2012 Artists of the Year

From poets and directors to comedians and dancers, the Twin Cities are teeming with creativity

Weinhagen explores what it's like to be an artist and a parent in his weekly podcast The Pratfalls of Parenting. Being a comedian with a podcast isn't all that unique (seriously, find a comedian who doesn't have one), but creating a podcast that's as insightful as it is funny is a small miracle. That's not to say that Weinhagen never ventures out into the world of grownup comedy. He's a producer and "fact checker" for the wildly funny and terribly underattended monthly variety show The Encyclopedia Show. His job is to watch each of the performers do their thing and then make fun of them for it. It's a testament to his understanding of comedy that the performers keep coming back for more (gentle) ridicule.

Here's to many more years of pratfalls and the future comedians they are inspiring.

Mike Fotis is an improviser and storyteller. He is also co-director of the Brave New Workshop Student Union.

Elise Langer

Kate Casanova's Mushroom Chair
Kate Casanova's Mushroom Chair

By Laura Zabel • Photo by Dani Werner

We're lucky in the Twin Cities to have a wealth of excellent options for children's theater. And it's not rare for performers in kid-oriented or family friendly shows to stand out for their physical virtuosity or comedic timing. But to bring a moving, inner life to the character? That's something special.

There's something about Elise Langer's vulnerability and curiosity onstage that makes you want to hug her. Her characters all have a certain otherworldliness — as if not quite human, and somehow more human. They are curious little beings plunked into circumstances both bizarre and ordinary. She creates characters that have a captivating soul, and her warmth and joy in performing radiates from the stage. In the last year or so, she has played Tilly Silly in Milly and Tilly, which she co-created for Open Eye Figure Theater, a baby dragon in The Dragons Are Singing Tonight with Tiger Lion Arts, and most recently Sally in the Children's Theater's Cat in the Hat. She lifted those shows above typical children's fare by sharing her process of discovery with the audience, allowing us all to see how magical the world really is, if you just take a closer look.

Laura Zabel is executive director of the nationally recognized, artist-led economic development organization Springboard for the Arts.

The Twin Cities Public

By Jill Boldenow

In one vignette at Andy DuCett's recent Soap Factory show, attendees encountered real football players excitedly asking, "Are you ready for the big game?" Those inspired to reply "Yes!" were invited to run through the gauntlet to the field, getting high fives and cheers from the team. Participation in the art was, literally, applauded.

More and more, opportunities abound for you, me, and other game community members to create and shape art in our cities — producing fun, a blurring of the artist-audience distinction, and a focus on collective experience. Making art happen is worthy of recognition. So I have chosen to champion you, the public, as artists of the year.

This year, with Obsidian Arts, you brought your funky selves to attempt the world's longest Soul Train line in north Minneapolis. You created the Giant Sing Along playlist for the Minnesota State Fair and joined in to perform "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and other tunes. With David Byrne's installation at Aria, you took a seat at an antique organ, wired to various architectural parts, and played the building.

With Northern Spark collaborators, you made the Twin Cities burn bright for an overnight arts festival. By contributing art (pedaling illuminated art bikes or powering the lights and set for the Peloton show), animating the streets, and experiencing art en masse, you changed our relationship to the city and to one another.

You boogied in the Dance Shanty on Medicine Lake. You programmed Walker's Open Field. You hosted your neighbors to see Open Eye Figure Theatre in your driveways. With In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, thousands helped produce the annual May Day Parade and Festival, creating a story, puppets, and costumes; stilting and performing; and drawing thousands more to the event. Credit is also due to artists, ringleaders, and organizers who offer a vision and make the invitation for the public to be a part of the artistic process.

So, members of the public, you're MVPs on the art team. Get ready for the big game.

Jill Boldenow is chair of the Minneapolis Arts Commission and works for the Minnesota State Arts Board as director of communications and government relations.

Leos Carax

By Melissa Anderson

At the Cannes press conference following the world premiere of his stunning, unclassifiable Holy Motors, Leos Carax's first feature-length film since 1999's Pola X — and only his fifth in 28 years — the French writer-director was positively funereal. Hiding behind his trademark sunglasses and seemingly counting the seconds until he could smoke his next cigarette, the gaunt, 52-year-old auteur who was both hailed and pilloried as a crazy romantic during the first decade of his career — the era of Boy Meets Girl (1984), Bad Blood (1986), and The Lovers on the Bridge (1991) — cryptically proclaimed that "cinema is a beautiful island with a cemetery" and moviegoers "a bunch of people who will be dead soon."

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