This is not a good time for museums, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art. But when we look back from some hopefully not too distant future, when we can gather again, we may remember this as rare and precious time to visit them. Strolling Mia’s vast halls and galleries, standing alone before masterpieces, and having a great museum virtually (and not in the Zoom sense) to yourself is something you probably shouldn’t miss.
Plus Mia is huge. Ceilings are high. Safety protocols are in place and capacity is limited. We felt comfortable there. Your mileage may vary.
Tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 15), Mia will reopen its redesigned Asian galleries, spaces that haven’t been refreshed in more than 20 years. Led by assistant curator of South & Southeast Asian Art Pujan Gandhi, who came to Mia in the fall of 2018, the reinstallation blends extraordinary objects on view for the first time with new acquisitions and important loans in fresh and engaging displays. Highlights include a recently conserved 1,000-year-old Indian sculpture of Shiva Nataraja.
“With New Light: Mia’s Reinstalled Himalayan, South, and Southeast Asian Art Galleries” takes up three galleries on the museum’s second floor, near the Rotunda.
“Mia has been collecting in this area since 1917, just after the museum’s founding,” Gandhi said in a statement. “Our noteworthy and diverse holdings include superlative works across the region, from culturally significant pieces dating to the 8th century to contemporary artworks that address relevant topics of diaspora and identity.” He promised that “audiences can expect a few surprises.”
General admission is free and includes the Asian galleries. Timed tickets are required. Wear a mask.
Catching up with Sheila Smith and Arts for Biden
If you were in or around Gold Medal Park on Saturday and wondered why people were spelling out “V-O-T-E” with their bodies, thank Arts for Biden-Harris Minnesota. Artists are dancing, writing, painting, making music and more around the theme of voting.
Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, is one of three co-directors of Arts for Biden-Harris Minnesota, with Faye M. Price of Pillsbury House Theatre and former MCA board chair Ben Vander Kooi Jr. She brought us up to date on what’s happening as the election approaches.
Weeks before the dancers gathered in the park, the literary arts group released a video of several Minnesota poets — including Mary Moore Easter, John Minczeski, Joyce Sutphen, Connie Wanek and Kao Kalia Yang — performing original poetry. In another video released Tuesday, several Twin Cities theater artists give reasons they’re voting for Biden and Harris, including health care and the economic impact of the arts. Among the artists taking part are Aimee Kay Bryant, Stephen Yoakam, Emily Michaels King and Tyler Michaels King, Regina Marie Williams, Isabella LeBlanc, Nora Montanez, Eric Sharp and James Williams.
The musicians group will present a MN Music Clips Festival tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 15) at 2 p.m. on Zoom. Chris Osgood of the Suicide Commandos and Ian Vaver will spin short video clips from Minnesota musicians Gary Louris (Jayhawks), Chan Poling (New Standards, Suburbs), Ellen Stanley, Molly Maher, Sounds of Blackness and more. Sign up here to receive the link.
Kristin Makholm, former head of the Minnesota Museum of American Art, is co-chairing a group of visual artists who are creating powerful, colorful “Vote Early. Vote Biden” art to admire and share.
Most groups and artists are showing their work on social media.
V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.
V Tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 15) at noon: Schubert Club Courtroom Concert: Maithree Ensemble: “The Music of Friendship.” A video presentation of a new program featuring Nirmala Rajasekar on Indian veena, Thanjavur K. Murugaboopathi on percussion, Michelle Kinney on cello, Pat O’Keefe on clarinet and Tim O’Keefe on world percussion. Players from different cultures and different backgrounds, on different instruments, will present original music and new arrangements of Indian, Irish and Turkish tunes. Curated and hosted by Abbie Betinis, streamed from Landmark Center. 12 p.m. Free.
V Happening now: Art Month in St. Paul. The Spring 2020 St. Paul Art Crawl, normally part of April in the Twin Cities, went virtual this year. And the Fall 2020 Art Crawl went big. The St. Paul Art Collective, the organization behind the crawls, declared all of October Art Month. It’s still virtual, but it’s ongoing. Check out the auction anytime; 75% of all proceeds go directly to the artists (the other 25% to the collective). Visit the online exhibit of art by Heather Friedli, whose oil painting “Resilience” won Best in Show. Take virtual studio crawls of Lowertown Artists and Greater St. Paul Artists; explore art for sale from artists and galleries. Support local artists you want to see again in person someday.
V Streaming now: Minnesota Opera’s 2011 production of “Wuthering Heights.” Based on Emily Brontë’s classic novel, with music by Bernard Hermann and libretto by Lucille Fletcher. Lee Poulis is Heathcliff, Sara Jakubiak is Catherine Earnshaw. Conducted by Michael Christie, stage directed by Eric Simonson. FMI and tickets (pay-what-you-want $10-15 and above). Ends Oct. 24.
L Tickets available now: American Swedish Institute’s Drive Thru Lutfisk Dinner. For some, ASI’s annual Lutfisk Dinner is a highlight of the holidays. Or, as ASI puts it, “a culinary experience that everyone should have at least once.” Because COVID, this year’s version of the festive and fishy event has taken a page from the Minnesota State Fair. You’ll register for your preferred pick-up time (from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.), drive through ASI’s parking lot, grab your meal, and eat it there or take it home. FMI and tickets ($45/40 members). Nonrefundable reservations are required by Sunday, Nov. 8. You should probably reserve ASAP if you’re serious about doing this.
V Thursday (Oct. 15) on CrowdCast: Jazz Fest Live presents the Steve Kenny Quartet. An evening of solid, swinging jazz streamed live from the Dakota’s stage, with Steve Kenny on trumpet, Levi Schwartzberg on vibraphone, Ted Olsen on bass and Miguel Hurtado on drums. There won’t be a live audience, but we’ll be inside the Dakota, which many of us have missed terribly since it closed in March. In the years before COVID, Kenny programmed Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog in St. Paul for literally hundreds of Saturday nights. He’s a jazz warrior. Sign up here to save your spot. 7 p.m. Free.
V Thursday-Saturday (Oct. 15-17) online: 2020 Twin Cities Book Festival. For its 20th year, the popular and beloved Twin Cities Book Festival, presented by Rain Taxi, will move online, expand from one day to three, and present a stellar program of authors, exhibitors, conversations, discussions, the 45th Annual Kerlan Award honoring Jon Scjeska, a raffle, a new chapbook, a Minnesota Writers Mashup and festival merch. You can even get help finding your way around the virtual space, if you need it. (Click the “Festival GPS” button on the home page and a real, live person will assist you.) It all takes place on an inviting new website and the Crowdcast platform. Among the 44 authors scheduled to appear are Naomi Shihab Nye (who will open the festival), Ayad Akhtar (who will close it), Kwame Alexander and James Patterson (who have written a book together about Muhammad Ali), Bruce Cameron (lover of dogs), Kate DiCamillo, Heid Erdrich, David Hajdu, Jasper Fforde (from Wales!), Yusef Salaam, Frank Wilderson and Kao Kalia Yang. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. each day. You can sign up now for author events you want to attend.