Art Hounds: Thought Forms, Picnic Operetta, and Shiraz Mukarram

“Thought Forms Nucleus Strain” by Paul Higham. Rapid prototype 3D print, jaspergypsum, 2012, Collection of the Tweed Museum. (Photo credit: Jatten Daniels. Image courtesy of Gallery 13.)

Duluth sculptor and writer Ann Klefstad recommends “Thought Forms”:

“Thought Forms” is a show of sculpture by Paul Higham, an English artist who takes brain wave signals and turns them into inputs for CNC routers and 3D printers. The forms that result are material evidence of thoughts — literally “thought forms.” Don’t miss this chance to see ephemeral, changing things like thoughts — just clouds of electrical energy, after all— turned into these strange and elegant forms, which have great presence.

There have always been neural frontiers that artists have explored before any of the rest of us have been able to get there. From mushroom-tripping cave painters to Odilon Redon, whole ranges of cognition have been portrayed by these artists, whose neurology was such that it gave them access to the inaccessible.

Paul Higham has acquired, through long study of neurology and its intersection with heuristics and the potentials of digital imaging, the skeleton keys to the ghosts of form in human thought. His current show at Gallery 13 in Minneapolis is replete with marvelous forms that reveal nothing explicitly but hint at the multifold ways in which ideas can take shape. These are not, not at all, shapes in the mind of the artist, but shapes of the mind.  What a difference!

Nahid Khan, Mizna board member and Minneapolis Institute of Arts guide, is a fan of Shiraz Mukarram:

Shiraz Mukarram photographed all over Pakistan for various newspapers in the country before coming to the U.S., and has photographed in West Asia and Africa as well as the U.S., including locally, focusing on the Somali and Hmong communities.  In his artistic statement, Mukarram says he is interested in creating “discursive loops” about the human experience. His goal also is to create “responsive discourse” and stimulate conversations about our “evolving collectives” through his photography.

You can see the work of Mukarram, an MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design) photography graduate and Pakistani-American photojournalist, at the Gage Center Art Gallery at Augsburg Gallery, through Aug. 16.

Twin Cities writer and bagpipe player Adam Kintopf will be listening to opera in the garden:

I’ve come to believe that you haven’t experienced summer in the Twin Cities unless you’ve taken in Mixed Precipitation’s annual Picnic Operetta. Every year, the company takes a classic operatic work, re-imagines it into a mad mix of musical style and visual creativity and performs it outdoors in community gardens all around the metro.

I would describe the arrangements as “just respectful enough” – they’re always true to the spirit of the original, and they use enough of the music to please serious opera fans (like me). But the company also leaves plenty of room for playful musical mash-ups – like adding classic country ballads to Handel, or doo-wop to Mozart. This year, it’s Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio, done as “Agent Fidelio” (and I can’t wait to find out what that means). The numbers are sung in a mix of languages, but it’s all live-translated with supertitles on a scroll. But even if it wasn’t, the shows are so accessible and stimulating that it’s impossible not to enjoy yourself.  

Just when you think it couldn’t get any better, they give the audience elegant little hors-d’oeuvres between scenes, all picked from the vegetable gardens, prepared by chefs and served by the cast. Great music and food in a beautiful garden on a summer night equals an amazing experience. Performances run from Aug. 10 to Sept. 15.

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