Art beat // 4,699 feet in the door

An overwhelming open-submission exhibit at the MIA

WHITTIER — After moving your eyes over the walls of three gallery rooms chockablock with art for an hour, you may find it’s the oddball pieces that linger in your memory.

Like the painting of a woman with an octopus tentacle for a tongue, slyly peering from beneath her red bangs. Or the fantastically tacky male nude, its subject prone on a beach, sandals dangling from upraised feet.

Those were just two among the 4,699 pieces featured in the fourth “Foot in the Door” exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, a once-a-decade, open-submission event. Anything that fit in a one-cubic-foot box (cutely labeled “curator”) was accepted.

The experience is akin to visiting the State Fair, even though there are only a couple of seed art pieces.

It has the catchall quality of the fair’s fine arts exhibit and the sensory impact of the Midway. Like a visit to the fair on a crowded weekend, it reveals something surprising about the diversity — not to mention oddity — of your fellow Minnesotans.

The sublime — and there is some — can get overwhelmed by the strange, the kitschy and the tossed-off in “Foot in the Door,” but then again hunting for the gems is quite enjoyable.

Go see it

“Foot in the Door” runs through June 13 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Ave. S. (888) MIA ARTS. artsmia.org.

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Get in the director’s chair girls

LOWRY HILL — By the time you read this, you most likely will know if Kathryn Bigelow won best director honors at the Oscars for her Iraq war drama, “The Hurt Locker.”

If Bigelow has it’s a remarkable achievement — and probably long overdue. Only three women were nominated in that category before her, and none of them won.

That fact reflects a larger imbalance in the film industry.

San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film looked at the 250 top-grossing domestic films in 2008 and found women accounted for only about 16 percent of directors, executive producers, producers, cinematographers and editors. Nine percent of directors’ credits went to women, the same percentage as in 1998, the center reported.

Girls in the Director’s Chair is a national program that aims to change those dismal statistics by inspiring young women to get behind the camera. This year, 30 Minnesota girls participating in the program produced 22 short films that will be screened at the Walker Art Center in conjunction with the museum’s Women With Vision 17th International Film Festival.

The showcase, curated by six teen filmmakers from Minnesota, features at least two films with Southwest ties. Southwest High School sophomore Nora Kane was a part of the creative team behind “Spectrum Song,” a stop-motion animated music video, and a group of teens at Phillips Community Television (which recently merged with The Wedge’s Intermedia Arts) produced “Who I Am in the World,” a documentary on GLBT teen relationships.

Go see it

The Girls in the Director’s Chair Showcase screens at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. March 6 at the Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave. S. 375-7600. walkerart.org.

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Art Squared fundraiser in Stevens Square

STEVENS SQUARE — Cinema and Civics in Stevens Square Park is one of the best examples of a great summer tradition in this city: the outdoor film and music series.

The series hit its stride last summer, adding locally produced short films to a killer lineup of local bands and classic movies. Pair 1971’s “Harold and Maude” with some noisy garage rock by the local band with an unprintable name — we’ll call them “[Expletive Here] Knights” — and you’re bound to set attendance records, which Cinema and Civics did in 2009.

Staging high-quality, weekly neighborhood get-togethers isn’t free, so Stevens Square Community Organization is hosting an art sale and raffle in March at Tillie’s Bean coffee shop. Proceeds of the event will support Cinema and Civics and other neighborhood arts events.

Those other events include Red Hot Art, the two-day art festival held every summer in Stevens Square Park. (That cozy little one-square-block park — a refuge in the city’s most densely populated neighborhood — gets a lot of use.)

The fundraiser, dubbed Art Squared, will feature live art-making by Andrea Tedford and members of the Rogue Citizen art collective, as well as “art-on-demand” by Matt Wells of Lizardman Art. An art raffle and live music by Tortuga and Georgia Leigh also were scheduled.

Dave Delvoy of SSCO said a full list of artists participating in the sale and raffle would be posted on the neighborhood organization’s website prior to the event.

Go see it
Art Squared is 7 p.m.–10 p.m. March 13 at Tillie’s Bean, 1931 Nicollet Ave. S. Tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the door. The event is hosted by Stevens Square Community Organization. 874-2840. sscoweb.org.