James Henkel, a University of Minnesota art professor, contorted old projection slides for a piece that represents how people communicated in the past. For the artistic work, he photographed the slides — which he found through a University-led reuse program — and arranged the pictures in a series so that they grow more complex and indecipherable in shape. “Toward the end, they become chaos — this is the way students hear [sometimes],” Henkel said.
On the dashboard of Minneapolis feminist-punk trio Kitten Forever's touring van sits an eternal cat, made of ceramic with a faded floral print. According to Laura Larson, the ceramic’s “wretched” look spoke to her and fellow band members Liz Elton and Corrie Harrigan, who picked up the curious kitty, Pe-Ell, at a Value Village in Seattle, Wash. “He’s got this look on his face — you can project any emotion on him,” Larson said. “Like, ‘oh my god, Pe-Ell is so pissed right now.”
Parked outside grocery stores around Minneapolis this week, a University of Minnesota graduate will haul a prize item: a 27-foot-long hotdog. After graduating with a degree in business marketing education last May, University alumnus Joe Zerka hit the road working for Kraft Foods as a driver of the famed Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. “We’re showing the people we’re Oscar Mayer. We are the Wienermobile, we’re here to make your day,” Zerka said.
Twin Cities comedian Rana May found her standup voice in a unique way: subverting literary reading loftiness. While starting out, May performed readings in her mock-expert character at places like Minneapolis’s The Loft Literary Center, upending an otherwise self-serious scene. “I would do an informative speech on why less people should be forming bands,” May said. This alt-humor sensibility led May to try standup, and in her two years performing, she’s managed to go semi-pro, hosting open-mic nights around the Twin Cities.
Despite his thirst for knowledge, standup comedian Demetri Martin knows to keep himself humble. “A know-it-all is a person who knows everything except how for how annoying he is,” Martin quips in first book, “This is a Book.” In his career, Martin has combined traditional standup with illustrations, music and even unicycle riding, which only makes sense coming from his palindrome-weaving outside-the-box mind.
With their tattoo-laden tough girl vibe, Minneapolis garage rockers L’Assassins don’t mind embracing an in-your-face performance attitude. For singer Tea Ann Simpson, L’Assassins’ onstage braggadocio is intentional. “There’s a certain kind of pompousness about rock ‘n’ roll you don’t see anymore,” Simpson said. “That’s what rock ‘n’ roll is — full of itself and dirty.”
Unlike the archetypal starving artist, sculptor John Ilg doesn’t worry about putting money into his art. “There’s about 400 bucks worth of stuff hanging there,” Ilg said in his studio, pointing out a sculpture. One piece, “Honesty,” consists of $316 in cash positioned in a way spelling ‘honesty’ in a wire-mesh frame. Ilg displayed the sculpture without a glass barrier at the Minnesota State Fair a few years, allowing onlookers to interact with the cash.
For experimental musician Martin Dosh, creating solo music is a group effort. “I’m a natural collaborator — all my records have lots of different musicians playing,” the Twin Cities-based musician said. Across albums, from his 2003 downtempo self-titled debut through his 2013 “Milk Money,” Dosh creates polyrhythmic loop work and jarring noise samples based on jams with his friends.
The artists behind Wealthy Relative and Sayth met in church class years ago. Though a unique startup, the long-term rap collaboration has proven successful. Sayth, aka Eric Wells, and his friend Dan Forke, who raps as Wealthy Relative, have been going strong for years, producing hypnotic beats and rhymes together. “[Forke’s] dad was the pastor at the church that I went to confirmation at before I left/got kicked out,” Sayth said.
Minneapolis psych-punk quartet Yoni Yum is probably the first band to sing in defense of sanitation workers carrying the loaded task of cleaning up after sexcapades. On the group’s November self-released debut, “Greatest (CL)Hits” (yes, you’re reading that correctly), singer/keyboardist Jess Buns yelps the story of a “Cum Scraper,” a job at Sex World’s Dollhouse peep show. “[Workers] do literally have to go in there with a squeegee and cleaning supplies and scrape the cum off the glass,” Buns said.
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