Artists Of The Year

From escapist entertainment to aesthetic ecstasy: Twenty-nine writers script valentines to twelve months of culture

Created for vintage vaudeville and movie houses, the full version of Palace is scheduled to open at the Heights Theater in May. Meanwhile, parts of it are revealing themselves to a lucky few in a series of floating showings called "Raw on Site." Locations so far have included senior centers and VFW posts, where enthusiastic audiences have been moved to share their own wartime reminiscences.

A refreshingly independent spirit in an increasingly funder- and presenter-driven arts environment, McConneloug insists on doing things her way. She can take more than a year to develop a piece, and she's equally meticulous about choosing the right venue for its presentation. In this spirit, her last project--a deconstruction of operatic passions--premiered as part of Walker Art Center's prestigious "Out There" series. Her next, by contrast, will be aimed at the country-western bar circuit, and has an appropriately devious title to match: "Stand on Your Man."

Linda Shapiro is a Minneapolis-based writer.

 

DOUG PADILLA
by Michael Fallon

 

Most artists crave attention; God knows they're not in it for the hours or the wages. That is why to most artists the worst thing imaginable is not a mere bad review from an art critic or the denial of a grant that may bankroll one's grocery bill for a year. Rather, the worst thing that can happen to an artist is to create art in a vacuum of indifference, to put art out in front of an uncaring public. It is for this reason that painter, gallery owner, and art-world mover and shaker Doug Padilla deserves recognition.

Certainly, many local artists achieved great heights in 2000. Shannon Kennedy won two national grants for her exquisite video pieces that explore inner spaces, and she mounted several successful shows, locally and in New York. Wing Young Huie, meanwhile, continues to draw national acclaim for his large-scale portrait projects. The recent "Lake Street USA" endeavor was an amazing anthropological survey of the people of a single road--and of the city and the country beyond. What separates Padilla from other artists is his absolute devotion to creating an atmosphere of passion about the local visual arts, and to ridding the world of artistic indifference.

Consider the evidence: The 52-year-old Padilla is widely known to local artists and scene followers for his gallery, Art Jones, which he runs as an ad hoc space--it appears wherever is affordable and available at the moment. Here, Padilla is often willing to try things that most other spaces in town shy away from. His regular off-color exhibit of local erotic art is just one example. Also, Padilla hosts his "Salon Artisimo," an irregularly scheduled panel discussion on various topics that brings together a wide range of artists and art lovers to discuss culture-related topics. And finally, Padilla has painted and shown his work in town--as a solo artist or in groups he helped found--for the past 20-or-so years. In 2000 he was awarded a State Arts Board grant for his expressionist, slash-and-burn, day-of-the-dead-toned creations.

"[Art] is what you do," says Padilla on the artist's experience. "It is how you digest, process, and explore life. If you don't do it, you get nasty and depressed and sick--ask my wife and friends." In the end, Padilla's enthusiasm has at some point affected nearly everyone in the local art scene, and has made it that much easier for local artists to stay healthy and get a good night's sleep.

Michael Fallon is a St. Paul-based writer and a frequent contributor toCity Pages.

 

JODI KELLOGG
by Max Sparber

 

Theater doesn't invite subtle acting, which is why performers sometimes seem to be clattering about onstage. After all, even in the most intimate settings, the audience is usually far enough away from an actor that subtle tics and gestures are all but lost. If we glance at a performer's hand, we miss the look on her face. If we look at her face, we miss the slight shuffling of her feet.

But the stage favors performers like Jodi Kellogg, whose physical gestures move in concert with one another and whose wide-set eyes and arching eyebrows are capable of communicating some wonderful nuances, even to the back row. In Outward Spiral's production of Ladies and Gentlemen, for example, Kellogg encountered a scene that required a complex emotional shift. Kellogg played Annie Hindle, a 19th-century vaudeville performer whose act consisted of impersonating a dandified gentleman. Kellogg tackled the role like Jimmy Cagney in his song-and-dance days, combining a jocular, bouncy, soft-shoe stroll with leering eyes and a smirking mouth. She seemed unable to control her punchy sense of humor even while demanding that her lover, played by Erin File, explain why the physical intimacy in their relationship had ended. At that, File opened her blouse to show Kellogg...something. Something dreadful.

We knew from earlier in the play that the woman's mother had died of an awful, wasting cancer. Though File's back was to the audience at this moment, and we could not see what afflicted her, Kellogg's performance revealed everything. The humor bled out of Kellogg, as did her relentless energy. For a moment, she fell silent, and ceased to move, and then she pressed her hands to her face and grieved.

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