Twin Cities 2012 Fall Arts Preview

Our annual fall preview of must-see shows in museums and galleries, theater, dance, choral and classical music.

New York City Ballet

THE LOCAL ARTS SCENE is bursting with world-class talent and events this fall. But fear not: Our critics have surveyed the cultural landscape and picked their favorite shows and exhibits of the season. All you have to do is choose. Alas, that’s also the hardest part. Who said living in an artistically vibrant city was easy?

Museums and Galleries

Cindy Sherman


Cindy Sherman is one of the most familiar faces in the visual arts—sort of. She appears in various guises in many of her own photographs, yet the artist herself remains as elusive as the B-movie actresses, historical figures, clowns, and society ladies that populate her work. This fall, the Walker mounts a major Sherman retrospective—the most comprehensive survey in 15 years—tracing the evolution of Sherman’s enigmatic art all the way back to her seminal Untitled Film Still series. All of Sherman’s major series will be on display—170 photographs in all, including her latest, the Society Portraits. “The recent work is incredible,” says coordinating curator Siri Engberg. “Each one looks like a well-to-do woman of a certain age. They really do say tremendous things about age in our society.” Nov. 10–Feb. 17. Walker Art Center, 612-375-7600

China’s Terracotta Warriors photo courtesy of Xia Juxian and Guo Yan


Qin Shihuang—the first emperor of a united China—commanded very real armies in his lifetime, but it’s his vast “ghost army” of terracotta warriors that continues to fascinate. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts will illuminate this epic period in Chinese history with an exhibition, from New York’s MoMA, highlighting 10 of the famed life-size clay figures and more than 120 rare objects made of bronze, jade, and other precious materials. Oct. 28–Jan. 20 Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 612-642-2787

Guy Tillim: Avenue Patrice Lumumba


Patrice Lumumba was one of the first democratically elected African leaders in modern times. His subsequent imprisonment and murder presaged a post-independence era defined by conflict and upheaval. South African photographer Guy Tillim’s work captures the stark essence of this era on film. Oct. 13–Jan. 6 Weisman Art Museum, 333 East River Rd., Mpls., 612-625-9494

Sacred Space, Contested Terrain


Eighteen artists working across disciplines investigate the sacred and contested in art, architecture, and theology. This expansive exhibition features architectural renderings, paintings, mixed media, and other media exploring everything from Native American burial mounds to sacred personal objects. Sept. 4–Oct. 6. Katherine Nash Gallery (and Architecture Library), 333 East River Rd., Mpls., 612-625-8096

Why We Do This at The Soap Factory


Artist Andy DuCett single-handedly transforms The Soap Factory’s galleries this month with a massive installation that offers a visual counterpoint to the building’s industrial past. “I’ve thought of the spaces that I’ll be creating as dioramas of sorts,” says DuCett. “They’ll be scenes of everyday life, of shared experiences and places that we might rather be.” Sept. 8–Nov. 11 The Soap Factory, 514 SE 2nd St., Mpls., 612-623-9176

Jerome Emerging Artists


Mixed-media sculpture and art installations take over MCAD’s main gallery when Jerome Emerging Artists Richard Barlow, Gregory Euclide, Lauren Herzak-Bauman, Alison Hiltner, and Jehra Patrick move in later this month. Be sure to check out Euclide’s “multi-dimensions typographies,” which are landscape paintings that spill out of the frame and into the gallery space. Sept. 28–Nov. 4 Minneapolis College of Art and Design, 2501 Stevens Ave., Mpls., 612-874-3700

The Human Condition: A Survey of Humanity


It’s a big topic, humanity. Given the vast terrain, the photographs in this exhibition promise to engage both mind and heart in various reflections of—and commentaries upon—the common condition. Juried by acclaimed National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths-Belt, the photos will likely be rich in both substance and style. Mark Seliger’s When They Came to Take My Father, a touring exhibition from the Houston Holocaust Museum, runs concurrently. Nov. 10–Jan. 4 Mpls Photo Center, 2400 N. 2nd St., Mpls., 612-643-3511

12 Hours of Sunset by Andrew Wykes


The Minnesota Museum of American Art returns to the Twin Cities art scene later this fall with an exhibition of landscape and landscape-inspired paintings by Minnesota artists Holly Swift, Jil Evans, Andrew Wykes, and Betsy Byers. Coming out of storage too will be a selection of works from the permanent collection that complement the show’s theme. Opens Nov. 9 Minnesota Museum of American Art, 408 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-797-4057

Regis Master: Jun Kaneko


Northern Clay’s Regis Master Series recognizes ceramic artists older than 65 who have had a significant impact on the development of the medium in the 20th and 21st centuries. Jun Kaneko’s contributions are in the spotlight later this month. The exhibition chronicles his groundbreaking artistry, including several large-scale works—plates, monolithic heads and dangos (Japanese for “dumplings”)—for which he is known. Sept. 22–Nov. 4 Northern Clay Center, 2424 Franklin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-339-8007

Five Beauties Rising: New Works by Willie Cole


Steam iron marks are one of Willie Cole’s visual hallmarks. The acclaimed artist has a series of new prints featuring 27 impressions of ironing boards, an allusion to Cole’s family history of domestic work and his African American heritage. Sept. 14–Oct. 13 Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-871-1326


Christopher Hampton


The Guthrie is following up its celebration of American playwright Tony Kushner three years ago with a similar fete of British playwright Christopher Hampton. Though Hampton isn’t nearly as well known in America as Kushner, his catalog of plays puts him at the top of anyone’s list of playwrights working today. “People will know Les liaisons dangereuses, but not the depth of his work,” says artistic director Joe Dowling. Among the plays presented will be the world premiere of Appomattox, a Guthrie-commissioned historical work encompassing the Civil War and civil rights eras, and Tales from Hollywood, about German émigrés such as Bertolt Brecht and Thomas Mann who moved to LA to escape the Nazis. Sept. 15–Nov. 11. Guthrie Theater, 612-377-2224

Sarah Rasmussen


Also referred to as “the vibrator play,” Sarah Ruhl’s story is about the sexual awakening of two Victorian housewives whose medical treatment for hysteria includes machine-induced orgasms. Director Sarah Rasmussen assistant-directed the Broadway production and is one of the few women ever to direct a Jungle Theater production. Nov. 2–Dec. 16. Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-7063,

Guy Tillim: Avenue Patrice Lumumba


Chanhassen Dinner Theatres made its name by presenting classic American musicals, but Bye, Bye Birdie is one it’s never staged. “That’s why we’re doing it,” says artistic director Michael Brindisi. After a string of jukebox musicals (Hairspray, Xanadu), Brindisi says he’s excited to be working on an old-fashioned book musical. “The lyric ‘spread sunshine all over the place’ from ‘Put On a Happy Face’ is the hook for me,” Brindisi says. "It’s going to be upbeat and fun.” Oct. 5–Jan. 26 Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, 501 W. 78th St., Chanhassen, 952-934-1525

J.C. Cutler as Mark Rothko


Red, John Logan’s Tony-winning play about abstract painter Mark Rothko, gets its area premiere at Park Square, with J.C. Cutler playing the famed artist. “The play explores the extremes of his passions about art,” Cutler says. “He can rant and rave and be vulnerable within the intimate, insular world of his studio.” But Cutler insists the play is about more than just art: “He wants to be understood.” For many who have wondered why Rothko’s colored squares are considered so great, that will come as a welcome bonus. Sept. 14–Oct. 7. Park Square Theatre, 20 W. 7th Place, St. Paul, 651-291-7005

Why We Do This at The Soap Factory


Theatre Pro Rata’s Lovers & Executioners is a contemporary adaptation by John Strand of a play by Antoine Jacob de Montfleury, a rival of Molière. “It’s a bedroom farce, full of bawdy innuendo and French Restoration sauciness,” says Theatre Pro Rata artistic director Carin Bratlie. “We’re doing it fully period.” Sept. 29–Oct. 14 Gremlin Theatre2400 University Ave., St. Paul, 612-234-7135


The Pulitzer Prize–winning Broadway musical Next to Normal—the story of a mother who struggles with bipolar disorder—sounds like an odd choice of subject matter for a musical. But Mixed Blood artistic director Jack Reuler was attracted to the play because it “speaks to mental illness as a disability and a barrier to succeeding.” Oct. 5–Nov. 11 Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 S. 4th St., Mpls., 612-338-6131

The Good Fight


Playwright Anne Bertram developed her play The Good Fight at Babes with Blades, a Chicago theater specializing in stage combat roles for women. It’s the story of the bodyguard for famed early-20th-century suffragette Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, and, as you might expect, it has half a dozen fight sequences. “We’re talking about powerful political movements making progress against severe oppression,” Bertram says. “It’s like the Arab Spring.” Theatre Unbound’s production is the play’s world premiere. Sept. 29–Oct. 14 The Lowry Lab Theater, 350 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 612-721-1186



In this election year, Theater Latte Da artistic director Peter Rothstein wanted to do a provocative but entertaining play about marriage. He settled on Stephen Sondheim’s 1970 musical comedy Company, about a group of married couples who throw a surprise party for their unrepentantly single friend Robert. The play will be modernized, and use a new orchestration. Oct. 25–Nov. 18 Ordway's McKnight Theatre, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, 651-224-4222

Holly Down


Playwright Kara Lee Corthron’s play tells of a pregnant teen who refuses to come up from the basement until she’s given birth. Says Penumbra artistic director Lou Bellamy, “She has dolls of various ethnicities who come alive and talk to her. This is a rare opportunity for Penumbra to work with puppets.” Sept. 27–Oct. 21 Penumbra Theatre, 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul, 651-224-3180




Jim Detmar plays legendary coach Vince Lombardi in this History Theatre production. “Growing up in Wisconsin, I’ve been a Packers fan since day one,” Detmar says. For the sake of authenticity, he had a retainer made to replicate Lombardi’s distinctive gap-toothed smile. Oct. 6–Nov. 4 History Theatre, 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul, 651-292-4323

Ten More Plays to Consider

  1. The Brothers Size Sept. 7–29. Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio, guthrietheater.org
  2. Sunday in the Park with George Oct. 19–Nov. 17. Bloomington Civic Theatre, bloomingtoncivictheatre.org
  3. Love & Marriage, Goes Together Like A… Sept. 28–Oct. 20. Illusion Theater, illusiontheater.org
  4. Buccaneers Sept. 11–Oct. 21. Children’s Theatre, childrenstheatre.org
  5. Turn of the Screw Oct. 5–27. Torch Theater, torchtheater.com Eurydice Sept. 14–29.
  6. Pillsbury House Theatre (by Walking Shadow Theatre), walkingshadowcompany.org
  7. Measure for Measure Sept. 27–Oct. 21. Ten Thousand Things, tenthousandthings.org
  8. Photograph 51 Oct. 14–Nov. 4. Minnesota Jewish Theatre, mnjewishtheatre.org
  9. King Lear Oct. 19–Nov. 11. Park Square Theatre, parksquaretheatre.org
  10. Happy Birthday, Wanda June Oct. 6–28. Nimbus Theatre, nimbustheatre.com


New York City Ballet moves


When America’s premier ballet company comes to town, it’s always big news. But this year New York City Ballet isn’t bringing the full company or sweeping in on swan wings. Instead, we’ll see a spare selection of dancers from the company performing intimate works. What does this recession-era tour mean for tutu lovers? Good things, actually: More dancers from NYCB’s deep roster will get the chance to hone their artistry and explore the tantalizing possibilities of contemporary ballet—with live music. Look for star turns, exquisite technique, and inspired, boundary-stretching choreography. Oct. 23–24 Northrop Dance Series, Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 800-982-2787

Miguel Gutierrez


Known for charming, smart, and moving contemporary dance, New York choreographer extraordinaire Miguel Gutierrez is “on the shortlist of people whose work I want to see everything of,” says local dance genius Kristin Van Loon. Since Van Loon should be on your shortlist, you’ll definitely want to see this show. Sept. 19–22 Walker Art Center, 612-375-7600


Deborah Hay


When the Walker announced this fall’s Deborah Hay celebration, a collective “Ooh!” went up from local dancers, and for good reason. Among other 1960s explorers, Hay forever changed American dance, charging her work with experimental rigor and soul-searching depth. Dec. 5, 7, and 8 Walker Art Center, 612-375-7600,


Voices of Strength


Everyone loves traditional African dance, but, as local dancer-choreographer Kenna-Camara Cottman points out, “It’s 2012”—well past time to witness the passionate work coming from contemporary Africa. Enter Voices of Strength, the Walker’s festival devoted to modern African women choreographers. Oct. 10–13 Walker Art Center, 612-375-7600


Alarmél Valli


If you love local bharatanatyam powerhouse Ragamala Dance, you owe it to yourself to see Alarmél Valli, the world-famous Indian dancer responsible for Ragamala’s fast, crystal-clear style. Oct. 19 movie featuring Valli, Oct. 20 performance. The Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-206-3636


Penelope Freeh


Ballet watchers have kept a close eye on Penelope Freeh for her taut technique and thorny yet soulful choreography. Now the longtime James Sewell standout steps out with Slippery Fish, an evening of live music and brave new dance. Sept. 28–30. The Southern Theater,1420 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-340-0155


Ananya Dance Theatre


Oil: It saturates the news and drives the world. With Moreechika, Ananya Chatterjea keeps proving that dance can address the big issues and still remain vivid and vital. You’ll be breathing in time with her dancers’ fiery footwork and thinking about it as you burn those fossil fuels all the way home. Sept. 6–9. The Southern Theater1420 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-340-0155


TU Dance


If you need a mid-November pick-me-up (and who doesn’t?), TU Dance’s beautiful flow should sweep away the icicles. Watch the company for silky movers, space-eating daredevils, and time-stopping turners: TU incubates new stars like a nebula. Nov. 16–18. The O’Shaughnessy, 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul, 651-690-6700




Running with bulls, dancing with wolves, or merely sitting still in your own cells—revisit your animal self with Super Nature, the latest major work from local contemporary brain trust BodyCartography, whose dances always get the body thinking. Oct. 25–27. Walker Art Center, 612-375-7600

Choreographers’ Eve hosts Patrick Scully and Aparna Ramaswamy


The Walker’s annual showcase has it all: jingle dress dance, tableau vivant, fraternity step filtered through a feminist lens, solo flight, ballerinas with bows and arrows, nude lip-synch, opera buffa, and much more. Nov. 24 Walker Art Center, 612-375-7600

Classical and Choral

Clarinet festival


“We want to celebrate Osmo [Vänskä, Minnesota Orchestra artistic director] and the clarinet [his instrument],” says Lilly Schwartz, Minnesota Orchestra director of pops and special projects, about the orchestra’s two-week Clarinet Festival. The first week will feature a pop and jazz program conducted by Sarah Hicks, including a concert by the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Vänskä will lead the second week’s classical concerts, which include the Copland Clarinet Concerto, one of the most difficult in the repertoire. Guests include Evan Christopher, one of the best jazz clarinetists around, as well as Israeli clarinet virtuoso Anat Cohen and the Klezmatics. Nov. 9–17. Minneapolis Convention Center, 612-371-5656

Anna Bolena


As part of its ongoing commitment to bel canto opera, the Minnesota Opera has staged two of Donizetti’s “Tudor Trilogy”: Roberto Devereux and Maria Stuarda. But they saved the best for last: Anna Bolena, about the second wife of Henry VIII. The opera has some of the most dramatically compelling coloratura music ever written, a fantastical woman-gone-mad scene, and one of the most sublime soprano/mezzo duets in the repertoire. Nov. 10–18 Ordway Center, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, 612-333-6669

Bruckner’s Mass No. 2 in E Minor


VocalEssence artistic director Philip Brunelle’s choice for guest conductor this year is one of the great figures in choral music, Helmut Rilling. “At 79, he is still at the height of what he does,” Brunelle says. The program features the massive Bruckner Mass No. 2 in E minor. Oct. 19 Cathedral of Saint Paul, 239 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 612-371-5642


Since Maria Schneider wrote the song cycle Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories for The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and artistic partner Dawn Upshaw in 2008, she has revised it a bit and led the SPCO in a performance last year at Carnegie Hall. The revival of this mesmerizing piece is connected to a recording of it and is part of a two-week program of 20th-century American music by Barber, Rorem, Piston, and Harbison. Sept. 20–23 Various locations



One reason Verdi’s Nabucco is rarely performed is that it has one of the most torturous soprano roles in the repertoire, featuring fierce coloratura combined with intense dramatic singing. “It can be a voice threatener,” says Brenda Harris, who will sing Abigaille for the first time with the Minnesota Opera. “It has a lot of Donizetti in it, but with Verdi’s own voice.” Sept. 22–30 Ordway Center, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, 612-333-6669


Path of Miracles


English composer Joby Talbot actually walked the Camino de Santiago, the main pilgrimage path through northern Spain, before writing Path of Miracles, which is getting its area premiere by The Singers. The four-movement work describes four locations on the trail. “It is a marriage of history and spirituality,” says Singers artistic director Matthew Culloton. “There are challenging dramatic moments, but it’s very accessible.” Oct. 26–27 Various locations



The Schubert Club’s Music in the Park artistic director Julie Himmelstrup says she wanted to start the season with “something a little more spectacular,” so she engaged the Philharmonia Quartett Berlin. The four are members of the Berlin Philharmonic, an orchestra renowned for its string sound. The quartet has “a togetherness that sounds as if they are of one mind,” she says.
Oct. 7 The Southern TheaterSt. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, 2129 Commonwealth Ave., St. Paul, 651-292-3268


Baroque Invention


The SPCO presents a program exploring the evolution of Baroque music. Major works by Bach and Vivaldi are surrounded by music from early innovators Salomone Rossi and Arcangelo Corelli, as well as one of the era’s overlooked gems by Giuseppe Torelli. Oct. 25–27 Various locations


Accordo: Season 4


In its first three seasons, the all-star chamber group Accordo—composed of principal players from both the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO—somehow made chamber music improbably cool. This season kicks off with an Austria-Hungary theme, featuring pieces by Haydn, Bartók, Mozart, and Dohnányi. Oct. 15 Christ Church Lutheran, 651-292-3268


New Music Cabaret


Lovers of new music can’t afford to miss the Zeitgeist’s fourth annual New Music Cabaret. The four-day event features three to four hours of local live music in each performance, bringing together some of the Twin Cities’ best musicians to perform an eclectic variety of new music. Nov. 15–18 Studio Z, 275 E. 4th St., Ste. 200, St. Paul