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7 memorable arts stories of 2018

These columns are a small window into the changes, challenges and triumphs of our thriving and evolving arts scene.

Bell’s new diorama
The woolly mammoth was newly crafted by hand in Minnesota and is a part of Pleistocene Minnesota, the Bell Museum’s first new diorama in more than 60 years.
MinnPost photo by John Whiting

There’s always so much to look back on when you live and work among an embarrassment of arts riches. These 2018 Artscape columns are a small window into the changes, challenges and triumphs of our thriving and evolving arts scene.

1. Women in jazz: Several booked for TC Jazz Festival

Women in jazz have traditionally been ignored, underrepresented and marginalized. We were happy to report that Steve Heckler, executive director of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, had booked several women for the 2018 event, including three out of four of the headliners.

2. SPCO’s Liquid Music commissions Philip Glass work

Year after year, the SPCO’s Liquid Music series gets more adventurous and influential. For the 2018-19 season, Liquid Music shared in commissioning the first-ever work for percussion by iconic American composer Philip Glass. Curator Kate Nordstrum’s imagination, curiosity and connections are making her a force on the national arts scene.

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3. Impressive Bell Museum opens on U’s St. Paul campus

There were times when we thought the new Bell Museum would never be funded. But it was – thanks to a 2014 end-of-session legislative deal – and in June we were thrilled to tour the beautiful Bell on the U of M’s St. Paul campus. The architecturally impressive, environmentally responsible new home of Minnesota’s official natural history museum is a major addition to our cultural landscape, and those dioramas!

4. Wing Young Huie wins McKnight award

For 21 straight years starting in 1998, the arts-supporting, Minneapolis-based McKnight Foundation has recognized artists who have chosen to make their lives here and enriched our communities with their art. It has been a special pleasure to interview several McKnight distinguished artists, including the humble, unassuming, high-energy Wing Young Huie.

5. Artists’ visa problems affecting local arts events

We’ve been trying to call attention to a growing problem that affects Twin Cities arts organizations and presenters: the difficulty, sometimes impossibility, of securing visas for visiting international artists. Along with Mizna’s Arab Film Festival, the Cedar Cultural Center, with its close ties to Somali artists, has felt this strongly.

6. Mia’s fascinating ‘Egypt’s Sunken Cities’ exhibition opens (be sure to go!)

Part priceless art, part exacting marine archaeology, all ancient history, “Egypt’s Sunken Cities” is a fascinating exhibition. It’s also kind of complicated, which is why we wrote more of an introductory piece. Catch it before it closes on April 14, 2019. Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, is often in the news, telling the world about the latest in his nation’s never-ending discoveries.

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7. Sarah Rasmussen: making big changes at the Jungle

One of several new artistic directors on the large and robust Twin Cities theater scene, Sarah Rasmussen has made the Jungle more diverse and daring. She has also shown considerable skill at attracting grants and awards to support the Jungle and her ambitions for its continued success and significance, locally and nationally.