access+ENGAGE 6.1

  access+ENGAGE   the definitive alternative   Issue #6.1

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 In this Issue: Minnesota's Maverick Artists

Sometimes the best work comes when you let go of your plans and preconceptions, close your eyes and follow your gut. For this installment of a+E, we celebrate those artists bravely working in the moment, unafraid to leave a few rough edges for the sake of capturing something true. For quirky wit and roguish charm, take a look at the gloriously hodge-podge fare of our Zoom In artist, Shawn Holster. Then, expat Minnesotans and reforming restaurateurs Jim Dunn and Sam Ernst offer irreverent insight and tales from the trenches of podcasting and Hollywood screenwriting. Finally, we're pleased to showcase this maverick spirit in this issue's Sampler, by offering an exclusive debut of the video and sound collage collaboration of Jonathan Nelson and John Richardson, masters of runaway pacing and satirical mashups. If you're looking for a little escape this summer, this month's highlighted events are rich with vivid stories, hijinks, and a colorful cast of characters right out of legend. So, let your hair down and explore the saltier realms of Minnesota art. We promise you won't be disappointed.

Zoom In: Shawn Holster

Rabbit by Shawn Holster. Mixed media construction, boxed, 9'x13"x4".

What Shawn Holster creates in his basement and garage workshop defies classification into neat artistic categories. His pieces wander from sculpture into collage, and a few of his larger constructions are full-fledged installation pieces. Of the smaller work, his 3-D shadow-boxes are among the most arresting, skimming through the effluvia of marketing icons and small bits of parlor kitsch to wry, witty effect. “I’m very material-oriented—some of these are [the result of] nothing more than working with a new material from Home Depot. I don’t even really call myself an ‘artist.’ I’m just a hillbilly yahoo who likes to play with stuff.”



See our full collection of Shawn Holster's work and some backstory on the

art here.

Sampler: Jon Nelson and John Richardson

Marquee #7 by Jonathan Nelson. One of a series of 10 pieces on display at Rosalux Gallery.


Watch our exclusive debut of a biting new video/sound collage of repurposed media bits from Jon Nelson (host of the nationally syndicated weekly radio show Some Assembly Required) and John Richardson of the aggressively collaborative DIY media project

R Room!

Video collage by John Richardson and sound collage by Jonathan Nelson

Exchange: The Republic of Podcasting

Jim Dunn and Sam Ernst on their unexpected forays into DIY broadcasting

You may remember Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn as the owners of the Twin Cities’ beloved restaurant, Table of Contents.

Or, as the entrepreneurs behind the short-lived Red Fish Blue restaurant on Grand Avenue, or Dish in Minneapolis. What you likely don’t know about them is that these two long-time friends and partners have always wanted to be writers—Sam dreamed of writing the Great American movie script and Jim aspired to be the author of the Great American novel. What they did instead (like most of us with lofty dreams) was start families, build their business…  But then they dusted off the old dream of writing, left the restaurants and Minnesota behind, picked up stakes and decided to try their hands at screenwriting in L.A. They’ve written as a team for Disney, sold screenplays, and have gained hard-earned wisdom on how things work if you want to write for TV or the movies. As a lark, they started a podcast a while back, just to try out this newfangled medium, recounting their travails in the business in the hopes it might connect them to other writers in the trenches; maybe they could build a small network, help each other out. What they didn’t expect was that the podcast would, in the course of just over a year, gain a devoted (and growing) following far beyond aspiring writers. In fact, they’re so encouraged about the podcast’s viral success in such a short time, they’ve started to take podcasting seriously enough to branch out with a scripted show of their own—bypassing Hollywood’s middlemen altogether. a+E caught up with Sam and Jim to find out more about podcasting, their up-and coming new online show Father Knows Jack, and the future of guerilla, direct-to-audience media as they see it.

Q: What’s the current podcast, Sam and Jim Go To Hollywood, about?


Sam: It’s the story of two guys, old roommates at Macalester and longtime friends, who want to be writers. So, they pack up their families, leave their jobs and move out to Los Angeles to try to make a go of it. Jim and I had pretty successful restaurants in Minnesota, but we got out from under them and decided to come out here to see if we could do it. We’ve had some success—sold a pilot episode, a bunch of features, and we’re developing some new shows. We figure that there are a lot of people out there who would love to do what we did, but there are some real misconceptions about how the process works—that you just go out there, sell a show and someone gives you a MILLION DOLLAR check! We’re just trying to offer a brutally honest perspective, as we’re going through it, giving some idea of what it’s really like to try and make it as a screenwriter—things we wish someone could have told us about.

Q: Do you guys listen to any other podcasts yourselves?


Jim: No. [laughing] I tried, but I had a really hard time finding any good ones. Just because you can do a show doesn’t mean anyone would want to listen to it. A lot of that stuff sounds like something we would’ve written a decade ago—it’s just terrible. Sometimes, there’s a clever idea, but it’s not strong enough to sustain a show; or worse, there’s just no thought put into it.


Q: If there are so many bad podcasts, how can a listener find the good ones? Is there anyone filtering through all the chaff, highlighting podcasts worth checking out?


Sam: Not that I know of, and that’s the problem. Lots of people can use the technology now, and it’s easy to say, “I’m a funny guy, I’ll do a show.” But they don’t know how to craft anything—it’s crap. And there really isn’t a good way to find the decent podcasts out there yet—there aren’t really any filters that I know of. The best one I know of is Podcast Alley. But in spite of all that, somehow, people are finding our podcast—it’s crazy. We’ve done absolutely nothing to promote it, and still it’s ranked 300 (out of all the thousands of podcasts). It’s getting out there somehow.


Jim: If right now it’s anarchy, and in traditional broadcasting it’s a dictatorship. What we really need is a republic. [laughs] Some government, some authority, but it’s still a democracy—something in between.


Q: Then how are they finding you now?


Jim: I have no idea [laughing].


Sam: There’s a real distribution problem with podcasting now. It’s really difficult to find what you’re looking for.


Jim: Like looking for a needle in a needlestack.


Q: What’s your plan for this new podcast you’ve been proposing, Father Knows Jack? Who’s it going to be for and how will they find it?


Jim: We’re big fans of public radio. We’d like the show to incorporate something like the sketches from A Prairie Home Companion, the banter on Wait, Wait...  Don’t Tell Me, and the first person stories from This American Life.


Sam: It’s a show about men, without relying on the simple-minded sex jokes of The Man Show. There’s really nothing out there about men that’s smart. And we’re hoping that it’s for everyone. My wife doesn’t even know when to get the oil changed in the car, but she loves Car Talk. I want our show to appeal to everyone in that way—if it’s good, there should be something for everyone to connect with. We offered the pitch in a recent podcast, and so far, we’ve got about 15 writers who want to write for us. We’ll audition some actors, and, since people seem to like our banter, Jim and I will talk about our lives in each show, what’s going on with us. We’re going to solicit some first person stories from other writers… we just hope people will be entertained, and even more, that maybe they’ll be moved by what they hear. For people to find it, we’ll have to be creative about how we market it and get the word out...



Read the full interview on to get the whole story

Curious? Listen to a sample of Sam and Jim Go to Hollywood for yourself. In this recent episode, you’ll find out why “Sam is half-empty… Jim is half-full. We wish we were talking about a glass, not our uncertain job prospects.  It's staffing season in Hollywood, and there's lots of jobs out there -- or not many at all.  It all depends on how you look at it (and just what's in that glass you're drinking).


Photo and web graphic reprinted here courtesy Ernst and Dunn..

You Are Here

Pirates, fables, and personal histories abound this month.  If it's "once upon a time" you're looking for, here are a few of our picks for the remainder of June.

Alexa Horochowski: Fables Writ Large

In the inagural exhibition at the at the Minnesota Artists Gallery at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Alexa Horochowski's large scale works are typically provocative, ambiguous, and seductive.

The Unicorn in Captivity  Opening reception is tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. Artist-led tour Thursday, June 22, at 7 p.m. Critics' Trialogue on Thursday, June 29 at 7 p.m. Listen to Alexa talk about her work here.

Mpls' West Bank Stories on Stage
As a unique send-up to West Side Story, Bedlam Theatre debuts a new musical adventure - celebrating the people & history of Minneapolis' high-rising, rabble-rousing West Bank neighborhood.This raucus, imaginative play illuminates the rich history of the area, ranging through the personal stories of families living on the West bank in three key time periods for the neighborhood— the 1890s, 1972, and 2006. West Bank Story is showing at the Mixed Blood Theater through June 25, so there's still time to catch the show.


And for a Completely New Take on Pirates...

SHE Captains, a show by Shawn McConneloug & her Orchestra, is among the latest offerings from the Southern Theater. Featured as an offsite performance in the historic Thorp Building complex in NE Minneapolis, this unusual show explores the collision of childhood tales of adventure, Hollywood imagery, and the real life pirate story of a truly inspiring transgressive, Grace O’Malley, prank queen of the 16th century. Featuring McConeloug's trademark mixture of film and live performance, the production runs through June 25.

For more events on music & movies, festivals, readings, performances, dance, and the

jam-packed-insanity that is summer arts programming in Minnesota check out the

events listings.


The Minnesota Crafts Festival on

the grounds of the Minnesota

History Center is June 23 - 25 

Download $1.00 off admission and find a work of art that inspires you

One for the Road

Back in the Woods

by Anthony Christopherson (film still), 2006

Artist's statement: " Back in the Woods focuses on a man who has lost his passion for life. He seeks guidance in a solo camping trip but instead discovers unexpected love in a wild grizzly bear."

You can see more of Anthony Christopherson's compelling animation work on his website, Awkward Mammoth.


 Project Director,  Kathleen Kvern

 access+ENGAGE Editor:  Susannah Schouweiler

 E-journal design: Brand & Butter

 Featured Contributors and Artists:

Banner image (reprinted and cropped with artist's permission): Bunny by Shawn Holster, shadowbox, mixed media. Part of the permanent collection at Gallery 360 in Minneapolis. You can get more insight into our Zoom In artist's singular take on things by visiting his blog,

Monkey Eggs.

Jonathan Nelson is an artist, curator and producer, focused almost exclusively on collage, with forays into radio, visual art, theater, writing and installation. His nationally syndicated radio program ( Some Assembly Required) is a weekly radio art show, featuring the talents of audio artists who appropriate sounds from their media environments. His installations and visual art are shown at Rosalux Gallery and Patrick's Cabaret, and you can see much more of his sound collage at Escape Mechanism and read his blog to keep track of his many projects.

John Richardson lives in Toronto and fronts the multimedia collective R Room, which began in 1998 with a mantra of "Record, Rewind, Reassemble." In late 2000, he was approached by Mark Hosler to direct a video for California's pioneers of sampling and copyright infringement, Negativland. John does sample based work and directs video shorts while doing photo illustrations for magazines and freelance photoshop and video work. His professional portfolio is available here.

 Images featured in You Are Here:

The Swing by Alexa Horochowski. Acrylic on paper, 2006. Appears courtesy of the artist. (top)

Laurie Witzkowski in Bedlam Theatre's West Bank Story, photo by Sean Smuda. Courtesy Bedlam Theatre. (middle)

Photo-illustration by Shawn McConneloug and Andrew Jerabek. Courtesy The Southern Theatre. (bottom)

access+ENGAGE is a twice monthly e-journal offering indispensable,

fuss-free coverage of the arts in Minnesota and beyond

The mission of is to improve the lives of Minnesota artists and provide access to and engagement with Minnesota’s arts culture.

a project of The McKnight Foundation and Walker Art Center ©2006 All rights reserved.