It’s a new year and the arts are just getting warmed up. If you can get your car out of the snow bank (or better yet, have your Metro Transit card handy) here are a few arts options to see arts in the Twin Cities and beyond.
One is catching up with Nicole Kronzer, who visits the Red Balloon Bookshop this week promoting her second theater-related young adult book. Over at the Cedar, re-live memories of the Nordic Roots Festival with a two-hour movie plus surround sound. The Walker will help you get through sleepless nights with a day full of activities on Saturday for its free day, and in Saint Paul, New York jazz improvisers Dave Sewelson and Gabby Fluke-Mogul team up with a local crew of musicians at Jazz Central Studios.
Last week, I shared an interview with the creators of “King Gilgamesh and the Man of the Wild.” You can see my thoughts after seeing the show on New Year’s Eve below. Finally, head to beautiful Stillwater for a new gallery exhibition highlighting new ways to think about weaving.
Q & A with Nicole Kronzer
Nicole Kronzer burst onto the young adult literature scene back in 2020 with her first novel, “Unscripted,” which offered a kind of “me-too” story for the youth improvisational theater set. Kronzer was a Minnesota Book Award Finalist for that work, and the book was named a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association. Now the Minnesota English teacher is back with her next book “The Roof Over Our Heads,” which once again mines Kronzer’s theater background to create the story. This time, a family of theater people face losing their home, so what do they do? Put on a show, of course. Kronzer will visit Red Balloon Bookshop with Craig Johnson, former manager of the James J. Hill House, on Thursday, Jan. 5, at 6:30 p.m. (free but registration is required). More information here.
‘King Gilgamesh & the Man of the Wild’
This piece of theater is really a story about friendship. It brings together the ancient Mesopotamian tale about partial God King Gilgamesh— and the story of two strangers realizing the power of friendship. It draws on some true stories from performers Ahmed Moneka and Jesse LaVercombe’s lives, as well as fictional elements, and beautifully navigates trauma, resilience, and ambition with a graceful humor. They both happen to be versed in jazz music. Director Seth Bockley adeptly folds the two different worlds together with fluid transitions and a sense of fun. Moneka sings in the show alongside his real-life Arabic jazz band, which is the show’s secret weapon. The affability of the two leads also lends toward the feel-good nature of this intimate piece. Every day through Jan. 8 at the Jungle Theater, with shows at 7:30 p.m. through Saturday at 2 p.m. on Sunday (pay as you are, $45 market value). More information here.
‘Nordic Roots Festival Memories’
Before the Cedar Cultural Center began producing the Global Roots Festival, they produced the Nordic Roots Festival over the course of 10 years — from 1999 to 2008. The multi-day festival, started by The Cedar and NorthSide, a record label that specialized in Nordic roots music operated by then-executive director of the Cedar, Robert Simonds (he’s now retired.) Simonds worked with current Cedar sound engineer Chris Frymire to put together two hours of videos that encompass the decade of Nordic Roots music. The video experiences includes surround sound audio mixes. Friday, Jan. 6, at 7:30 p.m. (free). More information here.
Free First Saturday: Hibernation Nights
Peng Wu has long been interested in sleep and sleeplessness, exploring this topic often in interactive ways. This Saturday, you can get in on the action with a mask making workshop called “Rest is Resist,” where the interdisciplinary and social practice artist will guide you to create your own paper dream mask as a resistance to the worries of the world. It’s part of a whole day of family-friendly arts activities. Among them? Hear nighttime stories by beloved Minneapolis storyteller “Auntie Beverly,” aka Beverly Cottman, who shares folktales and fables that will help you sleep. Also, staff from the Bell Museum will be on hand for a pop-up planetarium in the Walker Cinema, a finger-puppet making activity based on the dreams of animals, a star-finding hunt, and more. Saturday, Jan. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (free). More information here.
Five artists of different disciplines weave their way to artistic creation in a new exhibition hosted by ArtReach St. Croix in Stillwater. Sure, you might think of textiles when you think of weaving, but this show may turn you on to the possibilities of photographs being woven as well, as executed by Victoria Kosel’s works. Then there are the drawings of Gwen Partin and Ken Johnson, who draw daily together. Johnson finds inspiration from mathematical systems, while Gwen looks to textiles themselves for the source of her inquiry. You’ll be able to see the two together as well as Lynn Pagliarini’s baskets woven from found materials, and hand beaded works made from glass beads by Christina Rolf. The exhibition runs Jan. 8-Feb. 11. Opening reception: Sunday, Jan. 8, from 2-4 p.m. (free). More information here.
Dave Sewelson and Gabby Fluke-Mogul
The Twin Cities get a dose of New York City’s jazz scene when baritone saxophone player Dave Sewelson and experimental violin improvisor and composer Gabby Fluke-Mogul head to Jazz Central Studios to make music with three local musicians — George Cartwright, who himself holds serious New York Jazz scene cred as a member of Curlew, frequenters of the Knitting Factory, Anthony Cox, and Steve Hirsh. Nathan Hanson and Davu Seru play an opening set. Sunday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. at Jazz Central Studios ($15). More information here.