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Sally Award winners announced; Garrison Keillor to bid farewell to the fair

The Vision Award goes to Rhiana Yazzie, a Navajo theatre artist and filmmaker.
Courtesy of the Ordway
The Vision Award goes to Rhiana Yazzie, a Navajo theatre artist and filmmaker.

Five accomplished, creative, big-hearted individuals and organizations are the recipients of this year’s Sally Ordway Irvine Awards, the Ordway announced Thursday. The prestigious Sallies, now in their 25th year, recognize and honor those who work in the arts and arts education.

The Arts Access Award goes to Hunter Gullickson, accessibility manager at the Guthrie, who runs the ASL interpretation, audio description, open captioning, Braille publications and Ticket Opportunities Program (T.O.P.) for people with limited income. He strives to ensure that the Guthrie is welcoming to people of all abilities, and he helped establish the MN Access Alliance.

The Commitment Award goes to J. Otis Powell, who signs his name with an interrobang. He’s a writer, performance artist, mentor, curator, consultant, founding curator with Pangea World Theater of the “Bridges” performing arts program, author of four books and a founding producer of KFAI’s “Write On Radio!” He served as poetry editor for the “Blues Vision” anthology produced by Minnesota Humanities Center and Minnesota Historical Society Press and has won awards and grants from the Loft, the Jerome Foundation and the McKnight Foundation.

The Education Award goes to Z Puppets Rosenschnoz, a Minneapolis-based, nationally-touring company whose performances and workshops combine handcrafted puppetry with quirky humor and live music. Their three key initiatives are Arts for All Abilities, STEM of Puppetry, and Arts of Mindfulness. They have previously earned awards from the Jim Henson Foundation, Puppeteers of America, the IVEYs, and the Jerome and McKnight foundations.

The Initiative Award goes to Hmong song poet Bee Yang. Born in Laos, he grew up among the great song poets of his time and became a respected voice for his people. After years in the refugee camps of Thailand, he came to St. Paul in 1987 with his young family as part of the biggest wave of Hmong refugees to enter the U.S. Bee has released two albums of song poetry so far, won a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant for Folk and Traditional Arts, and inspired the award-winning book “The Song Poet,” written by his daughter, Kao Kalia Yang.

The Vision Award goes to Rhiana Yazzie, a Navajo theatre artist and filmmaker. Creator of New Native Theatre in 2009, she is a Playwrights’ Center McKnight Fellow, former Core Member and two-time Jerome Fellow. She is currently working on a play commission for the William Inge Center in Kansas, creating a multi-episode podcast about the highs and lows of being Native American in the Twin Cities and shooting her first feature film. Yazzie worked on and appears in Musa Syeed’s “A Stray,” named Best MN-Made Narrative Feature in the 2016 MSPIFF.

If you want to see the winners receive their awards, which is always a fun and festive night, there will be a free public celebration and ceremony at the Ordway on Monday, Oct. 16, starting at 6:30 p.m. Seating is limited. FMI and reservations.

Westminster Town Hall Forum announces Fall 2017 season

Still free and open to all, the Westminster Town Hall Forum keeps making lunch hours smart and thought-provoking. All forums are held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis, with music a half-hour before and a public reception after. All start at noon and last an hour. Can’t attend in person? They’re broadcast live on MPR News Presents, 91.1 FM in the Twin Cities.

Tuesday, Sept. 19: Carl Pope: Can We Save the Planet? A leader in the environmental movement, Pope is the former director and chairman of the Sierra Club and co-author of “Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet.”

Tuesday, Oct. 24: Ari Melber: Politics, Governing, and the Law. Melber is chief legal correspondent for MSNBC, covering the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Department and FBI. He hosts the political news program “The Beat.”

Tuesday, Nov. 28: James Forman Jr: Crime and Punishment in Black America. A professor of law at Yale and founder of the Maya Angelou Public Charter School serving incarcerated and at-risk youth, Forman is author of “Locking Up Our Own.”

Arts A’Fair returns to the fair

Going to the State Fair? Take a break from corn dogs, Zubaz-spotting and slow-moving crowds with performances by Minnesota-based artists. Over five days, two stages – KSTP Heritage Plaza at West End Market and Cosgrove Stage on Cosgrove, between Wright and Dan Patch (just outside the Education Building) – will host a series of pop-up showcases featuring drumming, dance, puppets and theater.

Check the schedule, then plan your day to catch the Black Storytellers Alliance, Chicks on Sticks, COLLIDE Theatrical Dance Company, Duniya Drum and Dance, Green T Productions, Ifrah Mansour, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, Lyric Arts Main Street Stage, Mixed Precipitation, Open Eye Figure Theatre, Stages Theatre Company, TaikoArts Midwest, Theatre Elision, Theatre of Fools, Voice of Culture Drum and Dance, and/or Zorongo Flamenco Dance. Each will perform four times. So that’s 68 performances in all.

The Arts A’Fair program began in 2013, supported in part by the Knight Foundation. We’re glad to see it’s back.

Garrison Keillor bids farewell to the fair (after Sept. 1)

It’s official: “The Minnesota Show With Garrison Keillor” on Friday, Sept. 1, will be Keillor’s final appearance on stage at the Grandstand.

In his own words: “This year I do my last show at the Fair, with the Steele Sisters, the Radio Acting Company, Heather Masse and Aoife O’Donovan, the Dworsky Orchestra, and the State Fair All-Star Fiddle Formation, and my daughter, 19, in the wings, and next year I’ll go back to where I started out, as a pedestrian in the throng, looking at the livestock, lining up for cheese curds, shopping for a pickup truck I won’t buy. And when I’m 100, I’ll be exhibited under canvas — World’s Oldest Living Radio Humorist.”

Courtesy of Plymouth Church
Garrison Keillor

Keillor already turned over “A Prairie Home Companion” to new host Chris Thile, who will begin his second season on Saturday, Oct. 7, live from the Palace Theatre – not, pay attention, the Fitzgerald Theatre. Keillor’s been on a 28-city “Prairie Home Love & Comedy Tour,” which he has said will be his last tour, and will wrap that up with stops in the final 11 cities after the Grandstand show.

Yes, “The Minnesota Show” will feature “Guy Noir, Private Eye,” Keillor’s standing intermission and sing-along with the audience, and his signature monologue, with the latest news from Lake Wobegon. And APHC-under-Garrison regulars Tim Russell, Sue Scott and Fred Newman. It’s going to be fun, nostalgic, joyous and wistful. For live performances by Garrison Keillor in Minnesota, this will be it. Finito. Or so he says. Not that we doubt him. Except before he started the “Love & Comedy Tour,” he wrote, “I thought I was done with all this but no, it’s too irresistible.” 7:45 p.m. FMI and tickets ($36/28).

The picks

Joe Horton
Courtesy of the Southern Theater
Joe Horton

Friday through Sunday at the Southern: Joe Horton: Black Magnesia. Last year around this time, composer, rapper, pianist, emcee and fiction writer Horton used music, visuals and dance to explore race, power, and historical wounds in “A Hill in Natchez,” named for a former Mississippi slave market. He returns with three nights of improvised music by some of the Twin Cities’ top improvisers, where each night highlights a different aspect of what makes improvisation foundational to the human experience. This is a wildly ambitious idea with the potential to be seriously mind-blowing. Each night features a duo and an ensemble. Friday: Chris Cunningham and Pat O’Keefe; Horton, Anthony Cox, Cory Healey and DeVon Gray. Saturday: Graham O’Brien and Gray; Horton, Dave King, James Buckley, Trever Hagen and Andrew Broder. Sunday: Peter Schimke and Josh Clausen; Mankwe Ndosi, Heather Barringer, Sarah Porwoll-Lee, Joey Van Phillips and Ernest Bisong. Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m., Sunday at 7:30. FMI and tickets (sliding scale $5-20).

Opens Saturday at Gamut Gallery: Sq2 [Squared]. 100 original works by 50 local and national artists, each 10" x 10". For her first solo curation, gallery co-owner Cassie Garner considered the collectible nature of tiny art, and its variety. The show includes illustration, street art, graphic design, collage, abstract, photography, glitch and mixed media. The opening reception features a live synth set. 7-11 p.m., $5. Through Sept. 8, when the finale will include a variety of performances that will take place in a 10' x 10' “box” and DJ sets. (The finale is 7-11 p.m, $10.)

Sunday along Franklin Ave. between Portland Ave. S. and 28th Ave. S.: Open Streets Franklin. Stroll, roll, bike or dance down car-free Franklin. Pick up a day-of map at the Open Streets tent at Franklin and Minnehaha. Stop at a food truck or a local restaurant; visit the American Indian Cultural Corridor and the East African Street Festival. Or just stand in the midle of the street, because you can. 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. FMI. Get a free Metro Transit ride to and from.

Sunday starting at the Mill City Museum: Disasters of the Riverfront Walking Tour. So peaceful, beautiful and increasingly pricey, the Mississippi riverfront has been the site of fires, floods, explosions, collapses and other natural and human-created calamities. In what sounds like a fascinating afternoon, someone from the Minnesota Historical Society will tell you all about it. 1-2:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($14/$11 MNHS members). Also Sunday, Sept. 24.

Wednesday starting at the Soap Factory: Common Room: The Neighborhood Mixtape Tour. An audio tour, by bus, of Minneapolis neighborhoods. The soundtrack: playlists curated by residents and commentaries that showcase each neighborhood’s character, characteristics, flavor and essence. Makes you think: What would your neighborhood sound like? Hosted by artist, author and writer Andy Sturdevant and artist Sergio Vucci. This is the final Common Room event of the season. The bus leaves from the Soap Factory at 6 p.m. Free.

On the radar

On Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m., led by Osmo Vänskä, the Minnesota Orchestra will give a free concert at The Commons. The program will include selections from Smetana’s “The Moldau,” Dvorák’s “Slavonic Dances,” Sibelius’ “Finlandia” and John Williams’ score for “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It will last about an hour. Stay after work or buzz downtown.

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