Hmong Drawings from Phalen Lake Magnet School

Students at Phalen Lake Hmong Studies Magnet use a whiteboard to draw things that they enjoy or that are important to them. One student talks about her identity formation, and another student explains one of her favorite family memories.This video was made by youth at Phalen Lake Hmong Studies Magnet, as part of the Hmong Pioneers Project, with help from SPNN Youth Projects Coordinator Kao Choua Vue.Youth Participants: Tristan, Sophia, Beautiful, Kang, Micky, Edison [See original post here:] Continue Reading

All photos were taken by © Anna Min of Min Enterprises Photography, LLC

Bitter Cold Does Little to Dampen the Spirit of a Winter May Day Parade

Below zero temperatures and the bitter wind chills did little to dampen spirits of those who enjoyed the first annual Lantern Festival put on by Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre last Saturday.  Five giant animals representing  constellations in the night sky led hundreds of people on a procession across Marquette plaza. Community created lanterns were handed out so folks could join in as music by the Brass Messengers filled the air. This community event was a collaboration between the Downtown Council and HOBT after the cancellation of last years  Hollidazzle parade.Catherine Jordan, from  Heart of the Beast said the festival was a little like a winter May Day Parade.“Mpls Lantern Fest not only brings people together, but it allows us to embrace the heart of winter while ushering in the warmth and illumination of spring,” she said, “We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to shine light on our great downtown.”Despite the weather, hundreds of people turned out to, “Light the Winter Night”. All photos were taken by © Anna Min of Min Enterprises Photography, LLC
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White Snake at the Guthrie – A sociological review

This is a beautiful play which transports the audience to China by means of a rain of ribbons and clouds of cloth. White Snake is about a female snake who despite obtaining great wisdom and mystic powers remains unfulfilled. Love of course being the answer. White Snake transforms into a human woman. She marries and keeps her true form from her husband, thereby living in constant fear of discovery.This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Timid Video Parody: gallery & garret

Timid Video Theater has shaped an improvised walkabout of two superb art galleries with humorist Jon Spayde and Minnetonka’s Pam Scherling into a kind of skewed but whimsical parody of TPT’a arts magazine, mn original. The bit is included in a line-up of segments featured on the current edition of Democratic Visions; a political and cultural issues program handcrafted on location and at BCAT, the cable-TV access studio at the Bloomington Civic Plaza, by lefty volunteers. The sketch was mostly lensed in the Inez Greenberg and Atrium Galleries that are adjacent to the studio.  The three spaces are part of a theater and arts center that also includes black box and proscenium stage theaters, rehearsal halls, a gift shop and municipal meeting rooms and offices.  The art galleries host top drawer exhibits of paintings, assemblages, sculptures and photography infused with wit and variety.  Visual Arts Director Rachel Daly Flentje and her staff have proven that Art (with a capital “A”) can thrive even when tethered to the officious culture of city hall.The two current exhibits are examples.  Through April 4, The Greenberg features “Art in the Home” – residential living spaces assembled by 4 teams of interior decorators.  Through April 27th, The Atrium features the kinetic abstract paintings of John Wells whose kinetic paintings are created using a process that harness a genetic condition that causes Mr. Wells’ hands to shake uncontrollably.   Here’s a link for more information.The Timid Video parody is by no means art but, using Jon and Pam’s improvisations and archival sketch-video of hard-boiled artist Brick Mason nested in a small Lake Street apartment, is a light-hearted take on public television’s reverent packaging of the arts and of the dilettantes who frequent the galleries and adore Antique Roadshow. The current edition of Democratic Visions also includes Minneapolis Author Mary Stanic, the Junk Yard Democrats with an assortment of fans and barflies and an update on the SW Light Rail project.  Democratic Visions is carried by community access channels in Minneapolis and six famous suburbs.Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Eden Prairie – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.You can also click to the Democratic Visions Channel on YouTube. Continue Reading

A colorful Hmong dance troupe performing. (All photos by Tiffany Vang)

PHOTO ESSAY: Celebrating Hmong New Year in St. Paul

This year marks the 38th Annual Hmong New Year in Saint Paul. Prior to the Hmong arrival in the United States, the New Year’s celebration was held after the rice harvest. The tradition continued as Hmong people made Minnesota their home.The event is open to all, and includes entertainment, pageant competition, food, arts and craft, and dress.Want to learn more about Hmong New Year? Here’s a 2010 article by Phyllis Louise Harris, originally written for Asian Pages and republished in the TC Daily Planet, and a Wikipedia article.The photos below were captured during the three-day Hmong New Year celebration at St. Paul’s River Centre.Neng Lee, Hmong New Year Program Coordinator giving a speech to welcome community members.Local Hmong artists about to perform a song “All This and More” by Chael Young and PK Yang. Continue Reading


Late Nite Series at Pillsbury House Theatre: a space for interpretive freedom and artistic self-expression

As you make your way through the doors of Pillsbury House Theatre for the closing night of the series, you are welcomed with warm smiles, the aroma of pumpkin pie served with love and the embrace of a collectively conscious community anxiously awaiting for the night to begin.Traditionally, the structured conventional method of creating theatre goes like this: a writer writes a script, a director interprets it for the stage and then the performers bring the director and writers collective visions to life. Pillsbury House Theatre’s main stage production, “The Late Nite Series: Non-English Speaking Spoken Here,” breaks away from this notion by giving its artists the complete interpretive freedom of artistic self expression, and cultivating a space that allows them to push the boundaries of the creative process. Curated by artists Laurie Carlos and e.g. bailey, the series brought together creative minds of many disciplines from New York and Minnesota to explore socially relevant issues to the human condition.Malia Burkhart, a multidisciplinary performance artist, puppet, and mask builder was first to take the stage with her work in progress, “Two hands, Witch-hunts and Wolf hunts.” The work weaved dance movement, songs, and storytelling together creating a story that explores the complex relationship between humans and the history of our planet. The piece invites the audience to think outside the box by reacting to the performance on a subconscious level, and creating a space to be socially engaged in all areas of the creative process.Following Malia Burkhart’s thought provoking performance, spoken word artist e.g. bailey, and vocalist PaviElle French graced the stage in a soulful song titled Bye Bye Miss American Pie by Don McLean, a play on the phrase, “That’ll be the day I die,” and a metaphor for the death of the American dream as a personal tribute to all that have passed this past year.Mire Regulus, a writer and a theatre performance artist, shifted the audience into the world of myths and fairytales in her piece. Continue Reading

Soul Sounds: an open mic for nurturing arts, building community

I recently had the opportunity to attend Soul Sounds Open Mic where the featured artist was Danez Smith, who is a spoken word artist, slam poet, and author. It was an intimate crowd of about 40 people, with some attendees even dressed in Halloween costumes.Soul Sounds Open Mic takes place at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul every week, and is community collaboration between the Saint Paul Almanac and Golden Thyme Coffee Café. The goal of Soul Sounds is to create a safe, multigenerational, and diverse space for people to create and share work while engaging in active dialogue that promotes connection and community.The first artist of the night at last week’s Soul Sounds was Mimz, a spoken word artist who shared a poem called The Right One, about her search to find the right man. She also performed a poem about the trials and tribulations of raising her daughter to be a strong and proud black woman, which the crowd enjoyed.As the artists blessed the stage one by one, they touched on a number of topics: from losing a child, to molestation, to saving one’s self for the right person. Continue Reading

An unprecedented undertaking that could use a patron or two.

10 reasons artists need patrons, or get on over to Kickstarter

You know how some artists in the old days used to have patrons? Think Michaelangelo, or other painters, sculptors or even scientists, who had the d’Medici family, popes, or kings and queens who supported their work and fed them so that they could get on with it.I’m thinking that is what is needed now for some folks. Sure, there are grants and prizes that award money for artistic merit. But I’m thinking something more personal than that – someone who knows the artists, really believes in them, and will not make them fill out reams of paperwork in competition with other artists to garner continued support. Not that I think grants and prizes are bad – it’s just a tough system, and most people who are successful at it have had to learn how to use it.I’m not just talking about painters and sculptors, either. Continue Reading

Group photo of workshop participants. Copyright Jamel Shabazz. 

Juxtaposition Arts, One Minneapolis One Read feature work of iconic black artist Gordon Parks and Brooklyn photographer Jamel Shabazz

Renowned international photographer Jamel Shabazz hosted an intergenerational, street photography workshop in the Twin Cities last week as part of the third annual community conversation for One Minneapolis One Read. This year, the citywide read teamed up with Juxtaposition Arts to host a residency with the Brooklyn photographer, lecturer and teacher of the visual arts.Every year, the community read program selects a book and hosts a community conversation to encourage citywide reading in Minneapolis. The book this year is A Choice of Weapons, written by the late Gordon Parks, an African American photographer, artist, filmmaker and writer. Parks is most known for his photography for Life magazine, and as director of the iconic 1970s film, Shaft.The crowd was fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to Robin P. Hickman, the great-niece of Parks, who spoke about his legacy and beyond, as well as his experience moving to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1928 at the age of 16, after his mother passed away.According to the One Minneapolis One Read website,  Parks’ autobiography tells how he “managed to escape the poverty and bigotry around him, and launch his distinguished career, by choosing the weapons given him by ‘a mother who placed love, dignity, and hard work over hatred’.”Hickman’s presentation was empowering, and it is clear Parks was an inspirational man. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | We all deserve better than the Ordway’s Miss Saigon

I am a Vietnamese American woman, born and raised in Minnesota. I am friends with some of the protesters of Miss Saigon as well as a few members of the cast and crew of the show – this includes one of my best friends. At my wedding last year, she played an original song she surprised me with many years ago; she remains the first and only person to ever write me a song. I both love and respect her more than I can say. I emphasize this so you know I have spent a great deal of time doing my best to listen, understand, and empathize with everyone involved in the Miss Saigon controversy. Continue Reading