October 2011 Arts Calendar

10 Hot Picks: 10/22

Don Draper wouldn’t recognize the advertising scene today, and not just because the three-martini lunch has gone the way of secretarial butt-pats. Today’s ads are all pop-ups, teases, and tie-ins. But that hasn’t stopped graphic designers, the high priests of the Information Age, from becoming so sophisticated in the visual presentation of information that their work approaches, well, art. Or so believes the Walker Art Center, which has organized, with the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, Graphic Design: Now in Production, an exhibition of the decade’s most dazzling magazines, posters, branding, and other media. At its best, the creativity on view rivals any of the paintings and sculpture elsewhere in the museum. And the variety of mediums suggests that designers have become much more than draftsmen—they’re producers of our American experience. • walkerart.org


A selection of work by famed ceramicist Warren MacKenzie is shown at the Weisman Art Museum. weisman.umn.edu


The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by Wynton Marsalis, plays Orchestra Hall. mnorch.org


Theater Latté Da performs the unlikely Broadway smash The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the McKnight Theatre. latteda.org


Cantus sings masterworks in On the Shoulders of Giants at the new Cowles Center. cantussings.org


George Hamilton stars in La Cage Aux Folles at the State Theatre. hennepintheatretrust.org


Novelist Adam Rapp’s The Edge of Our Bodies, a solo coming-of-age story, opens at the Guthrie Theater. guthrietheater.org


Minneapolis Musical Theatre revives Bat Boy! The Musical, the Star Tribune’s “Best Musical of the Year” in 2004. aboutmmt.org


Sarah Agnew and Randy Reyes star in Ten Thousand Things’s Il Campiello at Open Book. tenthousandthings.org


Edo Pop, an exhibit of classic Japanese prints, opens at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. artsmia.org

Dig it: 1968

A new exhibit on the year that changed everything

Walter Mondale, in his high-rise office at Dorsey & Whitney, the Minneapolis law firm, slips easily into the past. “1968 was a cataclysmic year,” says the former vice president. He was a senator then, watching the Vietnam War divide America. “Back in Minnesota, mothers would come up to me and drill me on how they didn’t want their kids to go to this war,” he recalls. “They wanted me to stop this thing right now.”

Mondale is remembering on behalf of the Minnesota Historical Society, whose new display, “The 1968 Exhibit,” opens this month and will eventually travel the country. The artifacts range from Janis Joplin’s clothing to a Huey helicopter to the Apollo 8 space capsule. There’s also a mention, of course, of Minnesota’s role in the year’s political drama, as Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy battled for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Our tradition of progressive leadership—both Democrats and Republicans—was very much a part of that time,” Mondale says. “People wanted to use government to build institutions that helped us master the future.” Humphrey’s narrow loss to Richard Nixon, he says, is still playing out today: “After ’68, the life started coming out of that progressive energy.”

Still, Mondale says, it was a high-water mark for local presidential aspirants. “Hubert came closer than any other Minnesotan,” Mondale says, a reference to his own failed 1984 bid. “It was perhaps the most remarkable moment in our state’s history.” • “The 1968 Exhibit” opens October 14 at the Minnesota History Center. mnhs.org

Judy Lives

Jody Briskey channels Minnesota’s greatest celebrity

Jody Briskey sips an iced coffee in a Minnetonka café, remembering the first time she saw the gal from Grand Rapids, the one and only Judy Garland. “When I was growing up in Wisconsin, we watched her TV show religiously,” Briskey says. “I’d get tunnel vision looking at her—she would just pull me in.”

Like Garland, Briskey is a singer/actress, albeit one with many fewer husbands to her name. Six years ago, Briskey was tapped to play Garland in a musical the History Theatre is reviving this month, Beyond the Rainbow. Briskey plays Garland looking back at her legendary 1961 Carnegie Hall comeback concert (Norah Long plays the 1961-era Garland in flashbacks). Briskey wears brown contacts and what she calls her Judy wig, glued tight so she can yank it the way Garland dramatically tugged at her hair.

Briskey can’t exactly identify with Garland—“Getting onstage was Judy’s therapy,” she says. “She knew the fans loved her, and she needed that.” But she feels a kinship. “I work from my gut, and she was the same way: raw and real,” Briskey says. “Listening to her, you can feel what was going on with her.”

The show has toured the country, giving Briskey ample time to ponder its moral. “Well, it’s kind of black-and-white, isn’t it?” she says, smiling. “Judy didn’t take care of herself. Her talent was bigger than she could handle.” • Beyond the Rainbow opens October 8 at the History Theatre, historytheatre.com

Fakin’ It

Inside the most playful exhibition of the year

Jennifer Danos and Natasha Pestich chat quietly in the atrium of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, like saboteurs hiding in plain sight. Their group show, with Marcus Young, opens this month in the gallery of the museum’s Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program. There are delicate, abstract prints by Danos and quirky, hand-drawn posters by Pestich, advertising the work of a reclusive artist who sells mostly on eBay. But look closely: “Things are not what they seem,” Danos says.

The eBay artist doesn’t exist—Pestich invented him. And Danos’s prints, beautiful as they are, riff on the work in the nearby prints and drawings gallery, questioning the authenticity of anything hanging in a museum. “What are our assumptions of walking into a museum?” Danos asks. “Do you have to see the original David, or can you have an authentic experience with a copy?”

For his part, Young strides slowly through the museum corridors in a long robe, quietly smiling. Young calls it behavioral art. “By modifying my behavior in public, I prompt people to think about their own behavior,” he says. “How do we want to exist in the world?”

When he performed like this in Beijing, Young says, a woman admonished him to walk faster. Most people look bemused or skeptical. Then, finally, they smile, too. • The exhibition by Danos, Pestich, and Young opens at the MIA on October 21, artsmia.org