Springtime invigorates our spirits and brings renewed energy to change the world. This week, get into the mood for social justice and make the world a better place by catching a glimpse of a choir concert highlighting the voices of imprisoned women, or a major concert raising money for food-insecure people. Also this week, New Arab American Theater Works brings together playwrights from across the country as well as locally for an explosion of new works. Also this week, New York cartoonist Rose Chast has an exhibition in Stillwater, Elisabeth Erickson will be exhibiting at Form + Content, and All My Relationships Arts is showcasing new murals.
Rose Chast: The Upper West Side meets the Upper Midwest
In 2014, the New Yorker Chast cartoonist and author published Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? , is an illustrated memoir detailing Chast’s experience living through the end of her parents’ lives. The book has been selected for NEA’s Big Read, a national program aimed at expanding and deepening literacy in communities, by partnering with nonprofit organizations across the country. In Stillwater, ArtReach St. Croix has exhibited Chast’s work as part of NEA’s Big Read program. The exhibit features 21 original cartoons, dealing with themes of aging as well as living in the Midwest (Chast’s husband is originally from Minnesota). The inaugural reception is on Thursday, March 30th from 6pm-8pm and will be featured at ArtReach through May 6th (free). More information here.
Nature’s Laughter: A New and Beloved Work by Elisabeth Erickson
Elisabeth Erickson, Professor Emeritus at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, will be featured in the exhibition at Form + Content, where recent works from her “In the Boat” series will be on display alongside the modular painting “Temple of the Ebb and Flow.” Erickson was the co-founder of two important women-led organizations and programs – The Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota (WARM) – one of the first major feminist art collaboratives in the country, and the Women’s Art Institute at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and St. Catherine’s University, where she mentors emerging female artists. The works on display display Erickson’s gifts of colorful gesture and rich detail. The exhibition is curated by Joyce Lyon and Patricia Olson. The inaugural reception is on Saturday, April 1, from 1pm-3pm, with the exhibition on view through May 6 (free). More information here.
The New Arab American Theatrical Works: Theatrical Performance
Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) playwrights from Minnesota and around the US descend on the Twin Cities for a groundbreaking two-day performance of plays. It is the culmination of the Playwright Development Program, led by Catherine Haddad, for early or mid-career playwrights who have come together since July 2022 as they stage their plays and discuss issues important to society. The show features eight plays that came out of the process, with a discussion after each reading. Minnesota playwrights include Ahmed Ismail Youssef, Ifrah Mansour, William Nour, Amira Siddiqui, Sana Wazwaz. Adam Sayegh and SEVAN from New York and Nebraska Nelson from Seattle will also appear. Saturday April 1st from 1:30pm-7:30pm, Sunday April 2nd from 2pm-6:30pm at Open Book (free). More information here.
Swing Sisterhood Big Band with Tammy Robinson
Treat yourself to jazz while also helping combat food scarcity when the Swing Sisterhood Big Band presents its music for the local chapter of Music for Food. Featuring a network of local instrumentalists playing jazz repertoire with elements of improvisation, as well as a new tune by Julie Zidel, concert proceeds go toward the pantry at Keystone Community Services in St. Paul. Sunday, April 2 at 4 p.m. at the Brady Learning Center at the University of St. Thomas (free, donations encouraged). More information here.
The tide is rising with ENCORE!, see Changing Trio Chorus, and Voices of Hope
The former director of education at the women’s prison, Dr. Jim Fairhoe, and local social justice-minded leader Dr. Amanda Weber first teamed up in 2015 to launch a choir that performed in rehearsal in a small class of the prison. They called the group “Voices of Hope”. Since then, the organization has grown, eventually expanding from just a women’s choral group to a men’s group also at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater, led by Marilyn Minnick. During the pandemic, both choirs met virtually, and returned to in-person programming earlier this year. They have also begun to build a women’s comeback choir. This week, Voices of Hope is teaming up with See Change Treble Choir and Her Voice Productions Encore! Choir for a collaborative performance that highlights the stories of imprisoned women through videos and voices of the Voices of Hope choir members. The program includes music by Abbie Betinis, Raffaella Alleoti, Melissa Dunphy, Alicia Keys, Lia Pearson, Linda Kachelmeier, and more. Sunday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Sundin Music Hall at Hamlin University ($23). More information here.
Celebrating the artists of the murals “We’re Still Here”
Over the past year, a group of indigenous artists—Raquel Banaszak, Summer Skye Cohen, and Jerica Fountain—worked with Thomasina Top Bear to learn the art of making murals. Artists painted the walls of All My Relationships as part of the programme, a partnership between AMRA and the Hennepin Theater Trust. See how the artists have transformed the exhibition in a celebration of light refreshments and good food. Thursday, March 31st from 5-6:30pm at All My Relationships (free). More information here.