An e-zine for happenings of local culture in Milwaukee and elsewhere

Archive for October, 2012

In Bloom, Reincarnation, Nadia Smale

It’s her first, but highly unlikely that it’s her last. Nadia Smale has an art show coming up at Orcanine Abbey this Friday night titled Reincarnation.  She has moxie and a proclivity for making cool stuff, as all artists do, with an eye for aesthetic and guts to take chances. How can you blame her? She’s not yet turned 18. Getting a few moments of pre-show reflection,artist and mentor Akua Oladunjoye shares this guest interview with Nadia for Local Trolley.

Akua Oladunjoye for Local Trolley: Thank you Nadia for welcoming this interview! It is a pleasure to sit down with you and hear your thoughts on your first upcoming art show: Reincarnation.

LT: Let’s dive right in. Why “Reincarnation” what does this word mean to you?

Nadia Smale: Everything needs a new start in life. People, art, music… why not it is a new generation.

LT: Did you ever think you would have this opportunity?

NS: It’s something I’ve always wanted. Down the line my first art [school] choice is MIAD. A special lady who was working with me took me to Milwaukee and I fell in love with the east side and saw their gallery and that was what I wanted [wink, wink], to have a show and be a part of their gallery.

LT: How long have you been doing art?

NS: Since kindergarten. It was required throughout elementary, middle and high school. I fell in love with it, that’s all.

LT: what motivates and inspires you to do art?

NS: I think of family members, friends, my cat and Akua who tags me along. My grandfather, dad and sometimes my mom inspire me to do art. My grandfather was a drawer. My dad likes to look at it and my mom thinks she is an artist, haaaa! I sent my dad a picture on his phone and that made me smile.

LT: Has art saved you?

NS: Yes, a lot. I had to keep a journal in school and when I wanted to write nasty things I didn’t. I would draw what I felt instead.

LT: What is your most enjoyable material to work with?

NS: Charcoal, it’s crazy but fun to work with. If it doesn’t work the way you plan it turns into something else. I enjoy that.

LT: What is the most difficult material you have ever worked with so far?

NS: Metal, when working on the metal rose it took a long time. Had to sketch it out then I worked with tin to make the petals using exotic curves, and I had to get the stem right. It took 3 months every day working on it to get it just right.

LT: What is your least favorite material to work with?

NS: Don’t have one, I wanted to get rid of a glass bowl [I made] that my mom has, but she loves it. I like working with all the mediums.

LT: You talked about your favorite bands and musicians, how do they, if at all, influence you and your art?

NS: Skrillex and other musicians can make the sounds flow in your body and you want to move, to take whatever is in your hand a paint brush or whatever and create, like water moving slowly when you actually do it, its maybe crazy just like you really are when you are listening.

LT: Is there something you want to add?

NS: I love doing art every single day, I create even if I am doodling in class. I like the tool in my hand, the smudges it’s life and nothing without it. Architecture, walls, roofs, food is culinary art outside the world everything is made of its own creation that’s what I like and want to do. That’s how I start something that matters… you know art.

Reincarnation, An Art Benefit for Jagged Edges by Nadia Smale  opens Friday, October 26th at 6p in the Orcanine Abbey, 1718 N 1st Street, Studio 5N2. Free to the public, but donations are welcome to support Nadia’s pursuit of art education. There will also be a silent auction. Reincarnation is a participating exhibit of Tap the Potential, a series of art exhibitions to raise disability awareness.

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Blue and Red, Quasimondo, The Seagull 3D

This band of theatrical misfits led by Brian Rott, have taken over a rugged space in Brewers Hill’s Fortress Building and turned it into an irreverent dramatic play land. Rott, Artistic Director of Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre, recently did the unthinkable. He tangled with the rotting corpse of Anton Chekov to produce his version of The Seagull… in 3D. Yes my friends, 3D.

Wow, it’s in 3D!

It all started with a schtick jabbing at movie opening sequences. Members of the Quasimondo ensemble come out and mime a skit, where as the audience is instructed to prepare for a 3D bonanza by turning off their cell phones and throwing on their 1950’s 3D glasses. A handful of small rainbow colored feathers get tossed in the air and to everyone’s delight we’ve been had. Feathers fall to the ground with that strange blue and red haze that just won’t mix, that was the 3D part we can take our glasses off now. Then zombie Chekov appears.

He creeps out during Rott’s brief intro to Chekov: the man, the myth, the legend, a nice touch to the show for those who just like the idea of going to see play. Zombie Chekov is then gunned down with an original neon orange Nintendo Entertainment System Duck Hunt pistol (vintage NES references weave throughout the piece). As most zombies do if you leave their heads and limbs intact, zombie Chekov (Steve Gallam) stiffly limps over to join the music ensemble and lifelessly picks up a saxophone to lead the house concert band with Molly Leiberman, Sara Mellstrom, and Jenifer Reinke.

Oh, yeah, there’s a Plot

Konstantin (Rott) wants fame as a writer but his attention-hoarding, overbearing, melodramatic mother Irina Arkadina (Olivia Gonzales) can’t let go of her overexposed stardom or her twisted romantic entanglement with laureate novelist of the times Boris Trigorin (Jeff Kriesel).

Konstantine dotes, unrequited, for the naive daughter of a real estate magnate, Nina (Jessi Miller). She’s an aspiring actress longing for regard on-par with Irina’s. Having caught a glimpse of one of Nina’s performances, Boris falls for Nina’s whimsical fancies. She likens herself unto a seagull.

Irina’s brother, Sorin (Michael Davis) meanwhile suffers from an unknown affliction that will soon take his life. The manager of his estate Ilya (Michael Guthrie), henpecked constantly by his daughter Masha’s bratty antics, ignorantly goes about his business as his wife Polina (Jennifer Reinke), a violinist in the Kiev chamber falls for Sorin’s doctor Yevgeny (Kirk Thomsen). She eventually makes passionate love to the doctor, gracefully, through an interpretive dance routine accompanied by a stanza of Russian opera performed impeccably by Sarah Mellstrom singing in Russian. Yevgeny tosses her aside when he has had his way.

Sorin laments his desire to live, and eventually dies, though not easily. He’s forced comically into a casket on stage by a personified Death (Chris MacGregor). Mid-scene Sorin pops back up to sing a number about his want for life, before Death, Irina, Ilya, and Polina coral him back into the casket so that death can tap dance on top.

Nina pursuing her dreams runs-off to Kiev, Boris sappily chases behind. His wife Irina, succeeds in beguiling Boris to wrap himself back around her finger. Konstantine raves about, unable to attain Nina, obsessing over his disdain for Boris. With the help of his conscience, personified by MacGregor, we understand the madness overcoming Konstantine.

In one scene, MacGregor manipulates a seagull hand puppet in full view of the audience, tormenting Konstantine, gripping Konstantine’s head while he orates his disdain for Boris to his mother. The rabid seagull in his conscience turns then to Boris, gnawing evilly on his head, who is in view of the audience but not to the other characters in the scene. Konstantine does the only thing he can do to spite Nina, blasts the seagull she adores from her window. When that doesn’t work to win Nina’s attention, he blasts himself offstage, presumably with a Nintendo Duck Hunt Light Gun.

No Wasted Space

Doing theater in a studio space can be challenging, but Quasimondo makes the most of it. The set uses simple, arrangeable stationary set pieces. In this case, wooden platforms and bare mattresses prove Lego-like. Platform and mattress combinations are placed in front, to the right flank and behind the the audience. The players make unorthodox entrances to scenes from in front, behind, on top, underneath or from within various implements, i.e. the dimensions of the play live up to he billing, “3D”. A heavy cache of props, give portable devices for the players to accentuate their performances with, especially suitcases, tons of old suitcases.

The production’s pace was relentless, even scene changes turned into brief vignettes. During a memorable moment to emphasize the 3D element of the show, a highly pixelated drawing of seagull extends into the air on mounted on a long sick. Its wings jut out from the body, flapping up and down under the control of a string pulled by the handler. Swooping to the middle of the crowd, the seagull lightly pecks an audience member on the head, a diversion from a scene change.

To capture different moods of the story, scene changes entertain, but also convey vital information and highlight dynamics between the story’s characters. Semyon (Evan James Koepnick) a bland school teacher, pesters an aspiring performer Masha (Megan Kaminsky) until she marries him. Her resistance to Semyon stems from her sexually charged fascination with Konstantine. As Masha pines for Konstantine, Rott illustrates Semyon’s dutiful daily monotony to her and their baby with a clever scene interlude.

Backstage someone hoists a box over a faux wall, strangely reminiscent of those that bestow magic mushrooms to the Super Mario Brothers. Semyon repeatedly runs to and fro as a hand from backstage hands him a large Mario coin. He grabs it and runs it back upstage to five or  more beckoning hands reaching out behind a screen. Opening the second act, Masha and Konstantine clutch and gnaw at each other ravenously covered in dim light, Konstantine swiftly disappearing as Semyon enters.

What’s Fun is Fun

With plenty of antique, cheeky and dark humor, the ensemble mustered plenty of antics to leave the audience duly entertained, if not confused. What the hell, its theater.

Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre doesn’t take much time off, their next production the Halloween Tree opens this Friday October 26th at 8p and closes November 3rd.


Tasting Grit, Tap the Potential, Jeff LaDow

Aircraft routinely claim the distinction of the only ones taking off at General Mitchell International Airport. Recently at Mitchell International, Tap the Potential lifted awareness of people that defy the laws of social gravity. Tap the Potential is a month long initiative of Milwaukee Public Theatre to give a platform to those that constantly face societal dynamics that designate them exceptional, and often excludable, on account of their physical and mental attributes. More commonly, we have learned to bind them with the concept of disabled.

Opening on October 4, General Mitchell Airport dedicated its concourse lobby to the visual art of a couple dozen artists with disabilities of all types. The carefully shaded color tones piqued canvases with images of all varieties, from exquisitely realistic to stirringly expressive. With it’s closing coinciding with the eve of Gallery Night and Day in Milwaukee, Independence First sponsored the Mitchell Airport show reception and invited travelers, family and friends to offer their written reflections on the artwork from the exhibit’s contributors, including thoughts on group submissions from Donna Lexa Community Art Center and Madison’s VSA Wisconsin.

On the Go, In Awe 

Studying the Tap for Potential exhibit pieces, the breadth of styles and techniques wielded by the artists repeatedly strike me with their candor, thoughtfulness and proficiency. Reaching the corner displays, a painting titled Her Hacienda and another titled Her Lady stop me in my tracks, in a way the Spanish villa and Victorian mansion subjects likely would, if I tried to walk past them in real life. A quick note allows me not to forget their author, Jeff LaDow.

Continuing on, patrons gather timidly and some at a distance around an artist painting live. The work in progress gets a dose of precise and exactly blended oil strokes. The artist, Jeff LaDow, holds the brush nimbly with teeth using a device that allows his jaw muscles to exert finely calibrated pressure through the handle, his mark is true.

He meticulously works center stage in the concourse lobby, impervious, as travelers bustle about and reception goers peer over his shoulder. Experiencing an accident in his youth that strickened him quadriplegic, LaDow faces down this challenge by sharing his gifts with the world. When asked about his preferred medium, oil, LaDow states matter-of-factly “It’s easy to work with.” He attracts admirers with every touch of paint.

After October 19th, the Mitchell Airport  Tap the Potential contributors’ work will find new space to hang out, possibly permanently with you. If you have interest in purchasing artworks that were a part of the exhibit, contact Jennifer Vattendahl (414) 847 – 1991.

Tap the Potential’s collaborators are VSA Wisconsin, Milwaukee County Office of Persons with Disabilities, Life Navigators, Independence First, Milwaukee Center for Independence, Curative Rehabilitation Center, and Goodwill Industries of Southeast Wisconsin. Learn more about talented artists who don’t use their hands at the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists site.

Tap the Potential sponsored art exhibits continue through the rest of October and include the first art show by aspiring artist Nadia Smale on Friday October 26 at 6:00p at Orcanine Abbey 1718 N. 1st Street Studio 5N2.

–Related–
Boundless Bravery by Samantha Brody, Scholastic


Suede Glove Slapping, Hotel Foster, One Self, Klassik

Over nerve-tingling live instrumentation, One Self in truly pro-fashion kicked out a jam, proclaiming the ability to feel something unexplainable and unseeable in the troposphere. A vet to the live performance circuit, One Self graciously set the tone for a Monday eve show, showing hip-hop has a few lives left before it hits nine. At the Hotel Foster, previously notorious for mustaches, ugly eye glasses, inadvertently styled hair, and generally worn-in feelings, the falling leaves outside did’t matter, the one’s budding inside did.

All Around the Beach Ball

Live music holds a special place in the legacy of Hotel Foster‘s space, and its nice to see the old glory of performances past continuing on its unearthed stage that was buried for so long. Milwaukee’s own Klassik added a its musical thread to the memorable one’s spun by troubadours of countless genres that have come before. Klassik dropped an online album in late September called In the Making, bringing with him exceptionally talent heavy vocalist Toni Martin and the prodigious Kevin Hayden Trio to give the album’s songs life when played live (who each could just as well had their own solo performances lined-up).

Enough, Just Up Start

Klassik is uncanny spawn of post scene-ster hip-hop and local conscience flavor, an old soul expressing musical freedom from solitarily confined 808 drum kits and samples, nursing on the essence home-brewed spoken-word and R&B underground usually found only west of Holton Avenue. Striking the most resounding chord, Klassik makes it all his own, with heaping appeal and a lot of heart; a consummate artist to please your ears with.

One Self and Klassik soothed the pain of the start another work week Monday night with a highly respectable showing Monday, and definitely deserve a venue on a weekend night. You probably won’t see Klassik for a little while locally, he’ll be pond jumping for a well deserved mini-tour in Europe. Only one place for this kid to go and its not down.

Find Klassik‘s latest album In the Making on Band Camp, where back catalogs also await for your enjoyment.

–Related–
That One Place, What Do We Know, One Self
Klassik and the Power of Positive Thinking by Evan Rytlewski, ExpressMilwaukee


That One Place, What Do We Know, One Self

Check a little ditty video with a little range by One Self entitled What Do We Know feat Kerri.

M C Oneself “What Do We Know?”
via Scott A. Baldwin on vimeo

One Self performs live with a ton of others at Made in Milwaukee’s Creatures and Creators Halloween Bash at Turner Hall October 27.

–Related Post–
Suede Glove Slapping, Hotel Foster, One Self, Klassik