Frankenstein in the limelight at Bakken and MCBA; time for the Uptown Art Fair

Who could have foreseen that a novel written by an English teenager in the early 1800s – a girl, no less – would become an indelible part of our culture, birth a thousand spin-offs and shape how we see science and its moral and ethical consequences? Think “Frankenstein” and what usually comes to mind is Boris Karloff with a bolt through his neck, or angry villagers with pitchforks and torches. It all started, the story goes, with a contest among literary friends, and a dream.

The year 2016 is the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” a good excuse for a global celebration. At the Bakken Museum, a “Frankenstein’s Laboratory” exhibit is ongoing, with “Mary and Her Monster: Mary Shelley and the World That Created Frankenstein” set to open Oct. 29.

At the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, “It’s Alive!,” a juried show that opens Friday, explores the many ways book, paper, and print artists express horror. The theme is a broad brush. Some artists were inspired by campy B movies. Others addressed contemporary psychological fear, urban myths and paranormal activity. The show includes artists’ books of many types, in many forms: visual narratives, installations, traditional and digital printmaking and other works on paper, sculptural book works, independent publications, mixed media, assemblage and interactive art. Part of the show, “Reanimated: Frankenstein Rebound,” includes professional and amateur interpretive bindings of Shelley’s work, from fine bindings to creatively re-packaged paperbacks.

On Friday, MCBA will host an opening reception from 6-9 p.m. where you can meet and speak with many of the artists. “It’s Alive” continues through Halloween night, Oct. 31. That night, also at the MCBA, community members will read chapters of Shelley’s book aloud in a “Frankenstein Read-a-Thon.” Want to be a reader? Contact Camille Erickson at cerickson@mnbooksarts.org.

We’ll keep an eye out for more Frankenstein-related events.

JazzMN crosses the river

The JazzMN Orchestra, the stellar big band founded in 1998 by trumpeter and educator Doug Snapp, will open its 2016-17 season on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the acoustically sublime Ordway Concert Hall. It will be an ideal place to hear guest artist Terence Blanchard, the New Orleans-born (and still based) trumpeter and composer best known outside jazz for scoring many of Spike Lee’s films. Blanchard learned the jazz ropes from Lionel Hampton and Art Blakey; he has since recorded more than 30 albums as a leader or co-leader and won four Grammys.

Courtesy of Burgess Management
Terence Blanchard

The rest of JazzMN’s 19th season – let’s pause a moment in honor of a jazz band with that kind of longevity – takes place at its regular stomping grounds, the Hopkins High School auditorium on Lindbergh Drive in Minnetonka.

Saturday, Nov. 19: A tribute to the music of New Orleans, from trad jazz to second-line brass bands, Big Easy jazz standards, blues and Cajun funk.

Sunday, March 5: A concert of collaborations, with students from the Minnesota Youth Jazz Bands and the Dakota Combo and guest artists from the LA Urban Renewal Band, which melds jazz with pop and hip-hop.

Saturday, April 8: Minnesota native and Grammy-winning composer Maria Schneider will be JazzMN’s special guest. Schneider is a multiple Grammy winner; she received her latest award for “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime),” a collaboration with the late David Bowie on his final album, “Blackstar.” (We’ll have another chance to see Schneider in February, when she comes to the O’Shaughnessy with her Grammy-winning “The Thompson Fields.”)

Season tickets and singles to the Blanchard concert at the Ordway are available now. Single tickets to the three Hopkins High School concerts will be available later this summer. FMI.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, Aug. 4) at the Dakota: Bettye LaVette. The Great Lady of Soul loves her latest album, “Worthy,” so much that for a time she was performing the whole thing from start to finish during her live concerts. By now, she’s back to mixing in songs from her 53-year career, but we can still expect to hear a lot of “Worthy,” which critics (and audiences) are loving. One set only, 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($47/$42).

Friday-Sunday in Uptown: 53rd Annual Uptown Art Fair. It’s the biggest, some say the best, others say the most maddening of the annual art fairs. Some 375,000 people are expected to flood into Uptown to wander the streets, view original work by more than 350 artists chosen by a five-member jury, and, it’s hoped, take something home. Special events break up your looking, shopping and eating experience: a screening of “The Wizard of Oz” on Friday at 8:45 p.m. (in the outdoor parking lot at Girard Ave. and Lake St., behind Calhoun Square), live music day and night on the performance stage at Salsa a la Salsa (here’s the schedule), a culinary arts competition. Get your free Metro Transit ArtPass and leave your car at home. Friday noon-8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. FMI.

Courtesy of Franconia Sculpture Park
Franconia Hot Metal Pour. Because it’s never too hot
for molten metal.

Saturday at Franconia Sculpture Park: Hot Metal Pour. Just what we need in the dog days: giant ladles full of molten metal. Don’t be a wuss. This will be fun! Watch the brave artists pour glowing liquid iron into molds. Enjoy the music of Savage Aural Hotbed (we are not making this up). Take a free behind-the-scenes tour of this remarkable park full of contemporary sculptures. If you want to see the artists pour metal into a one-of-a-kind mold made by you, sign up now for a mold-making workshop tonight (Thursday, Aug. 4) from 4-7 or Saturday (pour day) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (There’s no cost for the workshop; molds are $30-$130, depending on size and complexity.) Saturday’s events run from noon to 8 p.m. Free. Despite the road work going on all around it, the park is completely accessible. See the website for details.

Saturday at the Ted Mann: Mendelssohn’s “Elijah.” Mendelssohn based his greatest oratorio on the story of the prophet Elijah, told in the Books of Kings. What a story it is – of a man who defied an idol-worshiping king, brought fire and rain down from heaven, angered Queen Jezebel and was carried to heaven in a fiery chariot. According to composer Ferdinand Hiller, Mendelssohn was inspired by these words from 1 Kings 19:11: “And behold, the LORD passed by.” Hear it sung by 150 singers and soloists, backed by a professional orchestra, conducted by the Oratorio Society of Minnesota’s artistic director, Matthew Mehaffey. U of M musicology professor and Mendelssohn expert Peter Mercer-Taylor will lead a preconcert discussion at 7 p.m. Concert at 7:30. Tickets $10-15. 

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