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Artwork by Carolyn Swiszcz
 access+ENGAGE  the definitive alternative
  Issue #37.1

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In this Issue: The Year that Was

For this issue, we've invited artists, critics, curators, and arts advocates in the North Star state to reflect on the tumultuous year just passed. It's been a fraught 365 days for all of us, between the weakening economy and the political foment of election season. At the same time, all this uncertainty nurtured a resourceful streak in Minnesota artists exhilarating to behold: the past year saw  the rise of scrappy DIY arts criticism, interdisciplinary cross-pollination, and egalitarian-minded experiments in broadening the reach of artistic work to invite more public participation. There's a vitality and entrepreneurial vigor emerging on the state scene in the midst of all this adversity (and perhaps because of it). When all the dust-ups settle, we may find that these hardships have left our institutions and support systems stronger and reinvigorated.


PLUS: Get the skinny on the changes afoot for mnartists.org's arts programs (including new opportunities for filmmakers and visual artists, and a full list of submissions dates and deadlines for all the series) and check out the upcoming The Critics' Show at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, a group exhibition of emerging MN artists curated, in part, by mnartists.org staffers Susannah Schouweiler and Scott Stulen

YEAR IN REVIEW: Minnesota Artists Weigh in on the Peaks and Valleys of 2008

Minnesota as seen from space via Google EarthMinnesota artists weigh in on the notable moments of 2008, from Vote Yes! to the troubles facing arts organizations and media, to the rise of spoken word and DIY craft. Look for more year-end picks—in performance, film, and literature—over the next two weeks.

IT'S BEEN AN EXHAUSTING YEAR, HASN'T IT? Between the closures of several beloved arts institutions, widespread media cuts, and ever worsening conditions for small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations, I suspect we're all weary of bad news. But remember, there have been so many bright spots, too. In spite of the widespread money troubles afflicting many working in the arts, a number of deserving artists and organizations actually landed some generous funding, from national outfits like the NEA and the Mellon Foundation to local philanthropic foundations like the McKnight and Jerome Foundations. It's important even now (maybe, especially now?) to give a nod to those artists whose work has been recognized with such practical support, even as we Frank Gaardacknowledge the hardships the arts community at large is still riding out.

2008 also brought a wide array of memorable performance, much of it from newly-minted, bold new companies or the product of ingenious collaboration and interdisciplinary cross-pollination. That's to say nothing of the shelves-worth of notable books and poetry published in the last year (much of it to national acclaim), innovations in film and video, and the rise of citizen journalism and increasing affordability of shoestring filmmaking. This has also been a year of one exceptional visual arts exhibition after another, many of which are notable for their unabashed eclecticism as much as anything. Exuberant optimists, old-school storytellers, artist activists, pop culture enthusiasts, satirists, and apocalyptic visionaries have all had a seat at the table in the greater arts dialogue that's emerged over the last year.

Below you'll find links to a motley assortment of notable local news stories, trends, and artists which left their mark on 2008, as selected by mnartists.org staff, contributors, curators, and artists working in an array of creative disciplines: from dancers to curators, filmmakers to writers, musicians to visual artists and Nation of Immigrants CDplaywrights, to those working for the nonprofits which support them all. We asked these citizens of Minnesota's arts community to weigh in on what struck them most about the year that was—and the responses we received back were as impassioned, surprising, and richly varied as the scene itself. For the next few weeks, look for discipline-by-discipline rundown of year-end reflections and standouts-of-the-year picks from artists of every stripe.

This week, we've got the first two installments of our big YEAR IN REVIEW feature for 2008: first, a handful of people working in a variety of pockets of Minnesota's cultural scene give some insights into THE BIG PICTURE, offering their picks for the most notable trends, news, high points and low marks for the arts last year; second, a few far ranging LISTS, including one from a local treasure, painter Frank Gaard, a list from up-and-comer Ruben Nusz, and another from mplsart.com founder Emma Berg.

Next week, among mnartists.org's homepage articles, look for the second YEAR IN REVIEW installment on the items of note from artists and critics in the fields of literature and film/video. The week following, read the third and final feature which includes artists' and critics' reflections on the year in local performance (music, theater, and dance).

—Susannah Schouweiler, Editor, mnartists.org

Minnesota from spaceCLICK HERE to read the first installment of mnartists.org's 2008 YEAR IN REVIEW, The Big Picture for Minnesota Arts: trends and notable news from 2008, as seen through the eyes of artists, critics, and arts advocates in the trenches



Burlesque Design's Obama print by Wes WinshipCLICK HERE to read the second installment of mnartists.org's 2008 YEAR IN REVIEW, The Lists: written by local art luminaries Frank Gaard, Emma Berg, and Ruben Nusz offer a grab-bag of their picks for the high (and low) points and the love-'em/hate-'em memorable moments from the year just passed



Credits: Image (top) satellite photo of Minnesota from Google Earth; (middle right) Frank Gaard, Self-Portrait Pissed, from the artist's website; (bottom right) ¿Nation of Immigrants?, a spoken word CD released by the Loft's Equilibrium artists; bottom left, Obama print designed by Wes Winship (Burlesque Design)

News You Can Use: a selection of current artist opportunities on mnartists.org

Artist Opportunities







»CLICK HERE for a daily-updated list of many, many more opportunities for Minnesota artists in every discipline on mnartists.org

CALL FOR ARTISTS: mnartists.org has streamlined the schedule for submissions for all of the competitive arts series, and we've also expanded the programming for 2009 to include a film festival (CINEmn) and a new visual arts exhibition program (ARTmn)

  • Click here for dates and deadlines for all of mnartists.org's competitive arts series for 2009

CALL FOR MINNESOTA MUSICIANS: mnSPIN, mnartists.org's music series (sponsored by Summit Brewing and The Onion), is taking song submissions from local musicians for its 2009

competition cycle

Submission deadline: March 2

CALL FOR ART: mnartists.org is launching a new juried exhibition program for 2009, ARTmn (sponsored by The Onion and in partnership with the Mpls Public Library). Visual art submissions will be considered by a panel of established regional curators, artists, and critics for a show at the Mpls Public Library's Cargill Gallery which will open in fall '09

Submission deadline: February 6

CALL FOR ARTISTS: FIVETWOSIX Gallery is looking to expand its base of artists for exhibitions, events, and performances

CALL FOR POETS: Seeking spooky and/or suspenseful poetry submissions for a commemorative chapbook to be published in conjunction with the world premiere of Brian Keene's Terminal at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji

Submission deadline: February 3

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Hopkins Center for the Arts is taking proposals for exhibitions beginning in October 2009 - artists working in all media are welcome

Deadline: February 2

FELLOWSHIPS AVAILABLE: Blacklock Nature Sanctuary is taking applications for its 2009 artist fellowship programs

Application deadline: January 30

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS: ArtStart's ArtScraps seeks volunteers to staff the organization's store

CALL FOR KIDS' ART: Minnesota children are invited to submit original artwork for the 2009 Flint Hills International Children’s Festival ARTcontest on the theme: "Flights of Fancy"

Submission deadline: February 24

CALL FOR ARTWORK DONATIONS: The Sanctuary Animal Refuge and Hospice in Brownton, MN seeks donations of artwork for its annual benefit and silent auction this summer

ARTIST HEALTHCARE SURVEY: Springboard for the Arts is partnering with physician Dr. Sam Willis to provide affordable clinical care for artists and members of the GLBT and allied community. To help them determine community needs, they're asking artists and interested parties to complete a brief, anonymous, confidential 25-question survey

Homepage: Featured arts writing and collections from MnArts magazine

DESIGN: ABCs for You and Me:

The Labors and Letters of

Chank Diesel

Writer and design maven Jake Nassif profiles Minnesota-based font guru Chank Diesel with an engaging look into the strange (and strangely compelling) world of modern typography.


Click here to read Jake Nassif's profile of this homegrown typography superstar



Credit: BrainGelt font © Chank Co 2009

VISUAL ART: Art and Loathing

in Miami

Take a break from the snow and head to sunny Florida, by way of artist Sean Smuda's day-by-day diary of the recent goings-on at the must-see contemporary art festival of the year, Art Basel in Miami.


Click here to read Smuda's sprawling, highly entertaining, on-the-ground account of this year's Art Basel in Miami Beach


Credit: Photo of Sean Smuda, hard at work on the beat, courtesy of the author

LITERATURE: Magdalena Poised:

Portrait of a Young Poet

Talking Image Connection founder Alison Morse offers a portrait of an up-and-coming young Palabrista, Magdalena Kaluza. The two talk about social justice, her recent splash in the local lit scene, and about the power of poetry to build bridges.


Click here to read Alison Morse's profile of this rising literary talent on mnartists.org




Credit: Photo by Maggie Smith

FILM: Local Film Seen from the Best Seat in the House

Britt Aamodt gives you the lowdown on this year's MNTV line-up, an annual showcase of the best new short films made by local talent, presented by IFP, the Walker, Intermedia Arts and TPT, all broadcast through this month on public television.

Click here for Britt Aamodt's rundown of the offerings chosen for this year's local film showcase on public television, MNTV

Watch all of this year's winning film shorts online at TPT's website


Credit: Still from Brian Dehler's short Midway, one of the films chosen for this year's MNTV line-up

PODCAST: Some Assembly Required (December 2008)

Hosted by Minnesota artist Jon Nelson, Some Assembly Required features sample-based music and audio art by a variety of artists and groups working with bits and pieces of their media environments, giving something back to the cultural landscape from which they so enthusiastically appropriate. One of the standouts for the December 2008 SAR episodes is an interview with legendary turntablist DJ Qber.t


Click here to start listening to the last month's episodes of this nationally syndicated podcast on mnartists.org

You Are Here: A handpicked sampling from the events listed on mnartists.org/calendar
Classes and Workshops


CLASS: Loops for Your Towels
Weavers Guild of Minnesota, Minneapolis, January 10


CLASS: Pottery Beyond the Basics
Grand Marais Art Colony, Grand Marais, January 15 through March 5


CLASS: Photography Class – "Taking Better Vacation (and other) Photographs with your Digital Camera" taught by Mark Paulson
Lakewinds Natural Foods , Minnetonka, February 12


CLASS: Youth and adult winter dance classes at Zenon
Hennepin Center for the Arts, 4th Floor, Minneapolis, January 3 through March 15

WORKSHOP: Life-drawing co-op at Articulture

Articulture, Minneapolis, sessions start January 19

Credit:Ice Floe, Patagonia, Argentina by Mark Paulson


9 x 22 Dance/Lab hosted by Laurie Van Wieren - featuring work by Cathy Wright , Brinsley Davis, Tim Cameron 
Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, Minneapolis, January 28


Love Me, Love My Questionable Art presented by Mad King Thomas - with Sally Rousse (James Sewell Ballet), Galen Treuer (Live Action Set and ARENA Dances), and Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder (HIJACK)
Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, Minneapolis, January 7 - January 14


Ballet Hispanico Palladium Nights – see the Mambo, the Cha-Cha, and the Meringue
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Saint Paul, January 11


James Sewell Ballet presents the Ballet Works Project
Southern Theater, Minneapolis, January 29 - February 1


Lula Washington Dance Theatre – an L.A.-based company that combines modern dance with jazz, hip-hop, African movement and drums
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Saint Paul, February 6


Little Angels of Korea – traditional Korean dance inspired by Asian legend and folklore
College of St. Benedict Petters Auditorium, Saint Joseph, February 6



Credit: Photo of Mad King Thomas by Megan Mayer; Photo of Little Angels of Korea performers courtesy of CSBSJU

Music | Video | Film

Childish Films presents Feats of Wonder, young performers from Les Filles Circus precede award-winning films celebrating wondrous feats
Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, January 17


Italian Film Series: L'aria salata
Minneapolis College of Art + Design, Minneapolis, January 9


First Person: Stories from the Edge of the World with Neal Conan & Ensemble Galilei
Saint John's University Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, Collegeville, January 31


From Age to Age in concert with the Duluth East Choralaires
Weber Music Hall, Duluth, January 10


Greg Herriges / Telluric Currents CD Release Concert
The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, January 22


The Fantastic Merlins
Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul, through February 27

Lectures and Readings

Dobby Gibson poetry reading and book launch for Skirmish
Open Book, Minneapolis, January 9


John Berryman Poetry Party: including a reading by local literati from Berryman's 77 Songs and a screening of a 1974 half-hour doc on the author
Smuda Studio, Minneapolis, January 9


Winter Poetry Reading: reading and socializing
with poets William Reichard and Joyce Sutphen

ArtStart, Saint Paul, January 13


The People's University presents "The Always-On Artist:
Technology, Creativity and Making Meaning in the 21st Century," a talk by author Dennis Cass

Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, January 20


Author Speaking: Denis Gardner reads from Concrete, Stone, and Steel: Minnesota’s Historic Bridges
Rochester Public Library, Rochester, January 25

Reading by authors from the new anthology Fiction on a Stick: Stories by Writers from Minnesota (Milkweed Editions)

Magers and Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, January 11

Books and Bars: Discussion of No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

Bryant Lake Bowl, Minneapolis, January 13

Openings and Parties


NATURE: Provocations, Reflections, Abstractions
Vine Arts Center, Minneapolis, January 9


James Michael Lawrence: REVIEW=REFLECT=RECYCLE - Art For The Taking
Susan Hensel Gallery, Minneapolis, January 9


Get Lucky: Lucky Seven and the Seven Deadly Sins a gala and silent auction to benefit SooVAC
Soo Visual Arts Center, Minneapolis, January 10


Minnesota Made: featuring bronze work by Tom Christiansen, painting by Francene Christianson, and clay pieces by Andrea Leila Denecke
The Grand Hand Gallery, Saint Paul, January 17


Accumulated Objects' Gallery Grand Opening
Accumulated Objects Gallery, Minneapolis, January 17 through

February 14,


MCBA opening reception: Front Back & Between
Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis, January 23

ARP! Release Party: "The Conceptual Issue" is out!

Art of This, Minneapolis, January 17

6th Annual Art Shanty Projects open on Medicine Lake, with arts programming sponsored by mnartists.org every weekend

Medicine Lake, Plymouth, January 17-February 14

Credit: Photos of Robot Shanty and Amy Kuretsky's shanty courtesy of Art Shanty Projects and the Soap Factory


National Theater of the United States of America: Chautauqua! a festive “big-top” experience that mixes music, dance, debate, scientific experiments, circus arts, vaudeville, and feats of strength
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, January 8 through January 10


One-Act Play Festival: Red Wing high school students present Jenny Sharp and the Void of Terror radio theater
Sheldon Theatre of Performing Arts, Red Wing, January 10


3 Redneck Tenors – an operatic musical spoof
Pantages Theater, Minneapolis, January 11


Pure Confidence – a dramatic, historical look at African-American jockeys in the pre- and post-Civil War world of horse racing
Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis, January 16 - February 1


Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Tour
Pantages Theater, Minneapolis, January 22


Fringe Favorites: The Nosdrahcir Sisters and
The Gypsy and the General

Southern Theater, Minneapolis, January 23 - January 25


Staged reading of Forks of Ivy, a new full-length drama with music by Cass Erickson about contemporary life in southern Appalachia, directed by Cass and Rollie Erickson

Lowry Lab Theater, Lowry Building, Saint Paul, January 30 – January 31



Credit: Production photo from Chautauqua! courtesy of the Walker Art Center and National Theater of the United States (Photo by Bushwick Starr)

Visual Arts


Boomerang: Three Alumni Artists - mixed media works by artists Andrew Nordin, Jonathan Gomez Whitney and Mike Strand
Kiehle Gallery, Saint Cloud, January 7 through February 6


The Photography of Terry McGrath
Lost Lake Design Gallery, Little Falls, January 3 through January 31


here is better than anywhere: new work by Kimberly Tschida Petters and Cheryl Wilgren Clyne
Rosalux Gallery, Minneapolis, January 2 through January 30


five by five: exhibition of new works at by local and international artists juried by Jennifer Phelps, Art Director, Chambers
Pocket Gallery (lower level Rosalux Gallery), Minneapolis, January 2 through January 30


The Art of Performance
Altered Esthetics Gallery, Minneapolis, January 2 through January 31


Paradigm Shift: MCAD Alumni and Friends Honor Kinji Akagawa
Minneapolis College of Art + Design, Minneapolis, January 16 through February 22


New Landscapes - New Work by Gregory Euclide, Robert Dorlac & Andrew Wykes
Groveland Gallery, Minneapolis, January 23 through February 28


Threads from There to Here: The Burning Artist Co-op
Umber Studios, Minneapolis, January 3 - January 21


Blooming Fantasy: 2nd Annual Arboretum Photographers Society Juried Show & Sale
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska, January 9 through February 8


Resting Places - Cremation Art & Objects
AAW Gallery of Wood Art, St Paul, January 16 through March 29

You Are Here event listings are drawn entirely from the mnartists.org calendar, so if you want to improve the odds that you'll see your happening linked here, you'd better start posting your events!

We've made it super easy to begin: here's a step-by-step guide that'll show you how to promote your own events on the site's DIY arts calendar.

Walker Art Center

One for the Road

Ruben Nusz, Oppenheimer 3, 2008

Hopkins Center for the Arts recently invited a handful of local art critics to curate an exhibition of work by emerging Minnesota artists, entitled aptly enough The Critics' Show. They were asked to select an artist or two whose work they would hang on their own walls and who've had relatively little exposure on the local scene. The result is a potpourri of brand new work—and four very distinct notions of “taste".

Kate Iverson, A+E Editor, Secrets of the City:          

Artists: Rudy Fig and Travis Stearns

Susannah Schouweiler, Editor, access+ENGAGE:  

Artists: Kao Lee Thao, Alex Kuno, and Alonso Sierralta

Scott Stulen, Project Director, mnartists.org:            

Artists: Erik Ullanderson and Beatrix*JAR

Gregory J. Scott, Lead Arts Writer, Vita.mn:         

Artist: Ruben Nusz

What: The Critics’ Show
Where: Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins, MN

When: January 15-February 22; Opening reception + panel discussion with artists and critics on January 15, 6 – 8 pm

Editor, mnartists.org & access+ENGAGE:  Susannah Schouweiler

Project Director, mnartists.org: Scott Stulen

Community Liaison & Events Wrangler, mnartists.org: Will Lager

>>Click here to read the fine print and the full credits

access+ENGAGE is a free twice monthly e-journal offering indispensable,

fuss-free coverage of the arts in Minnesota and beyond

The mission of mnartists.org is to improve the lives of Minnesota artists and provide access to and engagement with Minnesota’s arts culture.

a project of The McKnight Foundation and Walker Art Center

©2009 mnartists.org. All rights reserved.

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