Three exhibitions this winter will invite us to look more closely at the contributions and perspectives of Native American artists. Opening today at the Minnesota Museum of American Art Project space, “Julie Buffalohead: Coyote Dreams” is the first major museum show of work by the Minnesota-based artist, MCAD graduate and enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma. Some 25 drawings and paintings chart her development from the early 2000s to today. Related programs include a public reception with the artist on Thursday, Jan. 15, with storytelling inspired by her art and curated by poet Heid Erdrich. On Saturday, Jan. 24, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre will bring their puppet show “Coyote Stories” to the Project Space for a special performance.
On Feb. 6, “Entwined: New Prints by Julie Buffalohead” will open at Highpoint Center for Printmaking, with nine prints developed in collaboration between the artist and Highpoint’s professional print workshop. She’ll be present for the opening reception, and the prints will be on view through March 28.
On Feb. 14, “Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison” will open at the History Center. Organized by the MMAA and Arts Midwest with the Plains Museum, the national touring exhibition is the first comprehensive retrospective of a key Native American modernist. Nearly 80 drawings, paintings, prints and sculptures bring together concepts of abstraction, landscape and spiritual reflection. Most are from the MMAA, which has one of the largest, most important collections of Morrison’s artwork in the country. Some were loaned for a show that helped inaugurate the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. in Sept. 2004. FMI. Through April 26.
“MN Original,” TPT’s encyclopedic series on Twin Cities artists and arts organizations, launches its sixth season Jan. 4 with profiles of Springboard for the Arts director Laura Zabel, musician Cornbread Harris and printmaker Greg Gossel. The episode will begin airing Jan. 4 before and after “Downton Abbey,” the public television equivalent of the Super Bowl.
So far, “MN Original” has featured more than 2,500 artists and nearly 300 arts organizations. Winner of seven regional Emmys in 2014, it’s a good use of Legacy money and accessible 24/7 at the website. Other artists we’ll see this season include Honeydogs frontman Adam Levy, poet and emcee Tish Jones, filmmaker Shelli Ainsworth, sculptor/installation artist Alexa Horochowski, artist and former Replacements drummer Chris Mars, art car artist Jan Elftmann and playwright Jeffrey Hatcher. The next time NASA or whatever launches an interstellar mission, we hope they’ll include a season or two of “MN Original.”
Ten years ago in mid-January, MPR’s The Current was born – a new kind of radio station, now enormously influential and heard around the world. (As Mark Wheat once told City Pages, “I’m the morning show in China.”) And those red 89.3 stickers are everywhere. This January, the noncommercial tastemaker will celebrate its first decade on the air with “10 Days of Random Acts of Musical Kindness.” Starting Thursday, Jan. 15, you can take part in a series of events including concerts, a dance party, discussions, live broadcasts, a screening of “Purple Rain” with Heiruspecs Band, record shopping with DJs at the Electric Fetus, and tubing at Theodore Wirth Park. Some are ticketed, some are free. You can even sign up to win an Orbit Lounge Chair. FMI.
Tonight (Thursday, Dec. 18) and Friday at the Dakota: Sonny Knight & The Lakers. It took almost 50 years for R&B singer Sonny Knight to follow up on his first single and win the attention he deserves. His appearance on “Twin Cities Funk & Soul,” the compilation issued by the Twin Cities label Secret Stash in 2012, was a revelation to a lot of people and put him back in the spotlight. Earlier this year, he and his band the Lakers released their debut album, “I’m Still Here.” Over four shows in two nights at the Dakota, they’ll record a live album, out next year on double LP and CD. Friday’s shows are standing/dancing, so if you want to sit and order drinks, tonight’s your night. 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday. FMI and tickets ($20/$25).
Friday at Concordia University’s E.M. Pearson Theater: Iny Asian Dance Theater: “Longing for Qeej: A Traditional Hmong Dance Drama.” Hmong dances, acrobatics and multimedia tell stories of the Hmong Village and its mythical creatures. A family-friendly show choreographed by Iny Xiong, created entirely by Hmong Americans and performed by young Hmong dancers in fabulous costumes and lots of sequins. 275 Syndicate Street North, St. Paul. 7 p.m. Admission $15. FMI.
Friday at the Ted Mann: The Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony: From the New World. Led by Mark Russell Smith, student musicians ages 8-18 from across the Twin Cities region perform Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9, Fauré’s Sicilienne from “Pelléas et Mélisande,” and Kabalevsky’s “Colas Breugnon.” Thanks to GTCYS, more than 750 students participate in seven academic-year orchestras and two summer programs; the staff includes coaches from the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($10/$6 general admission).
Tonight at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Third Thursday: Festivus. Need a break from lights, lists and carols? The MIA is happy to help. In honor of the anti-holiday made popular by “Seinfeld,” you can air your grievances with Danger Boat Productions (who apparently aren’t busy enough with their “Unscripted Minnesota Holiday” show at the Bryant-Lake Bowl), make your own Festivus Pole, dance to music by Fort Wilson Riot and have your picture taken in the ugly-sweater photobooth. 6-9 p.m. Free.
Tonight through Saturday: The Rose Ensemble: “Bow Down, Good Cherry Tree: A Garden of Medieval Music for the Nativity.” After winning raves for its first-ever performance with the Minnesota Orchestra on Sunday, the Rose Ensemble presents its own holiday program, its title drawn from a very old Christmas carol. 7:30 tonight at Sacred Heart Music center in Duluth; 8 p.m. Friday at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in St. Paul; 8 p.m. Saturday at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. FMI and tickets ($10-$37).
Friday and Sunday at Orchestra Hall: “Jingle Bell Doc.” The Minnesota Orchestra’s Pops Conductor Laureate returns for his annual holiday visit to play with his friends, dazzle us with his trumpet and blind us with his suits. At 87, Doc Severinsen is a good argument for a life spent in jazz. With the Minnesota Orchestra, vocalists Vanessa Thomas and Joseph Wolverton, and the Twin Cities Bronze Handbell ensemble. 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Both shows are nearly sold out; your best bet is Sunday. FMI and tickets ($30-$75).
Saturday at the Dakota: The Peterson Family: ’Twas the Jam Before Christmas. For many music fans, the Petersons are a holiday tradition. For energy, musicality, sincerity, talent and a guaranteed good time, you can’t go wrong with Minnesota’s First Family of Music. Siblings Linda, Billy, Ricky, Patty, and Paul, their cousin Russ, and third-generation member Jason Peterson de Laire know how to put on a show. 5 and 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25).