Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sneak Peeks and Tours

Plenty of projects that I'll surprise you with later (do you love surprises as much as I do?), but I was a busy bird this week with plenty of things I am happy to share right now.

Except for my out of state readers, we're all familiar with the Shubert Theater in downtown Minneapolis, right? It's that impressive but quiet, boarded up large cream-colored building on Hennepin between 5th and 6th streets. It has a pretty interesting history and, until now, may be most famous for it's delicate, slow move from its original location. Well, it's seeing a lot of action lately (including a name change to the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts) and I was able to get an inside sneak peek. The place is still full of construction equipment and I got to wear a hard hat on the tour. Scaffolding is on the stage and construction dust covers just about every surface. It's easy to see past all of that though. It's going to be a beautiful performing arts center. I can't wait to see dance performances there! I don't see nearly enough dance for how much I enjoy the artform.

Was great to see H.M.S. Pinafore at the Guthrie on opening night this weekend. It was also the Guthrie's 5th birthday in their new building! Everyone got to toast with little cups of champagne after the show. As I tweeted earlier, this production of H.M.S. Pinafore is absolutely insane. It's so naughty! And when it's not naughty, it's just sort of, well, mind blowing.

Headed over to PUNY to find out some fun things for you -- that's going to be a surprise though.

Gregory Green and John Waters
Have you gone to Absentee Landlord yet? It's the latest rage at the Walker curated by John Waters. If anything, see it for artist Gregory Green's piece. Bunny and I were able to chat with him a bit when the exhibition opened and he told us a wild tale about an art gallery that got raided by the police because of one of his creations, which contained diluted liquid opium. He makes fake bombs and whole-room pieces that, when you walk into them, look like you've stumbled into a crazed bomb maker's lair. John Waters has a room in his house devoted to a piece by Gregory Green, if you were wondering about the connection. 

Also, the special gift shop merchandise for this exhibition is really great. Plenty of gags, like fake mustaches and squirting flowers, but also limited edition pieces by John Waters himself. He's given some Barbie Dolls trashy makeovers and put their pictures of plates, of course. Check out Tina here:
The Ordway's production of Guys and Dolls closed this weekend -- I was glad to hang out with the cast before they dispersed onto other projects. After getting drinks with everyone at Meritage and before getting more drinks at Camp in St. Paul, I saw the International Space Station zip by overhead at 17,500 mph. It was fun being able to point that out to everyone! An exhilarating night for sure.

Planning a trip to NYC with my mom. Technically, we are always planning a trip to NYC, from the day we get back until the day we go again. Always so much to do! Thinking about Los Angeles a lot lately, too. I'm hooked!

Also, have you been to the ladies room in the intimate apparel section of Macy's in Minneapolis? It's a glamorous vintage gem. Oh -- and it's free!

Have a great week, Chester.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

John Waters Curates "Absentee Landlord" at The Walker Art Center

Listening to John Waters talk about Absentee Landlord, his curatorial debut at the Walker Art Center, is like listening to someone talk about their latest, grandest, most experimental party ever. He’s invited strictly a cast of troublemakers -- those who were troublemakers in the past, and those who are more recently falling into the title. On Friday, Waters walked through his exhibition wondering if the artists he’s assembled together would get along, and, on a more thoughtful note, if some of them would eventually gain fame or fall into obscurity, saying “Who knows what a new master is going to be.”
He refers to the artists in this show as troublemakers because, for the most part, they work in taboos, such as Yves Klein who famously had nude models cover themselves in paint and push their bodies onto blank canvasses, or Russ Meyer, who is famous for his penchant toward busty women. Waters points out that eventually troublemakers become the norm, or “blue chip.” Take, for instance, Wolfgang Tillmans’ photo of two young men kissing entitled "The Cock (kiss)." It isn’t as controversial as it would have been several years ago. In fact, as Waters puts it, “now it’s rather innocent.” But Absentee Landlord explores the question: Can the old troublemakers handle the new ones? Which is why Waters made sure to put seemingly mismatched works next to each other. “It’s like casting a movie with unlikely combinations,” Waters said. And somehow, the pieces brought together for Absentee Landlord do work quite nicely together.

People who know of John Waters’ other professions -- and he has many -- know that he doesn’t shy away from raunchy subject matter. Some may mistake him for a prankster or someone just out for the novelty of shock. And that’s not without cause -- after all, some of the products brought into the Walker’s gift shop include fake mustaches, squirting flowers, fake syringes, and other classic gags -- but when it comes to the world of art, John Waters is not joking around. He is sometimes amazed at the audacity of art, but recognizes that wit is a big part of contemporary and modern pieces. His first major experience with art was one of power, and his obsession began with a Miro art print that he bought for a dollar when he was just a boy. Or rather, the reaction he got when he showed it to his friends. ”When I brought it home and showed it to my friends, they all said, ‘eew, what is that?’ and that’s when I realized, wow, this is powerful stuff.” His tastes have expanded since then, but art is still serious business. In fact, when he plans gallery visits in New York, friends who join him know they must follow along tout suite or be left behind in his Comme des Garcons fashion dust.

Absentee Landlord is anything but a joke, and “nothing is camp. [This art] may not be easy, but none of it is bad,” Waters says. And for those who scoff at art that looks like something their kid could make, Waters is quick to point out, “yeah, but they didn’t, stupid.”
One of the more challenging pieces is a set of large window blinds which lay on the floor and look like something that the janitor has neglected to clean away. “I love this,” Waters says. “It’s like someone just dumped this here.” It’s one of many pieces in the show that Waters insists that audiences don’t have to understand to enjoy, and, in fact, don’t even have to like. It is important, however, to recognize that it can forever change the way in which art is seen and, according to Waters, “It will open your eyes to see art everywhere you go.”
Absentee Landlord, curated by John Waters, will be on display at the Walker Art Center in galleries 1, 2, and 3 through March 4, 2011.

Monday, June 6, 2011

This that and the other, Omaha and The Wine People

My poor neglected blog. I've been too busy to post anything here. Been busy in good ways though. Got a new job writing for the local CBS affiliate, so be sure to check that out.

Also, I spent all of last week pouring wine for playwrights, so, needless to say, I've been quite busy. Rather than wine and beer I am a fan of the hard alcohol, but I am happy to adapt and so for the last week I have essentially been a fox in the hen house. The occasion was the Great Plains Theater Conference and it's a pretty exciting week. Met Lee Blessing -- he seemed to really enjoy a play Max and I wrote and performed. It was great to chat again with Mac Wellman, Sibyl Kempson, Constance Congdon, Eliza Bent, Bostin Christopher, and David Neumann again, too. Met some great new friends as well, who I imagine are all passed out at the moment, recovering from the week.

Hitting the ground running again this week, so there will probably be sparse reporting here again. Looking forward to John Waters though. If I'm not having an adventure I will surely perish, yeah?

Have a good week, Chester.