Arts Orbit Radar: 8/20/09


This week’s picks

Thursday, August 20

On the radar: METRO hosts its annual GuacOff at the Blue condos in Uptown, while over in St. Paul our fabulous and fashionable friends at l’etoile host a free screening of the Project Runway season premiere. This season is especially exciting for Minnesotans, as the competition features two local designers—both of whom will be on hand to watch themselves on the big screen.

Under the radar: Our own Jeremy Iggers joins longtime newspaper columnist Nick Coleman and other local notables in a South Minneapolis church for a discussion of the past and future of Twin Cities media.

Friday, August 21

On the radar: Haley Bonar, currently in the process of a (hopefully) temporary defection to the Pacific Northwest, shares a bill at the Zoo with the talented but very, very safe folkie Dar Williams.

Under the radar: Rob Bell, author of the books Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith and Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality, has become one of the country’s most influential—and most controversial—preachers. Tonight at the State Theatre, he tackles his newest topic: the link between creativity and suffering.

Saturday, August 22

On the radar: This year’s Red Stag Block Party, the Twin Cities’ most enviro-friendly musicfest (will it be a no-waste event? you insult the Stag by even asking!), features a fantastic lineup including Roma di Luna, Black Blondie, Heiruspecs, Romantica, and Mark Mallman. Or, if you’d prefer to return to the days when stags were for hunting, dodos were for clubbing, and being environmentally responsible meant burying Plague-infested corpses rather than tossing them in the river, head down to opening day at the Renaissance Festival.

Under the radar: The Twin Cities Hmong community do their damnedest to inspire heart attacks among linguistic anthropologists by making the fact that their native language has no word for art the theme for an arts festival. (I was going to add that it would be like Eskimos throwing a beach party and calling it “100 Words for Snow,” but Wikipedia informs me that the notion that Eskimo-Aluet languages have many more words for snow than languages that evolved in warmer climes has long since been dismissed. So I’m fresh out of reverse analogies on this one.)

Sunday, August 23

On the radar: For their last hometown show of the year, Cloud Cult have chosen the perfect venue: the outdoor stage at the Cabooze. Also saying goodbye (at this rate, we’re going to have no local artists left besides Ruth Adams and the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band) is Claire Taubenhaus, a stirring songstress you may recognize from the Acadia, Barbette, the 36-Hour Songwriting Contest, or the coat check counter at First Ave. Appropriately, her sendoff show is taking place at the 7th Street Entry.

Under the radar: A recommendation from Crystal Erickson: “Arise! Bookstore will host a screenprinting workshop at 8 p.m. on August 23. Participants will need to bring fabric and stencils or images. Stick around for a showing of Helvetica, a documentary about typography and graphic design.”

Monday, August 24

On the radar: Suzanne Vega was probably as astonished as anyone else at the fact that she produced (exactly) one perfect pop hit with a conscience: 1987’s “Luka.” Since then, she’s gone happily on producing interesting music for her cult audience. Tonight she opens a three-night stand at the Dakota.

Under the radar: Maybe you’ve seen Black Blondie, but Lil’ Black Blondie are not the same outfit—it’s two-thirds of the core trio (specifically, Tasha Baron and Liz Draper) with a different sound. They’re playing for free tonight at Barbette.

Tuesday, August 25

On the radar: It’s the dog days of summer—the Bulldog days, that is! The Northeast iteration of the popular boozery hosts an Intoxicologist Dinner tonight, featuring five courses of Minnesota-grown comestibles.

Under the radar: When asked recently to name a few of his favorite songwriters, the first name out of Bob Dylan’s mouth was Jimmy Buffett. If that makes you scratch your head, maybe you haven’t seen the big parrot’s magical live show. Neither have I, so let’s all drive down to Victoria tonight and see Buffett “almost live.” The experience may not bring us around to agreeing with Dylan, but at least there will be beer—and there will be Jambo Joe Bones, whoever the hell that is.

Wednesday, August 26

On the radar: With Brett Favre pulling on the purple, Minnesotans seem to be feeling especially open-minded about all things Badger. In that spirit, Wisconsin native Ari Herstand is hoping for a good crowd tonight at the Varsity.

Under the radar: It drives me nuts that “raingarden” has now become one mashed-together word, but what do I know about raingardens? Nothing…and if you don’t either, you might want to go to the Rice Street Rec Center tonight.

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Daily Planet arts roundup


Nekessa Opoti explained the difference between Afrifest and African Global Roots, the Twin Cities’ twin celebrations of African music and art. Also, Dwight Hobbes talked with Javier Trejo, now focusing on his solo country-western career after leaving New Primitives.


This week’s film coverage highlighted a couple of rising threats to actor/writer/director/producer Tyler Perry: Ghanaian heartthrob Van Vicker and ambitious Northside actress Onika Craven. Also, Betsy Mowry catches up on developments with the Hollywood Theater, a vintage Nordeast movie house that’s been closed for 22 years. Finally, Erik McClanahan praised Inglourious Basterds as containing some of Quentin Tarantino’s best work ever, and I gave a helping hand to all the pasty Pats of the world by pointing out that free video rentals and tans are available at Crown Video on Franklin.


It’s the eye of the storm in local theater: the two weeks between the end of the Fringe and the beginning of the fall season. Fringe blogger Rachel Reiva posted a belated review of Jon Ferguson’s 108% sold-out Projectile Thinking, and Matt Everett recounted the events of his post-Fringe decompression day. Meanwhile, Dwight Hobbes interviewed a woman who’s a hurricane herself: burlesque queen Foxy Tann.


Jeremy Iggers recommends Ngon in Midway: a top-notch Vietnamese bistro with amenities you won’t find at an Eat Street noodle bar. Meanwhile, I checked out the ice bar in Stillwater and Amy Rea made the mistake of judging the Ju(i)cy Lucy by its incarnation at the 5-8 Club.

Visual Arts

Crystal Erickson visited Seward’s Northern Clay Center, a longtime mecca for the ceramic arts cast (if you will) in a new light by the clay exhibit now at the Walker.


Colleen Callahan talked with James A. Levine, a Mayo Clinic physician whose first novel exposes the horrors of child prostitution. Also, Justin Schell got a firsthand report from the St. Paul Soapboxing poetry team the very day after they returned from trouncing the national competition in Florida.

Design and Style

Glamorama, one of the top fashion events of the year, benefits cancer research. Chuck Olsen talked on video with Megan Nurnberger—this year’s young Glamorama “ambassador”—who told him about her own fight against cancer.

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Jay Gabler ( is the Daily Planet’s arts editor.

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