Art Hounds: The Visit, Women in Soviet Art, bare in Fargo, and Chris Schlichting


"Worker" by Igor A. Razdrogin, 1970, oil on canvas. (Image courtesy of The Museum of Russian Art)

Florence BrammerFlorence Brammer is a visual artist and occasional performance artist. She recommends a trip to the Museum of Russian Art:

“The huge woman with a red bandana and black work boots? I won’t be forgetting her soon,” a friend recently exclaimed about The Museum of Russian Art’s “Women in Soviet Art” exhibit.

In the Soviet constitution of 1918, the Soviet state declared the equality of the sexes.  Women were granted unprecedented rights, including improved access to education and employment outside the home. Vladimir Lenin himself described housework as “barbaric, unproductive, petty, nerve-wrecking, and depressing.”

While the proclaimed egalitarian paradise was never realized, by the 1950s the Soviet Union had the world’s highest percentage of women in the work force.  However – not surprisingly – the increased presence of women in industry did not change the traditional division of labor at home, creating a double burden for women’s daily lives.

Still, this revolution in women’s increased visibility in society fueled a bold new artistic vision of Soviet women as dynamic cultural icons. Rather than being portrayed as seductive beauties or objects of sexual desire, they were depicted as strong citizens who are fully engaged in all aspects of Soviet life.

The exhibit brings together over 60 post-Word War II paintings, more than half of which are being exhibited in the Twin Cities for the first time.  These magnificent canvases offer a stunning visual representation of the Soviet woman from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Brad DelzerFargo theater artist Brad Delzer is looking forward to Act Up’s “bare”:

It’s hard not to love Act Up Theatre. They look to inspire, nurture, challenge, amaze, educate, and empower artists and audiences in order to nurture a more conscious and compassionate community. They do this by training high school students in excellent productions of contemporary, issue-driven works of musical theater. Their productions of Rent and Spring Awakening were astonishing.

Act Up is presenting bare, Aug. 1-10, a pop opera which centers on two gay high school students and their struggles at their private, Catholic boarding school. With great music and a newly re-tooled book, bare explores issues around sexuality identity, religion and spirituality, and where the two collide. Seeing a cast of highly talented high school students grappling with this material is inspiring and heartening.

Irve DellSculptor and theatre artist and Irve Dell had a blast at Sod House Theater’s “The Visit”:

The Cities are not the only place to see great theater and great theater makers. Make a day of it and take a drive into the country to see Sod House Theater’s production of The Visit by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. I saw the show in Alert Lea last weekend – you can still see it in Blue Earth this weekend or East Grand Forks next weekend. Sod House Theater, run by Luverne Seifert and Darcy Engen, teams with “professional artists to work with communities to produce classic and relevant works of theater.”

The Visit is a dark but humorous look at the dangerous resurrection of a depressed small town by one of its former residents. The Visit is not necessarily a safe play to bring to rural America which is really to Sod House’s credit — theater should challenge its audience and not just make them feel good.

This site-specific production utilizes a balanced combination of Twin Cities’ professionals and local talent to build a playful and funny cast capable of delivering a serious warning about the small-mindedness of the mob, with necessary doses of laughter along the way. The scenic backdrop to the piece is wonderfully supplied by setting the show in historical sites found in the town.  You will be outside and inside — it could be sunny or cloudy — all adding great and unpredictable flavor to the event. The afternoon I saw the show two vintage bi-planes flew overhead as if on cue. The players and audience both looked up acknowledging the spectacle and then returned smoothly to the scene. That’s live theater.

Kristin Van LoonChoreographer Kristin Van Loon admires the work of Chris Schlichting:

I go to A LOT of shows. Between running and booking the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater with its ten-shows-a-week and my other life as a dancer/choreographer, frankly, I see more shows than is truly enjoyable. I crave staying at home and reading a book. But — big but — every time I’ve witnessed Chris Schlichting’s dances this year, my internal monologue has been “I am so lucky….there is nowhere I’d rather be…I am so lucky”. His fully realized “Matching Drapes” at Red Eye was sublime. Then, earlier this month, he kicked out a trashy ditty to Heart for a birthday party. Dwell Magazine chic and elegant to ass-hangin’-out throwaway with perfect timing. The boy’s got range.

This summer he’s publicly shown two drafts for his new dance for the Walker Sculpture Garden. Clinging to my memory from these showings: a tight cluster step-step-step-step rotating, tipping to suggest shoulders from behind paper bibs. A dancer bumping a dude smoking on the stoop and later reenacting the accident behind swishing butcher paper. Schlichting offering clues that trees will be important.

I hope I haven’t given too much away, but I can’t resist and I must also shout out the names of the dancers: Mary Ann Bradley, Krista Langberg, Laura Selle-Virtucio, Sophie Thaden, Max Wirsing, Nick LeMere, Dustin Maxwell, as well as the  composer/musicians: Jeremy Ylvisaker, JT Bates, Mike Lewis and visual design collaborator Jennifer Davis. Wow.

This new Chris Schlicting dance can be seen at the Walker Sculpture Garden this Saturday, August 3 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. as part of the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Sculpture Garden and 10th Anniversary of the Walker Momentum Series. The event will include new commissioned works by Schlichting, Kenna Cottman, and Kaleena Miller.

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