Interactive ‘mini_polis’ will debut in June; Northern Voice Festival sets lineup

Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
“Mini_polis” will be more than a tiny city.

The winner of this year’s Creative City Challenge, the annual competition that places a temporary work of public art on the Minneapolis Convention Center plaza, may leave us feeling a bit like Gulliver among the Lilliputians, or Alice after the “EAT ME” cake.

Conceived by SocialSculpture, an artists’ collaboration that includes Niko Kubota, Jon Reynolds and Micah Roth, “mini_polis” will be a 50-foot diameter scale model of downtown Minneapolis. Installed on a low wood platform with ADA-accessible “highways” (ramps), miniature plywood buildings real and imagined will encourage visitors to see the city in a new way. Some of the buildings will be assembled at community workshops from kits provided by SocialSculpture.

But “mini_polis” will be more than a tiny city. The Creative City Challenge requires installations to be interactive. The streetscape will be painted with chalkboard paint so visitors can respond in drawings and comments. Local residents who come to the workshops will record their stories about why they love Minneapolis and what they dream it will become. A media station will feature a series of buttons. When you press one, a building will light up and a story will play. At night, the windows of some buildings will be illuminated by internal LED lights that twinkle off and on. The sculpture will also serve as a platform for activities. The artists envision toddlers exploring, teens filming the next “Godzilla” movie and City Council planning meetings. (We’re not sure about City Council members pulling up little chairs, but we’re willing to be surprised.) Public events will be announced at a later date.

A $75,000 commission funded by the Minneapolis Convention Center, “mini_polis” will make its debut on June 13, 2015, as part of Northern Spark, the annual all-night art festival. This is the Creative City Challenge’s third year. The 2013 winner was the Minneapolis Interactive Macro Mood Installation (MIMMI), a pressurized sculpture suspended in the air that changed color depending on the city’s mood. (For some reason, whenever we saw it, MIMMI was pink.) “Balancing Ground,” which won in 2014, was a large, skeletal wood structure, part barn and part chapel, with a see-saw, a canopy of prisms and directional speakers that played narrow beams of sound – community voices talking about balance in life and work. You could sit there and ponder; you could even get married there. Two of the artists did. Maybe we’ll see weddings in “mini_polis.”


Love choral music? Wish it had its own festival, kind of like the Fringe? New this year, the Northern Voice Festival (April 10-May 10) has announced the full lineup of groups for its two Festival Days and put tickets on sale. More than 2,500 singers will appear in seven venues during 45 hours of performances.

On Saturday, April 11 in Minneapolis, 16 groups will perform from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in two venues at Augsburg College and at the Ted Mann Concert Hall. Headliners include VocalPoint, From Age to Age and Angelica Cantanti’s Concert Choir. On Saturday, April 25 in downtown St. Paul, 19 groups will perform from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at MPR’s UBS Forum, the Landmark Center, Central Presbyterian Church and the Ordway Concert Hall. Headliners are Singers in Accord, Great River Chorale, Saint Peter Choral Society, Angelica Cantati’s Cantati Singers, One Voice Mixed Chorus, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus and Exultate Chamber Choir and Orchestra.

Events are being added daily for inclusion in the Festival Month, a statewide initiative with concerts self-produced by groups and promoted by the festival. Check the calendar for the latest. For calendar events, tickets are available from the individual groups. For Festival Day events, tickets are available on the festival website here and here. A Golden Ticket ($40) gets you into every Festival Day performance.


If you tried for tickets to Patricia Kopatchinskaya’s next concerts at the Ordway Concert Hall or the Jason Moran & Robert Glasper performance at the Walker only to learn they were sold out, you can turn that frown upside-down. The SPCO has added a third “Pat Kop” performance on Sunday, March 29 at 1 p.m. FMI and tickets ($12-$50, kids $5). And the Walker has added a late set for the two great young jazz pianists. Saturday, May 2, 10:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($28/$25).

The weekend picks

Tonight (Friday, March 13) at Mpls Photo Center: “American Splendor: Panoramas by Rich Frishman.” Frishman is a photographic storyteller whose work has appeared on the covers of LIFE, TIME, Sports Illustrated and other magazines. For this series, he imagined himself an archaeologist, documenting the future remains of a lost civilization. While his photos look at first like single images, each is made of dozens, sometimes hundreds of images. Some were shot over an afternoon, some over months and years. Artist talk from 5-6 p.m., reception from 6:30-9 p.m. Through May 4.

Tonight at Jazz Central: Peter Vircks Quartet. Saxophonist Vircks released one of our favorite local jazz CDs of 2014, “What You Believe Is True.” Straight-ahead, funkified and very appealing music. With Brian Ziemniak on organ, Ron Evaniuk on bass, Kevin Washington on drums and guest percussionist Daryl Boudreaux. 7:30 p.m. $10 suggested cover.

Saturday at Vine Arts Center: Venus and Other Roman Deities. The 15th annual exhibition by the Minneapolis Drawing Workshop features images of Roman gods and goddesses by 16 artists. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.

Saturday at the U’s Rarig Center: Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Semi-Final. Hosted by TruArtSpeaks, this series is in the process of identifying six young poets living in Minnesota who will represent the state in the annual International Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam Festival in Atlanta in July. FMI. 6 p.m. FMI and tickets ($3 students/$5 adults).

Opens Saturday at the Southern: Savage Umbrella: “These Are the Men.” The second group of plays in the Southern’s new ARTshare program includes Savage Umbrella’s reimagining of the Oedipus mythology through the eyes of Jocasta, his wife. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($24 general admission, $18/month for ARTshare members). Ends April 18.

Sunday at Hopkins High School: JazzMN Orchestra with guest Pete Christlieb. Bebop saxophonist Christlieb has had a long and colorful career. He’s played with Della Reese, Carmen McRae, Woody Herman, Louie Bellson, Pearl Bailey and Sonny Criss. Chet Baker died without paying Christlieb $300 and gas money owed from their time on the road. Christlieb had a 20-year stint with “The Tonight Show” and played on “Star Trek” for almost as long. (Yes, that was actual live music behind those episodes.) More recently, he’s recorded with Natalie Cole, Michael Buble and Seth McFarlane and played on the TV show “Family Guy.” He’s the featured guest with our own 16-piece JazzMN Orchestra in a rare afternoon concert. 3 p.m. FMI and tickets ($32/$34). Free parking.

Plan ahead

The young Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin has been called “potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century.” Some of us know him from his recordings of Beethoven piano concertos with the Minnesota Orchestra. He made his Minnesota debut on the Chopin Society’s 2006-7 season and returns as its featured artist Sunday, April 12, when the program includes works by Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Saint-Saëns. 3 p.m. at Macalester’s Mairs Concert Hall. FMI and tickets ($25/$20/$15). Scroll down to order using PayPal.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Niko Kubota on 03/13/2015 - 01:49 pm.


    Thank you for the write-up! We hope that, unlike Alice and Gulliver, some visitors to mini_polis will be creative contributors to this small world. Our first workshop is at Leonardo’s Basement on Saturday March 28th. FMI and to sign up:

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