Local Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan has an art exhibition coming up at the Halcyon Gallery in London, one he explains in a rare essay published Wednesday by Vanity Fair.
The show, called The Beaten Path, is set to feature Dylan’s paintings and sketches of various American locales. It takes place Saturday, but you can already check out some of his work on the Halcyon Gallery’s Instagram account. Any Minnesotan perusing those paintings will be momentarily pleased to see what appears to be a Minneapolis landmark, the Orpheum Theatre, immortalized in one of them.
“Hey!” you might think, “An unambiguous display of hometown pride from Bob Dylan! That doesn’t come around every day! He knows we exist!”
However, a cursory Google Image search, perhaps motivated by a creeping Minnesotan sense that the universe’s attitude toward us is one of schadenfreude, reveals that the subject of Dylan’s painting is not the Orpheum, our Orpheum. It's, in fact, an entirely different Orpheum Theater way the hell out in Los Angeles, a city in a state that Bob Dylan is definitely not from, a city whose elementary school students have gone on record to call him a “weird man." (Also he lives in Malibu.)
What can this mean? No move of Bob Dylan’s can be allowed to pass by without being interpreted from several angles. Is this a pointed snub? Does Bobby D have secret beef with the Hennepin Theatre Trust? Or is it the opposite -- was he perhaps inspired to paint L.A.’s Orpheum because it reminded him of home?
One might even ask whether it’s possible that Dylan's unaware of the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. But no, we can rule out that explanation for certain: Dylan actually owned the Orpheum from 1979 to 1988 (and of course he’s played there).
Dylan’s relationship with his home state is historically complicated. As David Anderson wrote for this publication last year, we put huge murals of the dude’s face on our buildings, but he really only lived in Minnesota long enough to drop out of college and bum around playing folk music before hotfooting it to New York.
Then again, he owns a farm here and occasionally rhapsodizes about the state ("contrary to rumors, I am very proud of where I'm from"). But, still, maybe we should cool it with our Dylan obsession. (We won’t.)
Ironically, Dylan's own statements on the paintings state, “the idea was to create pictures that would not be misinterpreted or misunderstood by me or anybody else.”