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.

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.