Best of the Twin Cities 2011

150 things to be proud of because they're ours

Arts + Entertainment

Where the heart of Twin Cities culture beats the loudest

Small Theater Company: Gonzo Group

It takes plenty of artistic courage to start a theater troupe dedicated to existential and absurdist plays. But in its first three productions—Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, and Jean Genet’s The Maids—the members of Gonzo Group (pictured) proved that not only do they have a deep understanding of these modernist mindbenders, they also have the theatrical chutzpah to pull them off—brilliantly. 111 Kellogg Blvd. E., St. Paul, 651-330-2404, gonzotheatre.org

New Arts Venue: The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts

While the larger economy sputtered, the local dance community cheered the opening of The Cowles Center after 12 years of fundraising, refurbishment, and—occasionally—frustration. Eighteen local dance companies now call the building home, and a full roster of events gives you ample opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. 528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-206-3636, thecowlescenter.org

Architectural Upgrade: Weisman Art Museum

After a $14 million makeover that added five new galleries and 8,100 square feet of space, the Frank Gehry–designed Weisman Art Museum reopened in October with a spectacular exhibit culled from its own great collection. 333 E. River Rd., Mpls., 612-625-9494, weisman.umn.edu

Retirement Gig: Don Shelby in The Rocky Horror Show

Local Music Hangout: Aster Café

Besides hosting Jim Walsh’s Hootenanny now and then, the Aster Café has become one of the best stages in town for aspiring local musicians and songwriters to hone their craft. 125 SE Main St., Mpls., 612-379-3138, aster-café.com

Arts Power Couple: David Little + Darsie Alexander

David Little and Darsie Alexander moved here together three years ago from the East Coast and now occupy two of the most coveted positions in the local arts world. He’s the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ curator and head of photography and new media; she’s the Walker Art Center’s chief curator. Together, Little and Alexander will be influencing our taste in art and photography for many years to come.

Locally Produced Movie: The Tree of Life

Local movie mogul Bill Pohlad invested $32 million in director Terrence Malick’s epic masterpiece The Tree of Life, which won the Cannes Film Festival’s highest honor, the Palme d’Or, and by September had racked up $53 million in worldwide gross receipts.

Artistic Partnership: Aditi Kapil

This year, Mixed Blood Theatre resident artist Aditi Kapil won both a Distinguished New Play Development Project award from the National Endowment for the Arts and a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere Award.

Excuse To Act Like A Zombie: Zombie Pub Crawl

This year’s Zombie Pub Crawl, held Oct. 8, surpassed the Guinness World Record for number of zombies gathered in one place, by cramming 4,131 undead Minnesotans into St. Paul’s Mears Park. All told, close to 30,000 zombies participated in the event, up from 15,000 last year.

Local Actor On TV: Peter Krause in NBC’s hit drama Parenthood

Downtown Redevelopment Idea: Walker/Hennepin Cultural Corridor

This year, Hennepin Theatre Trust, the Walker Art Center, and Artspace won a $200,000 NEA grant to explore the idea of turning Hennepin Avenue into an “arts-inspired cultural corridor.” Goodbye Augie’s, hello something—anything—else.

Top 10 Arts + Culture Events (of 2011)

1) U2 at TCF Bank Stadium

2)Cowles Center opening weekend

3) Absentee Landlord, Walker Art Center

4) Minnesota Fringe Festival

5) Merce Cunningham Legacy Tour, Walker Art Center

6) Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting, MIA

7) Weisman Art Museum reopening

8) Steelroots, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

9) The Burial at Thebes, Guthrie Theater

10) Northern Spark Festival

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