Move over, summer festivals. With the Great Northern, which opens on Jan. 25, Minnesota takes advantage of an under-appreciated asset— its beautiful winter— for a festival that brings in international artists while also celebrating local talent. You can get a taste of what’s to come at the Great Northern in a conversation at Magers & Quinn Thursday night. Also this week, the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery shares the results of its quilting workshops conducted at community events throughout 2022. In theater, Lyric Arts has a production of “The Girl on the Train” that offers a thrill. Finally, in music, the Bakken Ensemble performs at MacPhail while Miguel Zenón Quartet shakes up the Dakota with “Música de Las Américas,” while at Kolman & Reeb, artist Cam Zebrun explores new directions.
Community Quilt Project Exhibition
Throughout 2022, the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery held a series of quilting workshops. The museum invited community members of all ages to create quilt squares as a healing endeavor in response to the isolation from COVID and the collective trauma from the murder of George Floyd. They hosted workshops at the unveiling of the Prince mural in downtown Minneapolis, the George Floyd Global Memorial Celebration, and other community events, culminating in 14 quilts that address topics like Black history, racial justice, Black liberation, and gun violence. Each quilt connects to the historical practice of quilting in the Black community, resonating with current events through cultural storytelling traditions. An opening reception for the exhibit, which runs through July 1, will be held Thursday, Jan. 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 pm at the museum (free). More information here.
Choreograph Your Classic
The Great Northern Festival, celebrating the arts, culture and the wintery landscape of the Twin Cities, doesn’t officially begin until Jan. 25, but you can get a sneak peak of one of the projects this week. Choreographer Ashwini Ramaswamy will talk about adapting Italo Calvino’s 1973 novel, “Invisible Cities,” for a dance and digital media performance with writer Will McGrath. Ramaswamy is adapting the dreamy, contemplative work in collaboration with digital artist Kevork Mourad for a performance on Jan. 27 and 28 at the Cowles Center as part of the festival. Dance artists Alanna Morris, Berit Ahlgren, and Joseph ‘MN Joe’ Tran, who are also part of the project, will participate in the discussion as well. It takes place Thursday, Jan 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Magers & Quinn (free, registration required). More information here.
The Girl on the Train
Who doesn’t love a good thriller? Lyric Arts in Anoka brings British author Paula Hawkins’ novel, “The Girl on the Train” to the stage in an adaptation based on the book and film. Like the film version, the play consolidates some elements of the plot, eliminating the three-narrator structure fans of the book may remember. In the book, the story is told from the perspective of three different women, and in so doing, turns negative female narratives tropes on their head. The play, adapted by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel, similarly illustrates three multi-layered characters, though it’s seen mostly from the perspective of Rachel Watson, played by Laura Baker. The character is an alcoholic with memory lapses who can’t get over her ex. Another key narrator in the book, the young Megan Hipwell, who has a tragic past, is portrayed by Ninchai Nok-Chiclana in a series of video recorded monologues projected on the stage set. Anna Watson, the home-wrecking second wife, gets a smaller voice in the stage version than the book, but Grace Hillmyer manages to add dimensions to her character. All three of the lead women actors elevate this production directed by Anna J. Crace, and Nok-Chiclana is especially luminous. Chad Van Kekerix’s set design and Jim Eischen’s lighting and projection design also stand out, making the train from the title a key element in the story. Runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Feb. 5 ($31 to $39). More information here.
Cameron Zebrun: Currents: A Project Space Exhibition
Artist Cam Zebrun used a “Project Space” grant from Kolman & Reeb Gallery to travel to different national parks and stunning landscapes across North America, including the Olympic National Forest and the Canadian Rockies. The opportunity led to photography collages that branch outside of his sculptural practice. You can see Zebrun’s photographs as well as canoe-shaped sculptures that find inspiration from landscapes and nature in his new “Currents” exhibitions. Among the works is a piece called “Aoi Taki,” which Zebrun created in response to viewing Japanese woodcuts of waterfalls from the 15th century. The exhibition runs through March 11, with an opening reception Saturday, Jan. 21 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (free). More information here.
The Bakken Trio has become the Bakken Ensemble, led by co-artistic directors Stephanie Arado and cellist Pitnarry Shin. Once the Bakken Quartet, the new name reflects the group’s collaborative approach, and propensity to work with guest musicians. This week, they welcome Cece Belcher (violin), Dan Orsen (viola) and Gao Hong (Pipa) for a performance that features Billy Child’s string quartet, “Unrequited,” and Red Lantern for pipa and string quartet. Also as part of the concert Arado will perform unaccompanied “The Red Violin Caprices”, from the 1999 film The Red Violin. That piece was part of composer John Corigliano’s best original score. Sunday, Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. at MacPhail ($25). More information here.
Miguel Zenón Quartet
Puerto Rican Saxophonist, composer and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Miguel Zenón is nominated for a Grammy Award for his latest album, “Música de Las Américas,” which narrates an Indigenous peoples’ history through the language of folkloric jazz. Miguel Zenón Quartet will be sharing works from the ambitious project at the Dakota, with pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Henry Cole. Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Dakota ($20 to $30). More information here.