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Creative City Challenge names 3 finalists; ‘2 Sugars, Room for Cream’ at Park Square

Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
“mini_polis,” one of three Creative City Challenge finalists.

Three finalists have been announced for the 2015 Creative City Challenge, now in its third year. A collaboration among several partners – the Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC), which funds it; the Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy Program of the City of Minneapolis; Meet Minneapolis; Northern Lights.mn; and the Northern Spark Festival – the Challenge places a large, temporary work of public, participatory art on the plaza across from the Convention Center.

This year’s finalists for the $75,000 commission include Niko Kubata and Jon Reynolds for “mini_polis,” a scale model of Minneapolis and surrounding neighborhoods informed by stories contributed by community participants, with audio and interactive map station. A team from the architectural firm Perkins+Will, led by Anne Smith and Doug Bergert, have proposed “Shadow Swings,” where public interaction with swings, wind chimes and lights will create a changing canvas of music and shadows. “We All Share the Same Skies,” conceived by PLAAD, an interdisciplinary design office led by Matthew Byers and Mark Stankey, will project live feeds of the northern sky on a large horizontal screen, augmented by sounds. The finalists were chosen by a panel; the winning project will be decided by a jury, announced in March and installed on the plaza in June as part of Northern Spark.

The Minneapolis Arts Commission released its annual report this week. It was brief – two pages – and summarized activities in five areas. 1) A steering committee of elected officials and staff, Arts Commissioners, community experts and artists is working on a 10-year strategic plan to define the city’s role in supporting its creative sector assets and the creative sector’s role in helping the city reach some of its goals. The planning process is called the Creative City Road Map; the plan will be presented to the City Council sometime in 2015. 2) Funded by a $1 million grant from the Kresge Foundation, the Creative CityMaking program at Intermedia Arts is integrating artists into the operations of up to five City of Minneapolis departments. 3) The John Biggers Seed Project in North Minneapolis continues to engage renowned African-American artists in mentoring emerging artists in placemaking. 4) “Balancing Ground,” the winner of the 2014 Creative City Challenge, was dismantled and its materials donated to Habitat for Humanity. 5) Public arts permits and design reviews are on the rise, due in part to the Arts Commission’s efforts to simplify the process.

Writing for the Star Tribune, Eric Roper looks at public art along Nicollet Mall – past, present and future. Anyone remember the ice fountain in front of Gaviidae Common? Did you know that the Mary Tyler Moore statue is privately owned? (We didn’t. Does this mean the owner might one day take it back?) The $50 million reconstruction project budget includes $500,000 to commission a signature work, $200,000 for smaller works and $250,000 for what is being called a “key feature.” When Union Depot was renovated, the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority budgeted $1.25 million for public art. The Depot was a $243 million renovation.

The sixth season of TPT’s award-winning arts almanac series, “MN Original,” began last Sunday with profiles of mixed-media artist Greg Gossell, Springboard for the Arts director Laura Zabel and 86-year-old bluesman Cornbread Harris. If you missed it, you can watch it online. This Sunday’s episode features spoken word poet Tish Jones, tattoo and visual artist Kurt Melancon and visual artist (and former Replacement) Chris Mars. It premieres at 6 p.m. on Channel 2. Covering a broad and eclectic swath of Minnesota artists, “MN Original” is a splendid use of Legacy funds.

The picks

Starts today at the Science Museum of Minnesota: Omnifest 2015. The annual celebration of really big movies – sweeping nature, history and travel films shown in the museum’s Omnitheater – includes “D-Day: Normandy 1944” (new this year), “The Greatest Places” (from Tibet’s Chang Tang Plateau to the icebergs of Greenland), “The Living Sea” (narrated by Meryl Streep, with music by Sting), “Hubble” (the cosmos, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio), and “Flight of the Butterflies,” a movie with a Minnesota connection. Films run in rotation Tuesday-Sunday through Feb. 19. FMI and tickets ($20-$7).

Tonight at the Park Square Theatre in St. Paul: “2 Sugars, Room for Cream.” The two-woman comedy written and performed by Carolyn Pool and Shanan Custer started at the Fringe in 2009, moved to the Illusion, then the New Century, then the Jerome Hill. Last week it started a 12-night run on the Park Square’s new Andy Boss stage. What’s next? Broadway? A series of vignettes about women’s relationships, the Ivey-winning show is not for women only. 7:30 p.m. Through Sunday, Jan. 18. FMI and tickets ($25).

Sunday at Westminster Presbyterian Church: Concert Celebrating Renewed Friendship with Cuba. Westminster has strong ties to Cuba; it has spent years advocating for change in U.S. policy toward the island nation and has partnered with a congregation in Matanzas since 2002. Senior pastor Tim Hart-Andersen has traveled to Cuba 21 times over the past few decades and spoke personally with President Obama about Cuba at a recent White House event. In honor of the new thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations, the church is holding a concert featuring fiery Cuban pianist Nachito Herrera, now a Minnesota resident who performs often at the Dakota. 4 p.m. Free and open to the public.

Sunday at the Ordway Music Theater: Dobet Gnahoré. A Grammy winner from the Ivory Coast, Gnahoré has a gorgeous voice and a charismatic stage presence. By turns melancholy, upbeat and hair-raising, she sings and dances and draws you in, bearing a message of peace, forgiveness and tolerance. Go early for an introduction to Afro-pop with media producer Janis Lane-Ewart, ethnomusicologist/composer/drummer, Sawah Mensah, and Doug Cain of KFAI’s Global Beat. Concert at 7:30 p.m., pre-show at 6:30. FMI and tickets ($20-$45). 

Next Thursday, Jan. 15 at Northrop: Physics Circus. This sounds silly yet instructive; you’ll laugh and learn something. Each year, the Physics Force, an outreach program of the U’s College of Science and Engineering, puts together a week of daytime shows for more than 25,000 school-age children to show that physics and math can be fun and interesting. Only one performance is open to the general public. Watch a physicist drop 20 feet through the air as a friend shoots a ball at him from a cannon. Be there as high school teachers and professors shoot streams of toilet paper over the audience with a leaf blower. See a 55-gallon steel barrel get crushed in a fraction of a second. That sort of thing, on stage at the new Northrop, which isn’t just for fancy-pants arts events. 7 p.m. Free, but reservations are required.

Save the date 

Pick almost any date from Saturday, Feb. 7 (when previews begin) and Sunday, March 29 (when it closes). Just don’t miss “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Guthrie. This is one of Joe Dowling’s signature plays, one we want to see during his final season, and Tyler Michaels (“Cabaret,” “My Fair Lady”) has just been cast as Puck. Tickets start at $15 for selected previews, and a limited number of onstage seats will be available. FMI

Use the Twin Cities Iveys Calendar on MinnPost to find this weekend’s performances by any of the Twin Cities’ 78 pro theater companies .

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