Blockbusters, surprise art: MIA to celebrate 100 years ‘in a really big way’

Courtesy of the artist
Mark Mothersbaugh, 1964–Monument to the Conquerors of Space, 2012, ink jet on paper.

When the Minneapolis Institute of Arts celebrates its 100th birthday next year, it won’t be a stuffy centennial retrospective. It will be a series of blockbuster exhibits, surprises and art in unexpected places, with the goal of reaching as many people as possible. Look for van Gogh-inspired crop art, visible from the air, and water towers wrapped in art. Watch for pop-up reproductions of famous paintings throughout the Twin Cities and musicians in the museum’s galleries. Catch a field trip for grownups over your lunch hour, complete with a ride in a school bus.

Outlines were drawn and hints were dropped at a media event Wednesday, where director Kaywin Feldman, curator Liz Armstrong, paintings chair Patrick Noon and Kristin Prestegaard, who wears the modern museum title chief engagement officer, previewed a year of programs, projects and events that will start Jan. 1 and end Dec. 31. “Since you only turn 100 once, we decided that we had perfect license to celebrate our milestone in a really big way,” Feldman said. Three special exhibitions will feature masterpieces from around the world: “The Habsburgs” (opening in February), “Leonardo da Vinci and the Power of Observation (Codex Leicester)” (June) and “Eugène Delacroix and Modernity” (October). A fourth exhibition, “Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia” (June) will include work by the visual artist and founding member of the punk-rock band Devo. (If you haven’t been to MIA for a while, it added a Department of Contemporary Art in 2008.)

Already, there’s a new membership level: free. Feldman explained, “We believe that a truly accessible museum should offer everyone the chance to be under the private tent.” Now everyone can have member communications, exhibition access on member days, invitations to members-only events, and discounts, just by signing up. Of course, MIA would still like it very much if you made a donation, gave a monthly gift or dropped money in the box on your way in. But now you can be a member either way.

We’re reminded this week that the Schubert Club, best known for its flagship International Artist Series, is a diverse organization with a lot going on. The big series opened its new season Monday with superstar baritone Nathan Gunn and pianist Julie Gunn, his wife, who accompanied her husband in a program of art songs by Robert Schumann, Samuel Barber, Franz Schubert, Hugo Wolf and Charles Ives, most sung in German. There’s a reason everyone who tries to describe Nathan’s voice ends up at “velvet” sooner or later; it’s a warm and glorious instrument, supple and lush. Julie’s performance earned and won its own applause, especially for the three Schubert songs that rushed like wind and galloped like horses.

On Friday starts the second season of Schubert Club Mix, which brings classical music to unconventional venues; this time it’s Bedlam Lowertown. The Anderson & Roe Piano Duo will perform their arrangement of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” for which they’ve made a series of sensational YouTube videos; here’s one. That concert is sold out but you can call or show up and hope for turnbacks. On Sunday, Oct. 12, the Music in the Park Series – founded in 1978 by Julie Himmelstrup, who still serves as artistic director, held in St. Anthony Park’s United Church of Christ – begins with the Danish String Quartet. 4 p.m., FMI and tickets (limited). The next day, Monday, Oct. 13, the chamber ensemble Accordo, a collaboration with Kate Nordstrum Projects, launches its sixth season at Christ Church Lutheran. 7:30 p.m., FMI and tickets (also limited). The day after that, Tuesday, Oct. 14, will see a special performance by Accordo at the Amsterdam in downtown St. Paul, hosted by Minnesota Orchestra violist Sam Bergman. FMI and tickets (somewhat less limited).

There’s more: free noontime Courtroom Concerts at the Landmark Center on Thursdays; concerts by the Hill House Chamber Players at the historic James J. Hill House, cosponsored with the Minnesota Historical Society; and Live at the Museum events (the Schubert Club has its own museum in the Landmark Center, with historic instruments and manuscripts; admission is free and guided tours are available). All managed by a staff of roughly a dozen, and at least from the outside, run like clockwork.

If you still want to be part of the Orchestra Hall photo mosaic, here’s more information on how to do that. The deadline is Monday, Oct. 6, so prestissimo, please.

We’re saddened to report the imminent end of the oldest remaining independent bookstore in the Twin Cities. The Bookcase in Wayzata, part of the town’s fabric for over 50 years, will close Oct. 18. In a notice posted Tuesday on Facebook, current owner Charlie Leonard wrote, “Changing shopping habits and the physical reality of the redevelopment and road construction that have been ongoing in Wayzata for several years now have caused a dramatic drop in sales … in the end, we can no longer afford to stay in business.” Meanwhile, Amazon has started collecting Minnesota sales tax, a first step toward establishing a physical presence here. Send in the drones?

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, Oct. 2) at the Gorecki Family Theater, College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph: Mary Szybist. The winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry for her book “Incarnadine,” Graywolf author Szybist will end a two-day residence at St. Ben’s with a free public reading.

Tonight through Saturday at the Ordway: The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Fifth. Da-Da-Da-DUN! Overplayed? Maybe. But from the fate-knocking-at-the-door first movement to the triumphant fourth, Beethoven’s best-known symphony still thrills. Also on the program: music by Sibelius and Frank Martin. Sibelius expert John Storgards will lead from the podium in his SPCO debut; Latvian violinist Baiba Skride will make her first appearance with the SPCO, playing Martin’s violin concerto. Tonight at 7:30 p.m., tomorrow and Saturday at 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($12–$40).

Today through Sunday at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theater: the 2014 Minneapolis Underground Film Festival, a.k.a. MUFF. Films from around the world include many regional and Minnesota premieres. Several feature post-show Q&As. FMI and tickets ($9).

The weekend

Friday at the New Century Theatre: “Eating Raoul” opens. Who knew that Paul Bartel’s 1982 black comedy about swingers and cannibalism would one day inspire a musical? And does it still have the hot-tub scene? From artistic director Christian Unser: “The musical is not only very funny, but it has a lot of heart and a really good message, despite all of the murder and mayhem that happens, about following your dreams and being true to the people that you love.” Sounds like wicked fun, just like the movie. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25/$30). Through Oct. 26.

Saturday and Sunday at Northrop: “Solo.” Six Twin Cities dancers, all McKnight Artist Fellows, will dance new solos created for them by choreographers of their choice. Writing for mnartists.org, Linda Shapiro put it this way: “It’s a Class-A fantasy for dancers: You get to choose the choreographer of your dreams to create a dance just for you, and then you’re handed the bucks to make it happen and a premiere venue in which to showcase the resulting work.” With Kari Mosel, Tamara Ober, Gregory Waletski, Taryn Griggs, Ashwini Ramaswamy and Stephen Schroeder. Here’s a preview video. 8 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($25). Free preview discussion Saturday at 6:45 p.m. in the Best Buy Theater.

Plan ahead

Music and film buffs, you might want to get tickets right now to “This Ain’t No Mouse Music,” which plays at the tiny Trylon next Wednesday, Oct. 8 (one show only, so far). Part of Sound Unseen, the ongoing series of films about music, it chronicles the life and work of Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records. Musicians like Ry Cooder, Kermit Ruffins and Taj Mahal make appearances. The New York Times loved it. Here’s the trailer. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($8).

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