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Arts Reporter Pamela Espeland Remembered for Generosity, Curiosity

Plus no more morgue, duck stamp winners, and an unexpected wrongful death settlement in today's Flyover.

Pamela Espeland
Courtesy of John Witing

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily noontime(ish) digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

RIP Pamela Espeland

Journalists maybe toss “beloved” too casually into death notices, but as reminiscences and celebrations of Twin Cities arts writer Pamela Espeland circulated online yesterday and today, the word seemed particularly apt. Espeland, who died suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday night, wrote the Artscape column at MinnPost for nearly a decade, and was a constant presence at performances and exhibitions. “She had a lively, curious mind and a kind, generous spirit,” writes former MinnPost managing editor Susan Albright. As journalist Sheila Regan recalled on Facebook: “I saw her last Thursday at Orchestra Hall. She told me excitedly about a recent evening she experienced at Icehouse and then in the same breath whispered how she couldn’t wait to hear Beethoven’s 5th.” Marianne Combs has set up a GoFundMe for Espeland’s husband, John Whiting. And you should read the final Artscape column for MinnPost, a thoughtful discussion with arts engagement coordinator Joan Vorderbruggen on why she left Hennepin Theatre Trust

Duck, Duck… Stamp Duck?

Remember when Public Enemy’s Chuck D said “Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps”? Well, he might change his tune after seeing the redheaded ducks that Jim Hautman of Chaska painted to win the 2021 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. Hautman’s painting will be adapted for the 2022-2023 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, aka the “Duck Stamp,” which goes on sale next June for $25. (The stamp raises $40 million annually for federal wetland protections.) The contest runner up was another Minnesotan: James’s brother Bob Hautman of Delano. This is hardly the first duck stamp rodeo for either Hautman. In fact, James has won the contest six times since the ’80s. And I’ll guarantee you this—the Hautmans are not yet out of ducks to give.

Wanna Buy… a Morgue?

In the early days of COVID, the state of Minnesota purchased a refrigerated warehouse in St. Paul as a possible overflow morgue. Thankfully, we never had to use the site for that purpose, so now the state is possibly offloading the building to the St. Paul Port Authority Board. The state paid $5.48 million; the board is offering $5.65 million. (Not a bad profit—and they said the real estate market was cooling down.) If the sale goes through, the Port Authority hopes to flip the property, possibly after a remodel featuring granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and an open-floor plan for entertaining. 

Samuels Wrongful Death Settlement Details Emerge

Over at Sahan Journal, Becky Dernbach reports that nonprofit leader Sondra Samuels has settled a wrongful death suit with the parents of a six-year-old boy who drowned in the Mississippi River last summer while under the supervision of Samuels and her husband Don. The boy, Isaac Childress III, was a “NAZ Scholar” with the Samuels’s organization, the Northside Achievement Zone, and was swept up in the current off Boom Island. (Editor Mukhtar Ibrahim provides an explanation of why Sahan found this particular story newsworthy.) Sahan also reports that Black and Asian people are more likely to drown in Minnesota generally.