Arts and culture grants keep coming. On the heels of the Knight Foundation’s $8 million in new funding to St. Paul, the Kresge Foundation has awarded Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis $1 million for a three-year pilot of its Creative CityMaking program. The grant follows a successful pre-pilot partnership in which seven artists worked with Minneapolis city planners on ideas for improving neighborhoods. You can see the results at Intermedia through March 8 in an exhibit called “This Is Our City!” Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson, a former president of the McKnight Foundation and former deputy mayor of Minneapolis, praised city leaders and nonprofits for fostering “an ecology of artistic innovation and cultural creativity.”
Research is about access to information; understanding is about making connections; preservation is critical to both. A new $250,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to the University of Minnesota Libraries will support all three. In partnership with Penumbra Theatre, the U will develop an online tool to search across existing collections – including the Givens Collection of African American Literature and the Performing Arts Archives at the U of M Libraries, the Library of Congress, New York Public Library and the Smithsonian – to link researchers, artists, teachers and students to more than 500 years of African-American history in the form of scripts, manuscripts, photographs, maps, film and more. This is the second award the U’s Libraries have received from IMLS for work on a national theater archive project with Penumbra.
The Jerome Foundation has awarded $105,000 in grants to seven Minnesota filmmakers, based on the recommendations of the Minnesota Film and Video Program Review Panel. Among the recipients are Mitchell Arens ($17,500 for “Brother Bear,” a feature-length documentary about a recovering alcoholic living in rural Siberia with his alcoholic family), Deacon Warner ($15,000 for the feature-length documentary “Radical Roots: Revolutions of the Twin Cities Food Co-ops”), and Kiera Faber ($7,500 for “Obscurer,” an experimental film about an isolated children’s author and her invented companions).
Love cats, videos, and cat videos? Want to work on one of the year’s most anticipated events? The Walker is seeking an Internet Cat Video Festival coordinator. This is a part-time, temporary position that starts slowly (7-15 hrs/week now through June), ramps up (20-30 hrs/week July-August), then ends abruptly. Duties include going to meetings, watching cat videos, and researching Port-a-Potties. Pay: $16/hr. FMI.
A cat, a dog, and a mouse named Mickey are all featured in this year’s Oscar-nominated Best Animated Short Films. See them on the big screen at the Uptown Theater this week. Of special interest: Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Get a Horse!” This contemporary homage to the first Mickey Mouse shorts features all-new, black-and-white, hand-drawn animation, something you don’t see much of these days. Here’s a clip. The Oscar Nominated Live Action shorts are playing at the Lagoon. FMI and links to tickets.
Artists, want to help the Minneapolis Institute of Arts celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2015? MIA will unveil a “Birthday Surprise” every week – 52 ways to thrill and delight the public and celebrate the MIA. Many events have already been planned, but the rest are up to you. The average project budget will be $500-$2,500 or even higher. (Your budget gets to include your time.) FMI, come to an RFP happy hour March 6, 2014, at 7 p.m. at the MIA. Submissions due April 4. Read more here.
Artists, are you underpaid? (Pause for uproarious laughter, followed by hiccups.) Do you hate to negotiate or hesitate to tell a client your hourly rate? Learn the skills you need for the art of the deal at a workshop Monday at Dreamland Arts. Offered by Springboard for the Arts, the workshop will be led by Jim Hilbert, a film producer and executive director of William Mitchell’s Center for Negotiation & Justice. Expect to participate in mock negotiations, good practice for the real world. 6-8:30 p.m., 677 Hamline Ave. N., St. Paul. Register here ($20).
Voting is underway for the second annual Creative City Challenge (CCC), a temporary, destination public art installation on the plaza of the Minneapolis Convention Center. Last year we had MIMMI, the Minneapolis Interactive Macro-Mood Installation. What will it be this year? You can help to decide. Read about all three finalists here. Take your time; there’s tons of information on each. Which seems more inviting, more fun? Which will you want to visit and show off to friends from out of town? CCC is a collaboration between the Arts, Culture and Creative Economy Program of the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Convention Center, Meet Minneapolis, Northern Spark Arts Festival, and Northern Lights.mn. Here’s a big-picture overview of the whole idea.
The February/March issue of “American Craft” is on newsstands now. Published by the American Craft Council, the national nonprofit headquartered right here in the Grain Belt Building, each issue is designed to make collectors weak in the knees. This is its first-ever tabletop issue, spotlighting beautiful, functional handmade objects for cooking, serving, entertaining and hanging around the table for hours and hours. Tabletop is a good starting point for a lifetime of appreciating craft. Everyone needs a plate, a mug, or a bowl. Pick up a copy of “American Craft” at any Barnes & Noble or the ACC offices. This year’s ACC show is April 11-13 in St. Paul’s RiverCentre.
The 400 Bar, the West Bank institution that closed in December 2012, will reopen in June of this year – not in its old location, but a new one not even Nostradamus could have predicted: the fourth floor of the Mall of America. We immediately thought – what’s next, Moby Dick’s at the Galleria? Other wags suggested the Triangle Bar at tony 50th and France. And the 400 won’t just be a bar, it will be a “total music experience” filling 25,000 square feet with a concert hall, the brand-new Midwest Music Museum, and a restaurant. We’ll reserve judgment until we walk through the doors, but just because you call something the 400 Bar doesn’t mean it is the 400 Bar.
Our picks for the weekend
Tonight (Friday, Feb. 7) at the St. Paul Hotel: Winter Jazz Break. Forget the snow and cold and take a jazz holiday courtesy of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Enjoy music by pianist/vocalist JoAnn Funk and bassist Jeff Brueske in the hotel’s grand Lobby Bar. And/or head to the Promenade Ballroom for a night with New York-based pianist and NPR host Jon Weber and his trio of Twin Cities musicians (we’re hearing the drummer will be Kenny Horst, former owner of the Artists’ Quarter, which closed Jan. 1 of this year). Funk and Brueske are free, Weber is a $5 cover. And if you feel inspired to make a donation to the 2014 jazz festival (coming up June 26-28), no one will tell you to put your wallet away. 7-11 p.m.
Tonight at the Fitzgerald: “Wits” with Andy Richter and Neko Case. Eric Jensen of Theoroi, a young professionals’ group sponsored by the Schubert Club that attends a wide variety of arts events each year, wrote this preview for MinnPost: “This is my most anticipated Theoroi performance of the season. Similar to ‘The Tonight Show,’ ‘Wits’ is a mix of comedy, interviews and music, except that ‘Wits’ is actually fun to watch. And this week we get Andy Richter, Conan’s laugh and a talent in his own right (‘Andy Richter Controls the Universe’ was cancelled too soon), plus the indie vocal crush of pretty much everyone, Neko Case (if she sings ‘These Are the Fables,’ I’m asking her to marry me). The show does a great job of combining local talent and a mix of underrated or under-the-radar celebrities and musicians while making the audience part of the recording – as background sound, via the ‘Wits’ website before the show and Twitter during. And even when a joke falls flat, it works as part of a bigger conversation. It’s the friendly environment of the best tangent-driven banter among your friends, produced by the people who make our state’s public radio one of the best.” The show has been sold out for ages, but sometimes a few tickets become available at the box office before the show starts. 8 p.m. Tune into MPR News on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. or the Current on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. to hear the broadcast. “Wits” is, after all, a radio show.
Tonight at HighPoint Center for Printmaking: “Pop Art and Beyond” opening reception. Twenty-six prints on loan from Jordan Schnitzer, a preeminent print collector in Portland, Oregon. Artists include Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, David Hockney, and Robert Indiana. The prints were made over a period of 43 years (1967-2010) and span a range of subjects; many employ a vibrant color palette. 6:30-9 p.m. Gallery talk at 7 by Siri Engberg, senior curator at the Walker. Through March 29.
Saturday at the O’Shaughnessy: “The Love Show.” Storyteller Kevin Kling and his merry band – actors/singers Claudia Schmidt, Simone Perrin, Dane Stauffer and Prudence Johnson, pianist Dan Chouinard, and special animal guests TBA – sing songs and tell stories of love: its highs, lows, thrills, spills and humor. The perfect early Valentine’s Day gift. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($28-$15). Also Friday, Feb. 14 at the Paramount Theater in St. Cloud and Sunday, Feb. 15 at Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota. Visit the websites for times and tickets.
Saturday and Sunday: Battle of the Jug Bands. What exactly is a jug band? Sallie Gaines, a member of both the Otisco String Band and the West Bank Jug Sluggers, explains: “Jug band music is a discrete genre of music developed by African Americans in urban areas, mostly along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The bands would entertain the mostly white tourists on the riverboats. The tourists were clueless about the meanings of the slang words in the music. Jug band music often is described as ‘the happiest music ever written,’ which stands in stark juxtaposition with the words of the songs, which are largely about sex (especially infidelity), drugs (think ‘Cocaine Blues’) and lynching.” Traditional jug band instruments are jug, kazoo, washboard, washtub base or any homemade instrument: a banjo made from an oil can, a ukulele born from a cigar box, a pots-and-pans drum set. Saturday at the Nomad, 3-8 p.m.; Sunday at the Cabooze, 2-8 p.m. $5 suggested donation for each. Here are the line-ups.
Sunday at Orchestra Hall: “WITNESS: Stomp & Sing.” Now in its 24th year, VocalEssence’s annual WITNESS concert is always a joyous celebration, a cultural exploration, and a musical revelation. This year’s featured artist is Melanie DeMore, a vocal activist and educator whose voice has been called “woman power wrapped in velvet.” She’ll take us on a journey to the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina, where the Gullah – descendants of enslaved Africans – have preserved much of their African heritage. Expect an afternoon of powerful spirituals, stick-pounding, hand-clapping and foot-stomping, and please do bring the kids. Here’s DeMore on stick-pounding. Here are samples of her singing. The VocalEssence Chorus, Talented Tenth Apprentices, and Patrick Henry High School Concert Choir sing spirituals and freedom songs, there’s a film presentation about Gullah culture, the Reatha Clark King Award for Excellence and Youth Motivation Through the Cultural Arts is presented (this year’s honoree: General Mills), and everyone goes home happy and thoughtful. If you want, come early for a concert conversation at 3 with DeMore and MPR’s John Birge. 4 p.m., Orchestra Hall. FMI and tickets ($10-$40).
Sunday at the Cedar: CD release for Tree Party’s “Iced Over: Thawing Minnesota’s Local Lore.” In 2013, Joey Ford, a member of the Twin Cities band Tree Party, won a Minnesota State Arts Board Artists Initiative Grant. He used it to travel to small-town museums and historical centers across the state, gathering stories about real and remarkable Minnesotans. Like 63-year-old commercial fisherman Helmer Aakvik, who spent 28 hours in the freezing cold on Lake Superior’s North Shore after trying to rescue a neighbor caught in a storm. And Dorothy Molter, the last non-indigenous resident in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, who made homemade root beer and gave it to passing canoeists. And John Beargrease, who delivered the mail by dogsled between Two Harbors and Grand Marais during the last two decades of the 19th century. The songs are spare, beautiful, and varied, and someone in the band has a wonderful voice: sweet and supple, with a fine, clear falsetto. Good stuff. Here’s a video. Ben Weaver and Jack Klatt open. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 7:30. FMI and tickets ($10-$12).