Arts Orbit Weekly: 5/21/09

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This week’s picks

Thursday, May 21
If your usual excuse for skipping out of work early on Thursdays is downing two-for-one margaritas at Pancho Villa’s, step up your ethnic food IQ today by heading to the Hmong Cultural Center for a presentation on the new cookbook Cooking From the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America. Hit one of University’s Asian food markets for the necessary ingredients to cook yourself a delicious homemade Hmong dinner. Then go for margaritas.

Friday, May 22
I know I’m always telling you to run from one downtown to the other right in the middle of rush hour, but when you have exceptional art to see in St. Paul and strong language, sexual situations, smoking, and nudity starting promptly at 7:30 in Minneapolis, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

Saturday, May 23
The Jungle Theater is excellent when it’s playing to its strengths with intimate dramas, but it also scores when it stretches. Shipwrecked!, opening this weekend, features “flying wombats, giant sea turtles, and a monstrous man-eating octopus.” (It’s hard to compete with the sex and cigarettes at the Guthrie, but you can’t fault them for not trying.) Afterwards, cross the bridge to Nordeast for Windy City girl Andrea Ball’s performance at the Red Stag.

Sunday, May 24
Tonight’s Minneapolis music lineup is outstanding. Salsa legends Grupo Niche are at Epic, and there’s a lineup at the Entry that sounds like the cast of a Wild West melodrama: Cotton Jones, Lightning Dust, and Jenny Dalton.

Monday, May 25
You probably have Memorial Day plans that involve spending time in the great outdoors. If, however, you’re like me and you prefer to seek your recreation in a paved and landscaped facsimile of the great outdoors, you may want to journey to the Valley of Apples, where the Minnesota Zoo’s Africa! exhibit has just reopened. (Note to all venues: Unless you are promoting an appearance by José Feliciano—and I know you’re not—adding an exclamation point is not an acceptable substitute for devising an event title that’s longer than one word.)

Tuesday, May 26
Downtown at the Orpheum, the lusty Phantom of the Opera gives new meaning to the term “organ grinder.”

Wednesday, May 27
As if you needed an excuse…stop by and show your local record shop a little love.

Daily Planet arts roundup

Music

Dwight Hobbes, finger on the pulse of everything funkadelic, has reports on Junkyard Empire’s record deal and Room For Gray’s new disc, which frontman James Gray says represents the band having finally arrived at its true identity. Carl (he goes by one name, like a diva) reviews White Flags of Winter Chimneys—the new album by notable Prince collaborators Wendy & Lisa—and Jay Boller rounds up Minneapolis’s best record shops. Finally, Martin Devaney spills about his favorite Springsteen song and his dream of opening a Radburger fast food chain.

Books

Mary Thoemke reviews Norah Labiner’s dark but compelling German For Travelers, while Dwight Hobbes profiles the community-centric house Papyrus Publishing.

Movies

Our coverage of the Walker’s William Klein retrospective continues with Ellen Frazel’s reviews of the dazzling satire Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? and the eccentric documentary Messiah, set to Handel’s oratorio.

Visual Arts

If you dare, read Mason Riddle’s article on Art-a-Whirl, where you can find out what you missed. But worry not! What you haven’t missed is Inhale, a St. Paul show featuring the work of this year’s CVA graduates. You also haven’t missed an upcoming show of horrifically cute work by Alex Kuno, and a book about extraordinary Muslim women illustrated by Minnesota-educated artist Heba Amin is still on bookstore shelves.

Design and style

Even in today’s professional workplace, where it sometimes seems that anything goes, the Society of Professional Journalists has put its foot down: pants remain mandatory.

Theater

Even if there wasn’t Latin American dance to cover, we’d still have had our hands full with everything happening onstage in the Twin Cities right now. There’s the big-budget chandelier-raising setfest Phantom of the Opera at the Orpheum, there’s Tiny Kushner at the Guthrie, there’s SteppingStone’s Tiger Tales in St. Paul, and there’s Angels in America presented by the unassumingly-named troupe People Sittin’ Around Doin’ Theater. Lizzie Borden’s come and gone, but Keystone State dream time is still coming up.

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Jay Gabler (jay@tcdailyplanet.net) is the Daily Planet’s arts editor.

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