I know I say that every weekend was “so awesome,” “the best” and routinely ask “can next weekend possibly top this weekend?” But really, this weekend was pretty damn good. We opened the Anthology show at XYandZ Gallery, I had some inspired meetings, and also some strange adventures. Truly a weekend I’ll look back on with a smile and probably an LOL.

Thursday I awoke bright and early and kicked out my deadlines as fast as I possibly could. Having done lots of prep work into the wee hours the night before, I was able to have everything ready to rock by 11am. I was out the door by 11:30 to pick up Robyn Lewis and we headed over to South Minneapolis to finish setting up Anthology with Andrea Swensson and Joe and Mike from Permanent. Before we hit the gallery, however, we stopped in for a quick bite at Cake Eater Bakery, which just recently added some tasty breakfast items to its menu. We also picked up a few of Cake Eater’s signature cupcakes for our fellow art-installers. I couldn’t help but buy a heart-shaped cookie that said “LOL OMG” on it, that lovely Cake Eater owner Emily Moore Harris had made in honor of our social media gossip blog, LOL/OMG. Cute (and delicious)!

Emily with the LOL/OMG cookie. Cute!

We arrived at the gallery and were stunned and amazed when we saw all the framed prints waiting for us, they all looked perfect: vivid colors, saturated blacks, and striking images a-plenty. We had hoped to install the night before, but the frames weren’t quite ready so we moved the install to day-of. It sounds a little nerve-wracking but considering our team, I wasn’t a bit worried that we’d knock it out of the park–and we did. By the time the doors were set to open at 6pm we had everything ready to rock, including an epic smorgasbord from Fabulous Catering, a merch table with smaller prints of all the images for sale, local music vids looping in the adjacent Trylon Cinema, and a spot for the DJ and band to play–not to mention all the pieces perfectly hung on the walls, thanks to the immaculate hanging techniques of one Mike Bishop.

Last minute hanging job by the amazing Mike Bishop

People started to filter in right away, and the photographers were pleased as punch to see their works blown up and on the bright white walls of the gallery. If you’ve ever assumed for a moment that rock photography isn’t fine art, a peek at the work of Erik Hess, Stacy Schwartz, and Steve Cohen will change your mind in an instant. The way these three are able to capture pure sound and energy in their images is downright glorious, and the thoughtful words by local writers which accompanied each piece reportedly brought more than a couple people to tears. Mission accomplished!

photo by Ben Clark

The gallery was jam packed all night, and all three photographers happily chatted with friends, family and art appreciators about their work, telling heartfelt stories about their subjects. Many of the musicians depicted in the photos showed up as well, including Mark Mallman, Chris Koza, Jeremy Messersmith, The Goondas, and Peter Pisano of Peter Wolf Crier, who played a surprise set along with smooth raps from Joe Horton of No Bird Sing–a special one off performance that they dubbed “Coloring Time.” Check the vid below from Cake in 15.

Coloring Time from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

After closing down the gallery, we all headed over to Clubhouse Jager for a celebratory toast with our team and some of our favorite friends. All in all, a great night. If you missed the opening, don’t despair: we’ve got gallery hours Monday-Thursday from 2pm-7pm with a special closing event on Thursday night starting directly after gallery hours at 7pm. The closing will include an artists’ talk moderated by one of my bffs, Robyne Robinson, who, if you weren’t in the Twin Cities during the 1990s-early 2000s was the first local TV journalist to consistently cover local art and music with her Fox 9 segment The Buzz. Robyne is also the only local TV news peep that Prince allowed an interview–twice actually! She’s a constant cheerleader of me, and someone I admire greatly, so I’m pleased as hell to have her moderating the talk. Afterward, we’ll be inviting people to tell their own personal tales and anecdotes about the Twin Cities music scene. It should be fun, so come and bring a memory or two to share, if you’re so inclined.

Featured photog Erik Hess and l'etoile's Jahna Peloquin ham it up at Jager

Friday I got an early start on playing catch-up with many of the things I’d been shirking during Anthology week, wrote some pitch copy for Cina Associates, did an interview about something super flattering that I can’t even talk about yet (scream!), and eventually called up my good friend Chris Strouth for a long-overdue lunch date.

Strouth is one of those people who I look up to a lot–definitely a mentor-type for me. He’s done it all. Chris ran Twin/Tone Records in the ’90s, founded UltraModern Records and has produced numerous TV, film, and music projects (as well as being in many bands himself); he’s been an educator, a creative director, a designer, a publicist, an event producer, a talk show host, a writer, an arts instigator and so much more. Simply put: an all around creative jack-of-all-trades, which is something I personally strive to be as well. I could really go on and on and on because this dude’s resume is so extremely ridiculous. Currently, he owns Miyagi Salon in Northeast with his lovely and talented wife Mo Murphy, and constantly has his fingers in projects both large and small.

We had some delish pizza at Punch on East Hennepin, caught up on a lot of things, talked upcoming projects, and as always, Strouth gave me some solid life advice. If it weren’t for people like Chris having my back, I probably wouldn’t be doing half the things I do. Strouth for President!

Strouth and Pizza = fabulous amazingness x 100

Considering I’d had a really long and intense week, I opted to stay in and catch up on some loose ends on Friday night, one of which was editing some photos I’d taken of my friend Valerie the week before at the Northrup King Building. Val’s way cool, she used to work on l’etoile when it was in print and she’s incredibly photogenic as well. I turn down most photography jobs these days unless it’s for friends (like Val) or the occasional fashion shoot. Photography just lost its luster for me after a long stint of shooting corporate meetings and weddings to make money; I started feeling like a jerk for some reason. I’ve been trying to work on developing my art photography, but even that’s hard to make time for. Oh well. Below is one of my favorite pics of Val from our set. Isn’t she cute? I like the harsh light and the gritty texture of the background juxtaposed with her soft expression and all around prettiness.

Saturday was a blast, I went a bunch of places, saw a bunch of cool people (and some really weird people), ate some yummy food and saw some neat art.

I started off my day busting out a press release for The Aegis Foundation, a youth-oriented non-profit that I’m on the board for–we’re raffling off a really beautiful condo in South Minneapolis. Details will be announced soon, but basically for $100 you can buy a chance to win a sweet pad worth $230,000. I’ve been in the condo, and it’s pretty amazing. We’re also gearing up for the officially sanctioned Oscars Party on February 27th at the Hotel Ivy, which is Aegis’ flagship annual event. The executive director, Will Panzerella, is one of the movin’-est and shakin’-est peeps I know, and has one of the kindest, most generous hearts. But I honestly don’t know when he sleeps.

a couple shots of the condo

My first stop was a meeting with the Dearling Physique creative team, over at the Minneapolis Central Library. I’m going to work in a casting capacity for the band’s next music video for the song “Hooks for Safety.” Details are of course still top secret, but I will say the video’s concept and the group of people working on the project is a recipe for true amazingness. If the video for “Discipline Your Hands” is any indication, “Hooks for Safety” will be a feat of artistic brilliance as well. But that said, I’ll shut my trap and say no more–you’ll just have to wait and see! We’ll be putting out a casting call this week but in the meantime, peep the mind-blowing video for DP’s “Discipline Your Hands,” to which “Hooks for Safety” will be a sequel. I never get tired of posting this video. Simply gorgeous.

Bonus! I’ll make the big announcement here: Dearling Physique will be playing our next LOL/OMG Meetup on Thursday, March 3rd at the 331 Club, along with Slapping Purses and Playstation Playstation. I cannot wait for this!

Later, I headed to the XYandZ to hook up with Joe Belk and Mike Bishop, who were holding gallery hours for Anthology. We decided to go to True Thai for dinner, which is one of my favorite yet rarely visited Thai places in town. I had Pad Thai with Tofu, Mike had Beef with Crushed Garlic, and Joe had Masman Curry with Mock Duck. Yum!

After dinner we adjourned to Umber Studios for the Farewell, My Heart exhibit, which doubled as a poignant goodbye for the charming South Minneapolis gallery. Umber will be closing its doors soon due to founder Jessica Helvey packing up shop and heading west. But sad goodbyes equal new beginnings: Jess will be opening a small boutique hotel and artists’ residency in Oregon, which will be carefully (and no doubt, beautifully) stocked with eccentric and unique artistic treasures. Jessica and Umber have been such an asset to the local gallery scene; the way she’s nurtured artists and their projects over the past couple of years is something that very few people have the patience or knack for. And everything she does is with kindness, style, and grace–not to mention good taste. While I’m sad to see her go, I’m over the moon excited for her. And now we’ll all have a wondrous place to stay when visiting Oregon.

The Farewell, My Heart exhibit featured an installation and a salon-style wall filled with the darling, dark works of D.C. Ice. I own a couple of pieces by this artist and find her work to be so very imaginative. It’s sort of a cross between Where the Wild Things Are and a Neil Gaiman tale, with a whimsical, girlish twist. Also included in the exhibit was an utterly dreamy bedroom installation: an ode to love, heartbreak, and Jessica’s impending hotel project. Red velvet ribbons, lovelorn letters, hand-stitched hearts, various sweet nothings and delicate tree branches surrounded a big, cozy bed. It was all very “Umber,” an aesthetic I am definitely going to miss.

Mike ditched us to go back to work and Joe and I decided to carry on to Stevens Square Center for the Arts for the opening of The Nature of Romance, a group show curated by painter J.M. Culver. Overall, the pieces in the show were thoughtfully chosen and lent both abstractly and directly to the Valentine’s/love theme. After a number of somewhat disappointing exhibits at SSCA over the past year, I was pleased to see a higher level of quality and thought process applied to The Nature of Romance. We were especially charmed by the pair of apothecary cabinets crafted by artist Michael Wong, which each held about 75 tiny vials labeled with many different types of “love,” complete with a hypodermic needle for shooting up said potion. I wanted to go to the show specifically to see the adorably wicked work of painter Alex Kuno, a fave of mine, but was pleasantly surprised by a number of other pieces. So kudos to J.M. Culver for doing well at what a lot of other curators can’t pull off–especially when it comes to a silly little theme like “Love.”

My only real crit would be that the SSCA needs to work on their presentation a bit. Perhaps little more pre-show maintenance on the gallery, price lists, and losing the cluttered member artist corridor, which is situated just off the main space. Not only does some of the work seem unprofessionally presented, but it distracts from the actual exhibit and likely confuses people. Instead, it might be better to see a specific annual show from the SSCA member artists.

Alex Kuno and his art

It was still pretty early so we decided to pop into the Red Stag Supper Club to refresh. I had a Rose Gimlet (the officially sanctioned drink of one Jahna Peloquin) and Joe opted for the Stag’s Deep Fried Mashed Potato appetizer–always a sure bet, even if you’re still full of Thai Food. At some point the darling duo of Stephanie Davila and Paul Gillis joined us and told the hilarious tale of their night, which involved a Jeremy Messersmith performance at a private corporate party during which drunk women with glowsticks stormed the stage and inserted themselves into Messersmith’s strings section. Sheer blasphemy! Just for kicks, here’s a video of a Messersmith song that makes me cry:

Our last stop of the night was something that Joe and myself had been plotting since last week. I honestly can’t remember how it possibly came up, or why we were so dead set on it (though I know it had something to do with the influence of our friend Gregory, who in the end, wussed out of the whole excursion). The destination? Northeast goth club, Ground Zero. I had lovingly crafted an especially “gothy” ensemble for the evening which involved a metal o-ring belt, a silver and crystal choker, my Emma Berg original black goat hair shoulder piece, and some vampy Viva La Glam MAC lipstick–spooky!

A few of our friends met up with us to chill out and people watch, which in a place like Ground Zero is pretty epic. Saturday’s are the long-running Bondage-a-Go-Go night, which features industrial music, lots of laser lights, dancing girls, plenty of strange characters and, um, live bondage shows. Over drinks we watched a parade of oafy men submit to the will of the resident mistress, who had no qualms about whipping their exposed backs to a beet red hue with various instruments de torture. The most startling component to me was a rectangular box built into the floor in which resided a man with no legs, who happily invited women to dance upon his torso while holding on to metal railings attached to the box. At bar close, the main hoisted himself out and scooted across the dance floor towards the exit.

We all parted ways a bit bewildered but no worse for the wear. What’s life without a little adventure, especially when it involves plenty of theatrics, whips, chains and hot wax? I’m going to definitely have to up my game next weekend to match the antics of this one, but hey, one must always strive to raise the bar, right?

In honor of the goth-theme, I bring you a kick ass Skinny Puppy video: