I was lucky enough to attend the preview party at the American Swedish Institute’s newest exhibit, The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson.
We began by stepping inside the “moss-covered”, fairytale-like imagination of Finnish artist/sculptor, Kim Simonsson, filled with life-sized, “moss-covered” children, animals and other mysterious characters.
The American Swedish Institute exhibition displays 35 selections of Simonsson’s work on view in the Gallery, Cultural Center and throughout the historic Turnblad Mansion.
The “Moss People” sculptures are the result of a unique technique combining stoneware, paint and green nylon fiber, which gives the figures their smooth and mossy surface.
Every sculpture is handmade and created in the artist’s studio in Fiskars Village.
In his book, “Tales of the Moss People,” Simonsson explains, “the name refers to children’s innate, sensible camouflage.
The moss green figures blend perfectly into their natural surroundings, just as a soft carpet of moss covers the ground, rocks and tree trunks and acts as a sort of protection.
In the Moss People world, lost and disconnected children, evoking different characters, gather in a Shaman Party, choose leaders and end up creating false idols.”
Inspired by the forests of Finland, his work has been exhibited around the world in locations including New York, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Belgium and Korea.
The night included creating your own ceramic creature with Northern Clay Center, watching improvised modern dance moves of Kelvin Wailey, meeting University of Minnesota plant scientists to learn about moss from around the world, hearing gallery conversations with the Artist in ASI’s Osher Gallery and Nelson Cultural Center, listening to a live set from Finnish singer, songwriter, guitarist and kantele (Finnish folk harp) player Diane Jarvi, sampling beer from Indeed Brewing and tasting crafted cocktails and curated appetizers from ASI’s award-winning FIKA Café.
If you are free this weekend, there will be two Exhibition Tours with the Artist where you can see his work and hear him talk about his creative process. 11 a.m. – noon OR 2 – 3 p.m. It is $15 ASI members / $20 non-members. If you aren’t able to check it out this weekend, The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson runs from April 21– July 15, 2018
Victor’s 1959 Cafe just off Grand Ave, brings a little piece of Cuba to south Minneapolis.
The snug hole-in-the-wall was originally a Shell gas station in the 1920’s and later operated as a Dairy Queen until it became Rick’s Ol’ Time Café.
Victor’s has since become a fast favorite and Cuban go-to.
They serve up authentic Cuban all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner. I personally recommend the banana pancakes.
Don’t just take my word for it – Victor’s has an endless list of accolades including Food Network’s Diners Drive-ins and Dives.
Decor, you ask? The Cuban theme flows throughout the restaurant with tropical outdoor patio dining (when it isn’t snowing) and memorabilia, photos and posters on the walls. Speaking of walls, they are covered to the brim with graffiti. Signatures, ahem, autographs, favorite quotes, political and activist slogans, doodles and sweet nothings of past patrons.
It’s a popular space so if you’re coming, especially on a weekend, expect to wait.
Located in the historic Northern Pacific Center on Brainerd’s eastside, the Roundhouse Brewery takes its name from the railroad building with a circular or semicircular shape used by railroads for servicing and storing locomotives. The taproom includes the exposed brick and historic look that is part of the Clock Tower, once headquarters to the Northern Pacific Railroad.
The decor incorporates the history of the building, classic lamps, and old photos. Even the beers like the Cowcatcher Ale, and Spike Driver Oatmeal Stout, all pay homage to central Minnesota’s rich railroad culture and history. I highly recommend stopping in for a beer, on-tap Nitro coffee. Root beer or lemonade and staying for a game of cards or to hear the amazing live music.
Before 1914 there were 35 saloons in downtown Brainerd, most notable the “Last Turn Saloon” on the corner of 4th and Front, for it was the last chance to stop along a long line of liquor houses before you were again in the woods. Imagine Brainerd’s version of “Cheers”.
From outside you are immediately greeted with a staircase and an overlook of the incredible bar. It was built in 1870 from solid oak and was the dining room buffet in the original Pillsbury mansion in Minneapolis. Once you’re in, you should grab one of the games (my preference is always Yahtzee), popcorn, peanuts and head to one of the coveted wooden booths.
The old booths that are reminiscent of a pioneer saloon with black-and-white photos of the yesteryears of Brainerd, lending nicely to the old ghost stories of apparitions and mysterious phenomenons.
Claims of odd footsteps, disembodied voices, odd sounds, items moving on their own, feelings of being watched/touched, the antique payphone ringing on its own, full apparition of a man walk through the front door and then disappear! So much so that the Johnsdale Paranormal Group even investigated!
So the story goes, in the late 1800’s / early 1900’s, the saloon sat in a different location which is a few blocks away from where the current saloon sits.
During that time, a situation had erupted when two Native American men were falsely accused of murdering a local white girl, and were hung by the town’s people right outside the saloon.
The saloon later moved to its current location, the former Brainerd Model Laundry building, which used to take care of laundry services for the Northern Pacific Railroad, the Brainerd State Hospital, and many other local businesses. It is said that the saloon was used as a speakeasy and brothel during the prohibition era.
The tunnels in the lower level are thought to have been used secretly by bootleggers during the 1920’s and early 1930’s adding to the already-mysterious place. One last thing: A hotel next to the saloon burned down leaving in its wake a few casualties. Since then, a significant level of paranormal activity occurring at the saloon.
Located east of Brainerd, near the towns of Crosby and Ironton, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is part of the Minnesota State Park and Recreation Area system.
Across 800 acres and skills challenge areas, CCSRA hosts over 25 miles of singletrack trail riding making it world-class for mountain biking.
This park is endorsed by the International Mountain Bicycling Association for beginners, intermediates and experts.
As one of Minnesota’s newest State Recreation Areas, Cuyuna’s 5,000 acres are mostly undeveloped.
The areas was developed to rehabilitate a portion of the Cuyuna Range where mining pits and piles of waste rock were left behind after decades of open-pit mining for iron ore.
Abandoned by mining companies more than 30 years ago, the mine pits have naturally filled with water and one, Portsmouth Mine Pit Lake, is considered the deepest lake in Minnesota, a favorite among kayakers and scuba divers in the summer and sledders (as you can see) in the winter.
The city of Crosby is on the shores of Serpent Lake so it’s no surprise that Kahnah’ bek, the Asian-inspired Lake Serpent pictured would reside there. Well, it could also be because Serpent Lake is inhabited by a mythical sea serpent (albeit a less likely scenario). Birthed in 1977, the beautiful stand-out is made of styrofoam and weighs 2,500 pounds. It is 20 feet high, 25 feet long and includes 20 shades (or more) of color. You can find it residing in Crosby Memorial Park.
Roughly 100 miles north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, Mille Lacs Lake (also called Lake Mille Lacs or Mille Lacs) is one of Minnesota’s most popular fishing lakes.
It is Minnesota’s second-largest inland lake with many species of fish including walleye, northern pike, muskie, jumbo perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, black crappie, burbot, and tullibee.
Even in the winter, approximately 5,000 fish houses dot the frozen body of water. If you don’t have an ice house of your own, don’t fret! You can rent one from Eddy’s Resort or from many of the resorts in the towns surrounding the lake; Garrison, Isle, Onamia, Vineland, or Wahkon.
I highly recommend adding ice fishing, or “winter camping,” as they say, to your bucket list!