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Weekend Picks: Oedipus in Seattle, art in Rochester, and Patrick’s Cabaret

Plus: A “bring your own art” event; a night of groovy music at the Turf Club; and an open dialogue among emerging curators.

From award winning auto-theater to art exhibitions that make you think and feel, this weekend brings a wealth of opportunities. Below see a rundown of two shows on view at the Rochester Art Center, plus one coming soon. You can also read about a variety show at the old Soap Factory space, an art salon at the Hennepin, a dialogue about curation, accessibility, intersectionality and care led by the Emerging Curators Institute, and “Oedipus in Seattle,” by the talented Savannah Reich. 

Oedipus in Seattle

Playwright Savannah Reich, a one-time resident of Minnesota and frequent collaborator of theater artists currently based here, brings her latest work, “Oedipus in Seattle,” to the Twin Cities as part of a three-city tour, featuring different local actors for each performance. Maren Ward and Jon Cole perform the first day, and Samantha Johns and Kait Sergenian perform the second— none of them have ever rehearsed or read the script before. Instead, they get instructions via headphones in this version of “auto theater.” Casting is done by random chance as they perform this work, which won the 2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival audience choice award. Saturday, May 27 and Sunday May 28 3 p.m. both days, at Bryant Lake Bowl, ($15 in advance, $20 at the door). More information here

In a new commission, “Will to Meaning,” (2023), Anne Labovitz hangs giant scrolls in the atrium of the building, cascading down over numerous stories.
Rochester Art Center
In a new commission, “Will to Meaning,” (2023), Anne Labovitz hangs giant scrolls in the atrium of the building, cascading down over numerous stories.

Two exhibitions at Rochester Art Center and one coming soon

The Twin Cities are so blessed with wonderful galleries and museums, it’s easy to forget that the greater Minnesota region has enticing opportunities for the arts as well. This time of year, when the flora is bursting and nature is coming to life, it’s a great time to venture to the towns a road trip away and take in the art outside the metro area. 

Last weekend, I spent some time in Southeastern Minnesota, an area rich with arts culture. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to experience a phenomenal concert on the banks of the Mississippi River, outside the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, featuring innovative folk musician and composer Sam Amidon, playing his tunes with new arrangements by a cohort of contemporary composers, in a project co-presented with Liquid Music. The next day, I made my way to the Rochester Art Center, where two exhibitions sparked my interest.

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One is “The Nexus of Well-Being and Art,” made of work by Anne Labovitz, who plays with color, light and soft, gentle arcs. In a new commission, “Will to Meaning,” (2023), Labovitz hangs giant scrolls in the atrium of the building, cascading down over numerous stories. You can see all the way to the top of the sculptural work, which Labovitz made using acrylic on Tyvek (a synthetic, paper-like material). You can also view it from different vantage points as you walk up the stairs. Labovitz achieves a marble effect with the bleeding paint, which drips in different directions and swirls with energy. The gallery also holds the mesmerizing “Well Being LightWindows”, backlit with LED lights, and interactive stations that engage visitors in questions about wellness. It’s a calming, meditative body of work. Labovitz’s exhibition is open through July 30. A catalogue release takes place June 2, 6:30 p.m. (Free). 

Another exhibit, “A Lapse into the Ephemeral,” curated by Zoe Cinel, assembles new media works which all investigate impermanence. These works cross examine hierarchies around monuments and archives, sharing the value of the present moment. Among the works in the exhibition, the Turkish collective Oddviz creates a kind of anti-monument using 3D scanning to deconstruct famous monuments and sculptures, offering new ways to remember and think about time. Clement Valla, a U.S.-based artist, manipulates Google Earth imagery to create surrealistic landscapes. Roads traveling through pristine natural settings look obscene in their jagged and angled structure under Valla’s eye. 

Other artists in the exhibition commemorate real places— a library in Korail, a self-organized settlement in Dhaka, Bangladesh marked by extreme poverty— and lost ones, like a square in Tel Aviv that no longer exists. The artists all blend technology with a connection to the human, in works that ponder our place in this moment. The exhibition is open through July 16. 

Also opening on May 31 is a solo show by  Roshan Ganu called “जत्रा (Ja-tra) : A Feeling At The Beginning Of Time,” based on the Marathi word for town/village fair. The multimedia installation ponders the sense of liminal space that is created by the fair. (You can read my previous feature on Ganu’s work here). 

The Rochester Art Center is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ($5). More information here

Patrick’s Cabaret at The Foundry

Once upon a time, the Soap Factory was a thriving space for contemporary art, performance, experimentation, outdoor film festivals, and haunted interactive Halloween events before the organization sadly closed due to funding. But the building is still there, now being used as a home goods store called The Foundry. The latest Patrick’s Cabaret— which itself is also the name of a former arts organization but also the name of a series named after the organization’s founder, Patrick Scully— takes place at the old Soap Factory Digs, with a variety show featuring harpist Andrea Stern, playing traditional Irish music and other arrangements, singer-songwriter Barbara Cohen, poet G.E. Patterson, and Scottish and Irish tunes by folk duo Ross Sutter and Laura MacKenzie. Scully will act as MC for the event on Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m. at The Foundry ($15 and up). More information here

A piece from “Black Bounds,” an exhibition in the Best Buy Foundation Gallery by Christopher Harrison.
A piece from “Black Bounds,” an exhibition in the Best Buy Foundation Gallery by Christopher Harrison.

Art Salon

Artists and art lovers converge at Hennepin Theatre Trust for a soiree of music, art, conversation, and more. Christopher Harrison will be talking about his exhibition in the Best Buy Foundation Gallery, “Black Bounds,” and Rogue Buddha Gallery will be on hand with art making opportunities. There’s a “bring your own art” component to the event, where you can talk about your art with artist Alyssa Bagus, and local personality Ian Rans MCs the event, with musical guests Tiny Daggers. There’ll be food and a cash bar. Thursday, May 25 at 6 p.m. at The Hennepin (free). More information here

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All the Pretty Horses, The Silent Treatment Butter Boys, and Surly GRRLY

Local singer, songwriter, artist, and musician Venus DeMars never disappoints with her weighty lyrics, grooving rhythms and sense of performance. DeMars’ band All the Pretty Horses headlines a show this Saturday with punk band, The Silent Treatment, rock band The Butter Boys, and queercore punk band Surly Grrly. Thursday, May 25 at 8 p.m. at The Turf Club ($12-$15). More information here

Tara Aisha Willis
Emerging Curators Institute
Tara Aisha Willis

Open Dialogue: Tara Aisha Willis, Barak adé Soleil, and 2023-24 ECI Fellows

This Saturday, the new Director of the Emerging Curators Institute Barak adé Soleil is joined by Tara Aisha Willis, curator of performance and public practice at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and this year’s ECI cohort for a conversation around intersectionality, care, and accessibility. ECI supports emerging curators with funding and collaborative learning opportunities. Multidisciplinary artist Eshay Brantley, artist and aerial instructor Josephine Hoffman, photographer and documenter Nance Musinguzi and painter/songwriter Makeda “Keda” Tadesse are each venturing into the space of curation and add to the conversation. Saturday, May 27 from 1 to 2:15 p.m. on Zoom (free). More information here