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Walker's Cat Video Festival headed to State Fair; Bly wins Frost Medal

cat video festival
Courtesy of the Walker Art Center/Gene Pittman
Having outgrown the Walker lawn, the Internet Cat Video Festival is moving to the State Fair.

How do you know when you’ve made it big in Minnesota? When you’re invited to play the grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair. That’s where the Walker’s Internet Cat Video Festival will land late this summer, on all four paws. Last year’s #catvidfest drew more than 10,000 fans to the Walker’s Open Field, went viral, spawned a litter of copycat events, and is now on tour. This year’s will have room for 13,000, air on three large LED screens, feature add-ons (music, special guests, community art projects, booths hosting local animal resource nonprofits), and introduce new cat-egories including Cat-on-a-Stick, for videos featuring Minnesota kitties. The Walker staff will once again view and judge all nominations, God help them. FMI and link to online nomination form. Deadline May 1. Tickets go on sale March 9 at the Fair’s website.

Robery Bly
Robert Bly

Minnesota poet Robert Bly has won this year’s Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. No Minnesota poet – no Midwestern poet, and perhaps no American poet – has been untouched by Bly’s way of seeing and writing: simple, profound, down-to-earth, spiritual, serious, playful, conversational yet possessing a deep and comforting stillness. Bly has always written poetry for the people; no need to scratch your head, reach for a dictionary, or wonder what the heck he’s writing about. His translations – of the 15th-century Indian poet Kabir (this writer’s personal favorites), Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, and Pablo Neruda, among many others – have brought their work into contemporary American language. If you think you don’t like poetry, try “Silence in the Snowy Fields.” Official announcement here.

Should Minnesota have a state poem? State senator Bruce Anderson, R-Buffalo, thinks we should and has introduced a bill proposing “Minnesota Blue” by Cordell Keith Haugen, who grew up in northern Minnesota but left the state in 1958. Laurie Hertzel has the story at the Strib. About the poem, St. Paul poet laureate Carol Connolly says “no way in hell.” Poet Jim Lenfestey is too kind. State poet laureate Joyce Sutphen suggests other (far better) poems, including one by Bly. Sen. Anderson admits that “he hasn’t read any poetry since college” and introduced the bill at a constituent’s request. Our two cents: puh-leeze.

Northern Spark, the Twin Cities’ up-all-night arts festival, moves to St. Paul in 2013. It debuted in both cities in 2011, returned only to Minneapolis in 2012, and will relocate to arts-rich Lowertown this summer, where the renovated Union Depot will serve as the festival’s HQ. Given other new Lowertown attractions – the Minnesota Museum of American Art’s Project Space, the Bedlam Theater – and the walkability of the area, this sounds like a perfect fit. TPT has already said it wants to be involved. McNally-Smith will host a concert. Big Table Studio will invite people in to make posters on a letterpress. Lowertown anchor the Black Dog will be hopping. Mark your calendar for June 8, 2013, and don’t leave town.

Northern spark revelry
Courtesy of Northern Spark
Northern Spark 2012 was in Minneapolis.

Will the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra salvage at least part of its 2012-13 season? The musicians are considering a play-and-talk proposal received from management last Friday. We should know their answer early next week. Fingers crossed. On Tuesday, the grassroots group Save Our SPCO (now 2,500 members strong) proposed to the orchestra's management that they raise ticket prices (currently the lowest of any orchestra in the country) and join forces to raise $750,000 in new contributions to keep the SPCO at 34 musicians and prevent big salary cuts. Meanwhile, there’s no new movement in the Minnesota Orchestra lockout. Representatives from both orchestras testified before the House Legacy Committee on Tuesday, during which state representative Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, suggested reallocating legacy funds to pay for more concerts by the locked-out musicians. On Monday, the Swedish record label BIS released the second recording of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sibelius series, “Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4.” The first, “Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5,” was a 2012 Grammy nominee.

Belated congratulations to Emily Johnson and Seitu Jones, who are among the winners of this year’s $50,000 Joyce Foundation Awards. Native American choreographer, dancer and writer Johnson will collaborate with Northrop at the University of Minnesota to create and present “Shore,” a multi-day event coinciding with Northrop’s grand reopening in June 2014. Central Corridor visual artist Seitu Jones will partner with Public Art Saint Paul to present “The Community Meal,” a dinner for 2,000 people stretching a half-mile through the city.

High-school students across the state may submit their artwork for the 2013 Congressional Art Competition. Begun in 1982, sponsored by the members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the annual competition considers original paintings, drawings, collage, prints, mixed media, computer-generated art and photography. Teachers, parents and students, contact your congressperson to learn how to enter. On-the-ball Rep. Collin Peterson has already posted a web page about this year’s competition for students in his district. Deadline: April 22. Students in grades 6-12 are invited to enter the Minnesota Historical Society’s contest, “Dear President Lincoln,” and write a response to the Gettysburg Address. One junior high student (grades 6-8) and one senior high student (grades 9-12) will each win a trip to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania and an iPad to blog about his or her experience. The senior division winner will also be offered a paid internship (up to $1,000) with the Minnesota Historical Society. Deadline: April 1 (no fooling). FMI and rules.

Where to go, what to do

Just so you know, about 10,000 things are happening this weekend. We’ll do our best to dazzle and confound you with possibilities.

the last gladiators
Courtesy of Phase 4 Films
"The Last Gladiators" tells the story of Canadiens brawler Chris “Knuckles” Nilan.

For hockey fans: “The Last Gladiators” opens tonight (Friday, Feb. 15). In his 13 years as an enforcer in the NHL, most for the Montreal Canadiens, Chris “Knuckles” Nilan played 688 games and racked up 3,043 penalty minutes, the ninth highest number in NHL history. The costs of being a tough guy? Legendary status, injuries, pain, addiction, trashed relationships and a messed-up life. Nilan is the subject of Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney’s new documentary, which runs through Feb. 21 at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main theater. Nilan, several other NHL players, and Ross Bernstein, author of “The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL,” will be present for a Q&A at tonight’s 7 p.m. showing. Showtimes, tickets and trailer here.

For fashionistas: the kickoff party for MN Fashion Week happens tonight at Gingerhop and Honey (downstairs from Gingerhop). 7:30 p.m., free and open to the public. FMI about events and showsThe U of M College of Design’s senior fashion show takes place tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 16), featuring children’s clothing, bridal, activewear, and more. 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m, Rapson Hall. FMI and tickets.

For theater buffs: “Other Desert Cities,” a new comedy from the creator of TV’s hit drama “Brothers & Sisters,” opens tonight (Friday) at the Guthrie. With Sally Wingert, Michelle Barber and David Anthony Brinkley. FMI and tickets. Public performances of Ten Thousand Things’ “The Seven” opens tonight at Open Book. This hip-hop retelling of Aeschylus’ “The Seven Against Thebes” features Katie Bradley, Aimee Bryant, H. Adam Harris, Kinaundrae Lee and Brian Sostek. FMI and tickets. “To the Moon!” opens tonight at the Open Eye Figure Theatre. “A comedy of tragedy in three episodes, inspired by TV's 'The Honeymooners.'” With an all-female cast. Yes, even Ralph. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets.

For foodies: On Saturday, cookbook authors Phyllis Louise Harris and Raghavan Iyer will lead a tour of the foods and spices of the Asia Pacific Rim found right here in the Twin Cities. Harris and Iyer are coauthors of “Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota Since 1987.” Iyer wrote “The Turmeric Trail: Recipes and Memories from an Indian Childhood” and “660 Curries,” which is kind of a bible around our house. Books will be available for purchase and signing. 10:30 a.m., Maple Grove Library. Free.

For adventuresome listeners, this weekend is a windfall.

• The “Crow with No Mouth” 2013 concert series of electro-acoustic improvisation begins tonight with sets by Jason Zeh and Hong Chulki. Zeh hails from Kansas City, Chulki from Seoul. Series creator Jesse Goin describes Chulki’s music as “roughness, rudeness and ruckus,” Zeh’s as “entombing rich sonic details in tape-murk.” 8 p.m. at Studio Z in Lowertown. FMI and tickets.

• On Saturday, the always excellent Ellen Lease/Pat Moriarty Quintet performs new compositions and selections from their left-of-center repertoire – jazz, improvisation, joy. Piano, saxes, bass and drums. 8 p.m., also at Studio Z. FMI and tickets.

• On Saturday, Ensemble 61, specialists in new and experimental classical music, plays works by Messiaen, George Crumb and Alex Freeman in a program they’re calling “Time and Color.” 7:30 p.m., Huss Music Room, Hamm Bldg., St. Paul. FMI and tickets.

• On Saturday, percussionist, composer and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche combines 19 instruments, live electronics, and Alaskan field recordings in a new Walker commission that could rival last week’s Ben Frost show at the Amsterdam as a bone-shaker. Then Martin Dosh joins him for a kindred collaboration of loops, samples, and instruments. 8 p.m. at the Walker’s McGuire Theater. FMI and tickets.

Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche combines 19 instruments, live electronics, and Alaska
Courtesy of the Walker Art Center/Ed Luna
Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche combines 19 instruments, live electronics, and Alaskan field recordings in a solo performance.

• On Saturday: guitarist, composer, bandleader, singer, road warrior and restless spirit Todd Clouser releases his latest CD, “The Naked Beat.” If you think of Clouser as a jazz musician (because of his earlier release, “A Love Electric”) or a folk rocker (because of “20th Century Folk Selections”) or a jazz rocker (“Entre: Selections in Garage Jazz”), “The Naked Beat” will make you think yet again. Here’s a video. Clouser is becoming a poster boy for why labeling musicians is a bad idea. 11 p.m., Icehouse (10:30 doors), $8 at the door. Midnight is his birthday.

For the record: Here’s your chance to help break the Guinness World Record for the “Largest Picture Made of Lite-Brite.” To kick off the Forever Saint Paul Challenge, a statewide competition that asks “What would you do to with $1 million to make Saint Paul great?” the Union Depot is hosting a community event on Saturday. Award-winning St. Paul artist Ta-coumba T. Aiken has created a giant (24' x 12') mural with more than 520,000 Lite-Brite pegs. Come and add the final pegs, enjoy live music and food, play super-sized games, and take part in the lighting ceremony with Mayor Chris Coleman, a Guinness World Record judge, and other notables. RSVP here (preferred) or just show up. 3:00 p.m. – 7 p.m.

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