Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
The name "Rembrandt" has become symbolic of great artistry, in the way that "Einstein" has come to represent high intelligence or that "Shakespeare" is the epitome of writing. If you were fortunate enough to catch the stunning "Rembrandt in America" exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts last summer — and more than 100,000 people did — you now have a thorough understanding of why that is. The show was billed as the largest collection of Rembrandt paintings ever assembled in the U.S., and it lived up to the hype. This was a world-class exhibit, three large gallery rooms stuffed with masterworks that encompassed the whole of the painter's career. Most of them were his famous portraits — of the local burghers and gentry, but also revealing self-portraits that spanned the artist's lifetime. Beyond the 30 paintings from Rembrandt, the exhibit included 20 works once thought to be by the artist but now considered the works of others, including painters from the master's workshop. That gave the exhibit a B story, if you will — a fascinating subtext about art collecting, connoisseurship, and scholarship. The show's labels were first-rate — generous and informative — and an afternoon in the gallery became a post-graduate education in Rembrandt. Or you could just wander and marvel. It was easy to see how the painter's artistry progressed: the youthful prodigy, the exquisite realism of his mature mid-career, and his looser and more painterly—though no less insightful—style as he aged. Yet his technical brilliance never overshadowed his humanity. Rembrandt had an uncanny genius for giving life to his subjects on canvas. There is light behind their eyes. Perhaps more than any painter who has ever lived, he captured not just the likeness of his subjects but their souls. And that is what makes Rembrandt "Rembrandt."
When we begin preparing our dinner, tuning in to all that is good, bad, and ugly in local news as the long workday slowly melts away, who wants to feel as though they're being assaulted by the newscaster? Some local anchors kill us with kindness — a sparkling smile that screams, "Like me! My hair is so pretty!" Others are too serious, making bad news — from school shootings to gas prices — seem even graver. This is why we love Amelia Santaniello, WCCO's longtime weekday anchor on the 5, 6, and 10 p.m. newscasts. Her reporting style is as even-keeled as they come. She's a professional, no-nonsense, yet comforting voice coming from the TV screen. She doesn't make us want to burn our meatloaf, scream at our kids, and crack open a second bottle of wine, and our families appreciate her for it. Now if only she could do something about the grating car salesmen screaming at us during the commercials.
In Minnesota, keeping up with the next day's weather can be a matter of life and death — or at least of comfort and misery. Even so, determining the best TV weatherperson isn't really about who is the best meteorologist or the most accurate forecaster. TV weathercasters don't launch their own satellites and weather balloons — they get their information from the same weather services. And while analyzing all that data may be complex, the five-day forecast will be pretty much the same on every channel. So choosing a weatherperson really means picking the TV personality you'd prefer to get your information from — the one you'd most like to invite into your living room every night. We invite Belinda Jensen, the weeknight forecaster at KARE 11. For 20 years Jensen has been bringing Minnesotans their weather, in a style so graceful and warm that even oncoming blizzards seem easier to take. She is a flawless presenter, impeccably self-possessed, and detailed without being weather-geeky. In her other duties on the station's KARE Saturday morning show and Grow with KARE gardening program, she proves herself to be an effortless conversationalist and a gracious host. Not only do we want to invite her into our living room, we'd like to invite her to our next dinner party.
For more than 30 years, Mark Rosen has had the best seat in the house, and we've all been better off for it. The longtime WCCO sports anchor started while still a fresh-faced student at St. Louis Park High School, and as the years have gone by he has aged gracefully into one of the most respected elder statesmen in the Twin Cities news media. But Rosie is about more than the smiling and eloquent presence you see during the sports segment on WCCO — he also breaks news, such as his infamous "framework of a deal" report about Joe Mauer's contract extension with the Twins and, more recently, his scoop that the University of Minnesota was seriously interested in making Rich Patino the next men's basketball coach. That said, there's still nobody better when it comes to breaking down the local sports news into digestible bits. Rosie is a Twin Cities treasure, and we're lucky he's always liked it here too much to leave.
Everyone loves City Pages alum and current Mpls/St. Paul magazine senior editor (and most recently, WCCO Radio weekend show host) Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl. Even when she's skewering a new restaurant or food trend with her no-nonsense and accessible writing style, her assessments always come across as fair, accurate, and honest, never biased or mean-spirited. Food writing can be a difficult skill to master, as it one moment requires the writer to vivify the mundane and the next to clarify the utterly unclassifiable. But when it comes to Moskowitz Grumdahl's writing, we just can't get enough of her impeccable sense of humor, her sparkling wit, and her general right-on-edness. Oh, and we dig all of her wigs, too.
Being the creatures of habit that we are, it's easy to forget that, hey, there's actually more than one radio station for us to listen to around these parts. And in part, that's why we've been reacquainting ourselves lately with an old favorite — yep, Radio K. Actually, "old favorite" feels like a contradiction here: What's so great about the K is that, as a college radio station, it's constantly changing. There's always fresh talent, fresh perspectives, and fresh enthusiasm for spinning records and reaching out over the airwaves. Sure, sometimes that means things meander into the ambient ether a little too much, but there's also no strict programming here to stifle the DJs' imaginations. And it's not amateur hour, either; Radio K has been doing its own in-studio performances for decades now, and a flagship program like Off the Record combs through all the dingy basements and college lounges to find the local talent that doesn't always get noticed. Before you know it, you might even reprogram those preset stations.