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The M ousts its executive director; State Fair’s Fine Arts show will go on

ALSO: “Amadeus” on National Theatre at Home; a Roots, Rock & Deep Blues Virtual Festival; and more.

On Tuesday, Gregory Page, board chair of the Minnesota Museum of American Art, announced in a statement that Kristin Makholm, executive director of the M for more than a decade, has been released from her position. “An Interim Director will be announced shortly, and the Board will begin a national search for a permanent Executive Director,” Page said. And: “The future is bright for the M, but not without challenges.”

Kristin Makholm
Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
Kristin Makholm
Makholm was hired as the museum’s director in 2009, when there was no physical museum. It was an art collection in storage with a P.O. box as its mailing address. Makholm raised awareness by touring important pieces in the collection around the state. She signed a two-year lease for a small storefront gallery space in the Pioneer Endicott complex in downtown St. Paul and led a multimillion-dollar capital campaign.

In December 2018, the museum – now called the M – opened Phase One of its new permanent home, nearly 19,000 square feet on the first floor of the Pioneer Endicott. Phase Two was originally planned for spring 2020; Page said the board is “evaluating the timing of Phase 2 construction.” When it opens, it will nearly double the museum’s space.

The M remains closed due to COVID-19. Over the next year, it has planned a collection of community-facing programs, including “1.5: Southeast Asian Diaspora Remix,” to be mounted in the museum windows and at offsite public locations, and a collaborative project with the African American Interpretive Center later this year.

Currently on view through and in the windows: “Gordon Parks: A Homecoming” photographs, and “COVID-19: Labor Camp Report” illustrations by Piotr Szyhalski.

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Fair is canceled, but Fine Arts show will go on

If you want a State Fair corn dog (or a pronto pup, and we are not going to engage in any back-and-forth about which is better) (hint: corn dog), you’ll have to hunt for it. Start with the Fair Food Finder Facebook group, where a user-created map has more than 1 million views, and gas up the car if you need to (there are corn dogs in Maple Grove).

If you want a State Fair Fine Arts experience, you can have one … in the Fine Arts Center on the State Fairgrounds, right where it always is.

Artists from across the state may submit work to the online juried competition. Pieces selected by the jury will be displayed in the Fine Arts Center. From Aug. 27, through Labor Day, you can view the exhibition online in a video recording tour or a free virtual catalog (details for both will be available later). Or you can see it in person during ticketed gallery showings.

MinnPost photo by John Whiting
Artists from across the state may submit work to the online juried competition. Pieces selected by the jury will be displayed in the Fine Arts Center.
Tickets are $10 each. Attendance will be limited to 25 percent of building capacity. When you buy your ticket, you’ll choose a 90-minute time slot. You’ll have to enter at the start and leave at the end. State Fair staff will wear face masks. The website says, “We strongly encourage guests to wear face masks, but it is not required.” (Check back because it might be required by then.) FMI and tickets.

The Fine Arts show at the fair is the state’s largest art show. Missing from this year’s exhibition: the State Fair Commemorative Art. The fair announced in January that cartoonist and illustrator Kevin Cannon had been named the 2020 Commemorative Artist. After the fair was canceled in May, the decision was made to move the unveiling and sales of Cannon’s official commemorative art to 2021.

If you’re an artist who wants to submit to the 2020 Fine Arts Competition, registration ends Monday, July 27. FMI.

White Bear online juried plein air exhibition

When COVID hit, the White Bear Center for the Arts suspended all on-site services, classes, events and activities. Then they announced an international – not local, not national, but international – plein air exhibition. Hundreds of pieces were submitted from around the globe, and 99 were selected, including entries from Austria, Canada, Hungary, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, and the UK, as well as the USA.

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All were painted between March and June 2020. Because COVID, the rules were tweaked slightly: A painting could be completed in the studio, as long as it originated from a plein air study or experience.

The exhibition, “Into Nature,” is online now. You can view it on WBCA’s Facebook page or download a virtual catalog. A video on the website is a virtual awards ceremony, introduced by Executive Director Suzi Hudson, with enlightening and informative comments on the eight winners from judges Frank Zeller and Dan Wiemer. The first-place winner received a $2,000 prize.

In a statement, Hudson said, “We find ourselves today, unfortunately still, in the midst of a devastating global pandemic. Never has art been so essential in connecting us to each other and expressing our human experience. Never has nature felt so necessary to finding hope, inspiration, and a sense of solace.”

The picks

Lucian Msamati as Salieri in “Amadeus.”
Photo by Seamus Ryan
Lucian Msamati as Salieri in “Amadeus.”
Starts tonight (Thursday, July 16): National Theatre at Home: “Amadeus.” Before COVID ruined everything, one of the plays we were most eager to see this spring was Gremlin Theatre’s production of Peter Schaffer’s “Amadeus,” with Peter Christian Hansen as Salieri and Jay Owen Eisenberg as Mozart. Since we can’t have that (yet … maybe next season?), we’ll take this, directed by Michael Longhurst, with Lucian Msamati as Salieri, Adam Gillen as Mozart and live orchestral accompaniment by the Southbank Sinfonia. “A stupendous revival” – Time Out. Available starting at 7 p.m. July 16, through July 23. Here’s the trailer. FMI and links.

Tonight (Thursday, July 16) on the Library of Congress Facebook page: National Book Festival Presents “Race in America: Colson Whitehead.” The youngest person to receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, the author of “The Nickel Boys” and “The Underground Railroad” will talk with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden about the need for stories from our past to help us contend with the present. 6 p.m. CST.

Saturday (July 18): Roots, Rock & Deep Blues Virtual Festival. The Hook and Ladder’s annual fundraiser goes online this year, with livestreamed performances by Cornbread Harris, the Mary Cutrufello Band and the Shackletons, plus vintage performance footage from past festivals. The Hook, a nonprofit, took a hit during the unrest following George Floyd’s death; sprinklers kept it from burning, but the historic building sustained interior damage. They’re still standing and you can stand with them for a $10 1080 HD streaming ticket. 5-10 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Turn Turn Turn: Barb Brynstad, Adam Levy and Savannah Smith
Photo by Ilia Stockert
Turn Turn Turn: Barb Brynstad, Adam Levy and Savannah Smith
Saturday (July 18): The Parkway Presents: Turn Turn Turn. A new livestream performance series, broadcast from the Parkway Theater, begins with Turn Turn Turn, Adam Levy’s close-harmony Americana trio with Savannah Smith and Barb Brynstad. Their debut album, “Can’t Go Back,” was recorded at Zoo School Studio in St. Croix Falls and released on June 26. It’s sweet and twangy. This event will be broadcast in HD video with stereo sound. 8-9:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15).

Saturday at Franconia Sculpture Park: Film @ Franconia: “Fantastic Fungi.” A movie about mushrooms, outdoors at Franconia. Parking is $5 a car, the film is free, and snacks and drinks are available for purchase. Starts promptly at 9 p.m. FMI and registration (to help the park maintain social distancing guidelines).

Sunday (July 19): MSP Film Society presents Yance Ford’s “Strong Island.” The first transgender Oscar nominee (Best Documentary Feature), Ford tells the story of his own brother’s killing and the injustice surrounding it. Part of MSP Film’s “We the People: Required Watching” series, Sunday’s on-demand screening will be followed by a conversation Monday evening between MSP Film programmer Craig Laurence Rice and Ford. 7 p.m. All free. FMI including trailer, link to the film and link to the conversation.