Saturday, October 26, 2013

Local Art Seen: An Abundance of Creative Expression on Both Sides of the Bridge

Briefly, I can't say enough about how rich the arts scene is here in the Twin Ports. Sooner or later one realizes you can't do it all, but I made an effort to hit some hot spots. Katie Caswell, a UMD senior, has a really thought provoking show called What Remains in the Tweed and I'm really grateful for having had a chance to talk with her about the work she's produced, which was on display at the same time as the much publicized Blood Memoirs show in the adjacent rooms, curated by Amber-Dawn Bear Robe.

I can't say enough about the value of talking with artists regarding their work. I know there are some who say the work should speak for itself, but more often than not the artist will provide insight that is like a new lens that brings into focus new thoughts, perceptions and understandings. This was especially the case for me regarding Katie Caswell's work, which I will share on another occasion.

Wednesday evening the Tweed shared Chris Eyre's Skins, an inspirational film about two brothers living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. If Graham Greene, one of the actors in Skins, looks familiar it;'s because maybe you've seen him in The Green Mile. Or Maverick. Or Dances with Wolves. Eric Schweig you've seen in Last of the Mohicans. When I spoke with Mr. Eyre Tuesday evening he spoke about being on the jury of the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. Being on the jury meant being required to watch sixteen films plus he saw many others that he wanted to see so that by week's end he'd seen 28 movies, "a new record for me. Not only were my eyes sore but my butt was sore, too."

Last summer Eyre directed Hide Away with Josh Lucas and James Cromwell, which was shot on Lake Michigan. It's the story about a man on a sailboat who tries to resurrect his life after a tragedy. "As a Native filmmaker people are always expecting me to make Native material. I've directed Friday Night Lights on NBC and Law & Order. Then I made this movie Hide Away with James Cromwell and Josh are the greatest actors.. As we were in a rowboat crossing Lake Michigan Jamie Cromwell said to me, 'Indian hunters used to traverse these waters and then the French fur traders came along.' And he laughed and said, "Chris, we should open this up here and talk about the Indian history on Lake Michigan.' And I said, 'Jamie, I love you. I'm tired of talking about Indians. I want to make a movie with no Indians.'  He laughed  and we continued the scene."

For Amber-Dawn her talk regarding the Blood Memoirs show indicated that her show was much about understanding  her own identity in the context of a larger culture. In a sense the show itself was her story, or as she shared in her talk, "a self-portrait."  Ms. Bear Robe shared that the Blood Memoirs show was an attempt to open the Tweed Collection to alternate interpretations through different cultural perspectives. The net-net for me was a strong desire to see what other treasures are hidden in the "vaults" of the Tweed.

Buffalo Boy
Another piece of this event/opening was a challenging presentation by Buffalo Boy. Utilizing footage from the popular Lone Ranger television series, we all had a chance to be challenged by the manner in which white and native cultures were presented when many of us were growing up. Buffalo Boy went around the room distributing masks like the Lone Rangers which we were encouraged to wear ("Don the mask") but the manner in which he did it was quite in your face, and by this I mean, he put his hand on one's shoulder and made eye contact, very directly, communicating his personal humanity to each person in the room. It made a deep impression. After we were all suitably attired, that is, masked, he gave a speech and performed which included instruction about being prepared mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually... and "never be without a mask." He also gave an assortment of other maxims for living including this one: "The most important thing of all, don't do it if it isn't fun."

Live radio is as fun as it sounds.
Meantime, on the other side of the bridge, the episode 3 of the Twin Ports Live Radio Soap Opera was in full swing in Belknap Lounge. So many familiar faces (voices) here. Some of these players were cutting their teeth when I first came here in 1986 and today they're in their prime, in it for the long haul. You can't blame them for wanting to share the fun they are having. And from what I'm hearing this is only the beginning of much, much more.

Thursday Minnesota Wine Exchange had an art opening that included for by Philip C. Jones. If you have not been to this space yet, for the wine or the art, then you need to poke your head in the door instead of just walking by next time you're downtown. it's five steps from the corner of Lake and Superior. You just have to do it once and you will be back.

Finally, it was Friday. Thank you to everyone who attended our joint show at Goin' Postal featuring at least nineteen or twenty artists. It was truly rewarding to see the volume of people who stopped by to take in the event, the art and the sharing. Musical backdrop was provided by Mark Anderson. There's a bit too much to say about this show, so I will save it for another day.

Goin' Postal Fall Art Show was busy and buzzing throughout the evening..

There's more to say, but let's save it for another day. It was personally rewarding sharing these events with so many of you. Thank you especially for making last night for making this show a very special moment in time. Special thanks to Andrew Perfetti for coordinating this show and making it happen.

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