The other day I was looking in on a friend’s garden box. His is a slightly more elaborate affair than mine: he sprang for cedar, while I settled on plain old Menard’s pine.
So he starts counting tomato blossoms. “Six, seven, eight blossoms. Not bad. No, nine blossoms!” Internally, I burned. My tomatoes were not performing nearly as well, despite having almost a week’s head start on his and most likely because our location doesn’t have much sun. My tomato blossom count: two.
Tomato blossom envy. It must be the middle of June.
Like our sprouting tomatoes, a good chunk of summer arts events are also popping out. Try to contain your envy, though.
Through the week
The Straw Hat Players production of Godspell runs through Friday of this week, and their production of Lend Me a Tenor opens Tuesday, June 25 and runs through the 28th. Check showtimes and complete details from SHP’s 50th annual summer series at their website. [Straw Hat Players]
The 54th Annual Midwestern at the Rourke and Red River Watercolor Society’s 20th Annual National Juried Watermedia Exhibition at the HCSCC both opened last night. The former will remain up through September 1, while the latter closes July 28. [Rourke][RRWS]
At Plains Art Museum, a new traveling retrospective of Modernist (and Minnesota native) George Morrison makes its first stop on a swing around the country with stops at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the Heard Museum in Phoenix. The exhibition is now on display through August 22. [Plains Art Museum]
Opening this weekend at the Fargo Theatre: crypto-thriller The East starring Brit Marling (who also wrote the screenplay) and Alexander “The Sexiest Man in Sweden” Skarsgård. [Fargo Theatre]
Poetry in church! MSUM poet Kevin Zepper will read poems and discuss the relationship between the spiritual and the creative at the Fargo Unitarian/Universalist Church at 11 a.m. [FMUU]
The North Dakota Museum of Art is in full summer swing with their popular outdoor Concerts in the Garden series. Genre-ist Chastity Brown (video at top) gets the series cooking at 6 p.m. [NDMOA]
The 20th Annual National Juried Watermedia Exhibition Presented by the Red River Watercolor Society June 17 – July 28 at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County Opening reception Tuesday, June 18, 6 – 8 p.m. redriverws.org
While the landmark of the 20th Watermedia Exhibition may cause you to think of the tradition of watercolor painting, it’s important to remember that a generational transition also involves a sense of evolution. The oldest cave paintings are likely watercolor, or something close to it, yet practitioners blending pigments with water for application on paper or other surfaces can still offer up surprises.
That notion also figures centrally in Red River Watercolor Society’s (RRWS) 2013 iteration of their beloved national juried exhibition. Amongst more traditional landscape/figure/still life watercolor pieces, you’ll find non-figurative and experimental work, and innovative approaches to media like casein, ink, and gouache. A blend of old and new, a mix of the strange and the familiar. It’s what you’d hope for in an event spanning a generation and well embodied by Genady Arkhipau’s Seal Harbor, above, which provides the repose of an idyllic scene with the blocking, layering, and bold strokes of a contemporary practice. All together, the exhibition gestures toward watercolor as a democratic medium, open and waiting for artists of all ages, skill levels, and approaches.
Last week, Chicago’s Field Museum opened Fractured: North Dakota’s Oil Boom, an exhibition of photography and documentary video from western North Dakota’s booming oil fields. As far as we know, this is one of the first museum exhibitions outside of the state that has put the North Dakota oil boom under the microscope. Developed by photographer Terry Evans and documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Farnsworth, the exhibition puts forward the issue as we’ve come to know it all too well: vast oil interests bring huge economic gains and work to make the United States more energy independent, but at stake are many small communities in the western part of the state and the possibility of irreparable harm to local habitats. If you’re not going to be in Chicago any time soon, you can view much of Evans and Farnsworth’s reaction to their project on their blog.
‘Happy Birthday’ might just be in the public domain after all
When you go out to a restaurant for someone’s birthday, do you find the alternate versions of Happy Birthday a little weird? I do (you can view my favorite alternate Happy Birthday here, at 2:28). Why do restaurants do this? For years, Warner/Chappell Music has been claiming a copyright to Happy Birthday, the one we sing in our homes around cake and candles, and collecting licensing fees for it, so restaurants work around it with their own versions of the song. But, all of that may soon change. A documentary film company has been compiling a evidence to suggest that Happy Birthday actually belongs in the public domain. They’re filing suit against Warner and it may result in Warner paying back hundreds of millions of dollars to people who were unfairly charged licensing fees. Boing Boing has the scoop.
‘Summit Series’ by Zhimin Guan Opening reception Thursday, June 13, 5 – 9 p.m. ecce gallery ecce216.com
For his new body of work, painter and MSUM associate professor of art Zhimin Guan found inspiration in places old and new. A recent visit to the Sichuan Province in Guan’s native China provided him with landscapes–mountains, forests, sunsets–and the calligraphy training he received from his father during his youth provided him with symbols. For Summit Series, he melds the two into works that blend the representational and the abstract and invoke our internal relationships with nature.
The 54th Annual Midwestern exhibition, Signed.Sealed.Delivered June 18 – September 1, 2013 Opening reception Tuesday, June 18, 6 – 9 p.m. therourke.org
It’s not often you get a large bone in the mail.
It’s also not often when your task after opening the mailbox is to take that bone and put it on display in a museum.
The bone, submitted to this year’s 54th Midwestern juried exhibition at The Rourke by Moorhead artist Mike Marth, fits into the show remarkably well when you consider this year’s theme: Signed.Sealed.Delivered. The theme itself is derived from the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Moorhead Post Office, the building which now houses the Museum.
Marth wasn’t alone in sending his work through the mail. Many of the artists who submitted work to the exhibition used the mail or post office paraphernalia (like stamps, envelopes, or mail itself) as a component of their work. Rourke Director Tania Blanich was overjoyed with the spirited response from artists and loved the way their submissions relate to the building’s past.
“People are fascinated by this building,” she said, “and it’s had this fascinating trajectory from being a post office to being the Red River Arts Center to housing the Plains Art Museum and now the Rourke. This building has always been about communication.” Blanich added that artists in the Midwestern used their work to comment on the Rourke’s place on the National Register of Historic Places and on the roles of history and legacy in our lives, a notion that lends unique understanding to Marth’s bone.
“There is a lot of collage and assemblage in this show,” Blanich said, “and there’s a connection with communication as a layered thing, and each artist has given us a narrative about how we communicate.” She adds that the use of collage and assemblage suggests artists were eager to work in a more tactile fashion and harken back to the more tangible trappings of mail delivery lost in today’s prevalence of email and Facebook.
To that last point, this year’s Midwestern also asks intriguing questions about communication within the context of a building as a central gathering place in a community, a notion also informed by recent financial troubles at the U.S. Postal Service. What is lost as the artifacts and places we once used to communicate over great distances go away? And, what is the role of our community spaces in light of those changes?
Blanich credited Midwestern juror Michael Strand with capably pulling these themes together.
“A lot of this work intrigued (him) since he works in a participatory fashion,” she said, eluding to Strand’s social practice work which often involves the distribution of ceramic cups and plates through unorthodox channels, like the mail.
“He really enjoyed the the craft and the thought of distance and modes of communication coming together in the work,” Blanich said.
Image: Mike Marth’s artwork for the Midwestern, titled Endova Road, arriving at The Rourke. Image courtesy of The Rourke.