Arts & Culture
Kate Iverson: not even a brushstroke gets by her. Your go-to spot for information on St. Paul theater, galleries, live music, cultural events, dance, and more. You spent last weekend watching the Rock of Love marathon? We can help with that!
Uber-creative husband-wife duo, Bianca Pettis (Beatrix) and Jacob Aaron Roske (JAR), make beautiful music together–and that’s not just a figure of speech. The cute couple, better known as sound manipulation group Beatrix Jar, are masters of circuit bending everyday electronics into oddball musical instruments. With three playful, atmospheric, and unique albums under their belts and an extensive resume of educational collaborations with museums and organizations nation-wide, the duo definitely knows their stuff. After a two-year hiatus on the west coast, Bianca and Jacob have returned to the Twin Cities, bringing their happy energy and their wealth of knowledge with them (something we’ve definitely missed over the past couple of years). This weekend, the duo will host the Open Experimental Sidewalk Irrigate Project outside of (where else?) Ax-Man Surplus on University Avenue. Teaming up with Central Corridor arts instigators, Irrigate, Beatrix Jar will show people how to craft crazy beats, treat them to some live performance, and even invite attendees to create some cool sidewalk art. An event for the whole fam and also for you electronic music and art lovers out there, this Sunday’s D.I.Y. beat-fueled soiree is a can’t miss.
How did you get involved in the Irrigate project?
We spent about two years away from Minnesota – California dreaming in San Diego. When we returned we were surprised to see our old strip of University Avenue transformed into a light rail construction zone. Lots of shops had closed and the whole street had a sense of transition.
We learned that there was an empty storefront at 2401 University Avenue available for artists to use on a week-by-week basis through a group called the Starling Project. We signed up for a week with the Starling and one of their volunteers, Beth told us about the Irrigate Project.
Because we didn’t go through the Irrigate process before signing a lease with the Starling, we weren’t able to use the Irrigate Funds to help our original project: The Beatrix*JAR Open Experimental Studio. But we did attend an Irrigate meeting during our time at the storefront and eventually cultivated our project at Ax-Man.
Participating in the Irrigate process was a real inspiration to us as artists. Like Springboard for the Arts, Irrigate is pro-Artist. Being involved in Irrigate helped us to learn about placemaking and reminded us of how important it is to be an artist and how our contributions bring fun, energy and color to a community.
What can people expect at the event?
A day of play, community and creativity! Ax-Man madness! All the senses are guaranteed to be stimulated! Get Lo Fi Electronics Demo! Sidewalk Doodling! Impromptu Music!
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever circuit bent?
The Furbie is still a standout. It’s just bizarre! If you can imagine the process…you remove the Furbies fur to reveal his lower layer of plastic and eyeball. If you leave the batteries in he coos and sighs quite dramatically.
You do a lot of awesome workshops and educational events. When you first started out, did you expect that Beatrix Jar would go in the direction it has?
Well, yes and no. Looking back…when we first met and fell in love it was really about the joy we got from collaborating together and helping other people with new music discoveries. Everything was very organic.
When we first started touring we realized that we could set ourselves apart by offering workshops, so we started to pursue things with that goal in mind. Our dedication to creating work together is really important for us…with that dedication the path just sort of revealed itself along the way.
What are some of your favorite things about St. Paul?
Coming back from California after nearly two years really shifted our perspective on the city. Like what is that whole “I won’t cross the river to St. Paul from Minneapolis” thing? Isn’t it cool to have access to two different cities?
We love how beautiful St. Paul is. It’s clean. It’s quiet. There are little pockets of coolness that hide out under the radar. There are some amazing parks! We see bunnys everyday! It’s a great city to walk in and there really is a fantastic quality of life especially when you compare it to other cities.
The Open Experimental Sidewalk Irrigate Project happens Sunday, August 26th from noon-6 pm at Ax-Man Surplus, located at 1639 University Avenues in St. Paul. Click HERE for more info.
Two years after Bedlam’s long-time West Bank space shuttered, the vibrant performance venue and social club recently announced solid plans to re-open a physical space in Lowertown St. Paul. Amidst artist studio buildings and sporadic nightlife, the new Bedlam will bring a much needed boost of art-fueled late night activity in the district. Pending a liquor license, the space–located in the old Rumors and Innuendo nightclub location–is speculated to open in October. Operating off a $150,000 Cultural Star grant from the City of St. Paul, split into two payments over the next year, the new Bedlam will have a great running start to what we hope will be a long and healthy life in Lowertown.
We had a chat with Bedlam artistic director, John Bueche, on the new location and how he thinks the dynamic theater will fare in St. Paul…
We’re over the moon that the Bedlam has finally found a new home in Lowertown! How did the whole thing come about?
How did it! I’ve always liked Lowertown. (Well, since my first experience in ’88) After the first couple Bedlam shows back in the early 90′s, I remember an epic meeting at then Kuppernicus, now Black Dog, with one of our original advisors, Michael Miner (Actor’s Theater of St Paul in the ’80s) asking IF we wanted to pursue being a company, what would that mean, how should we do it. Before we ever wrote a grant, we took grant writing workshops at then RCA (Resources and Counseling for the Arts) now Springboard for the Arts.
Samantha John, Tom Lloyd, Jon Cole, some of our influential Bedlam artists over the past few years moved to Lowertown in, I think, 2009, and filled their lofts with artist play dates, readings, rehearsals, sort of got the Lowertown flavor prominent in our minds. My brother was close with the team at Back Alley Gallery for the past decade, including Dave Witt, Tim Shindler, and Peter Jadonath. The illustrious Foxy Tann, a prominent collaborator, was, for a long time, anchored down in Lowertown, both for living and doing her cabaret out of Station 4. One of my favorite creative experiences the past five years was being part of Nautilus’ Composer/Librettist studio in 2008. From 2008-2011 we were part of the ArtsLab peer learning cohort that included Springboard for the Arts, Forecast Public Arts, Center for Hmong Arts and Talents, and TU Dance who have all been and are becoming big presences along the corridor. You gotta be a fan of Marcus Young and all his crazy inspiration. That’s a bunch of ground work. Joe Spencer then played a huge role in synthesizing this as a real potential to apply our aesthetic and business model, to apply ourselves creatively to the Lowertown neighborhood, keeping us on track and in touch with, I have to say, impressively supportive, cohesive community of city staff, politicians, funders, artists and just plain old people that have grasped this plan and given it the legs to make it real.
The Lowertown location is the first of hopefully two spaces, and you’ve been actively pursuing a sister-site in Minneapolis as well. How is that search going, and how do you see the two spaces working together? Is there room in the cities for two Bedlams?
Going back to the founding in 1993, the Bedlam founders from Minnesota were the exception, not the rule. I’m from Michigan, other founders that drove the Bedlam evolution through the 2000s: Maren Ward is from Chicago-land, Julian McFaul from NYC/Connecticut. We were all drawn to the Twin Cities as a fertile ground to make a different kind of theater. One of the ways we originally described it was “Shamelessly American Hyper-Realism.” It was a good context for us to feel like we could REALLY be ourselves, even the parts we didn’t understand. And so in Bedlam shows, projects, and venues (the Bedlam Studio 1996-2006, and the Bedlam Social 2007-2010, Bedlam Community Design Center since 2010 and NOW, woo, 2012 Bedlam Lowertown), we’ve tried to build on the welcoming atmosphere that brought and kept us here. We also want to give back a creative context that can extend that same permission or artists and community alike to not only be themselves, but to imagine and experiment with new levels (and depths) of what it means to be themselves.
How does that answer your question? Well, as founding artists, how our work became Bedlam and how our work became Minnesotan is that we made the work here and we made it WITH the people we met here, with a reference to the context. So, what a lot of people loved about the last space in Cedar-Riverside was the fluidity with which we worked with different aspects of the community in and around that neighborhood, in and around South Minneapolis. BUT our audience and artist pool already came from all around the Twin Cities, ’cause it was a great context to do and experience a totally different immersive approach to theater. That experience remains different enough and in demand enough to drive an approach to multiple locations. Certainly risks, but as Lucas Koski, our General Manager, has said, “scared money don’t make none.” Or as I’ve heard over and over at artist conferences and national theater dialogues, “if you want to do something different, you’ve got to DO something different.”
Do you think the original Bedlam crowd will make the leap across the river, or do you expect it to attract a new demographic?
Both, for sure. I think we’re artistic adventurers and it’s why we attract adventurous audiences. SO, you’re going to have plenty of pre-existing Bedlam crew who are fueled by the adventure of Lowertown, the new territory (if they don’t already live there), and that it’s definitely a new place to BE Bedlam and see what that means. BUT you wouldn’t be Bedlam if it wasn’t about figuring out what kind of art and community makes sense in that specific context. So, even anybody who’s not from Lowertown, we’d expect they’re coming to Bedlam Lowertown to make/have a Bedlam Lowertown experience; that’s the fun!
Can you tell us a little bit about what you have planned for the new space, design-wise and entertainment-wise? Will the restaurant be similar to what the old Bedlam had, or will it be bigger and better? We miss the tasty pizzas!
YES! A Club Theater is one way to think about it. We’ll start off with a full liquor license and performance. It’s a cold kitchen right now, so we have fun calling it “Summer Bistro”… sandwiches, salads, cool spreads like we had at the last space. Opening with the space close to as-is now, putting together plans and funding for renovations to include a kitchen hood for full service menu sometime this winter.
For people who don’t know our past spaces, it’s about theater, music, cabaret, conversations, social gatherings. It’s Theater 24/7, not so much about the isolated art that ‘we’ do there, but the art and events that get done there. There’ll be plenty of room for people to plug in and try things out. We had eight different monthly cabarets in the last space that reflected the local interest there. I’d expect Bedlam Lowertown to grow and evolve in the same way.
Practically, as we move toward the opening, we’ll be continuing to meet with all kinds of people in the planning, host open houses that describe the kind of programming we’re looking for and how you go about plugging in.
Now that you’re officially a St.Paul convert, what are some of the things you love about our fair capital city?
Well, I wouldn’t say I’m a convert. I have lived in St Paul for a 1/4 of my Twin Cities existence and spend plenty of time there. BUT I will confess, this means hanging out a lot more, and right now I am having a St Paul lovefest with the bike path along Shepard Road. I can’t WAIT to commute, so gorgeous. Honest discovery- I can’t BELIEVE I spent time unaware of the Ordway’s outdoor dancing series. Looking forward to Swing lessons tomorrow night!
Though we may not have the breezy patio of the old MMAA space on Kellogg to camp out on anymore, the soon-to-not-be-displaced museum is still kickin’ with it’s annual Patio Nights series. Head down to City House at Upper Landing Park on the riverfront for this summer’s reincarnation of the popular series that includes refreshments, socializing’, and great music!
Tonight’s installment kicks off at 6pm and features tunes from folk-pop faves, the Brian Just Band, who’s fresh sound pairs perfectly with the balmy weather with flairs of piano, flute, trumpet, banjo and more (you’ll have to come down to get the full effect, trust us). Swig some ice cold beer from the Summit, delish dishes from the Cafe 128 food truck, and even some fun kid’s activities. Make sure to stop by the MMAA’s membership table: the first 50 people to stop by will receive a FREE poster from the museum! All in all, the perfect weekend precursor, if you ask us.
Too busy to make it tonight? Two more dates remain this season:
Thursday, August 16th: The Greycoats / 6pm
Thursday, August 30th: Jack Klatt & The Cat Swingers / 6pm
For more info visit www.mmaa.org
Lowertown’s AZ Gallery recently opened a new group show that gave artists a bit of a challenge: create work based around nine pre-determined themes, including The Great American Sasquatch, Anthropomorphism, All Things Mechanical, Teddy Bears, Texture, Time Travel, The Color Pink, Subversive Kitsch, and In the Shadows. A boundary-pushing idea for artists who are set in their own styles, concepts and mediums, Running with Scissors is certainly an apt title, considering the many of the final pieces spread outside of each artists’ comfort zone. Although the opening reception has past, the exhibit still runs through July 29th, with gallery hours on Thursdays & Fridays: 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm or Saturdays & Sundays: 9 am – 3 pm. Stop in for a peek and perhaps a glass of wine at the neighboring Black Dog Cafe this weekend! We chatted with Running with Scissors co-curator, Jessica Turtle, about the show, the gallery, and her favorite things about St. Paul…
Where did the idea for this show come from?
I’ve wanted to do a show with specific themes for a while and the AZ Gallery provided the perfect opportunity. Typically, when you go to a gallery to view art, the style, technique, even imagery tends to match from one piece to another. I thought it more interesting to provide a great variety of images, styles, and techniques within the confines of a single show and the only way I saw to do that is multiple artists and multiple themes.
The “themes” you’ve come up with for the artists are pretty awesome. How are some of the artists interpreting these assignments?
All the artist were given the same nine themes. We all produced one piece per theme and I’d say even I was surprised at how different each piece turned out to be. Viewers have been expressing interest in how difficult it is to pinpoint whose work is whose. There are natural similarities in colors, perhaps even techniques, but for the most part each artists is quite different from theme to theme. I’ve heard great things about how the artists were very excited to work on the themes. Ideas were plentiful but many of them said they were forced to work outside their comfort zones.
Are there be a wide variety of mediums in the show? Can you fill us in on some of the talents of a few of the artists that you find unique?
Each artist was aloud to use what ever medium they wanted. It ended up being mostly two-dimensional, which I attribute to time, shipping restrictions, and the sad loss created by the floods in Duluth (we had a very talented potter Karin Kreamer who lost much of her work in the flood).
There were however a few artists that relied on three-dimensional work to solve a few of the themes. We had a great assortment of talent and experience levels and all of them are worth viewing. Adam Swanson, is an exceptional artist whose work radiates because of his paint application. Jeredt Runions is a quirky artist that solved his themes with narrative characters. Naomi Berry, our youngest artist, has a different approach for each piece and she tends to include funny twist to her solutions as well. We have illustrators, and two dimensional sculptors also. The group accomplished exactly what we were hoping they would, an assortment of perspectives.
You and your co-curator, Brendan Rhode, are both co-op members at the AZ Gallery, which seems to be pretty active in lowertown on a regular basis. Can you tell us a bit about the group and what’s coming up?
The AZ Gallery is an artists’ cooperative, owned and run by its members. Member artwork is always on exhibit in our permanent Member Gallery section. Our programming throughout the year features a monthly rotation of guest artists, group shows, invitationals and juried exhibitions. Our newly expanded gift shop features an eclectic selection of jewelry, pottery, glass, textiles, accessories, and cards made by over twenty local guest artists as well as our members. As for upcoming shows, August features a show entitled, “Friends with Benefits.” – the ten AZ Members each invite a friend to create a group show highlighting the work of the creative pals that inspire us. Check our website for more information, www.theazgallery.com
What are some of your favorite people/places/things in and/or about St. Paul?
My favorite thing about Saint Paul would be how friendly everyone tends to be. I’ve lived in a handful of other cities and Saint Paul is by far the friendliest. I’ve noticed on bike trails through Saint Paul, there are simply more smiling people who aren’t afraid to return your hello. As for places, I really enjoy the farmers market. I feel it’s the greatest in the Twin Cities. I also LOVE the Hmong Market, Mae’s Deli, Polly’s Coffee Shop, and most importantly, the Halloween puppet show by Bare Bones Theater. I look forward to that event every year.
Running with Scissors is on display through July 29th. Gallery Hours: Thursdays & Fridays: 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm // Saturdays & Sundays: 9 am – 3 pm. For more information visit www.theazgallery.com.
The craft beer movement is in full swing in the Twin Cities and leading the charge is the Beer Dabbler’s Matt Kenevan, a brew aficionado and a savvy marketing man-about-town. If you’re a beer lover who’s yet to experience one of Kenevan’s events, you’ll have your chance this coming Saturday, July 21st, when the Beer Dabbler returns to Highland Fest for their Summer edition. A multi-faceted extravaganza that revolves around sampling of 60+ craft brewers of both local and national origin, the Dabbler goes beyond simply sipping fancy beers, it creates a full-on experience complete with live music, food trucks, educational components, contests, and more than a decent amount of showmanship. Pairing this with the artsy-fun of the annual Highland Fest is a tradition that we certainly hope continues. Kenevan and his team have managed to turn their popular seasonal event into a dynamic brand that has grown to include a magazine, a soon-to-be-open retail space, and more. We chatted with the St. Paul-based entrepreneur this week about the upcoming event and The Beer Dabbler’s continued success…
Can you give us a little bit of background on the Beer Dabbler, how it started, and what it’s become?
I wasn’t always into craft beer. 7 years ago, my now-wife worked for Summit Brewing Company introduced me to craft beer and the craft beer lifestyle. Where I grew up we didn’t have many/any craft breweries so my local brewery was one of the big guys. That made me think that there was others like myself that would love this stuff if they were properly introduced. I started the Dabbler four years ago when I realized I also wanted to find a new career path. I wanted to wear shorts to work and be my own boss. I like beer but didn’t like to brew beer so I used my career skills and resources to create and event company. Today, things have grown and we’ve become much more than an event company. We’ve been a busy crew the 6 months. First, we launched a craft beer lifestyle magazine called The Growler in June which you can currently find at 250 metro spots and soon another few hundred more, as I purchased a former favorite publication’s racks. If all goes well we’ll be opening Duluth this fall. On top of that, this September we’ll be opening a new craft beer retail store where you can find brewery merch, stemware, beer art, and misc items all in one stop.
What can people expect at the Highland Fest edition this year?
We doubled the event space so there will be plenty of room to move around. We added small things like tables and hi tops so folks have a chance to get off their feet. Of course we’ll have the standards, 6 food trucks, 60 breweries, ample port-a-potties, live music, games, beer education, some very special firkins from some awesome breweries. The Deschutes Woody has made its way from Oregon for the event. It’s a mobile bar that looks like a massive oak barrel.
Tell us a bit about this special Oak Barrel Brew that you’ll be tapping especially for the occasion?
The Dabbler’s oak barrel will be filled by Big Wood Brewing. They made a double IPA that’s 10% dry hopped with Cintra and centennial hops that comes in a 80ibu’s. If you’re a hop head you need to try this.
For the novice dabbler, what approachable summer brews would you recommend, that are available at local shops?
So many beers so little time. However, I do my part to squeeze that in. In the last week, ok, yesterday I enjoyed: Twilight Summer Ale by Deschutes, Masalam Mama – Town Hall, Summer Ale – Brooklyn Brewery, Lost Trout – Third Street Brewery, MSB- (Minnesota Special Bitter) Badger Hill.
What are some of your favorite places in St. Paul to stop in for a pint or three?
I’m a 651-er myself! The last five bars I’ve visited include: Muddy Pig, Happy Gnome, Sweeneys, Pizza Luce, and Billy’s. All of which are close to my house.
For more information on the Beer Dabbler and to purchase advance tickets for events, including July 21st’s Highland Fest Beer Dabbler Showcase, visit www.thebeerdabbler.com.
One of our favorite summer leisures is definitely taking a cruise on the mighty Mississippi aboard an old-timey paddle boat. If this is something you’ve yet to do as a Minnesotan, we suggest you remedy that immediately–there are few things more charming than sitting in the breeze as the ye olde Padelford takes you down the storied waters of the Mississippi amidst a backdrop of lush foliage (and maybe a few interesting characters along the river banks, if you’re lucky!).
The Padelford Riverboats have long been a staple on the Mighty Miss, and there’s quite a variety of moods and themes for which you to plan your excursion around.
- For the romantic in you, choose a Sunset Dinner Cruise ($38) to be treated to an evening rendezvous complete with pot roast , baked manicotti, and more.
- If you’re feeling a bit festive, book one of the early evening margarita cruises ($25) where you can sip 2-4-1 margs and munch on free tacos.
- Maybe you’re more into the history of the river and its ports–no prob–there are a number of historic sight-seeing tours to be had ($16 Daily / $8 Monday Madness).
- We’re quite curious about the longer sight-seeing tours, such as the Lock & Lunch ($38), a 4-hour cruise complete with a roasted turkey breast and mashed potatoes lunch and a bit of historical narration on the side. Sunday lunch cruises are available as well ($29) where you can enjoy BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and glorious river views all afternoon.
- Perhaps best of all, you can even opt to see theater on the river thanks to the Centennial Showboat. Now playing: The Vampire! which we’re sure will make for a delightfully spooky summer evening on the Mississippi.
Cruises happen daily, discounts apply for children 3-12 yrs. Tickets are available online at riverrides.com. Check the calendar to find the right cruise for you.
For the past few years, St. Paul has been mourning the loss of its only fine art museum, the Minnesota Museum of American Art (MMAA). The museum, which lost its physical space when the city reclaimed the riverfront property in 2009, chose not to simply drift away, instead opting to maintain creative programming outside the “box” of a brick and mortar location. They produced satellite exhibitions at various galleries, facilitated arts education through artist talks and other programming, continued fundraising, and perhaps most importantly, they remained engaged with their community throughout. So, it came as a happy, yet inevitable surprise when the MMAA announced plans for a new physical space within Downtown St. Paul’s historic Pioneer-Endicott Building at 141 E. 4th Street, which is scheduled to open to the public by October.
We chatted with the MMAA’s director and most stalwart champion, Kristin Makholm, about the new plans and upcoming programming (hint: Patio nights WILL return!).
We’re so excited about the return of the MMAA! Can you tell us a little bit about the new space and what you plan to do with it?
It must have been a challenging task to fundraise for a museum without walls. How did you keep the momentum going?
The MMAA’s collection is pretty vast, with over 4000 pieces in its permanent collection. Where are these pieces housed now, and how do you plan to exhibit pieces of the collection in the new space?
The collection has been in a single storage space since 1995, and it’s being well taken care of. The “on the road” shows we’ve been doing for the past three years will continue with the collection including the Our Treasures show, which travels to the Plains Art Museum in Fargo in September and the Weisman Art Museum in February, and a photography show from the collection that opens at the Catherine Murphy gallery at St. Kate’s in February too. We’re also working on a large national traveling retrospective of the work of George Morrison, half of which comes from the MMAA collection, which opens at the Plains Art Museum in June 2013, and will continue throughout the country, ending up at the Weisman Art Museum in spring of 2015.
With so much work on the road and in other parts of the metro and state, the MMAA @ the Pioneer will focus on shows of local artists, although we will occasionally be bringing out works from the MMAA collection. The opening show will be a show titled “Painting the Place Between,” curated by the artist Kristen Lowe from Gustavus Adolphus College, and feature the paintings of Betsy Byers, Jil Evans, Andrew Wykes, and Holly Swift. The exhibition for our CuratorKids program will appear in the space at some point too. We’re also looking at another photography show and a jewelry/metalwork show from our collection, but those are really in the concept stage right now.
Do you have plans yet for additional programming, such as workshops, fun community events, etc? We really miss Patio Nights!
Patio Nights Lives! It will be at the City House on St. Paul’s Upper Landing this August! This is an important event for us, and we plan to continue it into the future. Additional programming for the Pioneer space is still open and awaits the creativity and drive of a new “curator of engagement” who we are in the process of hiring, but it will certainly include art conversations, events, and neighborhood get-togethers. Stay tuned!
What are your most favorite people/places/things about St. Paul?
Renowned St. Paul stencil art duo, Broken Crow, has certainly been busy this Spring–just take a spin along the central corridor/University Ave if you don’t believe us! You’ll be hard pressed to miss John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons’ colorful, large-scale stencil murals gracing a handful of buildings between the 600 block to the 21oo block of Uni, along the light rail line. The project, entitled “The Bigger Picture” is just that: each of the four completed murals tells a larger story through imagery of wild animals traveling in a herd (a clever play on the idea of mass transit, say we!). But all mural praising aside, the duo has a far “bigger picture” than just painting larger-than-life works of art on buildings, despite their obvious talent for it. Grider and Fitzsimmons have been working diligently (and of course collaboratively) on numerous smaller scale works on canvas, which harken to more of a fine art mentality. The duo’s second solo exhibit in three years at South Minneapolis’ XYandZ Gallery–opening this Friday– will showcase another side of the artists, with 19 new pieces that incorporate mixed media, painterly brush strokes, and Broken Crow’s signature stencil work.
We recently chatted with Mike and John about the central corridor project and about their upcoming exhibit…
You are both St. Paul based artists but have created murals all over the world. How did “The Bigger Picture Project” along the light rail come about and who’s behind it?
“The Bigger Picture Project” came about in an effort to expand upon how we create murals and how we can add more content to how they are viewed. Equally inspired by playing puzzles with our daughters and making huge murals even bigger. Also, we liked the idea of a large project that could be done at home, showing St. Paul in a light that is both ambitious and progressive. “The Bigger Picture” by Broken Crow was financed in part by the Cultural Sales Tax Revitalization Program through the City of St. Paul and is a collaboration of Irrigate.
Can you tell us a little about your concept for the series of murals?
“The Bigger Picture” is set of 4 murals painted on multiple locations along St. Paul’s central corridor (633 University Ave painted on May 8th; 651 University Ave painted on May 10th;2145 University Ave painted on May 11th and May 13th-both sides). The entire set of murals fit together to create one “Bigger Picture”. Each Mural is a stand-alone piece that hints at more of a composition. The overall composition created was 32 feet tall by 60 feet wide. A multiple location mural has never been attempted in this fashion. Broken Crow and Benjamin Clasen (Midnight Toil) created an animation of the painting process of the entire set of murals using time-lapse documentation (30,000 photos). We choose Benjamin Clasen as the Director of Photography/Photographer for “The Bigger Picture”. Benjamin’s beautiful photos, technical know-how, passion, and work ethic were a perfect fit for this or any other project. So basiclly, we love collaborating with Benjamin Clasen and can’t wait to work with him again. The image we chose to paint is a diverse community of animals moving forward together in herd transit. This is a reflection of the light rail itself reminding passengers of the daily grind we all share.
You both have kids, what do they think of your murals?
Our kids love our murals. They recognize our work and the content within and usually get excited to talk about all of the animals. Although, we have been told “We like our little arts better,” we know we have their love and support.
You have a new exhibit opening at XYandZ Gallery in South Minneapolis this Friday. What can people expect?
People can expect to see a whole body of work created with a new approach to our paintings. This approach allows each of us to focus on our strengths, and we both get to do more of what we like best. John focused on collage and Mike focused on painting. We couldn’t be happier with the results.
What are your favorite people/places/things in St. Paul?
Favorite people: Patrick at the Highland Frameworks (best framing designer ever), Bryan Moeller at R.F.Moeller Jewler (best jewelry conversation/ prices), Rick at Marshall Liquor (best liquor recommendations/prices). Chris Hernandez at Expert Carpentry (best carpenter), Stephen Chapman at SRC Tree Care (best at climbing trees), and everyone at Wet Paint (our favorite art supply store).
Favorite places: Como Zoo, The cliffs just below the St. Paul monument, The NOOK (burgers!), The Hickory Hut (wings!), Granny’s Donuts (blueberry cake DONUT!), and Acme Deli (best cold sandwich).
To check out more of Broken Crow’s work visit their website at www.brokencrow.com and check out their new exhibit “We Did What We Could” at XYandZ Gallery, which opens this Friday, June 15th with a reception from 7-10pm (exhibit runs through July 21st). XYandZ is located at 3258 Minnehaha Ave S, Minneapolis, 55406 (yes, you’ll have to cross the river for this one!). The event is free and open to the public. For more info visit www.thexyandz.com.
You know it’s officially summer in the city when our beautiful outdoor parks begin their annual tradition of hosting live music, movies, and more. Minnesota’s temperamental landscape allows for a mere few months of blissful, summer evenings and St. Paul takes full advantage via multiple series of events, perfect for a post-work wind down, early evening date with your sweetie, or simply an excuse to picnic with the fam.
Tonight, head to picturesque Mears Park for the kick off of the Music in Mears series with three great bands including The Annie Lawlwer Band, Crossing Guards, and Dan Israel and the Cultivators. Music starts at 6pm and runs until around 9pm. Check the schedule to pencil in other performances throughout the summer each Thursday evening featuring rocking’ local acts including Communist Daughter, Joey Ryan and the Inks, The Idle Hands, Zoo Animal, The New Standards, The Goondas, Maudlin, Mayda, Kill the Vultures, No Bird Sing, Honey Dogs, Charlie Parr, and oh-so-many more.
For a more classic style of music, keep your eyes peeled on St. Paul Parks n’ Rec’s yearly Music in the Parks series, which kicked off in May and runs through August. Hosted in various amphitheaters and lush locales including Como Lakeside Pavilion, Phalen Amphitheater, Mears Park, Raspberry Isaland, and Rice Park, Music in the Park offers a wide variety of acts from traditional jazz to big band to chorus to folk to classical and much more. Tonight, catch Red Rock Swing Band at Como’s Lakeside Pavilion, or make a plan this Sunday to venture out to Rice Park, Phalen, or Como for the pop-rock stylings of Blue Stratum, the swinging’ jazz sounds of South Side Big Band, or the eclectic music of Calhoun Isles Community Band. With multiple performances at multiple venues almost daily, your summer will surely be filled with sweet sounds and sunny skies. Our recommendation? Pack a picnic and make the most of it!
Also check the schedule for Comcast’s movies in the park at various locations, kicking off Friday, June 8th with Howl’s Moving Castle at McDonough Park and resuming in mid-July with films such as The Muppets, The Adventures of Tin-Tin, Kung Fu Panda 2, Back to the Future (all three installments!) and, um, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
BIG things are happening over at the Air Sweet Air gallery on Sunday, June 3rd as the contemporary art space gives up and coming artists a platform to show their work. Mind you, when we say “up and coming” we really mean it: the exhibiting artists range from 11 months to 16 years old!
ASA’s curator and all-around cool lady, Cheryl Wilgren Clyne has wrangled over 30 budding creatives for GIGANTIC, IT’S BIG, BIG, BIG, a whimsical title that refers to a theme that positively encompasses everything that is “UP” including skies, clouds, atmosphere, planets, galaxies, stars and the like. The exhibit will include not just local, but national and international kids as well.
Says Clyne, “The idea is to develop love for the arts at an early age, to validate the young artist, to embrace images from youth when they do not have ALL of the filters and influences that adults have, to create community around art, to create exhibit culture, to break down the assumptions surrounding an exhibit in a gallery.”
Clyne hopes to hold the show annually. She plans to invite the same participants to return, so she and the exhibit’s attendees can follow the evolution of these young artists and watch their creative process develop and evolve–a sentiment/experiment we can definitely get behind.
The long list of participating artists is already quite impressive, and Clyne says more may be added before Sunday. The current roster includes: Maurice Mayberry, Ameira Jemison, Lily Brean, Martin Brean, Maya Higdon-Topaz, Sol Ginsberg, Luna Ginsberg, Sineenart Junprakon Schroeder, Eliza Rose, Nicholas Bourne, Rosemary Bourne, Zeus Yust, George Schouweiler, Arjuna Herbst, Rama Herbst, Henry Stenzel, Charlotte Dehler, Severin Dehler, Taylor Hazel, Erlend Stulen, Lilja Boelke, Ella Boelke, Joshua Boelke, Harper Lynn Halloran, Adeline Toussaint Halloran, Ethan John Crosby, Isabel Grace Crosby and many more.
The opening reception will be held this Sunday, June 3rd from 2pm-6pm and is free and open to the public. ASA is located within 262 Studios at 262 E. 4th Street #203 in Lowertown. For more info visit www.airsweetair.org.