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Best Twin Cities Summer Art Exhibits And Events

Summer entertainment usually means movie blockbusters, but if you want to take a break from the sequels, prequels and superhero showdowns, why not check out some of the many crowd-pleasing cultural attractions the Twin Cities have to offer? From sculptures and theater performances to an all-night festival (the area's first!), we round up the best art exhibitions and events of the season.

Northern Spark
Conceptual mock-up of Andrea Stanislav's "Nightmare" (credit: Northern Spark)

Northern Spark: A Nuit Blanche

8:55 p.m. June 4 – 5:28 a.m. June 5
Various venues in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Have your coffee ready. One of the Twin Cities' biggest events of the year is an all-night art extravaganza. More than 100 public art projects by more than 200 artists will turn St. Paul and Minneapolis into nirvana for art-lovers, starting at 8:55 p.m. and continuing until 5:28 the following morning. With interactive installations, sculptures, dance performances and singers, you'll get your fill of culture from dusk till dawn. Don't miss Jim Campbell's installation "Scattered Light," one of the event's most anticipated pieces, in which LED light bulbs suspended on high tensile wires blink on and off to recreate the forms of pedestrians' movements in three dimensions. Also a must-see? Minneapolis-based Andrea Stanislav's new public video work, "Nightmare," (conceptual mock-up pictured), which creates the illusion of a white horse galloping on the Mississippi River.

John Waters
John Waters at the Walker galleries (credit: Walker Art Center)

Absentee Landlord: Curated By John Waters

June 11, 2011 - March 4, 2012
Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN
$10 adults; $8 seniors (65+); $6 students (with ID)

King of trashy weirdness and cult director John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray) takes over the Walker galleries this summer when he serves as curator of the exhibit "Absentee Landlord," featuring works by John Currin, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol and Willem de Kooning, among others. An expansion of the museum's long-running exhibition "Event Horizon," Waters imagines the galleries as rental apartments, pairing up works and installing them in proximity to others to explore tensions and connections, not unlike roommates. Will Waters grace the show with his legendary odd, wacky style? "Absentee Landlord" will feature a track with Waters' recorded voice speaking in Pig Latin about the work in the show. Waters will also perform his monologue This Filthy Word, on Friday, June 10.

Fringe Festival
Minnesota Fringe Festival (credit:

Minnesota Fringe Festival

Aug. 4-14
Various venues in Minneapolis and St. Paul
Tickets and pricing available July 1

As the largest non-juried performing arts festival in the United States with more than 160 shows annually, the Minnesota Fringe Festival offers everything for everyone. Don't like comedy? No worries. The uncensored festival also has dance, music, drama and yes, even puppetry. Some productions in the Fringe that have piqued our interest: Word: The Urban Musical, a story about the last hip hop and R&B radio station in the country, and performed as a B-movie set in 1984; and Zombie High School Presents 'Arrested Development The Musical.' From the title, we're assuming it's about the lovable Bluth family, so sign us up. Full line-up, schedule and tickets available on July 1 at the Fringe Festival website.

Finally We Are All Young Again
(credit: Minneapolis Institute of the Arts)

Finally, We Are All Young Again: Adam Caillier and Michael Mott and Movie: Scott Nedrelow

July 22 - Oct. 2
Minneapolis Institute of the Arts
2400 Third Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN

The cinema is not the only place you'll find a 3D hit. MIA's multimedia exhibition "Finally, We Are All Young Again," featuring works by Adam Caillier and Michael Mott, includes a 3D library where images of books cover bookshelves, each binding printed with an alternate title to the exhibition and to the works within it. For this exhibition, held at the MAEP Galleries, offering free admission, frequent collaborators Caillier (a photographer) and Mott (a conceptual artist who often works with painting, collage and sculpture), create works about "rehearsal, creative production, and strategies of display." Also featured in the exhibition is Scott Nedrelow's video and sound installation focusing on the recording and editing processes.

Powderhorn Art Fair
Powderhorn Art Fair (credit:

Powderhorn Art Fair

10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 7
Powderhorn Park
3400 15th Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN

With the Loring Park Festival and the Uptown Art Fair happening the same weekend, the Powderhorn Art Fair, now in its 20th year, comprises a fun-filled art triple-play. Here, local artists get the spotlight, as they showcase their work and wares: paintings, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, handmade paper and more. And of course, there's great food, live entertainment, and children's activities all weekend. Proceeds from the Art Fair will help fund park programs such as theatre arts, a computer lab, teen center, music recording studio, pottery studio and team sports, so come out, bring the family and enjoy.

Want more art for the summer? Also check out: 41st Annual Park Point Art Fair (June 25-26), Loring Park Art Festival (Aug. 6-7), Uptown Art Fair (Aug. 5-7), The Soap Factory Presents: The Erasers (through July 17), and Interact Gallery Presents Idols and Icons (through Aug. 31)

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