St. Paul Art Collective gets its due
The St. Paul Art Collective (SPAC) was founded in 1977 by a group of Lowertown artists, its mission was to protect spaces for artists and increase public awareness of the role artists play in the cultural life of the Twin Cities.

When the St. Paul Art Collective (SPAC) was founded in 1977 by a group of Lowertown artists, its mission was to protect spaces for artists and increase public awareness of the role artists play in the cultural life of the Twin Cities. Today Lowertown is booming, home to artists’ studios, restaurants, theaters, the restored Union Depot, and soon the St. Paul Saints. The twice-yearly St. Paul Art Crawl, hosted by the Collective, draws tens of thousands of art lovers to the area.

Earlier this week, SPAC received one of two 2014 Arts Achievement Awards from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC). The award, a plaque and a cash prize of $5,000, recognizes organizations with budgets under $400,000 that exemplify MRAC’s mission of increasing access to the arts. SPAC received the Metro Award; Yellow Tree Theater in Osseo received the Greater Metro Award. The next Fall Art Crawl is Oct. 10–12. Yellow Tree Theater launches its seventh season Sept. 12 with “The Rainmaker” by N. Richard Nash, directed by Craig Johnson. 

If you produce just one big summer show, it’s tough to cancel performances. But when flooding put Harriet Island underwater, that’s what the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance had to do. After sold-out previews and a successful opening night for “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” on the Centennial Showboat, which is permanently docked at the island, the Mississippi began to rise. By the time it receded, 16 performances had been lost. Three more shows have now been added – on Aug. 19, 20, and 21 at 8 p.m. – along with a special season-closing performance and fundraiser, with champagne, on Aug. 22. Tickets are available online or by calling 651-227-1100 ($20-$25). Tickets for the “Closing with a Splash” finale are $100.

Twelve emerging Minnesota writers will have the chance to work closely with six nationally acclaimed writers, the Loft announced Thursday. The winners of the 2014–2015 Loft Mentor Series in Poetry – Timothy Otte, Rhea Davison-Edwards, April Gibson and Kate Lucas – will be mentored by Matt Rasmussen, whose “Black Aperture” won the 2012 Walt Whitman Award and was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, and Patricia Smith, Cave Canem faculty member and author of six books of poetry published by Coffee House Press. Nonfiction winners Annette Schiebout, Jenny Krueger, Molly Cooney and Kinzy Janssen will work with Kao Kalia Yang, Hmong American writer and author of “The Latehomecomer,” and Dani Shapiro, a bestselling author of two memoirs and five novels. Fiction winners Karlyn Cleman, Rebecca Diaz, Susan A. Wolter and Mary Stein will work with poet, novelist and storyteller Diego Vázquez Jr. and writer Ru Freeman, whose novel “On Sal Mal Lane” was published by Graywolf in 2013.

If independent artists, producers, and consultants, nonprofits, journalists and small businesses co-work inside a museum – say, for example, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts – what might happen? How will they draw on the museum’s facilities, collections and staff? Can they introduce new people to MIA and identify new civic purposes for some of its spaces? Will new connections and collaborations result? In a blog post published Wednesday, the museum announced a 12-week pilot project called Hothouse – created by Entrepreneur-in-Residence Sarah Lutman in collaboration with the MIA’s venture innovation director, Palmer Wright – that will explore these questions and more. A partial list of participants includes Coffee House Press, Danger Boat Productions (the people behind The Theater of Public Policy), Northern Lights, Pollen, Kate Nordstrum Projects and MPR’s Chris Farrell. The group will share their learning in a final report.

The Picks

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Opening tonight at the Park Square Theatre in St. Paul: Mu Performing Arts’ production of “A Little Night Music.” Sondheim performed by an all-Asian cast, directed by Rick Shiomi, but still set in Sweden. Here’s the playful trailer. Through Aug. 10. FMI and tickets.

Friday at the George Latimer Central Library in downtown St. Paul: “The Ghost Writer.” A free screening of Roman Polanski’s tense political thriller, courtesy of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library’s “Writers on Screen” series. 90 Fourth St. West, outdoors in the courtyard at dusk.

Friday and Saturday along West Broadway in Minneapolis: FLOW Northside Art Crawl. The 9th annual FLOW features 25 sites and nearly 300 visual and performing artists from the Northside community. Highlights include concerts by the Capri Big Band and the SPCO, a pop-up film-fest of shorts created in the North Minneapolis community, and “Off the Top: Chop Shop” at C&J Barbers, where you’ll sit in a barber chair and talk about what’s most important in life. FMI.

Saturday on the Walker’s Open Field: Jamal Cyrus’s “Texas Fried Tenor,” during which the artist breads and deep-fries a saxophone, amplifies the sound of grease in the fryer and recites a recipe/poem. The live performance draws on avant-garde movements of the 1960s to embody the musical and culinary contributions blacks have made to American culture. Part of the exhibition “Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art” that opened Thursday at the Walker. 1 p.m. Free. FMI.

Saturday at Excelsior Bay Books: Holy Bagumba! Party with Kate DiCamillo. Meet, greet, and celebrate our National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and two-time Newbery Award-winning author. Try to make her laugh; it’s not hard. Games, prizes, party food, vacuum cleaner parade and more. 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. 36 Water Street, Excelsior. Free.

Saturday at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Bloomington: Music Festival. Davina & The Vagabonds headline this free, family-friendly fest on the church lawn. 4 p.m.: young pianist Will Kjeer. 5:30 p.m.: Salsa Del Soul. 7:30: Davina, whose new CD, “Sunshine,” is a knockout. 8600 Fremont Ave. S., Bloomington. FMI.

Saturday night along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis: the Aquatennial Fireworks, officially the Target Fireworks. One of the top 5 fireworks shows in the nation is worth the traffic and parking hassles. Pre-show festivities at 6 p.m. Fireworks at dusk.

Saturday and Sunday at Stevens Square in Minneapolis: Red Hot Art & Music. Now in its 13th year, this two-day festival celebrates emerging art and music in the Twin Cities with more than 100 artists, 20 bands and performers, games and demonstrations. Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. in Stevens Square Park a block north of Franklin between Stevens Ave. S. and 2nd Ave. S. FMI.

Sunday at the Dakota: Robert Robinson. Our great resident gospel singer. Here he is on MN Original. At the 2:30 mark, he sings “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” 6 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25).

Plan Ahead

The American Swedish Institute gets all woodsy with “Cocktails at the Cabin” on Thursday. Aug. 7, a 21+ party featuring music by Martin Devaney, violin-and-accordion duo Aallotar, and a DJ set by The Current’s Bill DeVille. Bring a swimsuit and take a sauna, try some lumberjack activities, do crafts with the Textile Center and the Weavers Guild, hike the Turnblad Trail, enjoy cabin-inspired eats and cocktails by FIKA and build boat oars with Urban Boatbuilders. Snooze and lose; ASI’s parties tend to sell out quickly. Tickets here ($12 members, $15 general admission, $45 VIP, with swag bag).

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