Art Condition

‘The Incidental Observer’

It’s all too easy to fall into the fast-paced tempo of modern life. While running down the street to catch a bus to work, one might simply not notice the beautiful statue to the left or the unusual texture of the woman’s dress to the right.

In her photography exhibit, "The Incidental Observer," currently showing at Washburn’s gallery360, Natasha D’Schommer invites Southwest residents to take a breath and appreciate the beautiful views we accidentally overlook everyday.

A photographer for over a decade, D’Schommer, a Windom resident, has dedicated her adult life to the study of classical beauty. While she perfected her technique as a professional wedding photographer, D’Schommer is most renown for her photographs of rare books, musical scores and monuments.

She is also intrigued with Midwestern landscapes; one exhibited image captures golden prairie grass under a cloudy blue sky in soft, almost revelatory hues. Yet, this is not a smoothed-over, romantic picture. In fact, it is rough-looking, even pockmarked — "The Incidental Observer" features a montage of photos imprinted on Botticelli marble.

This free exhibit runs through Sept. 10. gallery360 is located at 3011 W. 50th St.; gallery hours are Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sundays, noon-5 p.m.

Lit 6 to invade Rag & Bone

A group of local writers are putting the spunk back into literature readings. Calling themselves the "Lit 6 Project," this creative cadre of fiction writers delivers nontraditional readings throughout the city.

"We kind of started as a response to all of the readings which were taking place already; they’re great if you are a writer or a fan of readings, but they’re just terribly boring if you’re not. We just wanted to expand the audience for literary readings. A lot of what we read can be raunchy, bawdy and a little funny. But overall what we’re trying to do is read really good fiction and entertain," Lit 6 writer Sam Osterhout said.

Thursday, Aug. 26, the Lit 6 Project will read/perform at Linden Hill’s Rag & Bone Books, 2812 W. 43rd St. The night’s theme will be "Special Report," and feature short fiction by five of the Lit 6.

"It will be an evening of fiction, satire, malt liquor and hard-hitting journalism," Kenny resident Osterhout sort-of revealed.

The free-of-charge reading begins at 7 p.m. and will last "about an hour." Check out the Lit 6 online at www.lit6project.com.

Election-year comedy

Is political campaigning making you cringe? If so, perhaps a comedy of Executive proportions would lift your spirits.

CARAG’s Brave New Workshop Theatre’s newest show, "Electile Dysfunction; or Two Johns, a Dick and a Bush," presents a compilation of original songs and comedic sketches targeting the 2004 political candidates and prominent participants.

"If you’re frustrated by politics, politicians or the voting populace at large, then this is the show for you," said Caleb McEwen, director of the show.

The show attains political neutrality by attacking all perspectives, McEwan added, "Everyone is a target — George W. Bush, John Kerry, Michael Moore, even the election itself. It’s all fair game."

Shannon Wexler, one of the show’s stars, is especially enthusiastic about this rehearsed production, that includes one or two improvised scenes. "Political satire is what the Brave New Workshop does best," waxed Wexler.

She predicts that the show-writers’ view will click with the public. "We approach the topic with the basic belief that the system is really screwed up. I think that people get tired of the campaign rhetoric, the promises and the backstabbing. I think that they’ll want to go somewhere where everyone is poked fun at."

However, this is not just cynicism run rampant. Wexler characterizes the show as "uplifting." Noting that while the actors’ main goal is to inspire laughter, she said they also hope the show will catalyze political awareness and involvement.

"I hope the show allows the audience to think about politics without being too stressed out. It’d be great if they can have a laugh, think about political issues and get charged up to vote."

Previews of "Electile Dysfunction" run Thursday-Friday, Sept. 2-3, 8 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 4, 7 and 10 p.m. Preview tickets are $15.

The show’s official run is Fridays-Saturdays, Sept. 10-Nov. 6; Friday shows are $19 and start at 8 p.m., Saturday shows are at 7 and 10 p.m. and $19 and $22, respectively. The Brave New Workshop Theatre is located at 2605 Hennepin Ave. S. Tickets are available at www.bravenewworkshop

.com or 332-6620.

‘Evolutions’

Dancer, choreographer and Armatage resident Margo Abdo O’Dell combines traditional Middle Eastern instruments, rhythms and dance moves in her new show, "Evolutions."

The performance features performances by eight dancers who have studied Arabic, Persian and Turkish dance styles and traditions. With 30 years of Turkish dance study under her belt, Artemis Mourat will guest star and lead the troop to the sounds of a chumbush, a Turkish instrument that resembles a banjo.

"Evolutions" aims to artistically address globalization; O’Dell diligently studied Middle Eastern instruments and instrumentation to ensure that the musical selections accurately portray different regional instruments and rhythmic patterns.

"Evolutions" shows Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 9-11, 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. at Whittier’s Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S. Tickets are $18; $12 for students and seniors. For more information, check out www.margo1.com.

The art of restoration

How exactly do the masterpieces at Whittier’s Minneapolis Institute of Arts fight the aging process? Find out at a new exhibit featuring the restoration of Guercino’s "Erminia and the Shepherds."

Through October, visitors can catch two senior conservators in action, working their magic on Guercino’s masterpiece. Curators have not treated "Erminia and the Shepherds" since 1962 when it arrived at the Institute, and it bares wounds of wear and tear: a coating of filth, several holes and a yellow haze from discolored varnish.

The experts’ main priorities include relining, cleaning, in-painting and revarnishing. Not only will spectators be able to watch the curators work, they’ll be encouraged to approach and interrupt

the specialists to ask questions about

the process.

"Erminia and the Shepherds" portrays a stanza from Torquato Tasso’s "Jerusalem Delivered," a 1581 Renaissance epic poem. Many art historians regard "Erminia and the Shepherds" as one of Guercino’s five most prominent paintings that reside in North America.

The exhibit’s curators will be hard at work through Oct. 30, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Thursdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. The Institute is located at 2400 3rd Ave. S. and is free of charge.

Art Condition

One amazing birthday party

Local jazz pioneer and Fulton resident Cliff Brunzell, 83, will join Irv Williams, 85, and Jeanne Arland Peterson, 83, in a Friday-Saturday, Aug. 13-14 performance at The Artists' Quarter in St. Paul to celebrate a collective 251 years of musical life.

The three gifted musicians and mentors of the jazz community will celebrate their consecutive mid-August birthdays doing what they love: Brunzell will play jazz violin while Williams and Peterson take up the sax, piano and vocals.

When Brunzell was a teen, South High School in South Minneapolis didn't have a jazz program. Brunzell formed a jazz trio of his own, which performed at pep fests and the like, and hasn't stopped in the 70 plus years since.

Now a member of the Minnesota Jazz Hall of Fame, Brunzell played the not-too-often-heard jazz violin with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (now the Minnesota Orchestra) 1948-1955 and joined the Golden Strings in the late '60s. Today, he is a music teacher and continues to perform, often with the Golden Strings Quartet, about 175 gigs per year.

Show times are 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. each night and admission is $10. The Artists' Quarter is located in downtown St. Paul, for more information or directions, call 651-292-1359.

'Late Night Jazz . . . Live!'

Saturday night/Sunday morning just became a little more entertaining for Southwest jazz enthusiasts. In August, keyboardist Billy Holoman and vocalist Aisha Baker began performing with several other musicians at Lyndale's Old Arizona Studios, 2821 Nicollet Ave., Saturdays at midnight.

Audience members can count on hearing the harmonies of at least a sax, horns and drums each weekend.

Even Old Arizona's co-owner, Darcy Knight, doesn't know who will be joining Holoman and Baker in a given week, "People that come back more than once will see significantly different shows."

As for the playlist, Holoman usually selects classic jazz tunes. However, the group has yet to make it through the night without several impromptu jam sessions. For the $7 cover charge, you can tap your foot all night long. Or, at least until the musicians begin to wind down around three a.m.

Free 'Acoustic Sunrise'

Taking in an art museum can be tough work -- standing in awe for too long can lead to sore feet, leaning over sculpture can cause back pain, and too much beauty and thought provocation can certainly lead to overstimulation.

Sunday visitors to Whittier's Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Ave. S., are in luck; the relaxing melodies of several local musicians will provide a revitalizing break from such taxing side-effects.

Visitors can visit the Arts Break Coffee Shop, sip a beverage and listen to local singer-songwriters lined up for Cities 97 "Acoustic Sunrise" performances Sundays through September, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Violinist/songstress Jessy Greene takes the stage Aug. 15; Adam Levy of Honeydogs fame performs Aug. 22; Tim Mahoney, who has a new CD out this month, plays Aug. 29; Will Bauermeister of rootsy pop-rockers Dazy Head Mazy is up Sept. 5; soulful indie rocker Dan Israel plays Sept. 19; and beloved diva Dana Thompson jazzes it up Sept. 26. (At press time, there was no Sept. 12 performance.)

All concerts are free of charge. For more information, call 870-3131.

'The Dazzle's' trashy tale

Lyndale's Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., is now home to a couple of genius packrats.

Richard Greenberg's "The Dazzle," which runs through Saturday Aug. 28, is a fictional interpretation of the eccentric Collyer brothers and their exploits.

The nonfictional Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley, lived together in early 20th-century Harlem. Leading reclusive lives, they shut themselves within their house to invent unique devices and keep tabs on the piles of objects that they had collected on the rare occasions when they decided to venture beyond their front gate.

Victims of several burglaries, the Collyer brothers built extensive booby traps throughout their house to prevent theft of their "valuables." Langley eventually passed away when he accidentally activated a trap and suffocated under heaps of garbage. To avoid the traps, firemen were forced to enter the house through the roof to search for the bodies.

"The Dazzle" runs Wednesdays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m. plus a Sunday, 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $20-$30; $10 rush tickets are also available for students 30 minutes before showtime. To check out Greenberg's version of this legend, call 822-7063 or visit [email protected].

Vote for SW crooners

Two Southwest vocalists earned spots on KMWB Channel 23's new show: "Gimme the Mike." East Calhoun's Marla McChristian and East Isles' Brent Reichow sailed through June auditions in Brookdale Mall, and were among the 30 semifinalists selected from 450 contestants.

McChristian's performance aired July 27; Reichow's will air Tuesday, Aug. 10, 9 p.m. and be rebroadcast Thursday, Aug. 12, 10 p.m.

Judges decide the winner of each of the five Tuesday-night competitions, however, the audience also gets to weigh in and cast a collective "wild card" vote for a sixth finalist for the Aug. 31 show. (The tally is taken online from the Web page address announced during the show.)