Get set for British Arrows at the Walker; First Thursday in Northeast

Courtesy of the Walker Art Center
Image from the 2013 British Arrows Awards

Hugh Jackman is slapped, Kevin Bacon is connected, Kiefer Sutherland makes cupcakes, and nothing is sacred in the British Arrows Awards at the Walker. This 27-year-old Walker tradition (formerly the British Television Advertising Awards) brings out the crowds to laugh, gasp, and invariably conclude that British commercials are way better than ours. This year’s show is the usual blend of hilarity and dead seriousness, with ads for mobile phones, condoms, shower gel, cancer research, tyres [sic], Volkswagen, IKEA, Nike, the Paralympics, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, women’s emergency shelters, Lipton ice tea, and lots more.

Some make you go awww, some make you go ewww (shark fin soup? No fun for sharks), others catch you completely off guard (a man beats cancer, but then … sorry, that would be a spoiler). A few are puzzling; you probably have to be a Brit to get them. Almost all tell stories, beautifully and economically; some are mini-movies, with jaw-dropping special effects. The 75-minute reel airs multiple times starting this Friday and ending Jan. 5, but don’t delay, because screenings always sell out. FMI and tickets.

Thanksgiving weekend was a feast of arts events. At the Artists’ Quarter, the St. Paul basement jazz club that will close Jan. 1, Chicago saxophonist Pat Mallinger and globe-trotting pianist Bill Carrothers, both Minnesota natives who met during high school, played two nights of exceptional music – standards by Monk, Coltrane and Charlie Parker, originals by Mallinger – for standing-room crowds. Although some of the same tunes were played both nights, they couldn’t have sounded more different. Coming up in the storied club’s final month: Happy Apple Dec. 6-7, Eric Alexander and David Hazeltine Dec. 20-21, a Final Weekend Jam Dec. 27-28, and a parade of area artists on the week nights. See the complete calendar online.

At the Walker on Saturday, the 41st annual Choreographer’s Evening featured 10 dances (chosen from 60 auditioned over three days in August) by Jes Nelson, Juan Manual Adalpe, Otto Ramstad, Angharad Davies, Morgan Thorson, and other Twin Cities “bad asses,” in the words of curators Chris Yon and Taryn Griggs. The program, which Yon and Griggs described as a “mix-tape” for  their longtime friend and supporter Nicky Paraiso, bore their idiosyncratic, screwball stamp; the selections were smart, witty, humorous, deadpan, and occasionally devastating. Local musician/essayist/poet Dessa was in the house; choreographer Joanne Spencer set her work, “Still Too Long,” to her music. Especially if you don’t know a lot about dance, this annual event is a rare and fascinating opportunity to experience it in small bits, like short films; you might want to make a note in your calendar for next November. After seeing the powerful, elastic Otto Ramstad dance “Untitled (working title),” we plan to follow him around like puppies. We’d like to see a lot more of Angharad Davies’ work after her thoroughly engrossing “THROB,” and also Jes Nelson’s, whose “Sugar Babies” was a surprising and illuminating send-up of traditional tap dance. And anything by Yon and Griggs, of course, anytime and anywhere.

On Sunday, the splendid pianist, MacArthur fellow, writer on music for the New Yorker, and blogger Jeremy Denk played his third concert of the weekend with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. The first two, on Friday and Saturday, were at the Ordway, but Sunday’s was at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, where the sun poured in through giant windows, illuminating the stage, the pipes of the church’s organ, and all that blonde Lutheran wood. The haunting and beautiful Brahms piano quintet in F minor, featuring a quartet drawn from the orchestra (Steven Copes and Ruggero Allifranchini on violin, Maiya Papach on viola, Peter Wiley on cello), was followed by Mozart’s Concerto No. 25 for piano and orchestra. For the Mozart, the top of the piano was removed and the piano turned so Denk faced the musicians, not the audience. He explained that the arrangement was one Mozart would have used, and it allowed him to have a conversation with the musicians, as if they were all at Thanksgiving dinner. The Mozart, a piece Denk especially loves, was a work of light and darkness, certainty and uncertainty that unfolded as the day’s light waned in the sanctuary. If you have only heard the SPCO at the Ordway, consider attending one of the neighborhood performances, which are special in their own ways. We asked the SPCO if the neighborhood series will continue once the new Concert Hall at the Ordway opens in spring 2015. We’re happy to report that yes, it will.

Courtesy of the Guthrie
Jonatha Brooke in “My Mother Has Four Noses”

After playing to sold-out houses at the Playwrights’ Center in August, Jonatha Brooke’s “My Mother Has Four Noses” moves to the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio for two nights starting Dec. 16. The play with music draws on Brooke’s experiences caring for her mother as she declined into the final stages of Alzheimer’s. An acclaimed singer/songwriter, Brooke has made two albums with her band, The Story, and eight solo recordings including, most recently, “The Works,” which combines previously unheard and unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics with her own music and arrangements. Jeremy Cohen of the Playwrights’ Center directs. 7:30 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, Dec. 16-17. FMI and tickets.

What’s happening with the Minnesota African American Museum (MAAM)? According to a story published at the Friday before Thanksgiving, the main building – the historic Coe Mansion at 1700 3rd Ave. S. in Minneapolis – remains vacant and its condition worsens by the day. “The building [is] in disrepair and far from being visitor ready … when a dispute with the contractor arose midway through renovations the work stalled and left the building in near shambles … the property sits with exposed electrical, unfinished plumbing and vulnerable to the elements … rodents such as squirrels and others are becoming a problem and money that could have been used elsewhere has to be used for extermination.” MAAM was originally scheduled to open in Summer 2011; that was pushed to May 2012, then Sept. 2012, the month the contractor “jumped ship and walked off the job,” said Roxanne Givens, one of the museum’s founders. A promised $1 million bond from the state has been denied. What’s next? “The museum is in talks with the county and the state … it is hopeful to reach some resolution with the contractor to get the workers back on the project … Givens said what is clear is that she and others will not rest until they see the completion of MAAM.”

The Minnesota Historical Society has announced a new Legacy Research Fellowship. Post-college Minnesota scholars may apply for a stipend of $1,000-$5,000 to research Minnesota history and cultural heritage at the Society’s Gale Family Library. Of special interest, according to Jennifer Jones, director of the Society’s Library and Collections, are “areas where there is a scholarly gap.” So – what would you like to know about Minnesota history? The call for applicants is open until Monday, Feb. 3. FMI.

The Minnesota State Arts Board is looking for an accountant. You’ll reconcile grantees’ financial records, manage day-to-day administrative expenditures, and perform other duties assigned by the finance director. Go here and enter job posting number 13ARTB000006.

What are Santa’s reindeer doing as they await the Big Night? See for yourself at Animal Planet’s Reindeer Cam, which this year stars the reindeer at St. Paul’s Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Our picks for the week

Charlie Quimby

Wednesday: Charlie Quimby reads from his new novel, “Monument Road.” Leonard Self has spent the last year paying down debts, unwinding from his marginal ranch, and fending off depression. Just one obligation remains: taking his wife’s ashes to his favorite overlook, where he plans to step off the cliff with her. A Publishers Weekly “Big Indie Book” of Fall 2013, “Monument Road” is getting the kind of reviews first-time novelists rarely earn. MinnPost readers know Quimby from his frequent appearances in our Minnesota Blog Cabin column. A Carleton graduate, he’s extending a special invitation to fellow Carls for this evening’s event at SubText: A Bookstore. Oles are welcome, too. 7 p.m., 165 Western Ave. N., St. Paul. Free.

Thursday: First Thursday in the Arts District. The painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers, ceramists, textile and fiber artists, jewelers, and furniture makers of the Northrop King Building open their doors to visitors and shoppers from 5 to 9 p.m. 1500 Jackson St. NE, Minneapolis. Free.

Thursday: Cookie House Press: A Cookie Potluck and Book Sale. Each year, Coffee House Press hosts a holiday party and cookie potluck in its northeast Minneapolis offices. Heather Hartman of the Mill City Farmers Market and Nourish Catering is this year’s chef-in-residence. Bring your own homemade cookies to share and swap; buy books and have them signed by local authors. A bookish holiday sing-along is also planned. The event is part of Coffee House’s Writers and Readers Library Residency Program. 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; presentation at 6 p.m. 79 Thirteenth Ave. NE, Suite 110, Minneapolis. Free.

Courtesy of Rifftrax
“Rifftrax Live: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”: It’s going to be silly.

Thursday: “Rifftrax Live: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” For fans of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (which started in the Twin Cities, so their numbers are legion). Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett mock the 1964 classic (we use that term very loosely) in which the Martians kidnap Santa. Pia Zadora plays someone called “Girmar.” It’s going to be silly. 7 p.m. Go here and enter your ZIP to find the theater near you and buy tickets.

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