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MSP Slides Into September with National Events and Exhibits

This month’s arts and culture feature includes visual and literary arts that continue to break boundaries and forge new alliances.

Celebrating Ten Years of the St. Paul Almanac
September 10, 7 p.m.
Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, St. Paul
After a successful decade documenting the Twin Cities cultural landscape, the St. Paul Almanac celebrates its 10-year anniversary by hosting a book release party to debut St. Paul Almanac: A Ten Year Retrospective. Gather (as people have for the past nine years) at Black Dog to enjoy live music, readings, a silent auction and the always-popular story mobile. Playwright Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay hosts the bash, while Kool AKiEM will dj. The proceedings will anthologize St. Paul’s decade-long investment in the Almanac, an ambitious and beloved project. Almanac editors reviewed hundreds of previous editions to create a literary collection of poems and stories by poet laureates, professional writers and community contributors, illustrating the entries with a collection of St. Paul-themed art and photographs. Sally Ordway Irvine Award winner Ta-coumba Aiken created the vibrant cover art.
Alma Lights Grand Opening
September 16, 7-11 p.m.
Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis
Free; 5-7 p.m. preview $65
Northernlights.mn and Restaurant Alma have joined forces to create Alma Lights, a pop-up, site-specific art installation in the restaurant’s expanded (and currently under renovation) spaces. The show’s aim is to alter our perception of such quotidian spaces as stairwells, windowsills, hallways and storage areas. Artist Laura Bigger, for instance, will manipulate light in order to draw attention to Alma’s nooks and crannies. Jess Hirsch will spray stairwell walls with water from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to celebrate the restaurant’s 16th anniversary—and willingness to start anew. Other artists include Aaron Dysart, Ifrah Mansour, Wil Natzel, Piotr Szyhalski Labor Camp, Peter Haakon Thompson and JoAnn Verburg. Alma Lights is also one of the venues hosting a Hand-In-Glove reception and performance (see below).
September 17-20
The Soap Factory, Minneapolis
It’s about time. With our plethora of theater and dance companies, small galleries and international museums, performances spaces and alternative art projects, it is no wonder Common Field selected Minneapolis—specifically The Soap Factory—as the site of the 2015 Hand-In-Glove conference. The event is a “national convening for the field of alternative art spaces, artist-led projects and artists' organizations,” according to the website, which means its purpose is to build networks, generate dialogue, and question the ways in which the arts are currently being organized, produced and distributed. Since 2011, the annual conference has invited arts leaders from around the world to develop and create solutions in response to the political, economic and social environments in which artists currently exist. How are access and opportunity given to artists and what logistics are needed in order to do so? How can the future of artist-centric organizations be preserved for future generations so that grass roots art productions can hold their own next to the highly established and hyper funded? There are no easy answers. Hand-In-Glove hopes to bring maximum visibility to such topics and instigate change.
Opens September 25, 7 p.m.
HGA Gallery, Rapson Hall, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
In their recent book Hypernatural: Architecture’s New Relationship with Nature, Blaine Brownell (director of the master of architecture program at the University of Minnesota) and Marc Swackhamer (head of the school of architecture at the U of M and founding partner at the Minneapolis-based HouMinn) go beyond organic architecture and biomimicry. They showcase 41 human-made environments and spaces that integrate nature and technology in sustainable ways. The accompanying exhibition includes poster boards of projects in the book, such as “Ecohviren,” a structure sited in among redwood trees that’s designed to decompose into its natural surroundings in 30 to 50 years. 

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