6 Thoughts on Art and Criticism in the Digital Age

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Members of the team here at MN Original had the pleasure of attending the first-ever Superscript conference at the Walker Art Center on May 29 – 30. The two-day event brought together arts journalists, producers, organizations and supporters from around the country to discuss an array of topics relating to arts criticism and community in the digital age.

Speakers and panelists represented organizations from the LA Times, Pitchfork, Hyperallergic, Design Observer and many more.

We walked away with new ideas and perspectives that still have us thinking well over a week after the event concluded.

To recap our experience, here are six thoughts that stuck with from Superscript that we want to remember as we continue our work covering the Minnesota arts community on MN Original (trust us, our list is much longer than six items but, you know…brevity.)


“Art is a rich part of life, not just something for the rich.” A profound statement from Culture High and Low writer Carolina Miranda and an idea we try to embrace here at MN Original.

When writing or covering art, it’s important to remember to invite people in and not shut people out. One of our goals with MN Original is to make art accessible to viewers. Deep knowledge of or a background in the arts is not required to watch our program. We hope the stories we share broaden the scope of the public’s perception and appreciation of the Minnesota arts community.

(Worth a read: Check out Carolina’s entertaining coverage of Marina Abramovic And Jay Z’s public scuffle here.)

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MN Original is in the business of sharing art rather than critiquing, which is why Isaac Fitzgerald of Buzzfeed Books’ perspective is especially relatable.

Fitzgerald follows the (somewhat controversial) “Bambi Rule” for BuzzFeed Books, which essentially means he only writes positive reviews.

Many asked the question about whether this rule could assert authority or even credibility for his site. While there was much back and forth on the topic between panelists (and on Twitter), Fitzgerald commented that the curation of books he loves is a form of critique in an of itself.

“What I know is a love of books. I just stay in my lane.” – Isaac Fitzgerald


In 2011, the Walker Art Center re-launched their programmatic and event driven website into a space that now engages the community, supports artistic expression and reflect’s the institution’s core mission.

Olga Viso, director of the Walker, explained that by inviting artists to contribute content, the site is now a source that provides alternative perspectives and criticism on challenging issues. The move to provide more editorial content is a reaction to the growing number of artists who are using their voices and mediums to respond to issues taking place around the world.


As we’re experiencing a time when the digital sharing culture is so strong, Ayesha Saddiqi of The New Inquiry questioned what the landscape will look like in years to come. Gaining likes and retweets is viewed as a prime social currency today for artists and journalists, but is there something we can do now to ensure a more sustainable method for measuring success online in the future? How can we build a more meaningful experience for our community? It’s the responsibility of the online gatekeepers to sculpt what the art community could be down the line.


While there have been brands and companies that have attempted selling art online, a successful formula has yet to be discovered. New York-based writer Orit Gat commented that if there were a market for online art sales, Art Basil would have already figured it out. As the digital landscape for e-commerce evolves, it will be interesting to see if the art world finds a way to play in that space.


The Walker did an awesome job integrating art (and not just talking about it) into Superscript. There were two screenings of new films commissioned by the Walker Art Center’s Bentson Commission Series that premiered during the conference and will be available to view online for one month in June.

Friday’s session debuted Moyra Davey’s Notes on Blue (2015, 28 minutes) which paid homage to many subjects including Derek Jarman’s Blue (1993) which was released just a few months before the filmmaker death and in some ways was a meditation on his illness.

Afterwards there was a discussion with Moyra who discussed similarities between her and Jarman, including how both had gone partially blind and the insight that struggle lent to each film.

Want More Superscript?

Head to the conference website, Facebook group or Twitter feed for more recaps, resources and video of the panel discussions.

Thank you to the Walker Art Center, MNArtists.org, Hyperallergic and the many other organizations and individuals who made Superscript happen! We’re looking forward to the next one.


Blog post contributors include the following MN Original team members: Ashleigh V. Rowe – Senior Series Producer, Kate McDonald – Senior Associate Producer, Katie Schutrop – Arts and Music Engagement Specialist

An Evening with Sun Mee Chomet: Creating From Your Own Truth

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we will be canceling the event Creating from Your Own Truth: An Evening with Sun Mee Chomet. The Humanities Center will be issuing full refunds to all registrants and will be looking for opportunities to reschedule for a future date. Apologies for the inconvenience. Any questions can be directed to Kate Westlund.


Spend the evening of May 20th with award-winning actor, playwright and MN Original alum Sun Mee Chomet as she shares excerpts from her work and engages participants with theater games, writing activities and storytelling. The event will be geared towards educators but is open to all.

This event is the sixth in a series presented in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center.

Limited seats available.

Register Now

Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Minnesota Humanities Center, 987 Ivy Ave. E, St. Paul, MN 55106
Cost: $10 per person, includes light snacks and materials
CEUs: 2 clock hours available upon request

For more details and to register, click here.

Celebrating 5 Years of MN Original

Sure, most recognize April 22 as Earth Day. But did you know it’s also MN Original‘s birthday?

Today marks 5 years since MN Original‘s first broadcast on tpt. Since then, the Legacy-funded program has featured over 600 profiles, 150 episodes and thousands of artists and organizations who make up the vibrant Twin Cities arts community.

Thank you to all the artists, partners, viewers and the state of Minnesota for the support over the years!

Check out the video above for a special tribute to all 600 profiles featured on MN Original.

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Excerpts: Sally Wingert

Wingert_screenshot02Actor Sally Wingert shares her thoughts on family and support as it relates to her career.


There’s just no way you can pursue an artistic life without support.

I have walked through most of my life with this man, Tim Dans. And there is nobody that supports me better, nobody. I went off to do a performance last night, and he said something that was just like the most perfect thing to say to me.

And I have sons, and they have put up with so much, so many times where I’m not around or my attention is split between them and something that I’m working on. But they’ve turned out all right, and they are my biggest fans.

So it’s just really important for me to say that nothing about what I do is solo ever. It’s always completely attached to other people.

Watch Sally Wingert’s segment on MN Original here.

Excerpts: Jeffrey Hatcher

Hatcher_screenshot01Did you enjoy our segment on Jeffrey Hatcher? Read on to learn more about how he adapted A Slight Trick of the Mind into the major motion picture Mr. Holmes, directed by Bill Condon, starring Ian McKellen and Laura Linney (View the trailer here).


Well, rules of an adaptation, it’s still a pretty loose set of rules.

I mean one rule is you’ve gotta break the back of it and betray something. I mean, most of the times people when they get to see an adaptation, and they know the book well they’re disappointed if the book isn’t somehow represented on film.

But it’s most obvious in things like, you know, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, James Bond, when Daniel Craig showed up on that boat on the Thames all these people said ‘James Bond’s not blonde!” When readers and audiences have a huge investment in a book emotionally, psychologically, these things can be difficult

Slight Trick of the Mind is, of course, not as well-known as things like that, so you can change tons of things. You won’t anger an audience in quite the same way, but even so you have to betray something.

A book is a ruminative fiction. You can pick it up. Put it down. You can read passages over and over again. You can read a book like Slight Trick of the Mind, about 200 some pages; you can read this probably in a day, tops, if you want to go straight through it. You could also take 10 months to read it if you’d like to, or you could never finish it.

But a film can’t be appreciated that way. It goes past you. It keeps revolving, and so things that could be suppler in a book, and could be done with a little bit more of a gossamer touch because you get to absorb and reabsorb, you have to hit it in a film hard.

You almost always end up throwing out a lot. I mean a simple rule might be see how long it takes good actors to read a book out loud. Even what I would consider a short book, like 250 pages, hours will go by but on film will probably be 100-105 minutes. Everything is about compression, what’s necessary, what isn’t.

And then later, even if you compress everything to what’s necessary just to tell the story, you know, not the thematics, not the character stuff, and then you have to decide well alright, where can I loosen it up? What can I allow myself? Because sometimes you make it too hermetically sealed, and all you’ve done is really compress a narrative.

But of course books, films, plays are not simply about the narrative. I mean the narrative is vitally important, but it’s about what the narrative makes you think. It’s how it delights you, the perceptions, the understanding, and the revelations.

Watch Jeffrey Hatcher’s segment on MN Original here.

MN Original + Rock the Ordway

Our production crew was busy last month capturing Rock the Ordway‘s “22 days of opening nights” to celebrate the opening of The Ordway‘s new Concert Hall. MN Original will air a special episode featuring The Ordway later this year.

Scroll down for some behind the scenes shots of Rock the Ordway as taken by our staff.

Congratulations to The Ordway on their beautiful new space and a successful opening celebration!



The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra performing on opening night


Pre-show interviews with members of Cantus before their show in the Concert Hall


Backstage at the The Ordway with opera singer Adriana Zabala before the Minnesota Opera‘s production of Manchurian Candidate.


The Minnesota Opera‘s music director Michael Christie and concert master Allison Ostrander prior to the production of Manchurian Candidate at The Ordway.


Haley Bonar performs in the Concert Hall


Actual Wolf during soundcheck ahead of his opening performance for Haley Bonar


Sounds of Blackness rehearsing ahead of their performance in The Ordway’s Concert Hall

Celebrate Poetry Month this April with MN Original!

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Here are twenty two
Poetry videos for you!


From Robert Bly to Tish Jones, Minnesota has a rich poetic history. Here’s a handful of artists we’ve had the pleasure of working with:

(Click “PLAYLIST” to navigate between videos)


Looking for more poetry-themed inspiration? You can find it on our Poetry Month Pinterest board and through a keyword search on our educators page!

Submit Your Arty Pet Pics

IMG_2250 On Sunday, March 29, MN Original will feature Minneapolis pet photographer Sarah Beth Ernhart whose modern and unique portraits capture the personalities of her clients’ four-legged friends.

Send in your arty pet pics! Are you an artist who has a bird that joins you in studio? Have you snapped a photo or drawn a picture of your cat that you’re especially proud of? Perhaps you have a dog who loves to enjoy art like Pickle the French Bulldog.

We’d love to see your arty pet pics for an upcoming web feature! Please send a photo and short description to kschutrop@tpt.org for consideration.

Artist Day Jobs: Call for Submissions



**UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who has submitted an artist! We have received TONS of e-mails with fantastic suggestions for this series. At this point, we have contacted and slated enough artists for our next “season” but still welcome additional submissions for future consideration.

In the meantime, we want to know: Why does this series speak to you? What message or angle would you want this series to share? Let us know in the comments!


MN Original is reviving our monthly video web series, Artist Day Jobs, and we need your help!

Are you an artist (or do you know of one) who works an interesting day job to support your artistic endeavors? Are you a painter who is also a prize-winning dog show handler? Or maybe you’re a choreographer who also farms corn? Or perhaps you’re a photographer who works as a train conductor?

Give us a shout.

Our team is interested in capturing video and photos of artists at work which will be a part of our monthly video series on MNOriginal.org.

If you’re an artist who would like to be featured, or you’d like to nominate someone, send an e-mail to mnoriginal@tpt.org with “Artist Day Jobs” in the subject line for consideration.

Stay tuned for the first webisode featuring Get Cryphy DJ Last Word who also works as a commercial pilot.


Adam Turman x MN Original Commemorative Print

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To celebrate our sixth season, MN Original has enlisted the talents of local artist Adam Turman to design and create a limited edition commemorative print. The 18×24″ print features the Twin Cities skylines behind a roving Minnesota landscape. Only 150 prints of this design have been made and each is signed and numbered.

Prints are $25 (+$5 shipping, domestic only) : 

(For questions on placed orders, please e-mail mnoriginal@tpt.org)


“We love Adam Turman’s work for its instantly recognizable iconic perspective, composition and use of color.  This exuberant screen print Adam designed especially for MN Original shines and reflects the energy of our creative community. It’s perfect for celebrating the sixth season of our weekly arts and cultural series.” – Ashleigh V. Rowe, Senior Series Producer, MN Original

Legacy-funded MN Original has featured thousands of artists and arts organizations contributing to our vibrant Twin Cities arts scene since the series premiered in 2010.

Watch the print come to life in this video filmed at Adam’s studio.

Excerpts: Shelli Ainsworth – Scriptwriting Process

Ainsworth_screenshot05Learn more about filmmaker Shelli Ainsworth’s scriptwriting process for “Stay Then Go” and how she came upon a breakthrough in the story.

Stay Then Go was just a very, very challenging script to write because I had my own kind of emotional reaction and feelings about it. And I also never, as an artist, had an experience where I had an agenda that I wanted to put forth. On one side of the coin it, I did not want to be a parent in the writing or in it at all. It was really hard, like there was a code that was very difficult to crack. I felt like a lot of the writing had integrity, and it was very believable and had a very interesting truth to it. But I still felt like it just wasn’t structurally coming together.

The breakthrough for me with Stay Then Go was this idea that Marion creating these how-to videos for Eddie. They were like “How to go on a date: and “How to go to the grocery store,” “How to use an ATM machine.” They were all about helping him be out in the community and having a life of quality and dignity and more self-sufficiency. So I started to kind of create these how-to videos, and that was it.

That was like my rail to write on. They became not just something that she made for him, but they were also so much for herself as well. “How to say goodbye,” you know? And then I wrote some of those, and it was like, “Oh my God! I know how to end this!” It really helped me figure out a way to structure it. That piece of her—that she was a character that made “how to” videos was the thing that allowed me to structure Stay Then Go and gave it some very unique nuance.

The how-to videos, I think, are a bit of a fantasy that I have. I wish that I had a whole bunch of them for Dietrich. I wish somebody would make a whole bunch of those for Dietrich, and that they would be of a quality and a style and an atmosphere that he could understand and latch on to and would help him. And I have many, many times, kinda separate from Stay Then Go, thought should I make a video about this? And certainly with Dietrich, many, many, many times in his life, did sort of like storyboards about certain kinds of things, riding the school bus and making dinner and going places that are stressful to him. It’s so funny that I did all of that, but I never thought about putting it in Stay Then Go or that being a thing. So that discovery and laying that on the structure of the script kinda broke everything—it just kinda worked.

Watch: Shelli Ainsworth on MN Original

Celebrate Valentine’s Day With MN Original

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Here at MN Original, nothing warms our heart quite like local art. And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we want to help spread the love.

On Wednesday, February 11 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., stop by the IDS Crystal Court in downtown Minneapolis where the MN Original team will be giving away local art inspired valentines, hosting a live performance by Jayanthi Kyle and unveiling a special edition Adam Turman print.

You’re My MN Original

We’ll make it easy to share your heart with that special someone on Valentine’s Day with these local art inspired valentines. Grab one or collect all five editions featuring works from MN Original alums Matthew Rucker, Amy Rice, Colin Johnson, Shawn McNulty and Greg Gossel.


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MNO V-Day Cards

Jayanthi Kyle

Minneapolis vocalist Jayanthi Kyle can be found performing with multiple local groups such as Black Audience, Romantica, Gospel Machine and more. Jayanthi will have a special performance in the IDS Crystal Court at 12 p.m. as well as appear in an upcoming episode of MN Original.

Watch her performance during tpt Rewire‘s TV Takeover below.


Adam Turman Special Edition MN Original Print

We are thrilled to announce local artist Adam Turman has created a special edition print for MN Original to commemorate the sixth season of our arts programming. The 18×24″ print will be unveiled at the event and will be available for purchase on site for $25. Each print will be signed and numbered. Here’s a sneak peek at the design (stay tuned for more details!)

UPDATE: Click here to view and purchase a print.



Event Details:

MN Original Valentine’s Day Celebration
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 – 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
IDS Crystal Court 
80 South Eighth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402