Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Touring Ceramic Art Exhibit in Bigfork

Ceramic art keeps pushing the “envelop” in colors, beauty and grace.  That is good for everyone who enjoys art because there are always more upcoming surprises. The Edge Center Gallery opens its 2013 season early to accommodate some of the best surprises this year from the McKnight Touring Exhibition of the Northern Clay Center. Ever wonder how ceramic art is made, what the art objects mean, or even why is it art at all? The information here may help, but seeing the exhibit in person can make it real. The Exhibition runs in Bigfork April 4 through May 4 with the Opening Reception on Friday, April 5 from 5:00 to 7:00PM. The exhibit and reception is free and open Thursdays through Saturdays 10AM to 4PM.

The exhibition provides outstanding examples of what can be done with basically the same materials used from early time: Water and clay. They are from the work of seven artists who won McKnight Artist residency awards for ceramic artists at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. The awards support a residency at NCC for a period of time after which some of the art may become part of a traveling exhibit.

It is not hard to image early man hollowing out a lump of clay to hold something. But at what point did it become art? The above figure, titled Venus of Dolní Věstonice, found in the modern day Czech Republic, is between 25,000 and 29,000 years old from the hunter-gather Paleolithic period.  We can only speculate that it was not utilitarian and probably religious.  We can also speculate that the artist, estimated between seven and fourteen year old, left his or her unintentional finger print fired into the work.  For more info click:

And when did those early bowls become more than just tools?  Adding “art” to bowls and other vessels can be found in pottery shards (above) dating back over 20,000 years.  There were beautiful vessels being made that have been saved from 4,500 to 5,000 BC such as the vessel below from Mesopotamia.

A very familiar way to work with clay is the potter’s wheel (below), but there are many other techniques for working clay with the most common being “hand-built”, which is how the Bigfork exhibits were made.

Factories commonly use slip casting techniques, but it can be an artist’s technique if they make the mold by hand.  Clay can be made into slabs with rollers with the resulting slabs used for the work.  Pressing slabs of clay into shallow molds can be used. The techniques are part of the art, and in one case the sculpture combines layers upon layers of newspaper and slurry, as well as screen-printed cloths, to create seemingly rough, brick-like, yet extremely delicate forms.

Just as bowls used to carry things evolved into “art”, clay pipes eventually became very decorative.  According to The Museum of London, the earliest account of a pipe being used to smoke dried tobacco in England dates back to the 1570s, although people in Ecuador were using pipes as long ago as 500-300 BC.

As with clay pots, other seemingly common, useful clay objects can become art.  At some point, decorations were added to pipes and glazing to make them very art-worthy. Clay pipes, of French origin, known as "pipes d'étalage” (image above were never intended for smoking, but were advertising.  They were awarded to special retailers and displayed in storefronts. Very few were made and were of the highest quality in clay content and sculpture. Only eight of these “pipes” have surfaced and little is known about the artists who made them. Known for their "pipes d'étalage" includes: Dumeril Leurs, Dutel-Gisclon, Blanc Garin and Gambier. Below is a Gambier pipe.  For more about this side of clay art refer to: http://www.facebook.com/tobaccopipeartistory/photos_stream

Lynn Nachbar, Director of the Current exhibit and former instructor of ceramics at Bowling Green State University explains what visitors should look for in the Bigfork exhibit, “…they should note the extreme variety of the ways that clay is handled by the artists. They should consider the “message” of each piece. Nakada’s license plate project is a type of conceptual art.  What is the concept?  How does Laidlaw’s work relate to her Buddhist heritage?  Ferrari’s sculptures seem to derive from ethnic art – maybe African.  What does that mean?”

Come to The Edge Center Gallery exhibit and see the power of the contemporary artist talent and imagination in basically simple clay and water.  The McNight winning artists being shown at the gallery are: Gerard Justin Ferrari, Mika Negishi Laidlaw, William Cravis, Rina Hongo, Naoto Nakada, Kevin Snipes, and David Allyn.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"If music be the food of love; play on"

According to the world-renowned violinist Paul Rosenthal, performing in the upcoming concert in Bigfork, “I often liken a musical program to a banquet…perhaps as diverse dishes from many lands.” Equally talented pianist Doris Stevenson will join him.  Come and hear the music and listen to Mr. Rosenthal’s descriptions. Time: Friday March 22nd at 7PM. Place: The Edge Center for the Arts in Bigfork. Prices: $10 for adults, $5 for children.  And please stay to meet the artists after the performance.

According to Mr. Rosenthal, the music that will be presented, will be like a banquet that “is nicest when there are familiar tastes that people generally love and, perhaps, a little novelty as well.”  He began playing violin at the age of three, going on to attend the Juillard School in New York City and the University of Southern California under acclaimed master Jascha Heifetz. A resident of Alaska since 1969, Paul Rosenthal founded the Sitka Summer Music Festival, which is a chamber music festival held annually in Sitka, Alaska.

Pianist Doris Stevenson has won lavish praise from critics and public alike in performances around the world.  She has soloed with the Boston Pops, played at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Salle Pleyel in Paris and Suntory Hall in Tokyo. She was pianist for the cello master classes of Gregor Piatigorsky, who described her as "an artist of the highest order."  She is a founding member of the Sitka Summer Music Festival in Alaska..

The Piatigorsky Foundation brings these two exceptional artists to Northern Minnesota this month as part of their mission is to make live classical music part of the fabric of everyday life for communities throughout the United States who often would not have the opportunity to hear them. The Foundation was established in 1990 by cellist Evan Drachman, grandson of the great Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976).  The Foundation carries on his legacy in the belief that, as Piatigorsky said, “Music makes life better. Music is neither a luxury nor a frill—it is a necessity! It is rich. It is imaginative. And it is for everyone.”

As far as what the selected composers brought to the classical music world, again Mr. Rosenthal, “Although the word ‘classic’ is often used very loosely, the music we generally think of as ‘classical music’, including much of the program we are presenting, has been played, and continues to be played, on every continent, by people of all ages, for centuries---hundreds of years. That's rather special, don't you think?”

The selected composers and music are:

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist of the Baroque period.

Selection: “Two Ancient Dances” (Violin solo)

Selection: “Sarabande from the Third English Suite”
(Transcribed for Violin and Piano by C. Saint-Saëns)

Selection: “Air on the G String” -- J. S. Bach
    (Transcribed for Violin and Piano by A. Wilhelm)

Composer: Achille-Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918) was a French composer and was one of the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist music

Selection: “Gardens in the Rain” (Piano solo)

Compuser: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770[1] – 1827) was a German composer/pianist and an important figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western music.

Selection: “Sonata in E Flat Major for Piano and Violin”

Composer:  Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns  (1835 – 1921) was a French composer, organist, conductor, and pianist of the Romantic era, and was a musical pioneer, introducing to France the symphonic poem.

Selection: “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso”

Composer: Henryk Wieniawski (1835 1880) was a Polish violinist and composer considered a violinist of genius and wrote some of the most important and difficult works in the violin repertoire.

Selection: “Scherzo-Tarantelle”

As far as what the audience can expect, Mr. Rosenthal says, “Please imagine it as a dinner experience once more: like most folks, when we invite you to eat, we prepare dishes that we know how to cook and present, and that we believe you will enjoy. That's true for old friends, who hear our kind of music regularly, and for new visitors, who would like to experience this special…presentation.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It’s Hot in Argentina

In March it can still be hot in Argentina but that is not the heat you will see in this month's movie classic in Bigfork. “Gilda” is set in Argentina and stars Rita Hayworth who had her own global warming effect back in 1946 when it was released.  In fact, the scientists testing atom bombs on the Bikini Atoll, found her performance so impressive they named one of test bombs “Glida.” This classic film noir production also stars Glenn Ford, just back from four years in the service, in his breakout performance with Rita. Add to that hearing about the movie’s background from an expert will make the visit special.

Learn many of the hidden stories about “Gilda” at The Edge Center in Bigfork along with a cartoon from the same year on March 14, 6:30PM. The free movie presentation by the Classic Movie Series and treats matched to the movie will include a background presentation by Jack Nachbar.

The plot includes a shady gambler who gets into “hot” water by trying to cheat the wrong casino, a beautiful women singing and dancing up a storm, a bit of murder, and lots more.

Rita Hayworth was a wonderful “femme fatal” for the post war era.  She was born Margarita Carmen Cansino in 1918, changed her name a couple of times, died her hair red to fit more roles, was on the cover of “Life” magazine five times, was the first dance partner of both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, was in 61 films and married/divorced five times. She said, "Basically, I am a good, gentle person, but I am attracted to mean personalities.”

Also her breakout film role, “Gilda”, became her personal identity to the point that she once complained "men fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with me.”  Her erotic appeal was cemented for all time in this movie when she wore black satin and performed the legendary one glove striptease.  The American Film Institute lists her as one of the 100 Greatest Stars of All Time.

The Bikini bomb test story is true, the story stuck, and she hated it.  According to Wikipedia, “(it) was repeated in her 1987 obituary in The New York Times, which readers relied on as fact. Her husband at the time, Orson Welles, issued a public statement, saying, "...they would be pleased only if this were the last bomb test ever. Hayworth was furious to be used in this way.”  Her friendship with Glenn Ford was special and spanned the five films they starred in plus forty years and numerous marriages.

Glenn Ford was born in Canada as Gwyllyn Samuel Newton.  Ford moved to Santa Monica, California, with his family at the age of eight, and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1939. His interest in acting was fine with his father as long as he learned something else to rely on. He listened to dad and according to Wikipedia, “during the 1950s, when he was one of Hollywood's most popular actors, he regularly worked on plumbing, wiring and air conditioning at home. At times, he worked as a roofer and installer of plate-glass windows.”

His name came from his hometown Glenford Canada and his first major role was in 1939, “Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence.”  In between his first major film role and “Gilda” was a good military career doing what he knew best: motion pictures and public relations. But that was not enough military for Glenn, so in 1968 he joined US Marine Reserve and even was in Vietnam in 1967 scouting combat training film locations.

A versatile actor, Ford’s career spanned seven decades and was in high gear in 50s and 60s continuing into the 80s.  As said earlier, his breakout film was also “Gilda” and following that he did everything from thrillers, drama, comedies, and westerns in movies and for television. He worked very hard at his career.  In a 2006 obituary, the New York Times said, “In his heyday, there were times when it seemed that Mr. Ford was averse to vacations. In 1960 and 1961 he worked on four overlapping projects: ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,’ ‘Cry for Happy,’ ‘Cimarron’ and ‘Pocketful of Miracles.’ In all, from 1939 to 1991, Mr. Ford appeared in 85 films…”

Written as an American Gangster story, the “Gilda” setting was changed to Buenos Aries because of “heat” from the Motion Picture Production Code office.  It even “sparked” riots in Rio De Janeiro by frustrated fans who objected to inflated ticket prices.   This movie is just full of strange happenings before, during and after its creation and you can hear a lot more about “Gilda” by just showing up.  If you haven’t made the drive up to see a movie classic in Bigfork before, you might find this one special.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Book Series “Ghost Lake Chronicles” in Bigfork

Author Frank Anselmo presents his four book series the “Ghost Lake Chronicles” with readings, explanations and a chance to talk with the audience at The Edge Center in Bigfork this month.  Learn about the adventures of some young people in Northern Minnesota in the 1950s. Aspiring writers will learn the author’s approach to taking a central plot and developing it from the beginning to the end.  Readers, young and old, will hear directly from the author about Ghost Lake. The free event is at The Edge Center on Sunday March 10th at 2PM.  Following will be a reception with a book signing and refreshments.

With almost four decades in education, Mr. Anselmo is well suited for writing to young readers.  Always interested in creative writing and teaching children, Frank says, “in retirement, I pursued a life long dream of writing a book for kids. The books…chronicle the sixth grade year of twelve year old boys and girls in the small northern MN town of Ghost Lake.”

His formal teaching career started in 1963 in Lakeville MN and ended in Cohasset MN in 1997, with time spent in both the Effie and Bigfork schools.  During that time he enjoyed reading books to students.  Now he visits area schools, “I talk about my writing process and encourage kids to read more and try their hand at creative writing.”

The four book series will also include a fifth book in development. Frank says, “I enjoy the writing process and, in doing so, try to portray to kids what life was like back in the 50’s before television, ipods, cell phones, and computers. A time when kids made their own fun and used their imaginations. Many adults also enjoy these books as they can relate back to their own youth and the memories of growing up at that special time.”

Book I- “The Legend” finds Randy and Scooter, two twelve-year-old boys, with their faithful dog Blanca, setting out on their first solo camping trip. Could the legend of a ghost haunting the very woods they are camping in be true?

An encounter with Arnold, the local bully, adds to the adventure as the boys spend the night in the woods and unravel the mystery and the legend of the lost boy of Ghost Lake

Book II- “The Zerro Club” Randy and Scooter form a good deeds club. Arnold the bully would love to see them fail. So while Randy Scooter and their new member, Shelly, are trying to do good deeds, they find themselves in deep trouble with the police.

Book III-“Taylor's Tomb” finds the club with the first snow of winter and Randy, Scooter, and Shelly involved in a sliding tournament on Taylor's Hill. Mystery and scary moments follow as Arnold, once again, is up to his old tricks.

Gramp's warnings about Taylor's Hill prove true as they encounter Old Blind Bill Hawkins, an old bachelor living on the backside of the hill.

 Book IV- “Makwa's Gold” has Randy, Scooter, and Shelly traveling north with Gramps, Shelly's grandpa Dan, and Blanca to the cabin of Lars Jansen on Clearwater lake. Here they learn of the legend of Makwa's gold and the mystery behind it.

Follow them as they meet new friends, Johnny Bowstring, a native American, and his daughter Terri, who teach them some Ojibwe language and some of the secrets and history of the forest and lakes. Where is Makwa's gold and will it ever be found?

Good fiction can based on real-life facts.  In this case, it is the memory of Frank Anselmo’s childhood before the onslaught of modern “gadgets”.  The last book, “Makwa’s Gold” is also based on the Bigfork legend of what happened to American Indian Chief Busticogan’s gold.  Part of Bigfork's founding and history, he was a real-life person.  Come to Bigfork on March 10th and you might find out more about the legend of Busticogan's hidden treasure.