Friday, December 31, 2010

A Few of Our Favorite Things: l'etoile's Best of 2010

2010...what can we say? You were totally awesome! From social media to art to fashion to music and everything else in between, the Twin Cities once again blew us away with creativity, moxie and sheer star power. We deliberated for hours and hours over our own personal favorites. We argued a bit, gushed a bit more, and finally settled on what we think is a pretty sweet list of locally-sourced moments, milestones and amazing people. We hope you enjoy our last post of the year, and we can't wait to see what you do in 2011!



We have to say, it was hard for us to narrow down just one Twitter personality to select as "best." In 2010 the stripped-down social media platform truly caught the attention of the world - and just like that, your mom was following you (scream!). Sure, we COULD have gone with the smartest tweeter, the most informative or the like, but instead we decided to take a little inspiration from our spin-off social media gossip blog LOL/OMG (thanks to a suggestion from clever twitter babe, @vruno) and break it all down into three entertaining categories: LOL (the funniest tweeter), OMG (the most outrageous tweeter) and WTF (the tweeter that most frequently makes us scratch our heads). Enjoy! -K.I.

Best Tweeter (LOL): @brokenhalo

Freelance music writer and man-about-town, Pat O'Brien, has long been a Twitter fixture in the Twin Cities. His wry brand of pseudo stand-up comedy in 140 characters or less regularly lands him on LOL/OMG's popular "Weekend Twitterings" round up. From general sarcasm to hilarious pop culture references and locally-focused observations, @brokenhalo is a follow you won't regret. Follow him HERE.

Best Tweeter (OMG): @meatpit

The handle alone is almost OMG enough! Whenever we're feeling grumpy, we just take a trip over to @meatpit's Twitter feed for a good laugh. Also known as local scenestress Alicia Zobbe-Hogdal, @meatpit's tweets are frequently NSFW, will probably shock you more often than not, and may even scar for life those with delicate sensibilities. She's a little like a tiny female version of Andrew Dice Clay - a version that's actually funny. Follow @meatpit HERE.

Best Tweeter (WTF): @JohnWallaceMPLS

This prolific Twitterati seems to live his life via social media, giving his followers solid play-by-play action on a daily basis, often times late into the night. Loud, brassy and sassy, John Wallace takes us all over Minneapolis with plenty of caps, exclamation points, and LOL-worthy hashtags. Our favorite WTF @JohnWallaceMPLS moments often occur after hours, once he's sufficiently #JUICED. Follow @JohnWallaceMPLS HERE.


Gimme Noise

Yeah, yeah, we know City Pages' online music blog Gimme Noise is a major media source in the Twin Cites, and normally we would pull for the less likely underdog. BUT the Gimme Noise crew's consistent, up-to-the-minute scene coverage, not to mention their epic, painstaking, and heartfelt recount of almost every hour of the Mallman Marathon (that included closing words that literally made us tear up) make Gimme Noise undoubtedly our favorite and most frequently visited blog of 2010. Helmed by music editor Andrea Swensson, the blog's commitment to local music has helped build community while showcasing and promoting various corners of our diverse local scene that otherwise would go untouched by major media. -R.L.


Tucker Gerrick

Love and loss has been a recurrent theme in the work of photographer/artist and Familia Skateshop GM Tucker Gerrick, and that romantic sensibility had us at "hello." A fixture of the local art, DJ and skate scenes for years, Tucker has always had the ability to create excitement around him, whether it be with his monthly "Hump Night" at Red Stag, at one of his art openings, or on the dance floor. He looks pretty sharp in a flannel, too. Ladies have been unsuccessful in trying to pin Tucker down, but don't let that stop you - he's a catch. (photo: Louisa Marion Photography) -J.P.


Jen Hughes

The lovely Miss Hughes has been one of the Twin Cities' most noted hairstylists for years, juggling her responsibilities as a Juut Master Stylist, Aveda educator, and member of the Aveda styling team for New York Fashion Week with aplomb. She also gained some points when she was asked to put together some one-of-a-kind, theatrical hair creations for Target's Simon Doonan Halloween showcase. But others know Jen as one-half of Hot Roxx, the beloved monthly '70s vinyl night that also is behind such memorable annual events at the Hot Roxx Hexmas and the Halloween Hextravaganza. She also does a mean Stevie Nicks impression. There could hardly be a more babelicious, talented, cool chick in town than Jen. The complete package? We say yea. -J.P.


Benjamin Fredrickson

Even though he moved (albeit "temporarily") to New York a few months back, 2010 was truly Benjamin Fredrickson's year. The art photographer noted for his subversive, button-pushing work gained national respect, becoming a regular contributor to the famed BUTT Magazine and being published in Brief Magazine. The Parsons and MCAD-weaned photographer also recently showcased another one of his many talents - that of fashion designer - when a piece he created was featured in NYC-based publication Oakazine. All that talent combined with an exuberant energy, genius sense of style, and the fact that he's one of the sassiest and most genuine people you'll ever meet, Ben is the gay we'd always love to have on our arm. -J.P.

Ben Fredrickson self portrait


The Blue Sky Blackout Wives

The supportive force behind local band, Blue Sky Blackout, this gaggle of lovely broads saw their men through 2010 with good humor and, well, plenty of patience. Angie Heitz, Trixi Hunt, Jenny Westbrooks, Janey Winterbauer, Katie Iwanin, and Saisha Harris (who is the only non-wife girlfriend in the bunch) are more often than not at the front of the stage at each show, despite the fact they've all got their own cool things going on the side. From managing hip bars to singing with top local acts to working in the advertising/design world and more, the BSB wives prove to us that being married (even with children) doesn't mean you can't be rock n' roll too. -K.I.



Well, this is pretty much a no-brainer. 2010's edition of Art-A-Whirl was definitely the biggest and best yet! The annual Northeast-based art crawl seems to expand in size, scope and quality year after year. And judging from the never-ending flow of art, the epic outdoor entertainment and the late night art parties, this year's "largest open studio and gallery tour in the U.S." certainly did not disappoint the masses. One of our favorite highlights included Creative Electric Studio's Slow Mirror and the Metronome project, which took over the docks behind the Sample Room. The floating art installation and weekend-long multi-media event included projections, buoyant creations, sound collage, an arted-up houseboat and a flock of the Twin Cities coolest local bands playing from boats anchored off-shore. Amidst traversing expansive studio buildings such as the Thorp, Casket Arts, California Building, Northrup King and more, Art-A-Whirl attendees enjoyed food from area restaurants and more live music than you could shake a drumstick at all along 13th Avenue thanks to the 331 Club and Shuga Record's Hoolie Fest. We could go on and on about all the "best" things was saw and experienced this year at Art-A-Whirl, but that would probably take you all day to read. (photo of Slow Mirror and the Metronome installation by Drew Peterson) -K.I.


CO Exhibitions

When we heard that the Burlesque of North America crew planned to boo-up with the creative instigators at Permanent Design Group to form CO Exhibitions, our hearts got more than a little fluttery. Comprised of some of the hardest working and prolific art peeps in town (honestly we don't know when any of them sleep), this gaggle of creators miraculously found the time to revamp a dusty old warehouse space into a gorgeous A-grade art gallery. Housed in the same Northeast building that's home to Burlesque's print shop (also formerly the First Amendment Gallery), the expansive space boasts ridiculously high ceilings, miles of bright white walls and even a stage. There's no denying the thoughtful local shine and good humor that's applied to each exhibit that's held at CO, from their inaugural group exhibit Wings & Teeth: The Art of Doomtree to August's wild Smell the Glove Spinal Tap tribute exhibit curated by local artist Michael Gaughan. A gallery that doesn't take itself too seriously, but at the same time pushes the envelope and maintains a high standard of quality, CO Exhibitions is an easy pick as our Best New Gallery of 2010. -K.I.


Science & Wonder

This past May, we were invited into the grim fantasy world of artists Michael Thomsen and Caitlin Karolczak, whose dual exhibit Science & Wonder debuted over Art-A-Whirl Weekend at the Rogue Buddha Gallery. Two artists perfectly suited to be shown together, Thomsen and Karolczak took us on a journey through dark shadows, sly secrets, androgynous phantasms and quirkily crafted masterpieces. Thomsen's sculptures bent our minds with their intricate detail work; looking into one of his 3-dimensional creations seemed a window directly into the artist's own dreams. Hidden compartments, flickering candles, skulls, tiny trinkets and carnivalesque objects de' art galore were all arranged with meticulous, mesmerizing precision. Karolczak's large-scale oil paintings on the other hand, spiraled into a beautifully creepy place where sex and mythology and androgyny and history and death all collided; a place where exquisite realism met warped fantasy and twisted into one big ball of surreal intensity. Together the two artists brought a disturbing gorgeousness to the Rogue Buddha in a show that will be on our minds well past 2010. -K.I.


Rhea Pappas

This young art photographer won our hearts in 2010 not only with her captivating work but also with her sparkling personality and ambition. A 2008 MCAD grad that now studios out of Lowertown St. Paul, Rhea Pappas upped her game in 2010 with a series of gallery showings that made us swoon. Her unique brand of underwater photography touches on themes of female empowerment while still maintaining a dreamy, girlish grace. Striking and often times heartbreaking, Pappas' work plays on the personalities and stories behind her models, carefully capturing their emotions through movement and light. In addition to her stunning artwork, Pappas impressed us further this year by continuing on her streak of educating others through photography workshops as well as co-founding the monthly First Friday Lowertown Art Crawl. We see so much bright promise in this chick, we've got to wear shades. -K.I.

Photo by Rhea Pappas


Kevin Kramp

Our choice of Kevin Kramp as designer of the year will hardly come as a shock. The knitwear mastermind has already been named Artist of the Year by several local publications. But, at the risk of sounding recycled, we have to continue to echo the far-reaching praise. Kramp’s avant-garde take on men’s knitwear is strikingly ambitious. The Brown University and Central St. Martins alumnus has set a new standard for high-concept design in the Twin Cities art and fashion community. Though the majority of established Minneapolis designers are committed to finding a degree of local commercial success, Kramp has carved out a reputation as true artist. His aesthetic is theatrical, daring and uncompromising. By working with knits, Kramp is able to own his process from start to finish with a painstaking attention to detail. The resulting pieces range from over-sized scarves to harem pants and one-pieces. His talent and innovation have been recognized far beyond the Midwest, and this January Kramp will make his Paris Fashion Week debut. -B.H.


Raul Osorio and Danielle Everine (tie)

It makes sense that Osorio and Everine are sharing a victory. Both presented spring collections at Voltage: Fashion Amplified, then shared the runway this fall with their joint presentation, Pale Rider. Osorio, already quite established in menswear, brought his dramatic aesthetic to womenswear this year. Variations of his high-waisted cigarette pants were shown with Victorian blouses, alongside ultra-feminine shorts and cocktail dresses. However, he didn’t let his menswear fall by the wayside. Osorio presented a dapper collection of well-tailored quirky menswear at this fall’s SCENEaSOTA. Accessorized with bow ties from Freedom from Doubt, it was perhaps the most truly fun collection of the year.Everine continued to be a runway favorite in 2010, showing looks ranging from tailored suiting to easy separates. More so than other Twin Cities designers, Everine has a sense of who her customer is. Her pieces aren’t created just to be displayed on runways or retail racks. They are for a fully-realized woman with a breezy American style. From Katherine Hepburn to C.Z. Guest to Lauren Hutton, there are plenty of icons one can easily picture favoring Everine’s designs. This ability to create commercial appeal while maintaining her unique sensibility is one of the designer’s greatest strengths. (Photo by Cody Lidtke) -B.H.


I Feel Love

Before honoring our Best Fashion Event of 2010, we would be remiss not to mention that l’etoile promotionally sponsors a host of fashion events throughout the year, including our big winner for 2010: I FEEL LOVE.

A mix of fashion, music and video, the multi-media event took place in Northeast’s Grain Belt Bottling House, which is fast becoming a standard venue for local fashion events. Producers Angie Hanson, Maritza Ramirez and Ken Hannigan of Anthem Heart created a colorful spectacle that showcased the talents of dozens of Twin Cities creatives. Performances by The Nightstalker, Camille Bourgerie and soprano Alina Lindquist accompanied the work of local designers Ramirez and Mackenzie Labine for Oishiimomo. Ramirez showed a chic collection of separates which ranged from prim to coquettish , while Labine brightened the runway with her cheeky anime-inspired looks. Both collections were expertly styled by Jane Belfry, who played up Ramirez’s French gamine and kept Labine’s look playful without becoming overly saccharine. The show was a techno-colored dreamscape, occasionally whimsical, but always polished. Despite the illusion of ease, it was clear that the crew took the production very seriously. The excellently curated music and videography set I FEEL LOVE apart from the standard runway show. Saturated with eye candy and ear candy, it was truly the sweetest event of the year. -B.H.

I Feel Love Fashion Show from Anthem Heart A/V on Vimeo.



We like to spread around the wealth when it comes to best-of mentions, but BlackBlue has continued to be simply the place to shop for well-dressed gents in the Twin Cities since it opened in 2009. Owner Steve Kang has expertly-stocked the store with a selection of classic brands like Fred Perry, Penguin and Minnesota's own Red Wing Shoes - plus French favorite A.P.C. and London-based shoe brand F-Troupe. And over the past month, Kang has begun to stock a small but well-edited selection of women's cothing by A.P.C. and Swedish workwear brand Dunderdon, so you never know - BlackBlue just could be getting a womenswear nod in 2011. -J.P.


Cliché/"Avoid the Grey"

When Josh and Delayna Sundberg first opened the doors of Cliché in May of 2004, the Twin Cities fashion community had no idea what was hitting it. As much as Voltage: Fashion Amplified and the formation of MNfashion, Cliché has been a catalyst and incubator for local fashion design talent. Thanks to the hands-on guidance of the husband-and-wife team, the shop has fostered the talents of names such as Amanda Christine and Kimberly Jurek (of K.Jurek) - both of which are now manufacturing their lines and selling them at dozens of stores across the country. Accordingly, their annual local designer showcase "Avoid the Grey" brightens up the month of January and gives their new and longtime talent a chance to shine, coupled with a highly creative presentation. (This year's "Midsummer Night's Dream" themed show had models wearing animal masks while a ballerina danced to Hole's "Violet.") -J.P.


Gramma's Boyfriend

With only a couple shows under their belt, Haley Bonar's new band Gramma's Boyfriend has already created quite a buzz. Of course, we (and everyone else) have been fans of Bonar's heart-wrenching vocals for years. After a stint on the West Coast, Bonar is back with a brand new band consisting of the perfect formula - an all star cast including Jeremy Ylvisaker, Mike Lewis, Jake Hanson, and Luke Anderson creating electro-dancey sounds with vocals reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees and nothing like the coffee-shop folk of her past. 2011 will see this band come into its own and capture the hearts of Twin Cities music lovers. -R.L.


Gayngs Last Prom on Earth @ First Avenue

Never before and never again will our beloved concert venue look the way it looked the night of the Last Prom on Earth. In the month leading up to it, the city was abuzz with non-stop prom talk. "Did you get your prom tickets?" "What are you wearing?" "Who is your prom date?". As the excitement built, so did the expectations. But stepping inside the club the night of May 14th, seeing the sheer spectacle of an all-out PROM at First Avenue and feeling that collective energy, you knew that they had somehow managed to pull it off. Gayngs, as a musical concept, had been a painstaking labor of love for Ryan Olson & crew, and after a year in the making they executed the undisputed best show of the year. It was truly something special to witness. -R.L.


Mark Mallman's Marathon 3

Being part of a community that pulls off shit like a 78-hour music marathon, anchored by scene mainstay Mark Mallman and supported by nearly a hundred musicians, is one of the reasons we are in love with our city. It began on a warm Thursday evening, and with the first notes of Mallman's 4 day opus, everyone knew it was something not worth missing. And the results were stunning - by the end of the exhausting, trying, and ultimately exciting weekend, we were all right there along with Mallman, cheering him on, emotionally invested in his transformation. It was as if the entire music community ate, slept, and breathed Mallman for those 78 hours. When he crossed his finish line, we were all there, crying with him as he completed what nobody thought he could. -R.L.

Photo by Erik Hess


P.O.S. Pre-Coachella Secret Shows

Just when we think local music can't possibly outdo itself, it does just that. Days before flying off to the Californian desert for a high profile set at Coachella, P.O.S. and his backing band, Marijuana Deathsquads, performed three intimate "practice sessions" in front of in-the-know friends and fans that unintentionally turned into a three day rap fest of epic proportions, whose unannounced locations somehow managed to stay out of the press. Deathsquads forced new life out of these familiar songs, making them blossom into entire symphonies. Bright-eyed attendees could not help but to come back for more, night after night, until the powerful conclusion at a Nick and Eddie Wednesday night. After witnessing what he is capable of with a full band, we simply cannot wait to see what Stef Alexander has in store for us in 2011. (photo by Erik Hess) -R.L.


Nick & Eddie Backbar and Alley

Sure, Nick and Eddie (or "Neddies" as it is referred to by regulars) has seen its ups and downs over the past couple years. But this year saw the restaurant reinvent itself into a bonified music venue and one of the hippest places to hang out this side of the river. Wednesday nights exploded into a community of friends that turned the quiet restaurant into a raging party. With the addition of the Back Bar and deck, as well as popular bartender Paddy Mulloy, Nick and Eddie became a hotspot of scenesters and celebs. The Loring Alley, with its strewn lights and charming cobblestone, became our fave summer spot to sip a late night cocktail. -R.L.


Erik Hess

This year, one music photographer stands out so far ahead of the crowd that we had to take note. With nearly 300 shows under his belt in 2010 alone, Erik Hess has obviously found his calling. Aside from being a regular contributor to City Pages and T.C. Daily Planet, his photo blog,, contains thousands of beautifully captured memories and musical moments from the past year. Flipping through the pages it's impossible not to gasp with delight and awe at his natural gift. His seemingly effortless snapshots perfectly capture the essence, sound, and feel of an event, and if you weren't there, he makes you feel like you were. We challenge Erik to continue documenting the most exceptional moments of 2011 so that we may continue to relive them. -R.L.

Cloud Cult by Erik Hess for T.C. Daily Planet


LeRon. Wait for it...

Best of Editor: Kate Iverson / Contributors: Robyn Lewis, Jahna Peloquin, Beth Hammarlund

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