly Smith Metzler, directed by Mark Valdez. April 5: “In the Time of the Butterflies,” based on a true story about sisters in the Dominican Republic who spoke truth to the atrocities of dictator Rafael Trujillo. Based on the novel by Julia Alvarez, written by Caridad Svich, directed by José Zayas, performed in Spanish and English.

Basic NorthCourtesy of Live Action SetLive Action Set’s ‘Basic North’ is at the Southern

Caroline Palmer reviews Live Action Set’s “Basic North,” subtitled “a performance in three directions,” now playing at the Southern. “This smart work … strips down the absurdities of modern life. … There’s a winning sense of spontaneity and creative evolution whirring from within.” One of the directors/performers, Noah Bremer, recently toured with Cirque du Soleil. Ends Sunday. FMI and tickets.

Now that the Cowles Center has finished its first season, Rohan Preston looks back on the successes and challenges of the Twin Cities’ flagship dance venue. Overall, the center played to 54 percent of capacity, exceeding its first-year target of 50 percent. The Cowles is a union shop, and Minnesota Dance Theatre executive director Lise Houlton mentions having to “get used to” union rules and avoid incurring overtime. During post-show Q&As I attended, two more dance company directors referred publicly to the overtime spectre, so clearly this is an issue that needs attention. As an audience member, I like the Cowles very much. It’s beautiful, spacious yet intimate, comfortable and welcoming. Parking is a pain, but that’s downtown. The lobby could use more seating, some tables for sitting or standing around before performances and during intermissions, better lighting – ways to help it feel more convivial, less cavernous and cold. 

Got Basilica Block Party tickets? Friday and Saturday, three stages, 18 bands including Train, Cake, A. Wolf and Her Claws, Lucy Michelle & The Velvet Lapelles, Mat Kearney, Fitz and the Tantrums, and more. FMI and tickets.

The summer arts festivals continue this weekend in Hopkins, a happening town thanks in large part to the Hopkins Center for the Arts. The Hopkins Arts Festival is a juried show featuring local and national makers of jewelry, pottery, glass, photography, clothing, and more. It’s also a show on a manageable, human scale: just 55 artists on three blocks on Mainstreet. (For comparison, this year’s Edina Art Fair had 320 artists. The Uptown Art Fair expects over 350.) Saturday, July 7 (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) and Sunday, July 8 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.). FMI.

And now for something completely different: The Midwest Tomato Fest. Dance to live music by local bands Absolute Gruv, DJ Zeke Thomas, the Blend, Gemini Club and Tim Sigler Band. Enjoy food from Barrio, Famous Dave’s, World Street Kitchen and other purveyors. And toss ripe tomatoes at each other in what’s being billed as “the world’s largest tomato fight.” Here’s a peek at last year’s fest in Afton Alps. (Hmm. Wonder if there’s an observation deck.) You may be thinking “How wasteful!” According to the sponsors, all tomatoes used in the splatdown are inedible, plus part of the proceeds go to Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless. Saturday, July 14, noon – 7 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Richard FloridaRichard Florida

Minneapolis is one of the top 20 creative cities in the U.S., according to Richard Florida’s Creative Class Index. Florida is the author of “The Rise of the Creative Class.” At No. 18, we’re sandwiched between Hartford, Conn., and Atlanta, Ga. According to the Daily Beast, “Innovation, high technology, and tolerance for racial, ethnic, and social diversity contribute to Minneapolis’s creative class ranking.” Let’s hope our tolerance for social diversity continues through the coming election. (BTW, in 2002, Minneapolis was No. 10. So, like, what happened?)

Call to artists: Design a holiday label for locally crafted, small-batch Gamle Ode Aquavit. Gamle Ode is headquartered in Minneapolis and produced at the nearest micro-distillery to the Twin Cities, 45th Parallel Spirits in New Richmond, Wisconsin. Winner receives $200. Deadline Aug. 1. FMI.

A scan of the Jobs and Internships page of Springboard for the Arts’ website reveals several interesting opps for artists and admins. The National Lutheran Choir is looking for a director of marketing and communication. Northern Clay Center needs an exhibitions manager and curator. Now that founder Rick Shiomi is stepping down, Mu Performing Arts has begun the search for a new Artistic Director. The Schubert Club could use an education and museum manager. Milkweed Editions wants an administrative assistant. The American Craft Council seeks a Director of Development. Seems like a healthy arts scene = jobs creation.

Anyone who sits in an arts writer’s chair gets a lot of press releases. With the Minnesota Fringe festival scheduled for Aug. 2-12 (165 shows in 15 venues over 11 days), what began as a trickle is becoming a stream of Fringe artists promoting their own shows. My favorite press release headline so far: “MINNEAPOLIS COMPOSER-PLAYWRIGHT FINDS MORE IN KAFKA THAN JUST A BUG FOR NEW FRINGE MUSICAL.”

Four entertaining and enlightening videos to enjoy indoors, in air conditioning:  1.Spider-Man and the Decay Rate Algorithm.” University of Minnesota physics professor Jim Kakalios served as the science consultant for the film “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Here he explains the film’s hallmark mathematical equation and, basically, why we’re all going to die. Where can I sign up for a physics class with Professor K?  2.Carnage the Executioner: Respect the Name Official Music Video.” Minneapolis rapper and beatboxer Carnage plays superhero vs. bad guys in this stylish video also featuring Desdamona and Slug.  3. Poetry in Motion.” Ride the 21 bus with Minnesota poet and McKnight Artists Fellow Dobby Gibson as he reads “Beauty Supply,” his wonderful poem about East Lake Street. 4. “Minnesota Potters: Sharing the Fire.” I’ve mentioned this fine documentary before, but in the thick of art fair season it’s worth calling out again. Learn more about the pottery you see in artists’ booths, even develop a bit of an eye. Robert Briscoe, one of the potters featured in the film, will be at the Hopkins Art Festival this weekend.

If you’re thinking about heading over to the Nicollet tonight for some mainstream jazz and swing dancing, don’t bother. After a year of live jazz on Tuesdays programmed by vocalists Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie, the coffee house on the corner of Franklin and Nicollet has been sold and the music has ended

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