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A classical composer, an artist, a brass band, a punk rocker and a folk singer collaborate in a joyously dark, immersive new opera.
201 backers pledged $20,901 to help bring this project to life.

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Join us for a thrilling mash-up of art forms, in an operatic literary adaptation commssioned and co-presented by The Soap Factory and Walker Art Center.

Artists and performers for WISE BLOOD: clockwise from top left; Chris Larson, Anthony Gatto, Grant Hart, Michael Sommers, Holly Hansen, Martin Bakari.

Composer Anthony Gatto and visual artist Chris Larson join forces to bring the darkly humorous world of Flannery O'Connor's WISE BLOOD to life. 

Set in the post-industrial beauty of a 130-year-old factory-turned art gallery, this immersive opera takes the audience on an intimate journey alongside the oftentimes eccentric and always captivating characters of this Southern Gothic Tale. The audience is brought directly into, around and through large scale installation pieces, kinetic sculptures and projections while surrounded by live music. 

WISE BLOOD features an incredibly diverse cast of performers including Hüsker Dü founding member Grant Hart, opera tenor Martin Bakari, Zoo Animal's Holly Hansen, Twin Cities' theater favorite Michael Sommers, members of the Adam Meckler Orchestra and more.

The project will be installed in April 2015 at The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. The WISE BLOOD installation and sound design at The Soap Factory will be open to the public from May 9 to June 15, 2015 during regular exhibition hours. A free public opening reception will take place on May 9, 2015 from 7-11pm.

This new original work is commissioned and presented by The Soap Factory (Minneapolis) and The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). 

Performer Gelsey Bell
Performer Gelsey Bell

 Join us for this unique project. Invest at any level.

Potato Hawker - $5 level
Potato Hawker - $5 level
Zookeeper - $15 level
Zookeeper - $15 level
Train Conductor  - $25 level
Train Conductor - $25 level
Southern Cherry Pie - $40 level
Southern Cherry Pie - $40 level
Soap Box Preacher - $48 level
Soap Box Preacher - $48 level
Man in the Gorilla Suit - $400 level
Man in the Gorilla Suit - $400 level
Southern Good Luck Charm - $600 level
Southern Good Luck Charm - $600 level
Wise-Blooded $5000 level
Wise-Blooded $5000 level
Campaign rewards from Hüsker Dü, Alec Soth, Alexa Horochowski and Chris Larson.
Campaign rewards from Hüsker Dü, Alec Soth, Alexa Horochowski and Chris Larson.

Anthony Gatto - Composer/librettist, co-creatorNew York, composer Anthony Gatto has developed collaborative works and concert music with many artists and ensembles across the US, Europe and Asia – including works for film, theater, dance, and opera. Studying with Ornette Coleman was formative in questioning possibilities; he later completed a doctorate at the Yale School of Music. His honors and awards include a Fulbright Fellowship to Berlin, Mid-Atlantic Creative Artist Fellowship, fellowships from the Bush and McKnight Foundations, respectively, and awards from the Jerome Foundation, Meet The Composer, Inc., City University of New York Professional Staff Congress Research Awards, Residencies at Yaddo, Millay Colony for the Arts, Willapa Bay Artist-in-Residence, and an Aaron Copland Award.

Chris Larson - Set and Installation designer, co-creator
Chris Larson is an American visual artist based in St. Paul, Minnesota, whose work directly confronts the medium of sculpture. Chris has had several gallery and museum exhibitions, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art and at the Kunstmuseum Bonn and Heavy Rotation at the Walker Art Center. His piece “Burning Down The House” was the climax of the 2013 Northern Spark, where a life-sized replica house was burned to the ground.  Working quickly and intuitively, he produces "machines" that seem to be echoes from the Middle Ages, when alchemists attempted inventions that would transform one material into another. Larson received an M.F.A. from Yale University School of Art in 1992. He has often shown locally, most recently at Macalester College in St. Paul. He is the recipient of many awards, including a Bush Artist Fellowship (1998 & 2006), a Jerome Foundation Fellowship (2002 & 2004), and a Knight Artist Fellowship (2012).

Grant Hart - performing the role of Asa Hawks
Grant is a singer, songwriter, and composer, best known as the drummer and co-songwriter for the influential alternative rock and hardcore punk band Hüsker Dü, one of the most influential post-punk bands of the '80s, blending raw sonic aggression with pop melodies and songs. Playing drums and singing lead, Hart formed Hüsker Dü, along with Bob Mould (lead vocals, guitar) and Greg Norton (bass) in the late '70s in St. Paul, MN. Over the course of the early '80s, the group initially built a strong following in the U.S. hardcore punk underground, eventually breaking into wider recognition with their 1984 album Zen Arcade. Within two years, Hüsker Dü signed to Warner, becoming one of the first indie bands of the '80s to move to a major label. Following the group's demise in 1987, he launched a solo career; after releasing one album, he formed a trio called Nova Mob in 1989, which released two albums between 1991 and 1994, when Hart became a solo artist again.

Martin Bakari - performing the role of Hazel Motes
Martin Bakari has been praised by Opera News as "vocally charismatic" and possessing of a "golden tenor," establishing him as a promising and versatile singing actor with engaging dramatic talent, remarkable musicality, and a voice of distinct beauty and facility. He is a recent graduate of the master's degree program at Juilliard. Martin was the winner of both the audience choice and Bellini awards at the 2011 Orpheus Vocal Competition. He was also the second prize winner in the junior division of the 2010 Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition where he was praised by the South Florida Classical Review for his "velvety light tenor hues, superb control, and resounding high tones" and has since been re-engaged by the company. In 2012, he was awarded the Lucrezia Bori Grant by the Juilliard School which he used to study Italian language and culture in Rome. A passionate music educator and private voice teacher, Martin is a proud recipient of Juilliard's Morse Teaching Artist Fellowship during which he taught 4th and 5th grade general music at the George Jackson Academy in Manhattan's East Village. Martin holds a B.M. in music education from Boston University.

The Soap Factory - location, presenter, co-commissioner
Founded in 1989 by a small group of artists as one of the first venues in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul devoted to emerging visual art, The Soap Factory has, over 25 years, filled a crucial niche in the vital regional arts community by providing a supportive exhibition environment for artists who are at the beginning of their careers or who are exploring new genres of expression. In 2014, The Soap Factory exhibited the work over 100 artists and had 24,000 visitors attend opening nights, tour exhibitions, or participate in our special events. While popularly accessible, our programs are artist-centered, offering audiences a visceral and immediate experience of art and of the life of the artist. The Soap Factory is located in the former National Purity Soap Company building, donated to the organization by Pillsbury in 1995. This historic 130 year-old 48,000 square foot wood and brick warehouse, located along the riverfront near the birthplace of Minneapolis, makes The Soap Factory the largest independent contemporary art gallery in Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

The Walker Art Center - co-commissioner
The Walker Art Center is one of the top-five most visited modern/contemporary art centers in the U.S. expressly dedicated to supporting artists and connecting audiences with the art of our time. Formally established in 1927 as an art gallery, its focus on contemporary art began in the 1940s when it was reconceived a public art center focusing on exhibitions, contemporary music, dance, film screenings, and educational programs. Today its performing arts program is one of the largest museum-based programs in the U.S. Presenting 40 to 50 contemporary performances annually, the Walker supports innovative work from emerging and mid-career artists as well as internationally-renowned masters. In recent years, the Walker has been defined by its commitment to the increasingly blurred lines between artistic disciplines of contemporary dance, new music-theatre, performance art, experimental theatre, avant-jazz, and alternative rock and pop.

Pitch Video by: Ryan Strandjord, Sergio Rapu, Ryan Swan, Andrew Martin, and Grace Merchant, with support from Green Sea Productions, Daniel Cummings, Jeff Saunders, Cary Strandjord, and The Herbivorous Butcher.

Join the conversation at #WISEBLOOD @WISEBLOODOPERA

Risks and challenges

This is the first time in its 25 year history that The Soap Factory has produced a multi-disciplinary artistic project of this scale and ambition. WISE BLOOD, this original operatic composition and sculptural installation has the potential to bring together new audiences for creative endeavor across artistic disciplines - contemporary artists, sculptors, opera singers, brass musicians, rock 'n' rollers, writers and lovers of gothic Americana, into our uniquely preserved 130-year-old brick factory space in the heart of the city. The level and depth of this artistic collaboration is inherently new and risky. Bringing together our diverse artistic communities and organizations, we know that this is a risk worth taking, to test traditional artistic boundaries, and to engage, thrill and inspire new audiences in an unique immersive experience.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    'Potato Hawker'
    Receive a thank you note, signed by The Soap Factory staff and a bumper sticker from The Soap Factory and WISE BLOOD team.

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    'Zookeeper'
    Spend a free day at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis on us, and explore one of the top contemporary art museums in the world.

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    'Train Conductor'
    Receive a limited edition exhibition poster from The Soap Factory collection, hand-picked by us for you.

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    'Southern Cherry Pie'
    Receive an art book or catalogue published by the Walker Art Center, hand-picked by us for you.

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    Pledge $48 or more About $48

    'Soapbox Preacher'
    Receive a signed copy of 'Why we do this'. Part artist book, part exhibition catalogue, this publication tells the story of one of our favorite artists, Andy DuCett's 2012 solo exhibition at The Soap Factory: 'Why we do this'.

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    'Landlady'
    Receive a copy of the WISE BLOOD libretto (the opera script), signed by composer Anthony Gatto and installation artist Chris Larson, as well as the cast and musicians of WISE BLOOD.

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    'Gothic Music'
    Receive a copy of a Hüsker Dü LP album on vinyl, hand picked and signed by band co-founder Grant Hart, Asa Hawks in WISE BLOOD.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    'Man in the Gorilla Suit'
    Receive a limited edition photographic print, 'Soap Factory, 2013', signed by artist Alec Soth. Archival pigment print, Edition of 100, 11” x 14”.

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    'Southern Good Luck Charm'
    Receive a limited edition artwork 'Ersatz', signed by Alexa Horochowski. A bronze cast of a iron pyrite crystal. Iron pyrite is known as 'fool’s gold' because of its resemblance to gold. Produced in conjunction with her 2014 exhibition at The Soap Factory 'Club Disminución'. Edition of 50, 5” x 5”.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    'Blind Prophet'
    Tour WISE BLOOD artist Chris Larson's extraordinary Saint Paul studio with the artist himself and also receive a signed Chris Larson catalogue.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    'Wise-Blooded'
    Receive a limited edition photographic print signed by WISE BLOOD artist Chris Larson. 'Celebration/Love/Loss', is an image taken from his notorious installation at the 2013 Saint Paul Northern Spark Festival.

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Funding period

- (30 days)