We first launched our Support Local Art t-shirt a few weeks ago at our annual meeting. Since then, they’ve been selling like hotcakes (which, incidentally, we nothing about other than they sell well…) and have been turning up in all kinds of places.
Where? On little Silas Klosterman, son of writer/N.D. native Chuck Klosterman and his wife, Melissa Maerz:
On Henry and Seth, our admin Carrie’s boys:
On Aiden, son of Jihye Chang Sung and Ben Sung:
In Washington, D.C., at Ford’s Theatre with Scott Sorum, producer for KFGO’s Harris Happenings:
On the racks at Unglued (where you can find your own, if you’re looking):
On Newport, R.I.’s, famous Cliff Walk (as worn by TAP digital media producer Kris Kerzman while on vacation; photo by Britta Trygstad):
“Next to Normal” Presented by Act Up Theatre July 23-26, 29-30 at 7:30 p.m. The Stage at Island Park actuptheatre.org
“Let us start with a light in the dark,” Craig Ellingson sings during Act Up’s “Next to Normal” rehearsal.
The line from the show sums up Act Up’s summer theatre season’s mission. Their “One Life, One Light, One Love” tour continues with “Next to Normal.” This show, which is presented in partnership with Music Theatre Fargo-Moorhead, is helping shine a light on mental health issues and beginning conversations about mental health advocacy.
“The statistics are heartbreaking,” says director Rebecca Meyer-Larson. “Everyone is affected by issues of mental health, and especially in this part of the country, we tend to not talk about them.”
The show follows Diana Goodman, a mother struggling with mental illness. The story showcases how she and her family are affected by issues of mental health. Each character struggles with Diana’s illness in their own way, giving audience members a chance to identify with at least one character.
Much like the mission of Act Up, the script attempts to provide insight into a pertinent issue and create space for those struggling to know they can get help. Toward the end of the show Diana’s daughter, Natalie, sings “We need some light. First of all, we need some light.”
The most important part of Act Up’s production isn’t what happens on stage, but rather what happens afterward. Act Up is hosting talk backs after the show with local mental health resources including Benson, Sharehouse, Solutions, and the National Alliance on Mental Health.
“We’re all just one voice,” Meyer-Larson says, “but we share our story with other voices and those voices all multiply.” She is hoping those voices will spark conversations in the community that will inspire change for those who are affected by the same issues as the characters in the shows.
“We provide resources and a safe place to explore those issues,” says Act Up’s producer Scott Brusven. “We’re realizing the community has always been ready for these conversations. We’re giving an opportunity to participate in those conversations.” He believes part of the reason Act Up has been so successful is because they are not afraid of the difficult topics discussed in the shows.
Because of their two-show season, the company had only rehearsed for about two weeks by opening night. With such a short rehearsal schedule, having a professional and talented cast was key in being able to do the show. Rebecca Meyer-Larson calls the cast “the perfect storm of talent.”
“We have established a tradition of excellence,” Meyer-Larson says, “high quality performers are drawn to this company.”
They will be taking the show, along with another Act Up production, ‘bare,’ to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland in early August. Their sets have to be transportable in suitcases. With such a stripped down set, the actors have nothing to hide behind.
Natalie Shea is one of two high-school students in the production.
“I’ve learned a lot,” she says about her time working with the cast. “It’s shown me how being professional can affect a product. We work really hard, and we get our stuff done, but I’m having a ball at the same time.”
This is Shea’s first summer working with Act Up, but she has already fallen in love with the company’s mission and the message of ‘Next to Normal.’
“This show is just something that needs to be said,” she says, “it feels like our duty to put it out there.”
Image: (from l to r) Craig Ellingson, Natalie Shea, Rebecca Meyer-Larson, and Kathy Hanson talk during a rehearsal of “Next to Normal.”
Detroit Lakes, Minn. – Maybe you met your future spouse at one. Perhaps you pulled up on your pontoon and wiled away a long summer evening there. Or, it’s part of a family tradition to grab burgers at one on your last night at the cabin.
No matter how we do it, those of us who spend our summer weekends in Lakes Country develop deep connections to the watering holes and restaurants down the road from or on the way to the cabins and resorts we call a temporary – and, for a lucky few, a permanent – home.
Moorhead artist Kim Jore is exploring those places in a new series of watercolor paintings, “Pubs and Places at the Lake,” which was unveiled to the public in a reception last week at the Speak Easy in Detroit Lakes. She aims to capture their atmosphere, depicting scenes such as the breezy picnic table areas outside, or the regulars on their stools at the bar.
This is the fifth such series Jore has completed. Her previous series focused on pubs and bars in and around Fargo, and she says she gets tremendous appreciation from people who connect with the places in her painting. In fact, even before she started it, she had many people pleading with her to check out their favorite hideaway in Lakes Country and consider them for this series.
“For many people, these are their favorite places because they’re right by their lake,” Jore says. “Or it’s people not from here, and I ship them all over the United States because they got engaged there or had their first date there.”
The owners of these establishments understand these connections. Not only are devoted regulars good for business, but they often become part of the very fabric of it, says Cari Hough, a co-owner of Curley’s on Cotton Lake (menu specialty: prime rib) near Rochert, Minn.
“We have a resort down the road, and there’s a family that’s been coming to it for 40 years, as long as we’ve owned it,” Hough says. “I’ve heard a lot of stories, and there are a lot of people who have lived here all their lives.”
Did she ever expect an artist to come in and do a rendering of Curley’s?
“Absolutely not,” Hough says with a laugh. “But it is quite an honor to be asked.”
Wayne Crawford, owner of the Sunlite Bar and Grill on Little Floyd Lake north of Detroit Lakes, was also initially puzzled by Jore’s request to paint his bar, even though he admits it’s quite a picturesque place. But he definitely understands people’s connection to the Sunlite (and their specialty, hand-pattied burgers) and has seen interest in his merchandise, so this was a natural fit.
“There’s a lot of interest from the people who come here from Fargo or Minneapolis. They’ve had these cabins in their families, and then the kids inherited or purchased them from their parents. There are a lot of people with history in this area, people who have watched it change over the years,” Crawford says.
Those connections have translated into a popular outlet for Jore, who is looking to expand her pub painting series to other locales in Minnesota and maybe even to New Orleans.
She’ll also continue to use these series as a way to give back to communities. Past series have benefited Fargo’s Great Plains Food Bank, and proceeds for this latest show will benefit the Humane Society of the Lakes.
Prints of each painting will be available at Jore’s Riverzen Studios, 315 Main Ave. Suite 101, Moorhead; online; or at each individual business.
As for the original paintings, the owners have first dibs. Hough plans to purchase both that original and a print. The print, she says, will be sent to her daughter, who got married at Curley’s. And as for the original?
“I’m going to put it right above the bar,” she says.
Images, from top: Jore’s painting of The Speakeasy in Detroit Lakes, Minn., courtesy of the artist; Jore in her Moorhead studio, RiverZen, with a few of her “Pubs and Places Near the Lakes” paintings, photo by the author.
Dayna talks with musician, visual artist, and crafter Brandon LaPlante. LaPlante currently owns and operates Link and Timber, where he makes and sells minimal, modern furniture pieces. In this conversation, he also discusses his role in the notable (and now defunct) Fargo-based band Sleeping in Gethsemane and his personal philosophy on the role of beauty in our everyday lives.
FARGO – Theatre B is proud to announce that it has been selected for general operating support by The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation. The grant will help fuel Theatre B’s vision of honoring artists for their work and support the overall operation of Theatre B.
Theatre B seeks to elevate the position of theatre artists in the community, so that their artistic work is valued, sought after and respected. Funding from The McKnight Foundation will help achieve this by continuing to hold high standards for production quality, paying artists in varying disciplines for their contributions to the organization, and challenging artists to train, practice, explore new forms, and take risks.
Theatre B Executive Director Carrie Wintersteen: “Funding from the McKnight Foundation represents a significant validation of Theatre B’s work in the community, particularly in our support of individual artists and in making “high quality art” available to more citizens in more communities. Because the McKnight Foundation has a long and respected history of successful granting in the arts, this award has also increased Theatre B’s profile and credibility for other funders.”
The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Through grantmaking, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform, we use our resources to attend, unite, and empower those we serve. Program interests include regional economic and community development, Minnesota’s arts and artists, early literacy, youth development, Midwest climate and energy, Mississippi River water quality, neuroscience and international crop research, and community-building in Southeast Asia.
About Theatre B:
Since 2003, the Ensemble and guest artists of Theatre B have brought to life a wide variety of the latest award-winning plays and bold new works. Located in the renovated storefront at 716 Main Avenue in downtown Fargo, Theatre B’s unique space removes barriers between actor and audience, intensifying the experience and moving viewers to contemplate the stories long after they have left the theatre.
Theatre B engages regional audiences through innovative theatrical productions and experiences that are culturally and artistically invigorating. Theatre B is built around the artistic direction of a resident ensemble that is enmeshed in the fabric of the community. The Ensemble of Theatre B believes strongly that theatre is integral to a healthy cultural community. For more information, visit www.theatreb.org.