This Week at MNO

We were in, around and on every possible surface of a hearse! Our teams love thinking up unusual ways to capture an artist’s process so when we heard Michael Thomsen had a hearse, we were all about it. Our day with Thomsen also included cigar boxes full of bolts and animal bones, monkey heads and local whiskey. Just another Monday around here…

Wednesday was spent interviewing two very inspiring and very talented women for segments that will finish shooting next week. Wang Ping, author and professor at Macalester College and Marisa Martinez, a jewelry artist and co-founder of Quench Jewelry Arts, shared their unbelievable stories of struggle and success on the road to discovering their art. We can’t wait to spend more time with these remarkable women.

Rounding out the week, we completed another step in a multi-shoot process with Michael Berglund and Team Melin is in the field as we speak with artist Karen Gustafson.

Our monthly newsletter hit inboxes yesterday crowing about 3 huge April events full of MNO Alumni. You want to know about these events too? Well I can only tell you they’re ARTCRANK, The American Craft Council Show and the Saint Paul Art Crawl AFTER you sign up for our newsletter with the little widget on the right side of any page on our site.

Tune in Sunday at 6pm for a new episode featuring Sally Award-winning painter and public artist Ta-coumba Aiken, fashion designer Danielle Everine, glass artist Fred Kaemmer and marimba and harmonica live-looping extraordinaire Noah Hoehn.

Bring your questions for Everine and Hoehn over to Twitter where we’ll be live-tweeting the episode with them – #mnoriginal!

Links we love today:

Wind Map

Perpetual Ocean

Birth of a Book

Rhythmic Circus’ Operation Ellen (local)

Overhead in the edit room: “My accountant calls me a Movement Professional.”

Art In Unexpected Places: The Gallery at Fox Tax

In the inaugural post of our new blog series, Art In Unexpected Places, we profile Fox Tax and their Gallery at Fox Tax. The Gallery at Fox Tax‘s current exhibit, Entanglement, features the art of Beth Bowman, Allen Brewer, Zach Collins, Jonas Criscoe, John Diebel, Jesse Draxler, Hannah Frick, Josie Lewis, Rob McBroom, Ken Palko, Jessica Slagle, Ian Sorlie, Guy Wagner, Vanesa Windschitl, and Gary Wolfe. Entanglement closes, appropriately enough, on April 17th, the day after Tax Day. So make it down to the gallery while you still can, and read on for interviews with Fox Tax owner, Mark Fox, and the curator of Entanglement, Hannah Frick.

Where did the idea for an art gallery in a tax office first come from?
Mark Fox: We started Fox Tax in my house working with artists and musicians that we knew and my house slowly filled up with the art of my clients, so when we found the space in Northeast, it just made sense to promote the artists that were already promoting us.

What kinds of reactions did you receive when first proposing an art gallery space in your offices?
MF: It still prompts confused looks when we describe it, but at least it always leads to more conversation than “oh, you’re an accountant…”

What was your favorite art project in elementary school?
MF: Wow….no idea, but I did enjoy making paper chains out of construction paper to count down to Christmas. We still make them now to count down to April 15th. Everyone in the office writes something that they are looking forward to after the deadline and we tear one off each day of April.

Who are some of your favorite local artists?
MF: I’m a fan of Gregory Euclide, Broken Crow, Jen Davis, Amy Rice, Dan Buettner, Robert Lesch, Josie Lewis, Nick Harper.

What kind of art do you look for to fill The Gallery at Fox Tax?
MF: We simply try and show things that we enjoy and think others should see. Our taste tends to land somewhere between pop and surrealism. I’d rather look at unique than pretty, and making a statement through humor or irony trumps technique in my book any day.

In what ways has The Gallery at Fox Tax contributed to the local art scene?
MF: I hope that we’ve been able to expose artist’s to an audience they wouldn’t otherwise get. We also really enjoy crossing the invisible lines between the oddly tight knit and closed circles of different creative groups in this town. Our clientele ranges across all the creative fields from actors, musicians, writers, artists, and designers and strangely, they don’t mix all that often. Our events tend to be a cross section of all of those interesting groups of people, which is fun to sit back and watch. We also enjoy doing shows where we instigate collaboration between artists, such as our “Re-arted” show where we paired different artists that we thought could mix well and challenged them to re-art each others work.

As a lifelong fan & patron of the arts, at what point did you realize that your career wasn’t going to be in the arts?
MF: Let’s just say that when the kids in the neighborhood decided to put on a play, I had the self appointed role of running the concession stand and getting the audience to buy my candy. I’ve always been the organizer rather than the creative.

What’s the first thing you do when tax season is over?
MF: We start every Accountant’s New Year by taking the entire staff to get massages and day long mimosa brunch at a sidewalk cafe (hopefully in the sun) and end a week of said brunches with an Accountant’s New Year Gallery party where friends from across the country fly in to see their friends that have been MIA since January. This year’s party will be on Saturday the 21st at the Gallery at Fox Tax and will be the closing night party for the current group show of collage artists curated by Hannah Frick.

Hannah Frick is a visual artist who was born, raised, and currently resides in the St. Paul area. Hannah curated and contributed her own art to Entanglement, the current exhibition at The Gallery at Fox Tax.

Why art in a tax specialist’s office?
Hannah Frick: Why not? It has never seemed strange to me that Fox Tax has a gallery in the front of their office space. Mark and Alyssa both have a love for the arts. I think for a tax office, it really adds a unique touch. When I think of taxes, I usually think of paperwork and numbers and headaches (sorry, accountants!). Fox Tax is an approachable environment full of beautiful artwork, which can help ease the pain or stress of tax filing (for clients and staff alike, I assume). The location in NE Minneapolis makes an art gallery fitting. I’m sure that some people know the place firstly as a gallery, which is a great way to attract new clientele.

Tell us about Entanglement, and whose art is on display at The Gallery at Fox Tax.
HF: Entanglement is a group exhibition that showcases various approaches to the technique of collage. There are 15 artists represented in Entanglement. The artists have a variety of experience under their belts, and some have shown at Fox Tax Gallery in the past. I think of the exhibition as a “collage” of collage artists, all coming together to create a cohesive whole. I like collage because it is very approachable, both to artists and to viewers. I say approachable because it seems that everyone has cut and pasted and arranged papers at some point (even if it was back when they were 5). I enjoy the play that goes into creating a collage, as well the dissection of a finished piece as a viewer.

Aside from Fox Tax, in what other unexpected place might your artwork be found?
HF: As an emerging artist, it is easier for me to show my artwork in “unexpected” places than in established art galleries, and I love the variety! In the next few months, I will be showing work at a community Earth Day event at Anderson Funeral Home, at Turbo Tim’s Anything Automotive for Art-A-Whirl, and at Barfly for <insert>GALLERY‘s first phantom gallery opening.

First Person: The Making of ARTCRANK

Kate O’Reilly is a local publicist and producer (and new employee of Twin Cities Public Television!) who, along with her business partner and a small dedicated team, produces the ARTCRANK poster show. Here she tells us about the show and how it all comes together.

ARTCRANK is a show of bicycle-inspired poster artwork that introduces people to talented local artists and sends them home with affordable, original works of art. Every ARTCRANK show features posters created by local artists from the host city. Admission is always free, and posters are priced to let everybody take home at least one. It began in Minneapolis in 2007. Since then, we’ve held shows in DenverSt. LouisPortlandSan FranciscoDes MoinesBend, OR,  London and Interbike in Las Vegas. For 2012, we’re adding new shows in Austin, Los Angeles and New York.

Our mission is to use creativity to change the way people think about bicycles and grow the cycling community. In a nutshell: Bikes. Art. Doing Good. The best part of our jobs is that we get to travel to some of the country’s (and the world’s) great cities and get to know people who are as head-over-heels in love with cycling and creativity as we are. This is a great privilege, and we channel that same energy into supporting people and groups who are out there doing good.

The shows are planned basically from the minute the last one ends. Usually the first thing I work on is finding a venue if it will be different from the year before. Then, I have a checklist that I run through to make sure all things we need to have a party are aligned: a place to park bikes, mouth watering beverages to drink, music to rock out, and a large flat surface to sell and bag the gorgeous works of art our artists create for the show. There are a approximately one billion things around these details that need to be completed, but I won’t bore you with those. We have an impressive group of partners and sponsors that we work with in each city to make it all come together. Those details aside, I would say that the “official official” start to each show is when we do the call for artists, usually around three months out from the date of the show.

We put the call out on our website and social media channels and it’s an exciting day each and every time we do it! We’re looking for 30-40 artists but we’ve had as many as 105 entries for some shows. We realize that these are good problems, but it makes our job very hard. After the deadline we review the artists’ portfolios and we come up with our short list and ask them to make an original piece for our show. They have approximately two months from the time we notify them to make their posters. We sell up to 50 copies, which are hand signed and numbered by the artist. We try and have a few tried and true popular artists but mostly wish to feature up and coming artists’ work.

Opening the packages the posters come in is like Christmas morning, over and over. We’re always amazed at the variety, ink colors (we’ve seen as many as 16 colors on one poster; which means that many or more pulls on the screen printer, per poster!), and creativity of our artists. The show is a true labor of love for Charles, the show’s creator and curator, and I. Our small but growing team of now 5 dedicated and bike-obsessed folks meets every other week in the wee hours of Monday morning (we all have FT jobs as well) over coffee to discuss details and upcoming tasks. Our upcoming show in Minneapolis will be our 25th show in the life of ARTCRANK.

In the slideshow, you’ll see photos from a number of different ARTCRANK shows of Charles and I setting up, checking in with our cause partners, the madness of when guests arrive, and the incredible art. Enjoy! And come and experience the show for yourself sometime. It’s a fun ride.

ARTCRANK MSP Opening Night Party is Saturday, April 14, 2012 at Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art. The 2012 edition of ARTCRANK MSP will, as always, feature hand-made, bike-inspired posters created by 40 local artists. Admission is free, and limited edition, signed and numbered copies of all posters will be available for $40 each. More details, including those for a family-friendly pre party, can be found here.

TwitChat Recap: MNO #312

Every Sunday during airings of new episodes of MN Original, we host live Twitter chats from our perch in Twitter land with artists, viewers, and well, anyone, to talk about the show — live as it airs! Here’s a recap of our live TwitChat from the airing of Episode #312, which featured conversation with Patrick Scully of Patrick’s Cabaret, The Museum of Russian Art (where painter Oleg Vassiliev‘s art is currently on display), and Kill The Vultures. Follow us on Twitter (@mnoriginal), and join in the chat this coming Sunday at 6:00 p.m. while a new episode of MN Original airs on tpt2!


This Week at MNO

What a beautiful week to be out in the field! Series Producer Ashleigh Rowe spent an afternoon with Toni and Uri Sands of TU Dance at their beautiful new location on University Avenue. Team Melin visited the archives at the Minnesota Historical Society with Julie l’Enfant discussing some notable women painters of the early 20th century. And Team Blahnik scouted for upcoming shoots with author Wang Ping and jewelry artist Marisa Martinez of Meztiza Designs and Quench Jewelry Arts.


Looking for something to do this weekend? Visit The Russian Museum of Art and see some of painter Oleg Vassiliev’s work on display in their lower gallery. Then watch an all new episode of MNO this Sunday at 6pm on tpt2 featuring Vassiliev as well as Patrick Scully of Patrick’s Cabaret, ceramic artist Maren Kloppman and a performance of “Walk on Water” from Kill the Vultures.

Links we love today:

First Position documentary trailer

The world’s quietest room

Rear Window Time Lapse

A virtual choir featuring 3746 videos from 73 countries

First Stop for Local Fashion? Uptown’s Cliché

If it’s locally grown zucchini or bok choy you’re after, you should have no problem getting your fix in the Twin Cities. But according to Joshua Sunberg, co-owner of the clothing store Cliché in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood, getting your local fashion fix can be more of a challenge.

“There’s a great restaurant scene here,” says Sunberg, “but the fashion scene has had to kind of fight to have any kind of status.” And Sunberg would know. Cliché is one of a few Twin Cities fashion gems, carrying local brands like KathrynV, Needle and Black,  Kjurek Couture, and Danielle Everine.

Sunberg started the store 8 years ago with his wife, Delayna. Neither of them had formal design or even retail background, but as Sunberg puts it, “We just had a lot of creative ideas and we wanted to experiment. There was no master plan.”

Yet the boutique-size store on Lyndale Avenue has survived, even thrived, despite the recent recession. Its success may have to do with the relatively reasonable prices and the fact that there are few options for one-of-a-kind clothing in the Twin Cities. “We’ve found our niche with girls who are sick of the typical Mall of America style,” he says. But selling “local” fashion for its own sake isn’t Cliché’s strategy.

“My proudest moment is when somebody buys something without knowing it’s local. Because I think that’s more sustainable. Customers have to really like [an item of clothing], and that’s only going to benefit the designers later.”

Minneapolis isn’t hurting for local designers who make wearable, accessible fashion. Danielle Everine, whose timeless style will be showcased in next week’s episode of MN Original, designs clothing that Sunberg refers to as “craftsman.”

“Not crafty; craftsman,” he says. “It has an old world quality that you’d associate with a brand that’s been around for hundreds of years.” He considers Everine a tastemaker, whose fashions are consistently relevant and yet ahead of the curve.

Given Cliché’s aversion to mass-produced fashion, you might think it difficult to find comfortable, approachable styles at the shop. But Sunberg insists he and co-owner Delayna aren’t trying to make a point with the fashions they showcase: “We just buy what we love.”

“Even when we buy a basic tank top, we still have to love it. Just because it’s basic doesn’t mean there aren’t some details about it that we love.”

For a close-up look at some of the designs Joshua and Delayna Sunberg love, be sure to tune in on Sunday for this week’s episode of MN Original, featuring designer Danielle Everine. Sunday, April 14, at 6pm Central on tpt 2.


This Week at MNO

Our producing teams alternate shoot weeks and this time it was producer Marissa Blahnik out in the field with an unintentional farming theme. First up, Kristen Lowe and her large scale charcoal drawings of sheep. Despite having broken her ankle only three weeks ago, Kristen let us in on a little experimentation work and shared her creative storyboards for the feature length documentary project, “Painting the Place Between.” The team finished the week with color reduction woodcut printer Emily Gray Koehler as she searched for grasses and other plant matter to include in upcoming collagraph work.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Sally Awards, honoring individuals and organizations who’ve enriched our state through their commitment to the arts. Recipients were announced Monday night and included MNO Alumni Ta-coumba Aiken  and TU Dance.

MNO congratulates all the 2011 Sally Award winners:

ARTS ACCESS: Rick Jacobson

EDUCATION: Ross Sutter


VISION: Ta-coumba T. Aiken


Spend your Sunday night with an all new MNO at 6pm on tpt2. This episode features Iris Shiraishi and the MU Daiko drum ensemble, artist in lustrous materials Thomas Schrunk, the meditative work of painter Barbara Kreft and Paraguayan harpist Nicolas Carter. Watch a preview of the episode here.

Links we love today:

Human Face Video Mapping

A Story for Tomorrow

Dancers Among Us

PBS’s NewsHour blog Around the Nation (this week featuring our piece on Terrence Payne!)



Youth Performance Company to Receive New Website

As someone who’s worked on MNO and other tpt related websites for two years, this past weekend’s Overnight Website Challenge hosted by the Nerdery was something I’ve wanted to participate in since first hearing about it. My name is Jessi and I keep MNO’s website online and updated. Coming from a non-profit that has a dedicated web department, it’s easy for me to take what we have at tpt for granted. This was a great way for me (and indirectly, tpt) to give back to non-profits who aren’t as fortunate to have dedicated web teams.

The challenge, now in its 5th year, brings together non-profits who have not-so-hot websites and web pros who donate 24 hours of their time, pro bono. At the end of the challenge web pros deliver shiny, new websites with features non-profits only dream about. One of the deserving non-profits was Youth Performance Company! MNO featured YPC back in April, 2011 and I, along with nine other teammates including another tpt-er, took their website to the next level.

Our team approached the challenge with clear goals for the site. First, we moved them off of their current content management system and initiated them into the world of WordPress. Then we gave them the ability to collect data from their site as well as an easy tool for event management. Something YPC needed since they offer numerous classes, auditions, rehearsal schedules, events and productions. And of course, we gave the site a new coat of paint. They asked for something bold, edgy and fun. I think our tpt web designer came through with a great concept for them!

The staff of YPC were the best to work with. They were organized and ready for a change. They also provided plenty of yummy snacks to keep our blood sugar and energy up and toys to relieve stress. 

I’d like to thank The Nerdery for hosting the event. With all the great non-profits and nerds in the Twin Cities, it only makes sense to put us together in a room for 24 hours all for the greater good. It was a fun, rewarding, and at times, challenging event. (They don’t call it a “Web Challenge” for nothing!)

Youth Performance Company’s new website will be online in the coming weeks.

Fantastic Merlins

Since its opening in 1998, Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar has helped the Lowertown neighborhood in downtown Saint Paul emerge as a Twin Cities hotspot for music and art. Occurring every other Friday evening, The Black Dog’s regular music series, Community Pool: Deep End, has been at the forefront of this effort.

Hosted and curated by Brian Roessler and Nathan Hanson of the Fantastic Merlins, Deep End features a diverse range of live and improvised music from local and national groups. Along with co-owner of the Black Dog Sara Remke, the Fantastic Merlins discuss what makes performing in this venue unique.

This Week at MNO

Producer Amy Melin was in the field at All My Relations art show, Mni Sota: Reflections of Time and Place at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery. You’ve got one more day to see the show (closing Saturday, March 17th) so spend a few hours with “the largest curatorial exhibit of contemporary Native American fine artists in Minnesota”!

The production team scouted the Varsity Theater for next Friday’s concert with Communist Daughter, Bethany Larson and the Bee’s Knees, and Joey Ryan & The Inks. We’ll have 6 cameras capturing the action.

Our editors are finishing up their work on a variety of pieces you’ll be seeing this spring, everything from sculptors to fine art painters to dancers. Who are you interested in seeing on MN Original? Send us an email!

Dan Huiting, our Director of Photography is at SXSW. We’re trying not to be too jealous.

We’re prepping around the office for new episodes to resume next week on Sunday, March 25th. Show #310 is a lively mix of vibrant colors and irresistible music, showcasing the visuals of Pamela Sukhum and Terrence Payne, the moves of Amy Sackett and the music of The Jayhawks and Malamanya. MNO is all new this spring with weekly premieres through May 27th!

Links we love today:

Le Petit Prince

Topography Murals in Brazil

The Ballerina Project

Pass On poem by Michael Lee (Local)


Practice Spaces: Orkestar Bez Ime

Introducing our new MNO On The Go series “Practice Spaces,” where you’ll get a sneak peek into the intimate environments where local musicians hone their craft. In each piece, we’ll offer insights into what gives each spot its unique character (in this case, don’t miss the “anatomically correct” salt and pepper shakers). Click the photo below to get a closer look at the musicians in their space. To hear the raw sound of that evening’s recording, click the play button on the audio bar below.

orkestar bez ime practicing

At first glance, you wouldn’t think Dee Langley’s dining room could accommodate six whole people, much less six people with multiple instruments, ranging in size from clarinet to upright bass. Yet each week, the members of Orkestar Bez Ime crowd happily into Dee’s dining room catch up on upcoming gigs, and more importantly, to fill the room with the Balkan dance music they’ve become known for throughout the Upper Midwest.

The room is crowded cozily with antique wooden furniture, and eclectic trinkets from Dee’s world travels. Purple, green, and yellow Mardi Gras decorations dangle throughout, along with the occasional unidentifiable doo-dad created by Dee’s husband, a prototyper for the Science Museum of Minnesota. While the group plays, Dee’s cats, Loci and Mutt, wander in and out, unimpressed. To hear what what Orkestar Bez Ime sounds like in its natural environment, click play on the sound strip above. Stay tuned to MNO this Spring to see Orkestar Bez Ime perform in tpt‘s Studio A.

MNO Alumni Among State Arts Board Grant Recipients

The Minnesota State Arts Board recently announced their Artist Initiative Grant recipients and we’re thrilled to recognize a number of MNO Alumni on the list. These grants are awarded to “artists at all stages of their careers, to support artistic development, nurture artistic creativity, and recognize the contributions individual artists make to the creative environment of the state of Minnesota.” It was such a pleasure to shoot with each of these 15 artists and we look forward to seeing what they create with these funds.

Read on for links to each artist’s MNO piece as well as their intended project descriptions from the Arts Board website.

Congratulations to all the Artist Initiative Grant recipients!

Scott Lloyd Anderson
Anderson will create paintings of local, contemporary, urban, and suburban environments, many to be painted on location, culminating in an exhibition.

Bounxou Daoheuang
Daoheuang will design and create a traditional silk weaving of the White House in this ancient form of Laotian textile art.

Guillermo Cuellar (in production)
Cuellar will build a propane-fired soda glaze kiln with used brick, new burners, and kiln shelves. With the assistance of a pottery student, he will have an exhibition of new work in soda glaze.

Susana di Palma (in production)
Di Palma will attend the 17th Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla, attend twenty concerts, take classes in singing for dance, and do research and prep work on “Con Vivir,” a theater/flamenco piece.

Kyle Fokken (in production)
Fokken will research and explore how to translate the style of his small indoor sculpture into large, durable, outdoor work and purchase equipment that will enable him to work safely.

Karen Gustafson (in production)
Gustafson will frame completed drawings and begin a new phase of work. She will participate in several open studios so visitors may see her finished work and view the new series as it develops. In addition, she will take a ten-session workshop to build her business skills at Springboard for the Arts.

Terry Gydesen
Gydesen will document the 2012 election cycle, focusing on issues unique to the state of Minnesota. She will also create an interactive Web site with words and images to encourage dialogue, debate, and education.

Ed Bok Lee
Lee will complete his first manuscript of short stories, while communally workshopping the pieces at established open microphone venues located in or near the Twin Cities neighborhoods in which each story is set.

Dean Lucker
Lucker will adapt and install one of his mechanical sculptures for temporary exhibition at several public institutions within Minnesota.

Tran Myhre will hire professional videographers to record a spoken word poetry performance and put together a professional electronic press kit (EPK) to be used in booking negotiations. He will organize and promote at least one spoken word event to complete this project.

Bao Phi
Phi will tour and promote his first collection of poetry, “Song I Sing,” in at least five major cities around the country. He will present at least one performance in the Twin Cities.

Aparna Ramaswamy
Ramaswamy will present solo performances in the United Kingdom, Italy, and Switzerland, as part of the internationally known Soorya Festival. Upon her return to Minnesota, Ramaswamy will present an informal performance and talk that will be free and open to the public.

Monica Reede
Reede will produce and document new work for an upcoming exhibition at the Bloomington Art Center in Bloomington, in January 2013.

Andréa Stanislav
Stanislav will bring concepts and imagery from her sculpture into her video work with the purchase of hardware and software. She will then exhibit the new work at a Twin Cities gallery.

Asia Ward (in production)
Ward will research requirements and develop a sculpture that represents a section of the Saint Croix River for installation in a public space.