Tag Archives: Jasmine Maki

‘Wonder of the World’ gets my laugh

Lois Coleman (Christa Weiler) and Cass Harris (Abby Schoenborn) perform a scene from “Wonders of the World” at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend The Empire Theatre Company’s production of “Wonder of the World.” The dark comedy is about a woman who suddenly leaves her husband after discovering a dark (but harmless) secret he’s been hiding. Inspired by the Marilyn Monroe film “Niagara,” she hops on a bus and heads to Niagara Falls, where she hopes to cross off all the items on her bucket list. Along the way, she meets a suicidal alcoholic, who becomes a quick friend. I won’t give away too much, but it’s definitely one to see. The writer David Lindsay-Abaire does an excellent job of weaving real-life messages and questions into the unrealistic happenings of the play.

I have to admit I was a little confused as to whether or not I should laugh at the beginning. The characters are all going through some serious stuff: one is leaving her husband, the other is about to commit suicide. Yet, they are all very over-the-top and dramatic, which makes it hilarious. After all, it’s a farce. So, if you go to the play tonight or tomorrow, don’t be afraid to laugh. And be warned, it only gets funnier as the show progresses.

For more info about “Wonder of the World,” read my story in the Grand Forks Herald. (We have a completely new website!)

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In the Studio w/ Guillermo Guardia

[CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO]

A couple of months ago, I interviewed ceramic sculptor Guillermo Guardia about his artwork. I was so inspired by his story and how he overcame the challenges of sculpting a perfect human body by sculpting bodies made of puzzle pieces. The new subject was symbolic of his journey.

When we finished the interview, Guillermo extended an open invitation for me to visit his studio and try the craft for myself. How could I pass up an opportunity to see a talented artist in action and learn hands-on about his process?

I couldn’t.

As the arts and entertainment reporter for the Herald, I often speak to artists about their inspiration and process. But after the interview, I’m always left craving something more. And this was it — my missing piece. I needed to see the artist in action.

And after much planning, I’m excited to present the first episode of “In the Studio,” a monthly Web series where we take you in the studio with area artists to show you a behind-the-scenes look at their craft and workspace.

Each month, we’ll visit another artist’s workspace, and I’ll share my hands-on experience with the new art form.

Since Guillermo’s offer sparked the idea, I thought it would only make sense for him to be the first artist.

Working with clay

Sitting in Muddy Waters Clay Center, Guillermo handed me a wad of clay. It was tough, damp and intimidating.He said we would make a dog and a llama, and I tried to convince myself that it couldn’t be too difficult.

I reminded myself that Guillermo typically taught children, so it couldn’t be too difficult, right?

Wrong.

I circled clumps of clay in my hand trying to form two round balls — one for the head and one for the body. While Guillermo made his effortlessly, I struggled to smooth out the lumps. As soon as I had smoothed one side, I’d pushed the opposite side out of whack. I laughed. I didn’t have time to get it right. I set aside my uneven pieces and moved on to the legs.

Rolling a slab of clay between my hand and the table, I thought back to making snakes out of Play-doh as a kid. “Why couldn’t we make snakes,” I thought. “I could handle that.”

I wondered how this long snake-like piece would become legs, but Guillermo quickly explained. We tore the long piece into four even parts. That was the goal anyhow; mine were all different sizes. Turns out, I’m not too great with dimensions.

I started putting my lopsided dog together. Again, I struggled while Guillermo worked with ease. We made two flat pancake-like circles for floppy ears and a little nub for a tail. When it all came together, I laughed and tried to see the dog in my jumbled cluster.

Next, we tackled the llama. “Great,” I thought, “even more pieces to struggle with.”

But, with one animal under my belt, the llama came together more smoothly.

The pieces were similar to that of the dog, except slightly different in size. I tried attaching the legs, but they weren’t stable. Guillermo offered to help, and I watched his hands as he worked. His fingers molded the clay proficiently.

Sculpting was second nature to Guillermo. He didn’t think; he just let his hands move and transform the clay.

He handed me my llama and with his kind heart he assured me that it was fine. I finished the face and tail. Then, we used a small sculpting tool to poke holes for the eyes and make lines along the body for the fur.

This time when we finished, I saw a llama, albeit slightly disfigured. I was proud of my little guy. We also made a tiny penguin with big eyes and angry eye brows, which turned out quite cute. With each piece we made, I gained more confidence, and I was able to relax and enjoy the process.

Despite my inability to form accurately proportioned smooth shapes, I had fun molding the clay and learning from Guillermo.

If we had more time, we could have fired the figures in the ceramic kiln and painted them. But, Guillermo said if I let them dry they would last forever as long as they weren’t knocked over. So, I thanked Guillermo for the tour and the lesson, grabbed my little figures and made my way back to the office.

The puppy fell apart in my hands. But, my surviving llama, Fernando, and penguin, Frankie, sit on my desk reminding me that art is not about perfection — it’s about experience.

First published in the Grand Forks Herald, Jan. 17.

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Here, there and everywhere

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my stories on the blog, but I’ve been doing a lot of fun things lately. I figured it was time for a quick update, so here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to in no particular order:

  • I visited Altru Hospital and met a couple caring nurses who were trying their best to make the holidays a cheerful time for their patients. Melissa, the childlife specialist, took on a little project with the ever-so-popular Elf on the Shelf. She refused to take credit for the little elf named Elfie. “He just showed up,” she said, creating some holiday magic for the children in the pediatrics unit. To read more about their efforts, click here.
  • I chatted with Steven Grant Douglas about his journey from The Empire in Grand Forks to Broadway. The talented actor from Stephen, Minn., landed a lead role in the nationally touring production of “Ghost the Musical” right after performing “Avenue Q” in Grand Forks. We talked about his role, the tour and adjusting to the much larger audiences and life on the road. Read more here.
  • I visited with Rachael Hammarback, owner of RH Standard, about the best choices in winter work wear. We talked tights, boots and leggings. Yes, leggings as pants for work. More here.
  • I joined a group of charitable carolers as they sang holiday favorites to neighbors and friends for Caroling for Warmth. They raised money for people in need of warm clothes such as sweaters and long sleeve shirts. More here.
  • I talked to Ashok Bhatia, of India, and Omar Alomar, of Iraq, about how they celebrate the holidays and how their traditions differ from American traditions. To read more, view the full article here.
  • I visited with several boutique owners about the best New Year’s Eve fashion accessories. We discussed statement necklaces, sequins blazers and cocktail rings. More here.
  • I joined a group of regular trivia-goers for a night at El Roco. While there I met “the king of trivia” and learned about the history of the game in Grand Forks. More here.
  • I reviewed a ton of apps such as 99 Dresses, Lift and Circle.
  • And I met a couple stylish people along the way to do quick Q&A’s with for my weekly Street Style.

This month, I’m excited to share my first episode of my new video series “In the Artist’s Studio.” I’ll be back with more on that later.

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Summer Performing Arts: More than meets the eye

I’m constantly discovering and rediscovering reasons why I love my job. The past two weeks I had the opportunity to attend several class show-and-tells, share days, and rehearsals while covering Grand Fork’s Summer Performing Arts Company. The program is known for its two major high school musicals it produces each summer; however, the program is so much more than singing and dancing.

One of the intern reporters, Will Beaton, used to participate in SPA and now teaches the elementary SPA theater. Being an insider, Will was able to give us deeper insight into the program. Three of the programs I had the opportunity to write about were MySPA, ELL SPA and School of Rock. MySPA is an arts program that gives students with special needs an opportunity to get creative, gain confidence and perform on stage. The students are so enthusiastic and a joy to watch. ELL SPA is a program for students learning English. They spend have of their day working with ELL teachers and half of their day working on performing arts. School of Rock is one of the many classes offered through SPA. Students get the opportunity to write and record original songs (or covers) with professional studio equipment.

If you want to read (or watch) more about this awesome performing arts program in Grand Forks, please, check out my article and Will’s awesome video. 

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