MNO at the 2014 Emmys®! Part II


As promised, here are the remaining nominations for MN Original‘s 2014 Upper Midwest Regional Emmys®. (In case you missed yesterday’s post, click here.)

We’re clearly not ones to shy away from some friendly competition, as evidenced in the first and third categories.


Category 11A: Arts/Entertainment: Single Story
Hip Hop Group Atmosphere


Light Artist Brian Hart


Composer Chan Poling


20: Education/Schools
Community Artist Greta McLain


22A: Historic/Cultural/Nostalgic – Single Story
First Avenue Photographer Dan Corrigan


Secret Stash Records


24: Informational/Instructional – Single Story
Photographer Andrew Moxom


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


As far as individual craft nominations, hat tips to our Director of Photography, Brennan Vance (Emmy® Winner!), and our editors, Adam Geiger (Emmy® Winner!), Ryan Klabunde and Skip Davis!

(In case you missed yesterday’s post, click here.)


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!

MNO at the 2014 Emmys®! Part I

EmmyWe’re excited to announce that we were nominated for 14 Upper Midwest Regional Emmy® nominations this year, including individual nominations for craft (think videographers and editors) and for The Lowertown Line.

So if you want to watch the best of the best of MN Original, look no further than right here on the MNO On The Go blog! We’ll be aggregating all videos here.

First up on the list are our full-length programs:

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


Category 11B: Arts/Entertainment: Program
The Lowertown Line: Chastity Brown


To see the 8 individual segments that are up for nomination (many of them in the same category!) click here.

Excerpts: Sun Mee Chomet

Chomet Screenshot 1Interested in learning more about actress and playwright Sun Mee Chomet after watching her recent segment? Read on for her perspective on diversity in the arts, the Twin Cities theater community, adoption and more!

(And click here for more information on her one-night-only August 17 performance of How to Be a Korean Woman.)

I originally wanted to be either a gymnast or a pianist, but I realized acting was a lot more fun, and now as I get older I think I’m an actor just because there are so many stories that need to be told, and that’s kinda why I’ve ventured into playwriting as well.  As an Asian American actor, you tend towards writing in order to create parts that are not written yet. And I feel passionate about that—about telling stories from the diversity of what it means to be “American.”

What’s special about the Twin Cities is not only the diversity of wonderful, incredible theater makers and artistic directors, but that these are people who become your friends. I felt like in New York, if I disappeared, no one would notice. In the Twin Cities, your fellow artists and colleagues not only want to see you, want to work with you; they want to see you thrive.

I would walk around the streets of Manhattan and dream about coming back to the Twin Cities. I knew I wanted to create my own work. And I knew I wanted to have the time and support and energy to be able to write, and especially create work for Asian American women. In NY, it’s just pounding the pavement, auditioning for Rape Victim Number 3 on Law and Order. It was not very satisfying. The Twin Cities was always a place that I felt supported artists, so I wanted to come back.

The most recent play I’ve written is How to Be A Korean Woman. I felt a need to write this play to process my search and reunion with my birth family in 2010. So often in plays about adoption, it’s this happy coming home story; how life in the States is great. I really wanted to give life to my birth family and the emotional turmoil on that end. As an adoptee, you end up kind of internalizing all of that emotional turmoil. And as much as I am grateful, I’m also really confused and upset. It really challenges every idea I have about what family means, even as an adult!

I do draw comparisons between my search for my birth family and my search for my identity as an artist. It’s about finding your authentic voice and figuring out who you are. The more you know your own biography, the better you’re going to be as an artist.

I feel like I am constantly aware of how little time there is. There’s so much I want to do, and there’s so much I want to say, and there’s so much I want to create with other artists. I don’t want to waste any time. Not because I want to get to a certain place, but because there are so many stories I want to tell.

Excerpts: Greta McLain

McClain Screenshot 1

Muralist Greta McLain has a love of life that is infectious. We couldn’t fit all of her positivity into her 9-minute segment, so we’ve pulled these excerpts from her interview.

I’m a south Minneapolis girl, born and raised. I came up in an amazing kind of a golden era in the public school system. I went to Ramsey International Fine Arts School, where we were speaking Spanish in the classroom and taking violin lessons and painting on the walls and doing all these paper mache projects–my education always had a component of art. And from the time I was really young, I saw art as something that offered a career for adults.

I went to school at UC Davis in California and right away I knew I wanted to do murals.  Working with people in the Chicano studies department, I was able to tap into that community practice of how do you use art as a vehicle for creating social justice and social change around an issue?

When I was about to graduate, people asked me if I was going to stay in California. They said, “You should stay in California. It’s warm here, it’s nice here.” And I was like, “Yeah, people are doing murals. This is a place I could live.” But then I had some people who were really close and important to me say, “Aren’t you interested in doing community art? Well this isn’t actually yo  ur community. You’re not from here. You should go back to Minnesota.”

I didn’t really know about a community mural practice and movement happening in Minnesota, but there’s so much new art activity in Minneapolis and this is totally a community that supports this work happening. 

Most of my projects start with 3 main questions; a question that is a definition, a question that is pointing at a problem and a question that is leading to a solution. For example, with a mural that’s about bringing together a community, you might ask “What IS community?” “Where do you find community?” “What is it that makes you part of something together?” “What is it that makes this neighborhood this neighborhood?”

These all start with conversations with the participating groups of people, and you’re going to see that even within such a simple question, everybody gets to voice their perspective and within that conversation, people are hearing the differences. The mural is making the connections and the relationships and standing as a suggestion of where this neighborhood or where this community is going. It starts from a conversation. That dialogue then moves into images.

I was excited about public art and murals rather than doing smaller kind of works because I’m not a detail person; I’m a big picture person. I’m really excited about bringing people to the wall that don’t traditionally get to have their work out in the world and celebrated. And then not only putting them up in a little way, but putting them up really big.

All I want to say is just how honored I am to be a part of the Minneapolis mural scene and part of the work that’s going on here in the public art and community art world. I can’t wait to collaborate with all of the different and innovative kind of art making that is happening here in Minnesota.

Six Impossible Things’ “Leav” Launches at Northern Spark


There are numerous exciting events and ventures to be unveiled this weekend at the all night arts festival Northern Spark. One of those new ventures is a digital platform called Leav created by Six Impossible Things. Joey Kantor and Bobby Maher of Six Impossible Things, along with collaborating artist and MNO Alum Kate Casanova, tell us more about the app, their collaboration and how we can experience Leav at Northern Spark and beyond.

What is Leav and what sparked its inception?
Leav: At its simplest, Leav is a mobile platform intended to reconnect what you experience with your surroundings. For centuries, the experience of art — and content in general — has been highly influenced by where you are, what your surroundings are, etc. With the mobile experience, we’ve all but lost it. We can listen to music anywhere, we can read a poem anywhere, but what Leav does is brings back the idea that there is something beautiful about being exactly where the artist, sender, or creator intended you to be when you experience that piece. When you open the app, you’ll see a map indicating pieces available. You won’t be able to access these pieces unless you are within the bounds of where the artist would like you to be. So you’ll need to navigate yourself to where these pieces are ‘installed.’ Some pieces also take advantage of other factors like time, temperature, direction and/or speed of travel, so that the piece interacts dynamically with your surroundings.

Which artists will be featured at Leav’s launch at Northern Spark on June 14th?
Leav: Chris Koza, Kate Casanova, Stuart Pimsler, and Holly Hansen

How was the app catered to collaborate with Kate Casanova’s “A Natural History of Chimneys?”
Leav: I spent time over the past year talking with all our artists about how the technology can be used, not for technology’s sake, but to create a unique experience that couldn’t exist otherwise. With Kate, that meant identifying how she wanted people to physically experience her work – should they be encouraged to move around the chimneys to get all of the visual and audio pieces, or is it important that someone can just be still in the space and not miss anything? By making the piece only available around sunset we also try to establish an environment in which the chimney swifts flying in and out of the chimneys should accompany Kate’s wonderful visual collages and audio. With all our artists, however, I really stress starting with the experience you want to create for your audience and then working backward to use the technology to achieve that goal instead of saying “Let’s play with this cool feature.”

Kate, what interested you about collaborating with Leav?
Casanova: I was drawn to the idea that through the locational and time based technology of the app, I could make an artwork that would allow participants to experience an overlooked natural phenomenon in our city. By working with Leav, I was able to create a piece I would not otherwise be able to make.

How does your collaboration with Leav embody “place”?
Casanova: “A Natural History of Chimneys” highlights the interconnected lives of humans and a small bird that roosts exclusively in chimneys called the Chimney Swift. Each location on the map is a chimney that is an active roost. By going to the site a half hour before and after sunset, viewers can witness the ritual of the birds descending into their chimney for the night. Viewers will be also able to access a video and audio collage.

What were the opportunities of working with the app-based program that allowed your artistic process to be pushed or challenged?
Casanova: In this piece, viewers will be engaged both with the video and audio collage on their phone as well as watching the birds descend into the chimney, which is a lot to pay attention to. Creating a work that engages one’s attention while not distracting from the birds was a challenge.

Leav, has working with different artists and their individual visions or processes challenged the programming end or capabilities of the app?
Leav: When we first developed the idea of Leav as a mobile platform for placing, viewing and sharing digital art and using that power of place to connect people to their community and the world around them, we partnered with artists who we thought might all approach this challenge in different ways, and push us to create a tool that could handle the unique requirements of the work.

Like any good tool, we are trying to be responsive to how artists and organizations choose to create with us, and also to how community members experience that work through the app.

Are you planning to collaborate with more artists in the year to come?
Leav: Yes — Thanks to our successful Kickstarter campaign, we’ll be commissioning several other artists including Grant Cutler, HOTTEA, Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance, Andy Sturdevant and The Roe Family Singers.

Where and when can we find all the Leav launches at Northern Spark?
Leav: It’s simple: All you’ll need to do is download the Leav app in the iPhone App Store, and open the map to see where the different pieces are. Then, just navigate your way to the pieces, and once you’re in the designated location indicated in the app, you can click to enter the piece and listen/watch/read the piece of art.

To learn more about Leav and keep up with their latest collaborations, find them on Facebook and Twitter.

MNO Celebrates Hip Hop Appreciation Week 2014

In five seasons of MNO, we’ve been fortunate to work with some of the Twin Cities’ most talented hip-hop musicians, dancers, and activists. While hardly a day goes by without the music of at least one of these artists being blasted in the MNO offices, we’re celebrating Hip Hop Appreciation Week with a playlist of all the hip-hop-related videos that have aired on MN Original. Watch the playlist below, and be sure to check out the Minnesota Hip Hop Coalition’s website for a full list of events in celebration of Hip Hop Appreciation Week!

Included in the playlist:

Heiruspecs: The Pushback
Greg Grease: I Still Love H.E.R.
B-Boy J-Sun
Kill The Vultures
Amy Sackett
Spencer Wirth-Davis / Big Cats
Maria Isa
No Bird Sing
Guante: Cartpushers
Doomtree: Slow Burn at Rock The Garden 2012
Mankwe Ndosi
Brother Ali: The Travelers
Rebecca McDonald
Chaka Mkali

Art Spaces: The Solar Arts Building

Solar Arts Solar PanalsThe Twin Cities is known to have a robust and supportive community of art spaces – galleries, museums, public art, artist lofts and generally any other place where art is created and/or appreciated. For the most part, a fairly routine template for experiencing these places has been successful – art crawls, shows, events, etc. The Solar Arts building is changing the game in the world of art spaces and artist workspaces in a deliberate and careful way.

On a recent afternoon, we made the trek over to their space to meet with Owner Duane Arens and PR/Marketing Manager Michael Schardin and talk about what makes the building unique.

The beautiful old industrial space is located at 711 15th Ave. NE in Northeast Minneapolis. 100 years ago, the building served as the Twin City Cord & Tire Co. and also an early Sears’ warehouse. In that 100-year history, the building has been an entirely industrial or abandoned space until its recent genesis as The Solar Arts building. The owners have tried to retain much of the building’s history and industrial charm (despite a complete building overhaul) including saving boiler grates, brickwork and other industrial relics original to the building

During our trip, Duane and Michael had more than enough to say about what makes the Solar Arts building so intriguing and different. In particular, Duane invested in a full green remodel of the building complete with approximately 108 solar panels on the roof that produce 34,000 kWh of electricity and reduce 51,000 lbs of CO2 emissions each year. “It was the right thing to do, cost more money and took more time.”

And it hasn’t gone unnoticed, the building was proclaimed the greenest building in Minneapolis by Governor Dayton, and a model for urban renewal by Mayor RT Rybak.

The makeup of this building is threefold. The first floor is set aside for storefronts and businesses and currently boasts Indeed Brewing Company with the St. Croix Chocolate Company planning to join in the fun this year. Duane explicitly had spaces such as these in mind when rehabilitating the building. In particular, creating a space for a microbrewery seemed like a smart choice given the explosion of the MN Craft Beer scene.

The second floor is home to 16 studios and two-dozen local artists including MNO alumnae Caitlin Karolczak. The space is clean, comfortable and quiet – an artistic oasis.

Solar Arts Levy ShootThe third floor is an event space that is nearing completion. Plans for the space include: hosting private and public events, offering it up as a meeting space to local non-profits free of charge and using it as a gallery space for resident artists – even going so far as to install full gallery lighting. Design highlights of the space include the original table from the Duluth Railroad Co., authentic from the time of the building’s creation at the turn of the century, and a historic back-bar which once belonged to Johnny Cash and June Carter-Cash. The solid ornate wood piece looks well used, with coffee mug stains and spills and nicks that conjure daydreams of epic conversations of musical lore that took place over a glass of whiskey at the counter.

Overall, the Solar Arts Building might just be that rare space that has something for everyone, a balance achieved through deliberate and careful consideration of the specific needs of each tenant group and their audiences. It is an interesting model of support for the artist community in Minnesota, allowing artists (studios and gallery), everyday Twin Citians (event space) and merchants (chocolate and beer) to co-exist and support each other. Like their green roof, it’s a model of community sustainability that we can really get behind.

Art and the Environment: A Match Made in MNO Heaven

We know, we know – artists using nature as their inspiration isn’t exactly groundbreaking news. But it’s Earth Day, it’s a beautiful Spring day here in the Twin Cities, and we’re reflecting on some of our favorite MN Original artists whose love and interest for the environment has shown through in their work. From Kate Casanova’s mushroom furniture, to Steve Heitzeg’s musical eco-scores, to Gregory Euclide’s incorporation of collected trash, we think these artists are incorporating their love for nature in some truly fascinating, inspiring, and beautiful ways.

Gregory Euclide

Unconventional brushes, collected trash and a malleable canvas are tools in Painter Gregory Euclide’s work.

Kinji Akagawa

Award-winning public artist and arts educator Kinji Akagawa shares the stories behind three of his sculptural constructions.

Andrea Martin

Environmental encroachment and global warming are themes in Andrea Martin’s hand cut paper art.

Kate Casanova

Visual artist and amateur ecologist Kate Casanova unearths unique intersections between art and the natural world.

Steve Heitzeg

We catch up with Emmy-Award winning composer Steve Heitzeg at his home in St. Paul to learn the secrets of his songwriting process.

Statement from MN Original and tpt Regarding Local Hip Hop Event

We understand and are fully supportive of the decision by our friends and colleagues at MPR to postpone this production. Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) and MN Original look forward to continuing our good work with the hip hop community and Minnesota’s entire artistic community.

Dianne Steinbach
David Roth
The entire MN Original staff

MN Original is seeing green: A St. Patrick’s Day-inspired virutal episode of MNO

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Twin Cities arts fans! Irish heritage runs deep here in Saint Paul, and that tradition is reflected through the local arts community. We’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of artists who incorporate their Irish heritage into their art and creative endeavors. So with the Twin Cities’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade routed just a block from MNO headquarters at Twin Cities Public Television, we’re seeing green and celebrating with a Celtic-themed virtual episode of MNO. Enjoy!

Brian Miller and Randy Gosa, “Roll You Drivers Roll”

Folk musicians Brian Miller and Randy Gosa collaborate to bring us “Minnesota Lumberjack Songs: Irish Music from the Lumber Camps.”

O’Shea Irish Dancers

Young performers Taylor and Meghan of O’Shea Irish Dancers are headed to Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to compete in the Irish Dancing Championships. They share their love of Irish dancing, the details of their intense training, and the inside story on those wigs!

Machinery Hill, “Dirt Road”

Machinery Hill performs “Dirt Road” in tpt‘s Studio A.

Farewell Milwaukee, “When It Sinks In”

Farewell Milwaukee perform the title track off their album “When It Sinks In.”

The Guthrie Theater’s Othello Rich With MN Original Connections

Twin Cities Public Television’s pledge season rolls on (please consider supporting public television) so there will be no MN Original this Sunday night. But that gives us another excuse to dive into the MNO archives and explore the fascinating connections that arise between the many talented artists in our community. To celebrate The Guthrie‘s opening of Othello on Saturday, March 8, we present this Guthrie-themed virtual episode of MNO, which includes Marion McClinton, who directs the play, and Regina Marie Williams, who plays Emilia. After you’ve had a chance to watch this special virtual episode of MNO, make sure to get tickets to Othello, which runs through April 20.

Marion McClinton, Director

Regina Marie Williams, Performer

Joe Dowling, Artistic Director of The Guthrie Theater

Mathew LeFebvre, Costume and Set Designer at The Guthrie Theater


And stay tuned for our upcoming profile of Sun Mee Chomet, another Othello cast member, premiering online on March 28 and on tpt2 on March 30 at 6pm.

An Oscar Themed Virtual Viewing Party

It’s pledge season at TPT right now and MNO will be taking a little break while we focus our energies on this most important pursuit. Please consider supporting public television. MNO is funded by the State’s Art and Cultural Heritage Fund but viewer-supported public television enables us to share our wonderful arts community statewide on air and online.

We don’t want you to miss your weekly dose of art of all shapes and sizes, so we’ve compiled this little viewing party of film-related MNO segments, in honor of The Academy Awards. Grab some popcorn and start clicking!

Filmmaker Brady Kiernan discusses his film Stuck Between Stations, a love story set in Minneapolis.

Director Ali Selim talks about his award-winning debut feature film, Sweet Land, set in Minnesota.

Animator Tom Schroeder tells real life stories in an improvisational style influenced by jazz.

Michael Berglund is a well known and respected Paleoartist, specializing in creating realistic models of dinosaurs, both graphically and in model form.

Sarah Jean Kruchowski explores themes of disappointment and yearning in her quirky short films.

Arms and Armor handcrafts Medieval and Renaissance replicas for theaters, museums, film and television.