Art Hounds: Visual Art and Music Highlights of 2009

This week, our Art Hounds look back at their visual art and music highlights of the year.

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Marya Hart, Minneapolis

Heiner Goebbel’s “Songs of War I Have Seen,” performed in Saint Paul last January by the London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as part of SPCO’s magnificent chamber orchestra festival. This piece, which uses spoken text from Gertrude Stein’s “Wars I Have Seen” was marvelously performed and staged beautifully on a dark set lit with table lamps and dotted with the primary colors of the musicians’ clothing. “Songs of War I Have Seen” is a moving, intellectually challenging and masterful reflection on the impact of war on civilians.

Matt Peiken, Minneapolis

Beyond the major open studio tours in Minneapolis and St. Paul, visual artists here took control of their own destinies and presented their work like never before. Many banded into collectives to throw single-evening events (Traffic Zone and the Grain Belt’s VD09 in Minneapolis, the Dow Building in St. Paul). Others formed new co-op galleries (Sellout, Art of This). Even businesses got in on the act (Fox Tax and Conduit Gallery in the office of Dr. Sam). These and other examples kept the local visual arts scene vibrant from the ground up.

John Grider, Minneapolis

Save Canvas was public, free, and utilized vacant spaces that would have otherwise remained useless. Also impressive in that it was organized by people under 30.

Bill Simenson, St. Paul

Dafnis Prieto at the Walker Art Center was a stellar performance by an incredible musician who also happens to be an amazing drummer. A blend of traditional and modern Afro-Cuban music with jazz. A remarkable concert.

Dawn Mikkelson, Stillwater

Bobby McFerrin is incredible in his own right, but then directing an improvisational piece with the amazing musicians of Cantus was just too amazing. Then McFerrin directed the packed Orchestra Hall in 5+ part harmony singing Ave Maria and random other songs that we had no idea we all knew. Beautiful genius.

Lucy Yogerst, Minneapolis

Paul Metsa’s contributions to the music of our times, with his network of gifted musicians, was enthusiastically appreciated by a sold-out house at his 30th anniversary concert. His unique blend of artistry, poetry, collaboration and showmanship kept the crowd jumpin’ past 1:30a.m.

Drew Christopherson, Minneapolis

When Minneapolis’s finest, Skoal Kodiak, played on the University foot bridge over the Mississippi in September. With the downtown skyline behind them and the blue glow of the 35W bridge above them, it really felt wonderful to be a resident here. About 75 people, all dancing, shared this wonderful experience with each other with huge smiles of joy.

Sarah Lovan, Minneapolis

13th annual arts and artist celebration at Franconia Sculpture Park had it all: Great sculpture, music, food, dancing, and people. And, a beautiful day…what could have been better?

Lin Nelson-Mayson, Golden Valley

The Goldstein Museum of Design exhibition “Good Design: Stories of Herman Miller.” This all-encompassing exhibition told the inside story of the influential and innovative furniture company. It featured the people behind the classic designs and the overarching philosophy that created a people-centered business. The exhibition was a colorful, interactive history bursting with good design!

What were your arts and culture highlights of the year? Tell us in the comments!

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