Monday, September 28, 2015

Native American Art: A Circle of Woodland Women

A collection of art from extraordinary Native American women artists is gathered in the "Anawe Mitigookweg Akiminan...A Circle of Woodland Women" exhibit during the month of October between the 1st and 31st at the Edge Gallery in Bigfork. The artwork is created by Anishinaabe women from all over Northern Minnesota. Plus there will be a special opening reception on October 2nd starting at 5PM to extend the "circle" to include a Native American fashion show, speakers, and live music. Imagine being encircled by exceptional bead-work, quill-work, paintings, photography, weaving, pottery, a star quilt, music and speakers. You can enjoy it all during the October 2nd opening reception. Also, keep in mind, that the art will remain on display in the Edge Art Gallery between October 1 and October 31 during normal gallery hours.

The October 2nd Opening Reception "art performance" will include a talk by Mary Lyons (above), native author and activist. The Opening Reception may start at 5:00PM but will continue encompassing the Mary Lyons talk, Leah Lampire, Lyz Jaakola and her singers providing music, Marcie Rendon, author of Powwow Summer, and Linda LaGarde Grover, author of The Road Back to Sweet Grass (below) reading from their books, and a Woodland Skirts fashion show on the stage of the Edge Center.

The on-stage presentation of Great Lakes Woodland Skirts Fashion Show is planned for 7PM, but that time is flexible with all of the other activities planned for the reception. The fashion show is a special project collaboration between Delina White and her daughters in highlighting the sewing and unique bead-work in the art style of their ancestral grandmothers. So, if you want to see it all get there by 5PM and be prepared for a very eventful evening.

The fashion show features bead-work and traditional materials available from the 17th to 19th centuries through trade with the first Voyageur contacts along the St. Lawrence River into the Great Lakes region. Delina, Lavender and Sage White will be sharing their mixed media expertise in fabrics, metals, shell, glass, precious- and semi-precious gemstone beads used in the forms of traditional skirts and accessories worn by Native Woodland women of the Great Lakes region.  This is the premier performance and will travel to four more venues throughout Minnesota. Delina White's fashion show work has support from a Minnesota State Arts Board Folk and Traditional Arts Grant and an Arrowhead Regional Arts Board Grant for this project. The performance is free to the public thanks to a grant to the Edge Center from the Blandin Foundation.

Below image is from an earlier visit to the Edge showing some of Delina's fashion artistry.

The art in the Gallery Exhibit is varied and complex. Some is in the traditional Woodland style, characterized by plant and animal motifs. Marcie McIntyre who works with beads, and ribbons, as well as the star quilter, Bagwjikwe Hallet, use traditional methods. Leah Yellowbird quill-work is traditional, but, although it looks like thousands of tiny beads, her “wall rug” is painted.  Other artists, such as painters Karen Savage, Wendy Savage and Moira Villiard have expressed their culture in more contemporary interpretations.  Maggie Thompson uses different types of weaving, screen printing and knitting to explore contemporary issues surrounding native heritage.  Art by Cynthia Holmes, Ivy Vainio, and Bambi Goodwin is also part of the exhibit. This is a gathering of some of the most important Native American artists in Minnesota.  You may purchase some of the work by these artists, as well as books and jewelry. Art sample on display are shown in the two images below:

Even though there will be lots of activity during the opening art performance on October 2nd, please remember the exhibit itself will be open for the whole month for you to enjoy. The exhibit continues in the Gallery October 1 until October 31.  The Edge Center Gallery is next to the Bigfork School and is open from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. For more information and updates, see

Friday, September 25, 2015

"I Married a Witch” Just in Time for Halloween

More twists and turns than a Halloween Trick-or-Treat bag of pretzels. That describes October’s Classic Movie in Bigfork, “I Married a Witch”. However Fredrick March’s character needing magic to fall for co-star’s Veronica Lake’s character, is really a tough twist.. But that’s what you might expect from a Romantic Fantasy film of the 1940’s. The witch did need magic and Fredrick did fall in for it. Of course there is the father-in-law witch, who spends time in the bottle, literally, and time in jail. But that’s all centuries after they were burned at the stake. And Fredrick plays a politician to boot. Sound interesting? Come and see the movie and maybe it will make you laugh out loud. It all might remind you of  “Topper”, “Bewitched” or possibly “Jeannie”. All is good fun and done to lighten your spirits. Shown by Jack Nachbar at The Edge Center in Bigfork on October 8th at 6:30PM free of charge. The movie will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the film at the time period of the picture.

A couple of Pilgrim age witches get burned at the stake starts all the “fun” out with a curse that pretty much assures the hero of a sad blood line of browbeaten husbands and nasty wives. Does not sound like fun to start out with but this “black” beginning all gets changed in flash of lightning…literally. Out comes the spirits and so does the fun. You have politicians without a real clue, which is not surprising, a gorgeous blond looking for trouble, a dad trying to stay out of trouble and often lots of mass confusion.  The rest you will have to see in Bigfork. You also get to see all this on the big screen like the movie was intended to be seen. That makes a big difference with better sound and a live audience.

Veronica Lake did not like her co-star Fredrick March, but somehow they managed to make a great comedy with this movie. That is a good testament to their professional abilities.  She had just completed two successful crime movies with Alan Ladd and management felt that was her niche.  Director Rene Clair eventually relented and Veronica accepted an apology from management (that is according to “Veronica: The Autobiography of Veronica Lake.”)

Veronica Lake (1922 -1973), born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman, was an American film, stage, and television actress. Her most notable acclaim were in Sullivan's Travels and as the femme fatale roles in film noirs with Alan Ladd, during the 1940s. She was also well known for her peek-a-boo hairstyle.  Her movie career came after her family located to Beverly Hills and Veronica attended the Bliss-Hayden School of Acting (now the Beverly Hills Playhouse). Like so many other actresses her film career started as an extra working for RKO. She played a coed in a small role in the movie “Sorority House” in 1939. Director John Farrow first saw her in that role and similar small parts, but selected her as special because of the way her hair always covered an eye. That created mystery in the director’s opinion and enhanced her beauty. Her next career stop was with Paramount and Producer Arthur Homblow, Jr. He was responsible for her name Lake because he thought her eyes suited that surname.  Eventually she ended up with a long-term contract with Paramount.

If great acting can be measured by how well two stars that hate each other can perform a loving arrangement on film, Fredrick March and Veronica Lake certainly deserve awards for this movie. You will hear lots more about their “antics” from the host of the Classic Movie series, Jack Nackbar. But just to set the stage, the feud started before the movie was ever started when March supposedly said of Veronica, that she was..."a brainless little blonde sexpot, void of any acting ability." This comment made its way back to her and “set the stage” for the fireworks.

Ernest Frederick McIntyre Bickel (1897-1975) eventually became Fredrick March and was both a distinguished stage actor plus one of the film industry’s most celebrated stars of the 30s and 40s. According to Wiki, “He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and in 1947 for The Best Years of Our Lives. March is the only actor to have won both the Academy Award and the Tony Award twice.” Born in Racine, Wisconsin he started out his working life as a banker, but an emergency appendectomy made him reevaluate his life and in 1920 he started working in the New York film industry. He appeared on Broadway in 1926, and by the end of the decade signed a film contract with Paramount Pictures. That is a really short version of his career, but it is just too long to do it justice here. For more go to

Just to add a little spice to the feud between the stars, I am sure the New York Times Review of the period did not help things out. In opening it says… “The strange and beautiful illusion that Veronica Lake is completely unreal is being quite charmingly nourished in Rene Clair's new film, "I Married A Witch." You recall that Miss Lake was first manifest on the screen as an ambulating hank of hair, from behind which emerged dulcet noises and a calorific glow. Well, in this one, which breezed into the Capitol on a figurative broomstick yesterday, the little lady first appears as a smoke cloud and then as a sly sorceress who tosses around an astral body and necromances with Fredric March.”   I bet that got Fredrick’s ego twitching.  He is supposed to be a big star and here the blond gets better ink with his name last in the first and most important paragraph, Read it for your self at:

Better yet come and see the movie and make up your own opinion. This movie is presented free of charge and some appropriate snacks will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist Lynn.  Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday October 9th at 6:30PM.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

From Oppression to Freedom Exhibit at the Edge Gallery

Artist Georgi Tsenov spent his youth in Bulgaria experiencing Soviet Union oppression first hand where “artistic freedom” was only a dream of what might be experienced in places like America.  “My life in this nation has been the culmination of a lifelong journey, and the fulfillment of my youthful dreams.”  This is reflected in the current exhibit at the Edge Center gallery in Bigfork. Titled “The Long Journey: paintings by Georgi Tsenov”, this show runs from September 3rd through 26th with a free opening reception and a chance to meet the artist on September 4th.  

Often major life changes influence an artist and his or her art. In the case of artist Georgi Tsenov, these were sweeping changes that took place over time and distance and had three stages in terms of his relationship with America

The first was his youth in Bulgaria under Soviet Union oppression where only rare glimpses of American culture gave people a hope of freedom.  This ended with the 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall that signified the end of the Soviet Union, and end of the Cold War.

In the second stage, there was the new freedom during the years he studied at the National School of Fine Arts and Sofia University in Bulgaria.  As Tsenov explains,  “Democracy brought us the possibility to explore and discover the art, literature, and culture of the western world. The movement of abstract expressionism was for us a great triumph of the spirit, and the liveliest opposition to the stiff artistic patterns of totalitarianism.”  His painting style developed as a mixture of realistic and abstract representation.

In 2009, Tsenov and his family moved to Houghton on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Northern Michigan.  He describes the impact of this third major life change, “As an artist, the move from the Sofia, a city of more than a million people, to the quiet, town of 13,000 was extremely difficult. My new setting was interspersed with tall solemn trees reflected in the crystalline waters of Lake Superior. In the beginning, the nostalgia for my homeland and the bustle of the city took hold of my demeanor. Slowly, in harmony with the beauty of the surrounding area, I began to let go of my attachment to the traditional European styles, and to explore the art of this new home.”

Tsenov generally starts his oil paintings outdoors and transforms them in the studio.  There is a sense of movement, maybe wind, in many of them. His style is colorful, and expressive.  You can identify most of the scenes, but the paintings are more emotional than realistic.  Tsenov has participated in over 70 juried exhibitions and biennales in Bulgaria, the European Union and the United States.

See how an artist’s journey from oppression to freedom changed his work in The Long Journey: paintings by Georgi Tsenov.  Meet Tsenov and see the paintings at the free Opening Reception on September 4.  The exhibit continues until September 26.  Edge Center Gallery is next to the Bigfork School and is open from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Duke's Last Movie as “The Shootist” Helps Youngster

John Books, is dying of cancer and just wants to spend his last days with a minimum of pain and some dignity. A old friend and doctor he knows confirms an earlier doctor’s diagnosis and tells Jon he has one or two months to live. He takes a room in a boarding house, but the owner, finding out who he is when her young son Gillom (Ron Howard) tells her, wants Jon out. She relents when he tells her of his condition and things gets complicated when the young son wants shooting lessons. The rest of the story you need to see. Shown by Jack Nachbar at The Edge Center in Bigfork on September 10th at 6:30PM free of charge. The movie will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the film at the time period of the picture.

This is a role John Wayne could not play as a younger man. His character, J.B. Books (first photo above), needs to show what a long tough life can do to a man, and try to keep that young man from taking the same path. Second photo above shows Wayne as Books at the start of the last movie scene the Duke ever made. It is a 1976 Western and was received very well with several awards. Viewers also got to see Ron Howard as a developing actor in the role of the young man Books tries his best to keep from following his past. There is no shortage of stars with Lauren Bacall as the kid’s widowed mother, James Stewart as Book’s friend the doctor and Harry Morgan as a nervous sheriff.

Often regarded as Wayne’s last movie due to his having cancer during its production is not exactly accurate. He had a lung and several ribs removed due to the disease long before the movie and was declared cancer free by the time of the film. But it turned out to be his last film anyway, because three years after its production, and before the Duke could make another film, cancer came back and took his life. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times ranked The Shootist #10 on his list of the 10 best films of 1976. The film was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA film award, and a Writers Guild of America award.

John Wayne is an American icon of the tough talking and softhearted film hero. Born Marion Mitchell Morrison in Iowa (1907-1979), John Wayne’s family relocated to Los Angeles when he was nine. This movie gave him his last chance to work in the career that he loved. Through his career he won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, but his most endearing legacy to his fans was the character the Duke played on and off the screen. This persona has been the basis of many stars screen personality and it has served them well. He was among the top box office draws for three decades which made him very special to studios. “An enduring American icon, he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanor, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height,” from Wiki at

John Wayne liked working with Lauren Bacall so much from their experience in “Blood Ally” (1955) he personally picked her for her role in “The Shootist,”first photo above. Born Betty Joan Perske (1924 -2014) she was an American actress known for her distinctive voice and sultry looks. It was the “look” that everyone loved...and only Lauren could deliver with such emotion, intensity and charisma, second photo above. She was named the 20th greatest actress of the 20th century by the American Film Institute, and received an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1996, "in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.". Her performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination. A month before her 90th birthday, Bacall died in New York City after a stroke. Read more at:

An interviewer once asked Ron Howard if John Wayne had given him any tips on acting during “The Shootist.” Turns out that during the filming of the final shootout, Wayne took him aside and said he had some advice for him. Eagerly awaiting some profound advice, Wayne said "Ron, if you want to look menacing - close your mouth." ...first photo above. Books did finally teach young Gillum to shoot in the movie (second photo above). William "Ron" Howard was born March 1, 1954 and is an American film director, producer and actor. Opie Taylor in “The Andy Griffith Show Series” introduced Ron to American TV viewers for an for eight year run.  Later as Richie Cunningham in the “ Happy Days Series” he again made TV fans happy. He was in the Music Man in 1962, and the coming of age film "American Graffiti" 1973. Those along with this movie are his early acting successes. But Ron Howard, the director, made him a movie legend. Go to . to see his directing credits since there are so many. Howard was awarded the National Medal of Arts and  inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2013.

And then there is Jimmy Stewart, who had a small role in the above. He only agreed to play the role in the film because John Wayne had specifically requested him. He was retired with very bad hearing and his time on this production proved to be to be trying for James and the director, plus maybe even the Duke. His hearing was bad enough so he couldn’t hear his cues so it looked like he and Jon were just not prepared for shooting some scenes. That made everyone mad. It is said, “He and Wayne muffed their lines so often in the main scene between them that director Don Siegel accused them of not trying hard enough. Wayne's reply was a variation on an old John Ford line, advising the director, ‘If you'd like the scene done better, you'd better get a couple of better actors’…”. More at:

Above photo of the Duke was one of his last "shots" ever within a movie. This movie is presented free of charge and some appropriate snacks will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist Lynn. Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday September 10th at 6:30PM.

Friday, August 21, 2015

John Perkins’ “On the Move” but Still On-stage in Bigfork for His Seventh Concert

Song writer, singer, and musician, John Perkins is “one of our own,” and will be on stage at The Edge Center in Bigfork for his seventh Edge benefit concert this month.  John always keeps his shows fresh, with this one revolving around “The Passage of time”.  He will include a story about where and when some of his songs originated along life’s journey. There will be stops to enjoy nature and life in the north woods of Minnesota. Since he spends part of his time in North Carolina look for some insight into that part of the country too. The show will be on stage, possibly with a dock and sailboat this year, at The Edge Center in Bigfork Saturday August 29 7PM. $10 adults. $5 children.
John again will be joined for part of the concert by Jerry Hagen on bass (Jerry left and John right above), along with other friends. John plays a large variety of instruments including six, eight and twelve string guitars, a Resonator Steel Slide and even a six-string banjo. There might also tambourine, jug, washboard and cajone. John’s wife, Sandy, will play the spoons and may perhaps do a bit of clogging. There will be a lot different sounds for the audience to enjoy. His music is “Americana/folk” that is an easy to listen style and all of it original work by John.

A fishing dock is always important to water adventures. Some folks use a log laying in the water and some huge cement piers that reach far out for better fishing. Whatever you use, it can be the start of stories and wonderful things to see and do. John’s dock, in better shape than the one above, will be recreated on the stage of The Edge Center and from the end of that dock John will being us into the wonderful lakes and woods of northern Minnesota.

He will pay tribute to the lake his grandfather introduced him to more than 55 years ago. The audience will hear about “The Voyageurs” important to this part of our great continent that was just opening to a new world of people and commerce.

There will be new songs including “Going Fishing,” a humorous and introspective take on one of our favorite pastimes.  If you ask most Minnesotans what they do for fun, fishing will probably be somewhere on the list. And everyone can tell you his or her fishing stories and funny adventures. Come and hear some of John’s

Everyone around here loves trees, and they can tell you a story too. As we know, each year a tree’s rings mark another season. One song, “My old Friend” marks the passage of time and connects rings of a big old Oak to important times in our history.

Ice out is always an special event for everyone who spends winter in Nothern Minnesota. On rivers ice out is often a little louder than on lakes which usually makes it more interesting. Many of us have watched and waited for the ice and snow to leave the our cabins and fishing dock, we will revisit that Minnesota event in song. Keep in mind that "ice out" can be very dramatic even on lakes, as the above picture of highway 169 during a recent spring ice out on lake Mille Lacs shows.

Since John spends winters in the Blue Ridge Mountains, he will flavor his north-woods repertoire with a couple of songs that transport us to beautiful Western North Carolina. You can think of that part of the world as Minnesota with less water and more “bumps”….big huge bumps as we can see in above photo.

John will remind all of us of the joy there is this world as he remembers some dear friends that have been lost to us this past year. John’s songs and stories speak to all of us.

There will be lots to see, hear and learn at this year’s John Perkins concert for the Edge Center for the Arts. And it turns out that the attached art gallery is showing another completely different kind of wilderness…bogs, with an exhibit of art titled "Bog Tapestries: Elizabeth Blair Photography." Now there is a wilderness with lots of water and no “bumps”. Also in the gallery, the ten years plus of volunteer work for the arts in this community done by hundreds of you earned the Edge a special "Sally" award from The Ordwary in St. Paul. The award is on display (above photo) and you'll be able to read the details. Come early before John's performance and and see what's happening in the gallery. Remember the John Perkins concert on stage at The Edge Center in Bigfork Saturday August 29 7PM. $10 adults. $5 children.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dynamic Duo Pat and Donna Surface...Remember When?

The sights and sounds of the sixties...If you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, this show will hit your musical sweet spot.  If you are too old for those decades, it’ll let you find out why the music made such a fuss.  And if you were too young, you can find out what you missed by hearing it live. “The Remember When” concert by Pat and Donna Surface is their most popular show and it will be at the Edge Center in Bigfork Sunday August 16th. It is a musical tour though the decades that were very import to everyone. Besides Pat and his wife Donna Surface the show includes 2-time Grammy winner John Ely, Butch Schmidt on bass, Marina Whight on harmonies, and MN State Fiddle Champion, Mary LaPlant. Donna Surface will be signing music enhancing the musical experience. This concert will be on Sunday August 16th, at 2PM. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children.

Donna Surface says, “This is our most popular show. We have been developing it for 5 years, with variations, and people love it. They really enjoy revisiting songs they couldn't wait to hear on the radio or from their beloved vinyl LPs back in the day. There are so many 'Oh wow, I LOVED that song!' moments throughout the show. The late 60’s into the 70’s was a pivotal era in so many ways, and woven through the music in this show are reminders of what it was like to be multi-media, interpretive signing, and Pat's vocal styling recall the events and pop culture that shaped that time”.

Pat Surface was born in St. Paul and placed in foster care.  At two years old he was adopted into a musical family, the LaPlants, who shaped his life and life’s work.  At 6 foot 8 inches, Pat grew up to be an all-star basketball player before music became his future. Pat is a singer/songwriter and leader of the Boundary Water Boys band. Pat owns a record label based in Ely, MN - Spiritwood Music of The Boundary Waters. Pat sings and plays his hand-built LaPlant guitar. The LaPlants are award-winning musicians themselves plus are instrument builders and family builders.  Pat has two adopted siblings: one Hispanic and one Native American.   Pat says, “My family is my inspiration for much of my music.  For family has taught me devotion and cohesiveness and how we are all the same.”

Donna began dancing at three years old and years later as an actress in New York, she appreciated using the body as an instrument to communicate. Her desire to learn American Sign Language is about accessing another culture, not just another language. American Sign Language is the second largest language used in our country. It is the language of the American Deaf community (ASL is common only in the U.S. and some provinces of Canada). Compelling and moving to watch, an Interpretive Sign Performance is a combination of American Sign Language, dance, acting, and mime. It is a way for the Deaf community to appreciate the music, but it "amplifies" the words for the hearing world as well.

John Ely is a master at the steel guitar, 115 years after its invention, it still is “new” to much of the music world. John can make it not only familiar to audiences, but appreciated. His addition to the Pat Surface group adds the different and charm of its special sounds.

Darrol (Butch) Schmidt picked up the guitar at the age of 16, and has had a musical instrument of one kind or another in his hands ever since. A winner of “Best Group” in the MN State Music Championship, he also plays upright bass in the Itasca Symphony Orchestra. His instruments include guitar, bass, fiddle,and mandolin.

Marina Whight: A native of the Grand Rapids area, Marina Whight has been involved  with many local theater and musical groups, including Reif Center Dance, and  Showboat.  One of her musical highlights was winning Overall Grand  Champion at the Minnesota Country Music Championships.

Mary LaPlant: Mary has an exceptional musical gift. She composes beautiful compositions, plays the piano, and, oh yes - there is that violin/fiddle that has won her much acclaim. With a classical foundation, Mary’s style is lyrical and sure, even when she is playing run-away fiddle tunes. At this time, she is a 4-time Minnesota State Fiddle Champion (be sure it is not stopping there). 

With the “Remember When Concert, return to a time when the lyrics and melody were the essence of a song is in this entertaining and nostalgic musical journey with Pat and Donna and their guests. In 1987, Pat began performing and touring full time. Singing and playing his hand-built LaPlant guitars, Pat has performed at churches, schools, colleges and festivals from “sea to shining sea.” He has reached over 20 million people and has recorded 71 CDs on is record label, Spiritwood Music Of The Boundary Waters. Edge Center in Biigfork, Sunday August 16th, 2PM, $10 adults, $5 children.