Scientists are still studying the way that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped our dreams, and it’s probably something that won’t ever fully be understood. Still, just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it isn’t fun sometimes to relish in an exploration on the topic. Tonight, White Bear Center for the Arts hosts two artists exploring the topic in their work, in an exhibition that runs for another month. In addition to that, here are some other ideas to get you out into the community — indoors, outdoors or via the internet as we brave this January.
The Gap Between Worlds
Rebecca Krinke takes advantage of the windows at White Bear Center for the Arts for her eerie octopus sculpture, part of a new installation that hums of dreams and conjures a feeling of Victorian-era Spiritualism. She’s showing her work along with Amy Ballinger, a surrealist photographer whose work touches on the macabre. An audio accompaniment by artist Lauren Arndt, with vocals and music by Hannah Morton of Kitchen Congregation gives you an additional sensory experience as you experience the art work. The opening reception is 3:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20 (free, registration required); the audio walk event takes place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10 (free, registration required); and the exhibit runs through Feb. 17. More information here.
In 1996, 100 years after composer Giacomo Puccini along with librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa wrote “La Bohéme,” the dramatic opera about a group of artists in Paris, Jonathan Larson updated the story in the form of a rock opera. He set it in the East Village during the AIDS crisis, and the musical was a smash hit. Over the years, though, the popularity of “Rent” has dwindled. Perhaps because it was so much a product of its particular moment in history, it doesn’t resonate as much with audiences in the 21st Century. “The thing is, ‘Rent’ hasn’t aged well because Larson wrote a musical that was entirely of its time,” Caroline Framke wrote in Vox in 2016. “Looking back at ‘Rent’ today, after 20 years of pop culture progression, is a little like listening to music on a cassette tape. Why revisit an outdated format now that we have MP3s and streaming?”
Theater Latté Da’s production of “La Bohéme,” first staged in 2005, nine years after “Rent” became a runaway Broadway sensation, doesn’t have that problem. They’ve changed the time period, yes, but instead of setting their version in the present day, the company places the story in Paris during the Nazi occupation. First produced at The Loring Bar, Artistic Director Peter Rothstein’s version keeps Puccini’s original music, sung in Italian with subtitles, but with a streamlined selection of instruments. Pamela Espeland had a terrific interview with Rothstein back in 2020, right before Theater Latté Da was set to remount the production. You can read some of the inside story about the production and how it came to be.
Sadly, it was cancelled during the first wave of the pandemic. But this week, the production is back in action. It opened Wednesday and runs through Sunday, Feb. 27 at The Ritz Theater ($35 and up). More information here.
Lake Harriet Kite Festival
Get the most out of your Art Shanty Projects Experience by attending this weekend, when you can also experience the Lake Harriet Kite Festival. Bundle up and enjoy the beautiful kites dance in the sky, and while you’re at it, explore the weird and wonderful world of artist-designed art shanties. You can experience both from 12-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22 at Lake Harriet (free). More information here.
Ryan Fontaine — A Pale and Simple Light
No, Hair + Nails is not a hair salon. It’s an art gallery run by self-taught visual artist, gallerist and musician Ryan Fontaine and dance maker Kristin Van Loon, known for her work with the dance duo Hijack. The gallery often brings in guest artists, but also features Fontaine’s work on occasion, often in conjunction with another artist. The last time his work took up the whole of Hair + Nails was in the very first exhibition in 2016. This week, a solo exhibition of Fontaine’s art, “A Pale and Simple Light,” reflects on Fontaine’s experiences with the building since he and Van Loon began operating the space. Plants are juxtaposed with architectural elements as well as video and light sources in a meditation on unsustainable systems. The opening reception is on Saturday, Jan. 22, from 7-10 p.m. at Hair + Nails Gallery, and the exhibition runs through Feb. 27. More information here.
The sibling duo of Page Burkhum and Jack Torrey, The Cactus Blossoms have a country sound with a hint of pop and folk. They once appeared on David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, and currently are in residence at the Turf Club leading up to the release of their new album, “One Day,” which gets its release on Feb. 11. You can check them out along with Geoffrey Lamar Wilson at 7:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. doors) Monday, Jan. 24 at the Turf Club, or at their final performance with Kansas Plates on Jan. 31, ($20-25). More information here.
Contemporary Poetry of South Korea: Kim Ki-Taek and Yi Won
Next Wednesday, Rain Taxi hosts two South Korean poets and translators in conversation in a virtual gathering. The talk highlights the release of Rain Taxi’s OHM Edition called “Smiling in an Old Photograph,” by Kim Ki-taek, and “The World’s Lightest Motorcycle,” by Yi Won and published by Zephyr Press. The authors are joined by translators Ed Bok Lee, E. J. Koh, and Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello. Poet Lee Herrick will moderate. 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26 online (Free, registration required). More information here.