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Leslie Barlow solo show to open at Mia in July; Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona

ALSO: Minnesota Orchestra’s “Season Finale: A Summer Prelude”; Twin Cities Jazz Fest at Crooners; and more.

Leslie Barlow, “Kelly Shay” (2019)
Courtesy of Mia
Leslie Barlow, “Kelly Shay” (2019)
It seems that artist Leslie Barlow’s work is everywhere, and that’s a good thing. You may have seen it at the State Fair, the original Public Functionary, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Regis Center for the Arts, the Rochester Center for the Arts, the White Bear Center for the Arts, Artistry in Bloomington (in a two-person show with Ta-Coumba Aiken), on murals after George Floyd’s murder, on the covers of the Minnesota Women’s Press, Rain Taxi Review of Books, Insight News and the Growler. Starting July 16, Mia will present a solo show of new work by this increasingly important young artist.

“Leslie Barlow: Within, Between and Beyond” will be part of the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program (MAEP). It will include Barlow’s portrait paintings of and video interviews with 16 individuals who identify as mixed race people or transracial adoptees. Taking its title from an essay on mixed race identity, it will ask viewers to recognize and reconsider presumptions about race.

“We have all heard or seen demographic studies heralding growing diversity in the United States, and that perceived increase in ‘mixedness’ is fraught and layered and complex,” Barlow said in a statement. “The work in this exhibition disengages from the idea of a simple or single story and creates space for historically excluded narratives, while specifically addressing the idea of belonging – what it means and who experiences it, and what that feeling entails.”

MAEP coordinator and Mia’s assistant curator of contemporary art, Nicole Soukup, added, “You cannot separate political power from the story of portraiture. It was a means to physically insert one into history – to demonstrate one’s worth. Leslie Barlow’s work asks us to question whose legacies do we see on museums’ walls and why.”

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MAEP features artists who live and work in Minnesota. Barlow was born here, educated here at MCAD (and at the University of Wisconsin) and has won important awards here from the State Fair, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Springboard, and McKnight and Jerome Hill artist fellowships.

Her life-sized oil paintings have become instantly recognizable. If you’ve seen one or two, you’ll know them by their warmth and humanity. At the 2020 Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition – the one that went on despite the pandemic, to a polite and socially distanced crowd, without the din of the fair just outside the doors – we saw a strong and tender portrait of a grandmother in a bathing suit, holding a baby in a blanket, framed on each side by diamond-shaped quilt squares. We can close our eyes and still see it. Leslie Barlow.

“Leslie Barlow: Within, Between and Beyond” will be on view through Oct. 31 in the U.S. Bank Gallery. There will be a conference about it and a family day on Aug. 6-8, an artist talk on Sept. 16 and a film screening in October.

The picks

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

L (and also kind of V?) Available today (Friday, June 25): Scott L. Miller’s “SonAR II – Minnehaha Regional Park.” A St. Cloud-based composer and three-time McKnight Composer Fellow, Miller has created a free soundwalk app to accompany (and enhance) a stroll through the park surrounding Minnehaha Falls. His immersive, interactive electronic music changes as you follow a map with a recommended path and start location. Miller’s composition is layered over the ambient sounds of the falls and the park. You’ll need a smartphone (iPhone or Android) and earbuds or headphones that are not noise-canceling. Learn more here. Pre-order here (iPhone) or here (Android). Free. Note: If you do this with a friend or a group, you’ll each have an individual experience while together in a common public space.

JazzMN Orchestra
Photo by Don Jackson
JazzMN Orchestra
L and V all weekend (Friday through Sunday, June 25-27): Twin Cities Jazz Festival at Crooners. Jazz Fest will return to Mears Park for two days in September. But first, it will fill Crooners with local, national and international artists. Concerts will take place indoors and in the big tent outdoors, the Belvedere Room. Limited tickets are still available for some performances. Or stay home and stream everything in the Belvedere Room for free: the Jazz Women All-Stars, Andrew Walesch Big Band, Jamecia Bennett, Kurt Elling, Jerry Bergonzi Quartet and JazzMN Orchestra with Ricky Peterson and Bob Mintzer. Use this link to go to the main page. Click the brown links to check in-person ticket availability and the gold links to register for livestreams. It’s not as complicated as it sounds!

L this weekend and through July: The Great River Shakespeare Festival. Road trip? If you need an excuse to visit scenic Winona, the Great River Shakespeare Festival opens this weekend. This year’s season is shorter than usual (June 23-Aug. 1, including previews), performances take place outdoors (which is totally new for the company) and tickets are sold in pods that can accommodate two people. Visit the website to learn more about the festival’s offerings: Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” “Every Brilliant Thing” and “Great Expectations.” This year’s intern/apprentice production is “Romeo and Juliet.”

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L (Friday and Saturday, June 25 and 26) and V (Friday, June 25), 8 p.m.: Minnesota Orchestra: “Season Finale: A Summer Prelude.” Now that the pandemic is winding down (in some places) and venues are reopening, the Minnesota Orchestra is in a transition phase. They’re still livestreaming concerts but are also performing for limited-capacity live audiences. In-person tickets are sold out for the season finale but waiting list tickets are available. Or you can watch or listen at home – on the orchestra’s website, TPT Live or Classical MPR. The music is by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (Nonet in F minor), Music Director Osmo Vänskä (the world premiere of his new “Overture”) and Kurt Weill (Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, featuring concertmaster Erin Keefe). There’s just one remaining livestreamed concert in this season. More are being planned for the future, but the details are still being worked out.

Cowboat left to right: Ty Chapman, Oanh Vu, Ti Vo.
Courtesy Open Eye Theatre
Cowboat left to right: Ty Chapman, Oanh Vu, Ti Vo.
L Saturday, June 26, 2 p.m. at Eat My Words Bookstore: Open Eye Theatre Driveway Tour Puppet Show: “The Amazing Cowboat.” Open Eye’s award-winning Driveway Tour brings original puppet shows with live music to neighborhoods across the metro. On Saturday, it will stop at Eat My Words. One of the most popular and beloved shows in the Driveway Tour repertory, “The Amazing Cowboat” is back with a redeveloped script, a new cast, and a new design for the main character puppet to reflect the image and experience of a young Vietnamese American child. No tickets required. If you can, bring cash to tip the performers. FMI. You can check the map to see where else “The Amazing Cowboat” plans to go.

V Tuesday, June 29, 7 p.m.: Subtext Books: John Paul Brammer for “Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons.” Brammer has been called the “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw” and “the Cheryl Strayed for young queer people everywhere – and some straight people, too.” In 12 essays, the popular LGBTQ advice columnist and writer chronicles his own journey growing up biracial and in the closet in America’s heartland. Reviewer Matt Wille wrote in the New York Times that Brammer “is both kind and piercingly funny, often in the same sentence.” Brammer will be in conversation with Chris Stedman, author of “IRL.” Free with registration.