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Art in Bloom: Timeless art and fresh flowers at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts by Ann Treacy
May 3, 2015, 3:19 am
Filed under: TC Daily Planet

(originally post in the TC Daily Planet now archived here)

Art in Bloom: Timeless art and fresh flowers at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts | Twin Cities Daily Planet//

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Last weekend, April 30 – May 3, spring sprouted inside and out at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) 32nd annual Art in Bloom where florists create arrangements that match, balance, mirror or somehow bounce off 150 works of art around the museum. We visited twice and I still feel like we weren’t able to take it all in but we enjoyed trying!

The first treat were the flower arrangements by Steven Ward of Arts and Flowers Design Studio around the Chinese Guardian Lions that are as sentries for the 24th Street entrance. It was also part of the MIA 52 birthday surprises. The 24th Street entrance usually feels like the gorgeous forgotten sister but for one weekend it got all dressed up in bold red and orange colors making it both welcoming and majestic.

Majesty continued with the Ojibwe Cape “bloomed” by Edge Center for the Arts, another pairing of glory. The florists did a wonderful job replicating the original in color and pattern. The florists noted that they chose the piece because of on interest in the history of Native American artwork; the created a nice homage.

Other pairings were not replications but opportunities to highlight an aspect of the work; CJ Renner and Pam Clark bloomed Vicki – I Thought I Heard Your Voice! They took the idea of Lichtenstein’s comic book Ben-Day dots (or dot matrix pattern) and replicated it is hole-punched greenery and berries. And as my 10 year old date noted, te use of green emphasizes the lack of green in the art. We liked the work even more knowing that CJ Renner creates comic books and because we had seen the International Pop Art exhibit at the Walker earlier in the day.

The Epitaph of Prince Cheng Ching was bloomed by Muse Flora and Acanthus Floral; it’s a fanciful replication with delicate white flowers representing the Kanji in the work. It was very pretty and reflective of the piece on a very surface level. The florist explained, “In my interpretation, the piece, not the person becomes the focus… The written characters are then seen for their form and not for their meaning.”

Cartonnage of Lady Tashat was bloomed by Mickey O’Kane and Kristie Harrison looked more at what was inside the art – literally. The work is a tomb with two heads in it because the tombs that are the cartonnage contain two heads. What a great way to impart new information on an artwork!

Your Dog was bloomed by Wendy Lutter and Stephanie Ross; according to my 10 year old date is was the most memorable pairing. The flowers were a designed as a well-placed fire hydrant. Very cute.

Marc Chagall’s The Poet with the Birds was bloomed by Amy Chapman, Amy Able Gardens. Their interpretation focused more on the colors. Several of the pairings were similar in their focus. The blurs of mimicking colors and smells is what really makes the Art of Bloom feel like a healthy shot of spring.

A special bonus that extends through June 21 and will be of extra appeal to younger visitors is the Microsafari. Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) student Mercedes Knapp has created tiny fanciful animals and placed them throughout the gallery. A fun addition and a great way to keep kids engaged.

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Record Store Day 2015: 10 stores, 5 hours, 2 cities by Ann Treacy
April 19, 2015, 3:25 am
Filed under: TC Daily Planet

(Originally posted in TC Daily Planey and archived here)

Record Store Day 2015: 10 stores, 5 hours, 2 cities | Twin Cities Daily Planet//

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Photos by Ann Treacy

Saturday, April 19 was Record Store Day. My favorite 10 year old and I made our second annual pilgrimage to as many shops as we could visit in St Paul and Minneapolis.

We started at Extreme Noise Records on Lake Street. We rushed to get there at noon to see Grant Hart. We got there a little late and heard a young hard core band instead. For better or for worse I learned from the very young gentlemen next to us that we hadn’t missed him; he hadn’t played yet. That being said these are the same two I overheard say, “I don’t think this is him,” while listening to the young woman on stage. I assured them it wasn’t him. I enjoyed the band; too loud for my 10 year old date.

Next on the agenda, Cheapo Records on Lake Street. This was more of a walk-by as we were headed to lunch at Stella’s. It was good to see the place full; Cheapo has been a tried and true place for recorded music for decades, although I’m much better acquainted with the St Paul location. Best album I ever got there? The Hawaiian Pups.

Moving off Lake Street, we made our third stop at Treehouse Records. My 10 year old spent most of her time rolling her eyes here as I said—I remember that show—at all of their posters. They do a good job stocking local bands. Although our highlight was the Shel Silverstein tribute album; not local obviously but a great record.

Just a few blocks away we made our fifth stop at Fifth Element Records. I am always impressed with how friendly they are there, despite the fact that we can’t be their target demographic. Along with recorded music, they stock a lot of Rhymesayers t-shirts and hoodies. They also have some toy break dancers like army-man-type figures. I’m putting that on my birthday list for June!

HiFi Records was number six on our tour. We came through the back alley and were welcomed by a band in that great back hall they have. It was comforting to hear The Replacements on in the shop and my date got a gluten-free, vegan donut from Totally Baked Donuts. Meeting the donut sop owner (aka Donut Fairy) was worth the price of admission. And I heard the donut was very good. Next year, I might make time to get my hair cut there as well. Talk about a one-stop-shop.

Number six and a half on our tour was a failed attempt to visit No Name Records. Turns out they moved and never told Google maps. Now it’s just a drug paraphernalia shop. We didn’t stay long.

Number seven was a total bonus; we passed Agharta Records on University headed to St Paul and popped in. It’s a great location. They have a fantastic collection of records. It looks like they had a few turntables for sale too. (They may have just been on display.)

Deeper into St Paul, by blocks, we visited Barley Brothers Records as number seven on our journey. It’s on Raymond. They had a band playing and folks were hanging out in back. The audience had clearly been hanging out in record shops for 20-30 years so folks were pretty comfortable. They had a nice collection of posters for upcoming shows, which I always like to see.

To get to number eight we hopped on 94 and raced to downtown St Paul to visit Eclipse. They also have a nice selection of records. We caught Pink Mink’s Christy Hunt as DJ. I was able to show off the favorite album of my youth, the Great Rock and Roll Swindle. My date was not impressed. She was, however, impressed with Eclipse’s neighbor, Candyland, where we stopped for some rock candy and gummi bears.

Number nine could also count as number eleven as at least one of us returned to the scene of the crime later but two of us visited Hymie’s Vintage Records just in time to catch Chastity Brown play a few songs. It was packed and she sounded great. Hymie’s always does a nice job setting up a whole block party for Record Store Day. The weather could not have been better. Hymie’s RSD block party might replace Grand Old Day for official first day of summer this year.

Finally our last stop was the Electric Fetus, one of our favorite music shops in town. We were just in time to see Erik Koskinen and Frankie Lee—both celebrating recent releases. We just missed They Might Be Giants, which clearly drew a big crowd. My date was sad when she realized TMBGs sang both the Malcolm in the Middle and Big Bang theme songs – but was consoled to see hometown favorites. We ended the day buying our third copy of Jeremy Messersmith’s Heart Murmurs (we over-listen and wear them out), a new release by Imelda May and received Koskinen’s CD as a fun present from a friend.

So there’s the tally: 10 shops around 2 cities in 5 hours. That’s two more than last year. Maybe we’ll get to a dozen in 2016!



Down Below or The Womb of the World: A Shadow Opera” on the life of Leonora Carrington by Ann Treacy
April 18, 2015, 3:32 am
Filed under: TC Daily Planet

(Originally posted in TC Daily Planey and archived here)

“Down Below or The Womb of the World: A Shadow Opera” on the life of Leonora Carrington | Twin Cities Daily Planet//

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Leonora Carrington was an artist and writer. Her art is like a mashup of Beatrice Potter and Hieronymus Bosch, intricate and complicated with the nursery rhyme sweetness of Potter and dark edge of Bosch. There’s something compelling that makes you look closer. Her life reads the same way.

Born in the UK, Leonora met fellow artist Max Ernst and moved to France until Ernst was arrested by the Nazis for “degenerate art.” After that she moved to Spain where she became increasingly anxious and had a breakdown. Eventually she moved to Mexico where she wrote about her psychotic experience in her novel Down Below.

Down Below or The Womb of the World is also a shadow opera playing at Bedlam Theater; it presents vignettes from her life and work based specifically on three stories, The Hearing Trumpet, The Stone Door and The Oval Lady. It is a collaboration of puppeteer Erik Ruin, musicians Spires That in the Sunset Rise (Kathleen Baird and Taralie Peterson), puppeteer Liz Schachterle and percussionist Kevin Cosgrove.

The work is compelling like her life. There are scenes that are like a nursery rhyme, where the character walks through the village to the town. There are scenes with a darker edge, like when the young Leonora meets the old Leonora, who says I thought you’d never get here. Old Leonora persuades the young Leonora to jump into a boiling cauldron and then proceeds to make a boat from the bones of the young Leonora to escape to find the stone door.

The music and sound are chilling. But again there there’s a dichotomy of children’s tale and nightmare. Peterson has a voice like Little Red Riding Hood; where Baird sounds like a wolf. The music is otherworldly. It helps suspend belief, and helps draw the audience into a shadow puppet world, which by its nature is not realistic like a movie and yet somehow can conjure the same empathy.

I saw the story with my favorite 10 year old date. The show isn’t for every 10 year old; it’s a little scary and you have to be able to follow a story with deep edges and blurry lines. But seeing it with a kid means the drive home is going to be like an English Literature test. We discussed the motif of the stone door. And we compared the show to the kid’s book by Debra Fraiser, On the Day You Were Born.

There’s a scene in the show where the character is half dead and half born. We decided that was the limbo stage of reincarnation. Fraiser’s book has always seemed like a picture of that same limbo – only much closer to being born. We also discussed the boat of bones, which was disturbing to my date until I pointed out that maybe this was another allegory that really represented the idea that she was able to draw from inner strength to move forward.

Again a compelling show – more Hieronymus Bosch than Beatrice Potter.

The night began with a solo by Paul Metzger; we are big fans. Most shows start with a musical act. Sunday will be good with the International Novelty Gamelan.



MUSIC REVIEW | International Novelty Gamelan record release at Icehouse by Ann Treacy
April 17, 2015, 10:40 pm
Filed under: TC Daily Planet

(Originally posted in TC Daily Planey and archived here)

MUSIC REVIEW | International Novelty Gamelan record release at Icehouse | Twin Cities Daily Planet//

Gamelan is a collection of traditional Javanese musical instruments. They are as beautiful to watch as they are to hear. There are gold colored gongs, metallophones, drums and hybrid drum-cymbals and bowed instruments. They are set up with ornate frames.

The International Novelty Gamelan is a group of six musicians: Elaine Evans, Kevin Cosgrove, Chris Parker, David Morrison, Kathy Knight and Kristen Murray. Last night they celebrated their first vinyl release: MetallaphoniaI. (It also includes an audio download. So you can use one; save the other.) The crowd was impressive for a Monday night and were attentive and appreciative. I heard someone say, “It’s like listening to elves playing in the woods.”

I don’t know about elves but there’s something about the Gamelan that feels a little magical. Like any orchestra, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. All of the members play several instruments. Because most of the instruments are percussion, it’s a lot of hitting with a mallet but also controlling the sound by carefully tempering the instrument. Each move, each sounds seems simple but somehow it all comes together with easy complexity when they play together.

They started with a song called Adding Machine. It was bright and clanging and is featured on their new release. It’s a great name in part if you picture elves in the woods playing a song called Adding Machine. And that picture captures something of the experience. There is a hint of modernity to the songs but something deeply rooted and familiar like a playground rhyme or a lullaby.

The second song was a duet of sorts with the drone band that played after them. (The drone band doesn’t have a name yet; they were an interesting mostly-brass drone band.) It was brassy with a beat; interesting to see the mash up. It was something old and something new that created a new twist to local music.

International Novelty Gamelan could play anywhere, to any age but Tuesday night folks were there to see or learn about the innovation of the old and new. And the Icehouse is notoriously a place to see off-duty musicians so I think there’s potential for the word to spread and we just might see a unique Minnesota-twanged Javanese influence spreading.



MUSIC REVIEW | Charlie Hunter Trio, Molly Maher & Gabriela Sweet and Erik Koskinen on Real Phonic Radio by Ann Treacy
April 17, 2015, 3:35 am
Filed under: TC Daily Planet

(Originally posted in TC Daily Planey and archived here)

MUSIC REVIEW | Charlie Hunter Trio, Molly Maher & Gabriela Sweet and Erik Koskinen on Real Phonic Radio | Twin Cities Daily Planet//

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Thursday, April 16 I heard a cover of Lorde’s Royals on the trombone and I’m not even sure if that’s the best thing I heard that night. On the Third Thursday of the month, Real Phonic Radio Hour presents music at the James J Hill Reference Library. Each month is something different; April was a month of instrumental wows!

The Charlie Hunter Trio brought us Jazz – really happy, very loud Jazz with a twist of upbeat blues. Charlie Hunter plays guitar. It’s not experimental, but it’s different. He did a series of four albums, each highlighting different artists including The Cars, Hank Williams, Core Porter and Duke Ellington. And that’s the kind of range you hear on stage – everything is different with an air of familiarity – including a brief interlude from White Christmas.

Hunter also serves as the glue between Bobby Previte on the drums and Carly Meyers on the trombone. Previte played the fastest cymbals I have ever heard then turned around to treat the cymbal like a Theremin, shaping the aura of the sound without touching the instrument. He played the drum rims like a pinball machine and proceeded to play the whole stage like a drum – literally jumping down from the drums and playing any surface in his path. Meyers played Lorde on the trombone – and it was really good. What else can I say? There were songs where she nailed the circus trombone or New Orleans processional march and even a little blues but really … Lorde.

Molly Maher played serious guitar with Gabriela Sweet accompanied by JT Bates and Chris Bates. I saw them play together at the Lowertown Guitar Festival last summer too. Both accomplished guitarists. The stage looked like a very high end guitar store! Sweet played an sang a Cuban dance song; it was beautiful. She and her music seem so elegant. Maher brings an energy and an Americana sensibility and it’s fun to watch how much she loves the music and feel the contagion of the songs. They played a song by Kevin Washington that sounds like a storm rolling in featuring everyone on stage playing claps and rolls of thunder to fill the room.

Thom Middlebrook read Spring by Edna St Millay, a good reminder that while we may be happy to have April visit us “babbling and strewing flowers” that we’re still on a “flight of uncarpeted stairs” on our way to having our brains “eaten by maggots” underground. Hearing poetry read aloud is always a luxury! Middlebrook’s choices always make my MA in Literature seem almost worth it.

Bookending the night as usual was Erik Koskinen and the Real Phonic Radio Band (Paul Bergen, Frankie Lee and JT Bates). This month we got a sneak preview of his latest album, which will be released on Record Store Day at the Electric Fetus. A highlight was Will You Feel my Love, which we’ve heard rehearsed or workshopped over many months at Real Phonic shows. In fact the new release was all recorded at Real Phonic shows. It will be fun to hear.



ART REVIEW | Don’t miss “In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance” by Ann Treacy
March 28, 2015, 3:40 am
Filed under: TC Daily Planet

(Originally posted in TC Daily Planey and now archived here)

ART REVIEW | Don’t miss “In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance” | Twin Cities Daily Planet//

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I love the idea of mashing up visual art, music and dance. Just last month I enjoyed a similar show (Stripe Tease) at the Walker. So I was thrilled to get walk-up tickets to the first of the Final Performances of In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance. I brought my favorite 10-year old date.

There were things we liked about the show, things we didn’t like as much and things that confused us. But we talked about it the whole way home and I think that’s a win for a gallery that “encourages work that challenges the status quo in contemporary art.”

We liked the art. There was just enough splash of color and the geometric shapes led to a big discussion of CNC machining. The make-do stage and hanging art left a feel like we were in another world or planet. Something almost retro and Twilight Zone about it. And the music. Admittedly participation from Brute Heart was what got me through the door. The music was very subtle and very much in the background but a huge component.

There is a Beckettian theme through the show, it starts when two performers discuss the body and the impact of a computer job on the body. It’s a circular discussion punctuated by accents, silly voices and the slowing of the bodies on stage. At one point the questioner asks how the interrogated knows she has a body. Because you said I did, was the exasperated answer. They could have been waiting for Godot. It was funny and poignant; something even my date has experienced—the giving over of power to the computer and experiencing the unintended consequence of disembodied feelings.

Then there was a story of a spring break in Italy and ghosts that may have been ghosts or may have been a figment of lucid dreams. Again very funny and involved more performers. In that segment the story and the movement really complimented each other.

Then there were some segments where the microscope lifted too high for me. Commentary on climate change, insurance and health care seemed like too much preach without the nuance of art. Now that being said, we enjoyed the movement and the dance throughout. My date liked the repetition of movement and the proximity of the dancers.

I liked the performers’ use of eyes. Weird in a dance to focus on something that by definition isn’t going to be moving much but there was a scary amount of passion in most of the eyes on stage. It draws you in and keeps you on point, like a good teacher. Added to that intensity is the knowledge that the show is interactive. (My date was asked to read a few lines.) When you command that much attention you depend on nuance and subtlety.

The show ended with a final speech that harked back to Beckett about “I’m good at this, I love this,” which I think speaks to the idea that we do what we can when we can. The rest isn’t indifference but detachment   based I assume on capacity.

Final Performances of In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance is showing March 28, 29, April 2, 3 and 4. The free shows are sold out but some spaces are reserved for walk-up audience members. We arrived at 7:00 and had no trouble getting in.



Wine, women and song with Tina Schlieske, Molly Maher and Katy Vernon by Ann Treacy
March 26, 2015, 3:42 am
Filed under: TC Daily Planet

(Originally posted in TC Daily Planey and now archived here)

Wine, women and song with Tina Schlieske, Molly Maher and Katy Vernon | Twin Cities Daily Planet//

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What could bring a parochial St Paulite to Anoka? Wine, Women and Song at the Lyric Arts, a one-night celebration of Minnesota women singers featuring Tina Schlieske, Molly Maher and Katy Vernon.

Although wine and beer are served, the Lyric Arts is a theater, not a bar. It seats about 230, creating an intimate atmosphere where the music is the singular focus for the audience. Each of the artists noted that it was a unique opportunity for them hear the music in such a concentrated mode –in front of a warm (but real) audience – say as compared to playing for a toddler and a dog as Vernon noted she had also done.

I had not seen Tina Schlieske live since she fronted Tina and the B-Sides. She shared through music and stories her life before, during and after life with the B-Sides. It was interesting to learn so much about her and the songs. She sang for an hour, including new and old songs, such as Barricade, which is a nice showcase for her voice, which is both raspy and clear and very controlled.

I especially enjoyed Hustlin’ Woman Blues, originally sung by Memphis Minnie, from Schlieske’s Evil Gal Blues album, an homage to blues women. It’s a down and dirty southern blues song and Schlieske belts it out as the song deserves. As an encore, she ended with Big Sky, which was a loudly and lovingly requested and enjoyed by the audience.

Molly Maher brought a country twang and herd of guitars to the show. I see Maher every month at Real Phonic Radio, but she rarely performs there. So this was a great treat. She played with Erik Koskinen. They obviously have an easy history that makes even the new songs feel comfortable to the audience. Maher has a nice, surprisingly low voice and she has a very entertaining stage presence but it’s really her guitar-playing that shines. She plays country songs like you listened to as a kid in the backseat of a road trip and like Keat’s negative capabilities, there’s a lot to understand in the heavy pauses in a song like On Your Way Out. Then there are also songs with no pauses like Monkey with a Tambourine that’s just a lot more pure story with dance potential.

Katy Vernon began the night with her ukulele, red party dress and London accent. Before I make this comparison, I feel like I have to say that I lived in London for years, so it’s not just the accent, but in just a few songs (like Five O’Clock) she was like a less poppy Lily Allen. But there was the same wit in a line like “five o’clock somewhere comes earlier every day” a line most mothers get. Vernon does seem to bridge a folksy country sound to pop sensibility.

The night was part of a Music in the ‘Burbs series, which continues next month (April 10) with Martin Zellar. Events like that might not be enough to get me to move to the suburbs, but it does show me another perk, which I’ll add to attached garages and proper stand-up showers.




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