Each year for the past 22 years, the Sally Awards have honored not only artists, but also individuals and institutions that bring us artists and their art. This year’s Sally Awards, held last night at the Ordway, were dedicated to the memory of Sue McLean, the Twin Cities concert promoter who died last spring. The Education Award went to Elizabeth Jaakola, an Anashinaabe musician and educator from the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe whose Indian name means “the lady who knows how to sing.” Kristine Sorensen, executive director of the local nonprofit media arts organization In Progress, which helps young people develop their skills as storytellers, artists and leaders, received the Initiative Award. Bluesman James Samuel Harris Sr., known to most of us as “Cornbread” Harris, won the Commitment Award for a lifetime of singing and playing piano in pool halls, bars, theaters and cafés. MacPhail Online, which began as a collaboration between MacPhail Center for Music and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg junior-senior high school, took the Arts Access Award. The Vision Award went to Franconia Sculpture Park, a 30-acre space for large-scale sculpture in the St. Croix Valley, open to the public every day for free.
Franconia recently named its 2014 FSP/Jerome Artist Fellows and Open Studio Artist Fellows. All will create new 3-D art on site for the park’s 2014-15 public exhibition. Every Franconia fellowship artist received project funding up to $5,000 plus room and board, access to equipment and tools, workshop, mentoring and other advantages of collaboration in a focused artists’ community. The FSP/Jerome Artist fellows are (from Minnesota) the artist team Donald Myhre and Christina Ridolfi, and (from New York) Torkwase Dyson, Eric Forman, Kambui Olujimi, and the team Nathan Bennett and Meredith Nickie. Open Studio Artist fellows are Mike Calway-Fagen of Indiana, Chris Manzione of Pennsylvania, Samantha Persons of Illinois and Risa Puno of New York City. The new art will start appearing at Franconia in June.
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) and the McKnight Foundation have named the eight recipients of the 2014-15 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Visual Artists. One, David Bowen, is from Duluth, and the other seven – Sam Gould, Alexa Horochowski, Michael Hoyt, Alison Malone, Lamar Peterson, Joe Smith and Tetsuya Yamada – are based in the Twin Cities. They are professors, photographers, sculptors, painters, publishers, writers, editors, videographers, documentarians, studio artists, and community workers. Hoyt creates interactive sculptural installations in which public participation is a key component; Malone explores overlooked and misunderstood subcultures in American society; Peterson creates graphic portraits of an irrational world where happy characters are resolutely accepting of grotesque misfortune. Each will receive a $25,000 stipend, one of many benefits of this prestigious fellowship.
After a 2013-14 season that include a thrilling “Cabaret” at the Pantages and a touching “Our Town” at the Lab, Theater Latté Da has announced three new productions for 2014-15, all directed by Peter Rothstein. Oct. 8-Nov. 2 in MacPhail’s Antonello Hall: Terrence McNally’s “Master Class.” Imagine Maria Callas as your teacher. Now imagine Sally Wingert as Maria Callas. Set in a venue that has hosted several master classes, this is one you won’t want to miss. Feb. 4-March 1, 2015: “Oliver!” at the Pantages. Bradley Greenwald stars as the greedy Fagin, with 30 members of the Minnesota Boychoir as his gang of pickpockets. March 4-29 at the Ritz: “Into the Woods,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Greta Oglesby makes her Latté Da debut as the Witch; David Darrow, last seen as George Gibbs in “Our Town,” plays the Baker and Rapunzel’s Prince. Subscriptions are on sale now.
For 20 years, the Guthrie has been Joe Dowling’s theater. Who will take over when he leaves next June, just one short year from now? Graydon Royce explored that question in a thoughtful piece in Sunday’s Strib, and Rohan Preston threw out some names including Oskar Eustis of the Public Theater in New York, Kwame Kwei-Armah of Baltimore’s Center Stage, Tony winner Diane Paulus of Harvard’s American Repertory Theater, and Mark Rylance, former head of Shakespeare’s Globe. In a metro area with 90 active theaters, the Guthrie is the granddaddy, with three stages in its own big building on the Mississippi and an annual budget of $27 million. So it matters who sits in Dowling’s chair, and how many hats the new person wears.
In its own smaller, humbler building – the garage behind the Longfellow home of co-artistic directors Paul Herwig and Jennifer Ilse – Off-Leash Area last weekend gave a limited run of its new production “Stripe & Spot (learn to) Get Along.” The play goes on tour to garages in Stillwater, Brooklyn Park, Circle Pines, Isanti and other places starting on Labor Day. We’ll let you know more details when we can, because you don’t want to skip this. We saw a preview, which we’re not supposed to write about, so we can’t say much except … wow. The title makes the play (conceived by Herwig and Ilse and developed with the other cast members, Taous Claire Khazem and Jesse Schmitz Boyd) sound pedantic. Instead, it’s wildly imaginative, sophisticated and very funny. It’s billed as a family show, but we promise grown-ups won’t be bored.
This summer, Hennepin Theatre Trust will replace the seats on the main floor of the Orpheum Theatre. Dating from 1921, when the Orpheum first opened as the Hennepin Theater, the old seats have been refurbished and repaired countless times, and trying to find replacement parts in 2014 is a bit like finding them for a Model T. Many people won’t miss them in the least. But if you love the old seats and the nearly 100 years of history they represent, a limited number will be available for sale to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Learn more and add your name to a waiting list here. We’re told the new seats will be more comfy – more air in the cushions, slightly higher backs. Plus they’ll have brass plaques you can pay to put your name on. The balcony seats will be replaced later, probably in 2015.
Our picks for the week
By happy coincidence, all are free.
Tonight at Washburn Library in Minneapolis: SOSMN Community Meeting. One of the good things to come out of the Minnesota Orchestra lockout was the rise of grassroots organizations including Save Our Symphony Minnesota, whose members worked tirelessly to keep the orchestra in the public awareness, end the lockout and bring back Osmo Vänskä as music director. The protest, with padlock, at Symphony Ball 2013? SOSMN’s idea. The “Finnish It” campaign, with all those blue-and-white Finnish flags waving in Orchestra Hall? SOSMN again. Now SOSMN is working with the Minnesota Orchestral Association board and staff members on various projects aimed at marketing, fundraising and broadening the audience. Tonight’s meeting is open to the public, and that includes you. 6 p.m.
Tonight at the Normandale Lake Bandshell in Bloomington: Great Music for the Great Outdoors. The Minnesota Symphonic Winds, led by Edina High School band director Paul Kile, plays a selection of marches, band classics, and dance music including a new piece by young Minnesota composer Christopher Neiner, plus music by Verdi, Gershwin, and Victor Herbert. 7 p.m. Free.
Wednesday at SubText Books in St. Paul: Rachel Freed, “Your Legacy Matters: Harvesting the Love and Lessons of Your Life: A Multi-Generational Guide for Writing Your Ethical Will.” What should we leave to our children and their children? Freed suggests a series of “legacy letters” articulating our values, history, successes, failures, triumphs, hopes and despairs. The book sounds like a great Dad’s Day gift, despite the clunky title/subtitle/sub-subtitle. 7 p.m.
Thursday at Harriet Brewing: Mad Ripple Hootenanny. “Tonight we hoot.” In Nov. 2006 , writer/singer/songwriter Jim Walsh brought songwriters together for a one-night-only round-robin of original songs and stories. Almost eight years later, the Mad Ripple Hootenanny is still going strong. In the tap room. Food truck: Moral Omnivore. 5:30 p.m. Free.
Thursday at the Minnesota Museum of American Art Project Space in St. Paul: Opening reception for “2014 MN Biennial.” An MMAA tradition returns. The juried exhibition features the work of 36 Minnesota artists including Betsy Byers, Jaron Childs, Pete Driessen, Selma Fernandez Richter, Maren Kloppmann, Todd Thybeg, Dyani White Hawk, and Sarita Zaleha. Paintings, photography, sculpture, installations, ceramics and more. Exhibition continues through Aug. 3. 7-8:30 p.m. Free.
Thursday at Victory Memorial Drive and 34th Ave. in Minneapolis: Live on the Drive. Presented by the Cleveland Neighborhood Association and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, now in its 7th year, Live on the Drive features live music followed by a movie at dusk. Thursday’s artist: Thomasina Petrus (“Lady Day at Emerson Bar and Grill”). Thursday’s movie: “Remember the Titans.” 6 p.m. Free.