Quick Q + A: Lindsay Nohl + Midnight at Light Grey Art Lab


As all Hallow’s Eve approaches, many of us ruminate on the dark and scary parts of the material and spirit world—but honestly what could be spookier than the subconscious of our own crazy modern minds? Several artists tackle that theme in the upcoming multi-artist exhibition Midnight at the Light Grey Art Lab gallery. The opening reception for Midnight is this Friday, October 28th at 7 PM, and to help build up our bravery for the show we shot some quick questions over to curator Lindsay Nohl to hear more about it.

Secrets of the City: What’s the enduring appeal of “intuition, divination, and the subconscious” for an art show like Midnight and the corresponding workshops? Do we get to inhabit and converse with a (sometime all too real) additional reality?

Lindsay Nohl: The Midnight exhibition reminds us that there is a whole side of ourselves that we meet at night. Our dreams are reflections of desires, emotions and situations we can’t, (or won’t) manifest in the waking world. In this exhibition, we asked artists to analyze a particularly vivid dream and to produce a piece of work with the symbols, metaphors and subjects within. We hope that through this, artists can use the piece as a threshold between two worlds– a way to step into the other side and learn more about themselves and what alternate realities they live while they sleep. Dreams aren’t literal. Our subconscious speaks in signs and signals, and in order to understand them, they need to be translated. This exhibition allows viewers a chance to help interpret those symbols for the artists, as well as see inside the minds of the creators.

The appeal for the subjects of intuition, divination and the subconscious come from our desire for understanding. It is human nature to want to create order out of the chaos and to assign meaning to things that might seem random or organic. A person’s subconscious works it’s magic through our “gut-feelings” — sometimes giving us insight when we least expect it, and we learn to trust it even though we can’t explain exactly why. If we only knew how to unlock the secrets of our subconscious, we might understand ourselves a bit better and utilize the signals we provide ourselves to manifest more in the waking world.

Light Grey Art Lab has done several really great shows with large numbers of artists—what’s behind this “more is better” approach?

We have two reasons for the group-show concept. Imagine shouting a question into a room of 100 people and receiving 100 different perspectives at once. When you view such a large amount of work on a single subject you get both an idea of how the creative community feels about the subject and it’s nuanced pieces and parts, and you get a more comprehensive idea of the subject itself. It’s as much a room full of interpretations as much as a research project. We look to understand the thematic concepts through the eyes of a group. The second reason we exhibit group shows is that our mission is to build community and conversation between artists. Our pre-show prep includes shared documents, social media process sharing, and a follow-Up through thematic blog posts where artists can respond to one another and connect over their shared interest in a topic. It’s one way to make the global art community feel more approachable and intimate.

As a curator, what does your own subconscious tell you? Get more sleep?

I am infinitely interested in understanding the hidden side of being a human. If I could understand why things “feel right” or why I have inklings that things will turn out, or even if I could just meet that part of myself that I live through in dreams, i think I would feel like I’ve unlocked something incredible. Almost like the secrets to why I do what I do… I’ve learned to trust that subtle, cloaked side of my intuition regardless of how much it makes rational sense, because for whatever reason, she’s always been an incredible, and very insightful guide.

Pic: Shifting by Camille Chew

Burger Hunter: Whitey’s Saloon


Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of hisburgerknowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! The Burger Hunteralso documents his meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

As soon as you cross the river entering into Northeast Minneapolis you get attacked with options. If you’re wisdomous, you’ll mount up at Whitey’s World Famous Saloon. This place is pretty kitschy and proudly displays a giant burlesque lady right over the bar. The Cheeseburger is one-half pound of traditional grind honky-tonk. Flavor is All-American, all the time. Nicely salted, decently peppered. A hint of something else but couldn’t decipher. It’s hella juicy and a little greasy. But good greasy. There is a difference. This beauty is big and demands some respect. In a town flooding with new trends and thinner patties, Whitey’s is holding court. The burger is topped with cheddar and presented on a very friendly bun. No bad attitudes in this saloon. Comes with an incredible garden. Hundo p, add the LTO! Way snatched. Really found this burger to be a classic and not passé at all. This joint delivers the exact burger you’d expect it to! It’s of that era, you just know. Pro tip: Also go for breakfast, thank me later.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.9   Presentation: 8   Originality: 6

Whitey’s Saloon, 400 E Hennepin Ave, MPLS;

Bedlam Lowertown To Close Nov 2nd

Bedlam Lowertown

Well this was a bummer to hear: The Bedlam Lowertown sent out a note saying that they’ll be closing up shop on Nov 2nd. The Bedlam org incurred a bunch of debt fixing up the space across from Union Depot—which they did a fine job on, making it one of the nicest venues in MPLS + STPL with some of the best sound—and haven’t been able to manage that debt down enough to sustain their business. There’s still lots of good programming left there through Nov 2nd, including the Break Room screening of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, a Dia de los Muertos party, and a newly announced Hipshaker Halloween Dance Party fundraiser to close out the venue on Oct 29th.

Quick Q + A: Steve Snyder + Twin Cities Film Fest


The Twin Cities Film Fest, already underway out at the Showplace Icon Theaters at West End, really ramps up this weekend to showcase some of the most important buzz worthy films of the year for the next two weeks. In addition to the film screenings, there’s also panels with filmmakers, shindigs, and a kid’s film day camp.

The festival has something for everyone—which can also mean there’s almost too much to see. So we quick checked in with Steve Snyder, Artistic Director to get some recommendations and a trailer-length peek at the Twin Cities Film Fest.

Secrets of the City: We often talk about MPLS + STPL as being a film town, since there’s so much great programming happening. Where do you see the Twin Cities Film Festival fitting into our hometown film scene?

Steve Snyder: So much great programming, yes, but also so much great filmmaking. Between narratives, documentaries, shorts, film competitions and commercial work, what’s struck me most, as the Twin Cities Film Fest has grown up, is how much networking I see happening, around the red carpet and inside the party venues. This is a great town for artists to work in the industry, too, and the increasing number of impressive Minnesota and Midwestern film productions premiering at our fest—films like “June Falling Down,” screening on the 28th—is proof of that. As for where the festival fits into the programming scene here . . . I split my time between New York City and Minnesota, and I see many parallels between our festival and the New York Film Festival, which happens every October as well. NYFF is less a film society approach and more a scaled-down curatorial effort. There are only a couple screenings each night, but the promise of NYFF is a higher bar for each screening, a richer discussion, a better chance to connect with your fellow filmgoers. That’s how we’ve modeled ourselves—see the Oscar titles before anyone else, discover local filmmakers, have a chance to connect with your fellow film lovers. That’s why we have parties and mixers every single night.

It was actually really great to see Lea Thompson at the TCFF gala a few weeks ago—what brought that appearance and award about?

We’ve actually been in touch with Lea for a couple years now. I’ve long been a fan of her movie The Trouble With the Truth, and somehow it never screened in Minnesota during its theatrical release, and we were actually trying to make the celebration happen at the 2015 festival. But she had filming conflicts last year, and then also this year, during the festival run, so we were thrilled to be able to invite her to our annual gala, celebrate her career, toast this amazing movie . . . it was such a special night.

Do you have any personal recommendations for things to see during the two-week-long festival? Name as many as you want, we’ll sit in as many cushy Showplace ICON Theatre seats as we can.

Oh man, I could live at the ICON. Movies all day; just go upstairs to the restaurant for my three square meals. I could get used to that.

A lot of festival regulars have been asking me: What should I see during TCFF, so I can be ahead of the curve? The next indie film, or Oscar contender, that people will be talking about 6 months from now? And for them, I’ve looked at the films I’ve programmed for prime time, and the filmmakers we’ve flown in, to be part of the fun, and I think these 6 rise above the rest, in terms of street cred, awards potential, and a good mix of genres. For those who may be attending for the very first time, hopefully this is also a nice mix to ease you in. (I’ve tried to streamline the details, but I’m happy to go in depth with anyone who wants more info. Email me directly at steve.snyder @

Monday, Oct. 26—The Eagle Huntress, 6:15 PM. This was a smash hit documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, about a teenage girl in Mongolia who’s trying to become the first female in thousands of years to join the men in her community in hunting with a golden Eagle. Some critics have put it on their shortlist for a potential Best Documentary nomination at the Oscars. We’ve scheduled it as our Official Centerpiece—and as the father of a 2-year-old girl, I found it absolutely inspiring. Even better: It’s narrated by Daisy Ridley, the newest Jedi of the “Star Wars” universe.

Wednesday, Oct. 26—The Architect, 6:15 PM. I fell in love with this at the Seattle International Film Festival—a slow-burn comedy about a married couple looking to build a house who choose one eccentric architect. Parker Posey and Eric McCormack star in it, and are spot on in ramping up the quirky dynamics of this unusual couple.

Wednesday, Oct. 26—I Do?, 8:45 PM. This is already the success story of this year’s TCFF. It’s a documentary about love marriage and the complications of long-term commitment made by local filmmaker Joe Brandmeier that’s already sold out its screenings. So we just booked an extra screen for the 26th. It’s so sweet, and sensitive, and also serious . . . and it’s a wonderful breakthrough for a Minnesota filmmaker. Even better: For those wanting a nice date night out at the festival, you scan see both The Architect AND I Do? on Wednesday.

Thursday, Oct. 27—Trespass Against Us, 8 PM. This one’s fresh out of the Toronto International Film Festival—a new crime thriller starring Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson. Obviously, given the A-list talent, there’s been huge interest for this one.

Friday, Oct. 28—Baby, Baby, Baby, 6:45 PM. This was the biggest surprise of the film search this year. It came our way through the Newport Film Festival, and it’s a pretty unique comedy about a guy thrown into despair through a breakup with his girlfriend. The writing is so sharp and the cast is so incredible—featuring Brian Klugman, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Alba, Kelsey Grammar, William Shatner—it’s probably our best romantic comedy of the year.

Saturday, Oct. 29—Burn Country, 8:20 PM. If you want celebs, and buzzworthy films, and huge parties, this right here should be your pick. I saw the movie with a different title (The Fixer) at the Tribeca Film Festival. It’s a great little mystery about an immigrant who becomes an aspiring journalist, and then finds himself chasing an unlikely crime story. And starring opposite James Franco and Oscar-winner Melissa Leo is Dominic Rains—a great actor with THREE films at this year’s festival (the others are the dark comedy Funeral Day and the neo-noir thriller The Loner) — who is being hailed for his breakout performance here. Dominic will be here in person, to receive our North Star Award For Excellence. And he’ll be at the huge closing night party, which is always the highlight of the festival. A ticket to this film will get you into the party. Check it out!

Let’s get the Best Buy Filmmaker Academy for the kiddos in here, what’s this program all about?

It’s open to kids ages 8 to 18, is totally free thanks to Best Buy’s support, and gives kids the chance to see a free shorts program, meet the filmmakers, and then design their own movie poster and edit their own movie trailer. It’s networking, mentorship, community building . . . this is what TCFF is building towards. Supporting the future arts community that will help our filmmaking community grow even larger. We’re trying to be the change that we want to see. Parents can still sign up their kids btw—limited spots remain here: 10 AM-4 PM on Sunday.

Burger Hunter: Capital Grille

burger hunter

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burgerknowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! The Burger Hunter also documents his meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Downtown Minneapolis has a gangsta burger battleground going on of it’s own. Master foodie chefs are fronting as the steakhouses flex hard with their burger game. So, being it’s election season we head over to the Capital Grille. This place is so GOB (Good Ol’ Boy) with old master style paintings of your favorite politician or horse . . . You almost have to have a good debate about America’s sweet sweet future! The Grille’s Signature Cheeseburger is worthy of ones endorsement. They do a house grind of chopped sirloin, smoked bacon, and sweet onions. Yummy-boots with a nutty flavor from the dry aged steak. Drowning in some choice cheese and topped with primo LTO. You decide on the house-cut pickles either on or off. I did it both ways. Added a nice crunch but also wasn’t necessary here. The burger is big. Or I suppose . . . We’ll do it, but just this one time . . . It’s YUUUUGE! The bun is nicely toasted and all about independence. Comes with fries and an excellent assortment of fancy dipping sauces. One might ask: Who goes to a steakhouse and orders a burger? Hahahaha! In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a revolution going on out there. So veto the steak and vote for the burger. I most def found my thrill at the Capital Grille!

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.2   Presentation: 10   Originality: 9

Capital Grille, 801 Hennepin Ave, MPLS;

Quick Q + A: Eric Lorberer + Twin Cities Book Festival

Twin Cities Book Fair

This weekend’s Twin Cities Book Festival is the must-attend meet-up for book fans and the literary scene from all over the region. The big fest, brought to us by Rain Taxi, “welcomes ‘rock star’ authors, local literary heroes, publishers, magazines, booksellers”, many of whom you can meet and mingle with during the get-together at the MN State Fair Grounds. (We said it was big!) Since there’s so much going on at the Twin Cities Book Festival, we quick checked in with Eric Lorberer, Rain Taxi’s Editor, to get some direction.

Secrets of the City: The Twin Cities Book Festival is so much more than just a bunch of tables with books, it’s mingling with authors, it’s hearing presentations, it’s helping empower youth. Why are those aspects of the TCBF so important to “book culture”, for lack of a better descriptor.

Eric Lorberer: That’s the magic of books—they are way more than objects we hold in our hands. They inspire thought, action, and definitely culture—it’s actually a pretty good descriptor, because the best books foster growth. So along with celebrating the objects, our Book Festival is all about that giving a day over for that mingling, sharing, and empowering you’ve noticed. It’s ultimately about celebrating the people (authors, publishers, booksellers, and readers) that together make the magic happen.

The event is pretty involved, but what specific things would you recommend for folks to check out at the Festival?

Oh man . . . I know it’s a cliche but there’s really something for everyone! People who are hands-on should make some collaging history (seriously), bargain hunters should check out our used books and vinyl (double seriously), and hitting even a few aisles of the book fair will make anyone pleasantly dizzy with the sheer variety of work being published. But folks should get off their feet for at least one session and listen to a presentation too—if you don’t know the authors already even better, because if it sounds intriguing, our bet is you’ll be rewarded with a new fave.

Do you program certain panels like The Art of Rock or the Belinda Jensen children’s book to get people who wouldn’t maybe hold on to a book with a cold, dead hand?

I wouldn’t quite put it that way, but we do intentionally make the Book Festival broad in scope—while our magazine is pretty focused on independent publishing and writing that falls under the radar, the Festival gives us a chance to look at all different kinds of new work: local celebrity children’s authors for sure, but also dope queen Phoebe Robinson, revered comics artist Eddie Campbell (from Australia and From Hell, yo!), and rock poster artists extraordinaire . . . we try to get every kind of author in for our one-day book frenzy.

Why does our hometown literary scene party so hard!?

Ha, I think it’s because writing is actually difficult and often solitary work, so when it’s time to come out and play, we wanna go big. We work hard, then we play hard.

Who To Hear: SynthWaves on KFAI


One of our editors likes to say “Oh local music, it’s sooo great, local music is amazing, only the most local music!” Sarcasm aside, it can be incredibly difficult to keep up with our hometown talent—there’s so much going on, so much of it is good, and very little of it gets all the attention. With that in mind, here’s talking points on one band to familiarize yourself with, that way you can seem knowledgable in on the “Omg local music!” discussions.

MPLS + STPL has such a robust musical scene that not all our music makers are just performers/singer-songwriters. For example, be sure to get the SynthWaves program on KFAI on your “must listen” playlists. The show, on at 10:30 PM on Sunday nights, is often one of the best things to hear all week, playing Retro Synth, New 80s Soundtrack, Future Funk, etc., mixed with some classic and should-be-classic ’80s and ’90s tracks. Host Noah Kaufmann often posts the cream of his crop to soundcloud, including interviews with the likes of Jan Hammer and Stan Bush, and we just marked his Dead of Night mixed tape to listen to for the rest of the pre-Halloween October.