Excerpts: Shelli Ainsworth – Casting ‘Stay Then Go’

Ainsworth_screenshot01Want to learn more about filmmaker Shelli Ainsworth? Read on to hear about how she cast the main character, Eddie Baird, of her feature length film, “Stay Then Go.”

I have a son, Dietrich, who has autism, and you know, I’ve been an artist almost my entire adult life, and there was, a time when I just thought, how can I not have this experience and not try to report back in some kind of way creatively? Casting the 18-year-old Eddie Baird was such an interesting and kind of scary process because we had a casting agent in New York, and we had one in LA. And I was getting just tons and tons of tapes and finally narrowed it down to 60. And then just went really hardcore and narrowed it down again to 40. And then I went to LA and had to see 40 people (laughs). And the thing that was really intense and difficult about it at first was that all those young men, they all wanted to show me autism. And it was just excruciating. And certainly I understand, but I just felt like I just had to sort of stop that.

And so on the second day of auditions, I talked with the casting director, and I asked her to call all the people that we were seeing that day and ask them to drop any kind of performance mask. It would be an audition, certainly, but I was gonna kind of structure it like a mini workshop. They certainly needed to be prepared as far as the text and the scenes, but what I did was I asked them to read, to work on a certain part of a scene and in a kind of random way, every third word or something, stop and make sort of a picture for themselves about that word. If it was “other,” you know, they had to come up with an image for “other” before they could move on.

And so it started to do this thing where all of them just became so much more interesting, and you could kinda see this life of their mind. And I feel that the character has a lot of challenges language-wise, but this very rich life of his mind going on. I felt like we got to this place where there were like two or three or four, maybe, that were just like, you know what? I could really work with them. They’re good, it’s really interesting what they’re doing, but then there was Matt Zane. You want somebody to certainly meet you half way, but there are those people who will meet you 99.9 percent of the way. He just really brought it. It was just– there was no doubt that he was the right person. I felt really lucky that we got to work with him. He was amazing, amazing, amazing young actor.

I just felt like the character, the 18-year-old Eddie Baird, was really going to be the soul of Stay Then Go. And I certainly felt it had to be a really wonderful actor who would have a kind of truth, simplicity. We wouldn’t have something poke out was actorly, and that’s a very hard thing, I think, for young actors. But Matt was really able to bring that. I knew that was going to be the hardest role to cast. And it was. But lucky us, you know?

Watch: Shelli Ainsworth on MN Original

HOTTEA and Sesame Street Make Yarn Art

If you are a follower of MN Original and the artists we profile, you’re likely familiar with Minneapolis yarn artist HOTTEA. Either you’ve seen our feature on him or have seen his installations in unexpected spots throughout the Twin Cities.

Now you might notice him pop up somewhere else close to tpt‘s heart – Sesame Street.

Eric Rieger, aka HOTTEA, recently teamed up with the show to help promote the new Sesame Street website. The result is an incredibly adorable video of Rieger and Grover working together to create a yarn installation.

Want to learn more about HOTTEA and the collaboration? Head over to tpt‘s Rewire to read a Q&A with Rieger about the experience conducted by MN Original Senior Associate Producer, Kate McDonald.

MN Original Recognized for Outstanding Use of Legacy Funds


Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) and MN Original are honored to be recognized by Conservation Minnesota and Minnesota Citizens for the Arts for the impact our programming is having statewide by utilizing funds provided by a grant from the Arts and Culture Fund of the Legacy Amendment.

“TPT’s MN Original goes well beyond simply providing quality educational programming.  MN Original creates a high quality and permanent historical record of our astounding artists and arts community,” Sheila Smith, Executive Director of the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts stated. “They are providing a very important and long lasting contribution in preserving a look at Minnesota’s artistic culture as it is today that will be a resource for years to come.”

Our entire team is honored by this recognition and would like to thank the thousands of Minnesota artists and organizations who have worked with us to help further the reach and impact of our artistic community.

Click here to read a full statement from Conservation Minnesota.

Pictured left to right:

Robert P. Rinek, Chair, Board of Trustees, tpt
Jim Pagliarini, President and CEO, tpt
Ashleigh Rowe, Senior Series Producer, MN Original
Shelia Smith, Executive Director, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
Bill Strusinski, Legislative Consultant
Terry O’Reilly, Senior Vice President and Chief Content Officer, tpt


Excerpts: Tish Jones

Jones Screen Shot_04

Loved our segment on spoken word artist Tish Jones? Read on for more details not featured in the episode about how she became interested in poetry and building the community!

“I went to Maxfield Elementary School, and there was an afterschool theater project that was led by our science teacher, actually. She presented us with this play, and, you know, all of my family listens to hip-hop. My friends listen to hip-hop. I listen to hip-hop. So the play options: one was Rap Punzel— Rapunzel’s story written as this epic rap, and I was like, “I wanna get down with Rap-Punzel. This is amazing—I’ve never even seen anything like this.”

“The honest truth is that my relationship with school–it wasn’t always the best.  I think it was because it wasn’t always fun and challenging to me, so I got bored easy. I think that’s the importance of the Rap-Punzel thing, right? It really drew me in to be able to read that classic story in this contemporary art form that was really relevant to me and my lived experience, but I didn’t have that often. And you know, not a lot of young people have that often. It’s not often that we’re taught in that language that we really speak.

“So what ended up happening for me is some of my teachers—I’m really thankful for this—some of my teachers kinda picked up on that. People gave me space to really explore my creative side, and I think a trusting relationship happens. If someone extends a gesture or a kindness to you, you want to give it back. So I showed up for those teachers because they showed up for me.

“In 2005—that was my graduating year of high school, and that’s when I linked up with Intermedia Arts for the first installment of B-Girl Be. B-Girl Be was an international celebration of women in hip-hop. That year was a life-changing year for me. That’s the year that I moved out of this solo kind of performance or writing space into: here’s what performance is like on a local level.

“Every year after that I still did some poetry and hip-hop sets, but also it became about helping organize it. It then shifted from being onstage to really thinkin’ about how you create platforms for other people. I think that’s what so good about this community, the Twin Cities arts community, to me. It’s not a selfish community. People here give back, and they teach.

“I feel like my involvement with B-Girl Be really felt like a mentorship. These are powerful, dynamic, intelligent women who I get to learn from, and recognize that’s it’s not just about creating art but it’s also about creating the spaces so that other people can create art. Like, you know, showing up for folks in the same way that my teachers showed up for me when I was a kid.”

WATCH: Tish Jones featured in the full episode here

MN Original Holiday Gift Guide

MNO Gift Guide Collage

‘Tis the season for gift giving and here at MN Original we’ve gathered some great items from our artist alums that would make fantastic holiday gifts. From prints to jewelry to music, there are plenty of ways to give the gift of art and support local makers.

Have you purchased or received a gift made by a MN Original artist? We want to see! Share a photo of your item on Instagram, Twitter or by posting on our Facebook page and using the hashtag #ShopMNOriginal. You’ll also be entered to win a MN Original t-shirt.

Of course, there are so many talented artisans in Minnesota offering holiday items and specials — more than we could include in this post. So if you’ve got the scoop on another artist offering noteworthy holiday goods, please share in the comments!

MNO Gift Guide Prints

Prints are an easy gift to give to anyone looking to spice up their walls. From classic Minnesota imagery to inspirational quotes, check out these prints from four talented printmakers.

1. Adam Turman: Paul and Babe print $11.99

2. Liza Sylvestre: Coil watercolor print $20

3. Amy Rice: We All Shine On print $30

4. Gregory Euclide: Singles print set $130

MNO Gift Guide Tickets

Give the gift of theater this holiday season! From children’s classics to dance to opera — there’s something for everyone.

1. Minnesota Dance Theatre presents Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy – Various pricing

2. Children’s Theatre Company presents How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Various pricing

3. Minnesota Opera offering “Opera for Two” which includes two tickets to an opera + drink or dessert vouchers for $99

MNO Gift Guide Music

The Minnesota music scene is diverse, vibrant and full of new 2014 releases (and even a Grammy nomination – hey, Okee Dokee Brothers!) Consider these albums for stocking stuffers for your favorite music lover.

1. Okee Dokee Brothers – “Through the Woods” CD/DVD combo – $20

2. Cantus“A Harvest Home” CD – $20

3. Atmosphere“Southsiders” CD + MP3 – $12.99, vinyl + MP3 – $26.99

4. Barbara Jean“Darker Than Blue” CD – $15

MNO Gift Guide Jewelry

One can never really go wrong with giving a little sparkle. Minnesota happens to be stacked with talented jewelry makers who offer beautiful items to gift to someone special or even yourself (you deserve it!)

1. Danny SaathoffOrbit earrings, $145

2. Stephanie LakeStudded lady bug cuff, $635

3. Brittany FosterOctupous discovers an emerald ring, $140

MNO Gift Guide Books

The New York Times recently published their 100 Most Notable Books of 2014 which included four titles from local publisher, Graywolf Press. Shop the titles below for a great gift for the bookworm in your life.

1. Song of the Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen, $18

2. Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty by Vikram Chandra, $16

3. On Immunity by Eula Biss, $24

4. The Empathy of Exams by Leslie Jamison, $15


Introducing MN Original: Season 6!

The time has come to share the first look at the upcoming season of MN Original which premieres Sunday, January 4 at 6 and 10 p.m. on tpt!

Our weekly series will continue to highlight the diverse arts and cultural communities throughout Minnesota. From mixed media artist Greg Gossel, to singer/songwriter Adam Levy to Springboard for the Arts Director, Laura Zabel — each week will showcase a different corner of the arts and aim to promote the creative process for generations to come.

To celebrate the launch of the sixth season, MN Original alumni Adam Turman will create a limited-edition print poster design which will be released early 2015. Stay tuned to learn how you can own one of these very special prints.

Season 6 will feature artists including Kurt Melancon, Chris Mars, Phil Daniel, Katherine Turczan, Tish Jones, Tucker Hollingsworth, Futurekave, Revolver Magazine and many more.

Since 2010, MN Original has featured more than 2,500 artists, nearly 300 organizations, over 150 experts and more than 1,000 partners/collaborators. The program was the recipient of seven regional Emmy® Awards in 2014 including best Magazine Program and best Arts & Entertainment – Single Story.


Pictured (clockwise): Futurekave, Revolver Magazine, Greg Gossel, Adam Levy

Stay connected with MN Original:




Tweet using #MNOriginal

That’s a wrap: MN Original at Art Attack recap

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Getting self-reflective at the MN Original self portrait station at Art Attack 2014

Art Attack 2014 is a wrap! MN Original was excited to take part in this year’s event by showcasing our featured artists who were also participating in the weekend at the Northrup King Building.

On Saturday, our team took over studio 248 and created a gallery wall with over 20 pieces from different MN Original alums, set up a self portrait station, brought in live performances and more.

Thank you to the artists who displayed work in the space as well as Timotha Lanae, The Center for Irish Music, O’Shea Irish Dance and Revolver Magazine for putting on fantastic performances and activities throughout the day for attendees.

We were thrilled to be a part of Art Attack and connect with the 1,000 people who came through!

Take a look at some of our favorite posts on social media from the day:







Join MN Original at Art Attack on Nov. 8


The 17th annual Art Attack weekend is taking place November 7 – 9 at the Northrup King Building in Northeast which will bring together more than 250 artists featuring installations, musical performances, interactive pieces and more.

MN Original is excited to be a part of the event on Saturday, November 8 from 12-8 p.m as we take over studio 248. Guests will be able to browse a gallery wall featuring over 20 MN Original alumni artists, watch live performances by Timotha LanaeThe Center for Irish MusicO’Shea Irish Dance and take part in writing activities with Revolver Literary Magazine.

When you stop by, don’t forget to snap a photo on Twitter or Instagram and tag #MNOriginal for a chance to win a t-shirt.

See below for a full list of participating artists in the MN Original space at Art Attack.

Visual artists:

Kristen Arden

Brittany Foster

Sharra Frank

Karen Gustafson

Laura Hallen

Eddie Hamilton

Heidi Hoy

Betty Jager

Emily Johnson

Britta Kauppila

Josie Lewis

Dean Lucker and Ann Wood

Kelly Marshall

Eleanor McGough

Jack Pavlik

Andre Salvadore

Michael Schmidt

Thomas Schrunk

Mike Welton

Mike Wohnoutka


Performing artists:

Timotha Lanae

Revolver Literary Magazine

The Center for Irish Music & O’Shea Irish Dance








MN Original Artists at the Fall St. Paul Art Crawl

St. Paul Art Crawl 2

If you’re looking for a reason to get out this weekend, we couldn’t think of a
better opportunity to visit our neighborhood in Lowertown St. Paul than when the Fall
St. Paul Art Crawl takes place October 10, 11 and 12.

The biannual event, hosted by the St. Paul Art Collective, expects around 20,000
people to visit the Lowertown art district and throughout St. Paul to see the
work of more than 300 artists on display.

The three-day event will offer open galleries, studios, live performances,
pop-up shops and much more.

With so much to explore, make time to visit some of our MN Original featured artists
who will be participating in the art crawl:

Matthew Rucker

Original oil paintings

Building: Schmidt Artist Lofts Bottlehouse
Location: 135

Alex Kuno

Apocalyptic, satirical tales

Building: 262 Studios
Location: LL-3rd Floor Hallways

Josephine A. Geiger

Fine Art Stained Glass

Buidling: J.A. Geiger Studio
Location: Studio

Michael Schmidt

Acrylic & beeswax on canvas

Building: The Grand Hand Gallery
Location: 719 Goodrich Ave.

Chris Faust


Building: Studio 210

Fall St. Paul Art Crawl:
October 10, 6 – 10 p.m.
October 11, 12 – 8 p.m.
October 12, 12 – 5 p.m.

Free Metro Transit passes available on Saturday and Sunday

MN Original Takes Home 7 Regional Emmys®!

We’re excited to announce that we won 7 Upper Midwest Regional Emmy® nominations this year, including individual nominations for our director of photography, Brennan Vance, and one of our editors, Adam Geiger.



Category 26: Magazine Program
Minnesota Original: Episode #515 with Minnesota Dance Theatre, Drury Brennan, Robert Bly and Nicholas David


Category 11A: Arts/Entertainment: Single Story
Light Artist Brian Hart


22A: Historic/Cultural/Nostalgic – Single Story
Secret Stash Records


24: Informational/Instructional – Single Story
Photographer Andrew Moxom


25a: Interview/Discussion – Single Story
Installation Artist HOTTEA


Thank you to all of our MNO alums who so generously donate their time and work for our show. It’s a privilege to document your work, and an honor to get recognized for it!

Educator Evening with MNO Artist Xavier Tavera

Attention educators*! You’re invited:

An Evening with Xavier Tavera: Creativity Across Disciplines

Spend an evening inspiring creativity with photographer and MNO alum Xavier Tavera. Through a hands-on, easy-to-replicate photography workshop, Tavera will engage, encourage, and imbue confidence in participants. Tavera will also facilitate a discussion on the meaning of creativity and how creativity applies to life outside of Art. (Cameras and camera phones are not required to participate, though if you have one, please bring it to share!)

(*this event is open to the community, not just educators, though there will be a focus on classroom application.)

In case you need further convincing, revisit our profile on him:

Event Details
Date: Thursday, October 2, 2014
Time: 7 p.m. – 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

Click here to register.


Contact Kate Westlund with questions: kwestlund@tpt.org

Excerpts: Peter Brosius



Couldn’t get enough of our segment on the Resident Acting Company at Children’s Theatre Company? Read on for more insight from Artist Director Peter Brosius on what makes the Children’s Theatre Company so unique.


“There are many things that are extraordinary about this theater.

It’s the only theater to have won a Tony award for sustained excellence. It’s the only children’s theater to have taken a show to Broadway. And the Children’s Theater’s been here for almost 50 years which is such a great testament to this state.

The reason that “company” is in the title is that company is core to the entire idea of this theater. There are very few acting companies left in the United States. But if you look at the history of world theater—Shakespeare, Molière, Peter Brook, on and on—the history of great theater is the history of companies, and they’re there for a reason. You have a group of people who have earned a kind of trust with each other, who are willing to take risks, who are willing to collaborate and who share some profound common values and principles.

And so it has been a gift to have an acting company of people who invest so deeply in the work, who care so passionately about the audience, who are willing to work tirelessly to make a piece of work that transforms kids’ lives, that inspires them, that excites them. So part of my job is certainly the nurturing and supporting and listening to that wonderful group of actors.

Another incredible gift is that we’re also a school—I love that I came to a place where theater and education mattered so much. We have a theater arts training program where we work with a lot of young actors. And our resident acting company is committed to making sure that those young people are honored, respected, challenged, prodded, supported, nurtured and treated like professionals.

Additionally, each year, I travel around the country and audition actors—BA, BFA, MFA grads—for their first professional jobs, and this group becomes our performing apprentices. Sometimes they’ve worked a bit and sometimes they’re just getting out of school. We bring them here, we give them a real salary, we give them healthcare and we give them real roles in our shows. And the company is just so gorgeously welcoming; inviting them in, making them feel good, helping them understand every theater has its own unique culture.

We’re a place that celebrates young talent but also says ‘Rise up, meet the standard.’ Because we’re making theater for the most important audience in the world—for young people and families. And if we inspire that family, if we inspire those young people with the power of theater, its beauty, you’ve created a lifelong curiosity and hunger for the arts.”