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Creative City Challenge day; Art crawl at the Arboretum

ALSO: “Insight” books series at Hennepin County Libraries; new Bush Foundation arts grant program; Swayze Days of Summer; and more.

The Creative City Challenge returns to the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza on Saturday.
Photo by Krivit Photography, Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza, the large, inviting green space across Grant Street and on the way to Orchestra Hall, will teem with arts-related activities all day Saturday. The plaza’s centerpiece since June 14 has been “Balancing Ground,” a skeletal wood structure with benches, a see-saw, a canopy of prisms and a soundscape perceived at different times in different places. Created by Amanda Lovelee, Christopher Field, Kyle Waites and Sarah West, “Balancing Ground” won this year’s Creative City Challenge, an annual competition for the creation and installation of a temporary, destination work of public art.

The second of three Creative City Challenge events — the first was Play Day (July 19), the third is Maker Day (Sept. 13) — Saturday’s Discovery Day is about exploring new ideas and ways of experiencing what’s around you. On the Balancing Ground stage, the Eclectic Ensemble will perform music both familiar and new. Leah Nelson will demonstrate dance steps, improvising to a variety of musical styles. Amateur dowser Philip Blackburn will introduce swing rod dowsing techniques. Have your photo taken on a see-saw, help create a giant sidewalk chalkboard game, play chess or dominos at a bike-towed cart, or just sit inside the cathedral-like “Balancing Ground,” people-watch, and look up at the sky. Presented in collaboration with Northern, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., free and all ages.

You’ll have to get up early for the Friends of the Hennepin County Library’s new author series, but there will be coffee and pastries. “Insights,” a morning business author series, starts Monday, Sept. 15 with Michael S. Malone and “The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World’s Most Important Company.” On Tuesday, Oct. 14, Chris Farrell presents “Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life.” On Thursday, Nov. 13: Dr. Pam Henderson talks about “You Can Kill an Idea, But You Can’t Kill an Opportunity: How to Discover New Sources of Growth for Your Organization.” (Are those subtitles or movie trailers?) Each event begins with a morning mingle from 7:30–8 a.m. The presentation starts at 8 a.m. A Q&A follows. By 9, you’ll be out the door with a signed book. FMI and tickets ($50 for one event, $120 for all three; book included in ticket price).

The former Brave New Workshop at 2605 Hennepin Ave. S. in Minneapolis has been sold and will reopen in November as the Phoenix Theatre. Graydon Royce reports that the first company to use the space will be Mission Theatre Company, and the first play performed there will be Sam Graber’s “Detainee.” Before BNW moved downtown, it had a long run — a half-century, more or less — at the Uptown space.

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There was wailing and gnashing of teeth when the Bush Foundation ended its Artist Fellows program in 2010. For years, the annual Bush Artist Fellowships — $50,000 in unrestricted funds and professional development support — changed a lot of artists’ lives. We don’t know if those days will ever return, but it looks as if Bush is making plans for future work in the arts. Bush is now accepting applications for the Community Creativity Cohort, described as “a one-time program designed to both recognize and learn from exemplary organizations that meaningfully engage people in the arts and integrate the arts into public life.” At least 10 organizations will be selected to participate. Each will receive an unrestricted grant of $100,000 and work with Bush over a six- to nine-month period. Applications are due no later than Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. CST. Funding decisions will be made in March 2015. FMI, including eligibility and selection criteria.

What we’re reading: Not reading, exactly, but visiting often: National Geographic’s “Found” Tumblr blog. The world and its people in photos, some never published, others not seen since their publication in the magazine years ago. In a time of iPhones, Instagram and selfies, we sometimes forget what real photojournalism looks like.

The Picks

Tonight at the Urban Flower Field in St. Paul: a free screening of “Field of Dreams.” The old Pedro Luggage Store at Tenth and Robert Streets is now Pedro Park, thanks to Amanda Lovelee, an artist-in-residence at Public Art St. Paul (and also one of the creators of “Balancing Ground” at the Convention Center). Bring a blanket and order food there, if you like. People start gathering around 7:30. Movie at dusk.

Saturday at the Mall of America: Swayze Daze of Summer. Actor Patrick Swayze died in 2009 of pancreatic cancer at age 57. To celebrate his birthday on Aug. 18, and to benefit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the Theatres at Mall of America are screening “Dirty Dancing” at 7 p.m. and “Roadhouse” at 9:30. The cost of admission is a suggested donation. FMI.

Saturday and Sunday at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum: Second Annual Art Crawl Through the Gardens. $12 gets you through the gate and into one of Minnesota’s top attractions, with more than 1,100 acres of gardens and tree collections, prairie and woods and miles of trails. Forty-two artists and crafters — sculptors and jewelers, painters and photographers, potters, glassmakers and jam-makers — will be nestled among the trees. Four times over the weekend, the 12 dancers of MotionArt will present “Orbitreeum,” a site-specific work, at the Arboretum’s High Point. FMI. Free with admission.

Sunday at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory: Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival. A day of live music, dance, drumming, exhibitors, games, Bonsai demonstrations, crafts, martial arts, food vendors and more, ending with the release of hundreds of little lanterns into the ponds. The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory grounds open at 3 p.m., entertainment begins at 3:30, and the lanterns are lit at dusk. Admission $5 for adults, $3 for children 3–12 and seniors 65+. FMI.

Monday in Loring Park: the Walker’s Summer Music & Movies series continues with music by the Handsome Family and a screening of “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Music at 7 p.m., movie at dusk (about 8:45 p.m.). Free.

Plan Ahead

Two music festivals within driving distance of the Twin Cities:

Aug. 20–26 in Northfield: Bridge Chamber Music Festival. Performances by Artaria String Quartet, Seven Steps to Havana, Bridge Chamber Players, Dave Hagedorn Trio, SPCO violinist Kyu-Young Kim, Minnesota Orchestra cellist Pitnarry Shin, pianists Andrew Hisey and Ester Wang, and more. Concerts every night but Saturday at 7:30 p.m., various locations. All tickets are $5 general admission at the door. FMI and schedule.

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August 25-28 in Stillwater: the ninth annual Stillwater Music Festival, presented by Brooklyn Rider. Three members of the acclaimed New York-based string quartet have family ties to Minnesota, which brings them back each year for a jewel of a festival featuring new music and classics of the repertoire. This year they’re playing Haydn’s “Rider” Quartet, a new work by Brooklyn-based guitarist Kyle Sanna inspired by photographer Minor White, a new work by Swedish composer Tobias Brostrom, music by John Cage and Pete Seeger, Janacek’s String Quartet #1, and original songs and compositions by singer-songwriters Aoife O’Donovan and Gabriel Kahane, including several Minnesota premieres. Concerts are at the Washington County Historic Courthouse.  FMI, schedule and tickets ($10–$25).