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Best Of 2014

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Literary Events

When Revolver had its big coming-out party, it did so with a flourish. Or maybe it was a sucker punch. The team behind the upstart publication hosted a too-surreal-to-be-believed boxing event at the Uppercut Gym in Northeast, where they pitted some of their friends (!) against each other for a night of hilarious, and slightly cringe-worthy, bouts in the squared circle. Granted, that was all the way back in the fall of 2012, which may as well be an eternity ago. Since then, Revolver has been pulling out all the stops for its various events and book launches, which are, more often than not, more like multimedia-smorgasbords than mere book readings. "After," their show at Art-a-Whirl, was a collaborative art installation; "Desk," which took place in concert with Paper Darts' superb pop-up space at SooLocal last summer, invited artists and writers to destroy a desk and piece it back together as they saw fit; and "Write Fight," held during Northern Spark, reprised the boxing motif with a brainier (if no less violent) head-to-head story competition. But this past January's "Revolver at the Ritz" may have been the ultimate: a series of 12 skits that included novel pitches, Wikipedia spoofs, live music, and, of course, wrestling. It's through such madness that Revolver reminds us literature is more than some lifeless, antiquated relic; it's a living, breathing form of expression — something to sweat, shout, and fight over.

Best Museum
Walker Art Center
Photo by Walker Art Center

The Walker Art Center is always up to something. In addition to its excellent permanent collection — which features work from Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Frank Gaard — each year the museum hosts a variety of amazing exhibitions. Recent offerings have included a mid-career retrospective of Jim Hodges's work, whimsical giant sculptures by Claes Oldenburg, and pieces by notable Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas. The museum knows how to throw a party, too, as it continues to host the super-popular Internet Cat Film Festival as well as Rock the Garden, which has expanded to multiple evenings. Its recurring events, such as Walker After Hours and Free Thursday Nights, are always a smashing good time, and on the first Thursday of every month, guests can enjoy $5 small plates and drink specials prepared by guest chefs-in-residence at the museum's cafe, Gather.

1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 55403
MAP
612-375-7600
Best Museum Exhibition
Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties
Photo by Walker Art Center

You might not know his name, but his Spoonbridge and Cherry is one of the most iconic landmarks in the Twin Cities. The works featured in "Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties" were equally fanciful renderings of everyday items: squishy ice-cream cones, deflating toilets, and huggable French fries. The exhibition, which focused on pieces and projects from the 1960s and '70s, was whimsical, thought-provoking, and alive. There were the intentionally simple figures of "The Street," huge pieces that make up "The Home," and subversive mouse ears and masks. Many of Oldenburg's early projects involved performance art and gallery shows in nontraditional pop-up spaces, which is something that he and many Twin Cities artists today have in common.

1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 55403
MAP
612-375-7600
Best Art Gallery
Public Functionary

Since opening in April 2013, Public Functionary has hosted a delightful variety of art shows, parties, and social gatherings. The northeast Minneapolis space opened with a show from Dzine, an exhibition loaded with sparkling chandeliers, golden roosters, and sports trophies. Shows since then have included the neon food photography of Patrick Martinez, the calmly beautiful paper-and-light installations of Sougwen Chung, and a Halloween-themed jack-o'-lantern event. The space is pretty fab in between exhibition seasons as well. Most recently it hosted a series, titled Prelude, that showcased local visual artists, performers, and musicians in experimental pop-up events that were part art show, part cabaret, part experiential exploration.

1400 12th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, 55413
MAP
612-978-5566
Best Local Cartoonist

Brittney Sabo's work has the uncanny effect of being strikingly familiar yet difficult to break down into its component parts. You might be able to pinpoint an influence or two — Disney characters gone jagged-edged, or the wispy lines of shoujo manga given an eerie weight — but there's also a gut-level feel to her comics and illustration work that scans like something more elusively resonant. It could be her work's brushes with paranormal subject matter: Her contributions to Altered Esthetics' Rock Ink Roll collection included both a supernatural vinyl LP seance on the cover and a pop-song ghost story inside; her webcomic All Night features spirits and creatures both threatening and benevolent; and her freelance illustration work regularly takes on the cast of the unreal and mysterious. As a penciller, inker, colorist, and writer, she's an auteur — and her work is visually charismatic in every respect.

Best Local Designer

There are plenty of local designers who bring their talent and hard work to the runway every season, but this year there was a standout at the fall iteration of MNfashion's the Shows. The Spring/Summer 2014 Lindsey Hopkins Collection simultaneously felt like the most high fashion and yet ready-to-wear (confidence, ladies!) line of the year. Working with the brightest white fabrics and the boldest florals, Hopkins crafted a collection that had a south-of-the-border flair while still being universally wearable, even in this sometimes-arctic tundra. The models took to the catwalk with bubblegum-pink and cotton candy locks, sprayed in place to perfection as they showed off Hopkins's handiwork. Mixing sheer whites with structured photoprints, flowers, and cutouts, Hopkins also used Christian iconography — Our Lady of Guadalupe — and placed the image front and center on daring pieces that verged on the subversive. This is the latest in the Georgia-raised designer's string of fashion hits since coming to the Twin Cities, and we hope she keeps it up.

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Best Literary Events: Revolver

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