Category Archives: Arts & Culture

arts, fine arts, dec arts, performing arts…

How gay-friendly is Northfield?

ldallas_0528.jpgTime magazine has a story this week about gay-friendly Dallas, Texas: The Lavender Heart of Texas.

It reminded me that the NDDC and others have been pitching the importance of attracting Richard Florida’s Creative Class, especially artists, to Northfield’s economic development future.

Some argue that, in metro areas at least, gays are part of the equation. Here’s a blurb from the Wikipedia:

[Richard] Florida, and others, have found a strong correlation between those cities and states which provide a more tolerant atmosphere toward gays, artists and musicians for example (exemplified by Florida’s “Gay Index” and “Bohemian Index” developed in The Rise of the Creative Class), and the numbers of creative class workers that live and move there.

(For some criticism of Florida’s work, see: 1) MPR: Is the Twin Cities metro really a haven for the creative class? and 2) City Journal: The Curse of the Creative Class).

  • What churches in Northfield are the most ‘open and affirming’ of gays and lesbians? Which are the least?

  • What businesses have openly supported gay causes?

  • Are there bars and restaurants where Northfield’s gays hang out?

  • Which public, private or parochial schools have programs that reach out to LGBT students?

  • What programs do the colleges have that reach out to LGBT students?

  • Are there many gay and lesbian couples in town with children?

  • What other questions should I be asking?

Locally Grown Musicians Featured at Eccentric Circus

sonicate.jpgLike the travelling minstrels of yore, the artists participating in The Key’s Eccentric Circus keep moving from place to place.

The move of greatest current interest is that from the campus of St. Olaf College to the campus of Carleton College for Saturday night’s big event, featuring ten bands, including locally grown Sonicate, pictured here. The Circus is a fund-raiser for the Union of Youth.

For more information, check out the Union of Youth’s website.

Art Crawl photo album

The spring 2007 Art Crawl was held on Friday night.

IMG_0966.JPG IMG_0960_1000.jpg IMG_0961_600.jpg
Left: lots of art crawl traffic to the downtown’s west side in front of The Key.
Center and right: Joe McGowan, Union of Youth youth board member, managing the crowds and the cards.

IMG_0973.JPG IMG_0981.JPG IMG_0974.JPG
Left: Victor and Kiffi Summa opened up the old Bagel Brothers space (currently available to lease!) to display art by high school students.
Center: Phoebe Currier’s painting of her grandmother, Marjorie Cox.
Right: Nikki Sheppard’s painting of Oolala.

IMG_0985.JPG IMG_0986.JPG
The Ole Store hosted a post-crawl gathering. Right photo, L to R: Glenn Switzer, Sue deMalignon, Bonnie Jean Flom, Michelle Millenacker, Bad Bart deMalignon.

Click photos to enlarge and see more in the Spring 2007 Art Crawl photo album.

Sufficient Supply of Studio Spaces Leads to Economically Stimulating Creativity

TalkingHeads.jpgMy colleague Tracy Davis has been pretty quiet on the tomato-tossing front. At the risk of raising her fears that she might have to look at mediocre art now and then, I’d like to reopen the “art stimulates economic development” discussion.

The impetus for my return to this subject is a celebration early this month in New York City. Billed as a fund-raising event for the downtown not-for-profit performance space known as The Stone, the gathering was largely a reunion of artists who had played at the Knitting Factory.

As I had mentioned in a previous blog entry, during the late sixties and early seventies, artists began to move into the “downtown area” of Manhattan, the area from Fourteenth Street to the Financial District and the West Side piers to Avenue D. They were drawn to the plentiful availability of affordable studio space. Once this influx of artists reached a critical mass, the area was widely recognized as the center of the artistic universe, particularly between the mid ’70s and mid ’80s, when the area was contributing millions, perhaps even billions, of dollars to the local economy.

The economic stimulus did not end in the mid ’80s, however, it merely shifted somewhat from the visual arts to the aural arts. After a hard day of creating often extremely profitable product, the artists wanted to kick back in the evening. Music clubs began to spring up to meet this market demand.

A late entry, the Knitting Factory, was started by a couple of Cheeseheads, Michael Dorf and Bob Appel, from Milwaulkee. Originally conceived as an art gallery with a performance space and a cafe, the Knitting Factory soon became a major venue for music.

The music featured followed the shifts of the downtown scene over the 20 plus years of artistic and economic vigor. First offering experimental music, such as that promoted at The Kitchen (another downtown performance space), then moving into Loft Jazz (a response to the exclusionary practices of the the Newpart Jazz Festival), and finally helping to introduce Punk (and/or New Wave) to the world, the Knitting Factory contributed to the development of organizations that exported their product to the global economy.

The recent issue of Bass Guitar magazine may explain why I seem so attuned to this particular historic burst of creativity. The cover story is “The 1977 Punk Bass Explosion”. I graduated from high school in 1977 and was well aware of the release that year of the Ramones’ “Leave Home”, the Sex Pistols’ “Never Mind the Bollocks”, the Clash’s “The Clash”, Elvis Costello’s “My Aim is True” and the Talking Heads’ “77” (with their talented bass player, Tina Weymouth, pictured above).

As a bass player in a post-Outlaw, post-Punk string band, performing everything from the Carter Family to Son Volt, I am well aware of my debt to these artists of ’77. I also think their legacy is another fine example of the creative and economic potential of affordable studio space.