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No Northern Spark in 2020; Inuit art returns to Highpoint

Northern Spark
The theme for Northern Spark 2019 was “We Are Here.”
Northern will take a year off from Northern Spark to transition its leadership, look at all of the organization’s programs, reflect on the previous nine years of Northern Spark, plan for the festival’s long-term sustainability and equity, and return with a renewed vision for the event in 2021.

Earlier this year, Northern announced that founder Steve Dietz would be stepping down and co-director Sarah Peters would be stepping up in spring 2020.

Since 2011, Northern Spark, the free annual late-night (formerly all-night) public art festival, has drawn tens of thousands of people to a dozen neighborhoods throughout the Twin Cities, showcasing the art of more than 2,300 artists. “We have experimented with many different models for Northern Spark over the years,” Peters said in a statement. “This has been wild and rewarding and allowed us to produce the event in divergent places, under myriad themes, and with many neighborhood and city partners. In the life cycle of such an event, it is time to focus all of this innovation and figure out what to take forward that is efficient, equitable and joyful.”

The Creative City Challenge program, which brought temporary artworks and participatory programming to the Commons (and before then, the Convention Center plaza) will also be on hiatus in 2020.

Inuit art returns to Highpoint

In fall 2018, Highpoint Center for Printmaking hosted its first exhibition of prints from Kinngait Studios in the Arctic Circle – more specifically, Kinngait Studios at the West Baffin Co-operative in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Canada. Cape Dorset has been called the epicenter of Inuit art, and Kinngait (pronounced Kinn-ite) has an international reputation for the quality and originality of the limited edition prints created by its member artists.

The exhibition at Highpoint was the most popular show in its history. It drew a record number of visitors and a capacity crowd for a talk by Inuk art scholar Heather Igloliorte, to which was added a second talk, and that one filled up, too. There’s real love in this community for Inuit prints from the Arctic Circle, which may reach back to the Raven Gallery near 50th and France in Minneapolis, which closed in the 1990s.

Shuvinai Ashoona, Arctic Evening, 2003
Courtesy of the Highpoint Center for Printmaking
Shuvinai Ashoona, Arctic Evening, 2003
Perhaps signaling a regular thing, “Highpoint Presents: Kinngait Studio Returns” is now on display in the print study room. It features several artists from 2018 – including Kananginak Pootoogook, the first Inuit artist in the Venice Biennale (2017) – and new names: Pitseolak Ashoona, Malaija Pootoogook, Sarni Pootoogook, Mary Pudlat, Nicotye Samayualie. The work is a magical mix of traditional practices, everyday life, animals, people and Inuit lore. Closes Monday, Nov. 4.

“Kinngait Studio Returns” isn’t the only reason to stop by Highpoint. Also on view in the main gallery: “Transference: Printmakers in Mni Sota Makoce,” curated by Alexandra Buffalohead of the Native American Community Development Institute and All My Relations Gallery. The prints are by a dozen artists including Julie Buffalohead, Dyani White Hawk, Jim Denomie, George Morrison and Gordon Coons. Closes this Saturday, Oct. 26 – which is also Free Ink Day, an afternoon of hands-on printmaking with guest artists Jim Denomie and Alexandra Buffalohead.

Plus you can see two new screenprints by Dyani White Hawk just published by Highpoint. “Lead” and “Create” are the first part of a four-print suite titled “Takes Care of Them,” inspired by Plains style women’s dentalium dresses.

Highpoint’s hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. Saturday.

The picks

Tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 23) at Dakota County Library – Wentworth: Club Book: Ingrid Rojas Contreras. Based in part on her own experiences growing up in Bogotá, set against the backdrop of Pablo Escobar’s shadow reign over Colombia, Contreras’ “Fruit of the Drunken Tree” was one of 2018’s breakout fiction debuts. It came out in paperback in summer 2019. 6:30 p.m. Free. If you can’t attend in person, you can download the podcast soon.

Teaċ Daṁsa: “Loch na hEala”
Photo by Marie-Laure Briane
“Loch na hEala”: This is not like any “Swan Lake” you’ve ever seen or imagined.
Thursday through Sunday at the Walker: Teaċ Daṁsa: “Loch na hEala” (Swan Lake). “Swan Lake” without Tchaikovsky? With beer, cigarettes and swans dressed as nuns? From everything we’ve read, Irish choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan’s version has little to do with the original, but it’s so radical and enchanting that nobody seems to care. Set in the Irish Midlands, it’s performed to an original score of traditional Irish and Nordic music played live by the Dublin-based trio Slow Moving Clouds, which has been compared to Sigur Rós. Expect dark and funny, with feathers. Co-presented with Northrop. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($45-$25.60).

Friday at the Ordway: Rooted: Special Edition. If you have ever attended a Hip Hop Choreographers’ Evening curated by Maia Maiden, you know what a joyous, high-energy time it is. The first and only choreographers’ evening focused exclusively on dance under the Hip Hop umbrella, it won the 2014 Sage Award for outstanding dance performance. Previous years were presented at the late, lamented Intermedia Arts. This year it moves to the Ordway, featuring spoken word poet and TruArtSpeaks founder Tish Jones, beatboxer Carnage the Executioner, rapper and poet Desdamona and a host of Minnesota Hip Hop artists from A+ to Vasthy Anang, with DJ Digie, a Breakerz Salute and a Krumperz Salute. Rooted has sold out every year since its 2009 debut. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($32-42). Use the code ROOTED and pay $20.

Saturday afternoon at the American Swedish Institute: Benjamin Teitelbaum: “White Gods: Vikings in the Far-Right Imagination.” Earlier this year, we googled an old Viking symbol we wanted to know more about. It was available as a pendant, and the description ended with this: “Of note: this is one of those symbols that white supremacists sometimes use.” And it’s not the only one. If you’d like to know how Viking symbols and myths have been co-opted by various groups to advance their ideology, come to this talk at the ASI. 3 p.m. FMI and registration ($15/10). And catch the splendid exhibition “The Vikings Begin” before it closes on Sunday, Oct. 27.

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