Holiday picks: Russian Cosmism, ‘All is Calm,’ and Dessa on the eve of New Year’s Eve

23December 2021

Andréa Stanislav
Shifter I (Laura), 2014

In these dark days of winter, a bit of glitter can do the soul wonders. A visit to The Museum of Russian Art to see Andréa Stanislav’s solo exhibition, “Cosmist Reconstructions – Memories of Earth,” glints up the season with shiny and oftentimes macabre takes on Russian science fiction, philosophy of the cosmos, and scientific inquiry into space and the future. 

It’s not the first time the New York-based artist, who is also an associate professor at Indiana University Bloomington, and works in St. Petersburg, Russia, has shown her art in Minnesota in the dead of winter. She has had a number of solo exhibitions here in the Twin Cities over the years, and quite a few have opened in the colder months, like her show at the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program gallery in 2008, “River to Infinity— The Vanishing Points: Landscapes by Andrea Stanislav,” and subsequent solo shows in the at former Burnet Gallery at the Chambers Hotel.

We are drawn to sparkle this time of year, and Stanislav’s intelligent and dark sense of humor offers an engaging experience of thinking, imagining, and interacting with senses and ideas all at once. Besides her lustrous photo montages and use of collage, the exhibition also uses taxidermy and mirrors as a metaphorical tool in works that are both violent and luminous. The museum is also showing Stanislav’s three-channel video, “Surmatants— Mars Rising,” an eery little work with Slavic dancing, and a haunting score by Jesse Gelaznik. While you’re there, you can pick up last minute gifts and treats at The Museum of Russian Art’s beautiful gift shop. “Andréa Stanislav, Cosmist Reconstructions – Memories of Earth,” at The Museum of Russian Art runs through Feb. 27, 2022 ($13). More information here.

Courtesy of the Ordway
“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”

Summer: The Donna Summer Musical: The touring production of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” which takes inspiration from the “Queen of Disco” herself, makes its Minnesota premiere in Saint Paul for a presentation by the Ordway. Played by three different performers at different stages of the singer’s life, the musical follows Donna from her young life in Boston to her days as a chart-topping vocalist. She went from singing in a gospel choir to selling 140 million records, plus being awarded five Grammy Awards and one Oscar. The musical weaves in Summer’s greatest hits as it tells the story of her life, with additional music by Giorgio Moroder, Paul Jabara and others. The Ordway, Dec. 28, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022 ($44 – $122). More information here.

Photo by Dan Norman Photography
David Darrow in “All is Calm.”

All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914: Theater Latté Da’s production of “All is Calm” was a favorite of my predecessor, the late Artscape columnist Pamela Espeland. “All Is Calm” is a visceral experience,” she wrote in 2019. “It aims straight for the heart, and its aim is true. It’s filled with beautiful singing, strong emotion, and humanity.” The story is based on a true one, when soldiers from both sides of the Western Front during World War I called a truce during Christmas Eve in No Man’s Land. They sang Christmas carols and exchanged gifts before returning to trying to kill each other when the holiday was over. Incorporating traditional holiday songs as well as mashups of war songs and Christian melodies, the piece, directed by founding artistic director Peter Rothstein, was written by  former Cantus members Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach. Ritz Theater, through Jan. 2 ($51-73). More information here.


Dessa: Fresh from her new “Ides” album release, Dessa returns to First Avenue, bringing her poetic lyrics, pulsing beat and smooth voice for a pre-New Year’s Eve concert. Local singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Mayyadda opens the evening for this concert presented by The Current and Radio K. First Avenue; Thursday, Dec. 30; doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. ($35) More information here.

Love Actually: Get your annual holiday dose of Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, and more British actors when “Love Actually” screens at the Parkway Theater. The evening starts off with pre-show set by local composer and musician Daniel Ness, who will be previewing the British romantic comedy by playing tunes from the soundtrack in addition to a mix of guitar and ukulele covers from the likes of Radiohead, Zeppelin, Tom Waits and Kermit the Frog. Parkway Theater; doors open at 7 p.m., screening at 8 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 30. ($9 advance, $12 door.) More information here.

Photo by William Hawk Reiter
Gully Boys

Gully Boys: After having their van stolen in October and all of their gear taken (they got the van back, but it was totaled, and none of their stuff recovered), The Gully Boys have been taking the U.S. by storm. They’ve also added a new member, Mariah Mercedes, making the band a four piece. The feel-good, danceable and socially conscious group will be tearing up the 7th St. Entry with guests King Pari and Lupin for the last engagement of their December residency on the day after Christmas. Seventh Street Entry, 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26. ($15-18). More information here

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