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Andrea Jenkins, Grand Marshal of 2015 Twin Cities Pride uplifts trans voices [Photos]

Andrea Jenkins is a writer, poet, performance artist and activist. Other than serving as Grand Marshal for Twin Cities Pride this weekend, she recently became the oral historian for the Tretter Collection at the University of Minnesota, among many other roles in the community. She will be documenting the stories and voices of the LGBTQ community in Minnesota. As she said in an interview with Intermedia Arts, “Art serves many purposes; it can heal, educate, entertain, and challenge. Art is a tool for speaking out because it has the ability to transform people. Continue Reading

Los Lonely Boys

Los Lonely Boys Play Music in the Zoo Series

The summer concert season has finally arrived and the good news is we are in the front half of another exciting line-up for the popular Music in the Zoo Series at the Weesner Family Amphitheater. A lively audience was in party mode on Tuesday evening June 16th, for the return of Los Lonely Boys. A few rain drops did not dampen spirits and although the air felt unseasonably cool. Growing up playing music together has enabled the Garza brothers (Henry, Jojo and Ringo) to craft their own music style they call Texican Rock ‘n Roll and their fans clearly love it. Their show is just a lot of fun with lush vocal harmonies and standout guitar work by Henry. Continue Reading

Review – Novelty Shots: A Political Fantasy – Fire Drill – The Art of Paying Attention

They don’t hand out the programs until *after* Fire Drill’s latest production, Novelty Shots: A Political Fantasy, is over. It’s deliberate, but I’m still not entirely sure why. Do they not want to spoil the surprise?  What is the surprise? Is any review like this one just going to be a massive pile of spoilers? Is it even possible to spoil this show? Continue Reading

Singer Cecilia Lopez

THEATER REVIEW: La Rondine

Color-blind casting continues to be an issue in American theater.  In opera, one might argue, without it how are artists of color to work?  After all, there isn’t exactly an over-abundance of roles written with characters of color.  And how many opportunities are there to be cast in a revival of, say, Porgy and Bess or Madame Butterfly?  Members of Skylark Opera’s production of Puccini La Rondine – two performers, who are of color, and the director, who is not, commented on the matter by email. Cecelia Violetta Lopez sings the role of Magda, who leaves her setup in the lap of luxury as a banker’s mistress, to go looking for love. Lopez’s solo concert credits include Mahler’s Symphony 4 and selections from Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne with the Henderson Symphony Orchestra, Rutter’s Mass of the Children with the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society, Bach’s Magnificat with the University of Nevada – Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra and Rachmaninov’s Vocalise with the UNLV Chamber Orchestra. “I’ve never experienced a color and/or race issue in my growing career”, she reflects.  “I have been discriminated against in my lifetime, but those instances have been for being Mexican-American and/or female.  Sad, but true.”

Lopez then states, “I think race and opera are completely unrelated to each other. Continue Reading

Actor Martin Bakari plays Hazel Motes in Wise Blood. Photo courtesy of the Soap Factory

Actor Martin Bakari gives “Wise Blood” new vision

Based on Flannery O’Connor’s 1952 Southern Gothic novel, “Wise Blood” transformed The Soap Factory gallery into a non-traditional walkthru performance space. The large scale installations/sets were built by Minneapolis multi-media artist Chris Larson and director Michael Sommers into a place of unusual false perception and illusory wonders unlike any we’d experienced before.
The unusual wonders of the space are not the only thing special about this opera exhibition. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW: No Expiration Date: Sexuality & Aging presented by Pangea World Theater

We live in a society that manages to be obsessed with sex and deeply repressed about sex at the same time. Sex becomes another commodity titillate to and sell things but conversations about our real sexualities are all too rare. And, if you are over fifty your sexuality is not really a subject at all, unless as a joke. Enter Pangea World Theater once again pushing theater into the spaces unseen, unrecognized, under represented.  No Expiration Date: Sexuality & Aging is a theatrical interpretation of the qualitative data from a study conducted by Drs. Continue Reading

Photo by Osama Esid

Syrian portraits evoke humanity, dignity and resilience amid the ruins

When Twin Cities-based artist Osama Esid first arrived at the Adana camp in Turkey to take photos of Syrian refugees, he was told he’d have a mere 45 minutes inside. He says he begged for more time to be able to meet the residents, gain their trust and hopefully take some photos. He recalls how, once inside the camp, a Mr. Souleyman invited him to dinner. Before the meal was served, Esid asked to take a photo of Souleyman’s empty tent – not the people, not the food, just the tent. He explained his project, saying he wanted to be able to take that tent outside the camp, to photograph others inside it anywhere in the world. “Mr. Souleyman loved the idea,” Esid remembers. “He said, ‘Somehow you make me feel like my great-grandfather’s house is still open for all the guests’.”

And so began Osama’s incredible project, Still/Life/Syria. Out of the hundreds of photos he took inside the camp over the course of several days, 12 five-by-six-foot prints will be on display at Mill Ruins Park this Saturday night during Northern Spark. The work is presented and commissioned by Mizna, an Arab arts organization based here in Saint Paul. And, yes, the Souleyman tent will also be on-site; a limited number of visitors will be invited to stand in front of it to get their picture taken. Esid will show the photos of Northern Spark “guests” in the Souleyman tent to residents at the camp in September, when he returns to Turkey. Continue Reading

Michael Murnane, Under Ice, Pillsbury A Mill, Northern Spark, 2012. Photo: Patrick Kelley.

Wander, explore, illuminate together at this year’s Northern Spark

Northern Spark, the magical night each June when sections of the Twin Cities urban landscapes become the canvas(es) for large-scale, often interactive, ephemeral, and community-based art, is celebrating its 5th birthday this month. I am delighted to report that after hours of researching this years’ exhibits and acts, watching project videos, reading artist statements, etc, I have found very little in this years’ offerings that is not somehow captivating, compelling, and/or curious. If ever there was a summer night that justified an all-nighter for any adventurers or art-lovers, Northern Spark is it.  

I couldn’t possibly say that some of these events will be better than others, nor am I interested in doing so. This is my own personal curated vision of what sounds especially delightful and resonates with my own interests. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW: Anything but English

It began with a Shhhhh, a call for the native English speakers in the audience to quiet down. This was not their night. Alejandra Tobar Atriz, performer and co-host of Anything But English performed her piece, opening the evening and deploying a modernist string of associations. The writing was beautiful. She described traveling from a “mountain’s cleavage to a U.S. classroom.” Continue Reading