Like many great ideas, the one that gave rise to ARTCRANK was super-simple: Get local artists to create original bike-themed posters, then throw a party to sell them at affordable prices, with beer. That was in 2007. Today ARTCRANK is international, with annual shows in 10 U.S. cities (including Portland and San Francisco) plus London and Bristol in the U.K.
More than 8,000 people are expected at Saturday’s opening night for the eighth annual Twin Cities show, held this year at Shelter Studios in Northeast Minneapolis. Posters by 40 area artists will be featured, all available for $50 each. Oregon’s Deschutes Brewing will provide the beer; proceeds benefit World Bicycle Relief. If you ride your bike, nice people from Nice Ride Minnesota will valet park it for you, for free.
Founder Charles Youel is an avid biker and ad man who originally thought ARTCRANK would be a one-off. MinnPost spoke with him Thursday.
MinnPost: Are you surprised by your own success?
Charles Youel: Some days surprised, some days terrified. The growth of the show – the way people took to the idea – is not something I can wrap my head around. In fewer than 10 years, we’ve put on 50 events in three countries.
MP: Why serve Oregon beer when there are so many breweries right here in the Twin Cities? Isn’t Fulton’s Lonely Blonde good enough for you?
CY: That goes back to one of the challenges we encountered when we were trying to convert ARTCRANK from a once-a-year party in Minneapolis to an event that went on in multiple cities. We were spending more time pursuing individual sponsors than running the show. We needed a larger brewing company, one that could help us support a show in multiple cities. On Saturday, we’ll have 30 kegs of beer. That’s more than most smaller breweries can afford.
MP: This year’s beer sales benefit World Bicycle Relief. Why that particular organization?
CY: One of the things we love about them is they turn donations into bicycles for people in the developing world. The bicycles allow them to access education, health care, and job opportunities and improve their quality of life. It’s the most pure expression of the good bicycles can do in the world.
MP: Tell us a bit about this year’s artists.
CY: There are 40 artists in this year’s show, selected from 200 submissions during an open call for entries. At least half of the artists in every event are new to the show. There are some familiar faces and first-time contributors. Adam Turman has been with us since show #1 in 2007; he holds the all-time ARTCRANK poster sales record, which will never be broken. He’s kind of the Beatles of ARTCRANK.
MP: Minneapolis is consistently listed among the best bicycling cities in the nation, in spite of our weather. What do you think is the reason for this?
CY: I think, in a strange way, that our weather is responsible for our bike culture. People took it as a challenge. We found the right clothing to be outside in any weather. We created the Fat Bike specifically for riding in winter. Our bike culture was born out of this upper Midwestern, Minneapolitan thing about biking no matter what.
MP: What do you think is the best thing Minneapolis has done for bicycling?
CY: It hasn’t just paid lip service to being bike-friendly. It has made a tangible, positive and beneficial investment in bike infrastructure. Look at what [former Minneapolis mayor] R.T. Rybak and the City Council did during his terms in office: reconfiguring downtown streets to include bike lanes, extending the bikeways through projects like the Greenway, LRT trails, and neighborhood bikeways like Bryant Ave. that connect different parts of the city. All add up to creating a transportation climate where people feel more comfortable getting on a bike and sharing the road.
MP: That was Rybak. What about [current Minneapolis mayor] Betsy Hodges?
CY: Her biggest challenge is to do the less glamorous maintenance and expansion to keep it up.
MP: What’s the worst thing Minneapolis has done for bicycling?
CY: Is this the part where we talk about First Avenue? The road to hell paved with good intentions has to be the First Avenue bike lane. It was meant well, but it didn’t take into account the realities of how people ride bicycles and react to traffic, and the realities of weather and snow. All the snow goes into that bike lane, which ceases to exist.
MP: What is your dream bike?
CY: Do I have to have just one? A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune to work with the people at Trek to create an ARTCRANK bike. A single-speed, belt-drive, urban commuting bike with custom graphics. Ten-year-old-me went nuts for it. The one I’ve been riding most this year was built by a locally based brand called Foundry Cycles. It’s a hybrid road bike/mountain bike, an amazing piece of machinery and a joy to ride.
MP: Is there anything else we should know about Saturday’s event?
CY: Cash only for beer; we’ll have ATMs on site. Posters can be purchased with credit cards. We’ll have four food trucks: Red River Kitchen, Sassy Spoon, Gastrotruck and Butcher Salt. And the free valet parking from Nice Ride. We’ve worked with them from the beginning – we launched their service at our 2010 show.
MP: Are you really expecting 8,000 people?
CY: In 2012 we had 4,000. Last year 6,000. We need to be prepared for at least the possibility to be ridiculously large.
What, when, where, how much: ARTCRANK Poster Party for Bike People, Saturday, May 31, 4-10 p.m., Shelter Studios, 721 Harding St. NE, Minneapolis. Free. All posters $50. ARTCRANK pint glass with beer $5.
And here we thought we could count on seeing Cantus every Christmas in “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914.” It’s not to be. This year, the 100th anniversary of the historic ceasefire between Allied forces and German troops on a Christmas Eve during the First World War, will be Cantus’s final season with the show. Developer and director Peter Rothstein will have a new version ready for 2015, so “All Is Calm” will continue, but without the splendid men’s vocal ensemble, which will move on to other things including more performances of its own holiday program. So if you want to see Cantus in this poignant and beautiful production one more time (or for the first time), it’s emphatically not too soon to buy tickets, which go on sale this morning (Friday, May 30) at 10 a.m.
In more Cantus news, the group has announced its 2014-15 season of new programming, new venues – and new singers. Baritone Adam Reinwald and tenors Gary Ruschman and David Walton are departing to pursue other interests; their final Cantus performance will be Sunday, June 15, at Lake Harriet, during the annual Father’s Day concert. Baritone Matthew Goinz and tenors Zachary Colby and Blake Morgan will join Cantus for the new season, which includes “Anthem” (Oct. 16-26), “Christmas with Cantus” (Dec. 11-15, now including a date at the U’s Ted Mann Concert Hall), a reprise of “The Singing Revolution: Songs of the Baltic Awakening” (March 12-22, 2015, with the March 15 performance taking place at the new Ordway Concert Hall), and “Covers: A Pop Concert” (June 5-13).
You can catch this year’s “Covers” concert this weekend and next at the Cowles. In a departure from its usual a cappella performances, Cantus has added a live quartet, plus some members of the ensemble will play their own instruments. The set list includes a Daft Punk medley, some Doobie Bros., “Funkytown,” a little Led Zeppelin, some Simon & Garfunkel, U2’s “Pride in the Name of Love,” and more songs you probably know. Tonight and Saturday, then Thursday through Saturday (June 5-7), all at 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($29-$14).
On sale tomorrow (Saturday, May 31), two big-deal additions to the State Fair’s Grandstand line-up. For Friday, Aug, 22: Aretha Franklin. Yes, that Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. This will be her first time on the Grandstand stage. Knowing how she hates to fly, we’re wondering how she’ll get here. Limousine? Private train car? Cushy tour bus? For Saturday, Aug. 30: MN Music On-A-Stick, with Brother Ali, Doomtree, Bob Mould, Cloud Cult, Har Mar Superstar and the Cactus Blossoms. Aretha tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. ($45, all reserved seating), On-A-Stick at noon ($30, general admission and reserved seating). Go online here or here, call 1-800-514-3849, or visit the State Fairgrounds box office from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Fair’s free entertainment line-up is, as always, eclectic, appealing, and vast: more than 900 shows, all free with the price of admission, on stages throughout the grounds. A few names from the long list: Blood, Sweat & Tears, Buckwheat Zydeco, Scott Stapp (the voice of Creed), Tonic Sol-fa, Marcia Ball, Sonny Knight & The Lakers, the Belfast Cowboys, Chastity Brown, Monroe Crossing, Axis Mundi, Jack Brass Band, Ticket to Brasil, Galactic Cowboy Orchestra and – heads up, parents and grandparents – the Grammy-winning Okee Dokee Brothers on Aug. 23 & 24 at Baldwin Park, three shows each day.
The American Composers Forum has announced the four recipients of the 2014 McKnight Composer Fellows: Alex Freeman of Northfield, a Carleton College professor and composer of chamber works and choral music; Jocelyn Hagen of Minneapolis, composer-in-residence at North Dakota State University in Fargo, who writes mainly for the voice; composer, cellist and improviser Michelle Kinney of Golden Valley, co-leader of Jelloslave (among other original music ensembles); and George Maurer of Minneapolis, a composer/jazz pianist whose recent work, “Autumn Song,” settings of the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke and Tennessee Williams, had its Berlin debut in April. Each will receive $25,000 in unrestricted funds. Two artists from outside Minnesota were chosen as McKnight Visiting Composers and will each receive $15,000 to spend a minimum of two months here pursuing self-designed community residency projects. Robin Eschner of Forestville, California, will work with the 2015 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon and write a song cycle to be performed at the 2016 opening ceremonies in Duluth. San Franciscan Pamela Z will focus on Minnesota’s “from farm-to-table” movement; her composition will include the voices and sounds of the people and the environments in which they work.
Northrop has announced the six recipients of the 2014 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreographers and the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Dancers. Each will receive a $25,000 award. The choreographers are Penelope Freeh, a former dancer and artistic associate for James Sewell Ballet; Joanie Smith, co-founder of Shapiro & Smith Dance; and Wynn Fricke, director of the dance program at Macalester College. The dancers are Kenna-Camara Cottman, an African American Griot who practices the oral tradition of storytelling through art and manages her own company, Voice of Culture Drum and Dance; Max Wirsing, a dancer in the Twin Cities since 2005 who has worked with Emily Johnson, Karen Sherman, and Morgan Thorson, among many others; and Sally Rousse, co-founder of James Sewell Ballet. Choreographer fellows are also eligible to apply for additional support for a national choreographic residency; dancer fellows may receive funds to commission a choreographer of his or her choice to create a new solo dance work.
Our picks for the weekend
Ends Saturday: “Alec Soth: Until Now” at the Weinstein Gallery. A retrospective of 35 photographs by the internationally recognized, Minnesota-based photographer, spanning the years 1998-2014. Soth’s large-format color images, taken with an 8″ x 10″ film camera, are like Raymond Carver stories. Noon until 5 p.m.
Ends Sunday: Gremlin Theatre’s “Rocket to the Moon” at New Century Theatre. We’re not in the predicting business, but if this doesn’t win some Iveys, we’ll be very surprised. Everything about this staging of Clifford Odets’ Depression-era play – the set, the pace, the direction, the cast, the acting – is strong and irreproachable. Peter Christian Hansen is perfect as dentist Ben Stark, frustrated, diminished and stuck; Craig Johnson is mesmerizing as his cold, cruel father-in-law, Mr. Prince; Jane Froiland as Cleo, the new receptionist, is a flickering flame. See it or be sorry. Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25 adults, $22 seniors and Fringe button holders; under 30, pay half your age).
Saturday and Sunday: Family Weekend at the 14th Annual Flint Hills International Children’s Festival. This diverse, colorful and generous festival – a gift from the Ordway to children and families – takes over St. Paul’s Rice Park, Landmark Center and Plaza, Hamm Plaza, the Ordway, and the Lehr and Lab Theaters with international performances, activities, and displays. Most events are free; others are only $5. This year’s artists include the Minneapolis-based dance theater company Flying Foot Forum, Australia’s Terrapin Puppet Theatre, the traditional Quebecois music group De Temps Anton, the dance company Step Afrika! and Cirque Mechanics, whose Gantry Bike will carry aerialists, acrobats and contortionists up and down Washington Street. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. FMI and tickets.
Saturday: Bedlam Grand Opening Party in Lowertown. See the space, sample the food, attend a puppet workshop, tour the neighborhood, hear speeches, meet Mayor Chris Coleman, watch a cabaret, dance, meet people. FMI. Free.
Sunday: “Sheltering Nature” at the Bell Museum. Three years ago, 21 regional artists, all members of Project Art for Nature, each chose a natural area and committed to visiting it regularly. Then they did what artists do: they made art in many media reflecting their discoveries and insights. The art is personal, and it has a message: We need to protect what we have before it’s gone. “The goal is to call individuals and communities to action,” said artist Cynthia Starkweather-Nelson. “While nature shelters us, we need to shelter nature.” The exhibition will be presented in two parts. The first part begins Sunday with an opening reception from 1-4 p.m. Works are priced for sale; proceeds will benefit natural areas in Minnesota and Wisconsin. FMI.
Monday: The Monkees at the Zoo. Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork have reunited for a national tour. (Davy Jones, the cute one, died in 2012.) What can we say? We’re believers. FMI and tickets ($70).