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Best of the Twin Cities 2009

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Best of the Twin Cities 2009

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New Cinema

» With just 60 seats and a 20-foot screen, the Trylon Cinema won’t be showing the latest James Bond blockbuster—or probably any movie made in the digital age. No, this micro-cinema, which opened this summer in a former warehouse, is dedicated to classics and cult favorites: Buster Keaton and Frank Capra, Dog Day Afternoon and The Fly. Trylon founder Barry Kryshka has built a dedicated following of cinema buffs since his Take-Up Productions began organizing film revivals a couple years ago at the Heights and Riverview theaters in Minneapolis. Now, Trylon shows regularly sell out, suggesting that, even in our high-definition age, there’s some magic left in the clickety-clack of an old-fashioned projector. 3258 Minnehaha Ave. S., Mpls., 612-424-5468, take-up.org

Self-Help Classes

» Ever wander through the Creative Activities building at the Minnesota State Fair and wonder where anyone under the age of 114 learned to craft a tea cozy out of calico knickers? Or to build a battleship at 1/750-scale? Or even just to pickle beets? Now, thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society’s DIY! Workshops, you can discover your inner blue-ribbon winner. The series offers a hands-on approach to preserving history—along with the occasional radish—as experts demonstrate how to create everything from victory gardens and stop-motion animation films to stylish clothes crafted out of unfashionable duds. Minnesota Historical Society, 345 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul, 651-259-3015, mnhs.org/historycenter

Hip Gallery

» Sibling accountants Alyssa and Mark Fox were already the coolest bean counters around, aiming their tax services at artists and musicians, when, in 2007, they branched out their business into a gallery named, logically enough, Fox Tax Gallery. Their shows spotlight up-and-coming local photographers, painters, and graphic artists. And given their customer base, openings are inevitably a funky gathering of Twin Cities talent. Between January and April, when the Foxes are busy processing about 2,600 returns, they hold an annual show cheekily called Art Form 1040, selling 10 prints of certain works for $40 apiece. Who knew taxes could be so fun? 503 First Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-824-2829, foxtaxservice.com/gallery

Variety Show

» Sample Night Live seemed like a gimmick at first—a smorgasbord of a dozen different acts, from dance to improv comedy, teasingly proffered in a single evening like theatrical channel surfing. How filling could any of these morsels be? But SNL, held the first Wednesday of every month at the History Theatre in St. Paul, has evolved into a quality showcase. Local and visiting troupes try out new material or preview upcoming shows: This summer, Cirque du Soleil offered glimpses of its Kooza production. At its best, SNL is definitely more than the sum of its parts. 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul, 651-788-5992

New-Music Venue

» With its weathered proscenium arch and crumbling columns, the Southern Theater has long been the most atmospheric place in town to see dance performances. But this year it staked a new claim as a premier presenter of indie-rock and avant-garde music. From the edgy classical composer Nico Muhly, who performed there this spring, to the jazz-influenced Dirty Three, who played there last month, the art world’s freshest, most celebrated acts now have a Twin Cities venue every bit as cool as they are. 1420 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-340-1725, southerntheater.org

Art Classes

» It’s a medium you probably didn’t know existed. But fire art—made by heat, spark, or flame, yielding everything from sculpture to jewelry to fire-breathing—now has its own home, in the newest and funkiest arts center in Minneapolis. The Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center just opened in a former movie theater, where artists weld and wield blowtorches and pound on anvils—a blacksmith shop without all the horses. And soon, you, too, can learn the incendiary arts—through classes that promise to be a very hot ticket. 3749 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-701-5030, cafac.org

New Bike Trail

» Most bike trails pass through pastoral landscapes. The new Dakota Rail Regional Trail offers more a vicarious pleasure along with the usual exercise: a peep into the Lake Minnetonka lifestyle. Skirting well-groomed backyards, the flat, paved path begins near downtown Wayzata, then wends 13.5 miles along the lake’s north bays. The Minnetonka Drive-In tempts bicyclists with burgers and floats. There’s a golf course…and then another golf course. Didn’t bring a nine-iron? Then bike up to Big Stone Mini Golf, watched over by penned goats. You know you’re nearing the end when you see the sign for the Hercules missile in St. Bonifacius (yes, there’s a missile shell in a playground here).

Social Director

» It’s commonly believed that Kate Iverson has not slept in years. How else can you explain the fact that the indefatigable Iverson has helped produce or promote just about every cool arts and fashion event in the Twin Cities, from Art-A-Whirl to Project Runway showcases to Fall Fashion Week at International Market Square. All this while compiling a popular weekend guide to hip happenings as the editor of L’etoile magazine online. In everything she does, Iverson strives to open up an oft-exclusive scene to the rest of us. “I want people to be excited about the scene, to feel like they’re a part of it,” she says. “Events should encompass the cool vibe of the Twin Cities without being pretentious.” Digital Crush Photography, 612-296-1811, densitystudios.com; L’etoile magazine letoile.com

Dance Lessons

» Interest in all things Brazilian, from tourism to, ahem, grooming, hasn’t been this hot since the girl from Ipanema sashayed into the hearts of norteamericanos in the 1960s. But you don’t have to travel to South America to realize your Copacabana dreams. In Uptown Minneapolis, the new studio Central Do Brasil offers classes in samba dance, capoeira (a bewitching blend of martial arts and dance), West African dance, and other indigenous arts. They even teach Brazilian jujitsu—not a bad thing to know if someday you wander into the wrong part of Rio. 2609 Aldrich Ave., Mpls., 612-532-5719, centraldobrasilmn.org

Electrifying Happy Hour

» Call it a shockingly good time, because about the last place you’d expect to find a great happy hour is in the electricity-themed Bakken Museum. Yet the Bakken’s Evening Out events, held the second Tuesday of each month, show off a side of the educational institution that the kids running through the halls during the day wouldn’t appreciate: the museum’s beauty. The Bakken is housed in a Tudor-style mansion on Lake Calhoun, and at night one can wander the gardens, listen to live music, or mingle among the museum’s 2,000 scientific instruments, pausing to take a guess at the monthly “mystery object” unearthed from the Bakken’s vault. Who cares if it’s the geekiest happy-hour idea ever—especially when there’s complimentary wine and appetizers? 3537 Zenith Ave. S., Mpls., 612-926-3878, thebakken.org

Cooking Classes

» The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum puts its homegrown ingredients right where they belong: in the hands of well-known local chefs (and eventually in your mouth). The Arboretum’s monthly cooking demos, called Dinner with a Chef, may be less hands-on than other classes, but they’re conducted by some of the Twin Cities’ top chefs, such as Mike Phillips of Craftsman Restaurant and cookbook author Raghavan Iyer. They emphasize entrées that use sustainable, high-quality foods, and attendees get to enjoy three different wine pairings. Throughout the year, the arboretum supplements this popular series with classes by its resident chef, Jenny Breen, who explores specific food topics, like last year’s class on edible aphrodisiacs. Not surprisingly, that one sold out. 3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska, 952-443-1422, arboretum.umn.edu

New Producers

» Power Balladz, a raucous trip through the 1980s hard-rock scene and the first show created by Mike Todaro and Dan Nycklemoe, a.k.a. the Producing House, sold out the Lab Theater in Minneapolis this summer. It also established a winning formula: populist theme, respected director (Peter Rothstein), T-shirt cannon. Todaro and Nycklemoe, who describe their mission as simply “profitability,” believe the talent is here to be making long-lived shows and sending them out—to Las Vegas, to Broadway—instead of importing them. “We want to create a reverse conduit,” says Nycklemoe. The down-to-earth duo is now taking Power Balladz on the road, producing a similar blues-and-soul revue called Crossroads this fall, and even staging a revue of Noël Coward songs at the Guthrie Theater next spring called Coward’s Women. Don’t expect a T-shirt cannon, though.

Cool Kids’ Stuff

» If you’re the sort who looks at modern art and thinks, “My kid could do that,” then prove it at the Walker Art Center’s Arty Pants Play Dates. While parents wouldn’t normally dream of bringing their preschoolers into the Walker’s sparse, modern galleries, all the usual art etiquette goes out the window when these hands-on projects, films, and story times take over. Plus, it’s all free with admission, and each play date is tied to a current exhibit, so parents are just as engaged as their kids. 1740 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600, walkerart.org 

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