Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Art Gallery

    Art of This Gallery

    Guest Best: Robyne Robinson When the economy goes south, usually so do art galleries. Minneapolis has seen its share come and go, including the latest casualty, and perhaps the most difficult to bear: Flanders Contemporary, which has been a champion of both local and international artists. While many galleries still represent the best of our community, only a handful offer more… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    Minnesota Public Radio, KNOW 91.1 FM

    It was 16th-century philosopher Francis Bacon who first declared that knowledge is power. And though it's now a cliché, it's still true. No other radio station (and possibly no other media outlet) empowers listeners more than Minnesota Public Radio. With a crack (if pared down) squad of reporters covering local issues professionally and thoroughly, and the indispensable resource of National… More >>
  • Best FM Radio Personality

    Mark Wheat, 89.3 the Current

    Let's get one thing straight right off: Mark Wheat's voice is a dream. Never have we wanted someone to read us bedtime stories more than him. The British expatriate delivers the English language in a hyper-nasal form of his own invention, complete with imaginatively placed commas, semicolons, and other pauses both alluring and enchanting. One can hear Wheat's passion for… More >>
  • Best AM Radio Personality

    Al Malmberg

    It's been a pathetic year for Twin Cities AM radio. There were firings and layoffs at most of the major outlets in the AM landscape, but perhaps none was as sad as WCCO cutting Al Malmberg, an overnight institution for more than a decade. Malmberg's velvety voice and eagerness to connect to his faithful listeners made his fans especially devoted.… More >>
  • Best Local-Music Broadcast

    MN Soundtrack, KFAI

    From the Soviettes to Skoal Kodiak, from Tapes 'n Tapes to P.O.S., KFAI's weekly local showcase MN Soundtrack knows how to hit its spots. In just an hour and change of commercial-free FM, a listener can take in a weekly portrait of our local music scene that is staggeringly flattering. Hosted by Jackie and Jonathon, the show is curated with… More >>
  • Best Sports-Talk Radio Host

    Dan Cole, KFAN

    Luckily for local sports fans, the Common Man Dan Cole, a local sports media institution, survived last year's layoffs, which didn't spare longtime KFANer Chad Hartman. The corporate-ordered cull, coupled with Jeff Dubay's firing for a drug arrest last year, leaves Cole as the last of the KFAN old guard, making his self-deprecating, in-joke-laden, occasionally insightful, and often hilarious "progrum"… More >>
  • Best TV Station

    Twin Cities Public Television (TPT)

    Twin Cities Public Television is a station that stands to benefit from the digital changeover. In the past, the channel has been notoriously difficult to tune in on televisions without cable. But now each channel comes in with sparkling reception. Some may blithely dismiss PBS and TPT as programming for eggheads and children, but that isn't true. You'll find shows… More >>
  • Best TV Newscaster

    Alix Kendall, Fox 9

    Morning TV news gets no respect. The a.m. viewing audience is smaller and less captive than that of the nighttime broadcasts, but we hold that morning is an especially important time to have a non-annoying personality on-air, lest we start the day off cranky. While most local stations concede early and start showing national talk shows by 7 a.m., Fox… More >>
  • Best Sports Anchor

    Randy Shaver, KARE 11

    Okay, readers, you win. For the past two years you've voted Randy Shaver Best Sports Anchor, and, as much as we revel in bucking convention, it's high time we give Shaver his due. (Sorry, Eric Perkins—your two-year run has come to an end. It's not you, it's us). As KARE 11's sports director, Shaver knows his way around the Minnesota… More >>
  • Best TV Weatherperson

    Sven Sundgaard, KARE 11

    Sure, CNN has its silver fox in Anderson Cooper. He's hot. But he knows he's hot, so it makes him semi-hot. But Minneapolis has our own on-camera hottie. His name is Sven Sundgaard. He wears stylish gloves. He uses products in his hair. He takes his reports on the weather into the elements. He likes to run outside, sometimes without… More >>
  • Best Columnist

    Nick Coleman

    Much speculation ensued after Nick Coleman's byline disappeared from the Star Tribune in early February. There was no explanation from the paper, no farewell column. Eventually details emerged. At first Coleman refused the buyout package offered by management that reportedly couldn't stand him (management having changed since the Strib lured Coleman back from the Pioneer Press over five years ago).… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    Riverview Theater

    Some folks prefer to see movies at a soul-crushingly corporate but deliciously high-tech suburban megaplex. Some choose the character of a neighborhood cinema despite a low-quality picture and seating that can only be described as sardine-like. Luckily, the Riverview Theater combines the best parts of both in a neat package, delivering a space that drips with history and local flavor… More >>
  • Best Drive-In Movie Theater


    There's no better way to spend a summer evening than under a sky full of stars at the drive-in movies. While drive-in theaters are becoming relics, in the last few years they have enjoyed renewed interest. Fortunate are those who still have a drive-in in their hometown. Vali-Hi, located a mere 15 minutes outside of St. Paul, is one of… More >>
  • Best Place to Read a Book

    Minneapolis Central Library

    Architect Cesar Pelli went über-mod on his design for this downtown gem. Some traditionalists think it's showy, but open up a book inside this space and you can understand that everything about this building is geared toward words. The desks along the windows on the upper floors make great spots to study. Perfect little swivel chairs adorn the first floor.… More >>
  • Best Book By a Local Author

    Bart Schneider's The Man in the Blizzard

    You can't get more local than Bart Schneider's latest novel, The Man in the Blizzard. Turn to any page and you'll find references to the Twin Cities both obvious and obscure. It was released last summer, on the cusp of the Republican National Convention, and the RNC features prominently in the book's plot. The protagonist, Augie Boyer, is a defeated… More >>
  • Best Poet

    Louis Jenkins

    Louis Jenkins would have written this paragraph better than we did. He would have written it more musically, but also somehow more bluntly. The sentences would have fit together with stronger, yet subtler, transitions. In the last 30 years, Jenkins has mastered—tackled, subdued, harnessed—the prose poem. He's got more than 10 books to his name—most recently this winter's limited-edition run… More >>
  • Best Slam Poet

    El Guante

    This year's St. Paul national poetry-slam team took 13th in the country, improving its previous year's finish by two spots and cementing the Twin Cities' place in the national scene. The best thing about that team? Poet Kyle Myhre, known onstage as El Guante. An activist and rapper as well as an accomplished spoken-word artist, El Guante uses the slick… More >>
  • Best Book Publisher

    Graywolf Press

    In an industry that's getting pummeled into a concussed daze, Graywolf Press—now in its 35th year—has emerged as one of the few fit contenders in book publishing. While some of the big, New York-based houses are hemorrhaging employees and even ceasing acquisitions, Graywolf's titles and authors continue to flourish, consistently winning international prizes and showing up on annual "Best of"… More >>
  • Best Literary Magazine


    "Poetry should have a punch," writes Marvin Bell in the inaugural poem of the inaugural issue of Knockout, a new literary magazine from the Twin Cities. "It should jab, it should undercut/clinch in the corners, and consider in hard times a head butt." Fittingly, in its first two issues, Knockout's pages have been peppered by some heavy-hitting contributors, including Robert… More >>
  • Best Reading Series

    Books & Bars

    Though smoking has been banned here for years, it's likely that one will remember a night at the Books & Bars Book Club as having been thick with cigars. At one session, participants debate Nabokov, the pronunciation: "It's Nabokov." "Nabokov. I'd always heard Nabokov." "Why would anyone with such a difficult name even write, anyway?" "It's Nabokov. I know. I… More >>
  • Best Record Label

    Rhymesayers Entertainment

    The word "powerhouse" barely comes close to describing the magnitude of the ever-expanding Rhymesayers label, which has already left a deep imprint on the music community in the Twin Cities and nationwide. Label founder and Atmosphere MC Slug is still riding high off last year's When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, with a video for the… More >>
  • Best Local-Music Compilation

    Twin Town High

    For proof of the Twin Cities' penchant for musical schizophrenia, look no further than the annual Twin Town High compilation, a sampler that train-wrecks gothic synthsters (Lookbook) with streetwise MCs (Mujah Messiah), with a dozen or so cars derailed along the way. The 2008 collection was especially expansive, featuring a veritable who's-who of local award winners past, present, and, we're… More >>
  • Best Museum

    Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

    When the Republican National Convention rolled into town last year, some places closed their doors, while others became exclusive; if you didn't know someone important, you weren't getting in. During that brief period, the Weisman Art Museum did the opposite: It kicked it up a notch. During the RNC, the museum hosted a variety of activities associated with Unconvention, a… More >>
  • Best Museum Exhibition

    Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future

    It takes a very special exhibition to be so grand that it sprawls across not one but two nationally renowned museums. But that is exactly what architect and design artist Eero Saarinen's work required when "Shaping the Future" visited the Twin Cities last year. Perhaps most famous for the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Saarinen, during his prolific yet short career… More >>
  • Best Public Art

    The Grain Belt Beer sign

    Looming over the city like a beacon from a Bruce Springsteen song, the Grain Belt Beer sign reminds everyone of a Minneapolis—and Minnesota—that sometimes feels long gone. It tells of a story of hard-working mill employees who would spend their weekends fishing and drinking this longstanding regional brew. Grain Belt Beer first appeared in 1893 and continued to brew in… More >>
  • Best Print Collective

    Burlesque of North America

    What would the Twin Cities do without cool print art? Would we forget about great shows if we didn't have their posters hanging on our walls? Would we be decorating with the "Hang in There" cat poster? These questions might never be answered thanks to Burlesque of North America. The local print-art collective maintains a cool blog where you can… More >>
  • Best Fashion Show

    Voltage: Fashion Amplified

    Minneapolis may not have the Olympian size, bottomless-budget theatrics, or front-row celebrity roster of the runway shows of New York Fashion Week, but it does have a precious jewel in Spring MNfashion Week's Voltage: Fashion Amplified. Voltage celebrates its fifth season April 24, and it stands out in the small sea of blowout fashion nights for a reason: It always… More >>
  • Best Actress

    Christiana Clark

    Capable of shifting tone from the otherworldly to the earthy within the reading of a single line, Clark continues carving out a rich and distinctive body of work. In Bulrusher at Pillsbury House, she played the title character, a young foundling with psychic gifts in a weird, mythic California past (delivering Bulrusher as a combination of seer and hopeless innocent).… More >>
  • Best Actor

    Kris L. Nelson

    Nelson's list of local and national acting credits suggests a performer who doesn't have much trouble finding work in any year, but in 2008 he shone most in a pair of performances upstairs at the Guthrie's Dowling Studio. In The Ugly One he played the irredeemably ugly Lette, who became an unrepentant ladies' man after plastic surgery (Nelson maintained his… More >>
  • Best Director

    Marion McClinton

    He divides his time between the Twin Cities and other locales, notably New York, but McClinton's directorial eye and ear always promise productions rife with insight, smarts, and assurance. His Bulrusher at Pillsbury House was the kind of show that could reduce a tyro to frustrated tears, full of cross-currents, subtexts, and skewed perceptions. In McClinton's hands, it vibrated with… More >>
  • Best Musical

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    The intersection between rock and the dramatic stage is perilous territory, but the Jungle's production of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's Hedwig brought together all the show's best elements: the broken-down German drag queen (Jairus Abts) and her story of exploitation and self-loathing; Hedwig's seething spouse, Yitzhak (Ann Michels); and the story of how it all went wrong. It… More >>
  • Best Comedy

    The Lion, the Witch, and the War Hero: Or Is McCain Able?

    The campaign leading up to the 2008 presidential election seems a dim memory now, with the months of Hillary versus Obama, the sight of Dubya fading into irrelevance, and the dawning sense that things were getting worse. In the thick of it all, the Brave New Workshop staged a cutting, acerbic take, with a six-member cast pulling into focus a… More >>
  • Best New Stage

    Gremlin Theatre

    Everyone in the theater will tell you that the economics of the art form continually churn and bubble beneath the surface of everything they do, and the Twin Cities community sustains so many companies that finding a workable home can be as daunting as mounting the productions themselves. Gremlin Theatre took on the matter directly in 2008, opening its own… More >>
  • Best Large Theater

    The Jungle Theater

    Size is in the eye of the beholder. While not the largest theater in the Twin Cities, the Jungle is easily one of the most ambitious, providing a steady stream of well-staged and -imagined productions. Last year was a particularly banner one for the Jungle—including two of the year's best productions, The Syringa Tree (back for another run in July)… More >>
  • Best Small Theater

    Frank Theatre

    The thrill of a Frank Theatre show isn't just about exploring a difficult piece of theater through a high-quality production. It's often about exploring parts of the Twin Cities you may have never thought to visit. For example, last year's Puntila and His Hired Man Matti had patrons following handmade signs to the Minneapolis Public Works Yard. These spaces aren't… More >>
  • Best Dance Performance in the Past 12 Months

    Mad King Thomas

    It's good to worry a bit when you go to a Mad King Thomas show—not about whether the artists might get hurt or what the critics will say, but how close you should get to the action onstage. During a Mad King Thomas program, the fourth wall is broken down with a sledgehammer, and everybody in the audience bears witness,… More >>
  • Best Dance Performance of a Classic

    University of Minnesota Dance Program students performing Missa Brevis

    Last February, 21 University of Minnesota dance students performed José Limón's 1958 classic Missa Brevis with the commitment and gravitas of far more experienced professionals. But the real miracle was that they danced it with a sense of exuberance and simplicity that made this work about Eternal Verities (the indomitable spirit of humanity, the anguished quest for faith) throb with… More >>
  • Best Dancer

    Marciano Silva Dos Santos

    Uri Sands of TU Dance is among our most accomplished local choreographers, and like the savviest dance makers, he highlights the finest movement qualities of his company members. Sands premiered Sense(ability) Sketch 1 at the O'Shaughnessy last November, and he gave Marciano Silva Dos Santos the opportunity to own a remarkable solo, "Ether (the Space in Which Everything Exists)." The… More >>
  • Best Choreographer

    Karen Sherman

    Violence is not an easy subject to tackle onstage. Although it takes many forms, violence is deeply personal in nature, affecting people in very specific ways. With Copperhead last October, Karen Sherman delved into the dark world of a cult-like colony, transforming all of the Southern Theater—stage and audience seating alike—into a sort of purgatory where humanity's darkest impulses played… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn to Dance

    Minnesota Dance Theatre and the Dance Institute

    When the school at the Minnesota Dance Theatre merged with Ballet Arts Minnesota in 2006, they created the Dance Institute, one of the most respected centers for dance education in the state. The institute offers classes for nearly every age and experience level, providing top-notch training for budding ballerinas, professional dancers, the recreational mover, and even those looking for body… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor

    The Ink Lab

    Looking to get inked in a seedy back alley salon with your new biker friend Gus, who's getting an "I [heart] Mom" on his left bicep to match the blue prison rose on his leg? Look elsewhere. When owner-artist David Dettloff opened the Ink Lab in 1995 armed with an M.F.A., a needle, and 10 years of tattoo culture immersion,… More >>

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