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Creative City Challenge seeks entries; Keillor’s ‘Radio Man’ to open at History Theatre

Courtesy of Creative City Challenge
"Balancing Ground" won the Creative City Challenge issued in 2013 and had its grand opening on June 14, 2014.

First there was MIMMI, then Balancing Ground. What work of public, participatory destination art will win the next Creative City Challenge? The call for entries for the third annual competition has been issued, and it’s up to Minnesota-resident architects, artists, designers, planners, and others interested in taking on a big, highly visible project to step up.

A collaboration among several partners – the Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC); the Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy Program of the City of Minneapolis; Meet Minneapolis, Convention and Visitors Association; Northern; and the Northern Spark Festival – the Challenge animates the green plaza across from the MCC (actually the roof of the underground parking) with a large, temporary art installation. Meant to serve as a platform for summer programming and create a sense of connectedness to the city, it’s funded by the MCC, which sees it as a relationship-builder.

“We’re trying to make [MCC] more of a place where people come together,” executive director Jeff Johnson told MinnPost. “It’s about our community looking at the convention center a different way and saying, ‘This is a place for me.’ ” Gulgun Kayim, director of the Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy Program, said, “It’s going back to the root of the word ‘convention’ – to convene, to gather. It’s a gathering place for the community.”

The Challenge is a new program and still evolving. The commission fee the first year was $50,000; that was upped to $75,000 in the second year and remains there for 2015. For the first two years, public voting determined the finalists and the winners. This year, three finalists will be selected by a panel of stakeholders, (including representatives from neighboring communities and businesses), and a jury of local and national experts will choose the winner. The public will have the chance to participate in the design, creation, and use of the artwork. (Unlike a sculpture, which just stands there, Challenge art is interactive.) We’ll have more details about that later. Meanwhile, go here to learn more about the submission process. Entries are due by 4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1. An informational session will be held on Nov. 18. The finalists will be selected by Feb. 23, 2015, and each will receive $2,500 to prepare a final proposal. The winner will be announced March 22, 2015, and the winning project will be installed at the MCC Plaza in early June as part of Northern Spark.

Austin, Detroit Lakes, Red Wing, Faribault and Duluth: Minnesota musicians are coming your way. Supported by 89.3 The Current, Essential Sessions Studio (which will film and record the events for online audiences) and legacy funds, the 4th Annual Caravan du Nord starts tonight, Friday, Sept. 26, at the Paramount Theatre in Austin with a performance by singer-songwriter John Mark Nelson. Sunday, Oct. 5 at the Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes: the Okee Dokee Brothers. Friday, Oct. 17 at T.B. Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing: indie rockers Communist Daughter. Friday, Oct. 24 at Newhall Auditorium in Faribault: Americana musicians Romantica. Thursday, Nov. 6 at Mitchell Auditorium in Duluth: pop/rockers Sleep Study. Each concert will also feature local artists, emerging talent and a DJ from The Current as host. FMI and tickets (not all are on sale yet, so check back as dates near).

The Minnesota Writers Map just got better. You can now click on the authors’ caricatures or initials to learn more about them. Clicking on Sinclair Lewis’ head, for example, leads you to a brief bio, a video profile, and a link to more information on the Minnesota Historical Society’s website. It’s fun and informative, and it will continue to grow. More authors will be added in the coming months, along with more audio and video resources.

Last year was curtains for the downtown Minneapolis Holidazzle parade, our decades-long tradition of bundling up to watch lighted floats and snowmen pass by at 30 below. We learned last year that the parade would be replaced by a Christmas market, and now we know the details on that. Located on Nicollet Mall from 12th street to 10th, the new Holidazzle Village will be open on the Friday after Thanksgiving and weekends through December, with festivities, activities, choir and band performances, photo opps, Holidazzle character sightings, live reindeer, story time and more. Selected weekends will feature winter fireworks, an interactive dog sled exhibit, glass blowing demonstrations (to huddle around) and a pop-up ice rink. A Minneapolis Christmas Market on Peavey Plaza, open daily from Nov. 28 to Dec. 24, will sprout 30 huts for local and international vendors selling candy, ornaments, candles, mulled wine and the like. You’ll pay a one-time fee (“between $3 to $6”) to enter the market, which will give you season-long access. A fee? Bah.

On a brighter note, starting next month, the Southern Theater will have a bar. Construction has begun on a wash station, a beer and wine license is on the way (the first in the theater’s 30-year history), and the planned opening is Oct. 23, just in time for the start of the 2014 Twin Cities Horror Festival. More and more, people expect to have a glass of something as they wait for a show to start. A bar also contributes to a venue’s bottom line. And the timing is perfect, as some of us will certainly want to calm our nerves before heading into the theater for “Frankenstein,” “Dance with the Devil,” “The Surgeon” (eeeee!) or “Doll Collection” (brrrrr!).

On sale now: tickets for Theater Latté Da’s staging of Terrence McNally’s Tony-winning play “Master Class,” starring Sally Wingert as Maria Callas, directed by Peter Rothstein, performed in MacPhail’s Antonello Hall. That’s really all you need to know. Previews start Wednesday, Oct. 8; opening night is Saturday, Oct. 11. Through Nov. 2. FMI and tickets ($31–$45).

Conductor Christopher Hogwood has died at 73. Founder of the Academy of Ancient Music, he was director of music at the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 1988–92 and principal guest conductor through 1998; together they made four recordings on the London/DECCA label. Hogwood was a leading figure of the early music revival – playing music as the composers intended, based on scholarly research and using period instruments – and there’s graceful symmetry in the fact that this weekend the Twin Cities will hold its first-ever Early Music Festival.

The picks

Tonight (Friday, Sept. 26) and Saturday at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre: HOBT is giving several performances as part of the Handmade Worlds festival going on now: “The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Mr. Krank” (tonight at 5 p.m.), the family-friendly “Skeletons in the Closet” (Saturday at 10 a.m. and noon), and “Ada/Ava” on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Learn more about each and buy tickets here (look under Events, then click the links). It’s a good time to see and support this Twin Cities institution, which is experiencing financial challenges.

Tonight at Northern Clay Center: Opening receptions for two new exhibitions, “Regis Master: Walter Ostrom” and “True North: Contemporary Canadian Ceramics.” Ostrom is a giant in the field of contemporary ceramics. (On Saturday, he’ll give a free public lecture at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts at 2 p.m. in the Pillsbury Auditorium.) Celebrating our artistically porous border with Canada, “True North” features work by established and emerging artists whose work spans the spectrum from functional pottery to mixed-media creations. The receptions run simultaneously from 6–8 p.m.

Tonight at House of Hope Presbyterian Church: The Singers Season Preview Concert. Hear what this esteemed vocal ensemble has in store for 2014–15 in this program of highlights including works by new composers Jake Runestad, Kevin Puts and Craig Carnahan, Renaissance-era masterpieces, Stephen Paulus’ “Splendid Jewel,” and music by founding artistic director Matthew Culloton. 7 p.m. Free.

Tonight at the History Theatre: Garrison Keillor’s “Radio Man” opens. In Keillor’s first full-length play, Pearce Bunting (“Boardwalk Empire”) is the Host to a parade of Lake Wobegon characters. FMI and tickets ($15–$45). Through Oct. 26.

Saturday and Sunday at Hennepin Ave. Methodist Church and The Baroque Room: Twin Cities Early Music Festival. Strum the theorbo and pluck the lute: we now have an early music festival. The debut features 13 concerts and a six-hour Bach marathon. Concerts include a program of French court music by Les Ordinaires Baroque Trio, “Love and Death” by Cerulean Fire and guest soprano Maria Jette, and “Bach and his Son,” with music by J.S. and C.P.E. Among the many performers are SPCO principal bassoonist Chuck Ullery, Brazilian recorder player Clea Galhano, Ladyslipper Ensemble, the Bach Society, Lyra Baroque and Flying Forms. FMI and tickets.

Sunday in selected movie houses: “Gone with the Wind.” As God is our witness, we’ll never watch GWTW on the small screen again! For the 75th anniversary of the classic film, Turner Classic Movies is beaming it into theaters nationwide, including seven in Minnesota. Go here and enter your ZIP to find the one nearest you. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Also Wednesday, Oct. 1. Remember, this Civil War epic is over four hours long.

Monday at Penumbra: “Let’s Talk Theatre: Womansong.” Curated by Sha Cage, hosted by Sarah Bellamy, this evening of performance, spoken word and music by black women artists in the Twin Cities features Cage, Maria Isa, Mayda, Traci Allen, Aamera Siddiqui, Deja Stowers and others. The 90-minute program is preceded by refreshments and light bites. 5:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15).

Monday is National Coffee Day. We consider this a major cultural event and encourage you to visit your favorite coffee shop or hang. You might find special deals or freebies in honor of the occasion.

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