Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the Edge Center in Bigfork

The EdgeWild Players in Bigfork open the stage season with a comedy that includes gangsters joking, dancing, and singing. Fake wooden Tommy guns, scared white faces, and the witty, savage satire heighten the entertainment of this period comedy by German playwright Bertolt Brecht titled “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.” It is a satirical look at the rise of a mythical, small-time thug in 1930s Chicago who is trying to take over the cauliflower racket by selling "protection" to small groceries. Sound interesting? That’s the magic of a great satirist like Brecht. His characters are so ridiculous that they can transport laughing audiences to a funny new reality. Place: The Edge Center Theatre, Bigfork. Date and time: June 21 through 23 at 7 p.m. and June 24 at 2 p.m. Price: $15 for adults, $5 for children.

The play was written in 1941 by the great modern playwright Bertolt Brecht. Director Patricia Feld is infusing it with the lively music that Brecht and Kurt Weill wrote for many of their classic plays. Among the songs is the familiar “Mack the Knife.”

This play is also an allegory Hitler’s rise to power and the characters and events have direct parallels in history to Adolf Hitler’s henchmen. Brecht turns der Führer into vulgar American thug Arturo Ui, a small-time New York hoodlum who comes to Chicago with his gang to “sell protection” using intimidation, threats, arson, and murder. But, unlike the gangster movies of the 1920s and 1930s, this show is done for maximum laughs. The broad, vaudeville acting style, the between-the-scenes musical numbers, and the elaborate sets, costumes, and stage antics keeps things lively and funny.

Patricia Feld, the Artistic Director for the Edge and director of this play says, “Our large cast has a ball with the mugging and the overly physical acting style.  The complex sets and 1930’s costumes will help to create an impressive and entertaining performance.”

The Edgewild Players have received a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council to rent lovely, historically accurate costumes, and the students of Bigfork School are creating props and helping to build the sets.

This activity is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, thanks to appropriations from the Minnesota State Legislature's general and arts and cultural heritage funds.

The Fun starts Thursday June 21 and runs through Sunday June 24. The times and prices are June 21 through 23 at 7 p.m. and June 24 at 2 p.m. Price: $15 for adults, $5 for children. Some come and see something you really might not expect...but then that's what the Edge is all about; seeing the unexpected. It will be a great escape and you'll get lots of laughs, music and entertaining.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

You Never Were Alone Gallery Art Exhibit in Bigfork

The June exhibit at the Edge Center in Bigfork brings a view of the world through the eyes and life’s experiences of Adam Swanson. With many visits to Antarctica, this artist can relate to environments unfamiliar to the average person, and gives us a different perspective on the world we share. As Adam describes this unique style “…my work addresses the future, fragility of the human presence, perseverance of nature and underlying threads of danger woven through societies". We hope that this exhibit titled, “You Never Were Alone” will leave a lasting impression that viewers can take with them. Come and see for yourself by visiting the  Bigfork Art Gallery that is attached to the Bigfork School from May 31 through June 30 during the regular hours of the gallery which are
Thursdays through Saturdays 10AM to 4PM each day.  There is no charge to see the exhibits.

The opening for Adam's exhibit (see photos at the end of this blog) was on June first with a nice turnout and we got a chance to visit with the artist. He shared a lot of time with the guests and talked about many of his projects including the "chalking" of Elephant Rock near Duluth, which he did one year that was a considerably larger effort than what was at the Edge. Adam says of that project, "The Elephant Rock project was an art happening in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in west Duluth.  I drew with sidewalk chalk and charcoal...the day after I made the drawing the Lincoln Park community had a small festival and community gathering around the rock. Folks came around and climbed on the rock, took photos and shared stories about the park's influence in their lives.  One thing I remember about the day was when a women, 96 years old shared her memories as a child climbing around on the same rock." Above photo by Don King."  

 “You Never Were Alone” gives the visitor a chance to view a style of art, in Adam’s words showing that, “… There is a deep relationship between art and science. The more we learn about our surroundings, where we came from and who we are, the more likely we will thrive in a universe of endless possibilities.

Also from the artist's web site, " I am primarily a painter, though I have a strong interest in photography and film. I paint largely from photographs and videos I have taken. 
See more at:

That is a wonderful quality an artist, such as Adam can bring to art.  Life's experiences gives all of us a special "perspective" that few of us can put into or on to the arts. Some do it through paintings, some through sculpture, and some through performing arts.  But they all can "teach" us something about the world we live in and experiences we live. Here is that one artist has to say about the world through art. One that needs to be experienced to appreciate. 

What better time is there than see this beautiful exhibition than during the opening reception and get a chance to meet the artist about it? Why not come on June 1st at 5PM to 7PM? Refreshments will be served. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What Do Vibrant Colors, Vivid Imaginations, Young Enthusiasm, and a Wild Variety Have In Common?

There is one of the Bigfork Art Expositions that is a family favorite and very unique every season. It is the annual student art exposition that opens the gallery season each year and is, in many ways, very enjoyable.  No matter what else follows it, the art that young minds present at the Edge Center Art Gallery in Bigfork will open viewers imaginations with its young and fresh approach. The show always feature lots of colors and variety, and this year the art presented will be the first under the direction of our new art teacher: Alexa Reichensperger.  It is in the art...come and see for yourself. To see this exhibition, visit the Bigfork Art Gallery that is attached to the Bigfork School from April 26th through May 26th during the regular hours of the gallery which are Thursdays through Saturdays 10AM to 4PM each day.  There is no charge to see the exhibits.

For Alexa this is her first teaching assignment. With her BA in media communications she is well versed in Digital art, Videography, photography and graphic design. And with an MS in education, she is an excellent art teacher for the Bigfork school.  She says, "I have lived in four different states in the past 10 years, but MN is home. I enjoy outside, coaching basketball, and to create -- especially taking something old and making it into something new. I feel right at home here in the Bigfork/Marcel area. I love being nestled in the trees and surrounded by lakes."  So come and see what our new art teacher brings to the area in terms of inspiring the art in our students. Below is an example of some of the results. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“American Graffiti” is the April Movie Classic in Bigfork

“American Graffiti” is about the culture and life style of the whole generation of post WWII American youth.  It has several claims to fame including being the most profitable film ever produced in Hollywood. Although most of the big Hollywood movie companies didn’t want to get involved, it did find a home at Universal Studios. The money side of this classic is a classic in itself. It was made on a $777.000 budget (lucky 7s) and has become one of the most profitable films ever produced with  some $200 million in box office, and, video sales, not including merchandising…so far. Co-written by George Lucas, it was based on his younger years in ModestoCalifornia. Set in 1962, it is a study of the cruising and rock-n-roll culture of post-WWII youth packed into the events of one night. The profits may be staggering but so is the list of the future famous actors in the movie.  This April Movie Classic will be shown on the big screen of the Edge Theatre in Bigfork by Jack Nachbar. It will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the time period of the movie.  Date: Thursday, April 12. Time: 6:30PM. Price: free of charge.

George Lucas co-wrote this movie as a series of short vignettes covering the events of one night. Wolfman Jack sort of narrates it, Ron Howard, Suzzanne Somers, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Mackenzie Phillips and a bunch more stars are sprinkled around in the movie. It was supposed to be filmed in San RafaelCalifornia where it was set to take place, but the town would not let them shoot after the second day. Obviously it did get finished and is a legend in the movie business.

The 1973 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland was the premier of “American Graffiti” and it opened the same year in the United States.  The response was positive and immediate.  It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, and eventually the United States Library selected it for preservation.

George Walton Lucas Jr. (born 1944) is an amazing film maker and entrepreneur. And one cannot write just a couple of paragraphs about his work to do it justice. It is best to say he is just one of the best, and American Graffiti is something he wanted to do for a long time. It is the story of his era growing up in California and he wanted to preserve this story for future generations to see and become acquainted with the era. When you see this movie you see a time when Lucas was growing up and you can appreciate how youngsters of his age enjoyed themselves, at least in Modesto California.

I suspect for him it is Lucas looking at Lucas, and I suspect he likes what he sees.  Probably a cliché but it was a simpler time after a great war had been won and before the killing fields of VietnamLaos and Cambodia started and forever changed America. So, it is a good film for the audience to just sit back and relax and enjoy what Lucas put onto film for the audience to do just that. Enjoy the film and the time it represents.

George Walton Lucas Jr. (born May 24, 1944) is an American film-maker and entrepreneur. I am not going to try to put into this blog any list of Lucas’ achievements in film or business. There is no need except maybe to mention that he has had 57 awards and 37 more nominations for awards from some 44 organizations Ref: .  Above is Lucas receiving the National Medal of Technology from President George W. Bush in 2006. See note at the end of this blog. 

That is a nice run that is not over yet.

Roger Greenspun was the reviewer of this movie for The New York Times and has one of the best descriptions I found when researching the movie. In the August 13th, 1973 edition he wrote, “American Graffiti exists not so much in its individual stories, as in its orchestration of many stories, its sense of time and place. Although it is full of material of fashionable nostalgia, it never exploits it.” See what you think, when you see the movie yourself.

The movie is on the big screen of the Edge in Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday April 12, at 6:30PM. It will be worth going to Bigfork, because Jack will provide you with background about the movie and a cartoon of the period. An appropriate snack will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynnpriate snack will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn

Note:This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code. See Copyright. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wild Boys of the Road” is the March Movie Classic in Bigfork

 “Wild Boys of the Road” is a movie that deals with the socio-economic issues of the depression era.  Made in 1933 it showed the depth of the depression and its effect on the lives of several teenagers who had to become hobos riding trains to survive. The film was directed by William Wellman and starred Frankie Darro. It is a heavy subject for Hollywood to tackle when crime films and musicals were a much better investment. It presents a side of the economic times that was important to preserve. The Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in 2013. Come and see this one shown on the big screen of the Edge Theatre in Bigfork.  It will be accompanied by Jack’ Nachbar's presentation providing a better understanding of the time period of the movie.  Date: Thursday, Thursday March 8th . Time: 6:30PM. Price: free of charge.

During the Depression, Hollywood was one of the few beneficiaries of the country’s tough times. For a nickel the movie-goer could get you a cartoon, a newsreel, a B-feature, and the main film. That could amount to four hours of entertainment for the price of a gallon of gasoline or a pack of cigarettes.  Between 60 and 80 million people were going to the movies once a week. Most of the movies were crime related, musicals or comedies, but a few slipped through that addressed the county’s problems. It shows there was still a heart in Hollywood for the distressed of the country. Critics in 1933 were mixed as to their opinions of “Wild Boy,s" but time has proven this movie’s worth.

Frankie Darro (1917-1976) American actor and stuntman began his career in silent movies as a child actor. As he grew up he progressed in roles in “talkies” in adventure, western, dramatic, and comedy films.  Later he became a character actor and voice-over artist. Remember the donkey called Lampwick in Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio”?

William Augustus Wellman (1896-1975) was an American film director best known for crime, adventure and action genre films.  Wellman directed over 80 films including “Wings” which became the first film to win an Oscar at the first Academy Awards ceremony.

Wellman also saw something special in Dorothy Coonan, an accomplished dancer, who played Sally in “Wild Boys of the Road”   He married her with a union that lasted through 7 kids and over 40 years until his death. She died at the age of 96 with seven children, 22 grand children and 12 great grand children.

So come enjoy a great 30s movie about the Depression and its effect on three youngsters forced to become hobos to survive. 

The movie is on the big screen of the Edge in Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday March 8th  at 6:30PM. It will be worth going to Bigfork, because Jack will provide you with background about the movie and a cartoon of the period. An appropriate snack will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn.

Friday, February 2, 2018

“My Favorite Wife” is the February Movie Classic in Bigfork

This is about as “Screwball” a comedy you can get.  In “My Favorite Wife” Cary Grant (hunk number one), who is married with kids to Irene Dunne, gets married for the second time after his wife is declared legally dead. But, she is not dead, but marooned on a desert island with Randolph Scott (hunk number two). Irene shows up, finds out she is legally dead, and hubby is off with wife number two. She sets out to clear up the mess. It does not work out very well when wife one hires a mousey shoe salesman to play her island company, Grant does not buy the whole mess. But then add the law: if she is married to the two men at one time (bigamist) or not, the judge who needs to “fix” things is the same judge who declared Irene dead, and married Cary to his second wife. See how it all ends up on the big screen of the Edge Theatre in Bigfork shown by Jack Nachbar. It will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the time period of the movie and maybe help unravel things at the same time.  Date: Thursday, February 8th. Time: 6:30PM. Price: free of charge.

There was some true life drama going on behind the scenes during the production of this movie because it’s producer, Leo McCarey, was in a serious car accident and it was not known if he would live: kind of a hard backdrop for the actors to absorb when whey were trying to be “funny”. One of the actors in the movie, Gail Patrick, who played the second wife, recalled “…desperately trying to be funny as our producer, Leo McCarey, lay at death’s door..I never thought we entered into the spirit of that one. We couldn’t…waiting for bulletins from the hospital.”

McCarey got well enough to visit the set a couple of times, shooting got done with a movie that sort of dropped off at mid point and didn’t get funny any more. The actors went home waited for the results. And McCarey was left with a mess to clean up. When he reviewed what was there he came up with a great fix.  The judge’s part was originally dropped early in the film, and McCarey brought him back because he was really funny and with some good rewriting by McCarey himself and other writers, the end result was a great comedy. In fact it was one of the the last of its kind because WWII interrupted that sort of story telling for the time being.

Irene Dunne (1898 – 1990) was an American film actress and singer whose career spanned three decades from the 1930s to the 1950s. She has been described as, “…the best actress to never win an Oscar but was nominated for four times, and was given Kennedy Center Honors for her work as an actress. She once commented in an interview, that she “…lacked the ‘terrifying ambition’ of some other actresses and said, I drifted into acting and drifted out…” Dunne has 44 films and 25 television and radio shows to her credit,  a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame and displays in the Warner Bros. museum and center for motion picture study.

Cary Grant (1904 – 1986) was an English – American actor and is known as the “definitive” handsome leading man.  He had a pronounced “English” and smooth stage personality that fit very nicely in that leading man role in the 76 or so film credits he  earned from 1932 and 1976.  The American Film Institute named Cary the second greatest male film star of the Golden Age Hollywood.  Grant was nominated twice for Oscars and received an Honorary Oscar. His working relationship with Alfred Hitchcock got him four roles in Hitchcock movies and it is said that the director loved working with him.

Randolph Scott (1898 – 1987) was an American film star whose career spanned five decades from 1928 to 1962. His lasting image is of the “…man who sat tall in the saddle…” Of his more than 100 films, more than 60 were westerns. But as this film shows his talents went beyond the cowboy film, and he could handle them very well. Scott’s films included social dramas, comedies, musicals (non singing or dancing roles) adventure movies, war films and even a few horror/fantasy films. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Leo McCarey (1898 – 1969).  As said earlier, a lot of the credit for this film’s success is due to the work of its writer/producer, Leo McCarey.  His work on “My Favorite Wife” made it the second biggest hit for RKO in 1940.  McCarey can certainly take credit for that achievement.  He had previous experience with Grant and Dunn in previous work and therefore familiar with their talents.
Leo was a three time Academy Award winning director, screenwriter and producer. He was involved in nearly 200 films is best known for his work in comedies.  For “My Favorite Wife” he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing, Original Story.  Interestingly he focused mostly on “screwball” comedies before the war and, later, turned his talents towards more socially conscious and religious films.  He achieved success and acclaim in both genres. 

So come enjoy a great “screwball” comedy film on the big screen the of the Edge in Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday February 8th  at 6:30PM. It will be worth going to Bigfork, because Jack will provide you with background about the movie and a cartoon of the period. An appropriate snack will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn.

Monday, January 1, 2018

“All About Eve” is the January Film Classic in Bigfork

This is a drama film that takes aim at the Broadway theater culture and “personality” in a way that will let you see deeply into the heart of live performance art.  “All About Eve” is a drama film sure, but just giving it a category falls short of the real depth of how one art form can describe another in such a moving manner. The industry critics loved it as much as the industry that produced it. “All About Eve” (1950) is the only film in Oscar history that received four actress nominations in the 14 total gained and ended up winning six.  A great story of a young star (played by Anne Baxter) eclipsing the career and life of an older establish one (played by Bette Davis). This one will make you think and consider how well the Hollywood film industry did in dissecting its East Coast sister industry the live Broadway industry.  This January Movie Classic will be shown on the big screen of the Edge in Bigfork by Jack Nachbar.  It will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the time period of the movie.  Date: Thursday, January 11th . Time: 6:30PM. Price: free of charge

The movie made almost $3 millions dollars in its U.S. release and has as many twists and turns in its themes and sub-plots as imaginable. To some it was a straight-forward story about ambition and show business comparing one industry segment to another. To some it has a love triangle story between the characters.  We do know it was related to an actual situation between and aging actress and young protégé fan she gave a job to in her house which she later regretted.  The movie was very popular in the gay community possibly because Bette Davis was one of its early heroes. All of these things make for great movies and audiences then and now have lot of angles to think about and make up their own minds. Today’s viewers are even treated to an early performance by Marilyn Monroe, so you can ponder how much of the audience comprehended what this “new” star of the industry might become.  Whatever reasons prevailed in the audiences and industry in that earlier era, it was a great success.

 Bette Davis (1908-1989) was one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses. Willing to play virtually any kind of character and personality, she found work wherever and whenever she wanted.  As with many early Hollywood stars, she started out on Broadway before moving to Hollywood in 1930. So this movie certainly fit her perfectly.  With her willingness to play any kind of character, her range of films spanned the spectrum of Hollywood movies.  She was a hardcore businesswomen and often at odds with studio management. You could say her off stage personality matched her on-stage persona clashing with management, fellow actors, and writers. In general a great actor and person.

Bette was the co-founder of the Hollywood Canteen. She was the first woman to be president of the Academy of Motion Pictures, first women to be nominated for 10 Oscars, first to receive a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute and on and on. In 1999 she was placed second as the American Film Institute’s list of greatest female stars of classic Hollywood.

Concerning this movie Bette once admitted that her casting in this movie, “saved her career from oblivion after a series of unsuccessful movies….Joseph L. Mankiewics’s casting her in this movie resurrected me from the grave.”

Anne Baxter (May 7, 1923 – December 12, 1985) was an actress in films, stage and television. In her career she won an Oscar, Golden Globe and nominated for a prime time Emmy.  Interestingly, her selection for “All About Eve” came about due to her resemblance to Claudette Colbert who was originally picked, but was replaced by Bette Davis.  She said she played her character based on a “bitchy understudy” she had in a Broadway play when she was 13 and threatened to “finish her off”.  Anne received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role in “All About Eve”.

In a odd example of life imitating art, Anne did replace Bette in a TV show when Betty became to sick to do it. This movie was the first time two actresses from one film were both nominated for the best Actress Oscar. They lobbied so hard to get the award that neither ended up getting it.

So come enjoy a great drama film on the big screen of the Edge Center from the golden years of Hollywood. Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday January 11th  at 6:30PM. It will be worth going to Bigfork, because Jack will provide you with background about the movie and a cartoon of the period. An appropriate snack will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn