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Forecast Public Art awards $86,000 in grants; free tickets for furloughed workers

ALSO: Vänskä Conducts Future Classics at Orchestra Hall; “The Great Leap” at the Guthrie; and more.

Candida Gonzalez
Candida Gonzalez is a consulting associate at Forecast Public Art.
Courtesy of Forecast Public Art

Forecast Public Art has awarded $86,000 in grants to 13 Minnesota-based artists. New this year, it has named five consulting associates who will help bring more people of color into the field of public art.

Pete Driessen
Courtesy of Forecast Public Art
Pete Driessen
The artist grants, funded by the McKnight and Jerome foundations, include midcareer-project and professional-development grants and early-career project and R&D grants.

This year marks a significant change in the midcareer-project grant. What used to be one grant to one artist of $50,000 is now five grants to five artists of $10,000 each, a decision made to boost quantity and diversity. Five public artists instead of just one will create new, publicly accessible, temporary or permanent artworks in the state of Minnesota.

This year’s midcareer project grant recipients include Todd Boss, who will produce a free GPS-based app called MoVA: The Museum of Virtual Art, that will turn the Green Line into a permanent augmented-reality museum. Pete Driessen will create an abstract, monumental, participatory roundhouse sculpture at the historic Northern Pacific Rail yard site in Brainerd.

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Aaron Dysart will create a reactive light installation outside Fulton Brewery’s taproom. The installation will use data from a U of M experiment that cleans wastewater produced during brewing. Karen Savage-Blue will create a large exterior mural on the Early Childhood building owned by the Fond du Lac reservation. And Bryan Thao Worra will create an interactive Lao American speculative poetry exhibit in north Minneapolis.

Karen Savage-Blue
Courtesy of Forecast Public Art
Karen Savage-Blue
Early-career-project grantees Kazua Vang and Moira Villiard will each receive $8,000. Vang will create a projected installation of experimental short films called “Hmong Ephemera.” Villiard will partner with Zeitgeist in Duluth, a nonprofit arts and community development organization, on four street murals in the city’s Central Hillside neighborhood.

Pramila Vasudevan and Dyani White Hawk are this year’s midcareer professional development grantees ($5,000). Vasudevan will participate in a Weisman Art Museum residency; White Hawk will attend a residency in Munich, Germany.

Early-career R&D grantee Daniel McCarthy Clifford will explore the stories of Minnesota farmers, laborers, journalists and politicians imprisoned for protesting during WWI. Kaysone Syonesa will gather information for a family-friendly play exploring refugee identity. Maria Cristina Tavera will research providing a space in south Minneapolis for visual art, performance and film for artists of color from the community. Wisdom Young will travel to Ghana and Senegal to do research for an artwork for north Minneapolis.

Witt Slasoco
Courtesy of Forecast Public Art
Witt Siasoco
In 2018, Forecast launched a program called GroundWork to support the work of consultants of color in the field of public art. Tricia Heuring, Hawona Sullivan Janzen, Aki Shibata, Candida Gonzalez and Witt Siasoco were all part of GroundWork. They are now consulting associates with six-month paid positions. “People of color are underrepresented in key consulting roles, leadership positions and decision-making roles in the public art and placemaking fields,” Forecast’s Executive Director Theresa Sweetland said in a statement. “As a leader in this field, we are committed to changing this picture.”

Based in St. Paul, with a global reach, Forecast is one of the nation’s top nonprofits dedicated to advancing the field of public art. It works with communities to plan and bring public art projects to life; supports artists with grants, professional development and technical assistance; offers a K-12 education program, Public Art in the Schools; and publishes the biannual Public Art Review.

Free tickets for furloughed federal employees

While the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has advised furloughed employees to bargain with their landlords, trade chores for rent, have a garage sale, walk dogs and basically “acknowledge that this is hard work,” at least two Twin Cities organizations are stepping up with something more substantial: free tickets.

The Minnesota Orchestra announced Tuesday that furloughed federal government employees are eligible for two complimentary tickets to the classical concert of their choice through June 2019 (subject to availability). Tickets must be reserved before Thursday, Feb. 28. “Music has the power to ease burdens a little bit,” said President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns. “We invite federal employees to join us for an upcoming orchestra concert.” Reserve here (use the promo code FEDERAL) or call 612-371-5656. A government-issued ID is required when picking up tickets.

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The Science Museum of Minnesota is offering free exhibit gallery and Omnitheater admission for furloughed employees and up to three guests. Visitors must show a valid government ID card at the box office. “We know that this lengthy government shutdown is challenging for federal employees on many levels,” said President and CEO Alison Rempel Brown. “We hope that our small gesture will provide them a little relief.”

The picks

Thursday at Aloft Minneapolis: Opening reception for “Ta-coumba Aiken: Rhythm Patterns.” The unofficial mayor of Lowertown, Aiken has been a powerful, positive presence on the Twin Cities arts scene for years. Here’s a chance to see several of his loose and lively “rhythm paintings” on paper and canvas. In the lobby and lounge. Hosted by Gallery 13 Contemporary Art. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free. On January 26 at 2:30, Aiken will give an artist talk.

Photo by Simon Fowler
On her second visit to the Twin Cities this season, Nicola Benedetti will work with students and give a pair of International Artist Series concerts with Alexei Grynyuk.
Friday at the Ordway: Nicola Benedetti and Alexei Grynyuk. In December, superstar Scottish violinist Benedetti was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by HRM Queen Elizabeth II. She’s also the Schubert Club’s inaugural Featured Artist, which doesn’t come with a medal but gives us more opportunities to hear her play. On her second visit to the Twin Cities this season (she was here in October for the Schubert Club Mix series), Benedetti will work with students and give a pair of International Art Series concerts with Grynyuk, her regular duo partner. The program includes the U.S. premiere of a new work by Wynton Marsalis. 7:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($26-68).

Friday at Orchestra Hall: Vänskä Conducts Future Classics. The 16th Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, directed by Kevin Puts, will wrap with its culminating event: live performances of new works by new composers, performed by the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vänskä. Which must be a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. The compositions range in length from 5 minutes to 16 minutes. Composers include the orchestra’s own assistant concertmaster, Rui Du; Malaysian pianist, composer and conductor Tengku Irfan, who made his debut at 11 performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 and improvising his own cadenzas; and TJ Cole, who wrote her first composition at age 6. Fred Child of MPR’s “Performance Today” will host. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20-40).

Opens Friday at the Guthrie: “The Great Leap.” Desdemona Chiang directs Lauren Yee’s new drama about a Beijing University basketball coach and a basketball-playing teen from San Francisco’s Chinatown. The story travels in time between China’s Cultural Revolution and the student protests in Tiananmen Square. Good to know as you go in: Yee’s stage directions say, “This is a play about basketball. But it is also a basketball play. The game is reflected not just in the subject matter but the rhythm, structure, language, and how the characters move through space.” With Leah Anderson, Lawrence Kao, Kurt Kwan and Lee Sellars. 7:30 p.m. on the proscenium stage. FMI and tickets ($29-78).

Saturday at the Playwrights’ Center: Workhaus Collective Book Release Party. Serious (and playful) fans of Twin Cities theater, this is for you. Founded in 2006, Workhaus Collective was a group of Minnesota-based, nationally recognized playwrights who came together to create a new space for productions of locally made new work for local audiences. In 2016, after 25 new play productions, the Collective ended its run with Carson Kreitzer’s sold-out “Lasso of Truth” (the one about Wonder Woman). Edited by Rain Taxi’s Eric Lorberer, “Workhaus Collective: An Anthology of Plays” will be available at the release party for $10 (cash or check only). Or you can buy it after the event for $30. Food and beverages will be available; Workhaus veterans Annie and the Bang Bang will play in the theater. 7-11 p.m. Free.