We’ve asked our Art Hounds to tell us about their Minnesota arts and culture highlights of 2011. Here is the second on-air installment (listen to part one here, see additional theater highlights here and look for more music and visual art highlights tomorrow):
Leave it to Tom Letness, owner of the Heights Theatre, to program a totally amazing silent film which was virtually unheard of amongst members of the local film community. “Mantrap” is a marvel, a strange drama mixed with riotous comedy, and featuring Clara Bow, the famous “It” girl, who might’ve been the sexiest actress ever to grace the silver screen (and perhaps its most gifted comedienne). “Mantrap” was one of several obscure silent films the Heights screened last spring, each accompanied by their Wurlitzer Organ, and each one a revelation.
-Peter Schilling, writer, projectionist and board member at Take-Up Productions
Jim Denomie’s “Off the Reservation (or Minnesota Nice)”
Imagine being called upon to create art reflecting a horrific history that resulted in the deaths, forced internment, and dislocation of members of your ethnic group and then to present that work to the public in the context of a 150th anniversary of the largest mass execution in U.S. History. Now imagine Jim Denomie’s enormous and vivid canvas titled “Off the Reservation (or Minnesota Nice)” depicting with sardonic humor, the events (starvation, swindling,encroachment) that triggered Dakota attacks and the persons responsible for U.S. retaliation. Denomie shows all on an enormous map-like landscape that remains the most remarkable art I experienced in 2012. Denomie’s painting, part of “Ded Ungk’ungpi–We Are Here” originated All My Relations Arts in Minneapolis and is on view until January 13 at James J. Hill House Gallery.
-Heid Erdrich, writer, teacher, editor, curator
Dirty Baby at the Walker Art Center
Dirty Baby is a collaboration between Nels Cline (guitarist for Wilco), David Breskin (poet, producer), and Ed Ruscha (painter). Part of it was just to get three different artists from three different mediums to collaborate and see what could come out of that process. It originally started off as a book featuring visual art, poetry and music and they decided to bring it ot the stage. At the Walker there were overhead projections of Ed Ruscha’s paintings, Breskin’s poetry was recited and Nels Cline and company performed the music. Seeing these three artsits work together and the idea that it might not be performed live again really made it an exgtremely exciting once in a lifetime experience.
-Dan Marshall, photographer
Legacy: A Tribute to the King of Pop at Theatre L’Homme Dieu in Alexandria
The best thing I saw all year was Legacy. It is the brainchild of the amazing choregrapher and dancer Luis Castillo. Everything about this show surprised and delighted me. He embodies Jackson in a way that will catch you so off guard. Each of the numbers in the show recreated famous videos or moments in Jackson’s career perfectly. Castillo’s choreography and performance itself as Michael Jackson was mesmerizing and breathtaking. The best thing is they’re bringing it back again to L’Homme Dieu next summer and you can bet I’m driving back up to Alexandria to see it again.
-Zach Curtis, director and actor