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Catch ‘Hearts of Our People’ at Mia; 56th Annual Uptown Art Fair

The Wisdom of the Universe
Art Gallery Ontario, Toronto; Purchased with funds donated by Greg Latremoille © Christi Belcourt
Christi Belcourt (Métis), The Wisdom of the Universe, 2014, acrylic on canvas

You have a little over two weeks to catch “Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists” at Mia before it closes, then moves on. See it if you can, because there’s never been anything like it.

Years in the making, the exhibition spans 1,000 years of art by Native women who, whenever possible, are named, just as Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe and Cindy Sherman are named when their works are shown. It was co-curated by Mia’s Jill Ahlberg Yohe, associate curator of Native American art and a non-Native, and beadwork artist Teri Greeves (Kiowa), who worked closely and collaboratively with an advisory board of 21 Native and non-Native women that included scholars and artists.

The more than 115 works in the exhibition include ceramics, baskets, quillwork, garments and beadwork – things that might otherwise appear in a show of craft, though here they’re side-by-side and treated the same as paintings, photography and sculpture. “Maria,” a 1985 Chevy Al Camino restored and painted by Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo), is paired with an iconic blackware pot by San Ildefonso Pueblo artist María Martínez, who was Simpson’s inspiration.

Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo), Maria, 2014.
Collection of the Artist. © 2014 Rose B. Simpson. Image: © Kate Russell
Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo), Maria, 2014.
Whenever possible, labels have been translated into the artist’s Native language. About 25 languages are represented in the show. (Sometimes a translation wasn’t possible because a community doesn’t share its language with outsiders.) Even the catalog – a big, beautiful book with full-color photos throughout, for which Mia and the publisher could have charged a lot more than $39.99 – has been written collaboratively by scholars and artists and edited with an open, inclusive style. One reviewer called it “a landmark achievement [that] constructs a new canon for Native women’s art.” It’s a lifetime of reading and pondering and putting things into new perspective.

“Hearts of Our People” is groundbreaking and game-changing, personal and powerful. It’s carefully curated but feels unfiltered – as if you’re seeing the art as it is, not through someone else’s eyes, interpretation or experience. And though some objects date from ancient times, the exhibition hums with life. Especially if you use the audio guide (highly recommended), in which artists talk about their own work. We learn, for example, that while Cherish Parrish (Ottawa/Pottawatomi) was weaving “The Next Generation – Carriers of Culture,” a black ash and sweetgrass basket in the shape of a pregnant woman, she watched every episode of “Frasier.” The mix of old, new and contemporary works, of tradition, abstraction and experimentation is one of the show’s main messages: “We are still here!”

The show is also full of sadness and grief. It may catch you by surprise as you’re looking at something, then truly see it. Tucked into a small room is a contemporary work of installation and performance by Dana Claxton (Hunkpapa Lakota). A video of buffalo skulls and running buffalo flickers on a wall behind a mound of broken china surrounded by ropes and stanchions. The label reads, in part: “In the 1960s, the U.S. government annihilated the buffalo, hoping to force Native peoples onto reservations. In 30 years, the buffalo population declined from 30 million to a mere 493. Europeans used the bones to create ‘buffalo bone china,’ known for its quality and durability.” The china you see was smashed by the artist.

“Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists” is a ticketed exhibition in the Target Galleries. FMI and tickets ($20/$16 My Mia members/free). My Mia membership is free, so sign up if you haven’t already done so. Public tours are every weekday at 2 p.m., Thursdays at 2 and 7 p.m. Closes Sunday, Aug. 18.

The picks

Today (Wednesday, July 31) through Thursday at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre 3: “Wild Rose.” Irish singer and actress Jessie Buckley (HBO’s “Chernobyl”) is Rose-Lynn Harlan, a rebellious Glaswegian country singer with dreams of the Grand Ole Opry, in a performance that’s winning raves everywhere. FMI including trailer, times and tickets.

Jessie Buckley
Jessie Buckley is Rose-Lynn Harlan, a rebellious Glaswegian country singer with dreams of the Grand Ole Opry, in "Wild Rose."
Thursday at Mia: Artist Talk: Mary Anne Barkhouse. One of the Native women artists featured in “Hearts of Our People,” Barkhouse (Nimpkish band of Kwakiutl First Nation) will discuss her works, past and present, with a special focus on urban animal ecologies. In the Pillsbury Auditorium. 6:30 p.m. Free, but tickets are required. Mia is open Thursdays (and Fridays) until 8 p.m.

Friday and Saturday at Orchestra Hall: “La Pasión según San Marcos.” Sommerfest’s grand finale couldn’t be grander. In Argentine-American composer Ovaldo Golijov’s masterwork, the biblical story of Christ’s final days is told in Latin and Afro-Cuban music and rhythms, vocals and dance. The Minnesota Orchestra will be joined by musicians on percussion, accordion, and berimbau, soloists including Luciana Souza, a dancer doing the capoeira, the Border CrosSing choir and the Minnesota Chorale. Marcela Lorca, artistic director of Ten Thousand Things, is the stage director; María Guinand, who led the world premiere in Stuttgart, will conduct. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30-97).

Friday through Sunday in Uptown: 56th Annual Uptown Art Fair. The biggest and baddest of the Minnesota art fairs will bring 325 artists and 350,000 people to the streets of Uptown for three days of browsing, buying and selling, eating, drinking and hanging out. Along with original art – sculpture, drawing, glass, painting, jewelry, wood, ceramics, photography, mixed media – this juried festival features special events and activities. New this year: the Uptown Art Fair Marketplace, with locally made, grown, raised, sourced and produced products (think honey, coffee, soap and candles) and a Latte Art Throwdown, which will pit the city’s best latte artists against each other. Indeed Brewing will produce an exclusive beer featuring this year’s commemorative art. Noon-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. FMI.

Saturday at Crooners: Ryan Berg Trio Featuring Nancy Harms. Berg is a New York City bassist who was born in Minnesota. Harms is a singer who belongs increasingly to the world. Born in Clara City, Minnesota, she bounced off Minneapolis on her way to New York City, Denmark, Paris, and most recently Beijing via Bali and Vietnam. She left clues on Facebook for what to expect on Saturday: “This will have a bit more exploratory/ethereal jazz vibe compared to what you’ve been seeing of me recently with my singer-songwriter tunes and Ellington show.” Doors at 5 p.m., show at 6. In the Dunsmore Room. FMI and tickets ($15).

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Brent Stahl on 08/01/2019 - 09:47 am.

    Wrong century on the discussion about the buffalo annihilation. Also took more than a decade.

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