Crawl: Fashion week in January? (via Vita.mn)
January has never been a big month for fashion, but local designers are becoming so productive that Minneapolis was blessed with fashion shows three nights in a row last week. It started on Jan. 26 with the first-ever Voltage retail preview, in which Voltage's 2010 roster of designers previewed a selection of their most retail-ready designs for Twin Cities buyers at Vision modeling agency. Highlights included avant-garde men's knits by Kevin Kramp and silk draped separates by George Moskal. One night later, the annual Commingle show at the Fine Line featured an underground, DIY edge that seemed to hark back to 2003, when local designers preferred the avant-garde over the wearable. While much of the fashion struck out, looks from Elizabeth Chesney and SoHo Exchange were a treat for the eyes. Finally, Cliche's annual Avoid the Grey show returned to the tiny Old Arizona last Thursday. The show ended with a surreal, "Midsummer Night's Dream"-meets-"Twin Peaks" finale that had soot-covered models in plaid holding glittering axes, surrounded by men in suits and animal masks. The rest of the show packed in an astounding 15 designers including Brianne Jones and Christine Carmichael. (View full recap with images here.) -Jahna Peloquin
Fashion: Red Shoe T-shirts (via Vita.mn)
After struggling to keep the tees in stock at local boutique Cliché, Red Shoe Clothing designer Kerry Riley is now selling her popular screen-printed tees in a newly launched e-shop. Her signature chain-print shirts, designed in collaboration with Anthem Heart and printed on super-soft Alternative Apparel T-shirts, are available in various colors and cuts (V-neck or crew) and men's and women's sizes. -Jahna Peloquin
Fashion: Pierrepont Hicks ties (via Vita.mn)
Guys are dressing up more and more these days, thanks to the influence of "Mad Men" and the resurgence of classic menswear. Locally designed neckwear company Pierrepont Hicks is capitalizing on that trend via one of a well dressed gent's most vital accoutrements, the tie. Manufactured in New York's Garment District, Pierrepont Hicks' dapper selection includes both neckties and bowties in various tweedy fabrics. And now's the time to shop: Select ties are up to 20 percent off (originally $59-$89) through Valentine's Day at www.pierreponthicks.com. -Jahna Peloquin
Fashion: (In)Sight U of M Senior Fashion Show (via Vita.mn)
The University of Minnesota’s annual fashion show has long served as a launching pad for fledgling designers. Last year, it was Calpurnia Peach’s Luci Kandler and Ashley Wokasch, as well as Voltage 2010 designer Brianne Jones. This year, all eyes should be fixed on Emily Bryngelson, who has a substantial head start: she’s been selling her line Tender Cuts at Cliché since this fall. Her innate ability to combine a strong point of view with wearable, well-constructed separates is a rarity for such a green designer. Other designers to watch out for are Lee Jackson, the lone male designer in the show, who combines conceptual thinking with wearable, architectural lines, as well as Judy Bender, who says she “finds inspiration from around the globe” for her sophisticated designs. -Jahna Peloquin
[Art by DC Ice, who is featured in an opening reception at the AZ Gallery as part of Lowertown First Fridays in St. Paul]
Art: Loving Lowertown (via Vita.mn)
The St. Paul artists' community moves to the fore with First Fridays crawl.
By Jahna Peloquin
Much has been made of the entertainment boom in St. Paul's Lowertown district over the past year, thanks to the success of bar/eateries Barrio and the Bulldog. Now, thanks to new First Fridays monthly open studio and gallery crawl, the Lowertown arts community comes front and center.
In fact, it's the arts scene that has long given downtown St. Paul's eastern end its distinct flavor. Lowertown has a long history of artist residencies dating back to the late 1970s when a group of artists formed the Lowertown Lofts Artists Cooperative. "I think it's one of the oldest artist communities in the United States where artists have been living continuously, because the artists actually live in the community," says Robyn Priestley, executive director of the St. Paul Artist Collective, which has been around for about as long, and has organized the biannual St. Paul Art Crawl for 15 years.
Another element that makes Lowertown unique is the high concentration of artists living and working within a four- to five-block radius. Priestley, an artist herself, estimates there are about 500 artists in the studios and co-ops of Lowertown. "I don't really know of any other community with that amount of artists in such a small area," Priestley says.
Despite the longevity and depth of the community, it took more than 30 years before it would institute a monthly studio crawl, a standby of any thriving arts community. But given the conceptual, right-brained nature of artists, it's not too surprising. It all started late last year when photographer Rhea Pappas joined forces with fellow Lowertown artists Barbara Evan, Tracy Olson and Ann Larson and began trekking to the area's various studios and galleries to propose the monthly crawl.
Pappas says it came out of the need to connect with the outside community and showcase its active artist environment. "The [St. Paul] Art Crawl is great, but it's literally only two weekends of the year," she says. "Then we shut down for the rest of the year." Besides, she says, "it's a good excuse to produce work and hang out with my friends."
Hooking up with neighboring galleries Black Dog Cafe and AZ Gallery was key, as the two have been serving as anchors at the Northern Warehouse for 12 years and have partnered on joint gallery openings for two years. Black Dog co-owner Sara Remke, chief curator of the cafe's art gallery, has the benefit of having seen the community develop over the years. "The Art Crawl has just expanded every year," she says. "Even though people come and go, there is a strong core of people who live here. It's just always been sort of hidden and off the grid."
But now with First Fridays, the Twin Cities' most obscure arts community is making its way to the surface. AZ Gallery member artist Cheryl LeClair-Sommer espouses its perks: "You get to snoop in people's houses, see their art and talk to them, and the buildings themselves are really historic." Besides, she says, "it's the cheapest date in town."
Art: 'Till Death Do Us Part' (via Vita.mn)
Love and hate are popular themes during the month of love. In this dual show from artist couple RM Hanson and Karen O'Bryan, the subject matter reliably focuses on those expected topics, but there's some variety thanks to the conversely different styles of each artist. While Hanson's horror and graphic novel-inspired illustrations emphasize the ugly, monstrous side of relationships, O'Bryan's pastel paintings of animal-headed human figures showcase a gentler, subtler take on love. By managing to balance the sticky-sweet with the dark, there should be something here for everyone to relate to, regardless of the current status of one's love life. -Jahna Peloquin
Performance: VERVE 2010 Spoken Word Showcase (via Vita.mn)
Unless you've attended the weekly Soap Boxing Poetry Slam at the Artists' Quarter in St. Paul, the thriving local spoken-word scene may have eluded you. It's so hot that just last year, a St. Paul team took home championship honors at the National Poetry Slam. Now the best spoken-word artists in the Twin Cities will gather in Minneapolis this weekend at VERVE's annual Spoken Word Show Showcase, which honors emerging Minnesota-based spoken-word poets with grants totaling up to $3,000 a year. Performers include a few members of the winning Poetry Slam team, including Kyle "Guante" Myhre, known for his darkly funny monologues, and Khary "6 is 9" Jackson, whose theatrical poems command the audience. Also on hand will be Poetic Assassins and their rapid-fire, hip-hop-infused poetry, Tou Saiko Lee's bilingual ruminations on Hmong identity, and musings on life, love and loss from Tish Jones. -Jahna Peloquin
Performance: 'Young Frankenstein' (via Vita.mn)
It's unusual for a Broadway musical to be based off a (nonmusical) film, but less surprising when there's a quirky comedy genius behind it. After their runaway success with 2001's "The Producers," Mel Brooks and his songwriting partner Thomas Meehan penned the musical version of 1974 comedy-horror spoof "Young Frankenstein." For the most part, it's a faithful rendition of the original film, with the same gags and biting humor -- the main difference being the addition of the campy score. It almost goes without saying that fans of the film should enjoy the musical version, despite the lack of Gene Wilder's eccentric presence. -Jahna Peloquin