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Local artists’ work featured during IDS’ Crystal Court makeover

ALSO: Peyton Scott Russell solo show opens at the Reedy Gallery; Mizna’s Queer & Trans Voices Virtual Reading; and more.

Alex Smith, textiles and screen printing lab lead and free wall instructor, leverages graffiti to explore the story that has yet to be written about this space and its future.
Alex Smith, textiles and screen printing lab lead and free wall instructor, leverages graffiti to explore the story that has yet to be written about this space and its future.

The IDS Center’s famed Crystal Court is undergoing a $5 million makeover. The white benches will be replaced by modular boulder-shaped seating (not quite like the big gray “rocks” in the Walker’s redesigned lobby, but those come to mind). The cascading water feature will give way to a granite reflecting pool with infinity edge. Instead of black olive trees in garden boxes, a grove of taller trees will grow up from the floor.

During the renovations, much of the 23,000-square-foot space is surrounded by temporary walls. Rather than leave them blank, building owner Accesso saw them as a giant canvas for work by local artists.

The firm turned to Juxtaposition Arts in north Minneapolis. Roger Cummings, JXTA’s chief cultural producer, and Alex Smith, who founded and leads the textiles and screen printing lab, worked together. Cummings used snapshots, images and quotes to reference the history of the IDS and Minneapolis; Smith used graffiti to play off of Cummings’ work and suggest the future.

Roger Cummings
Roger Cummings, chief cultural producer of Juxtaposition, celebrates Minneapolis’ past and present by connecting snapshots, images and quotes that are representative of the history of the IDS Center and Minneapolis.
Both artists are lifelong Minneapolis residents. Their collaboration is a big, bold, colorful statement worth stopping by to see.

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Founded in 1995 by Roger Cummings, DeAnna Cummings and Peyton Scott Russell, JXTA, a youth-serving arts nonprofit, is undergoing its own significant changes. It has plans for a new building and is halfway through a four-year, $14 million capital campaign. In June 2020, DeAnna Cummings left JXTA to lead the McKnight Foundation’s arts program.

Peyton Scott Russell show opens at the Reedy Gallery

You’ve probably seen Peyton Scott Russell’s graffiti art and murals around town. Driving down Lake Street in Lyn-Lake, it’s impossible to miss his “Rise Up” mural on the exterior of Highpoint Center for Printmaking. His “George Floyd” portrait, with its aerosol tear, is iconic.

If you want to see more, and what he’s up to lately, his solo show “Breakout Creations: Daskarone Art of Graffiti” opens today (Thursday, Jan. 14) at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Reedy Gallery. The works on display reveal his recent interest in conceptual painting ideas and abstract forms informed by graffiti and street art aesthetics. (In case you’re wondering, Daskarone is his childhood nickname.)

“D,d: di,de - Delta” (2018)
Courtesy of the artist
“D,d: di,de - Delta” (2018)
He was first introduced to graffiti art in 1984 through the film “Style Wars.” His fine arts background includes a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In this show, he explores stylized letterforms and the elimination of graffiti found in public – what’s known as “The Buff” in graffiti culture. When graffiti is painted over with off-color matches of the original paints, organic shapes are created. The layering becomes another form of graffiti.

The Reedy is in the arboretum’s visitor center, which is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (4 p.m. starting next Monday, Jan. 18). Timed-entry tickets are required ($15; free for members and kids 15 and under). Masks are required and capacity is limited. We’re told the building is geothermal and has a superior exhaust system. The show closes March 14. A Facebook Live event with the artist will take place on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 11 a.m.

The picks

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

V Tonight (Thursday, Jan. 14), 7 p.m.: Jazz Fest Live: Graydon Peterson Quartet. Before COVID, you could pretty much count on finding bassist/composer Peterson playing somewhere around the Twin Cities almost nightly, with small ensembles, vocalists or his own quartet. This performance will stream live from the Dakota, with no audience or staff present – just the camera and sound people. Peterson’s current quartet is Ben Ehrlich on drums, Joe Strachan on keys and Jake Baldwin on trumpet. Everything you hear will be an original by Peterson. Free, with registration required.

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V Friday, Jan. 15, 8 p.m.: Minnesota Orchestra: Symphonies and Surprises. This concert will launch the orchestra’s second series of COVID-era performances streamed live from Orchestra Hall’s stage with no audience. Led by Osmo Vänskä, hosted by Sarah Hicks, “Symphonies and Surprises” will feature principal bassoon Fei Xie, playing Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in his Minnesota Orchestra solo debut; Chevalier de St. Georges’ Symphony No. 1; two works for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon; and three works for brass ensemble by Italian Renaissance composer Giovanni Gabrieli. FMI. Free at the Minnesota Orchestra’s website; broadcast live on Classical MPR and TPT’s MN channel.

V Saturday, Jan. 16, 7:30 p.m.: Collide’s Virtual Birthday Celebration. Collide Theatrical Dance, known for its lively original full-length dance musicals (“Zoot Suit Riots,” “Romeo & Juliet,” “Dracula,” “The Great Gatsby”), has compiled a 45-minute program of highlights from past performances, interviews with artists, sneak peeks into new works, announcements and more. Free. RSVP.

V Sunday, Jan. 17, 12 noon: Mizna: Celebrating Abundance: Queer & Trans Voices Virtual Reading. Mizna, the Arab arts organization based in St. Paul, publishes the nation’s only journal devoted to prose, poetry and art exploring Arab America. This event celebrates the most recent issue with readings by 16 authors whose works are published there. The reading will be live-captioned in English, and the full program will be available for viewing after the event. View on Zoom (limited capacity, registration required) or Facebook Live. FMI and links.

G. Phillip Shoultz III
Photo by Kyndell Harkness
The 40th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert will be hosted by VocalEssence’s G. Phillip Shoultz III.
V Sunday, Jan. 17, 3 p.m.: 40th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert: A More Excellent Way – Honoring the Legacy of John Lewis. Rep. Lewis, who died last July, was a member of King’s inner circle. Curated and hosted by VocalEssence’s G. Phillip Shoultz III, a U of M alum, this concert will mix words from King and Lewis with musical performances by Shoultz, MacPhail’s Christopher Rochester, Chadwick “Niles” Phillips, U of M Choirs, the Minnesota Chorale and VocalEssence’s youth choir Singers of This Age (VESOTA). MPR’s Bill Ward has the story behind this year’s tribute, the first-ever virtual version of a beloved university and community tradition. Watch on YouTube or Facebook.