Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Weekend Picks: Step outside yourself with graffiti art, photographic stories

Plus: ‘Cold Air Rises’; a Peyton Scott Russell retrospective; a Minnesota Center for Book Arts open house; and more.

A detail from KRUSH 330 by Peyton Scott Russell, 1986, Acrylic on denim
A detail from KRUSH 330 by Peyton Scott Russell, 1986, Acrylic on denim
White Bear Center for the Arts

Author John Koenig came up with the very useful term “sonder,” which describes realizing that everyone around you has just as vivid and complex a life as you do. Creative entrepreneur Sarah Edwards has named her upcoming event after the concept. It also describes the act of engaging with art and artists quite succinctly. At its core, art allows the audience/viewer to step outside of themselves and see new perspectives. Try it out this week and shows all over the Twin Cities and beyond, like the return of Transatlantic Love Affair to Illusion Theater, Ben Frost’s opera in progress “Cold Air Rises,” a day of arts activities at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and photographic stories from across America by John Noltner. Also this week, celebrate Peyton Scott Russell’s 40-year career at a retrospective at the White Bear Center for the Arts.

Article continues after advertisement

Peyton Scott Russell Retrospective

Peyton Scott Russell
Photo by Greg Thompson
Peyton Scott Russell
For 40 years, Minneapolis artist Peyton Scott Russell has been showing his art in galleries in the streets, connecting to community through murals, sculptures, installations, and fine art works, not to mention apparel. A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a co-founder of Juxtaposition Arts, the artist gained national attention for the mural he created depicting George Floyd, installed at George Floyd Square during the unrest after Floyd’s murder. A new exhibition at White Bear Center of the Arts will include that work, titled “Icon of a Revolution #1” and will examine Peyton’s connection to graffiti art throughout the course of his career, including work made prior becoming a professional artist. The artist’s brother, Kai Alexander, will play music at the opening reception, which takes place Thursday, Feb. 2 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at White Bear Center of the Arts (free). More information here.

A masked rehearsal featuring Peytie McCandless and Derek Lee Miller dancing, with Adelin Phelps in the background.
Illusion Theater
A masked rehearsal featuring Peytie McCandless and Derek Lee Miller dancing, with Adelin Phelps in the background.

These Old Shoes

A 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival hit called “These Old Shoes,” presented by Transatlantic Love Affair, finds new life in a presentation at Illusion Theater. TLA makes physical, collaboratively devised theater, and was something of the darling of the Fringe when the work premiered. The company had earned a following due to their poetic, beautiful works that create theater magic without sets or props. Since 2012, the company has found partnership with Illusion Theater, which has presented nine of TLA’s 11 productions. Illusion remounted “These Old Shoes” back in 2015, as part of its Lights Up series featuring emerging artists. Now the work is being presented as Illusion’s regular season. TLA hasn’t performed in three years, and in the meantime has re-organized its structure into a non-hierarchical model. Under their new organization, they are bringing back the earlier work, conceived and directed by Diogo Lopes, a founding co-artistic director of TLA, along with the ensemble. It’s set in a retirement community, and meditates on time, memory and love. It opens this Friday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and runs through Feb. 19 at Illusion Theater (Name your price starting at $10, suggested price $35). More information here.

Love Local Open House
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
Love Local Open House

Love Local Open House

The Minnesota Center for Book Arts gets started on Valentine’s Day a bit early with a day full of art-making activities for all ages. Try your hand at screen printing, button making, or making a letterpress poster at this event, or even take a yoga class for book lovers. While you’re at it, check out the work of this year’s McKnight Book Artists Fellows. Among them, Paula McCartney has found inspiration from the Nakalele Blowhole on the North Shore of Maui, incorporating her photography as well as paper marbling. You’ll also see a cyanotype poetry book by Lisa Nebenzahl, and handmade flax and linen papers by Mary Hark, and the profoundly intricate papercut artistry of Sonja Peterson. Saturday, Feb. 4 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at MCBA (free). More information here.


Twin Cities taste maker Sarah Edwards has curated an event featuring Minnesota creatives, for an evening of fashion, art, music, cocktails and mystery. Having spent much of her career promoting others’ careers, Edwards is focusing on her own creative energy as an artist and designer, carrying along some of the folks that inspire her as well in a fantastic party. It’s named after a term coined by John Koenig, author of the bestselling “Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.” It means: “The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” Step outside of yourself and see the thriving creative force happening in the Twin Cities. Saturday, Feb. 4 with time slots between 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Chambers Hotel ($50, $25 after party). More information here.

Ben Frost: Cold Air Rises

Get a sneak peek of Australia-born/Iceland-based composer Ben Frost’s opera in progress as part of the Great Northern Festival. It’s based on the landmark novel “The Peregrine,” by J.A. Baker, which documents a winter’s worth of peregrine falcon. For the opera, Frost is working with British nature writer Robert Macfarlane. This week, it will come to life through the voices of the chamber chorus MPLS (imPUlse), with dancer Amanda Sachs also performing. Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Luminary Arts Center ($15). More information here.

Photo by John Noltner

John Noltner: Coming Home

In the fall of 2020, photographer John Noltner and his wife Karen sold their Bloomington home and ventured on a road trip where they spoke to people across 93,000 miles about the pressing issues facing the U.S. Touching on issues of immigration, Confederate monuments, tribal sovereignty, housing security, and veterans living with trauma, the project resulted in a book of photojournalism called “ Now, the couple has returned home to Minnesota. At an event at Squirrel Haus, Noltner will be sharing stories and photographs from their travels, as well as offering a sneak peak of what comes next. The “Coming Home” event is at capacity, but you can join the waitlist or stream the event on the A Peace of My Mind Facebook Page.  7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 at Squirrel Haus (free). More information here.