Thursday, December 29, 2016

Erica Rivera Contributes to Twin Cities Critics Tally

Erica Rivera was honored to be asked once again to contribute to the Star Tribune's Twin Cities Critics Tally, an end-of-year review of the Minnesota music scene. Find out what she named as the best local albums, songs, and live performers of 2016 online here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Erica Rivera Interviews Aza Abe (née Erdrich)

For artist Aza Abe (nee Erdrich), 2016 was a year of firsts. She became a mother and launched her inaugural solo show, “Synthesis,” at All My Relations gallery in Minneapolis.

“I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Ever since I was a kid, it was the only thing that I really wanted to do,” says Abe, who has created in mediums as diverse as comic art, beading, still life drawings, paintings, and book covers.

An orderly artist, Abe plans her paintings, chooses colors, then fills them in by grids. Symmetry is one continuous thread in her oeuvre; indigenous aesthetics, which she says come naturally to her as an Ojibwe woman, are another. Flowers, feathers, wildlife, and nature are frequently incorporated into designs that burst with celebratory colors that evoke the patterns of star quilts.

Abe was thrilled when approached by All My Relations gallery about doing a solo show. She was six months pregnant when “Synthesis” opened in March; it closed just a few weeks before she gave birth. “It was a really special time in my life to bring my work out there,” she says. The hardest part wasn’t the preparation for the show, but the relinquishing of her art. “There were certain pieces, especially the beaded pieces, that took a long time to make. It’s an intimate and meditative process. Selling them was hard.”

Abe has found it challenging to balance motherhood and art, but she’s motivated by her mother, author Louise Erdrich, who raised a house full of children while prolifically writing books. Though she hasn’t been painting much lately, Abe does sketch her son while he sleeps.

Given this change in her personal life, as well as the current political climate, she anticipates that the focus of her work will evolve. “It’s really inspiring having created this life, and it’s a hard time, thinking about what’s going on in the country right now with our upcoming leadership,” says Abe, who recently spent time at the Standing Rock protest site among the water protectors. “I’ve always been drawn toward the beautiful, and to symmetry, and to color, but I want the meaning [of my art] to mature as I do.”

Originally published in City Pages in January of 2017.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Erica Rivera Ranks Favorite Albums of 2016

Erica Rivera ranked her favorite albums (local and otherwise) of 2016 along with fellow City Pages contributors. Read her lists and commentary about what made this year's music selection memorable here.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Erica Rivera Interviews Alan Sparhawk of Low

Erica Rivera asked Alan Sparhawk, frontman for Duluth-based band Low, about his Top 10 Favorite Christmas Songs. Read--and listen--to the list on City Pages here.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Erica Rivera Interviews Tig Notaro

Erica Rivera spoke with comedian, actress, and breast cancer survivor Tig Notaro about her Amazon series One Mississippi, her marriage to Stephanie Allynne, and the two new men in her life. Read the Q&A on City Pages here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Erica Rivera on Controversial Art at the MN State Capitol

Erica Rivera reported on the decisions handed down by the Minnesota Historical Society's executive committee regarding controversial and culturally insensitive art on display in the State Capitol. Read about the years-long debate, with comments from Ojibwe professor and author Anton Treuer, on City Pages here.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Erica Rivera Interviews Mason Jennings

Minnesota musician Mason Jennings quietly released his 13th album, Wild Dark Metal, earlier this year, then disappeared from the public eye. He finally came out of hiding to talk with Erica Rivera about what's kept him away from the stage...and it's not what you'd expect. Read the deeply personal cover story in the Dec. 2 issue of the Star Tribune or online here.