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‘Brilliance! Made Here’: a downtown tour of Minnesota art

ALSO: Kevin Kling tales at the Guthrie; 2015 Midwest Firefighters Calendar Signing at Camp Bar; book signings galore; and more.

Joan Vordebruggen leads a tour of "Brilliance! Made Here."
Photo by Steven Lang

This weekend’s weather will be delightful, not frightful, so go explore something you won’t find anywhere else on the planet: “Brilliance! Made Here,” an urban walking gallery in downtown Minneapolis.

A project of Hennepin Theatre Trust, the nonprofit that owns the Orpheum, State, Pantages and New Century theaters and is serious about making the downtown cultural district more walkable and inviting, “Brilliance!” includes nearly 40 light-filled window exhibitions created by Minnesota artists. Led by the tireless and visionary Joan Vordebruggen, who pioneered art-filled window displays in her Whittier neighborhood as a way to enliven empty storefronts, “Brilliance!” won’t try to sell you anything except a new appreciation for our local talent.

Sonja Berlovitz’s white wedding gown floats beneath a white dove in “Peace Piece” (Showcase 118 at 705 Hennepin Ave.). Wing Young Huie’s “Free Arts” features photographs by teens from The Bridge for Youth (Showcase 105, 730 Hennepin). Kirk Washington Jr. worked with his young daughters to create “Breakfast Club,” a display about body image (Showcase 110, 730 Hennepin). Mary Jane Mansfield’s comical “Alien Cow Abduction” series draws your eyes upward to second-floor windows that turn the corner (Showcase 119, 701 Hennepin). Wayne Nelson’s colorful “Gypsy Paper Doll Theater” combines animated films, poetry, and puppets (Showcase 111, 730 Hennepin). And those are just five.

You can preview all the showcases here and read the artists’ statements, design your own tour on the interactive map, and/or download and print out a map to bring along. Two suggested tours on the website include a 40-minute stroll and a three-block version. The participating artists are a diverse bunch – equal numbers of men and women, 43 percent from communities of color, many teenagers.

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“Brilliance!” is the third round of Made Here, which also includes events and pop-up galleries. Next Wednesday (Dec. 17), the Intuitive Artist Showcase pop-up gallery at 319 N. 1st Ave. (the Burd Bldg.) will present five half-hour films about American folk artists by Oscar winners Allie Light and Irving Seraf. Kicking off the evening, a conversation with local “reality artist” Andrew Moore. 7 p.m., free. The Intuitive Artist Showcase is a group show of work by Minnesota-based self-taught artists – outsider art – that includes both first-time exhibitors and award-winning artists.


Pillsbury House Theatre has announced its 24th mainstage season – contemporary, provocative and relevant, as always. It begins March 6, 2015, with “Death Tax” by Lucas Hnath, a dark comedy about family, money and the end of life. Hayley Finn directs. May 29 is opening night for “The Gospel of Lovingkindness” by Marcus Gardley, writer of last year’s “the road weeps, the well runs dry.” Inspired by true events, directed by Marion McClinton, it’s a call to end violence and value life more. Starting Sept. 18, Tracey Scott Wilson’s “Prep” was commissioned by Pillsbury House Theatre and inspired by recent local events with racial overtones. Scott Wilson’s “Buzzer” was produced by Pillsbury House in 2012. Noël Raymond directs. Pick-your-price season passes are on sale now ($65-$100). Single tickets go on sale in January.

Each year, the Independent Spirit Awards (the “indie Oscars”) recognize and applaud independent filmmakers. And each year, the Walker and IFP Minnesota screen 20 nominated films for their members for free, in advance of the live-broadcast awards ceremony. Starting Jan. 13 and continuing for five consecutive Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, members can view the 2015 Spirit Award nominees in the categories of Best Feature, Best First Feature, Best Documentary and the John Cassavettes Award in the Walker Cinema. The schedule isn’t up yet, but the list of films is, and it includes “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “Love Is Strange,” “Dear White People” and “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.” Each organization is handling reservations for its own members. Walker members, go here; IFP members, sign up for the email list to be notified when reservations open.

Those of us who read Stephen Wilbers’ “Effective Writing” column in the Star Tribune have gone from sad to glad. Earlier this month, Wilbers announced that after 23 years, the Strib was dropping him. Boo! Last weekend, he was back again, due to an outpouring of support from readers responding to his genteel farewell column. Yay! Anyone who writes anything – even those of us so-called pros – can benefit from Wilbers’ common-sense guidance, often laced with humor. You’ll find him in Monday’s business pages.

Now at the History Theatre, “Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story” has been extended through Sunday, Jan. 4. This music-filled show was originally set to close Dec. 21. Two special events have been added: a ’50s Winter Dance Party on Saturday, Dec. 13, led by “Buddy” musical director Gary Rue, and a New Year’s Eve performance followed by a champagne toast. FMI and tickets ($49/$39/$15).

For those who like to plan waaaay ahead: the first grandstand show of the 2015 Minnesota State Fair has been announced. Country music superstar Carrie Underwood will take the big stage on Saturday, Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($65/$50) go on sale Dec. 13 at 10 a.m.

Here’s a three-minute Bob Dylan break: a time-lapse film of the two-hour drive from the Washington Square Hotel in Greenwich Village to a little pink country house in West Saugerties, New York, where the Basement Tapes were recorded in 1967. Narrated by Jeff Bridges, set to a soundtrack of “This Wheel’s on Fire” by Bob Dylan & The Band, it’s a zippy road trip with fun facts about the bootleg culture. 

The Picks

Tonight at MCAD Whittier Studios: Master of Fine Arts 4th Annual Open Studio Night. Meet 43 artists and designers where the magic happens, view their finished work, talk with them about the creative process, and enjoy an evening of art, design, and performance. 6-9 p.m., 2835 Harriet Ave. S. Shuttles depart MCAD every hour starting at 6 p.m.; the last van leaves Whittier Studios at 9 p.m. Light refreshments. Free.

Saturday at Magers & Quinn: Joseph D.R. OLeary signs “Of Beards and Men.” Forget the usual cookbooks, art books and bestsellers. What book lovers really want this year is 150 portraits of bearded dudes. It’s a bonus that the book includes an essay by Andy Sturdevant, man-about-town for MinnPost’s “The Stroll.” Noon.

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Saturday at Eat My Words Bookstore: Twin Cities Sisters in Crime present “Festival of Crime.” Nineteen tales of murder and suspense by our friends and neighbors. Readings by the editors and authors will be followed buy book signings. 7 p.m.

Sunday at Magers & Quinn: Joint signing with Iric Nathanson and Aaron Isaacs. Two books with ample local flavor. Nathanson’s “The Minneapolis Riverfront.” Hard to believe the shores of the Mississippi were once an industrial wasteland. Nathanson takes us back in time and forward to today’s prime real estate. Isaacs’ “Twin Ports by Trolley: The Streetcar Era in Duluth-Superior” is for all those who love the Twin Ports and the history of streetcars. 2 p.m.

Sunday at Camp Bar: 2015 Midwest Firefighters Calendar Signing. Sales of this annual beefcake calendar benefit worthy causes. This year it’s Canine Inspired Change, a nonprofit that partners with therapy dogs and their people. Handsome firefighters will be present and signing. It’s a win-win. 7-9 p.m. Calendars are $15. 

Holiday Fare

Saturday at the American Craft Council Library: Ship and Shape Holiday Sale. The ACC does a pretty good job each year with its national shows in St. Paul, Baltimore, San Francisco and Atlanta, so Saturday’s event seems like a safe bet. Hosted by local art collective Ship & Shape, it features handmade ceramics, household wares, cards, woodwork, leather goods, fiber art, jewelry and more, all eminently gift-worthy. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ACC members can come an hour early for first pick and light refreshments.

Sunday at Orchestra Hall: The Minnesota Orchestra and the Rose Ensemble: “Navidad en Cuba: Christmas in Havana Cathedral.” For its first time ever singing with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Rose Ensemble, which specializes in rarely heard repertoire from around the world, performs a concert of music heard in 18th-century Cuba: works by Esteban Salas y Castro, Bach, Handel, Rafael Antonio Castellanos and others. 2 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25-$69).

Monday at the Guthrie: Kevin Kling: Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log. Kling’s hilarious and touching one-man show has become a holiday tradition for many. No matter how often you hear him speak of riding in the “way back” of the family’s 1965 Impala station wagon, it somehow stays fresh and new. 7:30 p.m. on the Wurtele Thrust Stage. FMI and tickets ($28/$23).