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New leader at Franconia Sculpture Park; Momentum: New Dance Works Festival

ALSO: Sommerfest continues at Orchestra Hall; 17th Annual Bastille Day Block Party at Barbette; and more.

Ginger Shulick Porcella
Ginger Shulick Porcella has more than 15 years of arts administration experience, including a successful history of development and fundraising for arts organizations and individual artists.
Courtesy of Franconia Sculpture Park

Franconia Sculpture Park has a new executive director. Ginger Shulick Porcella, currently ED and chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson (MOCA Tucson) and, before then, ED and chief curator of the San Diego Art Institute (SDAI), will start at Franconia on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The announcement of Porcella’s hiring ends a rocky year during which founding director John Hock was fired by the board without explanation, Franconia community members demanded that board members resign, and Berkeley-based sculptor Robert Brady stepped in for the summer “to provide mentorship, inspiration and support.” Porcella’s arrival will overlap Brady’s stay.

A Chicago native, Porcella has more than 15 years of arts administration experience, including a successful history of development and fundraising for arts organizations and individual artists. She is a frequent lecturer and has curated exhibitions at museums across the United States.

In two years at MOCA Tucson – she started there in April 2017 – Porcella increased its budget by 20 percent, doubled attendance and secured large national and international grants focusing largely on the work of female, LBGTQIA+ and artists of color.

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In three years at SDAI, she developed a bi-national contemporary art center for new artist commissions and experimental programming, raised funds for a 10,000-square-foot renovation, launched a new media project space and classroom space, and started a successful artist and curator residency program.

“Ginger is a visionary leader,” Franconia board chair Dorothy Goldie said in a statement. “Franconia’s mission is to provide physically and intellectually wide-open spaces where all are inspired to participate in the creative process. The Board unanimously feels that Ginger is the perfect candidate to help us shape what that looks like going forward.”

Founded in 1996, Franconia Sculpture Park is a nonprofit arts organization on 43 acres in the scenic St. Croix River Valley. Its artist residency program serves more than 40 artists each year, its arts learning programming more than 150,000 annual visitors. Its grounds are an ever-changing exhibition of monumental sculpture. Franconia is free and open to the public 365 days a year from dawn to dusk. If you haven’t yet seen it, you should go.

‘Dilili in Paris’ shocks and awes

Not everyone loves animation. Maybe they think animation only means cartoons. Maybe they’ve seen too many Disney films and just don’t like the stories. Or maybe they’ve never experienced the one film – perhaps from Pixar or Japan’s Studio Ghibli or England’s Aardmans Animations, to name a bare few – that made them hungry for more.

Michel Ocelot’s “Dilili in Paris,” part of the Film Society’s upcoming Lumières Françaises film festival, might be that film. It’s eye-poppingly beautiful. The animated characters come alive against Ocelot’s own photographs of Paris. (He spent four years photographing the city.) The film is set during the belle époque, so we see Paree at an especially lovely time.

The characters are believable and appealing. You care about them as much as human actors in a film. The title character, Dilili, is a young multiracial girl of color, Kanak and French, with skin dark enough to be noticed. (The Kanak are indigenous people of New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific.) Dilili came to Paris as a stowaway, learning French en route. She’s intelligent, curious, gracious, principled, self-confident, and brave. She befriends a young French delivery boy named Orel who seems to know everyone who’s someone.

A still from “Dilili in Paris.”
Courtesy of the MSP Film Society
A still from “Dilili in Paris.”
Orel is Dilili’s guide as she explores the city and meets many of its famous inhabitants: the operatic soprano Emma Calvé, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso, Louis Pasteur, Colette, Renoir, Sarah Bernhardt, Degas, Monet, Matisse, Marie Curie, Proust, Rodin, Gustave Eiffel. Along the way, we catch glimpses of many more. (Look! Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas! Eric Satie!)

Meanwhile, girls all over Paris are being kidnapped and jewelry stores are being robbed. A sinister group calling themselves the Master-Men is behind the crimes, and the police seem powerless to stop them. But not our heroes Dilili and Orel. Her insistence on solving the mystery and rescuing the girls draws powerful supporters including Bernhardt and Marie Curie. When we learn what the Master-Men are up to – and when Dilili herself is kidnapped – it’s truly shocking, like “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

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So the story of an enchanting little girl and her handsome young friend in a splendid city full of artists and intellectuals also takes on racism, prejudice, megalomania, misogyny, cruelty, and the subjugation of women. No wonder Dilili sometimes needs a cuddle. We need more films like this one, that fill our eyes and imaginations and also our hearts. That “Dilili in Paris” is animated only makes it more magical.

“Dilili” will screen just once, on Saturday, July 13, at 1 p.m at St. Anthony Main Theatre. It’s recommended for ages 9 and up. There is no physical violence or sexual activity associated with the kidnapped girls. FMI including trailer and tickets ($11-6).

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, July 11) at Westminster Hall: TownTalks: Cantus Celebrates Voices of Hope. This is more than just a concert. Voices of Hope is the women’s choir at Shakopee Correctional Facility. Cantus gave a mentoring series there this spring. Amanda Weber, the choir’s founder, will talk about the role the choir plays in the women’s lives, Cantus will sing some of the repertoire they created for the choir, and experts will discuss the challenges faced by women who have been incarcerated. 5 p.m. happy hour, 6 p.m. performance and panel discussion, 7 p.m. meet-and-greet. FMI. Free.

Tonight at Magers & Quinn Booksellers: Kelly Barnhill presents “The Girl Who Drank the Moon.” Minnesota author Barnhill’s Newbery Award winner is now in paperback, a good excuse to do a reading, meet fans and sign copies. 7 p.m. Free.

Herbert Johnson III in “StagNATION”
Photo by Bobby Rogers/Courtesy of Walker Art Center
In Herb Johnson’s “StagNATION,” a quartet of Krump artists will explore human capabilities in a dystopian society.
Tonight through Saturday at the O’Shaughnessy: Momentum: New Dance Works Festival. For two weekends every two years (or so), “Momentum: New Dance Works” turns a spotlight on emerging dancers and choreographers. This weekend’s artists are J.H. (Judy) Shuĭ Xiān and Herb Johnson III. Xiān’s “estrogendystopia/euphoricdysphoriA” is a solo study in the communal experiences of trans feminine people. In Johnson’s “StagNATION,” a quartet of Krump artists will explore human capabilities in a dystopian society. Both will be performed to original sound scores. If you’ve been following Momentum around, note that this year it’s at the O’Shaughnessy’s intimate black box, the Frey. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20 advance, $25 door).

Friday and Saturday at Orchestra Hall: Two Sommerfest concerts, $25 each. Jump on this offer today (Thursday, July 11) because it ends at 11:59 tonight. On Friday, Music Director Osmo Vänskä will conduct a program of Latin American melodies featuring soprano Goitsemang Lehobye, the chosen soloist for the orchestra’s 2018 tour of South Africa. (Lehobye will sing the Aria from Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras.”) On Saturday he’ll lead a vocal extravaganza, with choral music from around the globe featuring Lehobye, the Heart and Soul Drum Academy, Minnesota Chorale, Minnesota Baptist Convention Choir and more. 8 p.m. both nights. All adult tickets $25; $20 under 40, $12 advance online student rush.

Sunday at Barbette: 17th Annual Bastille Day Block Party. Still a tradition in a rapidly changing Uptown. Frites, drinks, a local artists’ market and entertainment by Mark Mallman, the Brass Messengers, Circus Juventas, Picnic Operetta, Infiammati Fire Circus and others. Cake will be served. At Irving and Lagoon. 2-9 p.m., rain or shine.