The Arts
“Bring the Children Home” presents with authenticity
Thursday, September 03 2015
Written by Dwight hobbes/TC Daily Planet,
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As tough as it is to get a play produced, Marcie Rendon has turned down name venues for the sake of cultural integrity. “Believe it or not,” she told the Twin Cities Daily Planet several years ago, “some people consider ‘Dances With Wolves’ current events.” This mentality is why she founded Raving Native Productions back in 1996, showcasing uncompromising scripts by Native authors at the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

Rendon returned to the Fringe this season, premiering her drama, “Bring the Children Home,” described on the Kickstarter page as being about “people’s search for meaning and identity in a world gone crazy.” As faithfully committed as she is to integrity, when it comes to coping with social ills, she’s just as concerned about accountability, refusing to lay blame for the state of imperiled youth of color completely at the feet of racist cops and calls for communities to shoulder their share.

“Bring the Children Home,” Rendon said, “was written during the ‘murderapolis’ years in Minneapolis when so many young folks, Native and black were being shot down in the streets. There was heavy gang warfare going on, open market for drugs on the streets … This play spoke to the need for young people to have family, to have community that protected and cared about them. It also speaks to parents about their need to be parents, to take care of the young. It is a ‘spiritual/realism’ play … written in the style of Ojibwe storytelling, so the message crosses to all generations – it is as much a message to the parents, elders and community about the need for them to care for the young, as it is a story for the young about making choices.”
Raving Native Productions, best known for Rendon’s satirical sendup of the prison system “Free Frybread,” is a perfect chance to shed “Dances with Wolves” delusions and view Native American life through an authentic lens. Look forward to more of it, as she attests, “I am more committed these days to seeing my work on stage after ‘life’ kind of derailed by work for a bit. Raving Natives is back!”

Directed by Mankwe Ndosi, Marcie Rendon’s “Bring the Children Home” ran at the Minneapolis American Indian Center on Franklin Avenue Aug. 3 to 5 during the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

A Goldilocks show at Bockley Gallery: Not too big, not too small
Tuesday, August 04 2015
Written by Mason Riddle, TC Daily Planet,
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a goldilocks show at bockley gallery-denomie 1.jpgSince opening his first gallery in the Minneapolis warehouse district’s Wyman Building in September 1984, dealer Todd Bockley has carved out an idiosyncratic and activist vision for art in the Twin Cities, one that is recognized not only by the local cultural complex, but also far beyond. His unique and personal purview on what art needs to see the light of day includes that by a dozen Native American artists, both living and dead, whose work finds consort with that of an equal number of other artists, a broad-based cache of work that is largely defined by a distinctive narrative stance or tinged with an untrained artist sensibility.

Consequently, Bockley Gallery’s summer offering “Artists Singular: A Group Show” in his modest storefront space on the west side of Lake of the Isles, is more anticipated than unexpected. With eight works (really nine) by eight artists, “Singular” follows the art world tradition of summer shows being group shows that adhere to the Goldilocks principle — not too big, not too small, but just right. As such, “Singular” is a spirited mix of mostly untitled work both stylistically figurative and abstract, by Bruce Anderson, Frank Big Bear, Jim Denomie, George Morrison, Norval Morrisseau, Dietrich Sieling, Elizabeth Simonson and John Snyder.

Sieling’s work just keeps getting better in his provocative synthesis of figurative form and abstract space. Working with marker on board, the artist has concocted an oblique narrative that is rooted in a personal karaoke experience, one that is riveting to observe. Multicolored abstract shapes, suggesting a disco ball’s reflected patterns of light, hover above, on and through mysterious figures in a spatially flat composition that is remarkable in its complexity.

Jim Denomie’s untitled ink on paper drawing is a departure from his typically color-laden work. Combining Indian symbols and traditions with those of contemporary American culture as he typically does, Denomie’s bawdy narrative references the Wizard of Oz acted out by a rough-around-the-edges Kabala of creatures and characters. Unexpectedly there is a visual clarity to the work – which is not to suggest the narrative is easily understood – in its straightforward graphic presentation, a quality that not always defines his more vividly hued works.

REVIEW: "The Road Back to Sweetgrass"
Wednesday, March 11 2015
Written by Rachel Hill, Mille Lacs Ojibwe,
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the road back to sweetgrass review-web.jpgBy Linda LeGarde Grover

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

September 2014

194 pages




Anishinaabe author, Linda LeGarde Grover (Boise Forte Band of Ojibwe) contributes to the nation’s literary achievement in historic fiction. Her novel, “The Road Back to Sweetgrass,” published in the fall of 2014, explores the realm of Indigenous thought through historic, Anishinaabe circumstance from 1970 to 2014. This book begins in the fictional, Ojibwe reservation of Mozhay Point, located in north Minnesota.

From a chance encounter during a summer wild rice harvest in 1973, protagonist Margie Robineau of Mozhay Point finds herself falling head over heels for Michael Washington, described as a debonair, Jay Silverheels-meets-Marlon Brando figure of the Miskwaa River Band of Ojibwe.

Michael and his father, Zho Washigton, of the Wazhushkag (Muskrat) family, were erased from the BIA rolls by an Indian agent during the allotment period, who reassigned them a last name of Washington. Zho becomes a powerful analogy of inspiration and transformation in this novel.

The character of Dale Ann Dionne brings a new perspective to the Federal Indian Relocation Program, when she finds herself in the metropolis of Chicago in 1970 working as a telephone operator.

Remedy of craft in satire is found through Grover’s use of parody, which evokes humor from her presentation of characters like American Indian Studies Professor, Dr. Roger-Head, who teaches a course entitled, “Indians of America” (18-19). At other times, laughter is provoked by characters like Teresa Robineau, who sports a 70’s version of emo glasses, compliments of her local IHS clinic.

From Grover’s artistic organization of novel sections, to her use of Ojibwemowin and English, The Road Back to Sweetgrass is clearly the product of Indigenous thought and experience in the modern era. Readers of this novel are sure to find resilience in that moment when you know your “own story”

Celebrating George Morrison, the founder of Native modernism
Wednesday, March 11 2015
Written by Cathy Wurzer, MPR News,
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Artist George Morrison was born in a Native American fishing village near Lake Superior, but his art career took him all around the world.

He studied at the Minneapolis School of Art and the Art Students League in New York City. He befriended Willem de Koonig and Franz Kline. He worked in France and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design — and finally came back home to Minnesota to teach at the University of Minnesota.

Morrison, who passed away in 2000, is considered a founder of Native modernism. His work will be on exhibit at the Minnesota History Center from Feb. 14 to April 26, 2015.

celebrating george morrison 1-web.jpg

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Top left: Artist George Morrison. Photo by Dick Bancroft, Courtesy of the Minnesota History Center.

Top right: "Spirit Path, New Day, Red Rock Variation: Lake Superior Landscape" by George Morrison was created in 1990. The acrylic and pastel on paper is among Morrison's works that will be featured at a Minnesota History Center exhibit. Courtesy of the Minnesota History Center

Bottom: "Cumulated Landscape" by George Morrison was created in 1976. The piece is among Morrison's works that will be featured at a Minnesota History Center exhibit. Courtesy of the Minnesota History Center.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR's statewide radio network or online at

Native Man The Musical redefines Native masculinity
Monday, September 08 2014
Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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native man the musical.jpgThe paradigm of Native American manhood shifted with New Native Theatre's production of “Native Man the Musical, Phase I,” performed at the Minnesota Fringe Festival with its last performance on Aug. 9.

The stories were authentic accounts from Native men from around the Twin Cities and the region. New Native Theatre's artistic director Rhiana Yazzie (Dine) sought to set the expectation from stereotypes to previously unimagined identities by non-Native audiences.

“Some of it isn't pretty. And it's certainly not what the mainstream has dreamed up. Defying the stereotype of the Indian brave, the warrior, the oppressed, these stories are open and vulnerable moments necessary to be share in order that we might understand ourselves better, and possibly, the non-Native world can re-adjust its boundaries, fantasies, fears and misconceptions about Native male-hood.”

The performance features the life experiences of each cast member and interviews from men in the Twin Cities Native community. Among those in the live performance were Jeff Jordan (Boise Forte Ojibwe), Wade Keezer (White Earth Ojibwe), Jase Roe (Northern Cheyenne), Sisoka Duta (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota), Raphael Szykowski (Kuna) and rapper Tall Paul (Leech Lake Ojibwe). The production also featured filmed interviews with Dennis Banks (Leech Lake Ojibwe), Black Fox (Oglala Lakota), Chema Pineda-Fernandez (Nahuatl Mayan), Cole Premo (Mille Lacs Ojibwe) and Jim Thunder Hawk (Oglala Lakota).

One of the more compelling moments of the performance came when Keezer opened up on screen about his hatred for the warrior mentality that's expected of young Native men. He spoke in his video segment about the culture that he was raised in that praised stoicism and emotional repression among men and that he combats that by telling his children that he loves them, allowing them to feel their emotions, instead of shaming them.

In his performance piece, Keezer talked about his relationship with his own father who sobered up and later became a born-again Christian. “Some people started calling me 'the preacher's son.' I really hated that, I really didn't care for any kind of Christianity, for a lot of different reasons, but mostly what it's done to Indians. I'm sick of all the Christians, the Muslims, the pipe carriers; it doesn't mean nothing to me. All these ultimatums and stereotypes that they use, it doesn't work on me.” When asked what he believed in, he closed with a air-guitar performance of Twisted Sister's “We're Not Gonna Take It.”


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