Arts Briefs: Apparently cats can be trained

Arts Briefs: Apparently cats can be trained

The Hmong Cultural Center Museum in St. Paul was recently awarded a federal museum grant for $49,000. The Washington D.C.-based Institute of Museum and Library Services grant will be used to expand the museum’s tour program.

This includes expanding hours and hiring new staff to give tours to schools and community groups. Established in 2021, the Hmong Cultural Center Museum features exhibits on history, clans, language, music, folk art, religion and the local community.

The Cultural Center has also been awarded a new two-year grant of $40,000 from the McKnight Foundation, providing operating support for the organization’s arts programs.

India Fest

On Saturday, the India Association of Minnesota holds IndiaFest, a celebration of history and culture.

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The event on the State Capitol grounds will include dances by Ragamala and others. There will also be food, live music, henna and free transportation from Metro Transit, available through the IndiaFest website.

The event is free.

Dancers at India Fest.

Courtesy of Magda Olson

Things will be better down where it’s wetter

The banks of Lake Superior in Duluth will be the location for an unusual festival Sunday. The Sub Superior Underwater Music Festival offers a variety of art events that will take place on and under the Great Lake.

Composer Troy Rogers, who is also known as Robot Rickshaw, provides music for the Lake’s never-seen “freshwater albino bottlenose dolphins.” There will also be a submersible fashion show, a flotilla of rafters dressed as unicorns and an underwater art gallery for snorkelers.

Times and locations for the events are highly dependent on the weather, so check their website for updates.

Hmong opera returns

The Ordway Center is offering a free outdoor screening of the Minnesota Opera production of “The Song Poet” Friday evening in St. Paul’s Rice Park, part of a program called Ordway Inside Out.

The opera is based on the 2016 memoir by St. Paul writer Kao Kalia Yang about her father’s experiences as a “song poet,” a Hmong tradition of acapella singers who tells stories from history, myth and about individuals. 

Yang also wrote the libretto for the opera, which debuted at Minnesota Opera earlier this year and is believed to be the first opera to center Hmong characters and history. 

“After seeing the show, I said, ‘Daddy, how is it?’” Yang explained. “He’s like, ‘I need a few days.’ So in a few days, I asked him again, how was it and, you know, my dad said to me, ‘You live at once, and it is your life. You see it before you and it becomes art.’”

The event begins at 7 p.m. and attendees are asked to bring a chair or blanket to sit on.

A collection of four family photos.

Kao Kalia Yang’s family in Ban Vinai Refugee Camp from 1981-87.

Courtesy of Kao Kalia Yang

Cats, but not the musical

Beginning Thursday and continuing through the following Sunday, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in Minneapolis will be host to a two-hour performance of domesticated house cats performing acrobatic routines.

“Acro-Cats!” is a traveling show that includes the following: hoops, skateboards and a cat rock band that includes a chicken on a tambourine. The chicken is named Cluck Norris.

Other Briefs:

  • The Minnesota Mosaic Guild has curated an exhibition of 15 of their member artists, titled “Piece by Piece,” on display at the Rochester Art Center and beginning with an opening reception Saturday at 1 p.m.

  • On Sunday at Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul, choreographer and artist Pramila Vasudevan will present “Prairie | Concrete.” Dancers will interact with the environment and explore the history of the location. The event begins at 2 p.m.

  • Elise Cole, an Iranian-Jewish stand-up comic, will appear Thursday at the Six Points Theater in St. Paul as part of the theater’s “Kvell and Chuckle” celebration of Jewish humor.

  • Beginning today and continuing through Sunday, the Lakeside Guitar Festival takes over the Como Lakeside Pavilion and Dock and Paddle in St. Paul. The event will showcase local and international musicians, including Austin, Minn., native Charlie Parr.


Absolute Bleeding Edge

The MPR News arts team offers suggestions for the best in avant-garde, experimental and off-the-beaten-path arts and culture.

Movie: LOLA

This is a good moment for small-budget, artistically ambitious films about time travel. In 2017, the filmmaking team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead made a film called “The Endless,” which used a lakeside camp and some clever in-camera effects to create a world in which different people are trapped in different, intersecting time loops, all with ghastly outcomes.

In 2020, Japanese director Junta Yamaguchi created an astonishing one-shot film called “Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes,” entirely set in and above a Kyoto cafe. There, young people discover a television that looks two minutes into the future and proceed to stack additional televisions in front of it to look further into time, eventually showing them things they don’t want to see.

Now, on streaming, you can watch “LOLA,” a film made in Ireland during the lockdown and officially released last year. The film, directed by Andrew Legge, approximates a found footage film — ostensibly, the whole of it is filmed by its characters, sisters Thomasina and Martha, played by Emma Appleton and Stefanie Martini. 

It’s the late 1930s and the eccentric and photography-obsessed duo have invented a television that intercepts broadcasts from the future. The look of the film is frequently dreamy and nostalgic, in blurry black and white, ingeniously mixing home footage shot on 16mm film with actual and recreated newsreels. Initially, the sisters use the device to win at horse races and become very early fans of Bowie and the Kinks.

But it is the eve of war, and one sister is convinced that she can use her knowledge of the future to Britain’s benefit. As she starts meddling with the timeline, the future becomes muddier and more menacing: the punky pop stars they adore disappear, replaced by sinister New Agers singing songs with unmistakably Fascist subtext.

It all goes very badly for them, and for England (in a series of often remarkably believable faux historical footage), and the sisters must devise a way to reverse the horrors they have unleashed.

Like the other small-budget time travel films, this looks like an art film and plays like a thriller. Also like the others, it offers a sense of time as a shifting, unstable and sometimes malicious force that is genuinely unmooring.

This has been a popular topic with big-budget films as well, especially superhero movies, but I think it works better in this sort of intimate, depopulated, cramped context. When the flow of time becomes wonky here, it feels personal.

— Max Sparber

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