For over a decade John Lamb has been a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead where he covers art and entertainment and some things his bosses make him do. He has flown with the Blue Angels, covered presidential campaigns and most likely attended more WE Fests than you.
If you think he is on the Fargo School Board, you’re thinking off John Strand, who he used to work with at the High Plains Reader. You’re not the only one who makes that mistake.
John Lamb (the one in the picture) lives downtown, where he’s often seen walking. If you say, “Hi John Strand,” he won’t correct you.
What book, music, movie, artwork, etc., really gets you going (through the holidays)? Why?
I am a sucker for the holidays, but there is so much crap out there, I tend to cling to what I know and love. I don’t need another John Schneider or Tiffani-Amber Thiessen made-for-Lifetime Christmas movie. I still watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” before going to midnight mass every year. I love that outpouring of friendship at the end. Still, my favorite is “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.” This 1978 special was kind of forgotten, but you can watch the whole thing on YouTube. It’s surprisingly dark. The main story is Big Bird losing faith that Santa will get down the chimney and the interviews Kermit the Frog and Grover have with kids are pretty adorable. But what really gets me is the twist Ernie and Bert put on “The Gift of the Magi.” It’s silly and sweet and when they sing, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” (around minute 39) I’m tearing up.
What artist, musician, etc., inspires you the most (during the holidays)? Why?
Charles Beck always surprises me with fresh views of the landscape around his Fergus Falls, Minn., home. He doesn’t need the drama and grandeur of mountains or oceans, just the simple beauty of rolling land, a turned field or the colors of the season. His style is simple and straight-forward, but there’s a lot going on. I did an interview with him earlier this year and we sat, drank coffee and watched the snow fall on trees from his dining room table. It was a great memory. A few months after that I bought his print, “Winter Poplars” because it reminded me of that scene.
What’s something you saw or heard recently that you would recommend to others (for the holidays)?
I like that David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries” has become a Christmas staple. I’m reading “The Dreaded Feast: Writers on Enduring the Holidays,” which is a lot of different takes on the season, like Calvin Trillin, James Thurber and even John Waters. If you never thought of “John Waters” and “Christmas” together, check out the CD, “A John Waters Christmas.” He compiles a truly twisted holiday mix, from the creepy “Happy Birthday Jesus” to the joyous “I Wish You a Merry Christmas.” If you want a really fun, rocking Christmas album, Marah’s (not Mariah) “Christmas Kind of Town” is a nod to classic tunes and wassailing all in the form of a raucous pageant. A Christmas concept album. Who woulda thought?
What local artist, musician, writer, etc., do you admire, and why (particularly in regard to the holidays)?
Theatre B earns my applause for a holiday show every year, and especially that they open on Thanksgiving night. It’s a great change of pace and a way to unwind. Maybe even give you something to think about for a while. “The Seafarer” a few years ago really resonated, a brilliant mix of humor, drama and reflection on life. I’ve seen the last few and am looking forward to seeing “Scrooge Macbeth.”
Any (holiday) guilty pleasures you’d like to share?
C’mon. Guilty pleasures and the holidays go hand in hand. You have to suspend a lot of rational thinking to really revel in this time of year, and I really revel.
Image: it’s a wonderful life on the 1st Avenue North sidewalk outside of the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Photo by the author.
MSUM MFA Writer’s Reading with Andrew Mendelsohn, Val Oswald, and Nayt Rundquist Thursday, December 5, 8 p.m. The Spirit Room thespiritroom.net
The MSUM creative writing MFA program typically presents three or four readings over the course of the year, events meant to highlight the efforts of the program’s burgeoning writers and poets with an evening of literature and camaraderie.
Al Davis, the director of the MFA program, summed up responses he received from former students in a word: “sorrow.”
“I’m proud of every student who has enrolled in the program,” Davis said, “one of the most honorable and fulfilling things that a human being can do in a materialistic country is turn inward, away from commerce, and produce a work of art. Nothing gives more satisfaction.
“In Weld Library, we have a copy of every red-bound thesis produced by these students. It’s an impressive sight. The amount of vision and imagination and labor needed to produce those books, some of them now published, can bring tears to my eyes.”
Valerie Oswald, one of three writers participating in tonight’s reading, said that news of program’s closing was a “crushing blow to all of us in the program.”
“On a personal level, the announcement was quite sad because it suggests that the struggle to keep the arts and humanities alive is still an issue,” Oswald said.
Nayt Rundquist, another participating writer in tonight’s reading, said the program will have a lasting effect on him and that the relationships he’s made during his time there will continue long after the program closes.
“I will be taking away from this program a sense of improvement both as a writer and an educator,” Rundquist said. “However, more importantly, I’ll be leaving with a broader community of fellow writers and educators with whom I can collaborate and rely on for revision on my future endeavors in writing and teaching.”
In light of this news, both writers said they still plan on keeping to their original intentions with tonight’s reading. Oswald said she frequently writes about loss and the program’s closure may appear in her future writing.
While lit and reading events pop up frequently in the F-M area (the recently begun monthly young-adult spoken word series, Outlet, springs to mind), these MFA readings are something of a rarity, showcasing the dedicated professional development of area writers. With the closure of the program, and with no other creative writing MFA programs available in western Minnesota or North Dakota, Davis said writers can still turn to undergraduate programs for their development, but other than informal writing groups, their development will end there unless they move out of the metro area.
“The program has brought enthusiastic writers into the community. Such future students will enroll in other MFA programs and Fargo-Moorhead, a vital center of the arts, will lose one part of its diverse, cultural quilt,” he added.
FMCT will open their production of “Wizard of Oz” this Friday with its premier showing at 7:30 p.m. and running for the next three weekends. Expect a visual experience unlike the “Wizard of Oz” you’re used to, with an “old Europe” take on the sets and costumes. Head over to FMCT’s website for details and tickets: [FMCT]
The Shanley Players present “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” your time-saving opportunity to catch all 37 of the Bard’s plays in just 97 minutes. Friday and Saturday, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2pm. General admission, $7 for adults, $4 for students. GROW Auditorium, Shanley High School, 5600 25th St S, Fargo.
Dinner and a show, both gorgeous: NDSU will host its annual Madrigal dinners Friday and Saturday night at 6 p.m. Plus, the NDSU musical theatre troupe will host a concert of musical theatre favorites Saturday at 8 p.m. and Handel’s “Messiah” closes out a busy weekend on Sunday at 2 p.m. Details for all of this at the NDSU website: [NDSU Fine Arts]
Lake Agassiz Concert Band will present its “Winter Winds” concert Sunday at West Fargo High School Auditorium. They will be featuring music by Grainger, Needham and Nelhybel, as well as others. 3 p.m. [Lake Agassiz Concert Band]
The FM Area Youth Symphony will hold its winter concert Sunday evening at Moorhead High School. The Junior Concert Strings will have be honoring their grandparents (aww!) and the Allegro Chamber Players will also be performing. 7:30 p.m.
The FM Golden Notes New Horizons Band will present their annual Christmas Concert along with the West Fargo Community Band Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the West Fargo High School auditorium.
Plains Art Museum continues its Noon Holiday Concert Series through Thursday and Monday – Thursday of next week. Full lineup: [Plains Art Museum]
Art sales galore
Red River Watercolor Society will hold its annual Holly Jolly Art Sale (sort of an indoor version of their wildly popular 8th Street Art Show) this Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Moorhead Center Mall. [RRWS]
While you’re in Moorhead, be sure to head over to Bluestem for 3 P’s in a Pod, an exhibition and art sale by Eric Johnson, Emily Williams-Wheeler, and Sam Norman (a printer, painter, and potter respectively … hence the 3 P’s). 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Details: [Bluestem Center for the Arts]
Various NDSU art clubs will join forces for a huge art sale this Thursday and Friday. You’ll find ceramics, prints, paintings and plenty more. Why is this awesome? 1. You’re supporting student artists, and 2. you’re finding some great deals on gifts for the art lover in your life. Thursday, 5 – 9 p.m., and Friday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. at Renaissance Hall downtown.
The December edition of the Red Raven’s popular Maker’s Market is sure to have some fun holiday gifts. Saturday, 5 – 9 p.m. [Red Raven/Facebook]
Thursday: Andrew Stark and a couple readings
Painter and MSUM art faculty member Andrew Stark (top photo) will open an exhibition of new work at ecce gallery downtown. We last caught up with Andy about nine months ago for his last ecce show; you can view the video here. The opening will run from 7 – 9 p.m.
Outlet: Spoken Word for young adults at the Red Raven Espresso Parlor. 7 – 9 p.m. [Outlet/Facebook]
FM Opera Snowball Gala and ‘Great Expectations’ at the Fargo
Celebrate the season and enjoy an enchanting evening at FM Opera’s 2nd Annual Snowball Gala. Come for an elegant multi-course dinner, dancing, popular Christmas tunes in the form of opera, a fun silent auction with great items to bid on, and everyone’s favorite, the wine wall. Tickets are $90, with proceeds going to the Opera. The fun starts at 6 p.m. [FM Opera]
The Fargo Theatre will open “Great Expectations,” starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes, on Friday. Trailer below; head over to the website for showtimes and more: [Fargo Theatre]
Image: Andrew Stark, ‘The Parade,’ 2013, Oil and charcoal on canvas, 70 x 60, courtesy of ecce gallery.
The Bush Foundation announced today the award of a $200,000 Community Innovation Grant to Plains Art Museum. The Museum’s project, Public Art and Community Engagement, was one of 34 programs to receive grants from the Foundation, which received 618 grant applications from within Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota for this round of funding.
“This is exciting news for our communities,” said Colleen Sheehy, Plains Art Museum Director and CEO. “The Museum has built a strong network of community partners around specific public art projects and also as part of our ongoing work in social engagement that includes city staff and departments, universities and colleges, area businesses, arts organizations, immigrant organizations, and youth programs. We’re excited to work together to build more vibrant cities with strong community engagement by using art and artists to lead the way.”
Funds from the grant will be used to increase the vibrancy of the urban cores of Fargo and Moorhead through demonstration public art projects (including the Defiant Gardens program), exhibitions, a symposium, community meetings, and workshops. The Bush Foundation’s Community Innovation Grant program supports organizations working to create or implement an innovative solution to address a community need or opportunity. The innovation must be developed through community problem-solving – inclusive, collaborative processes focused on making the most of community assets – and be more effective, equitable or sustainable than existing approaches. The program is part of the Bush Foundation’s effort to enable, inspire and reward community innovation.
“Community innovation occurs when people come together to think bigger and think differently about what is possible for their communities,” said Molly Matheson Gruen, the Bush Foundation’s community innovation manager. “Our inaugural Community Innovation Grant recipients are tackling a range of issues impacting quality of life in their communities. And they are doing it in a way that ensures all voices are heard and that the solutions will endure.”
The Bush Foundation will award more than $4 million to 34 organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography, through its Community Innovation Grant program. The Foundation received 618 Community Innovation Grant applications requesting more than $76 million.
For more details on the Museum’s project and the Community Innovation Grants, see the attached press release, or visit www.plainsart.org or www.bushfoundation.org.
We here at ARTSpulse love Thanksgiving. It may be our favorite holiday for its simplicity and elegance in comparison to the other big American holidays. Food, fun, and family … what could be better?
Well, maybe this. It’s actually a quite-rare coincidence between Turkey Day and Hanukkah this year, so there’s double the reason to enjoy this week and this weekend with loved ones. So, Happy Thanksgivukkuh it is, then!
And when you’re ready to emerge from your food coma, there are some wonderful art events just waiting to get you into the holiday spirit. Enjoy!
Through the weekend
Theatre B opens the world premier of ‘Scrooge Macbeth’ on Thursday (Thanksgivukkah!) evening. The company worked extensively with playwright David MacGregor to bring the play to life both as a script and a performance, a great story in and of itself (which is why we posted a story about it today), but you don’t need to know that to enjoy this dark comedy about a community theatre looking to stave off being shut down by plunging into a manic mashup of “A Christmas Carol” and Shakespeare. Shows run Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: [Theatre B]
At the Fargo Theatre: the Theatre adds “How I Live Now” (trailer below) to the existing lineup of “Blue is the Warmest Color” and “The Butler.” On Monday, their Art Film Series continues with “The Hermitage: A Journey Through Space and Time” at 7 p.m., and on Tuesday, the Theatre will host a Ronald McDonald House Charities screening of the family comedy “Angels Sing.” Showtimes: [Fargo Theatre]
The FM Symphony Orchestra presents its Holiday Brass Concert, 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Fargo. Now an annual Chamber Music Series tradition, the Holiday Brass program is a glorious start to the festive winter season. The mighty trumpets, horns, trombones and tuba virtuosi of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony bring Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces as well as fun contemporary holiday favorites to life for audiences of all ages. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $6 for students; available at the door. [FM Symphony]
Plains Art Museum kicks off their annual Noon Holiday Concert Series with a performance by the Concordia Saxophone Quartet. The series continues Mondays through Thursdays for the next three weeks; head over to the website to see a full schedule and make some lunch plans to meet up with friends. Noon (of course). [Plains Art Museum]
Images, from top: a past FM Symphony Holiday Brass Concert, courtesy of FM Symphony; Theatre B director and “Scrooge Macbeth” cast member Carrie Wintersteen rehearses for the play’s world premier, photo by Kensie Wallner.