Fashionable Ideals

On the surface, Armi Ratia and Lilly Pulitzer have a lot in common. Both women got their start in the 1950s and became famous for producing fabrics printed with bright colors and bold graphics. Both had a spirited, playful appeal—Pulitzer had her kitschy duck and turtle patterns, and Ratia named her company Marimekko, which translates […]

The Russian Renovation

“It was like two philosophical trains running past each other on parallel tracks,” said Brad Shinkle, describing Russian and American art during the twentieth century. “Each had little or no awareness of the other—what it consisted of, or its rationale.” Shinkle is president and director of the Museum of Russian Art, the only institution in […]

Nature Lover

Minnesota boasts no defining fine artist, no painter of universal renown. Alexis Fournier, Seth Eastman, Nicholas Brewer, Wanda Gag, Dewey Albinson, George Morrison—any of these names may ring a distant bell. But Minnesotans have no Albert Bierstadt or Winslow Homer, no Grant Wood, Georgia O’Keefe or Frederic Remington to lionize. The central Minnesota town of […]


“Can I pick those up tomorrow?” Frank Stone stands at the bottom of a thirty-foot mountain of stainless steel scrap metal and points to its peak—a bouquet of four-foot-long, auger-like spirals, salvaged from crop sprayers, flailing in the chilly wind. Employees at the American Iron scrapyard in North Minneapolis are well acquainted with Stone, who […]

Scooper & Scooped: Poached Edition

We were surprised to open up Monday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune to see Jon Tevlin’s article on religion in the workplace. Surprised, because it was very similar to a feature story that was on the cover of The New York Times Magazine about a month ago. We’d noticed Russell Shorto’s feature, not only because it was a […]

Brand of Sky Blue Waters

Growing up on the East Side of St. Paul in the sixties, I always took Hamm’s beer for granted. The giant brewery was simply part of the neighborhood scenery, little more than a dependable source of jobs—at least until the seventies, when it was sold and started succumbing to fickle consumer tastes and corporate mismanagement, […]

The Art of War

The administrative areas at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts can be rather labyrinthine, and are also closed off to the general public, so Corine Wegener, the diminutive assistant curator for the Department of Architecture, Design, Decorative Arts, Craft, and Sculpture, agrees to meet me outside the gift shop. After we pass through the security doors […]

A River Runs Through Us

If you follow pop culture’s magic rule of three, then the Mississippi River counts as a bona-fide trend this summer. There’s the promotional extravaganza called the Grand Excursion, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s ambitious exhibition, Art & Life Along The Mississippi River, 1850-1861 (which covers the time of the original 1854 Grand Excursion), plus […]

A Picture is Worth 5,000 Years

“A photo is all I have left of her,” Chris Lang, the boyfriend of murdered college student Dru Sjodin, told a Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee at the Minnesota House of Representatives. His testimony culminated with a heated statement about Level Three sex offenders: “They’re not like normal people. I think they’re wired wrong. They’re […]

Public Icon, Private Property

Imagine: It’s springtime, there’s a sense of optimism in the air. Best Buy is about to open its new corporate headquarters in Richfield. Everyone’s talking about it. Some say it will usher the Twin Cities into a new era; others argue about whether or not that’s a good thing. Wanting to include the community in […]