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‘Art in This Present Moment’ features right-now work by BIPOC artists; History Theatre presents Tim O’Brien’s ‘The Things They Carried’

Plus: Jeopardy! behind the scenes; finding realness in our digital lives; Eric Utne’s memoir; and more.

Indigenous Roots mural by City Mischief Murals.
Indigenous Roots mural by City Mischief Murals.
Courtesy of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation

A new virtual gallery has opened, filled with work by more than 50 of Minnesota’s BIPOC artists. And it has all taken shape over the past three months.

In August, the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation partnered with the McKnight Foundation on a new initiative called “Art in This Present Moment.” It would support and celebrate artists whose work addresses current social issues – artists responding to history in real time. The artists would share their work using the hashtag #ArtInThisMoment. They were chosen by a dozen nonprofits across the state. Each organization received $5,000 to support the projects.

The organizations: American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO), Brownbody, Catalyst Arts, Don’t You Feel It Too?, Gizhiigin Arts Incubator, Indigenous Roots, Million Artist Movement, Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop, Penumbra Theatre, Soomaal House of Art, Truartspeaks and Walker West Music Academy.

Some examples: Moira Villiard (Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe direct descendent) and Michelle Defoe (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe) painted a big, bright, beautiful mural in Duluth using Anishinaabe symbolism. Thomasina Petrus, Charles Petrus, Alex Shaw and Tiyo Siyolo worked on the score to “Tracing Sacred Steps,” a work-in-progress first presented by Brownbody in 2019.

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Adja Gildersleve and Ashembaga Jaafaru are documenting their Black/queer living and cultural experience as artists in a renovated RV. Seven artists from the Million Artist Movement are working on a quilt and a project based on food sovereignty. Ty Chapman, Andrew Young and Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra created a shadow-puppet piece based on stories from the uprising that followed the killing of George Floyd.

Artists used paint, movement, song, spoken word, ceramics, basketry, writing, filmmaking, fabric, conversation, music, photography, sculpture and site-specific installations to say what they wanted and needed to say.

Brownbody founder and artistic director Deneane Richburg
Courtesy of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation
Brownbody founder and artistic director Deneane Richburg
Eric J. Jolly, president and CEO of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, said in a statement: “Historically during challenging and turbulent times, artists have been on the forefront of expressing our community’s demand for change. Today, in the wake of COVID-19 and the aftermath of George Floyd’s tragic murder, Minnesota artists are continuing this tradition. It is imperative that we amplify their voices by supporting their work and, through their work, foster understanding and healing during these challenging times.”

The Foundation has made it easy and enjoyable to learn about the artists and experience their art, something of their process and their reasons for doing what they do. Go here to meet the artists, watch videos and view photos. See and hear the artists talk about and show their work. There are familiar names here, and names that deserve to be more familiar.

“Art in This Present Moment” is both joyful and sorrowful. It can be intense. It’s diverse, thought-provoking, inspiring and engaging. It feels totally honest. It’s not one thing, one message, one mood. Artist Demetrius McClendon, aka Imagine Joy, whose Don’t You Feel It Too? is part of the mix, put it this way: “These are very tender moments of becoming.” Here’s that link again.

The picks

V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.

Available now on the Arena Dances website: “Studio Stories: Reminiscing on Twin Cities Dance” podcast. Now in its second season, “Studio Stories” is a podcast specifically about dance in the Twin Cities – its history, company founders and members, choreographers, producers, critics and more. Hosted by Arena Dances’ artistic director Mathew Janczewski and company dancer Joe Crook, guests have included Caroline Palmer, Kenna-Camara Cottman, Danny Buraczeski, Rosy Simas, Patrick Scully, Linda Shapiro, Laurie Van Wieren, Myron Johnson, Mary Moore Easter, and, most recently, Ragamala Dance – Ranee, Aparna and Ashwini Ramaswamy.

Pearce Bunting in “The Things They Carried.”
Courtesy of the History Theatre
Pearce Bunting in “The Things They Carried.”
V Now available: History Theatre presents “The Things They Carried.” Pearce Bunting stars in the one-man show based on Minnesota native Tim O’Brien’s award-winning novel about the Vietnam experience. Adapted for the stage by Jim Stowell, directed by Ron Peluso, it was filmed during the History Theatre’s 2017 production. FMI and tickets (start at $15). Ends Nov. 22.

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V Tonight (Thursday, Nov. 12) online: 92nd Street Y: Answers in the Form of Questions: Jeopardy!’s Biggest Champs Take You Behind the Scenes. This event was scheduled before Alex Trebek’s death earlier this week. What was originally planned as a talk with three “Jeopardy!” champions moderated by Claire McNear, author of the definitive history of the long-running TV game show, will now also include reminiscences and tributes. 5 p.m. CST. FMI and tickets ($20).

V Tonight (Thursday, Nov. 12) on CrowdCast: Subtext Books: Chris Stedman: “IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning and Belonging in Our Digital Lives.” Now that we spend so much time online, which parts of our lives are real? Stedman offers a different take on the supposed split between our online and offline selves. He’ll be in conversation with Hanif Abdurraqib. 7 p.m. Free, but registration is required.

A still from Frederick Wiseman’s new film, “City Hall.”
Courtesy of the MSP Film Society
A still from Frederick Wiseman’s new film, “City Hall.”
V Friday, Nov. 13 in MSP Film Society’s virtual cinema: Frederick Wiseman’s “City Hall.” Wiseman’s 45th film, released in his 90th year, takes us inside Boston city government, where Mayor Martin Walsh addresses racial justice, affordable housing, climate action and homelessness, among other policy priorities. NPR called it “a sweeping, panoramic vision, both hopeful and tough-minded, about how local government works – and sometimes doesn’t work.” Isn’t right now a perfect time for a film like this? So you know, it’s 4 ½ hours long. You’ll be glad you’re watching it at home. FMI including trailer and tickets ($12/9).

V Friday, Nov. 13 on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Facebook page: ETHEL and Friends: Balcony Bar from Home. The famed and fearless string quartet will play a short concert of familiar classics and cutting-edge repertoire. ETHEL is Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Corin Lee (violin). Fun fact: Jones lives in Minneapolis with his family. Before he joined ETHEL, and occasionally after, we used to catch him at places like the Black Dog, Studio Z and Icehouse.

V Monday, Nov. 16 on Zoom: Next Chapter Booksellers: Eric Utne: “Far Out Man: Tales of Life in the Counterculture.” In the 1990s into the 2000s, the Utne Reader, founded by Eric Utne, was the magazine smart people read. A “field guide to the emerging culture,” it had at its height 300,000 subscribers, sponsored hundreds of “salons” nationwide, and was published (surprise!) in the Twin Cities. Utne will discuss his memoir with his friend Jim Lenfestey. 7 p.m. Free, but registration is required. P.S. How popular was the Utne Reader? Utne’s name has appeared in the New York Times crossword puzzle more than 70 times. And Lisa Simpson had a subscription.

If you’re thinking of getting an early start on your holiday shopping, especially now that Thanksgiving is near, may we suggest:

V On now, online: Art Attack. The Northrup King Building is home to more than 350 local artists, creatives and galleries. Curbside pick-up and shipping are available. Ends Dec. 31 at 5 p.m.

V Starts Sunday, Nov. 15, online: Northern Clay Center Holiday Exhibition. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, Northern Clay will add hundreds of new pots to their website. A handmade mug makes a great gift. They’ll help you shop, gift-wrap for you, and ship if needed. Ends Jan. 3, 2021.

V Starts Monday, Nov. 16, online for American Craft Council members, Nov. 18 for nonmembers: ACC Craft Bash. The annual American Craft Council Show in St. Paul’s RiverCentre was scheduled for the week of April 17th. When that was a no-go, it was bumped to the weekend of Oct. 9. Didn’t happen. This seasonal online marketplace from the national organization that champions craft (based in Minneapolis BTW) is your gateway to all kinds of handmade gifts and their makers.