Downtown Art

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March 15, 2004 // UPDATED 9:46 am - April 25, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

'Imagine Peace'

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your rooftops . . . Help! Avant-garde artist Yoko Ono hijacked the Skyway News rooftop! Ono, who's standing on top of our building, extending Downtown an olive branch, is holding the entire office hostage (I'm writing from a basement hideout). She's not up there in the flesh, per se, but she's snatched the billboard that tops our building. Instead of the usual car or alcohol ads, it reads: "Imagine Peace."

Ono isn't a novice when it comes to taking over big signs. Along with John Lennon in 1969, she plastered the forceful message "War Is Over!" in New York's Times Square and London's Piccadilly Circus. The billboard design featured above 1115 Hennepin Ave. S. first showed up in the form of rubber stamps (do-it-yourself stamping on world maps) at the Venice Biennale last year.

OK, fine, so the Walker Art Center sponsored this rooftop billboard invasion -- pacifist Ono didn't exactly steal it . . . and we're not actually being held captive by a peace-loving sign . . . and I'm not really writing from the basement, either. Turns out this paper's home base has become a satellite to the museum's "Walker Without Walls" Billboard Project since it closed for yearlong construction in February.

More on the Walker/Ono connection: Ono's 2001 exhibit, "Yes Yoko Ono" was sold-out opening day. Besides some pieces that belong to the museum's permanent collection, she's donated countless announcements, posters and postcards that document her impressive art-tactics.

While Ono's "Imagine Peace" comes down mid-May, The Billboard Project continues through July 15 with additional artists' work.

"Imagine Peace" is on display thru May 14, Skyway News, 1115 Hennepin Ave. S. Free. 375-7622.

'Sworded Tales and Spirit Treks'

Does the lobby of the Southern Theater smell like soy sauce? Hear the salty sizzle of stir-fry and the metallic clang of knives/swords onstage at Chinese-American Maria Cheng's dramatic dinner party, "Sworded Tales and Spirit Treks." "Iron Chef" Cheng cooks up everything from chicken to Tai Chi; her saber-chopped Szechuan is enhanced with song and dance. Infused with tidbits from her gourmet inner consciousness, this meal is truly a spiritual experience.

Choreographer, playwright and actor Cheng's recipe includes but isn't limited to these spices: Johnny Unitas, sex, Kubla Khan, Chinese Barbie dolls and saber martial arts. Cheng's spiritual awakening (and slumber) is told through her cooking, absurd anecdotes, modern dance, song and certainly, lots of jokes. Calling the piece sad, tongue-in-cheek and earnest, Cheng, who is "over 50," said this memoir-performance is her most sober and most humorous work yet, "I now have a no-bullshit attitude. It's easier to laugh and be more courageous."

"I poke fun at people for taking themselves too seriously, but I try to maintain a spiritual seriousness," described Cheng. Although the show is humorous, it was inspired by dark current events. "It's not about war, but I'd say that war was the catalyst," she explained.

Cheng lives in Colorado, but she also teaches at the University of Minnesota Dance Program.

March 18, 20 and 21, Thursday and Saturday 8 p.m. and Sunday, 7 p.m. The Southern Theater 1420 Washington Ave. S. $17. 340-1725.

'Lunch Forum: Art, Politics and Jeune Lune at 25'

Celebrate Theatre de la Jeune Lune's 25th anniversary on your lunch break. The box lunch includes the company of Jeune Lune artistic directors: Barbra Berlovitz, Steven Epp, Vincent Gracieux, Robert Rosen and Dominique Serrand. Keep abreast of your art-politics because lunch's hot topic will be the importance of arts in the community.

Friday, March 19, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Theatre de la Jeune Lune, 105 N. 1st St. $10 (box lunch included). 333-6200.

Anna Pratt can be reached at annapratt@artlover.com.