Prattles

Ramblings of Anna Pratt, Twin Cities journalist

Archive for February 2009

University District Alliance reports on its progress

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The University District Alliance is reporting on its progress to the Legislature. To find out more, read my story in The Bridge newspaper.

It starts: During this year’s legislative session, the recently formed University District Alliance (UDA) will ask lawmakers for $8.3 million to support its operating costs, demonstration projects and initiatives in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Minnesota.

The UDA formed in 2007 with $750,000 from the Legislature. District neighborhoods include Marcy-Holmes, Prospect Park, Southeast Como, Cedar-Riverside and the university campus; alliance members include stakeholders from those areas.

Written by annapratt

February 26, 2009 at 4:09 pm

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Minneapolis City Council asks Xcel to bury power line

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Here’s a link to my KFAI story regarding the Minneapolis City Council’s  recent unanimous vote asking Xcel Energy to bury a proposed Midtown high-voltage power line underground.

Written by annapratt

February 19, 2009 at 12:52 am

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What’s new (and old) in the neighborhoods?

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Here’s my story that ran in The Bridge about the 32 x 4 exhibit at the Central Library in downtown Minneapolis.

It starts: A photo exhibit running through the end of the month reveals the familiar details, past and present, of neighborhood life in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The images range from still life — graffiti-covered telephones, a bridge over the reflecting water of the Mississippi — to close, personal portraits of the people who bring life to those settings.

The images were shot with both digital and film cameras, in color and black-and-white; and historical photos, postcards and other resources from the library’s neighborhood-related archives complement the works.

Written by annapratt

February 17, 2009 at 4:31 pm

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A sedate JACC board meeting, finally

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Tonight’s Jordan Area Community Council (JACC) meeting in North Minneapolis brought about a seemingly peaceful alternate reality to the chaos — including assault, theft, a rogue board, lawsuits and more — that has recently characterized the group. Go here for a rundown of those events.

For starters, although a Minneapolis police officer was present, he wasn’t called to act, which was a departure from other JACC affairs as of late. (See above link.) Meanwhile, the newly-elected board ran through business items in an orderly fashion, passing a number of resolutions related to housing, board training and more. Under old leadership, some Jordan board members say, little got done (or alternately, some things were done without the board being apprised). Additionally, when it came time at the end for some community members to have their say, the dialogue was remarkably calm.

JACC board secretary Anne McCandless touched briefly on the litigation facing the board from the “old majority;” a judgment on a temporary restraining order applied for by the “old majority” is nigh, while the law firm Briggs and Morgan will be representing JACC in some aspects of the legal battle.

Meanwhile, apparently the “old majority” canceled a meeting that was reportedly simultaneously scheduled for tonight at Jordan New Life Church, according to a notice that the group circulated. More on the matter soon.

Written by annapratt

February 11, 2009 at 10:56 pm

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Through the lens of Boris Scherbakov

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Here’s another art piece that I wrote for Twin Cities Luxury and Fashion magazine’s January issue highlighting local photographer Boris Scherbakov.

Through the lens of Boris Scherbakov
A tale of four cities

Minneapolis artist Boris Scherbakov’s snapshots from Moscow, London, Berlin and New York illustrate subjects ranging from the interplay of light and shadow to cultural critique.

And although Scherbakov’s photos vary wildly, they push and pull on common themes: connection/detachment, consumption/consumers and high-brow/low-brow art.

Though he shoots in film, he isn’t opposed to digital photography. Rather, he says, “I enjoy the whole process, including the physical record places and people I meet, taking time to develop that.”

Scherbakov, a native of Russia, conveys empathy for those he encounters in a “Tale of Flame and Flowers,” a series of black-and-white photos set in Moscow. For example, a gray-haired artist poses at an outdoor “dream gallery.” Down a separate corridor, passersby find refuge from the elements, while a woman toting an umbrella heads toward a light-filled doorway. Likening light to heat, which figures prominently in the works, Scherbakov explains that for Russians, “[Heat] is seen as something through which they
achieve enlightenment.”

In contrast, images of New York City are dominated by busy storefronts lining Madison Avenue and parts of Little Italy, advertising shoes, bras and more. With the exception of “Melancholia,” which alludes to the sad expression on a mannequin’s face, they reveal little emotion. Neon light streams in from everywhere. “The visual stimulus bombards you everyday … It overwhelmed me,” says the artist; his point is expressed through double exposures.

Similarly, Scherbakov’s photos from London’s 2006 Frieze Art Fair hit on consumer culture, although he readily admits, “I found myself paying more attention to the collectors” — and not the art itself. The collectors, who “represent a limited class of people and the other side of making art, which is valuing and collecting it,” appear like an alien species, framed at weird angles opposite the artwork.

In Berlin, he focuses on eye-popping graffiti. No people are to be found. Instead, the ubiquitous scribbles seem to announce that so-and-so was here.

Written by annapratt

February 8, 2009 at 5:12 pm

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Keeping up appearances

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Amelia Biewald @ Magnan by j-No.

I’ve been doing some arts coverage for Twin Cities Luxury and Fashion magazine. Here’s this month’s piece, below, featuring Amelia Biewald, who is one of my favorite local (and non-local) artists. The above photo can be found here.

Keeping up appearances

Amelia Biewald’s paintings, drawings and sculptures are equal parts beautiful, imaginative and thought-provoking

While poking fun at those who lust obsessively after beauty, power and class, local artist Amelia Biewald’s multidimensional pieces are also a paean to them.

“I’m into appearances … and what someone will do to keep up their look,” says Biewald, who discovers her subjects in history, anthropology and mythology.

“A good visual century for me is the eighteenth, in terms of peculiarities,” which comes across in her fancy aesthetic. Of Baroque and Rococo styles, she remarks, “We’ll never see the likes of that again in a million years. I love the over-the-top fashion in court society … I love the illusion of good health and prosperity.”

Hence, her recent New York exhibit, fittingly dubbed “Intrigues,” relates to one of the era’s high points — the illusory milieu of 18th-century Russian empress Catherine the Great — whom she stumbled upon one day while researching horses.

Naturally, the results are fun to look at. But there’s more to it than just spectacle; the yarns Biewald tells through her fantasy-like drawings, paintings and sculptures are playful, yet deep.

One of the reasons that Catherine II caught Biewald’s eye is because she imported the customs of the French courts, which were “unnatural, based on artifice, proprieties and appearances,” yet the leading lady was also tomboyish, preferring to be outdoors as much as possible.

Biewald plays on that contradiction in a beautiful panorama that is characterized by effusive black ink strokes on a chalky background. The work, called “Equine Orthodox, Or The Beginning of Global Warming,” portrays the empress as part tree, part woman.

“The Party That Made Me Feel My Age” pays homage to Catherine’s fashionable side. Biewald created a powder-white wig molded out of synthetic fiber to resemble St. Petersburg’s harbor’s frost white waves. Nestled inside the wig are cut-out drawings of schooners and stallions.

Similarly, Biewald blends fact and fiction in the drawing, “In Her Brilliant Career.” For this meticulous piece, Biewald carefully applied bleach on velvet upholstery with a tiny brush, pausing along the way to let the line gradually develop. In the end, she explains profoundly, “There is nothing there … It is the removal of what was there instead.”

Written by annapratt

February 8, 2009 at 4:34 pm

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Heart disease in women

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Here’s my just-out story in the Minnesota Women’s Press about heart disease in women.

It starts out: Making it to 50 is her goal, said Sandra Revill Tremulis. Fifty is her marker. It’s the age her father died of a heart attack. Living with the reality of chronic heart disease, Tremulis, 44, a Minnetrista, Minn., resident, counts her blessings everyday.

Written by annapratt

February 2, 2009 at 5:23 pm

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