The Andrews Sisters hold a singular place among the many famous Minnesota-born musical talents who have made it big. Rising to fame in the swing era of the late 1930s, they developed their successful close-harmony formula early on. Patty, the blond mezzo-soprano, sang lead; Maxene, the brunette, sang soprano; and LaVerne, the redhead, sang contralto. The trio recorded more than six hundred songs, sold over ninety million records, earned fifteen gold records, and had a dozen number-one hits. Forty-six of their tunes made it to the Billboard Top Ten chart—more than either Elvis Presley or The Beatles.
The women's theater movement began in the early 1970s and continued until the mid–1980s. Echoing the second-wave feminism sweeping the country, it fostered the growth of more than 185 theaters, with an emphasis on women's issues. One of these, At the Foot of the Mountain Theater in Minneapolis, made a lasting mark on the Twin Cities.
John Scott Bradstreet was a key tastemaker in early twentieth century Minnesota. As a designer of objects and interiors, he shaped the aesthetic tastes and parlors of the Twin Cities. Beyond his retail operations, Bradstreet’s work as an organizer and booster of the fine arts in Minneapolis was central to the development of art exhibitions and societies, and eventually led to the founding of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Many Americans can recognize a Bundt pan or have one at home. But few know that this iconic cake pan, created by H. David Dalquist, founder of the Nordic Ware Company, is rooted in Minnesota’s Jewish immigrant history. The design for the ring-shaped mold came from a pan called the Gugelhupf, which was brought to the United States by Jewish immigrants from Europe.
Captain Billy's Whiz Bang was one of the most popular and notorious humor magazines of the 1920s. It was created by Wilford Hamilton Fawcett, who had been a captain in the U.S. Army during World War I and gained the nickname Captain Billy. Fawcett would later tell reporters that he had started his magazine to give the doughboys—as World War I servicemen were popularly called—something to laugh about.
The Center for Hmong Arts & Talent (CHAT) is an arts advocacy group based in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood. Since its inception in 1998, CHAT has transformed into a social justice arts organization that engages with local and national Hmongcommunities. In addition to providing diverse arts-based programs, CHAT uses innovative strategies to address social issues affecting Hmong Americans.
Founded in the late 1960s, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (CDT) is the United States' largest professional dinner theatre company. It is also the main tourist attraction for Carver County and a gem for musical theater enthusiasts. Home to many national and world premiere performances, CDT focuses on musical theatre and comedy shows as its mainstays.
Adolf Dehn was a lithographer and watercolorist best known for his work in the American regionalist, modernist, and social-realist movements. An important American printmaker, Dehn demonstrated great skill in his works and, often, an irreverent sense of social commentary.
Famed author and lecturer Charles Eastman was raised in a traditional Dakota manner until age fifteen, when he entered Euro-American culture at his father's request. He spent the rest of his life moving between American Indian and white American worlds, achieving renown but never financial security.
Seth Eastman was a painter and soldier best known for his depictions of the everyday life of Dakota and Ojibwe people around Fort Snelling in the 1840s. He stands out among other nineteenth-century American artists—particularly those who also painted American Indian people—because of his commitment to realism. Unlike his peers, Eastman mostly avoided romanticizing the Native people with whom he lived.
Dakota people in what is now Minnesota began using glass beads to decorate clothing, bags, and household items in the mid-nineteenth century. The practice both reinforced and transformed Dakota art, allowing Native artists to preserve a creative tradition that continues in the twenty-first century.
One of the most colorful characters on the scene in early twentieth century Minnesota was Wilford Hamilton "Captain Billy" Fawcett. He was editor and publisher of a bawdy men's humor magazine called Captain Billy's Whiz Bang. He was also a veteran of two wars, an Olympic athlete, a world traveler, a big-game hunter, and a resort owner.
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald is a cultural icon of the Roaring Twenties and Jazz Age. His work, although largely underappreciated during his lifetime, reflects the thoughts and feelings of his generation.
Artist Alexis Jean Fournier is well known in Minnesota for his atmospheric paintings of Minneapolis and St. Paul landscapes. Fournier is also renowned beyond Minnesota as an important figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.
Wanda Gág (rhymes with "cog") was determined to be an artist from an early age, and ultimately she succeeded. Her talent steered her through family hardship and hesitant early artistic efforts until she created Millions of Cats, her 1928 children's book. It has never been out of print.
Opened in 1947, the Grand Marais Art Colony is the longest lived art colony in Minnesota. It began as an eight-week summer course but became a year-round art colony that unites the natural beauty of the North Shore with Minnesota's vibrant artistic community.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Minneapolis became a national center for the arts movement known as Arts and Crafts. The city's Handicraft Guild led the way. Founded by women, the Handicraft Guild made the arts in Minneapolis more democratic and populist by offering classes like pottery and metalwork to artists and teachers.
Jacob Fjelde's sculpture Hiawatha and Minnehaha has stood in Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis since the early twentieth century. A popular fixture of the park in the twenty-first century, its placement there was originally controversial.
The Hmong New Year in St. Paul is a unique annual event encapsulated into a weekend celebration held at the end of November. Since 1977, Hmong people have gathered in the city to meet, eat, celebrate the harvest, and enjoy cultural performances. Though the event is rooted in the agricultural history of the Hmong people and their religious traditions, it has found a new expression in St. Paul—the home of one of the largest communities of Hmong outside Southeast Asia.
Elsa Laubach Jemne was a Minnesota artist active from the 1910s to the 1960s. Though skilled as an easel painter, she is better known for the murals she created for public buildings, including post offices and courthouses.
The Kilmarnock Bookstore in downtown St. Paul brought writers and artists together at the dawn of the Jazz Age and helped inspire some of the best work of their careers. Nearly a hundred years later, the Twin Cities are considered among the most literary cities in the United States.
Robert Koehler was a German-born American painter, educator, and arts organizer known for his pivotal role in the development of arts exhibitions and arts education in Minnesota. He was the director of the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts from 1893 to 1914 and was a central figure in the founding of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
For more than seventy years, the Minnesota-based writer and activist Meridel Le Sueur was a voice for oppressed peoples worldwide. Beginning in the 1920s, she championed the struggles of workers against the capitalist economy, the efforts of women to find their voices and their power, the rights of American Indians to their lands and their cultures, and environmentalist causes.