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Chilly missives in orchestra lockouts; Fashion Week nears

ALSO: Jewish Film Festival sets ’13 lineup; ‘Reefer Madness: The Musical’ opening at New Century; tickets on sale for Carol Burnett at the State May 17; and more

Despite earlier hints that the ice might be breaking between musicians and management of our two locked-out orchestras, the news remains glum. In a statement released Wednesday, the musicians of the SPCO said they fear their lockout will drag on for weeks because of management’s “refusal to compromise on any major economic issues.” The musicians have agreed to cut their salaries and reduce the number of musicians from 34 to 28; management wants a two-tiered salary system and a 27-member orchestra.

On Thursday, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra blasted their management for violating the spirit of the “fresh start” agreed upon Jan. 2, which called for no surprises in the press until after tonight’s Grammy celebration concert at the Convention Center. Earlier that day, the Minnesota Orchestral Association had issued a press release suggesting terms for the joint independent financial review the musicians have been requesting, and also proposing a “fundraising feasibility study” in response to the musicians’ suggestion that challenge grants from the community fund a resumption of the concert season. Board Chair Jon Campbell expressed willingness “to hear the musicians’ strategy around new funding possibilities.”

There’s not much left of either orchestra’s 2012-13 season, during which more than 100 concerts have been canceled. On Thursday afternoon, fewer than 100 tickets remained for tonight’s concert, hosted by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and arts benefactor Judy Dayton.

Fashionistas, “Project Runway” fans, and anyone who’s weary of puffy coats, mufflers and all things thermal: Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week is coming. Starting Friday, Feb. 15, local fashion shines in a series of events starting with a party and including several runway shows. Highlights: Flux: The 45th Annual University of Minnesota Senior Fashion Show, featuring the work of seniors in the U’s Apparel Design program (Feb. 16); the Red Dress Collection, a benefit for the Heart Association with celebrity models including Amelia Santaniello (Feb. 17); the anything-goes Emerging Designer Showcase (Feb. 18); and (fanfare, please) The Shows (Feb. 21 and 22) at Aria (the former Jeune Lune), with collections by Nicole Larson, Max Lohrbach, Mary Pranica, Tim + Thom, and PR’s Christopher Straub. FMI. Tickets to The Shows go on sale today. 

fashion week models
Courtesy of MNfashion
Left to right: Dress by Nicole Larson, photo by Rhea Pappas; Dress by Christopher Straub, photo by Garret Born; Dress by Samantha Rei, photo by Russell Heeter.


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ArtPlace has announced 105 finalists for its 2012-13 Creative Placemaking grants. The finalists were chosen from among 1,225 letters of inquiry, and seven are in Minnesota: Bedlam Theatre in St. Paul, the Blue Ox in St. Paul, Clean Up the River Environment in Granite Falls, Hennepin Theatre Trust in Minneapolis, the Lanesboro Arts Center, Minnesota Public Radio, and the Plains Art Museum in Fargo-Moorhead. Grant recipients will be announced in May. In its first two years, ArtPlace distributed almost $27 million in grants to 76 organizations in 46 communities across the country. Last year’s winners included Intermedia Arts, the Native American Community Development Institute, Pillsbury House Theatre and Public Art St. Paul.

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) has awarded $215,730 in Arts Learning Grants to 23 Minnesota groups and projects including the Chaska Valley Family Theater, Copper Street Brass Quintet, Flying Foot Forum, Open Eye Figure Theatre, Stuart Pimsler Dance and Theater, Walker West Music Academy, and Lakeshore Players. Grants range from $4,392 to $10,000 and will fund arts education and experiences for Minnesotans of all ages. If you voted yes for the Legacy Amendment, and even if you didn’t, here’s part of what you get in return.

david ekdahl carvings
Photo by Louisa Podlich
Human heads, animal heads, heads on sticks, sticks become bodies, heads on houses on sticks, Christ-like figures, all carved by hand by David Ekdahl

We first saw David Ekdahl’s totemic wood carvings at Homewood Studios last summer. Human heads, animal heads, heads on sticks, sticks become bodies, heads on houses on sticks, Christ-like figures, all carved by hand from found and foraged wood, finished with watercolor and stains. Some are genial and amiable, and some you don’t want to mess with. The St. Paul artist calls himself a “Midwestern aborigine,” his works “my version of an ethno-tribal folk art for the urban village.” He’s having a pop-up show at the Grand Hand Gallery in St. Paul today and tomorrow (Friday-Saturday) from noon until 5. He’ll be there, so you can ask him what he was thinking when he carved the piece that catches your eye.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts reports that “China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy,” which closed last Sunday, was its most-attended exhibition in more than 20 years. More than 146,000 visitors attended, putting it third in line behind 1990s Impressionism show (155,198) and 1981’s “The Vikings” (still No. 1 with 212,956). The Rembrandt show is No. 9 on the list (107,090). What’s the next blockbuster, MIA?  

On Tuesday, MIA announced that Dessa would perform an intimate concert there on Thursday, Feb. 8. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday and sold out by noon. Sales will seed a new scholarship for underserved teens.  

Have you ever wondered what your friends and neighbors are reading? Hennepin County Library tabulated the top 25 titles checked out in 2012 in four categories: adult books, teen books, children’s books and very young children’s books. Turns out we’re a consistent (you could say predictable) bunch. Grown-ups choose crime and mystery fiction by well-known writers like John Sandford and Sue Grafton. Teens are still reading “The Hunger Games.” Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series holds the top six spots on the children’s list. The very young children’s list is new this year; the little ones are enjoying Curious George, Fancy Nancy and Clifford. Here are the complete lists.

The Guthrie and Hennepin County Library have joined forces to present a series of “Act Out” workshops at libraries in the metro area. Taught by Guthrie teaching artists – all experienced actors, directors, writers, and/or theater managers – the workshops encourage kids, teens, and adults to have fun, try new things and explore their own creativity. Of special interest to adults: “Be Heard!” Learn to speak with a more motivating, inspiring and commanding voice; be more easily understood. We could all use a little help with that. FMI. Registration is required.

The Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival, now in its 20th year, has announced its 2013 lineup. The 17 films include a documentary of the great Doc Pomus; the award-winning “Life in Stills,” about a photo shop destined for demolition (inside: nearly 1 million negatives documenting Israel’s defining moments); “The Last White Knight,” about a Jewish civil-rights activist who returns to Mississippi decades after a violent run-in with the Ku Klux Klan; two episodes of “Arab Labor,” recently voted Israel’s best TV show; “No Place on Earth,” the story of a Jewish family who spent World War II deep underground in a Ukrainian cave (544 days – the longest recorded underground survival in human history); “Paris Manhattan,” a romantic comedy about a 30-something Jewish woman who has imaginary conversations with Woody Allen; and “Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir,” in which the director talks about his childhood in the Krakow ghetto, “sets the record straight” about the 1968 murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, by the Manson family, and apologizes to Samantha Geimer, with whom he had unlawful sex when she was 13. Feb. 28 – March 17. FMI, trailers and tickets.

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The Minnesota Opera’s “Doubt” ends Sunday. We saw it last night and agree with every word Larry Fuchsberg wrote in his glowing review for the Strib. See it if you can. FMI and tickets.

Opens tonight at Brave New Workshop: “Babe Lincoln and the Vajazzled Badge of Courage,” written, directed, and performed by Kathy McEwen and Lauren Anderson, who together have 25 years of BNW comedy performance experience. Anderson’s most recent show was the hit “Fifty Shades of White.” FMI and tickets. Through March 9.

reefer madness
Photo by Laurie Etchen
Maggie Mae Dale (Mae), Kurt Bender (Jimmy) and Daniel Ray Olson (Jack) in ‘Reefer Madness: The Musical’


Opens tonight at the New Century Theatre: “Reefer Madness: The Musical.” In which we learn that smoking pot leads to appreciating jazz, among other criminal behaviors. Spoofy fun inspired by the original 1936 film. FMI and tickets. Through Feb. 24.

Opens tonight at the Cedar Riverside People’s Center Theatre: Savage Umbrella’s production of “Emma Woodhouse Is Not a Bitch.” A retelling of Jane Austen’s “Emma,” in which we learn what money means today – to those who have it and those who don’t. It’s also about parties. Should you read the novel first? “A familiarity with the novel is not necessary,” artistic director Laura Leffler-McCabe reassures us. “There will be some extra comedy for those who are familiar, but the story makes sense either way.” FMI and tickets. Through Feb. 23.

Opens tonight at Plymouth Playhouse: “Ring of Fire: The Life and Music of Johnny Cash.” Richard Maltby’s jukebox musical was originally produced on Broadway; Troupe America founder and producer Curt Wollan now has the touring rights, and Maltby has created a version suitable for smaller theaters. No one impersonates the Man in Black; who could? Instead, a company of singers and musicians performs 35 hit songs from his long career including “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “A Boy Named Sue” and the title track. FMI and tickets. Through May 26.

On sale today at 10 a.m.: Carol Burnett at the State on May 17. If you loved the question-and-answer sessions Burnett shared with her studio audience in “The Carol Burnett Show,” this audience interactive program is for you. Her last appearance at the State, in April 2010, sold out. Her new book, “Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story,” a tribute to her late daughter, will be published this April. FMI and tickets.

Saturday and Sunday: “Keys Please 12: The Mystery of Keys Please.” For 12  years, pianist-composers Carei Thomas, Todd Harper and Paul Cantrell have gathered for an annual midwinter concert of musical explorations and sonic surprises. Expect new music and old, “poemmetry,” French café music, “weather permitting” compositions (based on the weather), improvisations, and an all-over warm and fuzzy feeling: this is music played by friends, for friends, with real generosity and palpable joy. This year’s special guest, James Holdman, will bring the sounds of bouzouki and guitar. Someone will play accordion. There will be Slinkies. 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday at Studio Z in Lowertown. Tickets ($10) at the door. 

Jim Field, second from left on washboard, with Tom Owens, bass; Debbie Schreyer,
Courtesy of Mouldy Figs
The Mouldy Figs: Jim Field, second from left on washboard, with Tom Owens, bass; Debbie Schreyer, banjo; Fred Richardson, clarinet, and Jim tenBensel, horns.

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You could spend all day Super Sunday in your La-Z-Boy with the cup holders, or you could get out and party with the traditional jazz band the Mouldy Figs. Founded by Jim Field in 1973, the Figs will celebrate their 40th anniversary (and Field’s 70th birthday) with a concert of mostly New Orleans-style jazz at Shamrocks Irish Nook in St. Paul. Opening: the similarly trad Pig’s Eye Jazz Band, which dates from 1961. The music starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 4, after which you can hang around Shamrocks or head back to the La-Z-Boy. No cover, but birthday cards are welcome.

On Monday, the chamber group Accordo continues its 2012-13 season with “In the Footsteps of Bach,” a program of music by Bach/Mozart (Prelude & Fugue for String Trio, K. 404a), Hindemith (String Quartet No. 4, Op. 22), and Brahms (String Sextet in B flat, Op. 18). Delicious music in the divine setting of Christ Church Lutheran, one of the Twin Cities’ architectural treasures, with snacks and a reception after. The first two concerts were exquisite. Accordo is a string octet composed of SPCO and Minnesota Orchestra principal players. FMI and tickets (limited as of Thursday afternoon).

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