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arts H Music H culture

December 2010

Volume Two | Issue Eleven



Anchorage International Film Festival Special! Peek at F’n Ticket Picks & AIFF Mastermind–Tony Sheppard E nte r ta i n me n t Eliz ab eth Tho mp so n : Wo rds & Mu sic M usic in the Ro ugh : Old Tim e Eag le River Th eatre

Or i gi na l Co n te n t Reb ecc a A. Goodrich D aw n ell Sm ith Jesus Land in -Torrez III H o lden Attra dies

LettEr FRom The EdiTor Dear Reader, Running an independent magazine is hard work, but thankfully it’s also incredibly rewarding. For 11 consecutive months (and several non-consecutive before that) we have been introducing you to an array of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and nuggets of brilliant Alaska culture. This has largely been made possible by our advertisers. Take a few minutes while perusing our pages, to pay homage to them; stop by their businesses and let them know you saw their ad in F Magazine. This past year has seen a lot of changes, not only in the magazine that you’re currently holding, but also in different aspects of our arts culture. Whole Wheat Radio,

a wonderful on-line pirate radio station out of Talkeetna closed its doors to the ethers. We were proud to have their story grace our pages, and we are sad to see them go. It also seems the Anchorage municipality is fixing to cut the arts funding in half again. Again. This will mean a whole lot less of a whole lot of great things that most of us take for granted. We’ll have an update on the madness in the next issue. A big change you can expect to see in the arts community is here at F Magazine. We can’t unveil all the changes just yet, as they’re still in the works, but since our wonderful art director, Gretchen Weiss is moving on to new adventures in life, F Magazine is going to have to make some adjustments. Again, we ask you to bear with us as we

go through some of these growing pains. And become a volunteer! The only way we can keep informing our readers about the community they live in is with the incredible work of volunteers. And stay tuned in by subscribing to F! We’ve got a full year of exemplary issues in 2011: the art of fashion in February, street art in May, and all fiction, just fiction in June – which we are now accepting submissions for (see our website for details). Speaking of fiction, this issue’s theme, the last in a series of themes for the fiction and poetry submissions, is “Villains, Scoundrels and Low Down Dirty Bastards”. Enjoy the great work submitted by Alec Fritz, Dawnell Smith and Rebecca Goodrich. Enjoy the arts!

Letter from the art director – Good bye, enjoy and remember => drink plenty of orange juice

F Makes A Great Holiday Gift

Table of Contents | December 2010 | Volume Two | Issue Eleven

Sho o ting Fro m t he H i p


{Tony Sheppard}

F ’n Lo o k at A I F F


Film Festival Highlights

Wo rds and Mu s ic {Elizabeth Thompson}

Ho use


Co t to n Ca n d y


By Dawnell Smith

W. A . T. T.


I nte ra c t i ve

{Old Times at McGinley’s}


By Rebecca A. Goodrich


Peek Inside

Music in the R o u gh

B rave i s n o t t h e S a m e a s St ro n g


By Theodore Kincaid


By Jesus Landin-Torrez III


Theatre R eview Eagle River Lights Up

Front Cover She Wore Silver Wings – is one of more than a dozen documentaries at this year’s Anchorage International Film Festival “Films Worth Freezing For”. This year, there are more than 100 films to be seen at three different venues - short, long, animated, documented, foreign and local. Read what F’s writers have to say about some of them (pages 5-8).


Holden Attradies Jessica Bowman Riza Brown Kellie Doherty Alec Fritz Rebecca A. Goodrich Serine Halverson Theodore Kincaid Jesus Landin-Torrez III Michelle Saport Leighann Seaman Dawnell Smith Teeka A. Ballas executive editor Bruce Farnsworth poetry editor Gretchen Weiss art director

F Magazine fh ide O 907.244.6252

Back Cover BEER & Holiday Splendor – Check out the fantastic ad designed by Laura Tauke. Better yet, check out the event! La Bodega and F Magazine are having a party!

December | 1 F|


shooting f ro m t h e h i p The Anchorage Film Festival celebrates a decade of creativity, passion and determination. Founder Tony Sheppard tells Riza Brown the story of its inception and time in the limelight. Pre-production Story by Riza Brown Photos by Leighann Seaman

It all started in 1999 in the caffeinated confines of Side Street Espresso. I said to my friend Andrew, “I wonder why there isn’t a film festival up here.” I had been doing a cable access show for a few years and most of my friends were creative artists or poet types, so I thought it would be a good way to help promote and support an art form that was also a profession that I stumbled into. As a child, I was enamored with filmmaking. By 17 I was pitching commercial ideas to businesses in Seattle. Before I graduated from high school, I even wrote a commercial for Rainier Beer. I was a graphic artist in the early 90s. I started making storyboards for TV commercials, then one day I was needed to sit in and direct some editing. That’s when I decided that filmmaking was something I could do. Film degrees aren’t  required. Some technical experience, a good eye, and lots of creativity are all it takes. I also worked on my own short films. The only one I ever submitted played at a Korean film festival. And to take it one step further, I created a video sharing website.


Finding an audience I first approached what I thought was the obvious local organization that would support my endeavor, the Alaska Film Group. I remember making my pitch - it was like pitching a film idea to a bunch of stuffy studio executives that only had one thing on their minds: making money. For the most part, minus a couple creative types, everyone looked as if I were speaking in subtitles. Hard to follow, I guess. I did manage to get $1000 of cash support, for which I really appreciate, but outside of that, not one in the group of 75 filmmakers or local film professionals asked if I needed help. Later I heard that some AFG members were very skeptical

and didn’t think I knew what I was doing. To this day the AFG puzzles me. Its number one mission is to attract film jobs to the state. Well... having a local film festival is a good way to attract some attention from people that are in the film industry, right? So, with a lot of determination and a little anxiety, I built and launched the first AIFF site a full 18 months in advance of the first Festival. I felt 18 months would give me more time to measure the site’s success, and thus help attract and acquire more submissions. To my surprise, instantly, submissions started to arrive. In fact, I had to email back to let filmmakers know that the festival wasn’t going to be held until the following December. I credit the mystique of Alaska and a cool-looking

website for the initial submission success. It certainly wasn’t because of advertising and PR.

Scouting locations The next step was securing the venues. I had worked on building a relationship with the Bear Tooth and the Alaska Experience Theater. Once they jumped on board, I then had to start the real organization, which I sucked at. Working within your comfort zone and circle of friends usually isn’t the best way to go about building something that needs a little expertise. However, I did have two friends to lean on. Mike Firment was the first program director, and he taught me a lot about film. He also helped make some

December | 3 F|


“My daughter was born on the last day of the film festival last year, in 2009. My wife asked what took me so long to get to the hospital and I told her that I had stopped by the Bear Tooth on the way so I could check out how the closing night was going.”

wise programming decisions. “It’s about the integrity of the program,” Mike used to say. And there was Bmac, aka Brian MacMillian. Bmac came to the rescue about two months before the first Festival. He was adept at promotions and operations. He was the Festival’s first general manager. Now, we pay our GM. Wow! It’s nice to think how the Festival has evolved over the years...

The Anchorage Film Festival: from basic to blockbuster The first event was in 2001. Two venues and six days. At one time we had six venues. That was insane! Now we’re down to three venues, but up to 16 full days of fun and film. Things have grown by 20 percent each year. The first year we had about 2,000 people attend. Most loved it and said they’ve been waiting for a long time for someone to get a Festival started. There was one for a while that was called the Northern Lights Film Festival. But they made a mistake of only showing Northern

films, so I think it had a limited appeal, and eventually died out. I live in the North. I wanted to indulge in World cinema. Not only bleak films with cold, dark settings. Although, we do like to have a wide mix, so films with cold, dark environments/ settings are okay. Now, people come up to me to let me know that they are really glad I stuck it out. There were several years, especially when volunteers were stressed and pissed, when I started to think it wasn’t worth all the pressure and personal involvement. But those bad times were many years ago. There have been a lot of fun times; our first Closing Gala included a keg of beer, a bonfire, and a snowball fight. Slowly, over the years, I’ve given up control of a lot of the festival - I used to wear all of the hats. However, these days I just work on film programming, development, and some of the marketing. The pressure is really off my shoulders. I used to spend about 20 hours a week through the year in order to keep things moving. Now, I put in about 10 hours a week. Of course, come Festival time, it’s a 40-hour-a-week job. By the way, this is all volunteer work. Personally, I’ve never made a dime.

|4 You could say that I’m the face of the Festival, although the face is changing. Rand Thornsley of the Bear Tooth, Dawnell Smith and others are doing more of the spokesperson activities of the Festival. Rand has been instrumental in helping the Festival become a professionally organized non-profit and is now the president. Beth Verner is an awesome Volunteer Coordinator. She’s very bright and she just knows how to organize people. Michele Miller and Teresa Scott are also key factors in the evolving success. Last year we sold more seats then ever, about 14,000. And we had new crowds and fans. The Russians came out for “Hipsters”. And the granola crowd came out for the outdoor adventure films. So, from the crowds and organization, to the

films, it was a great Festival. And every year the filmmakers are just plain cool people! Our galas are also more polished. I don’t ever want to lose our Alaskan charm, but it’s nice to see us dress thing up a bit, and act a bit snobby, but in a down to earth way.

Drum roll, please … This year, we are celebrating our 10th anniversary. I’m personally spearheading (okay, just being the loudest voice) to push for more events than ever. Workshops and special screenings are going to abound during this year’s bash. My favorite film this year is “Silent Accomplice”, shot in an experimental style by a professor of film in England, with no dialogue. Beautiful cinematography,

very poetic. The opening night film will be “Wild Hunt”, a modern medieval saga. One film was a shoo-in with the title: “Ticked Off Trannies with Knives”. I don’t have a favorite genre; I like any kind of film that has a compelling story and interesting characters. “The Temptation of St. Tony” is a perfect example of what I like in film. Something odd and unusual I haven’t seen before and probably won’t see again. Video is an art form regardless if it’s for entertainment, selling a product or for intellectual stimulation. It’s about visual composition supporting creative writing. Literature with moving images that evolves with the story. That’s better than books, man ... "

December | 5 F|


“Native time” is often considered a derogatory term in Alaska, depending on who is using it and the context in which it is said. It’s said it generally takes an Alaskan from a remote village 6-10 years to acclimate to living in Anchorage – urban living. There are many factors attributed to this, but perhaps it has a lot to do with Native Time.

This short film is more a social commentary with a little humor and some sarcasm than it is art. Notably, the score written by Marc Petrie is splendid. It follows a moment in time, as an Inuit hunter (Jack Dalton) confronts the rapid pace of disgruntled urbanites. A well-known storyteller around the state, Dalton is a pleasure to watch as he brings this voiceless character to life.

“Fighting isn’t about smashing a man – it’s about going on when giving up isn’t easy …” It’s a great line that opens this black and white short. As is the way with most Australian films, “Leather” is honest and sincere, but comes off a tad unintentionally sardonic. The cinematography is rich, relying on the great textures captured by the black and white film, and the actors, John Brumpton and Richard Cawthorne give aesthetically pleasing performances, in that their faces capture each word and nuance just as the lines in their skin captures and refracts the light.


Ping and Dazee are the stopmotion AI stars of this animated short. In an eerily-lit world run by evil robots, Ping and Dazee find themselves trapped in the same jail. It is a love story simply told but beautifully presented; many hours of

work went into creating this fanciful world.            Even the jail, a solid black hulk of imprisonment, looks pretty set against the dusky colors of night and twig-like trees. There is no complicated plot, no thought-

provoking dialogue, but there doesn’t need to be in this 5-minute flight of fantasy. It is enough to marvel at the method to the madness and the imagination that produced a twinkling, rainbow-suffused land in which even robots can find romance.

This black and white short film is characterized by the somewhat jarring cinematography. The jangling of rotary phones and deft touches of intrigue leave viewers with the sense that they need to watch it again, which perfectly encapsulates the theme and melancholy thread of the film: missed connections and unnoticed signals.            “Telefone” opens with an old man

playing chess alone. He opens a gift box next to him, pulls out a clunky black phone and dials; a lovely woman appears next to him. A connection has been made.          Brief little jumps in the film are like gaps in the old man’s memory. The crazed “switchboard operator” is the arbitrary hand of chance. Sometimes the calls go through; sometimes everything goes haywire.                       

It is interesting that in a film about telephones, no dialogue is needed. It is not about what is said, but whom the conversation involves – if the conversation ever takes places at all. The viewers are left to wonder - What connections have they missed by walking past the ringing telephone? Who would they dial if they were given a telephone in a bow-topped box? Who would answer?

This film is a departure from what I expect to see when I attend an indie film festival; it’s on the longish side, just topping 30 minutes, and is polished and professional throughout. Scott’s production company, American Dream Cinema, is no stranger to the film festival circuit. His short films have won awards in numerous places around the globe.           

In this scrapbook-like documentary, Scott tells the compelling story of his great-aunt, Jean Landis, who became one of the first women to fly in the military in WWII. As a young woman, she achieved the lofty goal of becoming a pilot. As she puts it, she was “in the right place at the right time,” but her tenacity and will to succeed made the most of her lucky circumstances.           

The camera work along with longago reels and vintage photographs meld together to help recreate Landis’s journey into aviation. The narration is a little overwrought in places, but Landis always charms during her time onscreen. Her list of successes, of which there are many, is an inspiring example of single-minded devotion to achieve a dream.

December | 7 F|


In this 96-minute film, a slow-moving, foggy drama transforms into a cathartic tragedy of Shakespearean proportions in such a steady trot, it’s surprising when the ending finally arrives. The film begins almost like something out of “Braveheart” or “Lord of the Rings” – swords clash, fur-clad men shout high English at one another. But it quickly descends back to reality as you realize the swords are fake, and the characters are just your everyday LARP-ers (that is, Live Action Role Players). But this isn’t your ordinary World of Warcraft reenactment, folks. And sometimes being a Viking is better than being an elf. With the fictional stage set, then enters the hero – Erik Magnusson (Ricky Mabe), an “everyman” living a dull life with his girlfriend as he cares for his aging (one is inclined to think also senile) father. Enter the female lead – Lyn, Erik’s girlfriend (Kaniehtiio Horn). One can’t describe her as a “heroine,” exactly because her role is more complicated than that. In one of her first scenes, we see her leaving Erik alone in bed for a long weekend that she has trouble explaining. The long weekend, we come to discover, is the site of an epic battle for the local LARP community – of which Erik’s brother Bjorn (Mark Antony Krupa) is a member. Apparently Erik also used to participate, but life’s heavy burdens and the sting of reality have made him disdain his brother’s frivolity and he, in turn, tries to remove Lyn from it as well. Unfortunately, Lyn has agreed to participate in the “final battle” (as Princess Evlynia), and is kidnapped by the evil Murtagh (Trevor Hayes). Things start to get

a little more interesting when the viewer discovers that perhaps Lyn wanted to be kidnapped all along. When Erik attempts to rescue his girlfriend from fantasy and bring her back to reality – to their relationship, to accepting their lives and moving forward – trouble begins to brew. He joins his brother (who has, once again, lost his campaign for the virtual crown) and a few other ragtag role players in an attempt to rescue Lyn in a sneak nighttime attack. The gamble works, but unleashes a series of events that turn a footloose role playing scenario into a frightening, painful glimpse of what happens when role playing goes too far and who people turn into when reality is thinly veiled. But throughout, there’s hope for relief. Sure, this is a tough plot and there are some sticky situations, but everything will come out all right in the end because after all, it isn’t real – it’s only a game, right? It’s hard to believe anything bad will happen when, even as Murtagh strides up Bjorn’s Viking ship to take Lyn back, incensed and obviously manic, the “referee” flits around him, waving a scarf that declares Murtagh “invisible, invincible, you cannot see or touch him!” But in the end, all roads lead to tragedy – the love story, the reconciliation of two brothers, even the outcome of the final battle where, we had hoped, good would triumph over evil, or even the “pretend” evil portrayed by Murtagh. The filmmakers lead us down the path and we accept – right up to the frightening and tempestuous “Wild Hunt,” in which Lyn has to don an animal skull and run for her life from Murtagh’s band of frenzied men. At once the viewer realizes the men are more than just fevered up from the game. But the tragedy comes in the very fact that, as the viewer, we still don’t expect what really happens. This movie’s success (which rises to the surface dubiously, and through a thick blanket of character development and confusing conclusions) comes about in its very reality – in the end, the viewer is severely shocked. But not surprised.


Word on the street, these too are sweet! Parlevouze Eyak is about a French linguist who has been studying an Alaska Native language that is becoming extinct. He eventually gets to visit the Alaska village where the last remaining speaker is dying. Decades of collegiate studies cannot compare to what this linguist is about to learn about the language and culture he has come to love from afar. Beekeepers is generating a lot of buzzzz. Three college roommates must raise a large sum of money for a friend’s surgery. Crazy shenanigans ensue. This locally produced feature has a pretty sweet slot at the Bear Tooth.

– Lonny Gransburry

Anchorage International Film Festival December 3-16

Hel d On Location At: Out North Theater Bear Tooth Theater Loussac Library


Supported independent musicians with wiki & webcast

December | 9 F|


Modern Poetry, Classical Composition, Two Lost Souls Swimming …

Words & Music

Story & Photos by Teeka A. Ballas

The Soiree It’s an evening of high art, celebrated in the living room of Jim and Flo Rooney’s Westchester Lagoon home. Coats are checked at the door, shoes shed in the front hallway. Approximately 75 Anchoragites in fine evening attire and stocking feet mingle with glasses of wine and political discourse – no tongues bit, no apologies made, no wine spilled – until the music begins. Jim and Flo, respectively the president and secretary of the Anchorage Festival of Music, have decided to host the

Fall Soiree “Love & Nature – A Duet Recital” in their home. Wealth and classical music appreciation seem to be the predominant factors among those in attendance – and curiosity. The evening, framed by the performance photography of Petra Lisiecki, is a preview of a November performance at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Well-known Anchorage opera singers, Kate Egan (soprano), Marlene Bateman (mezzosoprano), and pianist Juliana Osinchuk are performing several classics and intriguing compositions by Lawrence Moss of Maryland. The biggest draw for some in attendance, however, is the

compositions and interpretations by Anchorage composer George Belden of Elizabeth Thompson’s poetry – the 36-year-old poet from Big Lake. Having read Elizabeth’s poetry, it was hard to imagine them composed as operatic lyrics, harder still to imagine how Kate and Marlene were going to interpret them. The two opera singers possess incredible vocal talent, with a fantastic ability to express action and emotion to a vast audience with facial expressions and body movement. Could they pull off modern American poetry? It’s easy to read poetry and imagine it interpreted via folk or contemporary music:

| 10 Elizabeth Thompson : Poet “We were born before the wind Also younger than the sun Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic Hark, now hear the sailors cry Smell the sea and feel the sky Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.” Van Morrison. Contemporary, folk, easy. “With sand as a sandal, I’ve no need to hurry or worry, Only to idle or amble. With sunshine as a shawl, I need no further nourishment; I am the sun. With ocean as a stepstone, My path is a great blue realm; I am open as the ocean.” Elizabeth Thompson. Classical, opera … ? It’s hard to bend the mind to it. Harder still, for many, is embracing any opera in English. Perhaps it’s a classical snobbery of sorts, or perhaps it’s because any longer, opera is a historical genre – a

style of yore – a time that’s hard for many to grasp or understand, so it’s best to leave it to only be understood in preverbal emotion – without literal satisfaction. This prejudice, however, would be to ignore George’s genius. The style he has created with Elizabeth’s poetry, vocally, is reminiscent of Rodgers and Hammerstein with a dash of George Gershwin. “Open as an Ocean,” is beautiful. The vocals sway with the tide, the piano grips at the sand. It is onomatopoeia – of sound and style.

The music “I start with a motive – rhythmic, melodic pattern.” The ways he says this, it’s both patronizing and introspective; it should be obvious, yet, he’d never really considered the step-by-step process. As he speaks, he gently gestures with his extraordinarily long fingers. They seem to be etched with both time and composition. Dr. George Belden, professor of theory and composition at UAA, first read Elizabeth Thompson’s poetry in Make-A-

Scene, a free monthly newsletter out of Eagle River. “She is extremely good at describing things,” he says. “I saw her poem and got in touch with her through the editor at Make-A-Scene … Her poems – most of them – are designed as song texts. They’re set up as standard form: rhythmed, metered. It helps.” Elizabeth’s poetry is not the only poetry he’s ever composed music to, but George seems very taken with her style of expression. To date he has composed 12 of her poems into songs. “‘Judy,’” he says, with a rapid intake of breath. “Oh. That poem is really something. That’s one of the best pieces I’ve ever written,” he looks wistfully at the ceiling. “Do you know what that song is about? It’s about Elizabeth’s mother. She died when she was only three months old …” It’s a touching, eloquent poem, with an equally revealing arrangement beneath it. Is it the lyrics he is captured by, or the content, her loss and her ability to talk about it? George is a music man. He is conservative with his words, yet overtly liberal in what words he ingests.

December | 11 F |


Juliana Osinchuk : Pianist

Kate Egan : Opera Singer

It is with very few words, like the slow jazz progression of Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green”, that George reveals his greatest heartache, the death of his wife, Mickey. His emotion is neither rehearsed nor orchestrated, it is like the manner in which he describes his approach to composition – it is raw epiphany. With the same subtle honesty Elizabeth captures moments and emotions with words, George Belden wraps them in notes. “I think she has this enormous understanding of people and can articulate it.” George says Elizabeth has written a poem about Mickey that has brilliantly captured who she was – though they never met. “I think all of her poetry does that … captures an image and expresses it beautifully so you know what the person is thinking and doing.”

The words F Magazine first came to know of Elizabeth Thompson with the July publication of “That New Year’s Eve,” an emotionally gripping poem about the death of an elderly great aunt. Elizabeth’s poetry tends to be haunting; words that cling to her insides finally finding release in the easiest form of expression their owner knows. There is no question as to why there is a bond between her and Dr. George Belden; it’s easy to imagine a conversation between the two of them: sparsely worded with lots of holes where details of emotions ought to be, each of them filling them in with poetry and music. Elizabeth is beautiful – she has the pure natural radiance reminiscent of Jodie Foster in the film “Foxes” (1980), with the same sense of tragedy about her. Yet she can’t be described as a victim, she’s just had a very explosive life so far.

Marlene Bateman : Opera Singer

She has a monotone voice, even as she describes the most intense details of her past. And her past is not something you will find in a single poem, it’s found dismembered and scattered throughout all of them. Her history is dense with fantastical details that even the most imaginative fiction writers would be hard pressed to come up with. Yet she doesn’t come across as selfishly inclined, or personally obsessed with her own existence. “In my high school yearbook it says, I pride myself in being able to put myself in other people’s shoes,” she says – and this still seems to hold true as witnessed in her poetry. Even the poem about her mother, a woman she knew for only her first three months of life, manages to vividly capture the young woman, even though Elizabeth’s father has only ever had a few sparse words to share about her. Judie was a cutie From San Diego County A spirited soul with glittering goals A petite poet with electric eyes … While every breath did passion bring Life and death still dueled unseen Even with a bran’ new baby Times weighed heavy on sweet Judy She lit a stick of patchouli And toasted the seventies Dusk came quickly on Independence Day … Judy You’ve got to stretch Your new wings out.

| 12 Judy died when Elizabeth was only three months old, under questionable and possibly bizarre circumstances. Her father, a Hells Angels affiliate, became a devout Jehovah’s Witness, and from the time she was old enough to read, Elizabeth had to dedicate every week to a new verse, and accompany her father from home to home spreading the Word. And that’s just the easily palatable information. Her life is thick and rich. It’s not a song, it’s a movie. For Elizabeth, hearing her poetry put to music is a fascinating experience. George is not the first to do so, but she seems to really appreciate the way he connected with her, and what his music does for her words. “With poetry, every word has to have a real purpose. ‘I want you to want me, I want you to need me,’” she says, quoting the lyrics of a mediocre Cheap Trick song. “You can’t just stand up there and read that. With a song, it’s the melody and the music that gives it breath and a heart.” Perhaps that is what George Belden was attracted to in Elizabeth Thompson’s poetry: He was its Dr. Frankenstein, he just had to add breath and heart to words that had already had real purpose. " George Belden : Composer

December | 13 F |


House By Holden Attradies & Teeka A. Ballas An alarm goes off and the sounds of a sleepy person struggling to arise ensue. For half an hour, she takes an occasional peek from the second floor makeshift dwelling to survey her surroundings. Eventually, she rises and, still clad in pajamas with her hair all a mess, she shuffles down the hallway to the public restroom to dress and prepare for another day on display. Anda Saylor was the first resident artist to dwell in the House, a temporary artists’ residency set up in the lobby of the Carr Gottstein Gallery on the Alaska Pacific University Campus for the month of November. Two stories high, each level was about 8’x10’. Comprised of donated lumber, one wall of the first floor was the large glass window of the gallery. This was where each of the five residing artists worked their craft for four days apiece; upstairs was a sparse bedroom setup, replete with sleeping bag, blankets and piles of clothing, papers, artwork, etc. – or whatever the artist deemed necessary for their stay. Like a reality TV show, everything the resident artist did, minus whatever went on in a bathroom stall, was on display. Even the upstairs room could be viewed from the second floor walkway. The lack of privacy does not seem to faze Anda, nor does having to hobble around on crutches in the cramped living/drawing quarters or up the stairs (she broke her leg the week before). Her main concern is meeting her goal. She hopes to have 50 portraits done by week’s end, in time for the First Friday gallery showing at CGR. “This is great! I’m just sad that it has to end,” says Anda with a big unabashed smile with a tiny crease at the corners of her eyes, where seems to lie genuine disappointment that she can’t just live this way all the time. She has a small gap between her two front teeth, and it is easily imaginable that this is where sunshine sinks into her and then pours out through the sparkle in her eyes. There’s a seemingly endless supply of happiness that exudes from her. Even the food poisoning that made her terribly ill seems to have had no impact on her joyful state.

House is the brainchild of UAA art teacher and artist, Jimmy Riordan (though he won’t take full credit for it). “This had all sprung out of project’s I had done a couple of times in college, where I had lived in this gallery [with other artists] for seven days not letting ourselves out,” said Jimmy. “I kind of wanted to repeat that thing here in Anchorage.” Although a residency isn’t entirely new to Anchorage, there have been a number of writers, biologists and crafters who have participated in Anchorage residencies over the years, the location, and style of House is rather original. “When APU offered up the space, I realized that it was unique in that it had those large windows and that it was halfway between a gallery and a lobby,” said Jimmy. “ So it was kind of a public space not like a private gallery space. And most of the people that went in there – like 99 percent of them – were there for art that was on the walls, and so it changed the idea in a lot of ways just by the nature of the space. It was the sort of space that even if we locked ourselves in – that we couldn’t leave APU – it didn’t mean that other’s couldn’t come in.” What’s truly amazing, is that House was fully constructed in just three days. “‘House’ was my idea – I use ‘we’ a lot though, because a lot of people helped with it. Some really great people came together to put it up at the last minute.” Last minute, because APU didn’t give the go ahead until the last week of October. “Residency programs are something we need more of in this state,” said Jimmy. “They’re sort of absent here.” He said doesn’t think “House” will necessarily inspire great artists’ residencies to start popping up – it’s more like his contribution to creating a collective cosmic consciousness of sorts.

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December | 15 F |


Music i n the Rough

Old Times at McGinley’s

By Michelle Saport Photo by Serine Halverson On a Wednesday night, with football on the TV in the The twang inherent in most of the instruments and the members’ background, a group of musicians sat together playing old time obvious fondness for them created a jubilant noise. Yet despite music in the corner booth of McGinley’s Pub in downtown the jubilancy, the music seemed to possess an ominous leer like Anchorage. Their next of kin was the band on the Titanic, an apt throwback to when the majority of country songs had fiddling at 2:20 in the morning even as the ship goes down. a morbid tilt. It’s also likely that part of its dark undercurrent Certainly, playing music on a sinking ship requires a dual sense was attributable to the peculiar ambiance that comes with of nonchalance and commitment. sitting in a half-empty bar on a It also means there’s a good weeknight. chance you aren’t getting the full The group’s repertoire was Yet despite the jubilancy, mostly attention of your audience. Such instrumental, though was the case on that evening. The the music seemed to possess vocals melded in occasionally. scant audience was zombie-like At times the conversation from an ominous leer like an the bar seemed to meddle its at best, despite the toe tapping tempos being played. into a song so perfectly apt throwback to when way More palatable and marketable that I at first mistook them for than “hillbilly music,” old time the majority of country lyrical discourse. Considering music started out as a term the acoustic nature of the set, I songs had a morbid tilt. wondered a few times whether I for the music popular in rural America during the early 20th hearing vocals, particularly It’s also likely that part was century. It was influenced by taut strings, or welded chatter traditional European songs and of its dark undercurrent from the bar crowd. is the earliest strain of what is Throughout the course of was attributable to the the evening, musicians came now country music. Probably the most well-known old-time music peculiar ambiance that and went. They would join the players today are those who’ve circle for a song or two or sit comes with sitting in a half- in for the entire session, and had the good fortune of appearing on a major movie soundtrack despite the ambience and lack empty bar on a weeknight. such as “O Brother, Where Art of audience, the music was Thou,” “Ghost World,” and both nostalgic and fun. “Elizabethtown.” This Hollywood Old time music finally found streak might be the only thing that helps forgive my comparison its way into fame with a slight resurgence among the masses, of the McGinley’s band to the one in “Titanic”. and has had over a century to develop, but it still is yet to find The group of five or so musicians that night, sat in a circle its foothold in Anchorage. playing a variety of stringed instruments (fiddle, acoustic guitar, fiddle, upright bass) from eight ‘til late, stopping occasionally To get a taste of that “old time strumming”, or to get in on the jam, to talk and trace single notes. A majority of the players were McGinley’s Pub hosts the gathering every Wednesday night from 8pm surprisingly young and shared a fondness for newsboy caps. The ‘til all the strings are frayed. music itself was, as advertised, worthy of “a bit of leg-slapping.”

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Theatre Review : ”A Speedy Trial & Dinner” By Kellie Doherty Eagle River may be a small town but they put on some popular plays. The Alaska Fine Arts Academy, a non-profit organization specializing in bringing the arts to kids, puts together two dinner theaters annually. The most recent one, “Contempt of Court”, a slap-stick-like comedy, is based on the lawyer shows seen on the television. Staged at the River City Saloon in Eagle River, it drew in a rather sizable crowd during its two-weekend run. With plenty of chairs and long tables set up around the mini-stage, Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant provided the delicious spread of food that was included in the ticket price. The play itself was well done. There were only five actors, all of which are friends of the director, Annia Wyndham, yet the play needed no other actors to make it memorable. “In the past we’ve done murder mysteries,” said Wyndham. “But, because of the time-limitations, we had to find a play that had less props and less blocking for the acting.” The props were simple but effective - a lectern with a gavel, two tables that the lawyers walked around and a few chairs A fight breaks loose whilst in the midst of proceeding. for the “witnesses” to sit in whilst being grilled. The audience Cast from left to right: Mike Barsalou, Sean Kenney, Lois members were “the jury”, and were equally involved with Simenson, Alex Lannin, and Jessica Levesque. photo by the play. Each table was given an envelope with ballots Annia Wyndham inside asking who they thought should win. At the end of the performance the ballots were counted up and the verdict was read. “The audience members got to determine the outcome of the show!” said Wyndham. Yet that was not the only audience participation aspect of the show; some members of the “jury” Youth Writing Competition were asked to be official drawers and scribes, others were Teenagers, grades 7-12 can submit as many pieces pointed at as the defendant and prosecution members, while they like, in a number of categories. others were brought onstage as “witnesses.” This interactive aspect of the dinner theater is one of the reasons it has been Winners will have their work showcased at the MTS so popular in the past Gallery, Jan. 21, and will be published in a special issue of The traditional dinner theater humor added to the F Magazine. Statewide Winners then go on to compete enjoyment as well, both adult- and kid-friendly. nationally for thousands of dollars in scholarships. “Even if the kids (in the audience) don’t understand some for more info of the language said by the lawyers” Wyndham explained, “when the actors suddenly break into song, they’ll laugh.” Deadline is Jan. 7, 2011 Yes, it’s a musical too! The performance I saw wasn’t perfect. The judge stumbled a few times, the two lawyers could have annunciated in the very beginning and the designated laughter was a bit overenthusiastic at times. Yet, because of the nature of dinner theatre, the “fourth wall of theatre” was obliterated and pulled the audience members in (both literally and figuratively), and the humor was enjoyable enough to let those minor mishaps slide. The AFAA plans to run another dinner theater next February. Branching out further from their traditional murder mystery theme, this Valentine’s Day performance aptly titled “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” will be interactive as well. “The audience members will be invited to the wedding and afterwards you’re invited to the reception,” Wyndham smiled mischievously. “The actors are all over the place though – in the bathroom and even outside. It’s not only confined to the stage.” “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” is quite the popular performance down in the Lower 48. It follows along the route all the AFAA dinner theater performances travel - humorous, lovable, and interactive, what could be better?

National Alliance for Young Artists & Writers

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Brave is not the Same as Strong —by Rebecca A. Goodrich

if you were to knock upon the door tonight I would offer you garlic bread and cheap very cheap Modesto Zin, this my evening meal, a communion of sorts salutation for the one who has found an undiscovered country between my hips.  I could say you never slip into the same woman twice but what kind of truth is that? when what I felt were your thumbs gathering, harnessing all kinds of strings your fingers prescient, guitaring places unseen.

did I really scream all those sounds  or was that your triumph —mixed with some grief for a lost orchestrated choral sing where once a multitude of voices called and responded in beautiful, familiar harmony.   oh believe me I have heard that same silence.

it makes no sense but we keep trying, hungering after even the most broken of dreams the pain causing both retreat and recklessness despair and determination in equal mean.   in this shattered landscape we all are kings like Oedipus, enlightened, who, though monarch, was wounded; blinded, bereft on an obscured road; pierced in the heart where we’ve lived all along with only one hope to set our hearts flying --toward some new truth --toward some new song; for now we know brave is not the same as strong.

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Cotton Candy By Dawnell Smith Illustration by Holden Attradies

So this girl went out with this guy for a while and the two of them got into a tangle with a carnie guy built like a cigarette, pimples where the filter should be, no butt, pockets full of monkey holes. He carried around fistfuls of yellow plastic monkeys to hand out to the kids, and you can just imagine all those little monkey arms scratching through the thin cotton pockets of his jeans, cutting into the shale of his belly, the granite of his hips. That girl and her guy got into it one day, something about busting up the funhouse mirrors, but that carnie guy hated picking up glass as much as polishing it, so he slammed the doors, latched the padlocks and shut out the lights. He just left them there in the glass and darkness, and drove to a gas station on the outskirts of town, laughing good and hard about them kids trying to get out from under all those shards and reflections. He bought three bucks worth of gas and traded a handful of change for a pack of smokes. Yeah, he sure got a good chuckle

until he saw that girl jump into his rusty Rambler and take off down the dusty road behind him. She looked mean as soured wheat by then and it took him three rides to catch up to her, clean out of gas. Turns out, she’s something of a prodigy. She swallows fire and juggles swords. Folks come from dozens of miles to see her toss knives at yellow plastic monkeys set on top of that carnie guy’s head. He does all the talking, says it ain’t easy holding steady with nothing but a thin strand of hair keeping things in place. Once you see her throw, though, you don’t remember him, or the color of her hair, or the sticky earth underfoot, just the way she stares hard at the freaks pressed against the pink surveyor’s tape used for fencing, her eyes smoldering like a glare of road in the midday sun. That carnie guy stands real still then, smoke curling out from the corner of his mouth, says, Don’t miss now, baby doll. Don’t miss, as the blade-mouthed girl blinks once and lets the first blade fly.

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W.A.T.T. First Thursday Lessons From Portland

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By Theodore Kincaid

A few months back I wrote something of an open love letter to the contemporary art galleries in Anchorage with a series of complaints and suggestions. Now that I am sitting here in Portland talking to various gallery owners and art dealers the agenda becomes clearer: Collectors from all over flock here to Portland to buy their art, even from our fair state. So how can we in the great frontier benefit from the Portland model? What is the Portland model? From the Portland art professionals I’ve spoken with about how to make sales, the emphasis is less on direct sales from floorwalkers and more through trust and relationship building. Each dealer says they make sure they know each and every collector, where they can put art and what their tastes are in order to help them find the art that they are looking for. Though ultimately retail agents, these dealers are bent on maintaining trust and social integrity (define as you will). As an example of how integrity and trust are so integral to any dealer’s model, three dealers got together in Portland and started a gallery out of thin air last September and already they are turning a profit. Most businesses brace for 2 years of deficits. This goes to show that it has little to do with floor space or location, and more about whom you know and how well you are liked. One dealer I chatted with says the gallery shows are more like an open house – not to sell art, but rather to sift through the thousand or so people to find that one person whom they will develop a relationship with. He says 80

International Gallery of Contemporary Art 907-279-1116 | 427 D Street • Anchorage | POP11: city wide exhibition of pop art installations in tribute to Andy Warhol | Dec 2010 Collect Art: popular sale of affordable art, just in time for the holidays | Dec 2010 Object Runway: competitive fashion/art extravaganza | Jan 2011 Annual Members’ Exhibition: a little bit of something for everyone | Jan 2011

percent of the gallery’s sales are of art that never hits the gallery floor. Not only is it nice and gentlemanly for a gallery to represent an artist, it also helps an artist spend more time creating with care and quality and less time working dead end. Some firms in Portland have as many as 200 artists, while others have as few as 26. An artist is free to show at other galleries but the original gallery gets a cut and the secondary gallery then may charge a commission on top of that – this of course means the artist’s profit dwindles. One gallery has started an art lease program where they have venues such as a hotel or corporate lobby and they put together a collection for them. The venue does not handle the sale per se, but refers the potential customer to the gallery. The lease, though nice having that steady check from the satellite venue is more to cover the cost of maintaining the collection as well as transportation, paper work and not much of a revenue engine. I didn’t come away from any of the interviews with my monkey butt saying, “Eureka” and hopping on the next train back to Alaska to start a gallery, but it did confirm a few things and slay a few other ideas. Send hate mail to: Kincaid is a single father and an artist who somehow convinced himself that he looks dashing in clothing designed for 14 year old girls despite being 230 lbs and bearded.

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December 2010  

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