Art beat // Exquisite rogues

Art games at Stevens Square Center for the Arts

STEVENS SQUARE — The artists of the Rogue Citizen collective have a complicated relationship with technology.

They celebrate the fantastical imagery of popular science fiction, alluding to “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” in a collection of their work on display at Stevens Square Center for the Arts (SSCA). But the pastiche includes darker visions of the future, like those of “The Matrix” and “The Terminator.”

Then there’s the disharmonious fusion of the biological and the technological, a recurring theme in “Exquisite Robot,” a dive into Rogue Citizen’s collective unconscious.

For the show, the collective’s four members — Matt Wells, Shawn Dalsen, Eric Mattheis and Matt McGorry — played the old Surrealist game of exquisite corpse, passing around a piece of paper to make a group drawing. Key to the game is that no participant knows what the previous person added to the drawing, making the final product a random amalgam.

For the Surrealists, who celebrated the role of the unconscious in the creative process, the appeal of the game lay in its improvisatory nature, the potential for unexpected juxtapositions to give the final image greater meaning. Rogue Citizen, seemingly preoccupied with our increasingly sci-fi present, give us a glimpse of their hopes and fears for the future.

There are robots, cyborgs, bits and pieces of machinery and metal tentacles. Fluids leaking from tangles of tubing sometimes resemble blood and sometimes resemble motor oil.

The work seems a bit less refined than some of the previous Rogue Citizen collaborations, like the graffiti mural emblazoned on the side of Northeast’s Shuga Records during Art-A-Whirl. But the exquisite corpse exercise is, by its nature, less cohesive.

Still, there is a joy in the creative process that is obvious in the paintings and drawings at SSCA. You imagine a Rogue Citizen member following the pencil tip across the paper, not sure where it will lead.

Go see it

“Exquisite Robot” runs through July 18 at Stevens Square Center for the Arts, 1905 3rd Ave. S. 879-0200. stevensarts.orSTEVENS SQUARE — About 260 people showed up for the Cinema & Civics series premiere June 16, a crowd organizer Sarah Jordet said was the largest-ever for opening night.


An all-local Cinema & Civics

It probably didn’t hurt that local hip-hop duo MC/VL opened for “The NeverEnding Story,” a film with a synth-heavy soundtrack to stir the soul — or the gag reflex, depending on whether or not you watched it a million times in the ’80s. For the Gen-Y apartment dwellers in Stevens Square, it’s an irresistible nostalgia trip.

Speaking of nostalgia, travel back to a time before actor Paul Rubens’ notorious, career-deflating arrest for indecent exposure with “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” screening July 14. Opening act Gay Witch Abortion is like a professional fireworks exhibition: explosive, precise, awe-inspiring rock from a band that sounds way bigger than its two members.

That’s also the night of the clothing swap, a chance for a free, mid-summer wardrobe reboot. Bring some old clothes and earn a coupon from Blacklist Vintage in Whittier.

July 21, the final movie night of the season, promises to be something special, with Kid Dakota opening for a lineup of 15­–20 shorts by local filmmakers.

Sam Thompson spoofs ’80s instructional videos with his “Werewolf Prevention and Protection” series, recently shown at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. They should pair nicely with Heather Mayer’s “Zombie Sweater,” in which last-minute shopping for a wedding anniversary present has unintended, undead consequences.

Jordet said several local filmmakers would contribute music videos, including Tyler Jensen and the animation team of John Akre and Beth Peloff. The MPLS.TV crew will show their short documentary “Hip Hop High” on the High School for Recording Arts in St. Paul.

When Jordet talked about the all-local night in late June she was still looking for submissions to fill out the night’s lineup. Contact her at [email protected] to pitch an entry.

Go see it
The final nights of Cinema & Civics are July 14 and 21. Music starts at 8 p.m., and movies start at about 9:30 p.m.