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Weekend Picks: Art-A-Whirl, puppets, and an opera that goes to hell and back

Plus: AAPI Generations Conference; Tammy Ortegon’s 30years Reflect Back/30years Inspired Forward exhibit.

Bikes and Cars, 18x24 oil on panel, by Scott Lloyd Anderson
Bikes and Cars, 18x24 oil on panel, by Scott Lloyd Anderson can be seen in the Northrup King Building during this weekend’s Art-A-Whirl.

From puppets by emerging BIPOC artists to operas that traverse hell and back, this weekend is full of arts and culture. Art-A-Whirl will be bursting with music, art, and happenings, Theater Mu celebrates its legacy with a weekend full of panels, readings, and nationally known guests, and Tammy Ortegon celebrates 20 years of ColorWheel Gallery with her first solo show featuring her own artwork. 

AAPI conference

David Henry Hwang is one of the most important playwrights writing in America today, with works that have led dialogue around anti-Asian portrayal, often taking canonical operas and musicals and deconstructing them with a new message. In “M. Butterfly,” he took on Puccini’s opera “Madama Butterfly,” with “Soft Power,” he re-invented “The King and I,” and he famously wrote a new book for the 1961 musical “Flower Drum Song,” significantly re-working the plot. He also wrote the book for “Aida,” and explored his own experiences writing a play about casting in “Miss Saigon” in “Yellow Face.” 

David Henry Hwang
David Henry Hwang
This week, Hwang will be here in Minneapolis for the AAPI Generations Conference, hosted by Theater Mu. He’ll be part of a panel with actor Amy Hill, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, and Mu’s co-founder Rick Shiomi, moderated by Josephine Lee. The conference includes Taiko drumming performances, Cambodian dance by Wattanak Dance Troupe, break-out sessions with leading Asian and Pacific Islander theater artists and creators, and play readings. The closing panel around Asian American women artistic leaders will feature some important names in the Twin Cities community, including Mu’s artistic director Lily Tung Crystal, Ananya Chatterjea of Ananya Dance Theatre and Lana Barkawi, executive and artistic director of Mizna, moderated by actor/musician Meghan Kreidler. The conference takes place Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21 at Park Square Theatre ($100, $50 if you need to pay less). New Eyes festival readings — Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, May 21 at 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.— are free. More information here

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Get your Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association fix when galleries, art buildings, breweries and more celebrate Art-A-Whirl this weekend. Visit artists where they make their work at places like the Northrup King Building, Casket Arts, the Thorp Building, and more or visit independent galleries like Rogue Buddha and Dreamsong. There’s lots of music happening all weekend Sociable Cider Werks, and the 331 Club. There’s also events like one by the Minnesota Native Artists Alliance at Northrup King with Native vendors, printmakers, and a Hoop dancing performance by Lumhe Micco Sampson, and a film screening of “The CO-OP Wars,” a documentary about Minneapolis’ incendiary co-op grocery store history. Find a full list of events on the NEMAA website. Friday, May 19 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, May 20 from noon to 8 p.m., Sunday, May 21 from noon to 5 p.m. (free). More information here

The Garden 

At a time when trans youth are facing an all-out attack across the United States, the all queer/trans Open Flame Theatre re-imagines its opera production about a young trans man who escapes conversion therapy via a portal to hell. Composer Walken Schweigert based the piece, the second in a three-part trilogy, on Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” and other mythologies in a work that’s filled with masks, aerial work, the devil, and more. Friday, May 19, Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m., through May 29, at the Southern Theater ($15 to $25). More information here

Monkeybear’s New Puppetworks Show

Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop is helping to diversify the field of puppetry by nurturing artists in the art form. This weekend, the group will be showcasing its latest cohort of Native and Black artists and artists of color bringing their puppet creations to life. The artists have been working with sound designer Dameun Strange on their projects, for works that run the gamut of puppetry styles. Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20 at 7 p.m., Sunday, May 21 at 3 p.m. at Pillsbury House + Theatre ($0 to $20). More information here.

ColorWheel Gallery & Cafe Ena - A Beautiful Day on 46th & Grand by Tammy Ortegon
ColorWheel Gallery
ColorWheel Gallery & Cafe Ena - A Beautiful Day on 46th & Grand by Tammy Ortegon

Tammy Ortegon Art Exhibit – 30years Reflect Back/30years Inspired Forward

Tammy Ortegon has been running ColorWheel Gallery for two decades, and is planning her first solo exhibition in the gallery’s history. Throughout the history of the Kingfield neighborhood gallery, Ortegon has exhibited over 800 local artists. Now she’s drawing on her own expansive body of work made up of everything from drawings and paintings to jewelry, photography, mixed media work and more. The work reflects the art gallery owner’s meditations on community and healing, with inspiration from her recent travels. The opening reception takes place Saturday, May 20 from 2-8 p.m. at ColorWheel, with an artist talk on Wednesday, May 31 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and a closing exhibition party on Saturday, July 8 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. (free). More information here