Stash the Speedo, mop the barbecue sauce off your mug, and savor the memory of how your Jet Ski landed in Lord Fletcher’s salad bar. Summer’s over. But the fun needn’t stop—we’ve selected 30 of the season’s most promising performances and exhibitions, from hot jazz acts to showcases of legendary artists. Take notes. Take your mother. Just don’t take our seat.
** Visual Arts **
New Work by John Alspach and Terrence Payne
September 4 — 30
WHAT TO EXPECT: Don’t blame us if you come away with a sudden urge to buy a warehouse condominium and fill it with these artists’ works. Alspach and Payne are the reigning kings of condo art; their bold, iconic paintings hang in the hippest rehabs. It makes sense, given that Alspach creates his works from salvaged construction debris, discarded billboards, and metal signs—perfect for that industrial ethos. Payne’s portraits of his youthful peers are similarly striking, evoking both coolness and vulnerability.
WHY GO: You can’t buy hipster cred like this. Oh wait, actually it’s all for sale.
WHERE: Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-747-3942
September 7 — October 14
Rogue Buddha Gallery
WHAT TO EXPECT: Jon Langford may have labored in the noisy, broken-bottle-filled trenches of punk rock (as a founder of the Mekons, the Waco Brothers, and other bands), but his paintings pay tribute to old-fashioned country music. Folksy at first glance, his portraits of Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and other country heroes are encircled with chalk-like imagery—of flowers, stars, and sometimes skulls—that give the images an edgy tattoo-art-meets-twang feel.
WHY GO: He may be a Welshman, but Langford captures the spirit of honky-tonk with such reverence and gritty Ã©lan your belt buckle will suddenly seem three sizes too small and your headgear about 10 gallons short.
WHERE: Rogue Buddha Gallery, 357 13th Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-331-3889
Documenting China: Contemporary Photography and Social Change
September 8 — November 25
Weisman Art Museum
WHAT TO EXPECT: These stunning images cover three decades of unprecedented industrialization and migration—farmers heading to city factories; urban districts sprawling across open country; the haphazard accommodation of a billion-plus population.
WHY GO: Praised by the New York Times as “profound” and “heroic,” this traveling Smithsonian exhibit comes to the Weisman after a warm reception in San Francisco.
WHERE: Weisman Art Museum, 333 E. River Rd., Mpls., 612-625-9494
September 8 — October 21
WHAT TO EXPECT: The Soap Factory has the area’s largest gallery space outside the Cities’ major institutions, and it’s making full use of it with this showcase of funky, kinetic sculptures—often interactive—from around the country. Some of the pieces are oblique (you can use a stationary bicycle to inflate an enormous egg-like balloon—which is somehow emblematic of Cold War scarcity). But all of the works describe the impact of a place on our perception and behavior.
WHY GO: The show was curated by Elizabeth Grady of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, known for her exuberant, engaging shows.
WHERE: Soap Factory, 518 Second St. SE, Mpls., 612-623-9176
Raising the Banner: The Art of Geli Korzhev
September 10 — January 5
The Museum of Russian Art
WHAT TO EXPECT: Geli Korzhev is an unrepentant Communist—let’s just get that out there. He has been since Stalin’s reign, emerging as the leader of the Socialist-Realist painters to portray Soviet life with a majesty and symbolism well beyond mere hammers and sickles—all with government approval, of course. But that hasn’t prevented Korzhev’s work—most recently of Don Quixote, a nostalgic reference to the failed dream of a Soviet worker’s paradise—from attaining the critical acclaim withheld from other Russian artists who were more overtly propagandist.
WHY GO: This is Korzhev’s first solo show outside Russia, and the hype (museum officials have compared it to the first foreign exhibitions of Van Gogh or Picasso) makes it seem like the greatest Russian triumph since Sputnik.
WHERE: The Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Ave. S., Mpls., 612-821-9045
The Dream Girl: Classic American Illustration
September 13 — October 22
Red Wing Framing Gallery
WHAT TO EXPECT: Dan Murphy, the guitarist for Soul Asylum, has a thing for shallow girls. In fact, he prefers them two-dimensional—the kind that illustrators used to draw for calendars and pulp magazines—and which Murphy collected while on tour, rocking by night, sifting through antique stores and art shops by day. His collection of early and mid-20th-century American illustration is now one of the country’s finest, and has never previously been exhibited.
WHY GO: Illustration-art prices have been skyrocketing recently, making these women even more unobtainable.
INFO: Red Wing Framing Gallery, 419 Main St., Red Wing, 651-385-0500
Eat with Your Eyes
September 28 — November 4
Northern Clay Center
WHAT TO EXPECT: The idea of functional art is taken to the literal level in this exhibition of six dining tables and four side tables, along with serving and decorative pieces from more than 30 artists. Workshops with chefs and food stylists explaining the dynamic between aesthetics and food—i.e., why serving roasted hen and veggies on a white plate feels different than on Fiestaware—complement the show.
WHY GO: Man could live on bread and art alone. Especially when you can learn to make your own beer mug.
WHERE: Northern Clay Center, 2424 Franklin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-339-8007
Georgia O’Keeffe: Circling Around Abstraction
October 7 — January 6
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
WHAT TO EXPECT: O’Keeffe, a Wisconsin native, specialized in abstraction with humanity, distinguishing herself from her peers, who tended to think in straight lines. Her work allowed for more shapely representations of floral and fauna—a distinctly organic vision for modern art.
WHY GO: With more than 50 works, from paintings to drawings to sculpture, O’Keeffe’s seven-decade career is thoroughly catalogued here.
WHERE: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 Third Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-3131
October 27 — January 20
Walker Art Center
WHAT TO EXPECT: Not Salma Hayek—sorry. But the popular Mexican artist’s self-examination on canvas comes alive in this retrospective of works drawn from collections around the world. Kahlo’s most provocative paintings, from those depicting her miscarriage to her introspective self-portraits, chronicle her tumultuous life with almost frightening honesty—while photographs of the artist and her family add another dimension to the exhibit.
WHY GO: This Walker-generated show is the largest Kahlo exhibition in a decade, which will tour the country after it closes here. Call early to score tickets to the opening-night party (the summer Picasso kickoff was the place to be).
WHERE: Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600
** Music **
Cedar Cultural Center
WHAT TO EXPECT: Cotton grew up picking, you guessed it, cotton in Mississippi, but he was blowing the harmonica with blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin’ Wolf when he was still a teenager. He was Muddy Waters’s harp player for a dozen years, then hit the road on his own, and, save for an absence due to throat surgery in 1994, he’s been in showbiz now for 63 years.
WHY GO: Cotton doesn’t attempt his signature back flips anymore, but he’s still a showman, sometimes blowing his harmonica so hard the instrument falls apart in his hands.
WHERE: Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls., 612-338-2674
September 17 and 18
Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
WHAT TO EXPECT: Belting original blends of blues and gospel, with some jazzy Hammond B-3 organ in the background, Foster is overflowing with hallelujah, and mesmerizing in her intensity. Though she’s been compared to both Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald—and the title of her latest album, The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster, makes it sound like she’s already compiling her greatest hits—Foster definitely has her own style, and is just starting to realize her full potential.
WHY GO: Foster played in the U.S. Navy’s funk band. How cool is that?
WHERE: Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-332-1010.
Beethoven’s Ode to Joy
September 27 — 29
WHAT TO EXPECT: Roll over Beethoven: Osmo VÃ¤nskÃ¤ may be discovering more depth in your work than even you did. Three years into the Minnesota Orchestra’s effort to record all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies—with the albums receiving unanimously glowing reviews—VÃ¤nskÃ¤ and company may well be playing his music better than any other group today.
WHY GO: The stellar cast of singers who performed on the group’s recording of this work is reuniting for these performances.
WHERE: Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-371-5656
The Most Happy Fella
October 13 and 14
Ted Mann Concert Hall
WHAT TO EXPECT: The Vocal-Essence chorus gives its perfectly voiced regards to Broadway this year in several shows, the first being a Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) musical staged by showbiz veteran Vern Sutton. The guest soloists—Peter Halverson, Bradley Greenwald, and Jennifer Baldwin Peden—should wring some beautiful moments out of this story of a romance filled with deception, the kind of tragic love that Greenwald and Baldwin Peden have had plenty of experience emoting together over at Theatre de Jeune Lune.
WHY GO: This is Broadway the right way—beautiful voices, no jazz hands.
WHERE: Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2128 S. Fourth St., Mpls., 612-624-2345
Pat Metheny Trio
WHAT TO EXPECT: After 16 Grammy Awards and three gold records, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny could easily swap his signature six-string for a ukulele and perform Tiny Tim tunes for the rest of his life without denting his legacy. But instead, he’s still finding ways to improvise in his loose, surprising style without ever losing sight of a melody or a great rhythm.
WHY GO: Jazz is always best live—and you’ll have cocktail party fodder for months.
WHERE: Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-624-2345
Schubert Club performance
WHAT TO EXPECT: For the elegant folks already holding tickets to this show, the word Yo-Yo has never meant anything but deep, rich cello arrangements. The master’s mellifluous music has carried films and made commercials memorable (and often more regal), without becoming commercial itself.
WHY GO: It’s Yo-Yo. Nuff said.
WHERE: Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, 651-224-4222
The Italian Girl in Algiers
November 10 — 18
WHAT TO EXPECT: How could a riotous comedy involving shipwrecks, pirates, and daring escapes from enslavement in North Africa get any more madcap? The Minnesota Opera sets Rossini’s classic inside a 1930s-style pop-up book. It’s not opera, after all, till you take things over the top.
WHY GO: Lead performer Vivica Genaux, who has starred in many of the Minnesota Opera’s best-received productions, returns to the company after a three-year absence.
WHERE: Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, 612-333-6669
Pierre-Laurent Aimard with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
November 29 — December 1
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
WHAT TO EXPECT: The SPCO is now in its fourth season without a music director—intentionally, of course: A rotating committee of musicians and administrators now calls the shots. And the model appears to be working well. The orchestra plays to its own strengths rather than those of a particular conductor. It doesn’t hurt, either, that the artistic partners brought on to help lead many concerts are among the world’s finest classical musicians. In these performances, Aimard tackles both Beethoven’s Piano Concert No. 3 in C-minor and Schoenberg’s more contemporary “Three Pieces for Chamber Orchestra.”
WHY GO: Do you know how many piano players exist in the world? Aimard may be better than all of them, having recently been named “Instrumentalist of the Year” by the trade publication Musical America.
WHERE: Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, 651-291-1144
** Dance **
September 6 — 9
Ananya Dance Theatre
WHAT TO EXPECT: The word pipaashaa means “thirst” in Bengali, the language of the eastern Indian subcontinent from which much of the choreography for this show was derived. Female dancers ages 8 to 64 relate the tales of women and children living in dry, resource-depleted environments—which is somehow more uplifting than depressing.
WHY GO: It’s social change made danceable, and minimally didactic, through the vision of Ananya Chatterjea, a professor recently named choreographer of the year by City Pages.
WHERE: Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-340-1725
Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan
WHAT TO EXPECT: These elegant dancers move fluidly over and between sheets of thin rice paper, painting Chinese characters and abstract patterns with black ink. The combination of the soothing melodies from the orchestra and the subtle flow of the choreography should translate into mellow enchantment.
WHY GO: Cloud Gate is the first contemporary dance company in Asia’s Chinese-speaking communities, formed in 1973. Wild Cursive is the final chapter of a trilogy piece that began in 2001.
WHERE: Northrop Memorial Auditorium, 84 Church St. SE, Mpls., 612-624-2345
Beauty and the Beast/The Gilded Bat
October 24 — November 7
Ballet of the Dolls
WHAT TO EXPECT: This is Beauty with Tom Waits tunes, not talking teapots. In the Dolls’ deconstructionist hands (and feet), the classic story was arty yet accessible in its premiere at the 2003 Minnesota Fringe Festival, winning the Audience Favorite award. Meanwhile, the author of The Gilded Bat, Edward Gorey, could be the Doll’s patron saint, given his macabre yet merry perspective.
WHY GO: The Dolls crashed the classicists’ mundane party long ago, substituting Ken and Barbie for the lead characters of The Nutracker, but they’ve proved to be far more than jesters, often drilling down to a piece’s central emotion by eschewing traditional interpretations.
WHERE: Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-436-1129
Faustin Linyekula and Les Studios Kabako
November 1 — 3
Cedar Cultural Center
WHAT TO EXPECT: You’ll be on your feet doing the soukous—Congo’s version of the rumba—before the night, er, morning is over, as Linyekula, one of Africa’s premier choreographers and an artist-in-residence at the Walker Art Center, plans to dance until dawn. Called “Festival of Lies,” this show recreates a Congo tradition of drinking, dancing, and talking trash about leaders—as a way to laugh about political matters, rather than quarrel over them.
WHY GO: Ever been to an all-night soukous party before? Didn’t think so.
WHERE: Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls., 612-375-7600
Jerome Bel and Pichet Klunchun
November 14 — 15
Walker Art Center
WHAT TO EXPECT: Bel is a French conceptual choreographer (three words some people would prefer not to see together), while Klunchun is a master of classical Thai dance. Together, they aim to be more than the sum of their understated movements, literally moving toward a broader understanding of our common humanity.
WHY GO: In previous shows, Bel has played the Parisian provocateur—having a dancer drop trou (and under-trou), hiring non-dancers to stand on the stage and not move—so it should be interesting to see him join forces with a far more straightforward dancer.
WHERE: Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600
** Theater **
September 6 — 30
Penumbra Theatre Company
WHAT TO EXPECT: Directed by Lou Bellamy, Redshirts examines the nature of college sports recruitment, contemplating its effects on education and integrity.
WHY GO: Redshirts’ cast features such top local actors as Cedric Mays and Regina Williams. This world premiere kicks off a landmark season for Penumbra, including a partnership with the Guthrie Theater and the beginning of August Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle on Penumbra’s stage.
WHERE: Penumbra Theatre, 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul, 651-224-3180
September 20 — October 14
WHAT TO EXPECT: Frank Theatre is political, but political doesn’t have to mean dogmatic. This Broadway hit, for instance, about a writer who comes under question in his totalitarian homeland when his stories begin sounding uncannily like real-life crimes that have been committed, is as viciously funny as it is disturbing.
WHY GO: With local favorites Chris Carlson, Luverne Seifert, and Jim
Lichtscheidl in the cast (and Joel Sass doing the scenery design), the only way this show could have higher expectations is if it were set in a typically funky Frank locale (read: condemned industrial space). But the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio stage is nice, too.
WHERE: Guthrie Theater, 818 S. Second St., Mpls., 612-377-2224
The Home Place
September 28 — November 25
WHAT TO EXPECT: The Guthrie, which had originally slated Brian Friel’s acclaimed play (now a movie) Dancing at Lughnasa for this season, has landed the next best thing: the U.S. premiere of the Irish playwright’s newest drama. Set in 1878, it’s about a father and son both in love with their housekeeper in an Irish village. It’s also about the English relative who comes to visit—a guest whom just about everyone in town wishes would leave.
WHY GO: Friel may be Ireland’s best playwright right now, and perhaps no one, even in Ireland, directs Irish plays as evocatively as Dowling.
WHERE: Guthrie Theater, 818 S. Second St., Mpls., 612-377-2224
October 5 — November 3
Pillsbury House Theatre
WHAT TO EXPECT: “Home sweet home” takes on new meaning when Cephus Miles, the main character in Samm-Art Williams’s play, heads north to the city from rural North Carolina at the onset of the Vietnam War. When he decides to return, he finds redemption and comfort in the town of his youth.
WHY GO: Home’s director, Marion McClinton, won over critics and patrons with last year’s Yellowman at the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio. His Broadway credits include Tony, Obie, and other award nominations.
WHERE: Pillsbury House Theatre, 3501 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-825-0459
October 13 — November 25
Theatre de la Jeune Lune
WHAT TO EXPECT: The Jeune Lune is either in a rut or on a roll, staging yet another show about manipulative, cross-dressing aristocrats.
WHY GO: It’s probably a roll. In this update of an 18th-century romp by Jeune Lune funnyman Stephen Epp, a woman disguises herself as a man to see if her husband is being faithful. It’s a setup that savvy Jeune Lune protÃ©gÃ© Nathan Keepers, ingÃ©nue Emily Gunyou, and past City Pages’s Actor of the Year Casey Grieg will surely make the most of.
WHERE: Theatre de la Jeune Lune, 105 N. First St., Mpls., 612-333-6200
Agnes of God
October 19 — November 11
Park Square Theatre
WHAT TO EXPECT: An emotionally challenging script, Agnes of God tells the story of a neurotic 21-year-old nun accused of killing her newborn. Verbal attacks between the court-appointed psychiatrist (an atheist) and the mother superior (obviously not), who’s protecting Agnes, venture into matters of faith, misfortune, and the powerful affects of altered neuroses.
WHY GO: The show premiered on Broadway in 1982, but previous productions have often struck out in execution. Park Square has a chance to succeed with director Mary Finnerty and star Linda Kelsey, a five-time Emmy Award nominee, at the helm.
WHERE: Park Square Theatre, 20 W. Seventh Pl., St. Paul, 651-291-7005
November 2 — 18
Ten Thousand Things Theater
WHAT TO EXPECT: Yes, all-male casts were de rigueur in Shakespeare’s day, but wethinks the point here is humor as much as authenticity. Why else stack the stage with the Twin Cities’ most capable comedic actors: Jim Lichtscheidl (playing Lady Anne), Luverne Seifert (as Queen Elizabeth), and Bob Davis (as Richard)? ’Tis brilliant.
WHY GO: TTT Theater frequently performs classical-era plays in prisons and homeless shelters. If anyone knows how to make iambic pentameter engaging, it’s these guys.
WHERE: November 2 to 11 at Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Mpls.; November 16 to 18 at Minnesota Opera Center, 620 N. First St., Mpls.; 612-203-9502
November 9 — December 23
WHAT TO EXPECT: Director Joel Sass pulled terrific tension out of last year’s Jungle hit I Am My Own Wife. Here, he’s working with ghosts and the bedeviling relationship of a patient and his therapist, both of whom are struggling to restart their lives.
WHY GO: The script was hailed by the New York Times as “absolutely glorious” and “as close to perfection as contemporary playwriting gets.”
WHERE: Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave., Mpls., 612-822-7063