From reporter Dan Olson:

There is an alternative to mass-produced holiday greeting cards: Those that are printed, one at a time, on a 126-year old letterpress.

That’s Jon Drew’s specialty. And this year he’s making the cards as a labor of love for the widow of Robert Papas, the high school teacher who taught him the craft.

"I’m going to do the Christmas card using some of his type, on his press," says the 60-year-old commercial printer and Minneapolis Southwest High School graduate. And when Donita Papas hands out the cards, "it’ll be a beautiful thing."

Now he’s opening his passion for the letterpress to anyone. After decades of collecting and restoring old letterpresses, he’s moved thousands of dollars worth of antique printers and other equipment into the Legup Studio in northeast Minneapolis, where a new generation of artists can sign up and learn a creative process that’s been pushed aside by hi-tech printing.

"I’ve finally let go a little bit to put in the public domain as it were where people can sign up for a membership and use it," he says.

Drew specializes in the detective work it takes to find and restore the antique presses and their little blocks of lead letters; they’re not common and are very expensive to replace. And he won’t reveal his source for the precious antique letterpress type he continues to amass.

LIsten to Jon Drew use the press and explain the craft.

(MPR Photos/Jeffrey Thompson)

The Minnesota Orchestral Association is holding its annual meeting today. Instead of the usual jovial lunch for major donors peppered with performances from Minnesota orchestra musicians, today’s meeting will be held behind closed doors.
The mood will likely be somber as the board members reveal an expected multi-million dollar deficit from the 2011-2012 season. Both of Minnesota’s major orchestras are struggling financially. Musicians were all asked to take extensive pay cuts, which they did not agree to.
Now musicians at both orchestras have been locked out for several weeks and all concerts are cancelled through the end of the year. On top of that, no negotiations are scheduled for either organization.
This morning, Cathy Wurzer spoke with Drew McManus, a Chicago-based arts consultant who said that MnOrch’s situation is particularly bad compared to other orchestras that have gone through labor disputes.
Hear the interview — and read more from Marianne Combs.
(MPR Photo/Euan Kerr)

The Minnesota Orchestral Association is holding its annual meeting today. Instead of the usual jovial lunch for major donors peppered with performances from Minnesota orchestra musicians, today’s meeting will be held behind closed doors.

The mood will likely be somber as the board members reveal an expected multi-million dollar deficit from the 2011-2012 season. Both of Minnesota’s major orchestras are struggling financially. Musicians were all asked to take extensive pay cuts, which they did not agree to.

Now musicians at both orchestras have been locked out for several weeks and all concerts are cancelled through the end of the year. On top of that, no negotiations are scheduled for either organization.

This morning, Cathy Wurzer spoke with Drew McManus, a Chicago-based arts consultant who said that MnOrch’s situation is particularly bad compared to other orchestras that have gone through labor disputes.

Hear the interview — and read more from Marianne Combs.

(MPR Photo/Euan Kerr)

The Cottage View Drive-In held a community event Thursday to celebrate the theater’s 46-year history and to bid farewell to the Cottage Grove, Minn. landmark. The theater, which is only one of two remaining in the Twin Cities, is closing at the end of this season and will be replaced by a Walmart. Patrons filled the parking lot for a sing-along version of “Grease”, exhibited classic cars and competed in a costume contest. The theater will remain open during weekends into October, depending on weather conditions.

See more photos by Jeffrey Thompson here.

As the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra continue high-stakes contract talks with their musicians, there is one thing both sides agree on: The general public may not fully appreciate what it takes to play in Minnesota’s internationally renowned music ensembles.
Orchestra musicians have a big public relations task in this contract fight; justifying their salaries to the public. The state’s median household income is almost $57,000. The average Minnesota Orchestra musician makes $135,000 a year; the guaranteed minimum for the SPCO is almost $74,000.
Read Chris Roberts’ story: “Does SPCO, Minn. Orchestra musicians’ skill justify their pay?”

As the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra continue high-stakes contract talks with their musicians, there is one thing both sides agree on: The general public may not fully appreciate what it takes to play in Minnesota’s internationally renowned music ensembles.

Orchestra musicians have a big public relations task in this contract fight; justifying their salaries to the public. The state’s median household income is almost $57,000. The average Minnesota Orchestra musician makes $135,000 a year; the guaranteed minimum for the SPCO is almost $74,000.

Read Chris Roberts’ story: “Does SPCO, Minn. Orchestra musicians’ skill justify their pay?”

Minneapolis’ iconic Uptown Theatre will reopen tomorrow after a $2 million, six-month renovation.

Now, a digital projector shows movies on a bigger movie screen, and viewers can watch from a sofa on the balcony. The theater’s murals and chandeliers were preserved, But the dark-green colors of the interior were replaced with yellows and reds. The 900-seat theater now has 350 plush seats with extra legroom. The renovated lobby has flat screen televisions instead of posters. The concession stand is now a bar that serves alcohol and a wider array of food.

The Uptown marquee was also restored. Its beacon will soon shine for the first time in decades.

Read more from reporter Rupa Shenoy and see more photos from Jeffrey Thompson

This space in Lowertown St. Paul (formerly Rumors & Innuendo nightclub) will soon be home to Bedlam Theatre’s new “theater nightclub” space.
Bedlam will ultimately have sites in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, but the search for a Minneapolis space continues.
Read more from reporter Chris Roberts.

This space in Lowertown St. Paul (formerly Rumors & Innuendo nightclub) will soon be home to Bedlam Theatre’s new “theater nightclub” space.

Bedlam will ultimately have sites in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, but the search for a Minneapolis space continues.

Read more from reporter Chris Roberts.

Since 1974, Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis has been adorned with 16 large blue tubes. It was not just an aesthetic choice - they also served as the lobby’s air intake and exhaust system.

Now the the hall is undergoing an extensive remodel the tubes have found new homes across the state.

The recipients include Franconia Sculpture Park, artist Peter Morales (who plans to use them for a sculpture he’s working on, ultimate destination unknown), the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Big Stone Mini Golf and Sculpture Garden in Minnetrista, and the home of composers/artists Philip Blackburn and Preston Wright who made the video here (disclosure: Preston Wright works for Minnesota Public Radio).

Read more from Marianne Combs on MPR’s State of the Arts blog.

"But for all our citizens - audiences, artists, donors, volunteers, tax-payers, students - this is mainstream arts telling us that the voices and stories and perspective of women and people of color are not important, not relevant, not worth telling, sharing or knowing. The Guthrie has a tremendous amount of talent, resource, and community support with which its artists could be broadening our experience, inspiring us to greater empathy and deeper understanding of ALL the people in our world. And like any theater, they depend on growing and diversifying their audience to thrive. So the continued bias against women and people of color in leadership and authorship is either embarrassingly myopic or willfully negligent."

Leah Cooper, theater director and head of the Minnesota Theater Alliance, comments on the Guthrie’s upcoming season and its lack of plays written or directed by women or people of color.

Read more from State of the Arts blogger Marianne Combs who asks, “Where’s the diversity in the Guthrie’s new season?”

A trailer for one of the 51 — count ‘em 51 — Minnesota films in this year’s Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. Today on The Daily Circuit, Tom Weber will talk with Tom DeBiaso who was in charge of putting the Minnesota program together. He’s a filmmaker, photographer and professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

And here’s more about Of Dolls and Murder, which will be screened on Wednesday the 18th.