Monday, February 27, 2012

Yiptee Diptee Doo, Happy Shiny Day: The 2012 Oscars

This week l'étoile welcomes a new contributor: Niles Schwartz of The Niles Files. The prolific film blogger has made a name for himself thanks to his weekly spot Thursday nights on WCCO's The Nite Show with Mischke and his incredibly well-informed, occasionally cynical and sometimes romantic ruminations on the magic of movies on his namesake blog, The Niles Files. In his first shared post with l'étoile, he offers his observations on this year's Oscars.

Much as I’d like to fool myself and in spite of flukes, the Oscars aren’t about movies, craft, or art. They’re about fashion and culture. It’s the tough lesson of the film geek/snob, learned year after year, conveniently forgotten as he roots for a couple of favorites in late February. The Oscars are my Superbowl (with my team rarely playing or winning), and like the Superbowl, the play isn’t really the thing. Some weeks back, the radar of media picked up very little about the sport of football, and instead fixed its sights on the commercials and Madonna’s half-time performance. It felt like the closest the Superbowl discussion got to the sport was the subject of Gisele and her tweets, emails, or whatever the hell they were, involving her quarterback boyfriend. Even then, it’s news because it’s Gisele, which brings the sport back into the arena of fashion.

I was looking a little ridiculous last night at the Cowles Center in Minneapolis for the Official Twin Cities Oscar Party, which I was persuaded to attend in the waning Sunday afternoon hours. There were photographers, designers, gift bags, a red carpet, swanky gents in suits and beautiful women in luxurious dresses. In my childlike enthusiasm I was sporting my new official Drive jacket over an Oak Street Cinema t-shirt, Buckle jeans, and old Doc Martens. I was “representin’,” as they say, cheering on Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling’s snubbed noir, which was merely up for the prestigious category of Sound Editing. Unsurprisingly, it lost. I contained myself and stayed away from the elevators.

Not that many of the party’s attendees had seen Drive. I dare say that 50 percent of them had seen more than three of the films nominated for Best Picture, to say nothing of 2011’s many excellent films utterly snubbed in all categories. Though I had a good time, especially after I wound up in the VIP section with an open bar, the jabber and networking between people usurped the interesting-looking moments of the broadcast, where actors discussed what effect movies had on them. Because the two most nominated films were films about film history – The Artist and Hugo – producer Brian Grazer feebly tried to channel cinematic reverence. I don’t think many people cared. Honestly, the most exuberant part of the show was probably the sketch starring Christopher Guest and company (Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge) playing the first test audience in 1939, commenting on flying monkeys and such in The Wizard of Oz. As with his films Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, Guest and Co. are more us than we’d ever admit.

Meanwhile, the show tried to focus on the excellence of an art while itself being shabbily executed, with the sound going in and out and an inept handling of audience reaction shots to follow up on Billy Crystal’s jokes. Sounding hoarse and tired, Crystal quickly launched into his trademark “It’s a Wonderful Night for Oscar” medley, compressing nine nominees into verse when before he always did five. It didn’t quite work. Maybe the hooks in the songs were weak and the jokes lame, or maybe it was because too many of 2011’s Best Picture nominees were full of hot-air to begin with. I’m not even sure I could make out the song for what is universally acknowledged to be the least deserving of the nominees, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I did enjoy the opening montage, with Crystal intercut with some big 2011 entries, but wasting time with a Tin Tin homage plummeted the proceedings.

However superior the under-fire Oscars are when compared to other gala award shows like the Emmys and the Grammys, it’s now more than ever about the posturing of popular culture, instead of disappearing under the shadowy and archetypal wings of the masquerading icons and stories being told. Tweets and Facebook updates become the complementary narrative to what the Oscar producers are staging, the show besieged by a haughty and snarky backstage Chorus. Cynical viewers love to say how bad the Oscars are, while there’s another populace with their eyes laced to the red carpet pre-show. Both factions are eager to dig their teeth into celebrities baring too much skin and going over the top. The merit of The Artist or Christopher Plummer’s Beginners is not being chatted about today. Rather, it’s Angelina Jolie’s weight and thighs, and Jennifer Lopez’ apparently prodigious Frisbee nipples.

As far as winners go, the night wasted no time in launching into disappointment. The only widely predicted winner that ended up losing (if we don’t count Viola Davis’s Best Actress vie in The Help) was the first award of the evening, as Emmanuel Lubezki lost the Cinematography Oscar to Robert Richardson for Hugo. I love Richardson and Hugo, but there was something unforgivable about Lubezki’s loss. The Mexican cinematographer of Y Tu Mamá También, Ali, The New World, Children of Men, and Burn After Reading had swept the critics’ awards and took the Guild prize, but his work also conveyed the meaning of Terrence Malick’s elusive and wondrous Tree, which I hold to be more pertinent to a philosophical discussion of cinema than The Artist and even Scorsese’s Hugo. It’s not just that Lubezki’s cinematographic achievement ranks for me alongside John Alcott’s work on Barry Lyndon (1975) or John Toll’s on Malick’s The Thin Red Line (1998); he and Malick made the screen a great window through which we look and find ourselves. What was so startling and magnificent about The Tree of Life was how if affected me and how I experienced the world outside the theater after the movie. The world was dancing, and a run around Lake Harriet or a simple stroll through Minneapolis was suddenly boiling over with sensation. Malick begins The Tree of Life with a little girl’s hands set on a barn window, crossing over the other side, and he ends it with a bridge. Lubezki’s camera is not a tool of escape or trickery, but a link that loops back on ourselves. Granted, Hugo has cinematography that is also aesthetically rich just as it is meaningful to its subject, bringing 3D and the digital realm back to a photographic, human-centered root. But I’d bet a little money that even Scorsese and Richardson would bow in reverence to what Malick and Lubezki accomplished.

The subtext to this unfortunate start ties into the future of movies, and so makes the show’s narrative more dramatic. With Kodak going out of business and celluloid dying out to make room for the way of the future, the long-hold-out Scorsese finally embracing the digital (and doing it transcendently), giving the award to Hugo re-affirms the future path of Hollywood. Slumdog Millionaire was the first digital film to win the Cinematography Oscar (though it should have been Dion Beebe for Collateral in 2004), followed by Avatar the next year. Inception was mostly shot on film, but its victory over Roger Deakins’ True Grit indicates a trend to award bigger “oooo-ahhhh” films, heavily painted over with special effects. Lubezki’s great offerings are earthy when compared to such spectacle, using natural light whenever he can; even when he’s experimented with digital in a few shots in Ali, it was defiantly basic. During a recession, when a current golden era of television threatens movies, the Academy may want to reward pictures of great scale, dismissing the sublimity that sits right before us (much as audiences would dismiss The Tree of Life).

Hugo continued to reign with most of the technical categories, deservedly getting Dante Ferretti a second Oscar for Art Direction, in addition to Sound Mixing, Sound Editing (beating my beloved Drive), and Visual Effects. The one moment when my arm was raised in surprise and enthusiasm occurred with Film Editing, which I expected to be taken by The Artist or the great Thelma Schoonmacher for Hugo. Instead, it went to Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, my picks, for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The win was a shocker for me, not because of the industry’s tepid response to David Fincher’s magnificent Swedish noir, but because Baxter and Wall won last year, just as deservedly, for The Social Network.

It’s still somewhat of a pooper when Film Editing is the high point of Oscar night. The major awards went by the book, and deserved or not, it’s still a let-down. Christopher Plummer won for playing a gay man who comes out of the closet at 75 in Beginners; he was the deserving winner, but lacked suitable competition in snubbed peers like Albert Brooks (Drive), Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method), Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life), and Christoph Waltz (Carnage). I had no problem with Octavia Spencer’s victory for The Help, though it would have been a welcome surprise had Melissa McCarthy won Best Supporting Actress for Bridesmaids; I also regret that Jessica Chastain was nominated for her fine work in The Help when she was so much better as the confused wife of Take Shelter and luminous mother in The Tree of Life, and the category was also marred by the dismissal of newcomer Shailene Woodley, who plays George Clooney’s feisty daughter in The Descendants.

Best Actor was something of a three-way front-runner horse race between Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Clooney, and Brad Pitt (Moneyball), with two unexpected dark-horses in the background (Demian Bichir in A Better Life, and Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). The category was really blunted by the Academy’s demand for the big names Clooney and Pitt, who are nominated – for doing some good work, I admit – at the expense of more impressive performances from Ryan Gosling (Drive), Michael Shannon (Take Shelter), Michael Fassbender (Shame and A Dangerous Method), and arguably Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar) – and dare I say Mel Gibson (The Beaver). I think Dujardin’s victory still felt a little overripe in its predictability. Indeed, I was hoping my three front-runners would cancel each other out and Oldman’s George Smiley, the most haunting of all five performances (and the most revered actor of the bunch), would take the gold. Had this happened, I can guarantee you that half the articles this morning dismissing the Oscars as dull would be saying something different. An Oldman victory would have been the longest standing ovation in years, and the most career-affirming Academy Award for an actor since Al Pacino 19 years ago.

I guess we were supposed to think that Meryl Streep’s Iron Lady victory was the surprise of the night. It wouldn’t have been, had not the buzz in trade papers turned Viola Davis’ way a couple of weeks ago. In November, it was almost a given that Streep would get her third Oscar for playing Margaret Thatcher (she should have probably gotten it last year for playing the much more cuddly Julia Child). But reverence for the world’s greatest actress (if not actor generally, if we’re to be gender neutral) prevailed. My personal choice for the award was Rooney Mara, my new imaginary girlfriend, whose Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was an uncanny creation, a harmony of performer, director, and music score. As with Oldman, the actor disappeared and the character haunted me for days afterward. Oldman and Mara gave performances that were ghostly in their silences and unblinking stares. As good as Streep, Davis, and the magnificent Michelle Williams (as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn) were in their respective roles, I still wasn’t as transported.

Unfortunately, some diamonds get lost in the cocktail chatter. The greatest of the night’s acceptance speeches was courtesy of Asghar Farhadi, winning for Foreign Language Film with A Separation, from Iran. Accepting the award, Farhadi said, “At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or filmmaker, but because at the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country Iran is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics. I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.” It was an important remark, giving the night a feeling of historical significance, as maybe some viewers felt with Bert Schneider’s speech for 1975’s Hearts and Minds. In that case, a war had ended. Unfortunately for the present speech, one may be beginning. A close-up of Steven Spielberg’s quizzical face as Farhadi spoke injected ambiguity into the moment, so fitting for the writer and director of A Separation, which rejects the convenient clarity of a black and white universe.

I would think that a survey of 2011’s cinema would be an utter rejection of “convenient clarity.” The defining films of the year had so much ambiguity and irresolution, where things were left to us, the audience: The Tree of Life, Shame, Meek’s Cutoff, Take Shelter, Melancholia, Carnage, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Dangerous Method, Drive, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Sourcecord, The Ides of March, and of course A Separation. Yet with the exception of The Tree of Life, none of those films were nominated for Best Picture.

Every year, there’s a cultural shrug as every blogger, insider, critic, whatever, has to form their narrative of either the year in review, or of the Oscar race. You never read a positive take on things, how movies are getting better, how the nominees reflect something happening in the international sphere, like in Mark Harris’ book on the 1967 nominees, Pictures at a Revolution (where four of the five nominees were culturally significant: Bonnie and Clyde, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, and The Graduate). Year after year we hear about how originality is dying, how all the films are depressing, how spectacle is taking over, and how the Europeans are doing it better than us. And that’s fine. Bitch and moan away.

But last year was really interesting. Of the 10 nominees, nine of the films were interesting fodder for a cultural critic or film buff. There was an idiosyncratic edginess to them, many being the visions of great cinematic voices: Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, David O’ Russell’s The Fighter, the Coen brothers’ True Grit, Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. You had an out-of-nowhere uncompromising indie darling, Debra Miller’s Winter’s Bone. Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right was released months before the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Arab Spring was happening during Oscar season, the subtext of which was Facebook, social networking, the ubiquitous camera eye and impact of technology on the world, easily connecting things to the grand duel of David Fincher’s The Social Network and Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech. The nominees were adventurous, significant, bookmarks for their year of release. Many of them will, I believe, be watched with admiration years from now.

Instead of “right now” movies, 2011’s nominees are about nostalgia. At their best, they may be the kind of masterpiece that is plugged into the “Eternal,” the deep past that loops around to the present. Whereas The Social Network is a zeitgeist “Information Age” masterpiece, The Tree of Life is a transcendental all-encompassing one. Hugo bridges the film technology of 1900 to 3D digitalism, and how the creation, manufacturing, and criticism of the Art is a religious process of Promethean fire-theft. The Descendants is a family drama on the surface, but with its images of Hawaii’s terrain and interest in how history is about kingdoms displacing and usurping old ones, it’s a cosmological story about accepting the slow continental drift of history, having the same Darwinian weight as Malick. Midnight in Paris is about our tragic pining for the “Golden Age,” while it also reminds us, in a materialistic present where people measure out their lives in tiny units and possessions, that “the past isn’t the past,” and how there is value in staying connected to the richness of history.

Elsewhere, The Help goes back to Jim Crow Jackson, Mississippi, being too reactionary for some of its critics. Spielberg’s War Horse goes to the Great War, but for whatever is there to move and thrill us, it still doesn’t offer much that resonates for the world of today. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is about a kid with Asperger’s, searching for some hidden clue that will connect him to the time before everything went bad, on September 11, 2001. Even films that weren’t nominated for Best Picture but won awards for their actors, are focused on the past. Beginners is about “historical consciousness,” while The Iron Lady is about a woman drifting into senility, her mind hopelessly wandering in the past.

Only Moneyball, also about a man haunted by his past and lost potential, seems of the zeitgeist variety (it was co-written by The Social Network’s Aaron Sorkin) that we had last year. It works as a film about digitalization and how technology affects us, but it also clearly talks about our political and economic struggle in America, anticipating Occupy protests centered on rich teams that have too much money while small teams have so little. Billy Beane’s pragmatism, for Aaron Sorkin, could be seen to reflect President Obama, while Art Howe is as obtuse as the congress of John Boehner.

And though it makes sense to nominate Moneyball, Hugo, The Descendants, and The Tree of Life, and perhaps the fluffy satisfaction of Midnight in Paris and The Artist, Spielberg’s fine but autopilot War Horse, the Lifetime pleasures of The Help, and Extremely Loud, in addition to the warmth of the deserving films, drains out a lot of the sting from the list. All the nominated films have something of a tender and uplifting ending. The emotions, oftentimes, are clearly spelled out. In a year where there was a lot of ambiguity, only The Tree of Life is an elusive movie here – though it’s affirmation of all creation is fairly transparent.

There are no unhappy or challenging endings this year, though in recent years such endings have been on the up: No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood and Michael Clayton in 2007, The Departed, Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006, The Hurt Locker, A Serious Man, Inglourious Basterds, District 9 in 2009, and again, Inception, The Social Network, Black Swan, and True Grit last year.

Sure, happy endings are fine. I liked the euphoric dance coda of Slumdog Millionaire. But when you have War Horse and The Help and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and The Artist is almost a shoo-in winner (a film that is almost too likable), things just feel a little airy and light. Meanwhile, a famously dark filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, makes his most optimistic-feeling film (albeit with very rich subtexts) in Hugo, and Woody Allen, who loves to leave his characters frustrated and confused, recently in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Vicki Cristina Barcelona, Cassandra’s Dream, and Match Point, has a euphorically delightful conclusion in Midnight in Paris, his most enjoyable film in maybe decades. Evil remains abstract, like in The Tree of Life, or as a cartoonish and materialistic woman, like Rachel McAdams in Midnight in Paris or Bryce Dallas Howard in The Help. But I still feel that the dark side of human nature, the Daniel Plainview side or Anton Chigurh side, is sorely under represented.

That would have made Drive or Take Shelter perfect. Are these men heroes and prophets, or psychotics? Are they both? Is Brandon in Shame merely a sex addict, or is he an emblem for a whole culture of excess? Is Freud or Jung right in A Dangerous Method, un-meaning or meaning? The perplexing questions posed in the remarkable films of 2011 are hushed by the simple assurances of escape in The Artist, or feel-good progress in The Help. The film canon wasn’t particularly enriched by the 84th Academy Awards, and most of its content and highlighted movies will be soon forgotten, blips on an increasingly digital map. Whatever. Granted the disappointments of the evening, I put on my Drive jacket and take what has value into the future with me.

l'etoile's Guide to Sales & Shopping: February 27-March 4

Edited and written by Jahna Peloquin, l'étoile Fashion Editor

This week in local shopping and style events, "Tabatha Takes Over" H Design Salon, and vintage havens Tatters and Up Six host their biggest sales of the season:

Through Sunday: Buy-One-Get-One Sale at Drama
Uptown boutique Drama invites you to stock up for spring in their buy-one-get-one free sale running all this week. Plus, take an additional 20 percent off clearance items.
When: Sunday, February 26-Sunday, March 4.
Where: Drama, 4946 France Avenue, Edina, 952-920-0294,

Tuesday: "Tabatha Takes Over" H Design Salon Viewing Party
Only a few episodes after taking over Minneapolis' own Jungle Red Salon, hit Bravo reality show Tabatha Takes Over is taking over yet another local salon: H Design Salon in Uptown. Watch the sure-to-be-cringe-worthy revelations and host Tabatha Coffey's revamp at a viewing party hosted by the salon at Stella's Fish Bar in Uptown, hosted by Jason Matheson and Alexis Thompson from FM107.1 and Fox 9, plus a fashion show featuring looks by Project Runway alum Christopher Straub styled by H Design Salon stylists, plus live performances by Sole to Soul Dance Conversion, Bars and Measures, Tommy Dark, Harley Wood, and Lady Parts DJs. (Pictured: look by Christopher Straub, photo by Kevin Ophoven)
When: Music at 7 p.m., fashion show at 8 p.m., screening at 9 p.m. Tuesday, February 28.
Where: Stella's Fish Cafe, 1400 West Lake Street, Minneapolis. Click HERE for the event invite.

Tuesday-Sunday: Up Six Winter Clearance & Leap Year Sale
The Up Six Vintage Annual Winter Clearance Sale is a must-do on any vintage lover's calendar, but this year they're adding a bonus day. Throughout the week, take 30 percent off all clothing and accessories, 20 percent off all jewelry and jewelry case items, and 10 to 50 percent off all furnishings and housewares. Plus in honor of Leap Year, on Wednesday from noon until 8 p.m. take an additional 10 percent off your purchases and get the one-time chance to shop new merch available that day only.
When: Tuesday, February 28-Sunday, March 4.
Where: Up Six Vintage, 157 Snelling Avenue N, St. Paul, 651-917-0470,

Saturday & Sunday: Tatters 50% off sale
Since 1980, Tatters has been a source for costumes, c and funky accessories for vintage and oddity lovers alike. Tatters' half-off sale only comes twice a year, so you best get yourself down to the Uptown retro haven this weekend to fill your closets before the best stuff clears out for good. Everything in the store - yes, everything - will be 50 percent off all weekend.
When: Saturday, March 3 & Sunday, March 4.
Where: Tatters, 2829 Lyndale Avenue S, Minneapolis, 612-823.5285,

Saturday: Mad-Hatters Tea Party and Fashion Show
We love a good Alice in Wonderland theme as much as the next tea party-loving fashionista, so thankfully North St. Paul boutique Design Vertigo is keeping our appetites satiated. Trade in your cocktail for a cup of tea and head to the K & J Victorian Room for a fancy afternoon of fashion. Snack on tea sandwiches and hors d'oeuvres while taking in local looks from Gina Marie Vintage, whose style infuses a modern sensibility into classic styles. Tickets are $4 in advance at HERE or $7 at the door.
When: 3-6 p.m. Saturday, March 3.
Where: K & J Victorian Room, 2546 7th Avenue E, North St. Paulo, 651-770-1901,


New blow dry bars open in Minneapolis
Minneapolis is taking a nod from the coasts with a wave of blow dry bar openings this month. Boutique salon HAUS (pictured), which opened last year, just introduced an in-house blow dry bar to its South Minneapolis location, available for $30 a pop (or $20 for first-timers). Meanwhile, Smart and Chic Beauty Lounge has relaunched as the Beauty Lounge Minneapolis under new ownership, offering hair and makeup styling, private parties, and special occasion services. Finally, the new Blast Blow Dry Bar is opening two locations later this spring: at the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park and Aloft hotel in downtown Minneapolis, priced at $35. All services include a wash, blow dry, and styling.
When: Now open at HAUS; coming soon at Blast Blow Dry.
Where: HAUS Salon, 4240 Nicollet Avenue S, Minneapolis, 612-827-4287,; Beauty Lounge Minneapolis: 20 NE University Avenue Minneapolis, 612-227-9363,; Blast Blow Dry Bar: 1668 West End Boulevard, St. Louis Park & Aloft hotel, 900 Washington Avenue S, Minneapolis, 1-855-MNBLAST,

Now open: ARROW
What: Many mourned the loss of Intoto when the longtime Twin Cities designer retailer closed in 2010 after 20 years of business. But fans of the store have something to look forward to when two former Intoto employees open Arrow at the end of this month in martinpatrick3's old space in the North Loop. Partners Sarah Dwyer and Michael Basham promise a concept similar to the old store but less high-end and more colorful, with hard-to-find lines for men and women such as Surface to Air (pictured), Vanessa Bruno, Steven Alan and Rogan.
When: Now open.
Where: ARROW, 121 N 1st Street, Minneapolis, 612-339-1663.

Beginning Thursday: STYLEDLIFE Semi-annual Sale
Fans of designer accessory haven STYLEDLIFE have been waiting with bated breath for the Galleria boutique's sale of the season. The shop will be marking down everything (excluding vintage items) 30 to 70 percent, with more items fromb rands like Missoni, Pucci, Alexis Bittar (pictured), Marc by Marc Jacobs, Lauren Merkin and more at greater discounts than ever before, including music. Plus, newly arriving Spring/Summer 2012 merchandise also receives at 15 percent off discount.
When: Beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday, February 2. Sale runs through March 4.
Where: STYLEDLIFE, Galleria, Edina, 952-928-8888,

Ongoing: Spinario Design Moving Sale
Vintage interiors haven Spinario have already moved to their new digs, but for a limited time, much of the stock at their old location will be 20 percent off. Merchandise available at discount currently includes Paul McCobb, Dunbar, Alvar Aalto, Scandinavian glass, original mid-century art, paintings, prints, and sculpture, studio pottery, books, records, lighting, and much more. New items will be added regularly, and prices will continue to drop to 40 and 60 percent off as they sale continues.
When: Ongoing.
Where: Spinario Design, 1300 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis, 612-396-1860,

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weekend What's What 2/23-2/26


'I’m New Here' & Freakonomique Music Series f. Votel

@ The Future Presence Gallery
1126 2nd Street NE

6–11pm / Free

For too many years the local arts scene has seen a brain drain of talent uprooting for the greener artistic pastures of New York City. While it's long been the case that only in NYC have our artists been able to adequately monetize their work into a real profession, that is changing. The high cost of living in Manhattan and Brooklyn is moving artists back to creative capitols like Minneapolis-St. Paul where rents are reasonable and artistic support and appreciation is on the rise. Future Presence Gallery celebrates this influx with the exhibition "I’m New Here," showcasing seven artists who have recently made the move from New York to Minnesota to study ceramics, printmaking and painting in our world-class facilities. Artists Mike Arnold, Bryan Daly, Alanah Luger Guillaume, Audra Smith, Alexis Stiteler, Dan Vuono and David Swenson will present energetic work exemplifying an exciting new wave of artists relocating to the vibrant Twin Cities arts community. The opening reception also marks the latest installment in Future Presence’s Freakonomique Music Series, featuring local supergroup Votel – with members of Lookbook, Poliça, Vaz and Father You See Queen – perform their electronic sounds with live instrumentation and vocals at 10 p.m. Friday in the Gallery's EON Soundspace. We think this is a great concept, so be sure to come out and see some of the great new artists moving into the local scene. -Anthony Enright

Click HERE for the Future Presence Gallery site.


'Resurgent: A Winter Fashion Rock Show'

@ Amsterdam Bar & Hall
6 W 6th Street
St. Paul

7pm doors, 7:30pm show / all ages / $5

The fashion designer owners behind local shop You And Me round out Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week with the launch of their new in-house collective label. Their winter line, "Resurgent," is inspired by "a post-apocalyptic scene where a barren wasteland sets the stage for a resurgence of winter survival fashion" - quite fitting for winters in Minnesota, we say. This functional fashion show will feature looks for men and women by designers Tim and Thom Navarro, Deborah Block and Katy Vereide, set to music by Loveless Aphrodite, Tiger Vs. and DJ Encounter. -Jahna Peloquin

Click HERE for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week calendar.


Nyteowl EP Release Show

@ Hexagon Bar
2600 27th Avenue S

9 pm / 21+ / free

If you missed your chance at a L-O-V-E connection this Valentine's Day, don't run out and get a “lone wolf for life” tattoo just yet. Nyteowl's EP release show promises to lay out the jams sure to lay down the love. And really, how could sexy electro funk sound radiating with crooning vocals akin to The Weeknd and Prince not get you in the mood to lock eyes with a lover? Tonight's “digital + physical + spiritual + sexual + mental” release includes four original tracks from the band, plus, hot remixes from Minneapolis' Comanche and UK's Napolean. Catch live sets from Nyteowl, post-punk masters, The Rope, haunty synthpop from husband/wife duo, Plastic Believers and brooding synth-heavy rock from trio, Friends by Fire, not to mention be among the first to snag a copy of Nyteowl's Valentine release. L'amour est dans l'air...and l'sound waves. -Juleana Enright

Click HERE for the Facebook invite.


Fête de Mardi Gras

@ Alliance Française
113 N 1st Street

6-9pm / Free

Come celebrate Mardi Gras in style with local Francophile organizatino Alliance Française! Sure to be a classy affair – so probably leave your girls gone wild t-shirt and beads at home – this fête offers a chance to observe the famous festival as you sample southern style cuisine and even create your own Mardi Gras masque! Mingle with French speakers of all levels and like-minded lovers of French culture as you learn about the origins of well known Mardi Gras traditions. For a mere $7 you can nosh on a New Orleans style gumbo dinner and for another $3 you can sample a festive French King’s Cake (a true Mardi Gras classic). Wine will also be available – as befits the celebratory nature of event. This is sure to be a fun way to meet new friends with a common interest in le français and celebrate Mardi Gras without a trip to the Big Easy! -Anthony Enright

Click HERE for the Alliance Française site.


Flanders Gallery Grand Reopening & 'Stand Out Prints 2012'

@ Flanders Gallery, 910 W Lake Street & Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W Lake Street

6-9:30pm / Free

Lyn-Lake will be bursting with art with two door-to-door openings this Friday - the grand reopening of Flanders Gallery and the opening reception for Highpoint Center for Printmaking's annual "Stand Out Prints" show. Local art savant Douglas Flanders' late lamented Uptown gallery has been revived with "The Art of the Print," a collection spanning 50 years of fine art printing, while Highpoint celebrates some of the best printmaking happening in the country right now with its first-ever nationally juried show, featuring 57 prints that were selected out of nearly 800 submissions by jurors Mark Pascal and Susan Inglett, a curator at the Art Institute of Chicago and founder of NYC's prestigious Editions|Artists’ Book Fair, respectively. -Jahna Peloquin

Click HERE for Flanders Gallery's site and HERE for Highpoint Center for Printmaking's site.

Print by from Highpoint awardee Mitch Mitchell


Walker After Hours: 'Faux Real'

@ Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Avenue

9 pm–midnight / $30, $20 Walker members

Dive into the surreal, the real and the fascinatingly fake tonight as the Walker hosts their Faux Real soiree. Rock a fauxhawk, throw on some pleather and don your most convincing knock offs with pride as you celebrate the Walker's latest exhibition Lifelike. Inside the gallery, peep painting, sculpture, photography, video and installations from over 50 artists from the late 60's to the present exploring authenticity, illusion and reality. Outside the exhibit walls, groove to a dance party featuring rare soul and funk tracks from the Hipshaker DJs, nibble on “reality bites” and sip down cocktails from Modern Events by D'Amico as upi strut your stuff in a jumbo version of Party People Pictures and let imitation mirror life in the Art Lab. -Juleana Enright

Click HERE for the Walker Art Center site.


Skoal Kodiak + Food Pyramid

@ Nomad World Pub
501 Cedar Avenue S

As their SoundCloud bio boasts, “grinding hump haus oozes from the erect speaker cones when Skoal Kodiak is unfurled.” A toxic mist of electro, noise and glitch, local noise band Skoal Kodiak is like the audio result of robots battling zombies. In other words, flesh dances will ensue. Tonight, catch the trio with live sets from Milwaukee krautrockers Catacombz, ambient electronica from locals Food Pyramid, and bizarro, non-structured freakrock from Lake City's Sir Isaf Gul. Just try to have a decent conversation over the screechin' and wailin'. We dare ya. -Juleana Enright

Click HERE for the Facebook invite.


A. Wolf & Her Claws

@ Hell's Kitchen
80 S 9th Street

10pm / 21+ / $5

Earlier this winter, uber-talented songstress Aby Wolf (a member of Dessa's band and regular collaborator with Dark Dark Dark) was commissioned by the Cedar Cultural Center to team up with a diverse group of musicians in a musical collaboration, as selected by the Cedar. With a genre-melding cast including Jesse Whitney (Dance Band), Linnea Mohn (Rogue Valley & The Alpha Centauri) and Joey Van Phillips (Mystery Palace & Volcano Insurance), the result was a vocal/electronic project that serendipitously melded perfectly. In fact, their debut album proved to be a production of supergroup proportions. If you haven't heard A. Wolf & Her Claws, don't miss them tonight with Father You See Queen (featuring former members of To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie) and Vouka. -Juleana Enright

Click HERE for the Hell's Kitchen Underground site.


Flying Dorito Brothers' Final Show

@ Palmer's

10pm / 21+ / $5

Here's a show you won't want to miss. Get ready to get your heart broken: all-star cover band the Flying Dorito Brothers are parting ways, as members Mark Ritsema and Micky Alfano are needing to commit their energy to their ever-rising electro-rock band Night Moves full-time. You'll hear covers of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons and more during this sure-to-be-bittersweet occasion. Hyperactive pop band Hot Freaks and new dance-pop act Vogue open. -Jahna Peloquin

Click HERE for the Facebook invite.


Get Cryphy 4 Year Anniversary Party

@ First Avenue Mainroom
701 1st Avenue N

9pm / 18+ / $5 adv/$10 door

Come celebrate Get Cryphy’s four-year anniversary this Friday when the crew moves their monthly dance party from the Record Room to the First Avenue Mainroom for one night of mayhem. Over the past four years, the monthly dance party they've cultivated into a sell-out event and become a DJ force to be reckoned with. Experience the brotherhood of talented quad-squad of phenomenal DJs Plain Ole Bill, Jimmy 2 Times, Fundo and Last Word, their cryphtastic beats, and a sure-to-be-outta-control house of party people. To get your dance moves ready, be sure to snag a download of their free, commemorative four-year mixtape. -Stefani Arden

Click HERE for the First Avenue site.



@ Architectural Antiques
1330 Quincy Street NE

Noon-8pm / Free

From the creators of NorthernGRADE, comes SnowGRADE. Expect the same day-long men's market featuring USA-made goods from J.W. Hulme, Pierrepont Hicks Tie Co., Red Wing Shoes, Best Made Co., and more, plus local shops martinpatrick3, BlackBlue, and Askov Finlayson. The only difference? This year, they've added workshops showing you handy skills like how to restore your axe, canvas waxing and home beer brewing. -Jahna Peloquin

Click HERE for the SnowGRADE Tumblr.


'Eat to the Beat'

@ Pizzeria Lola
5557 Xerxes Avenue S

7pm / All Ages / Free

Satisfy all your senses this Saturday when local DJ Jake Rudh he teams up with the dangerously delicious Pizzeria Lola for an '80s-themed pizza party. Grub on the wood-fired, “taco pie”-flavored za-goodness, watch John Hugh’s flicks and challenge your friends to a Rubik’s Cube-off. All the while, channel your inner-child with scratch 'n stiff stickers, friendship pins and soft-serve ice cream loaded with pop rocks. Oh and don’t forget to hit the photo booth, you’ll want to capture these presh moments down nostalgia lane. Bust out your jean jackets and neon threads - the two best dressed will receive a $50 and $25 gift certificate to Lola’s. This party is the perfect pit stop before a night out on the town. -Stefani Arden

Click HERE for the Facebook invite.



@ Club Underground
355 NE Monroe Street

10pm / 21+ / $6

If you're the sort of soul who's more inclined to hit Austra than Rihanna on your Spotify and itching to show off your mastery of Robyn dance moves to someone besides your cat, look no further than new monthly dance night BERLIN. Hosted by local DJ powerhouses Shannon Blowtorch and Lizzy Tymus, Berlin promises to be your answer to an "indie" queer-friendly monthly dance party. Showcasing every last Saturday of the month, the first edition of Berlin will be serving up groove-tastic hot tracks from artists like Le Tigre, Crystal Castles, Peaches, MEN, Major Lazer, Amanda Black, Deadmou5, Siouxsie, Yelle and tons more, not to mention dubstep, mash-ups and bounce musak. No party rock anthems allowed! On top of refreshing eclectic tunes, enjoy endless $2.75 PBR Tall Boys, monthly deals from vendors and sponsors, special surprises and a full menu of libations offered up until midnight in the upstairs bar. Oh yes, Top 40 can suck it. -Juleana Enright

Click HERE for the Facebook invite.


Fuck Knights + Nightinghales

@ 331 Club
331 13th Avenue NE

9pm / 21+ / Free

Whether strutting their own original material or thrashing out innovative covers, Fuck Knights shows are simply among the very best live rock experiences in town, offering the perfect blend of dirtbag garage punk and scuzzy freakouts. After a recent jaunt through Europe, Fuck Knights bring it back home for a good ol' Northeast hootenanny at their fave (and always free) hole in the wall, the 331. Nightinghales kick off the night, and DJs Sir Gregory, Lady Knightinghale and Benito Chupito carry us home. -Robyn Lewis

Click HERE for the 331 Club site.


LiL iFFy

@ Turf Club
1601 University Avenue
St. Paul

9pm / 21+ / $7

We imagine that Knoxville, Tennessee rapper LiL IFFy has read a tiny tad too much Harry Potter fan fiction – hey, haven’t we all? – because his new album shows what some would characterize as an unhealthy obsession with the world of the wanded one. iFFy, along with his posse Dude Source, recently released a full-length (unauthorized) album – entitled Wandcore , no less – based entirely on the teenage wizard, and it’s an addictive doozy! Love it or hate it, unless you’re a hopeless Muggle you’re sure to be left grinning by the funky beats and jaw-dropping aggressive rhymes. This Turf Club show, which features equally weird and inappropriate local quartet Trendy Trendy Space Vegans, sensational local Hip-Hop duo Valley Meadows, and St. Cloud Hip-Hop trio Pop Vultures, is likely to be one of the stranger – and more hilarious – hip-hop shows of the season. Put on your dress robes, grab a Butterbeer and prepare to rock out with your wand out! -Anthony Enright

Click HERE for the Turf Club site.


Dan Hartman: Solo Exhibition

@ HAUS Salon
4240 Nicollet Avenue S

7–10pm / Free

Local collage artist Daniel Hartman recently impressed Twin Cities art lovers with his surrealist collage works at the Burnet Gallery's "The Curative" exhibition. Starting Saturday, Minneapolis salon and progressive art space HAUS hosts the artist's first solo showcase to delve more deeply the artist's unique creative vision. Using found imagery from publications dating back to the mid-twentieth century, Hartman creates large scale collages that include both two and three dimensional elements. By breaking the vertical plane his works become dynamic, arresting the viewer and drawing them into a strange and compelling world. Using both original work and reproduction pieces, the show presents intense groupings of collage to challenge the viewer's notions of how images communicate with their audience. HAUS' recent exhibitions been provided an essential platform for discovering emerging talent, so we're excited to see what this show has in store! -Anthony Enright

Click HERE for the Facebook invite.

Another Saturday Night

@ Kitty Cat Klub
315 14th Avenue NE

10pm / 21+ / $3

The good-lookin' men and ladyfolk of the Twin Cities are sure to congregate at this month's edition of Another Saturday Night, the latest dance party concoction from DJs Bach and So Gold. Recline in the shambly, luxe surroundings of the Kitty Cat Klub as you unwind from Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week, or blow off some steam on the dance floor to a sexy mix of classic and modern R&B. -Jahna Peloquin

Click HERE for the Facebook invite.


Attitude City Monthly Party

@ Clubhouse Jager
923 Washington Avenue

10pm / 21+ / Free

The crate-digging connoisseurs of Attitude City are at it again with their installation of music and mayhem. Join the one and only Jeff Dubois and special guest Daniel Paul AKA DJ Ghetto for a night of delicious dance beats ranging from an eclectic selection of disco, house, boogie, soul, and italo. Surrounded by the decadent, Old World furnishings of Clubhouse Jager and delicious drinks served up by one of the finest bar staffs in town, it's a sure bet for a laidback night of music and mingling. -Jahna Peloquin

Click HERE for the Facebook invite.


Twin Cities Official Oscar Party

@ The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts
528 Hennepin Avenue

5:30pm / All Ages / $50-$125

Dress to the nines this Sunday evening for the 2012 Twin Cities Official Oscar Party. As you partake in all people watching festivities and try your hand at predicting the winners for the chance to win prizes, feel good about ponying up for the cost of your ticket - all the proceeds benefit the Smile Network International and the Target Distance Learning Program at the Cowles Center. As the night draws to a close, keep the party going at the Marriott City Center with discounted room rates of $89, a portion of which goes to benefit the Aegis Foundation. Usher in the Oscars in style with a night of giving and glam - it sure beats couch potato-ing out in your sweats. BONUS: snag a $20 discount on your tickets to the party by typing in "cowles" when you purchase your tickets online. -Stefani Arden

Click HERE for the Cowles Center site.

Editor in Chief: Jahna Peloquin / Contributors: Juleana Enright, Robyn Lewis, Jahna Peloquin, Stefani Arden, Anthony Enright

MSP Fashion Week in Review: "Resurgent"

Text by Beth Hammarlund
Photos by Amy Gee

Last night, Lyndale boutique You and Me presented "Resurgent," their first runway show, at Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul. A collaborative venture between fashion designers Tim + Thom, Camille Fashions and jewelry designer Katy Schmaty, the store is part studio, part custom shopping experience.

The show opened with musical performances by Loveless Aphrodite and Tiger Vs. DJ Encounter then took to the stage, which had been decorated in twisted twigs and branches, creating a simple, yet enchanting backdrop.

The clothing was presented in three different segments. The first was marked by a flag on stage that flew the initials "KS." This segment focused on jewelry by Katy Schmaty, but it was unclear whether the clothing was by Tim + Thom, Camille Fashions, or both. You and Me's line is a collaboration of the designers, but it would have been helpful to have a presentation or a program that explained whether the entire collection was a collaboration among all of the designers, or if the different segments did indicate different designers.

The "KS" segment featured truly fantastic animalistic hairstyles, some of which literally wove in strands of Katy Schmaty's ornate jewelry. Sculpting horns and antlers out of models' manes is not a new idea, but to see it executed so well at a show in the Twin Cities was a treat. However, it felt incongruous to have models with such elaborately crafted hair and feminine jewelry wearing what was, in several cases, casual sportswear.

The second segment, marked with a flag bearing the image of a bird, included a pair of excellent fitting jeans with contrasting fabric across the knees. (The bird image from the flag was embroidered onto a back pocket, as well.) The looks were hit and miss, and there were a lot of them. I lost track of exactly how many looks were shown throughout the show, but it would have been in the designers' best interest to bring down the number. Quality should always outweigh quantity.

The second segment's closing look was a bit strange. A male model glided down the runway in well-made black duster, but the safety pin fastenings looked less punk rock than they did a last minute necessity. He also wore a black gas mask and had a samurai sword holstered on his back. Though the look was certainly arresting and impressive, it seemed strangely out of place. The styling of the show suggested a narrative, but I couldn't pinpoint when we had moved from strange forest girls to post-apocalyptic urban warfare.

The final segment, marked with a "T+T" flag (presumably for Tim + Thom), included more pieces that were fairly hit and miss, and could have used some editing. But there were certainly highlights. I adored a pair knee-length cable knit trousers in a marled gray. I would love to see a longer and less chunky version of that design, as well. Another high note came from an unexpected place. While standing onstage, a female model appeared to be wearing an ordinary oversized men's pinstripe suit coat. But as she walked down the runway, it became clear that the suit coat was in fact tailored into a cape. (Unfortunately, due to the dark backdrop of the stage and the color of the cape, photographs do not do the silhouette justice.) It was a unique idea and a pleasant surprise.

Veteran model Tearra closed the show in a long coat wearing what I first thought was a pair of long slim jeans. However, on her return walk, it became apparent that they were more like a pair of slender denim leg warmers that ran from thigh past the ankle. I didn't love the coat and the overall look was uneven, but it's refreshing to go to a fashion show and be treated to little surprises like this.

Throughout the show, a number of pieces appeared to be either unfinished or poorly finished. Hems and closures were a problem, and some of the designers lacked for taste. I couldn't help wishing that the designers had cut several of the looks, and used that time to refine the stronger pieces. There were good ideas there, but they got a little lost.

The models walked slowly and strangely on the runway. It wasn't a strut of a stomp, but more of a step-drag, step-drag. The choreography choice received mixed reviews from the crowd, but I thought it worked well with DJ Encounter's music and the atmosphere. There were some strong styling choices that still stick in my mind, as well. In particular, a mock ponytail fashioned out a raccoon tail piqued my interest.

Though the event was charming and ambitious, it was significantly less refined than what we've come to expect at high-profile MNfashion events. There were some hiccups in timing, a few wobbly models, and the collection would have benefitted from significant editing and finishing. There's plenty of room for improvement. That said, every show has to start somewhere, and if Resurgent becomes a recurring event in MNfashion Week, it has the potential to become a can't-miss event. The ideas are definitely there. What they need is a good polish.

View more "Resurgent" photos by Amy Gee HERE.