Minnesotans like to think of themselves as forward-thinking, but the fact is you don’t have to look hard to see the undercurrents of hate broiling beneath the surface in the state. I was reminded of this recently while checking for media updates about a body found in Bde Maka Ska, a lake I spend a lot of time by. On social media, I found not news about the person who died but all sorts of comments from people still apparently irked that the name of the lake was changed from its previous namesake, former Vice President and slavery apologist John C. Calhoun.
Minnesota nice? Maybe not. Minnesota is the state of the largest mass execution of Native people in U.S. history. Minnesota is where three African Americans were lynched by a mob in Duluth in 1920. And, as evidenced by recent research by artist and educator Brooks Turner, we’re a state that turned out to be a hotbed of fascism tied to anti-labor forces in the 1930s and beyond. Turner will be sharing his findings and the art he’s created inspired by the history at Carleton College this week.
Turner’s exhibition is one of my six recommendations to visit this weekend. I also have listed here a performance by consummate performer Thomasina Petrus, a reprise of Nautilus Music-Theater’s Composer-Librettist Studio outpourings, and art, music and nature at Franconia Sculpture Park. Also this week, Missy Whiteman shares her latest interdisciplinary project at the Bell Museum in addition to speaking at Film North. Finally, I suggest stopping over to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to see Tia Keobounpheng’s wonderful “Revealing Threads.”
Brooks Turner: Pedagogy and Propaganda
Over the last five years, artist and educator Brooks Turner has been unearthing the ugly history of fascism in Minnesota, diving into the archives at the Minnesota Historical Society and the Hoover Institute at Stanford. He’s discovered ties to hate groups like the Silver Legion of America (the Silver Shirts) held with anti-union business leaders and government officials. He’s also researched anti-fascist resistance by journalists, Jewish activists and union organizers. A new exhibition featuring Brooks’ work centers around the 1934 Teamsters Strike, which will hit its 90th anniversary next year, and illuminates how anti-union forces were tinged with fascist rhetoric. Brooks’ exhibition, “Pedagogy and Propaganda,” features large-scale textile pieces that illuminate the often hidden history of fascist resistance in Minnesota’s labor history. Brooks will also show work that brings together archival content with his original drawings. The show opens Thursday, Sept. 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Perlman Teaching Museum at Carleton College in Northfield, and runs through Nov.15. Meanwhile, an accompanying exhibition in Carleton’s Gould library features archival materials from Carleton’s special collections and archives, objects from the East Side Freedom Library pertaining to the 1934 Teamster Strike, and a collaboration between artists Keith Christensen and Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds titled “In Union.” More information here.
Sip, Savor, & Song Volume I: Mellow-dies of Pheobe Snow & other smooth singers
Actor and singer Thomasina Petrus has wowed audiences for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.’ Now she’s setting her sites on American roots singer-songwriter Pheobe Snow, whose song “Poetry Man,” hit the top of the charts in 1975, and helped earn the singer a Grammy award. Snow was known for her huge range, and resonant soulfulness, which Petrus taps into along with other singers in this show. It takes place Thursday, Sept. 21, at the Woman’s Club at 7:30 p.m., with the rooftop open for dinner at 5 p.m. and the lounge open for drinks starting at 6:30 p.m. ($35). More information here.
Nautilus Music-Theater: 2023 Composer-Librettist Studio Reunion Concert
Back in May, I popped over to Augsburg University to see a showing of music that came out of Nautilus Music-Theater’s Composer-Librettist studio. It pairs writers and musicians together as they embark on new collaborations. This year’s pairings made for some lovely pieces — some strange, some funny, some poignant. It’s not exactly in the same genre as musical theater like you’d see on Broadway, but a number of the pieces had a theatrical quality. I especially enjoyed a song called “Cat Convention,” by writer Brandi Brown and composer Jake Endres. The group is reprising the best music from the workshop, with an additional brand-new piece that wasn’t included in the first show. See work by writers Emilia Seay Allen, Brandi Brown, Daniel Reiva, Kaz Sherman and Cydi Yang, along with composers Justin Cook, Jake Endres, Wesley Hortenbach and Tori Sweeney. Proceeds go to benefit Ukraine. Friday, Sept. 22, 5:30 p.m. barbecue and beverages, show at 6 p.m., 2112 St. Anthony Ave., St. Paul. More information here.
“Inventadas” and Franconia Sculpture Park’s 27th Annual Art & Artists Celebration
Come for the art and stay for the music at Franconia Sculpture Park this weekend. Franconia is always a treat to visit, especially this time of year when the leaves start to change, and wandering through the sculpture-filled grounds offers a dose of aesthetics and nature. I recommend making a day of it this weekend — enough to catch the outdoor beauty and head inside the gallery for the opening of “Inventadas,” curated by Emerging Curators Institute fellow Alondra M. Garza. Garza has been busy this year. She’s featured in the flagship new book, “Latin Art in Minnesota: Conversations and What’s Next,” published by Afton Press, and has had her work exhibited at Modus Locus, Pink Slip gallery, and most recently at the Red Eye Theater as part of dancer José A. Luis’ “Desde Aquí” performance. At Franconia, Garza has gathered a cohort of women, trans and nonbinary Latinx artists all making work around gender and resistance. Expect to see textiles, paintings, sculpture, installation, performance, printmaking and video. (It’s also a chance to see the work of Tina Tavera that I spoke about in this interview.) The reception is part of a larger event — Franconia’s 27th Annual Art & Artists Celebration, with various arts and activities happening all day. Among them, Arena Dances will perform at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and Dua Saleh, the genre-defying poet and singer taking the world by storm, will perform at 6 p.m. at Franconia’s Amphitheatre. The event takes place Saturday, Sept. 23, from 2 to 8 p.m. at Franconia (free, $5 parking). More information here.
Bell Museum After Hours: Star Seeds
Filmmaker and interdisciplinary artist Missy Whiteman, who has been an artist in residence at the Bell Museum, will be showing her latest project, “Star Seeds: We Are The Star Nation,” this weekend. Employing extended reality (XR), 360 video, animation and an innovative sound score, the piece takes viewers into a journey through Arapaho, Dakota and Anishinaabe star knowledge and life understanding. Besides the cinematic experience in the planetarium, the evening will feature performance, dance and more. Saturday, Sept. 23, from 7 to 10:30 p.m. at the Bell Museum (free with $15 museum admission, free for Native communities, reduced-price admission options available). More information here. Whiteman will also be featured in a kickoff event on Friday, Sept. 22, with co-producer and filmmaker Darren Alexander Cole as part of the 2023 Film North Forum in St. Paul. More information here.
Tia Keobounpheng: Revealing Threads
The colorful threads in Tia Keobounpheng’s move with a gentle hum. Employing broad shapes, simple curves, bright colors and delicate craft, the artist’s pieces on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program Gallery invite you into their world. Of Finnish and Sámi descent Keobounpheng draws on Nordic techniques for the work, much of which use threads, colored pencils and wood. She’s also found inspiration from a recent research trip to Sápmi, the traditional land of the Sami people. While you’re at the museum, you should also visit “The Lyrical Artwork of Jim Denomie,” featuring the late Minnesota-based artist. The Keobounpheng exhibition is on view through Oct. 29 at Mia (free). More information here.