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Virtual Art in Bloom at Mia; Crooners to open 150-seat tented outdoor venue The Belvedere

ALSO: “This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist” on Netflix; start reaping benefits of upcoming Independent Bookstore Week now; and more.

Holly Young’s “Floral Legacy” (2019), a recent Mia acquisition, and a floral interpretation by Bachmans.
Holly Young’s “Floral Legacy” (2019), a recent Mia acquisition, and a floral interpretation by Bachmans.
Courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art

We’re approaching a string of annual arts events that will once again be virtual, for the second year in a row. On the one hand, it’s disappointing, because most of us would prefer to experience these events in person, but it’s just not safe yet. The pandemic is still raging and people are still dying. On the other, it’s heartening, because in a catastrophic year for the arts, the organizations presenting the events are still here, making art available and bringing something approaching normalcy to our lives.

After announcing a year ago in March that it would cancel Art in Bloom 2020, the Minneapolis Institute of Art did a quick turnaround and presented a virtual version on the previously scheduled dates. Art in Bloom usually brings tens of thousands of people to Mia to wander the galleries, look at floral arrangements and the art that inspired them, attend talks and other events. Funds raised support museum programs, including busing schoolchildren in for tours.

During last year’s Virtual Art in Bloom, Mia was closed to the public. The museum is  open this year, with limited days and hours (Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.) and COVID restrictions, including timed tickets and reduced occupancy. So it’s not quite ready for the crowd-crush party Art in Bloom usually is.

Art in Bloom 2021, the 38th year, will be a five-day online event, from Wednesday, April 28, through May 2. It will feature nearly 100 floral arrangements, but they won’t be displayed at Mia. Instead, they’ll be available to view online, alongside the art that inspired them. There will be multiple daily online tours, with guides. These are free with registration.

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Two virtual talks will also be free with registration. On Thursday, April 29, at 7 p.m., Holly Young (Standing Rock Dakota), creator of this years’ signature art, “Floral Legacy” (2019), and artist Graci Horne will join Jill Ahlberg Yohe, Mia’s associate curator of Native American art, in a conversation called “The Art of Turtle Island: Dakota Floral Legacy.” On Friday, April 30, at 7 p.m., Deborah Pierce – retired deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, where she oversaw the FBI Art Theft Team – will bring us into the $8 billion world of stolen art, with a focus on floral paintings stolen over the past 80 years.

Young’s “Floral Legacy,” a recent Mia acquisition, will be on view in the museum’s General Mills Lobby from April 19 to May 30.

As a bonus this year, Mia’s commercial floral artist partners – places like Lake Harriet Florist on Penn Ave. S., Martha’s Garden on Selby in St. Paul and Arts & Flowers on Excelsior – will have floral arrangements on display. Here’s a list, with times and directions.

FMI and reservations.

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The picks

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

Available now on Netflix: “This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist.” On the topic of stolen paintings, the $500 million theft from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, Manet and other artists is still unsolved after 31 years. This four-part series offers up previously unseen crime scene photos and other clues, including the names of the prime suspects. If you happen to know where these paintings are stashed, there’s a $10 million award.

Art by Kevin Cannon
Happening now: Independent Bookstore Week. Technically, Independent Bookstore Day is Saturday, April 24. But because of something called the Twin Cities Independent Bookstores Passport, created by Rain Taxi, you can start reaping the benefits now. Pick up a passport, visit as many bookstores as you can between now and EOD April 24, get your passport stamped, activate discounts, be entered to win a literary prize pack and maybe the fabulous grand prize. The passport is free, but if you buy some books along the way, all the better. FMI.

Tonight (Tuesday, April 20), 7 p.m.: Moon Palace Books: Claire Lombardo in conversation with Curtis Sittenfeld. Two New York Times bestselling authors meet virtually for our benefit. Lombardo’s “ambitious and brilliantly written first novel” (Washington Post), a sprawling, epic family saga, just came out in paperback. Sittenfeld is the author of “Prep,” “The Man of My Dreams,” “American Wife,” and more. Free with registration.

“A Thousand Ways (Part Two): An Encounter”
Everything Time Studio
“A Thousand Ways (Part Two): An Encounter”
Starts Thursday, April 22: Walker Art Center: 600 Highwaymen: “A Thousand Ways (Part Two): An Encounter.” In early March, the Walker presented a sold-out, two-week run of the New York-based theater company 600 Highwaymen’s “A Thousand Ways (Part One): A Phone Call.” We had an experience that’s as fresh today as it was the night we picked up the phone from home and spent an hour with a total stranger. Part Two asks more of us. It will take place on site at the Walker, with COVID-19 protocols in place. Pairs of people (again, total strangers) will sit at a table, physically distanced and separated by Plexiglas, following prompts on a stack of notecards for 45-60 minutes. These will likely be the first sustained, in-person experiences with a stranger most participants have had since the start of the pandemic. Read more here, paying special attention to the Important Information for “Part Two: An Encounter.” You will not have an audience; you will not be recorded. If you’re up for it, pick a time and buy a ticket ($25). Recommended for ages 16 and up.

Crooners has tapped three-time Grammy winner Jamecia Bennett for two nights of concerts.
Courtesy of the artist
Crooners has tapped three-time Grammy winner Jamecia Bennett for two nights of concerts.
Friday and Saturday, April 23 and 24: Crooners: The Belvedere Grand Opening: Jamecia Bennett: “The Evolution of Jazz and Blues.” There’s a strong possibility that many events this spring and summer and into the fall will take place outdoors. Crooners, which has the space, has championed live outdoor performances since May of last year, when it began offering parking-lot concerts to audiences seated in their vehicles. This weekend, it will open its fifth outdoor concert stage during COVID, a 150-seat, tented and climate-controlled venue with custom-built stage and Italianate ambience it has named the Belvedere, because why not? To give its new space the star-studded launch it deserves, Crooners has tapped three-time Grammy winner Jamecia Bennett for two nights of concerts. The music starts at 7 p.m., dinner and cocktail service starts at 6. FMI and tickets ($30).