Downtown Art

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May 10, 2004 // UPDATED 1:29 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

Maria Bamford's 'daily Darwinism'

Minnesotan comic Maria Bamford is a "daily Darwinist" -- that is, she's figured out some of life's necessities and what is immaterial.

For example, she survives mainly on a peanut-butter-and-Coke diet (a necessary adaptation because her stove is pretty well blocked, she admits on her Web site). No Atkins here.

Or consider her defense of an inaccessible mailbox that necessitates a pair of tongs to actually grab any of the mail (a natural weed-out system): "There's something satisfyingly challenging in the daily struggle to force my entire arm down that narrow slot and grasp at a swamp of wily, shifting envelopes. Maybe I get only the mail that I am meant to receive."

Bamford challenges others with her quirky sense of association. Like when she planted a can of V-8 juice, computer screen cleaner and a rock in a friend's glove compartment, as a kind of trade-off for the call to the locksmith her friend helped her make (to get the mail out of the mailbox that was stuck in a clogged drawer). I can relate -- sometimes I hide things from myself, too.

The woman who's voiced "Stuart Little 2" characters, appeared on late-night TV and who often does celebrity imitations of noncelebrities offers an "Ask Maria's Mom," button on her site. Her Mom (Marilyn) is tired of the Jesus jokes (she replies, to a message posted from "Tim"), not to mention the general barrage of P.R. questions about Maria's experience as a "woman and a comic."

Nonetheless, she's proud of her daughter -- who is funny.

Tuesday-Saturday, May 11-15, various times, ACME Comedy Company, 708 N. 1st St. $12-$24. 338-6393.

Library fireplace rises from the ashes

The Public Art Subcommittee for the Library just approved artist Donald Lipski's second design for the third-floor fireplace. Lipski -- who was selected for the task last August -- was cut when his project proved to be too costly. After the committee asked the remaining three fireside artists to collaborate, they asked Lipski to revise his original design.

Now, a more affordable Lipski project features a ring of violins that will be carved with children's signatures - to match with the muse of the nearby "Art & Music" collection. Find other Lipski work at the Walker Art Center, among other museums. His sculptures and other site-specific pieces grace other public spaces, including libraries, municipal buildings and civic settings.

Additional artists interpreting the library's bookish hearths include Ta-Coumba Aiken (St. Paul), Jackie Chang (Brooklyn, N.Y.), and Teri Kwant (Minneapolis). The Library hopes the fireplaces will be sociable spaces for the public to recline, gather and read.

Scheduled to open in 2006, the five-story building already boasts a whopping 2.5 million-item collection, making it the most expansive public library in the state and the country's fourth largest.

For more information, visit the library at

'Terror at Outlaw Creek'

Mary Tyler Moore's bronze tam toss, a bird statue, Nicollet Mall snapshots, forebodingly dark views of Downtown, Pillsbury Mills and Mississippi River shoreline appear in a Bryn Mawr couple's TV comedy/adventure film, "Terror at Outlaw Creek," about a blighted trek through the wilderness.

Bedraggled Tony and Anita Edwards, played by writer/director/producer Jim Stokes and his wife Sylvia, made plans to go "up North" to escape mounting work tensions, but the tourists' thoughts of a naturalistic paradise -- Palisades Park -- are thwarted by the territorial ghosts and ghouls who chasten "idle sightseers."

Inspiration for the funny if not catastrophic camping trip was the Stokes' own exploration of the 50-foot cliffs, waterfalls and sudsy waves of South Dakota's Big Sioux River in the Palisades Wilderness Area. They were fascinated by the tale of legendary outlaw Jesse James' horseback leap between two cliffs that left luckless law enforcers on the wrong side of the river.

The movie also shows Minneapolis's Bryn Mawr neighborhood, Bassett Creek, the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and the Chain of Lakes.

Some Bryn Mawr footage was edited out for another movie, "Gold at Hidden Canyon." The Stokes already plan a sequel (they shot double the footage they needed for the first "Terror at Outlaw Creek"). The movie also featuring locals Shawn Padgett, Jason Lindberg, Elvin Jensen and Mike Mason. Find out how this couple eludes the dangerous ghosts -- kids, don't try these stunts at home.

"Terror At Outlaw Creek" airs Sunday, May 16, 9 p.m., Friday, May 21, 11 p.m. and Friday, May 28, 11 p.m. on MTN/Minneapolis cable access Channel 17.

Anna Pratt can be reached at