Hennepin street festival to kick off MOSAIC

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May 31, 2004 // UPDATED 1:47 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

City promotes tourism and celebrates diversity via the arts

Downtowners will be able to sample a smattering of local arts acts (indoors and out) along the Hennepin Theatre District's main drag, Saturday, June 5, 6-10 p.m. The "U.S. Bank Many Worlds, One Night" extravaganza will span Hennepin from South 5th to 8th streets and kick off the citywide MOSAIC festival.

The grand opening pumps up the volume on the second annual summer arts festival, MOSAIC, a city-approved, volunteer-led showcase of over 100 homegrown arts offerings -- a montage of music, dance, theater, visual art, film and literature events -- June 5-July 24.

Over 30 performers will appear at three venues at the free Saturday street fest. For music, go to the State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave. S. Catch excerpted plays at the Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave. S. Watch Hmong Butterfly dancers mingle with Ballet of the Dolls and other dance troupes at the Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Ave. S.

Outside, participants can tap their inner-poets with a giant free-for-all Magnetic Poetry board, catch stilt-walking femmes "Chicks on Sticks" or check out art cars, a mariachi band and spontaneous performances from the dumpster-diving Galumph! Theater. A smorgasbord of stands will offer a variety of ethnic fare to keep everyone fed.

"I don't know of any other art event like ['Many Worlds, One Night'] that allows people to experience the full gamut in four hours," said MOSAIC steering committee Project Director Scott Mayer, a Loring Park resident.

In many ways, this is also the aim of the city of Minneapolis' MOSAIC festival, which is, as its name suggests, primarily comprised of local arts events -- from exhibits at lesser-known galleries to longstanding events with significant followings, such as the GLBT Pride Festival in Loring Park, 1382 Willow St., Saturday-Sunday, June 26-27.

The steering committee hopes the grande-sized opener (which overshadows last year's understated lunchtime commencement) attracts a mixed crowd of theater-goers and street-fest fans, some of whom might not otherwise intermingle.

MOSAIC spokespeople say it's part of their mission to bring forward untapped audiences, for not only the kickoff but for all MOSAIC-endorsed events. They say the volunteer-led effort can leverage its status as an official city program to tap local resources -- including funds and in-kind contributions from corporations and foundations -- to connect artists while boosting arts- and culture-related tourism.

"I think what keeps people from experimenting are logistical issues. With such a wide cross-section on an avenue they know, they can learn more . . ." said Rybak. "We had hoped MOSAIC would continue to grow, but this has exceeded our best hopes . . . I'm especially excited that this celebration includes small groups."

The Illusion Theater's Producing Director Michael Robbins agreed. Illusion will spotlight part of their current musical, "Vanishing Point," during the kickoff. Robbins said he appreciated the nonprofit's inclusion. "There's a lot of separation between 7th and 10th streets, from commercial to nonprofit [venues]. I'm happy to have more presence this year," he said.

Nonprofits in the Stevens Square community just south of Downtown will host another MOSAIC-endorsed event, "Red Hot Art," in Stevens Park, 1801 2nd Ave. S. The Saturday-Sunday, June 5-6, noon-7 p.m. community arts festival overlaps with "Many Worlds" and designated kickoff daytime events at the Walker Sculpture Garden (a "Free First Saturday" event featuring arts activities for the family), as does another MOSAIC-listed grassroots event, the Northside Arts Collective Summer Party in North Mineapolis. At first, Connie Becker of the Northside Arts Collective felt the kickoff could've been timed differently. However, Becker, who is also the city arts commissioner and helped arrange MOSAIC events last year, said her opinion has changed as the kickoff draws near.

Ironically, it was the fact that the events are likely to draw different audiences who are likely to remain separate that led Becker to accept the overlap. "Now that I've had more time to think about it, I feel like they [the MOSAIC kickoff and the Art Party] appeal to different crowds. Some people won't want to go Downtown, and others won't want to go into the neighborhood[s]," she said.

Julie Filapek, executive director of the Stevens Square Community Organization (SSCO), said she'd originally hoped for a stronger connection between the kickoff and "Red Hot Art," given the proximity of the park fair, and its focus on visual art, which is not part of the kickoff. Filapek said SSCO met with the MOSAIC committee, but ideas for the link just didn't pan out.

Still, she's optimistic about the MOSAIC affiliation, "In terms of publicity, it's a good thing to have a lot going on. Hopefully, people will drift over. We're small and still growing and could use a hand."

Putting together the pieces

If you've been to a recent event at the Target Center, 600 1st Ave. N., you may have been handed a book with listings of MOSAIC events. Volunteers have been distributing the 40-page brochures at big events as well as grocery stores and other busy places around town.

The committee's 44 volunteer members organize such efforts and represent a wide breadth of art organizations -- including James Morrison from the Guthrie Theater, 725 Vineland Pl. and Stephen Baker from Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall -- as well as corporations.

Last year, there were just around 20 volunteer steering committee members, and, according to Mayoral Aide Erik Takeshita, about 85 organizations are participating this year, up from 70 in 2003.

"We're thrilled at how it's coming along and how it's grown," said Jane P. Gregorson, a member of several city arts boards and MOSAIC co-chair.

Takeshita said they almost doubled MOSAIC's resources this year into a nearly half-million-dollar event, allowing them to step up promotions, such as the colorful booklets and the kickoff. Takeshita said cash donations are $280,000, compared to 2003's $190,000; and Gregorson estimated that in-kind contributions this year will total more than $300,000.

In-kind contributors include The Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors' Association (GMCVA), 1301 2nd Ave. S., which secured the assistance of TC Tix for all MOSAIC events; and Fallon Worldwide, 50 S. 6th St., who developed MOSAIC's online

presence. Top local funds contributors include The Minneapolis Foundation, 80 S. 8th St. Ste. 800, and American Express,

707 2nd Ave. S.

A MOSAIC Masterpiece

Although most MOSAIC-labeled events existed long before the umbrella fest was created, some projects were MOSAIC-inspired or -commissioned, including composer Cary John Franklin's musical composition "Mosaic."

Franklin drove along East Lake Street from Nicollet Avenue to the Mississippi River in South Minneapolis for inspiration for his orchestral piece, "Mosaic: Cedar and Lake." The work will premiere at Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, during Marshall Field's Day of Music, Friday, July 9 at 6 p.m.

Alternating between jarring juxtapositions and lively melodies, the 10-minute suite

harmonizes the sounds, colors and tempos of an intersection known for its immigrant population, pathway of lakes and noisy

traffic.

Franklin, a Minneapolis resident and in-house composer at VocalEssence, 1900 Nicollet Ave. S. just south of Downtown, was commissioned by MOSAIC's volunteer steering committee to compose an arrangement that reflected the diversity and natural beauty of the area.

"I wanted to capture the vitality of the city, the urban feel of it. I didn't want it to be just a collage," Franklin said.

Jean Mont/s said he's looking forward to bringing "Cedar and Lake" to life when he conducts Franklin's composition with the all-volunteer Minneapolis MOSAIC Symphony Orchestra. "I want to emphasize the 'cool' factor. This is really cool," said Mont/s.

The instrumental work follows last year's commission of a visual mosaic -- a literal mosaic of handmade tiles by artist Melissa Bean and designed with the assistance of 2003 festival-goers -- is now on display at City Hall, 350 S. 5th St.

And if the promise of free performances isn't enough to draw in potential arts fans and tourists, members of the "Mosaic: Cedar and Lake" audience will have the chance to enter a free drawing for a trip for two to Europe. Anyone who attends a MOSAIC event or dines at a participating Downtown restaurant is eligible for the trip. Cash prizes (amounts are yet to be determined) will also be awarded during the Aquatennial Grande Day Parade, July 17, on Hennepin Avenue South.

Visit www.minneapolismosaic.com for more MOSAIC information, or call 673-3023 for up-to-date events. The Orchestra is still looking for youth, community and

professional musicians. Contact Jean

Mont/s at 767-7601 or Jmontes@gtcys.org.