Photojournalism in Miniature

Kurt and Edwige Moses got started photographing miniatures when Edwige was working in the garden one day and Kurt was, as usual, shooting photographs in macro. He was about to take a photograph of a June bug when Edwige suggested that he place a tiny, “HO” scale figurine in the frame. The rest is history. The pair has been traveling in and beyond the United States ever since, photographing the miniature figurines in real world settings, for a project they call “Un Petit Monde.” Watch the video for more of their story.


Café Accordion Orchestra
“Songe d’Automne”
“Ochi Chyornya (Dark Eyes)”

An Evening with MN Original

MNO has had a partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center since the early days of season one and we recently teamed up with them to co-present the first of a new event series, An Evening with Minnesota Original. The inaugural event was held on November 15 at the MHC and the intention of the series is to bring together educators and local artists to discuss the creative process and explore MNO’s educator-ready content.

Photo courtesy Uchefotography.

Multi-disciplinary phenoms and MNO alums Shá Cage and E.G. Bailey led a rousing discussion on engaging students across disciplines through the arts—specifically spoken word poetry. From their dynamic spoken-word introductions of themselves to a participatory book-making activity to their interactive closing ritual, Shá and E.G. had the attendees eating from the palms of their hands (and begging for more when the time was up!). Educators walked away with concrete activities to implement in their classrooms, artists got to exercise their own creativity and community members received a fascinating history lesson on the roots of spoken word (did you know RAP stands for Rhythm And Poetry??).

MN Original presents an extensive catalog of similarly intriguing artists which teachers can bring into the classroom by way of the accompanying activity guides, searchable on our Educators page. Our ever-growing collection of more than 250 activity guides is written for educators by educators at the Minnesota Humanities Center.

The next event in the series will take place on February 28 with public artist Ta-coumba Aiken. Stay tuned for more details by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and signing up for our newsletter!

Turning a Building Into a Musical Instrument

Creaky floors, squeaky pipes, shuddering window panes- there’s no question that old buildings talk to us, and David Byrne’s new installation at Aria at the Jeune Leune, suggests that they sing to us too. Called “Playing the Building,” Byrne’s installation runs through December 4th, and has essentially transformed the historic building into an enormous musical instrument.

The installation, which was first realized at Färgfabriken in Stockholm, connects an old-fashioned organ to pipes, crossbeams, columns, and other components of a building, making it possible to press a key on the organ, and cause whistling, vibrations, clanging, and pinging throughout the space.

Aria has designated “Play Dates” during the installation, in which they’ve invited local musicians to come jam with the building. We stopped by for a recent Play Date featuring the band Brute Heart, as well as members of the public who dropped by to add to the cacophony.

Hear it below.

10 Questions with Rhea Pappas

Every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving, The Minneapolis College of Art and Design opens its doors to the public for an art sale featuring the work of MCAD students and recent grads. MCAD’s Annual Art Sale is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to purchase art directly from MCAD artists at unbeatable prices. Accordingly, we took the opportunity to catch up with an alumni of both MCAD and MN Original: photographer Rhea Pappas, who was profiled on the third episode of MNO back in May of 2010.

The MCAD Art Sale is open Friday, November 16 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., and Saturday, November 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets for the Art Sale tonight are $20 if purchased in advance from MCAD’s website, or $25 at the door. Admission for the sale tomorrow is free! Read on for 10 Questions with Rhea, and head to MCAD this weekend to see her art up close and personal!

MN Original: What tips do you have for newbies to the MCAD Art Sale (artists and shoppers!)?

Rhea Pappas: To the artists I would suggest to put in work that is some of your best, but you’re sick of looking at. Freshen up your life, studio, and make room more new creations. Also make it a deal for the art sale and donate one piece to the scholarship fund at least.

To the guests, bring your wallets, ’cause there is sure to be something you can afford that you will like or want. There are such great deals in almost all types of unique, one of a kind, visual art and it goes quick.

MNO: What inspires you?

RP:The water, nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson, psychology, and the people around me.

Photo courtesy Rhea Pappas.

MNO: What was your childhood ambition?

RP: My dream was kinda wonderful, it was to get into college. Once I did that I was kinda like, “What do I do now?” I used to think I was also here to save all the animals, but that’s a different story for another day. 

MNO: What is your essential tool?

RP: I would like to say I have one, but I don’t. It’s any of my cameras, my scanner, my computer, and Photoshop.

MNO: Skill you wish you had?

RP: I wish I knew how to program computers and build digital sensors.

MNO: Biggest risk you’ve taken artistically?

A photo from Rhea Pappas's "Embryo" series, courtesy of Rhea Pappas.

RP: Whenever I take my camera underwater it’s a risk. It’s about $10,000 underwater and if it floods I’m outta luck. But emotionally, I was very honest about my Inspiration for the Embryo series, We Are Women series, and Loss of Innocence series and opened up about my battle with losing my cervix due to cancerous cells. These were a way to connect not only to my womb, but womanhood.

MNO: When are you most productive?

RP: Usually between 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. Best time of my day. Usually I’m left alone.

MNO: Who is your dream collaborator?

RP: I’ve had a lot of collaborations with a lot of amazing people. If I were to choose someone I’m dying to collaborate with it would be Cheryl Wilgren Clyne. I love her personality, her work, her energy, and her existence. I’d also love to work with the Golden Gopher basketball team and have some amazing ideas and ways to take inspirational photographs.

MNO: Most played song on your iTunes?

RP: Your gonna laugh at both of these:

1. “Separate Ways” by Journey. I just love this song and I love me some Tron and it has just gotten unhealthy and out of control.

2. “One Shining Moment” by David Barrett and Terry Pendergrass. I am a huge college basketball fan. I dream of march madness. Specifically for the gophers to win the NCAA championship. I’ve been going with my dad with our season tickets since I was 5. It reminds me of an inspirational time in my life.


Watch Rhea Pappas’s profile on MN Original:

Rhea Pappas from mn original on Vimeo.

Zenon Dance Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

Break out your pearls, Twin Cities arts fans: we’re celebrating Zenon Dance Company‘s 30th Anniversary! As Zenon prepares to launch their Fall Season with performances November 16-25 at The Cowles Center in Minneapolis, we talked with Artistic Director, Linda Z. Andrews about her reflections on her company’s first 30 years.

MN Original: In 1982, did you imagine that Zenon would be thriving 30 years later?

Linda Andrews: Y’know, I really didn’t. I had no idea. You know, it’s never been easy, it’s always been a struggle to stay in business. Any time you have a modern dance company in America, it’s tough to get support, to always keep paying your staff and paying the dancers, paying the artists. From the very beginning, I thought I could do it. I was a little bit cocky. And I had a very clear mission all the way through. My vision and mission have not changed, it’s absolutely the same, fundamentally the same as when I started. But it’s become enhanced and it’s expanded, so that makes me feel really good. I think those roots are still really strong. I think I’ve been really lucky: I’ve had three decades of dancers who have constantly inspired me with their artistry. I have just worked to keep challenging those artists and to keep a lot of creative growth alive for dancers at Zenon.

I guess the main thing that has propelled me through all these years is always focusing on artistic excellence, trying to reach for the impossible: for perfection. I am a perfectionist.

Linda Andrews and choreographer Danny Buraczeski, 1989.

MNO: You mentioned that your mission has not changed in 30 years. What is Zenon’s mission?

LA: Right, I do think it’s a lot about spirit that’s carried Zenon throughout 30 years. And my vision and mission is to strive for artistic excellence in our main stage performances, and also in Zenon’s outreach. I want to expose as many people to dance, to this artistic excellence in dance, as possible. The way that I do that, that I’ve developed throughout the years is presenting main stage performances, but also doing really intensive educational outreach into the schools and communities across Minnesota. And then the third prong, the third part of my vision is to have a very diverse and comprehensive dance school that has the best instructors available. I think this three-pronged approach to the community serves us well. And I never once thought that I wasn’t serving the Twin Cities and the State of Minnesota – that’s been clear to me from the beginning; that we are truly a non-profit arts organization. I think that mission gave us a lot of strength and ability to expose dance. And dance is still the one art form that is under exposed and under funded in America.

I think one of my chief messages to any of our audiences is that what Zenon presents — a mixture of current, modern, jazz and ballroom dance in this country — it’s educating youth and adults that this is part of culture as Americans, this is what’s happening with dance right now in America. I strive to work with a lot of emerging artists. This keeps Zenon right at the forefront of what’s happening in dance.

MNO: What would you view as the biggest accomplishment of Zenon in the past 30 years? What’s been the biggest surprise?

Zenon Dance Company publicity photo, 1986

Zenon Dance Company publicity photo, 1986. Photo courtesy of Zenon Dance Company.

LA: The biggest accomplishment, I don’t know! In terms of biggest accomplishment, there have been so many accomplishments that it’s difficult for me to choose one over the other. I think the biggest accomplishment is the development of the dancers. I’ve been able to create careers for these wonderful performers. I’ve been able to really develop actual careers for these artists, and to do it consistently. So I’m extremely proud of that. Along that line is our work, what we’re able to do in the schools. I have a 100% success rate with this residency model that we use, which is very comprehensive and creative. We choreograph based on curriculum. How many times I’ve been brought to tears watching these children perform, and how many times the teachers have cried watching this. I am a lucky woman because I am able to actually do what I love and have a passion for, and touch people’s lives in a positive way.

I guess I’m surprised, I think it’s too bad that we can’t be further along economically. I’m still kind of surprised, partially, that for as much work as I put into this, it’s still difficult to build an audience and get funding. So a lot of that is still a very basic struggle, even in our 30th year.

MNO: How has the Twin Cities dance scene changed in the past 30 years? And in that evolution, how is Zenon continuing to push the envelope?

LA: I think the main thing is that the level of the dancers is so much higher than when I started this. That was one of my goals: to get a real, New York-level of dance here. I think there are more choreographers working. There aren’t a lot of choreographers that come out of the Twin Cities that are known. But I think the Twin Cities has developed into a very positive climate for dance, and we have a good reputation nationally. Choreographers love to come and work in Minnesota. It’s one of the few spots in the U.S. that has a lot of stuff going on in dance, a lot of energy. And we’ve got The Cowles Center for Dance, an actual dance theater. Very few cities in the U.S. have that, so I think that’s just amazing. Now we just have to settle in and really work at building that dance audience, which is really needed here in the Twin Cities. It’ll take a while, but I think that will come as well.

MNO: Can you give us a preview of the first show of your 30th season? How did you choose the pieces and the choreographers? What does this show represent for you?

“Storm” by Daniel Charon for Zenon’s 30th Fall Season, photo by Stephanie Colgan.

LA: It’s two separate weekends of dance, with the second weekend being more of a retrospective of classic Zenon, some of the pieces that have stood out. I think for me, always, when I choose my seasons, it’s very much my instinct. It’s something that I feel, or that comes to me. I definitely wanted to present [dances from] Luciana Achugar and Netta Yerushalmy. These two women are doing really interesting work. Luciana, the way she works is so primal and so different from everybody. That type of modern [dance] you don’t see that much outside of New York and that’s what Zenon does. So we’re bringing in this more post-modern, quite experimental, abstract work. I try to balance it out with a piece like “Storm,” which was insanely popular and well-received; a very epic and American, big movement and modern dance piece, something very inspiring and people get very inspired watching it. And then also premiering this new tango piece. I wanted to premiere another piece by Mariusz Olszewski because he’s so good with what he does with Latin. So it’s just a very interesting fit.

This combination, it’s not out of bounds for my company. So other people would say, when I started Zenon, “You can’t mix modern and jazz, what are you doing?” And I said, “Why the hell not, they’re both so American.” And Zenon really is the epitome of American, modern, jazz, ballroom dance: the whole contemporary dance scene. So in that way, we’re continuing to really push dance. And that’s what exciting about American dance – just continuing to push the boundaries, and we’re part of that out here in the Midwest.

“Structures of Feeling” by Luciana Achugar for Zenon’s 30th Fall Season, photo by Steve Niedorf.

It’s like live performance, there’s always that quest for the moment of spirit, the technical, everything coming together, to create an evening of transcendent dance. This doesn’t happen every night but it happens a lot. It’s those moments that really inspire me. And that is artistic excellence, and it is the human spirit, and the spirit of Zenon.

Watch Zenon Dance’s profile on MN Original, and click here for more info on Zenon’s 30th Anniversary shows!

A Day at the Dog Park with Michael Crouser

When photographer Michael Crouser develops a new project or series, he often spends years studying his subjects. He takes hundreds, if not thousands of photographs with his film camera, developing each image by hand in his own darkroom. In the end just dozens of these photographs become part of the final series. Such is the case with a series he captured at local dog parks in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Brooklyn, New York. The result is a stunning collection of photographs that offers a different perspective of man’s best friend, as Michael shares in this MNO Extra.

Michael’s photographs are captured in his book, Dog Run. Information about this project and others can be found on his website. To learn more about Michael Crouser, check out his full MN Original segment:

Kate Casanova’s Wild About Mushrooms

You know what rainy, dreary Autumn days make us think of? Mushrooms.

Which of course makes us immediately think of local visual artist and recent MNO feature Kate Casanova.

Casanova unearths unique intersections between art and the natural world in her installations. For her MNO segment, she was preparing for a show at the Katherine E Nash Gallery on the University of Minnesota campus which found her planting mushroom spores in the batting of chairs before reupholstering them and then letting nature take its course.

We reached out to Casanova to see if she could recommend something to do with mushrooms that might be a little easier for those of us with zero upholstery skill. She hooked us up with her favorite mushroom recipe, courtesy her friend Carol.

Wild Mushroom Lasagna

Olive oil
2 medium onions thinly sliced
28 oz dried mushrooms
¼ cup parsley chopped
¼ cup marsala wine
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 cup broth
2-3 cups fontina cheese
Lasagna noodles
Mozzarella and parmesan for top

Heat pan, add onions and garlic, sauté. Add mushrooms, parsley, and thyme. Sauté. Stir in wine and simmer. Set aside. To make sauce, add butter, flour, and nutmeg in a saucepan. Stir in broth and milk. Cook until it thickens, add fontina cheese. In a pan layer noodles, mushroom mixture, and sauce. Repeat, end with sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes covered and then for 10 minutes uncovered, all at 375 degrees.

Casanova says, “There’s nothing better than a tasty fungus for dinner, and this savory dish will make excited for leftovers. Enjoy!”

The Lowertown Line Mad Lib

We’ve got plenty of photographic evidence that highlights the unforgettable studio event that was The Lowertown Line, presented by MN Original, hosted by Dessa and featuring Trampled By Turtles. But to really celebrate and memorialize the production of The Lowertown Line last week, we felt we needed some truly inspirational prose. And what better way to write a memorable ode than to crowd-source a good old-fashioned mad lib? So throughout the day of filming The Lowertown Line, we asked our Twitter followers to submit their favorite adjectives, verbs, nouns, and snarky salutations. The result was every bit as delightful, hilarious, and [adjective] as we could have hoped for. Check out our Lowertown Line Mad Lib below, and stay tuned to for more details on the broadcast of The Lowertown Line!

The Haunted Basement Returns To The Soap Factory For Its Sixth Terrifying Year

As October draws to a close, much of the Twin Cities is getting in the Halloween mood, and the local artist community is no exception. Nowhere is this more apparent than at The Soap Factory‘s Haunted Basement. More than an art installation however, The Haunted Basement is an interactive experience that’s designed and curated by artists. We spoke with The Soap Factory’s Program Manager, Lillian Egner, about the gory details of the sixth Haunted Basement.

MN Original: This year’s Haunted Basement is directed by theater director, Noah Bremer. How did that collaboration come about?

Lillian Egner: The Soap Factory restructured how The Haunted Basement project is organized for 2012 and moved from having a team of directors to one overall director. We interviewed many incredible candidates but Noah Bremer was the best fit for The Haunted Basement.

MNO: What has Noah’s vision and experience as a theater director brought to this year’s Haunted Basement that sets it apart from the previous five years?

LE: Noah’s experience with Live Action Set, Cirque du Soleil, and very physical styles of theater are a terrific match for the project. Noah has been working with our team of Haunted Basement artists since Spring of this year to cultivate their individual concepts. Each idea for an environment starts as a small kernel and builds as we flesh out the physical space, costuming, and action of the room. The Haunted Basement is about actors truly immersing themselves in their characters, so it’s much closer to improv than Theater. Having Noah involved in the creative direction of The Haunted Basement has helped the artists and actors develop fantastic environments.

Each year The Haunted Basement is completely redesigned and deals with new themes, characters and scares. Noah moved from the position of a Haunted Basement patron (he actually cried “uncle” back in 2007 during his first Haunted Basement visit) to Director. He brings a new perspective on audience engagement and immersive theater that keeps The Haunted Basement refreshed from year to year.

MNO: Scariest room in the Basement this year (without giving away any spoilers)?

LE: That’s a tough one! One of the scariest this year begins with patrons walking through a cattle chute to enter the environment. I can’t tell you what happens inside, but let’s just say that each patron is carefully examined for quality…

MNO: One of the most unique aspects of The Haunted Basement is the attention to sensory stimulation, and in particular smells, which are specially created by The St. Croix Sensory. What’s the worst smell in this year’s Haunted Basement?

LE: Baby Powder.

MNO: Complete this sentence: The Haunted Basement will be successful this year if you get ______ number of people to cry “uncle.”

LE: We’ve had about 20 “uncles” thus far but we don’t have a target number. In 2011 over 400 people “Uncled out” which is a bit disappointing to the artists. That is 400 people who don’t get to see their rooms or experience the action.

For a taste of The Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement, watch our video on the 2011 Haunted Basement:

Rush Tickets for The Lowertown Line

Still looking for a chance to see Trampled By Turtles and Dessa perform for The Lowertown Line? We’ve got a very limited number of rush tickets which will be available before we start filming on Wednesday! We’ll open up the rush line at 6:00 p.m. and the tickets will be given away by 7:00 p.m. We hope to see you in Lowertown on Wednesday night!

lowertown line rush

Open to legal residents of the United States and District of Columbia, who are 18 years or older as of 10/21/2012. Void where prohibited. Employees, directors and officers of Sponsor, and its parent company, affiliates, subsidiaries or any of their agents, advertising, promotional and other agencies, and their immediate families (parents, siblings, children and spouse) and persons living in the same household (whether related or not) are not eligible.

Prize/Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $5

Twin Cities Public Television, 172 East 4th Street, St. Paul, MN 55101.

No purchase is necessary to enter and a purchase will not improve chances of winning.

Thank you for your interest in this event.

The Lowertown Line: A New Music Pilot From tpt + MNO!

We’ve had such a blast working with all of the amazingly talented Twin Cities musicians that we’re piloting a new music series!

Hosted by the incomparable Dessa, The Lowertown Line will be produced at tpt in Lowertown, Saint Paul with a live studio audience. The pilot episode will feature Trampled By Turtles as well as a surprise musical guest and tapes before the end of October.

We’re giving away free tickets so be sure you and your friends follow MN Original on Facebook and Twitter to find out how you can be a part of this exclusive concert! Giveaway details will be posted soon!!


tpt’s Legacy Programming Wins Six Upper Midwest Emmys®

The Upper Midwest Chapter of the the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced 2012 winners on Saturday evening at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, and Twin Cities Public Television’s Minnesota Original programming received six Upper Midwest Emmy® Awards! We’re so appreciative of this honor from the Upper Midwest Regional Emmys® and to be recognized among such esteemed colleagues in the media. The MNO staff is particularly thankful for the incredible arts community in the Twin Cities, who permit us to share their talents, creative process and excellent work, with a statewide audience.

Most of all, we wish to thank the Minnesota State Legislature and the citizens of Minnesota for making MN Original possible with funding from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment.

Now, please scroll down to watch our Emmy® winning videos!

Magazine Program: Program – MN Original: Episode #319

Historic/Cultural/Nostalgic – Program and Writer – Program (Non-News): Lost Twin Cities III

Interstitial – Arts Scene: Minnesota (click on the link to watch the video)