Art Hounds: Station to Station, MinnAnimate, Saul Williams and more

An artist participating in last year’s Quick Paint at the Grand Marais Plein Air Competition. (Photo credit: Kjersti Vick)

joan farnamGrand Marais potter and arts blogger Joan Farnam is looking forward to being outside for art:

The Grand Marais Plein Air Competition is this week with 70 artists from around the region painting in Cook County all week. (See a definition of plein air painting here.)

The Quick Paint, where artists have 90 minutes to complete a painting after a shot gun start is at 4 p.m. today on Artist’s Point. It’s always a crazy time as artists frantically pick their spot and try to finish something inspiring and beautiful in 90 minutes, egged on by each other and a curious and appreciative public.

The opening reception is at the Johnson Heritage Post Friday at 5 p.m., where the winners will be announced, including the winner of the Red Suspender Invitational.

Famed Grand Marais plein air painter Howard Sivertson, who fancies red suspenders himself, will award a pair to the winner of the invitational. The exhibit is up at the Heritage Post through Sept. 29. Plein air painter Ken DeWaard is the juror this year.

mike linnemannMike Linnemann, art director for a local gaming company, recommends MinnAnimate II:

Today at 7 p.m. is the second annual MinnAnimate festival coordinated by John Akre at the Ritz Theater in northeast Minneapolis.

This year doubles the size of the previous year, showcasing over two dozen short films with a wider variety of animation styles including Greg Bro’s, “Famous People. Fast Food” which debuted at the 2013 L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival, which I’ve heard is fantastic.

MinnAnimate is the only open submission animation film festival in Minnesota. Each year, user submitted films from experts to teenagers across genres meet to screen each other’s work, exchange ideas and celebrate the art of animation.

Animation doesn’t need to be solely student work or the Lagoon’s Oscar contenders, which are basically the big guns like Pixar. Seeing accessible forms along with industry local giants was fantastic last year and I expect the greater variety to make for an evening of five-minute visual delights.

diane andersonPerformer and Youth Performance Company board member Diane Anderson will be at the train station tonight:

I’m very geared up for Station to Station, which rides into Union Depot in St. Paul this evening. This traveling public art tour is hitting nine U.S. destinations, with a changing roster of musicians in each city.

The St. Paul stop promises to be huge on this whistle-stop tour as rock icon Patti Smith headlines the music component of the evening, with local performers BodyCartography and L.A.-based artist Fritz Haeg showcasing kinetic sculpture, spoken word and printed material from national and international artists.

I look forward to hearing a rock legend I’ve admired for decades, seeing the local community engagement and having the chance to enjoy the grandeur of The Union Depot in all of her renovated beauty.

magdalena kaluzaArtist Magdalena Kaluza, part of Palabristas, Minnesota’s Chican@ spoken word collective, can’t wait to see Saul Williams:

Saul Williams, one of my favorite writers of all time and a constant spitter of the truth, is coming to the Icehouse tonight. I was introduced to his poem “Amethyst Rocks” as a freshman in high school and have loved his work since.

Some of my favorite tracks of his include “Grippo” and “Coded Language.” The opener, Guante, is someone with whom I remember sitting at a table inside Kwanza Community Center years back for a racism training through Yo! The Movement.

He is an organizer and performer who energizes a crowd of any size, supports important causes, and not only preaches but also carries out access (he often says that if you don’t have the money to buy one of his CDs, he’d like to give you one). I bet this show will have you rocking out and trembling.

Victoria PyanVictoria Pyan, artist/director/producer, endorses Theatre of the Tiny Clandestines by Winding Sheet:

You enter a small, overlooked park right on University Ave. in St. Paul and are greeted by an odd but friendly woman outside a black tent. Inside is packed full of storytelling, small things, big things, slide shows, tea times, and magic.

Winding Sheet came to my attention during the Minnesota Fringe Festival in 2012 and it’s been good to see what they’ve put together in the meantime.

The tent seats six to eight people depending on which story is told. It was refreshing to see theater done on such a personal scale. Each story varies in length but all were under 10 minutes.

Once you see all ten, there is a super secret “unlockable” story. Last Sunday’s crowd got to see it. Each performance is chosen at random by a deck of cards outside the tent and when it opens there is a new set up and the actresses are ready to perform. Some of the stories are adaptations — including the Wuggly Ump (probably my favorite) — others are unique to these three actresses, while some take a larger historical context. Each performance has its own flavor and highlights the talents of the three actresses in the tent.

It’s a step outside of the ordinary for a theatergoer and outside the tent between pieces there is a sense of anticipation. And what circus event would be complete without some popcorn?

While you’re waiting, make sure to sign the book or draw a picture. Get a snapshot of yourself wearing a bowler or sporting a new mustache. There are two more chances to check out this delightful oddity this weekend — unless it rains.

paulcantrellComposer and pianist Paul Cantrell will be grooving at the Ritz Theater this weekend:

The Ritz Theater is hosting Open Door Music #1, a festival devoted to large ensemble improvisation this Saturday and Sunday. At the heart of these groups is a tricky question: How does a large group of players organize themselves so they have improvisatory freedom, without it turning into a big train wreck?

Even in jazz, anchor of improv in American music, big bands work off of tightly orchestrated scores with just a few players improvising solos. But at this festival, you have have 10 or 20 people truly winging it all at once! It’s a blast to hear it unfold.

The group that’s really putting my butt in a seat at this event is the Cherry Spoon Collective, a new ensemble with a bunch of my favorite local musicians: Pat O’Keefe, master of both new music and Brazilian drumming; Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney of Jelloslave fame; fiddler and concert violinist Zach Kline; Laura Harada, who plays Argentine tango and Arabic music; jazz master George Cartwright … it goes on.

How they get that lineup together in one place for a rehearsal I can only marvel. I’ve heard them once and they knocked me out. What they’re doing epitomizes to me what the Twin Cities music scene is right now: world-embracing, roots everywhere, with an attitude and energy that are uniquely our cities’ own.