Forward-thinking Lawrentians immerse themselves in the Twin Cities

Anna Buchholz

A group of Lawrence students interested in the fields of art and entertainment ventured to Minneapolis for two days of reading period and visited with alumni who have made careers in theater, visual arts, arts administration and music. The Career Center hosted the trip as part of their Lawrence Scholars program, giving students the opportunity to connect with former Lawrentians at theaters, museums, studios and art organizations throughout the Twin Cities area.

After departing from Appleton at 5:45 a.m. on day one, we began our whirlwind tour at the Illusion Theater in downtown Minneapolis, owned and operated by Lawrence alum Bonnie Morris ’72. While at the Illusion Theater, we gathered before a panel of alumni from a range of graduating classes and degrees and listened to their tales of life after Lawrence, offering pieces of wisdom and advice to current students who are quickly preparing to jump out of the Lawrence bubble and into the real world.

We toured the Cowles Center, a structure made famous by the fact that it is the largest building to be moved on wheels from its original foundation and is now home to traveling theater groups, dance companies and serves as a venue for shows. Meeting the owner of modern dance company, Arena Dances, we were able to peek in and watch part of a rehearsal for an upcoming modern dance show production.

Traveling next to the Walker Arts Center, Lawrence alum and curator Siri Engberg ’89 presented the museum’s newest exhibition, “Lifelike,” which focused on art from the 1960s. Pieces included your average card table multiplied to a size where our group of 20 people could easily stand underneath it, retro kitchens and mini elevators in the wall. Fortunate enough to have such connections, we were then taken into the expansive basement of the museum and shown how art is stored, collected and preserved.

Day two of our trip began with a tour of the Guthrie Theater, newly constructed in 2006 and overlooking downtown Minneapolis and the Mississippi River. Home to three distinct theaters, we learned about the features and history of each and saw glimpses of costume, prop and set shops as well as the wig room. We were continually inspired throughout the day as we spoke to alums, such as Laura Buchholz ’96, a comedy writer for the national broadcast radio show “Prairie Home Companion.” We also met individuals who danced, sang, and acted on the stages of the Guthrie and heard from many others often with career paths they could never have predicted.

The afternoon progressed with trips to St. Paul to visit artists’ studios and Minnesota Public Radio. Visual artists toured an artist co-op, seeing unique and individual studios and living spaces of Twin Cities based artists. Matt Kretzmann ’02, who is a member of the band Tapes ‘n Tapes, walked a group of students around MPR and through the studios of 89.3 “The Current” and 99.5 “Classical MPR,” the news room and offices decorated with posters and albums of our favorite bands.

Immersing ourselves in the Twin Cities, many of us fell in love with Minneapolis/St. Paul and began to appreciate how alive the arts are in this northern metropolis. We felt the buzz of excitement and energy and wanted to be a part of it. Listening to the stories of past Lawrentians, we were amazed by the passion they pour into their work everyday. Although the thought of forging our own paths is one of facing the unknown, the Lawrentians that we met during our two-day journey inspired us by providing glimpses of the exciting and unique opportunities that await us in the arts and entertainment industries.