Great Expectations

There will be plenty to watch for in 2010: a governor’s race, a new ballpark, a stronger economy (right?)—and these five rising artists.

Leah Cooper

Theater Director

So far: Cooper’s five industrious years helming the Minnesota Fringe Festival turned that event into one of the nation’s biggest and most vibrant alt-theater phenomena. She’s earned high marks as a director, too, most recently for Prufrock Theatre’s intrepid production of John Guare’s Landscape of the Body.

Coming up: After directing Theater in the Round’s Panache in January, she’ll spend much of 2010 creating an ambitious, community-based theater project that gives a voice to disabled veterans in the Twin Cities, collaborating with a mix of seasoned pros and local military vets with zero acting experience. The secret to her dauntlessness: “I’m really bad at saying no.”

Souliyahn Keobounpheng

Artist/Architectural Designer

So far: The lobby of the Warehouse District’s SOHO building, adorned with an eye-popping patchwork of reclaimed- lumber scraps, is among the remarkable spaces and structures on Keo-bounpheng’s CV. His keen blend of functional modernism and earthy elegance is documented at

Coming up: He’ll turn heads with a large, multi-panel acrylic piece on the façade of the Delisi Building in north Minneapolis, helping revitalize the area’s troubled commercial corridor. “The North Side has been abandoned by a lot of politicians and law enforcement, so people have to fight for themselves,” he says. “That includes artists.”

Sam Rosen


So far: His subtly comic turn as a tortured art student in the locally shot Nobody was among 2009’s most disarming indie-cinema standouts. (Having Josh Hartnett as an executive producer didn’t hurt.)

Coming up: Rosen does double-duty on Stuck Between Stations, co-writing and starring in a “coming-of-age/came-and-went” feature that follows a twentysomething soldier on a strange, revelatory trip through the Twin Cities underground. With backers including Hartnett and The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli, the film should hit festivals in the fall. Meanwhile, look for Rosen in the hipster relationship flick Breaking Upwards and the darkly satirical Four Boxes.

Michael Israelievitch


So far: At 26, this Juilliard-trained timpanist is the newest and youngest principal in the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. His Gen-Y zeal and mastery of the mallets have landed him gigs alongside numerous classical-music hotshots—including his father, renowned violinist Jacques Israelievitch.

Coming up: Between meaty symphonies by Beethoven and Schumann, as well as newer work by Thomas Ades, the prodigious percussionist will have ample opportunity to shine. He’s also eager to interface with the local-music community. “I was pretty stoked to find out there’s even a jazz club [The Artists’ Quarter] right inside the Hamm Building,” he says.

Taryn Griggs


So far: Along with partner Chris Yon, Griggs has made a conspicuous splash on the Twin Cities dance scene since relocating from New York in 2008. The couple’s locally staged collaboration, The Infinite Multiverse, sparked a persistent buzz and netted multiple honors at the annual Sage Awards.

Coming up:
Just because Griggs finds the Minneapolis dance community “much kinder” than New York’s doesn’t mean her work is trending Minnesota Nice. This winter, she’ll appear in an eclectic showcase for Tamin Totzke and Dustin Haug’s forward-thinking VESSEL company at Bryant-Lake Bowl (February 25 to 28), followed by a show at the SouthernTheater, reprising elements of Multiverse.