DeKeersmaker me not so crazy

The auditorium grew silent all of a sudden. I’m not sure what triggers this. How do people know to stop talking? Well, there was an older lady behind me who didn’t get the cue, and she continued her conversation for all to hear. The stage was mostly black, with an almost blinding white light filling the space. Then the four male dancers appeared. They danced in tandem, then independently, all in the presence of silence. It was the kind of silence that makes you keenly aware of your fingers making noise against the plastic glass and what seems now to be excessive movements.

The performance is Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker/Rosas’s “A Love Supreme”, an interpretive dance of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. The next part is very explosive when the music starts; very familiar music. I was trying to figure out if the music was driving me or if the dance was complimenting it. I believe they were complimenting each other, as if DeKeersmaker and Rosa were paying homage to one of our jazz greats. I’m not all that familiar with Rosa, but DeKeersmaker has been around the block. Her choreography puts me through so many emotions. There are quite a few of her pieces that rely on long lapses of time where the dancer doesn’t even move. There can be long pauses when nothing really happens. Her performances make me pause, make me angry, and sometimes relieved. I liken it to having to sit through a lengthy Lutheran church sermon, as if I’m glad that I got through it.

I really liked this piece. It appeared that, much like improvisational jazz, each dancer played a part. Each dancer mimicked an instrument in his movements. There was the bass, the drums, the piano, and the lead dancer played the saxophone. The modern movement was a sudden move in the opposite direction, moving with the beat. I like the fact that DeKeersmaker’s choreography is challenging. It’s not meant to entertain, but to be experienced.

Zorn Noir

6a00d8341f7e1253ef017eea0b4f7b970d-800wiJohn Zorn. I was thinking John Cage before I went to the Walker Art Center tonight to hear the first set of John Zorn’s “The Hermetic Organ”. So, since I had heard plenty of Phillip Glass’s minimal, almost meditative compositions, I was ready for just that. Then again, it couldn’t be John Cage since, well, he died in 1992. This was actually the first time I had heard John Zorn’s music. Better late than never, I guess!

The stage was set with a lot of instruments, most of them string instruments like a cello, violin and a stand up bass. To the left we could expect, maybe, to hear Zorn play the piano or the organ. A drum set occupied the back of the stage and a full set of congas to the right, accompanied by a huge drum on its side and a gigantic gong.

6a00d8341f7e1253ef017d42970655970c-800wiA young, 30s-ish dude entered the stage in a black t-shirt with some Chinese characters arranged vertically up the back and green fluorescent camouflaged cargo pants. He waved the cellist, Erik Friedlander, onstage for the first solo performance. The solo cello music reminded me a bit of Kronos Quartet at first, but they took on a very interesting Middle Eastern, sort of gypsy Klezmer sound.

The next set brought the bass player, Greg Cohen, cellist Erik Friedlander, violinist Mark Feldman, and the dude in the camouflage pants back to the stage. The dude in the camouflage pants simply sat on the floor with his back to the audience, alerting the musicians to begin playing. Okay, so now I realized that the dude was really John Zorn who is celebrating his 60th birthday with this amazing composition and fabulous ensemble of master musicians. Later on, percussionists Cyro Baptista and Kenny Wollesen and electric guitarist Marc Ribot entered the stage.

I’ll have to say that I was on the edge of my seat the entire set. I was expecting a musical contemporary of Phillip Glass, but found that John Zorn’s piece was part improvisational jazz, influenced by Klezmer music and taking full advantage of the many sounds of traditional Middle Eastern music. There were a lot of complicated half notes; thankfully no major keys. As the set evolved, It really sounded like a musical score for a Coen Brothers film, Lone Star or a classic spaghetti western. It turns out that Zorn has a twenty year history of musical scores for mostly art house films. I could certainly envision a Zorn musical score for the next season of Breaking Bad.

Too bad we didn’t have tickets for the set at 10pm when the organ and piano will be played and several other musicians will add to the mix. But we will catch the final set at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, across the street from the Walker Art Center. To top off his birthday celebration, John Zorn will be performing a free midnight solo organ concert at the church.


John Zorn became established in New York City in the mid-1970s and has composed and performed with a wide range of musicians working in diverse musical areas. He has an amazing way of borrowing musical influences from many cultures and transforming it his into his own unique mix. He spent this teenage years listening to classical music, film music, and, “listening to The Doors and playing bass in a surf band.” He taught himself about orchestration, transcribing scores and using them in his own compositions, a procedure he calls “plagiarizing, stealing, quoting, or whatever you can call it”, of collage and transposition into his own world, that he has been using throughout his career.

Beautiful Wing, Great Party

collage_1Ernesto and I went to a fabulous party last night at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to celebrate the new wing, designed by Michael Graves. You know, the guy who also designed those clumsy kitchen utensils sold at Target. On the outside, the new building looks a bit like a mausoleum, but the inside has a three-story atrium with beautiful wood railings, marble tiles, galleries, and a grand entertainment room on the top floor.

edqlbstartribThe decor for last nights party was stylized, white cutout flower motifs in vases, and the same motif replicated on the walls as multi-colored light displays. There was a great cuban band that played the entire time, an open bar, and plenty of people watching. The flow of people around the railings reminded me of the roundabouts on Reforma in Mexico City. An hour into the cocktail hour, men in tuxes and women in flowing gowns blended into the crowd after attending the dinner. We ended up in the Star Tribune website photo gallery.

The new galleries had mostly decorative arts, including art deco and art nouveau vases, a four foot high glass disc housing a radio, and an impressive silver 1936 Tatra T87 sedan.
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Whirlin’ the art parties

jimedqlbWe went to a fun party last night at the Tyler Street studios. It was great seeing all of the studios, completely liveable with bathrooms and lofts. I remember the parties we had at the Colonial and all the many hours spent painting, looking and contemplating the next series. Jim F. has a studio there too, a gigantic one full of carpentry tools and tables, and lots of wooden walls, random antiques, books and lp collections…oh, and a washer and dryer. It’s pretty tempting thinking about getting a studio again. I know what I would show and I would be excited about starting a new series of paintings. Ernesto and I went to the Northrup King building today for the last day of Art-A-Whirl. The third floor had more fine art than commercial art. But I can see the big commercial takeover already in the works. The architectural firms, photo studios, and art “stores” have moved in, pulled out their talons, and soon they will push out the artists.

Close to Chuck

chuckclose_2Ernesto and I went to the Chuck Close opening tonight at the Walker. It was incredibly packed. After waiting in line and lots of people watching, we spotted Chuck Close buzzing through the crowd, as people flared out with big smiles and tentative utterings of praise for a great show. We got tired of waiting in line, so we headed up to Gallery 8 for Chan Poling and his band. Just a few feet away, Ernesto spotted Vice President Walter Mondale and his wife Joan. He seemed to know all these young band dudes and posed for a few point-and-shoots.

We finally got into the show. Chuck Close’ paintings are initially abstract, but altogether tight at the final squint. I think that his paintings appeal to a broad audience, from photographers to even photorealist painters. The paintings take the realism of photography and transmit them into very painterly abstractions at close range. Once viewed at a great distance, they just come together, even though at closer range it’s apparent that they are made up of small, abstract paintings. This is a show that has to be seen from a great distance, not from one foot away and five people deep. I will return.

Walker Film Festival

abramovitz-soldiersErnesto and I spent some time, in between films, in the sculpture garden. I still miss those politically-charged, headless soldiers standing at attention next to the brick wall by Magdalena Abakanowicz. Unfortunately, they were not intended to be part of the permanent collection. Too strong a subject for a Midwestern audience perhaps?

We’ve seen a lot of films at the Walker this month during the film festival honoring women in the director’s chair. “Writer of O” is a documentary about Dominique Aury, the French author and publicist who wrote the “scandalous” erotic novel “Story of O”. After forty years of secrecy, she revealed that she was the author. She was quoted to have said that after so many years, now an elderly lady of ninety years, the scandal had less of a sting.
Last night, we saw the film “Yes” by Sally Potter, starring Joan Allen and Simon Abkarian. I loved this film because, even though it was done in six weeks on a tight budget, the cinematography was incredibly creative, merging images in slow motion to convey dream sequences that meshed very well with its abstract, poetic dialogue. There was always a secondary presence of the “cleaning staff” who knew what was going on, talking directly to the camera, much like the Tilda Swinton character in “Orlando”. Joan Allen was on hand after the film. She was very tall with long blonde hair and, just like anyone in film, she looked much thinner in person. She seemed very friendly and non-pretentious. Then again, she’s a great actor, so we’ll never know!

Walker Mix-n-Mingle

Well the Walker opening party was spectacular! It really ended up being like a typical “After Hours” party, but in a brand new space. What an amazing piece of architecture…from the angular, geometric shapes, shiny / matte textured white walls, the open views of the city skyline, to the patterned design distributed throughout the edges of the galleries and main theatre.

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Reshaping Minneapolis

Tonight is the opening party at the new Walker Art Center. It’s so exciting to see the Minneapolis art / theatre / performance scene take shape at the same time…the Walker Art Center, the Guthrie, downtown Library, and new additions to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Children’s Theatre. Ernesto and I went to the whole lecture series that involved the four architects.

Walker Art Center – Herzog & de Meuron
Guthrie Theatre – Jean Nouvel
Minneapolis Library – Cesar Pelli & Associates
Minneapolis Institute of Arts – Expansion
Bio of Architect – Kenzo Tange
Children’s Theatre Expansion – Michael Graves

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