A farewell plus a shortlist of St. Paul arts organizations to be thankful for this holiday season

George Morrison, “Spirit Path,” pastel on paper, courtesy of MMAA. This touring show is coming to the Minnesota History Center on February 14, 2015

After more than three years covering the city’s cultural scene for Knight Arts, I’m moving on. Beginning in December, my friend and colleague Levi Weinhagen will cover St. Paul’s arts and culture beat for you here, and I couldn’t be leaving my spot in better hands. But before I go, in the spirit of the holiday, I’ll leave you with a list of some of the artists and organizations I’ll be remembering in my thanks this year. Seek them out, would you? Our city would be so much poorer without them.

For thoughtfully curated exhibitions by emerging contemporary and avant garde artists from all over the country, visit the Bindery Projects. For unmatched scope and regional memory, look to Minnesota Museum of American Art. And don’t overlook the college galleries. Bethel University and Macalester College, in particular, both have the benefit of hospitable exhibition spaces, generous institutional support, and expert curators at the helm who work to bring an abundance of international talent into local view.

"Beaverdance" will be at Bedlam Lowertown Nov. 21 through Dec. 21. Photo: Soren Olsen

“Beaverdance” will be at Bedlam Lowertown Nov. 21 through Dec. 21. Photo: Soren Olsen

For performance, by all means, hit Park Square Theatre, the Ordway and the O’Shaughnessy. But don’t pass up the chance to pay a visit to Bedlam, or to Nautilus Music-Theater on occasion, too. While I’ve loved the full productions I’ve seen in both of the latter venues, I’m partial to their less formal affairs. Over bar snacks and beer, I recently watched the cast and crew of “Beaverdance” in rehearsal for their naughty holiday musical and it was a hoot. Some of my favorite nights of theater have been in Nautilus’ intimate studio space, listening to the company’s regular “Rough Cuts” sessions.

If you have kids, please take them to see the young acrobats of Circus Juventas perform in one of their seasonal extravaganzas. On some quiet Saturday morning, take your little ones to a puppet show at Dreamland Arts.

Minnesota Opera's new commission, The Manchurian Candidate, runs March  7 to 15.

Minnesota Opera’s new commission, “The Manchurian Candidate,” runs March 7 to 15.

Get a sitter and go to the opera, or hear the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in concert. It’s true, we have some of the finest classical musicians in the world, right here in St. Paul. But also be sure to stop by Studio Z to hear some experimental music. Take advantage of the Schubert Club’s free courtroom concerts and the variety of public programming on offer in the Landmark Center by American Composers Forum. Hit an art-and-science talk by City Art Collaboratory; join in at the Fireside Readings Series with local authors hosted by Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.

There are so many worthwhile opportunities to engage in the arts around here, you can hardly go wrong. You just need to go.