Patio Nights – past, present, and future

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The Minnesota Museum of American Art has brought back their popular musical event, Patio Nights for three nights this summer.  If you are a music lover, history nerd, St. Paul enthusiast, foodie, community explorer, want to support the MMAA make their comeback or are just looking for an excuse to get out of the house next Friday night, then make sure you are there!

You can expect beyond amazing meals from the truck of Café 128.  I had the ginger-soy sirloin skewers washed down with handmade ginger basil lemonade, both were perfection and were a great way to start the night.

When I walked into the City House space , a former municipal grain elevator, I confess I had a history nerd moment and proceeded to read almost every sign in the place.  I literally jumped up and down at the sight of a Humphrey Man Lift.  The patio offers sights of this working river (I talked to the crew of the “Betty Sue” who were maneuvering a loaded barge) and the cool breeze that rolls right across the seating area is so refreshing.  Thanks to the city of St. Paul for renovating this spot and making a great place for the community to come together in.

The music hosted by the MMAA was top notch, Communists Daughter played the first night and offered up their classic indie music.  Everyone was tapping their toes and grooving to their all pleasing style.  Matthew Inkala & the Hostages  had a host of people up and dancing. Their folk style is upbeat and great for all ages.  Up next Friday is Mr. Rowles and Band  who state they like to rock, but not in your face.  They have a bit of funk and jazz mixed in their tunes and are sure to please all in family.

Lastly when the night and sun are winding down you can wander down the path to Upper Landing Park to visit Jim Campbell’s light sculpture, Scattered Light.  The MMAA helped bring this work to St. Paul for the Northern Spark festival and it is truly a treat to be let inside and experience the 1,600 LED light bulbs moving about.  Don’t forget to stand and view it from afar so you can experience figures walking across the pixilated “screen.”  If you take some unique pictures with the sculpture, make sure to share them on the MMAA’s Facebook page!

If you live in the neighborhood, walk on down or if you drove to the city you can find Patio Nights at City House just off Shepard Road and Chestnut Street, on the path behind the Caribou Coffee. Check out the map for more details.  If a short walk along the river suits you, there’s parking underneath the High Bridge, accessed via Randolph Avenue off Shepherd Blvd.

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David Rich and Paulette Myers-Rich – Friday at the Acme Artworks

The dynamic St. Paul art duo of David Rich and Paulette Myers are showing their work together, for the first in a long time,   at Acme Artworks.  David describes his work in the show as the  “particular intersection of urban landscape and abstract painting. ”  Paulette will be showing urban landscape photographs.

The opening reception is Friday night from 5:30 – 9:00.  Come and celebrate this independent gallery, enjoy the company of  St. Paul’s veteran and emerging artists, and gawk at the beautiful works of two  artists who have come to be regarded as St. Paul urban treasures.

Can’t make it to the opening?  The show will be up  through July – on weekdays by appointment, and Saturdays 12-8pm, Sundays 12-5pm.

For a complete list of  St Paul events and restaurants, visit us on our website, and download our app on iPhone and Android at the usual places.


Coming to a street near you

Pianos on Parade is a joint venture between the Mayor‘s office,  the Keys 4/4 Kids program, and other area sponsors that promises to make beautiful music in St. Paul this summer.

I’ve passed by the storefront of Keys 4 Kids a dozen times a month and always wondered  what they were up to.

From their website,

“Established in 2000 by founder Newell Hill in his parent’s garage in Woodbury, MN, Keys 4/4 Kids has since expanded to both Chicago and Kansas City and sells over 500 pianos every year. All profits benefit the Maureen Conway Foundation (MCF).

Maureen Conway was Newell’s high school history teacher that inspired him to give back to others. The mission of MCF is to inspire young people to believe in themselves through the arts.”

In short, you can donate a used piano to  Keys 4 Kids (a 501 c 3), take a tax deduction,  and know that the proceeds from the sale are being used for a number of area arts enrichment programs.

This summer the program is stepping up its civic engagement with Pianos on Parades.  Fifteen  pianos will be tricked up by area artists, who are picked in a juried process (decisions will be made soon).   From April 15-May 15  chosen artists will work at transforming the pianos. Their parameters were fairly open – “Use any medium you want—paint, wood, video, recycled materials, etc., and base your design on a piece of music or other musical inspiration.”

Starting June 4 the pianos will be placed in various sites throughout St. Paul.  As the organization notes,  “From our experience as the official charitable focus of last year’s Uptown Art Fair, we learned one very valuable lesson: if a piano is available, someone will sit down and play. And, if someone is playing a piano, a crowd will gather to watch and listen.”

Pianos on Parade is still looking for sponsors for this  program.

Brush up on your chopsticks, throw a lawn chair in the trunk of your car, and look for an impromptu concert around the streets of St. Paul this summer.


at the gallery

The  memory of teen age angst is a subject that never wears out.  Even though we try to shed  those memories, like a snake outgrows its layers of skin,  snippets of them persist.  I can’t remember what I wore yesterday, but have vivid memories or my royal blue gym uniform, how it snapped up the front,  had elastic in the back, cap sleeves, a collar, pockets and a low rise.

A local writer, Frank Bures, wrote this fabulous story about a biking journey to his high school reunion.  You can almost hear the taunts of the kids lingering around the lockers in the basement.  They grow louder in the silence of his journey along the  river.

At IFP Minnesota, located at  2446 University Avenue, in Saint Paul, The Empowering Image,  a  collection of photographs that aims the camera at teen-aged subjects, will be on display through May 14.

Here are a few snapshots, which capture only  a fraction of the power of these  images by photographers Sheila  Farrell and Amy Anderson.  If you have teenagers, or have ever been a teenager, this show will be sure to engage you.