Nightlife: The UnConvention kicks it nonpartisan style

TOM HORGEN , tom@vita.mn | Updated 8/17/2012

Speakouts, parades, music, nightlife and pageantry surround the RNC.

Artist's rendering of the ice sculpture that will be on display in front of the State Capitol.

The Republican convention is in the Twin Cities this week. Hoping not to be left out, the Twin Cities arts community has devised a plan for "unscripting the political process." Hence its plan for what is being called the UnConvention.

As the name implies, it's an unconventional way to look at political issues through a week of concerts, parades, art exhibitions and various participatory events. Under the UnConvention umbrella are individual artists as well as such larger organizations as the Walker and Intermedia Arts. While it's definitely political, its organizers have set out to be nonpartisan.

"We're welcoming projects that look at the issues, but we are not creating venues for people to be for or against a particular nominee," said Marlina Gonzalez of Intermedia. "We're coming together to be the voice of the people."

Here's a guide to what's happening for you UnConvention-goers.

SATURDAY

  • Spark24: A 24-hour music-and-arts festival to show RNC visitors (and remind locals) why Minneapolis rules.
  • Solutions Vol. 3: A bevy of fast-talking designers, artists and activists get about seven minutes each to present their real-world solutions to the cities' very real problems. There's food, music and lots to look at as members of this media-savvy bunch present their visions.

SUNDAY

  • The Liberty Parade: Call it a "big rolling art explosion," said organizer Chris Pennington. He and a small group of innovative art activists went through hell and high water to get this DIY parade off the ground, enduring months of bureaucratic red tape and funding issues. Yet, here it is, ready to roll down Nicollet Mall. It's not a protest, Pennington said, but an invitation for anyone to showcase their idea of liberty. Parade entries span the gamut. The Art Car Parade has merged into this one. There will be giant puppets, a fleet of rock bands, a group that walked from Green Bay, Wis., plus lots of bikes. And they're still accepting entries. After rolling out from Nicollet Mall (the best place to watch from is near Peavey Plaza), the parade will dump into Loring Park for a free concert featuring Dillinger Four, Vampire Hands, STNNNG, Happy Apple and more. Plan for beer and barbecue.
  • An UnConventional Gathering Place: After the concert, the UnConvention's home base, Intermedia Arts, has a reception to kick off the rest of the week. Check out more live music, plus the many digital-media works on display, including "I Approve This Message" (citizens made their own political commercials via YouTube) and "My Yard Our Message" (artists created atypical election-season yard signs). The night ends on Intermedia's stage with "Politaoke," a hilarious twist on karaoke. Instead of songs, it's speeches from the presidential candidates and George W. Bush. Like traditional karaoke, there's a catalog of speeches and a teleprompter. (7 p.m.-midnight.)

MONDAY

  • Peavey Plaza - The UnConvention Outdoors: Head back downtown for two full days of artistic spectacle. The daytime is filled with various participatory works. There is a "one-on-one film festival" where you watch a short film with its filmmaker, "circuit-bending" music in an old voting booth and more. At night, it's music, including the band Nobot and a poetry slam. (8 a.m.-midnight, free.)
  • Revolutionary Love 2: After staging the first part of this large public performance in Denver, artist Sharon Hayes will gather 75 to 100 Minnesotans for Part 2 in front of the Capitol. Participants will recite in unison a 10-minute text about "love, politics, gay power and gay liberation" (and they'll do it several times). (3:30 p.m. Capitol Grounds along Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul.)
  • The State of Things: Artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese will unveil a 20-foot ice sculpture of the word "Democracy" in front of the Capitol. Watch it melt, creating a visual metaphor. (Noon.)

TUESDAY

  • Peavey Plaza: More art and more music. Be sure to check out Art on Wheels, a tricycle that projects large digital images onto city buildings. Also: more music and Politaoke. (8 a.m.-10 p.m, free.)

THURSDAY

  • The American Politics Sideshow: The Weisman Art Museum has concocted an all-day circus-style lineup of offbeat film screenings, art installations, discussions and music. The exhibit "Hindsight Is Always 20/20" examines the common rhetoric used in State of the Union speeches throughout history. Try the Citizenship Trivia Challenge for prizes. Hear one of Minneapolis' most thought-provoking rap groups, Ill Chemistry (Desdamona and Carnage). (11 a.m.-9 p.m., free.)
  • Peace Island Picnic: The UnConvention goes out with a bang -- or more appropriately, a big hug. Former FBI agent, 9/11 whistleblower and Time's 2002 "Person of the Year" Colleen Rowley has co-organized a massive family picnic on Harriet Island in St. Paul. It'll feature live music all day, kite flying, puppet theater and an attempt at breaking the Guinness world record for the largest human peace sign.