It was a year of transitions and milestones on the Minnesota arts scene. Longtime leaders moved on and new ones arrived. Institutions celebrated big birthdays and major acquisitions. Art was stolen and bars were saved. The arts community made itself known in fields as large as — well, an actual field. Here's a look back at some of the arts stories that made headlines in 2015.
January: 2015 marked major anniversaries for two major arts institutions: The Walker Art Center turned 75, while the Minneapolis Institute of Art turned 100. The art institute launched a year of surprises and special events to celebrate its centenary. Meanwhile, Jocelyn Hale announced she would be stepping down as director of the Loft Literary Center; it was just the first of several high-profile leadership changes over the year.
February: The Twin Cities lost theater legend Don Stolz, the longtime owner of the Old Log Theater, while the Guthrie Theater announced that Artistic Director Joe Dowling would be replaced by Joseph Haj. The Ordway opened a new concert hall designed to be the home of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. The Minnesota Historical Society Press published "Blues Vision," a compilation celebrating the work of Minnesota's black writers.
March: The Jungle Theater named Sarah Rasmussen its new artistic director, replacing founder Bain Boehlke. The Minneapolis Institute of Art received a major gift of Japanese art, and an iconic American painting ("Washington Crossing the Delaware") made its way from the walls of the White House to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona.
May: The Minnesota Orchestra made a historic trip to Cuba in the first major cultural exchange since the United States and Cuba relaxed restrictions on travel and commerce. A patron of Lee's Liquor Lounge bought it from 80-year-old Louis Sirian so that Sirian could retire knowing the bar would stay relatively the same. The McKnight Foundation named playwright and director Rick Shiomi distinguished artist of the year, and Ordway President Patricia Mitchell announced she would retire at the end of the year.
July: The Minneapolis City Council designated Dinkytown as a historic district, the former Artists' Quarter jazz club in St. Paul reopened as Vieux Carre under the management of the Dakota, and the Loft Literary Center announced it was hiring Macalester grad Britt Udesen to be its next executive director. The floating "Minne" sculpture had to be removed from Lake Calhoun because swimmers were climbing on it, and a $1 million reward was offered for the return of Judy Garland's stolen slippers. A Prairie Home Companion's Garrison Keillor announced he's finished hosting after next season, and Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern came to the Twin Cities to film "Wilson."
August: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts dropped the "s" at the end of its name, and announced that everybody should start calling it "Mia" instead of "MIA." One of its curators, meanwhile, was hired to head the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. St. Paul got a new center for independent film, while the Walker Art Center began the work of redesigning its sculpture garden. Minneapolis jazz singer Doris Hines died at the age of 91, and music venue First Avenue showed its age when portions of its ceiling collapsed. The Loft Literary Center celebrated its 40th anniversary with 40 events over 40 hours.
September: As "Mia" continued its 100th birthday, an Eagan field was transformed into a Van Gogh painting. Downtown Minneapolis got a colorful, towering tribute to Bob Dylan, and U of M professor Julie Schumacher won the Thurber Prize for American Humor, the first woman ever to do so.
November: Rising rent forced Nimbus Theatre to move from its northeast Minneapolis home, Minnesota nonprofits won big on Give to the Max Day, and Minnesota business icon and arts patron Bruce Dayton died at the age of 97.