Archive for the ‘Twin CIties Arts and Culture’ Category



July 29, 2012


Yesterday afternoon I smiled all the way from N. Second Street, up West Broadway to Penn, as I chose to take in FLOWnorthside.  How have I missed this for the last six years?

Of course, I know the area; I visit the Capri Theatre; I recommend Lundstrom’s and occasionally take in a performance there; through the RiverCurrent, I know what’s happening at the Minneapolis Photo Center-but until now, I have never visited it;  sadly, I’ve been to the West Broadway Indian Center for a wake of a small child; and when it fits, I use the product from the Cookie Cart in my events not only because it’s a great cause; but because it’s so fun to see those kids pride in the great product they bake there.

All that in addition to the  fact that since I first moved downtown in the mid 90s, Plymouth Avenue from Washington to Wirth Parkway and Broadway north out of the city have been two well-frequented paths to visit friends in the burbs.

But I had never been aware enough of what I was passing through nor was I really registering  the transformation that was taking place day after day after day.

This spring, as I’ve written of in an earlier blog, I attended a Charles Landry discussion at the Capri that became the impetus to look at this area differently.  No one could have missed the message Landry was conveying when he put up the birds-eye view of the area and pointed out the interstate “fences” that kept the northside separated from Minneapolis.

Then, a week or so ago, I watched a TPR Special  “Cornerstones: A History of North Minneapolis” that told its story and positioned the Jewish influence in the area in a way I had never noticed before.  And sadly, it brought back the visions of Plymouth Avenue “riots” of 1965, 1966 which sadly, have been engrained in the brains of whites ever since.

So  yesterday I was determined to participate in the celebration of the Northside today, as I was beginning to see it as a good example of the interculturalism I often refer to as we look to the future and what we want for the MSP metropolitan area.

 I started at Lundstrom’s for a great dance performance; then on to find not only the Mpls Photo Center, but the Two Tigers Gallery as well.  Great art, and two fabulous photo installations…with more food for thought than one can possibly absorb in a single afternoon!   Just don’t look out the windows toward the river….or you will be reminded how unsightly the “business” of the river can be!

As I got in my car to head over the interstate, I sighted one of the things that motivated me to stop in the  N2nd cluster in the first place….the PEDAL STAGE!  We love our bikes; we love our bike trails; we love our pedal cabs and we love our pedal pubs in Minneapolis, but now we have a new innovation to pedal.  Sure enough, there it was, pedaled by hearty volunteers as they towed the mobile stage AND the band playing on its deck!  And by the smiles on the faces of all in the street, it was a hit.

Running out of time, I raced up to the Capri to see for a second time, the TPT footage being shown in the theatre at 3PM.  WOW!  Little did I know, the video producer was the host.  Little did I expect the impact of a second viewing.  And little did I expect the engaging impassioned discussion of whites and Asians, Hispanics and African Americans, asking questions, sharing memories, and coming together as one people, all originally immigrants to MN,  with a common love– the history and culture of the north side! (Along with a great love for Asuncion and for North High, I might add).

No one got up and exited; all of us wanting it to continue.  But alas, Taiko Drumming was scheduled for 5PM so we had to vacate. 

The beer garden  and the KMOJ Stage beckoned, but  I wanted to get on down to the Knox intersection  for the Soul Train Dance Line gathering…you may have seen the picture of same in the Sunday Strib this morning – YES!  The people gathered here were definitely into “Boogyin’ Down Broadway – and I was into witnessing them do it!

By the time I got to the KFAI Summer Festival stage, I had missed the Minnesota Lynx, a West African drum and dance, Matt the Magician, “If Eye May”, and an Asian ethnic dance so only caught a bit of hip hop and Les Jolies Petites – all on stage behind the Cookie Cart.

Yes, of course, this was my last stop of the day….it’s been so long ago, I don’t even remember when I first heard of the Cookie Cart and the good work they are doing building life skills in the neighborhood and much much more.  But I do remember several events that gave me an opportunity to use their product, and one in particular, when the kids came along with the purchase, to serve up cookies and coffee under a Target branded tent inside the warehouse at Skyway!  They were a pleasure to work with then, and they were absolutely delightful in the midst of crowds of people wanting a cookie, or a dozen or big box, as a whole lot of folks FLOWed into their storefront yesterday!

I left before I found the Open Eye’s tandem bicycle pulling “the city’s smallest theatre  to present impromptu five-minute performances”; and although I was excited to hear I could still catch the  West Broadway Historic Walking Tour on Sunday at 10:30, I did not make it back.  Bummer!  The tour used footprints layered on the sidewalk, and your own smartphone to share through augmented reality, historic photos of how various places looked in the past. 

What an absolutely GREAT AFTERNOON!



June 23, 2012

One of the things I missed so much when I was temporarily transplanted to Edina-land for five years was my frequent “drop-in” visits to the History Center on a Friday afternoon- by myself so I could go, see, interact, and reflect on the exhibit I was visiting in silence, with no conversation with or worry about whether a companion was reacting positively or negatively to the exhibit.

 Now that I have been back in the city for six months, it was time to re-institute the tradition, and off I went to view 1934: A New Deal for Artists.   

En route to the exhibit, I passed by “We The People” a visiting exhibit that closes July 4, so took a short  detour for  a quick peak….yes,  both the U.S. Constitution and the draft of Bill of Rights looked exactly like the pictures and I was about to leave without actually reading them when I overheard  a young boy in a school group explaining  in awe to his friend “these are the directions for making the United State”.    I needed to hear that I guess, to appreciate what I was seeing…so few sheets of paper for such a big country!

And then there they were – 56 paintings created under federal New Deal programs that employed artists during the Great Depression.  Some were fun; some were somber; and so many depicted an every- day scene…in the city; in the country; through-out the US – but many were noteworthy for the absence of any animals or people in them. Topics/Subjects included Immigration, Native Traditions, CCC projects, bleak Japanese American scenes from Seattle, street festivals that became vital social events to survive the stresses of the depression, Central Park depicting mothers with children at one end but avoiding “Hooverville” of the homeless at the other.  And as the description said, one was aware of an under-lying question “What do you do for a living” that remained an unanswered question.

And yet, amongst some of the bleakness were hope-filled images of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, and the Cathedral of Learning- all demonstrating the Depresssion “could not stop Americans from accomplishing great things.”

I think amidst all the RESET ideas floating around in my head, there is a 21st century lesson in this exhibit…but I will have to wait for it to gel, I guess.

Driving home with a detour through University Grove, reinforced I was was right to re-instate this old Friday afternoon habit.  And I surely will be back several times over the summer to  visit the exhibit  THE US -DAKOTA WAR OF 1862 and I might just take in the SENIORS IN MIND: WOODY REFLECTED  100th birthday musical tribute to Woody – inspired by the paintings of 1934: A New Deal for Artists and presented by Pop Wagner, Tony Glover and Charlie Maguire.

And maybe I will break my rule and see if a friend or two would liketo join me on the trolley for the Food Crawl, Home Tour or one of the Pub Crawls- they look well worth it as well! 



Living the Talk – NEIGHBORLAND

May 5, 2012

Thursday, since I was at Sister Kenney for PT,  I took a mini-break from my normal day and headed over to Whittier to check on the BEFORE I DIE storefront window.  As I turned off 26th onto Stevens, there it was – and a small gathering stood before it – reading the entries and contributing their thoughts in the provided blanks…people empowered to share their thoughts and dreams in public, in their own neighborhood, as part of an arts project!  It was amazing.

And yes, it motivated me to do my part as well – not only to add to the BEFORE I DIE stories, but later, I deviated from my normal daily walk along the river and chose instead, to meander down Nicollet taking in the sights and sounds of an early Farmer’s Market /street food ritual of summers in Minneapolis; and then cut over to Hennepin for an up close and personal stop under the three interactive signs that day and night are asking for input from all of us about our vision for Hennepin Avenue.

Yes, even in my splints, – me – who does not communicate generally via texting, added my own dream for Hennepin Avenue to the input – an intracultural gateway to the riverfront…planned as a permanent gathering for celebrations of all kinds- to the growing list of dreams being assembled as part of Plan It Hennepin, and the Neighborland experience.

And what fun to get an IMMEDIATE reply; thanking me for my idea and encouraging me to check in at the Neighborland site to follow the ensuing discussion.

It made for a great day – although I am sure those other pedestrians I met as I made my way north on Hennepin to the river and home, wondered what in the world was up with that crazy woman  they had just passed – who couldn’t quit smiling!

Keep an eye on those billboards – maybe you will see my idea up in lights and hopefully, you, too, will be motivated to take part in this community effort and will share YOUR thoughts for how we make Hennepin Avenue the cultural corridor of Minneapolis from the Walker to the riverfront!



April 25, 2010

Over the years, I have been fairly active in the arts and culture scene here in the metro area. From long time memberships at the MIA and MHS to rotating season tickets for the Guthrie to the MN Orchestra, Hennepin Trust Theatres and local dance and theatre companies through-out the area, I sampled and enjoyed what MSP had to offer. I’ve had concert series tickets, dance and lecture series tickets at the University, and was a frequent visitor to the Dakota at Bandana in its first iteration-not to mention the occasional event from the Penumbra to ballet to a jazz concert to an exhibit at the Science Museum, the Walker, or the Soap Factory that caught my interest. I’ve experienced the wonderful world of the Capri with friends, many a neighborhood arts crawl, and a variety of culturally diverse pageants and celebrations-not to mention some absolutely wonderful fund-raising events that support the local arts and culture scene. I was even privileged to assist with events in conjunction with the opening of the new Guthrie and the re-newed Walker.

But one medium I have never experienced either here or during my extensive world travels in my youth was the opera. I am not sure why – mostly, I think, because it seemed intimidating. I had never been exposed; I was sure I would not understand it; and more certain that I would not like it. Although I had been intrigued by the Grapes of Wrath production, time passed, and I missed the opportunity to experience it.

But last night, a dear friend invited me to the closing performance of the Minnesota Opera season – Salome, and a whole new world opened up before me-proving once again, I guess, that it is never too late to learn! The English captioning certainly helped- as did I think, that it was in German- where if I really concentrated, I could understand a phrase or two along the way. I was captivated and so glad I accepted the invitation.

This morning, I found myself re-reading the program and making a note to get tickets – at least for the Garden of the Finzi-Continis next April – if not some of the earlier productions!

So another wonderful Spring Weekend – from a field trip with a friend to explore Target Plaza and traverse its entire circumference; then on to a visit to the Arboretum to see the 36,000 blooming tulips, early spring blossoming trees, and lunch; to helping another friend do a set for a special family wedding being filmed for TV, and then, after a nap, off to a great dinner and conversation followed by the Ordway for the opera; to finally, to spending a rainy Sunday afternoon by myself-browsing amongst the book stacks-as I think and puzzle about a pending consulting opportunity. What more could one wish for?

I’m sure with that kind of weekend, I will be well-poised for a great week. Here’s hoping the same to all of you!