Keeping Minnesotans creatively engaged is a high-stakes, year-round industry—often promising little-to-no pay and/or recognition. Some make, some perform, some facilitate, some invest, some advocate, and most bust their knuckles open doing a combination of the above. (Not to mention the restaurant servers, Lyft drivers, hair stylists, and other toilers funding their off-the-clock artistic dreams so the rest of us can treat ourselves to a glam night out.) It’s inspiring, infectious, and nonstop. Even if the arts in Minnesota have no off-season, the fall sparks an urgency to witness some life-affirming magic before winter’s icicles impale us all.
As we enter fall arts season, returning to a familiar venue after weeks, months, or—shudder—years away means coming home. There’s anticipation of falling back in with fellow regulars, smelling sweet or acrid smells that stir up forgotten episodes, and retracing steps to well-worn vantage points. For me, all of that’s within the confines of St. Paul’s storied Turf Club, where I’ve witnessed debacles and transcendence both onstage and off. An added bonus downstairs is the Clown Lounge bar—home to nightly pageantry of its own—a reminder that where you go before and after an event is just as important as where you go for the event itself. (I’m particularly excited for this upcoming event.)
My contention is that our favorite theaters, galleries, and clubs become second homes because that’s where we unpack the storage units in our skulls. That, and we stick around long enough to use the bathrooms. Great art spurs unmatched intimacy, raw emotion, and a sense of belonging. “Art is a form of knowing yourself,” New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz writes. “Art is not optional, not decorative landscaping in front of the castle of civilization. It is no more or less important than philosophy, religion, economics, or psychology.” It also isn’t always comfortable or pretty. But we know it when we find ours, and it keeps us coming back.
What isn’t coming back? Summer. Bring on the art.