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A wild (but hopefully not rainy) weekend; ‘Blood Knot’ to open at Pillsbury House

ALSO: Zeitgeist Plays 113 at Studio Z; “Caught” at Guthrie’s Dowling Studio; and more.

Craig Taborn
Craig Taborn, a pioneering, adventurous composer and pianist, will be paired with Oslo-based multimedia artist Camille Norment during the Walker's Resonance: A Sound Art Marathon.
Photo by John Rogers

Three little words about this weekend: Please. Don’t. Rain. There’s just too much going on.

Starting tonight with the 24th annual Art-A-Whirl, now the nation’s largest open studio tour and festival of good things: art, live music, art, beer drinking, art, people watching and art. Nearly 800 artists in 60 locations. Some 170 bands in a dozen locations. Although the Whirl’s organizer, Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), didn’t get big chunks of grant money it was counting on last fall (including a $60K festival support grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board), revelers won’t notice the difference. The party will go on.

If you’ve never done the Whirl, you can pretty much jump in anywhere. Or (recommended) pick a studio building and go there. All by itself, the Northrup King Building will keep you busy for a few days. Or the Casket Arts Building (former home of a casket maker). Go here for maps. Here to find an artist, or a medium (clay, fiber, glass, metal, painting, etc.), or an artist you met at Kowalski’s or the Wedge and promised to look up at Art-A-Whirl.

Go here to learn about activities scheduled for the weekend. At the California Building, you can work with sculptor Aldo Moroni to help make a miniature world in clay. At the Casket Arts, you can take part in a racetrack rodeo with a bicycle scramble, marching band sprints and flying hot dogs. At Artspace Jackson Flats, you can watch 3-D printers. At the NE Treehouse, you can make your own climbing holds.

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And go here to find out which bands are playing when and where.  Yes, we’re sending you straight to City Pages, who did all the work of compiling a guide, for which we say thanks. Oh, look: Mark Mallman, Prairie Fire Lady Choir, Chris Koza, Black Market Brass, Nooky Jones, the Suburbs. (Those last four are all at Bauhaus Brew Labs on Saturday.) And Eric Mayson and the Dancebums, PaviElle, Alpha Consumer, Halloween Alaska, Happy Apple and Pert Near Sandstone (the last three at Indeed Brewing on Sunday). And Paul Metsa on Saturday at MCN6 and KFAI. Truly, this is the year’s biggest music festival, and it’s all free.

Get a free ride there with MetroTransit, and learn about other transportation options here. Art-A-Whirl hours are 5-10 p.m. today (Friday, May 17), noon-8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Also happening this weekend, and brand new: Doors Open Minneapolis. Here’s an interview with Scott Mayer, who opened the doors. Here’s the program guide (an alphabetical list of participating venues).

On Saturday, the Walker will nod to its past – the New Music America Festival held there in 1980 – with Resonance: A Sound Art Marathon. This 10-hour bath in new music and sounds was also inspired in part by the Walker’s Performing Arts series, which each year presents some of our most important and influential jazz artists, most recently Wadada Leo Smith and Henry Threadgill.

The Walker has gone a giant step further by booking interdisciplinary artists. So Resonance is not just about new music, but new ideas, combinations and outcomes. Christine Sun Kim is a deaf sound artist who started out as a visual artist. We know Craig Taborn as a pioneering, adventurous composer and pianist; here he’ll be paired with Oslo-based multimedia artist Camille Norment. Walter Kitundu — MacArthur Fellow, creator of kinetic sculptures and sonic installations , and builder of instruments — will share the stage with Mankwe Ndosi, who cannot be categorized. Tiny Mix Tapes called Resonance “a free festival of interdisciplinary mind-bendings.” 12 p.m.-10 p.m. Free.

Resonance was originally scheduled for the Cowles Pavilion in the Sculpture Garden. Proactively, it has been moved indoors to the Walker’s McGuire Theater.

‘MN Original’ spotlights deM atlaS, PaviElle and the M

Sunday’s Minnesota Original episode invites us to hang out with deM atlaS, wander Rondo with PaviElle French and experience the Minnesota Museum of American Art, aka the M, with experts including the curator and the executive director.

“I make music, I make art, I dance, I sing, I rap, I write poetry,” deM atlaS says by way of introduction. As we ride the light rail, stroll the streets of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and visit the Weisman, he talks about his music, his earliest memories (listening to Prince when he was three or four years old), and where his writing comes from. Strong emotion is the spark. A few moments at the Palace hint at the energy of his live shows.

PaviElle French
Courtesy of MN Original
PaviElle French will appear on this Sunday's episode of "Minnesota Original."
An interdisciplinary artist, French had a dream of writing a symphony for her mother, who died in 2011. Earlier this year, “A Requiem for Zula,” had its world premiere at the Ordway Concert Hall with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. French was at the Steinway, singing and playing. “I believe in taking your pain and doing something positive with it,” she says. Her music has a dual purpose: to honor her mother and to honor Rondo, the St. Paul neighborhood where she grew up.

If you haven’t yet seen the new St. Paul home of the Minnesota Museum of Modern Art, this is as good an entrée as you’ll get. Featuring (former) Curator of Exhibitions Christopher Atkins, Executive Director Kristin Makholm, art historian Julie L’enfant, and artists Stuart Nielsen, Hazel Belvo, Xavier Tavera, Maria Cristina Tavera and Wing Young Huie, with stops at sculptures by Paul Manship, a photograph by Alec Soth and several paintings.

Tune in Sunday at 10 p.m. on TPT 2.

The picks

Tonight (Friday, May 17) through Sunday at Studio Z: Zeitgeist Plays 113. The new music chamber ensemble with the unusual configuration (piano, woodwinds, two percussion) will perform new works by eight members of the Twin Cities’-based 113 Composers Collective. The program will include Sam Krahn’s “Theme and Variations (or Season Fragments),” an improvised graphic and text score. Each night will be different. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15/$0 students and seniors). An end-of-season party will follow Sunday’s performance, with free malts.

Stephen Yoakam and James A. Williams appearing in “Blood Knot.”
Photo by Rich Ryan
Stephen Yoakam and James A. Williams appearing in “Blood Knot.”
Opens tonight at Pillsbury House Theatre: “Blood Knot.” Two of our greatest actors, Stephen Yoakam and James A. Williams have been friends for more than 40 years. Which should make it even more interesting to see them together in Athol Fugard’s play about race, apartheid and family. When “Blood Knot” premiered in 1961, it was the first South African play to be produced with an interracial cast. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25 or pick-your-price). Closes June 16.

Opens Saturday at the Jungle: “Small Mouth Sounds.” A play about six strangers on a week-long silent retreat in the woods? With almost no dialogue? Yes, please. Because we’ve never seen anything like it, and what a cast: Christina Baldwin, Michael Curren-Dorsano, Jay Owen-Eisenberg (last seen as Yitzhak in Latté Da’s Hedwig), Becca Hart (“The Wolves” at the Jungle, “The Hobbit” at the Children’s Theatre), Jim Lichtscheidl, Faye Price (co-artistic producing director at Pillsbury House) and Eric Sharp (“Hand to God”). Lauren Keating directs the regional premiere of Bess Wohl’s play. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($35-50). Saturday and Tuesday are sold out. Closes June 16.

Opens Saturday in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio: Full Circle Theater’s “Caught.” In 2014, Rick Shiomi directed the world premiere of Christopher Chen’s play in Philadelphia; it received four Barrymore Award nominations. He’ll direct it again here, this time for Full Circle Theater, the company he co-founded after retiring from Theater Mu. It’s a play where the meaning of “truth” is constantly shifting, and each new scene calls the previous one into question. Fun fact: “Caught” was inspired by “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” written by Mike Daisey, who has performed in the Dowling. So – full circle? FMI and tickets ($9). Closes June 2.

Heads up

The tenth summer of Blue Star Museums starts Saturday, May 18 – Armed Forces Day. From then until Monday, Sept. 2, active-duty military personnel and their families get into participating museums free. Blue Star Museums is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in collaboration with Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums nationwide. Participating museums in the Twin Cities are the American Swedish Institute, the Bakken Museum, the Mill City Museum, the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Walker. Find all Blue Star museums here.