Tag Archives: Reporter

Mathieu Nicklay at Blue Door Gallery

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the opening of Mathieu Nicklay’s first art exhibit ever, which took place at the Blue Door Gallery in downtown Grand Forks. Nicklay started painting last March. All his friends were artists and he thought I think I can do that. So, he tried, and he succeeded.

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Nicklay’s first exhibit is a collection of multimedia abstract and symbolic pieces, which incorporate everything from scrap pieces of wood and old doors, to paint and chalk, to a melted iron. While some pieces are very minimal and symbolic, leaving the interpretation up to the viewer, others scream a strong message.

I love how Nicklay jumped into the art scene and wasn’t afraid to push boundaries and go somewhere unknown. In conservative North Dakota, Nicklay took a chance creating and displaying his abstract artwork that to some might seem a little “out there” and “nonsensical.” I just hope people will open up their minds and just “feel” the artwork and let it speak to them in one way or another.

Nicklay will be one of three artists in the second episode of “In the Artist’s Studio,” my monthly web series which premieres this Friday. For the second episode, I will be going to Blue Door Gallery to create a piece of work with artists Mathieu Nicklay, Kathryn Fink and Matthew Borgerson. I’m not sure what we’ll make, but I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to see these young artists in action.

As I mentioned, “In the Artist’s Studio” will premiere this Friday on GrandForksHerald.com. It’s been in the works for a long time, and I’m overjoyed to finally see it all come together. I think this is going to be a great monthly video feature, and I really hope you all enjoy it.

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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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Emma Katka: ‘I just want them to feel something’

When I met Emma Katka for an interview in May at Urban Stampede, it was obvious the 21-year-old artist was going places. With bright pink hair and extravagant makeup, Katka sat and talked to me about her artwork. She had been chosen as one of three emerging artists for the Grand Cities Art Festival, and I remember her saying she was nervous about the event and kind of freaked out that people would be reading about her in the paper.

But, more than that, I remember her response when I asked her what she wanted to get out of the event, what she hoped to accomplish from being a part of the festival. I was expecting an answer about selling her pieces or getting her name out there. Instead, she paused and her voice changed from one of a nervous young adult to one of a passionate artist. “I just want them to feel something,” she said. “I want them to feel an emotion from one of my pieces.”

That’s when I realized this was someone who was going to go places with her artwork. I got back to the office and wrote a full story about the inspiring artist I’d just met, which I unfortunately had to cut down to a short five-inch vignette. A week later, I pitched a story about the artist to my editor. Katka had mentioned her abandoned house adventures, and I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of that and tell her story. My editor loved the idea, so I began talking with Katka about the possibility of accompanying her on an adventure.

She obliged, and we spent several months working out a time and date. When we finally figured out a time I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait. I’d never been in an abandoned house and didn’t know what to expect.

I hopped in the car with Emma and her photographer friend Kristin Berg. We set out on Highway 2, heading west toward Devils Lake. We drove for about 30 minutes before Emma said, “OK start looking… This is where it gets serious.”

Kristin pulled out her camera and looked across the fields, scoping out any possible abandoned houses. Emma pointed to her left and said, “There’s one over there.” She explained that it wasn’t that great and that she’d become picky since realizing she has a “sixth sense” for spotting abandoned houses.

We pulled off on a gravel road and continued driving for several miles before Emma recognized a familiar set of trees and remembered a house she’d visited before. When we finally pulled up to the house, I got butterflies in my stomach.

They grabbed the camera equipment, and we headed inside the house. Behind the door with broken windows, the ceiling lay in pieces on the floor. As I carefully made my way through the rubble, chills ran down my spine.

Emma asked me to slip on her vintage lace dress and directed me while she worked her magic. I held up a broken mirror and looked at my reflection. I was posing for a photograph but I felt transported back in time.

Looking at Emma’s finished artwork, I barely recognize myself. I don’t see the photographs as pictures of me but rather powerful artwork that convey emotion and tell a dark, sad story.

I am extremely blessed and thankful to have had the opportunity to not only go on an abandoned house exploration with Emma but actually be a part of creative process. To learn more about Emma’s creative experience photographing abandoned houses, read the full story here, or to hear more about my personal experiences in the abandoned house, read my column here.

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Rosenquist: A true inspiration

A couple months ago, I received a press release from the North Dakota museum of art about a well-known artist named James Rosenquist, who would be coming to the museum for his 80th birthday celebration. I hadn’t heard of Rosenquist, but I decided to pitch the idea to my editor. Before I could even get my pitch typed and printed for our brainstorm meeting, she said I’d be covering the Rosenquist event. But, she wasn’t talking about the birthday celebration in October. She was talking about the opening reception for his exhibition that coming week. So, I jumped on the story and contacted Laurel Reuter, director of the museum, to set up an interview about Rosenquist.

I went to the museum the next morning and watched Rosenquist’s installers hang the painting, “Through the Eye of the Needle to the Anvil” which is 17 by 46 feet. As I took it all in, Laurel explained to me that the piece was an homage to his mother. She said the high heels on the left of the painting represent his mom and the painting was about ideas starting small and growing into paintings, novels, inventions… From my interview with Laurel, I found out that she personally knew Rosenquist and his curator Judith Goldman. She said Rosenquist was North Dakota’s most well-known painter. And that he learned to paint large scale when he was a bill board painter.

I later contacted Judith and she told me more about his artwork and his painting. I researched Rosenquist and read excerpts from his biographies and slowly began to realize how much of an impact this man had on the art world. I wrote my first article and received great feedback from the community.

A month or so went by and I prepared myself for another Rosenquist story. This time I would interview the artist himself over the phone from his home in New York. Nervous to interview such a remarkable artist, I had done a ton of research and prepared well-thought out questions for a Q & A, but I quickly learned that I wouldn’t be doing a Q & A. Rosenquist answered my first question and then said he’d prefer to just talk and tell me what he wanted to, so I let him talk.

He told me about his connection to North Dakota and how living on the plains made him see things differently. He spent much of his childhood in Mekinock, N.D., before moving to the cities and eventually New York. Although he lived in the large cities most of his life, he said the open plains had a great impact in his art and his creativity. He told me a story about sitting on his front porch as a boy and seeing a four story horse walk by. He said he later learned it was his neighbors white stallion which had gotten loose. He was seeing an optical illusion from the heat.

After talking to Rosenquist, I wrote up another story and waited about a week. Then, it was time for Rosenquist, his wife Mimi and Goldman to come to New York for his 80th birthday celebration at the museum. I rushed back from my Godson’s baptism in the Twin Cities, so I could make it to the celebration in time and finally meet the artist himself. It was remarkable to see him standing there with old friends and distant relatives admiring his work, which took up the entire east gallery in the museum.

I didn’t get much time to talk to Rosenquist but I was able to talk to his son and a good friend if his who is also a painter. We talked about his artwork and their lives in New York and I couldn’t help dream of moving to a big city filled with art.

When I first received that press release, I honestly had no idea who Rosenquist was. Now, I know he is a remarkable artist who has greatly impacted the art world with his amazing, intricate, large scale collage pieces.

To read more about his artwork, read my stories at gfherald.com or visit his website.

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The story behind the art

It’s been a busy few weeks at the Herald. My work load has pretty much doubled, and I couldn’t be happier. I finally feel like I always have something to do. Yay!  And, there’s even more exciting things coming in the future, possibly a monthly video feature!

But, before I get ahead of myself…

Last week, I had the opportunity to write a story about a very talented artist named Guillermo Guardia, also known as Memo. He is  from Peru, and he is the artist in residence at the North Dakota Museum of Art. I came across his artwork when he sent me a press release for a joint exhibit at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo. I started researching his and the other artist’s work. Both were very interesting, but I decided to pick one to pitch to Melinda as an artist profile story. I picked Memo because of his residency.

Memo is an amazing ceramic sculptor. He sculpts a lot of different subjects puzzle piece torsos, llamas, baby devils and faceless figures. And, they are all absolutely wonderful! Herald photographer John Stennes and Forum photographer Dave Wallis took some amazing photographs of his work, so be sure to check out all the photos with the full story here.

Aside from examining his beautiful artwork, my favorite part of the interview was hearing Memo tell the stories of how these different pieces came about, especially the puzzle piece torsos. Memo had always wanted to sculpt the perfect human body, but he struggled for years, never satisfied with his artwork. He tried several different methods, becoming very frustrated, confused and lost, wondering where his career and artwork would go. One day he took his frustration out on the piece, carving lines into the figure. Those lines turned into pieces, and those pieces turned into puzzle pieces, he said. His frustration ultimately made these beautiful puzzle piece figures, that were deep in thought and wonder.

As Memo told the stories of how these pieces came about, he seemed to drift back in time. His arm lifted, making carving motions in the air and his eyes beamed with the understanding and acceptance of these new subjects. He had finally found a subject, and it was all his own. Memo has invited me to join him in his studio for a demonstration, and I am gladly taking him up on his gracious offer. We have no set dates, but I will be sure to post something about the experience.

Now, please, head on over to GFHerald.com and read the full story because it’s honestly one of my favorite stories yet.

 

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Trading in my reporters notebook

I’ve traded in my reporter’s notebook for a camera. Well, not really. But, I did have a freelance photo gig this weekend. My boss from my sophomore internship contacted me Wednesday afternoon asking if I’d like to shoot the Fargo Beer Festival on Friday night. I didn’t have any plans, so I jumped on the opportunity. I love writing, but it’s nice to get a change of medium every once in a while.

I arrived at the festival around 5:30 p.m., got the camera from Kurt and started shooting. Kurt is the promoter of the event, so he needed PR photos, not journalistic photos, which was also a nice change. I haven’t shot too many events, but I do enjoy it, especially when everyone’s having a good time. I got a lot of photos of people trying new beers and laughing with their friends. A lot of people stopped me and asked to take their photo, which was funny because it’s not like they ever see them. Well, maybe they will but its unlikely.  But, hey it made for some good photos.

I got back from Fargo around 11 p.m. and headed to bed so I could be up early for The Color Run. I wasn’t running, but rather interviewing new runners for a Herald story. I also brought my camera along and shot some more photos of the event. Both The Color Run and the beer festival were nice reminders that I love photography. I may not be that best but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep doing what I love.

I don’t own any of the photos from the beer festival (you can view them here), but below are some photos I shot at the Color Run. Enjoy!

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‘Avenue Q’ a crude comedy with a big heart

When I first saw the musical comedy “Avenue Q” earlier this year, I was taken by surprise. The crude comedy and the way the play addressed super sensitive topics threw me off guard. I couldn’t decide whether I should be watching the puppets, the puppeteers or the person signing, so I went from one to the next to the next. I was so exhausted trying to keep up with the play that I didn’t fully enjoy it. However, when I found out the Empire Arts Center would be producing the play in Grand Forks, I knew it would make a great story. I pitched the idea and made plans to attend the media night/last dress rehearsal for the play.

This time, I sat with pen and notepad in hand and took it all in for what it is: a crude comedy with a big heart. The play may address sensitive social issues in a comical in-your-face manner, but the overall play is about understanding one another, accepting your differences and helping each other through struggles. This second time around, I actually stayed through the intermission all the way to the end. It may have gotten a little long, but it was well worth the wait.

If you’re in Grand Forks this week or next, be sure to check out “Avenue Q” at 7:30 p.m. today or Aug. 6 through 10 at the Empire Arts Center. It might take you out of your comfort zone, but, hey, we all need a little push sometimes.

For more information, check out the full story and photos.

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Street Style

It’s been about a month since I started my job as an Accent reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, and I couldn’t be more happy with it. Everyday I’m interviewing artists, musicians and stylish people in the community. I get to listen to music, discover new artists and go to awesome shows.

One of my favorite parts of my job is my weekly Street Style feature. Every Friday, I wander around downtown Grand Forks looking for someone with impeccable style. Once I find someone I ask them a few questions about their style and outfit and take their photo. I love it because I’m always checking out people’s clothes and shoes, and now I have an excuse to ask them about their look.

Here’s the link to my second Street Style feature: http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/266757/publisher_ID/40/

Right when I walked into Urban on Friday, I saw Sarah’s outfit and knew she was the one! I love her effortlessly chic look. This week, the Isaac Schmidt is the first male to appear in Street Style. Be sure to check it out in Accent Sunday morning.

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First column more difficult than expected

Today, my first column printed in the Grand Forks Herald. You would think that someone who has more than five blogs and often writes about her own life would easily be able to write 20 to 25 inches introducing herself to the readers. However, that was not the case.

I don’t know what it is about writing introductory columns or “about me” pages, but it is one of the most difficult things for me. Maybe it’s the idea of boiling my life, dreams, personality and hobbies into just a couple paragraphs that freaks me out. Or, maybe it’s the fact that I really don’t think I’m that interesting. Either way, it was a challenge.

I spent hours writing and re-writing this column, asking myself “what do I want readers to know about me” and “what would they actually want to know about me.” I was finally able to cut it down to a couple major points:

  • I’m a writer,
  • I like to run,
  • I’m obsessed with blogs,
  • I like fashion,
  • I love music,
  • and I like to stay busy.

If you would like to read the full column, you can check it out here. If not, you should go check out my first Life & Style story. (It’s more interesting then my life anyway.)  The story is about AllisoNicole’s, which is a small business in Grand Forks that does interior design consultation, catering, floral design and clothing. The store is super cute and definitely worth a stop! Read the article to find out more, and then go check it out!

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Jumping into local arts

Two weeks ago, I started my first full-time job at Grand Forks Herald in Grand Forks, N.D. I will be covering arts & entertainment and life & style for the features section, Accent. Since I’ll be writing a lot of previews and attending a ton of cool events, I figured I would use this blog to share more photos and information.

Yesterday, I attended Party on the Plaza at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. In an effort to thank the community for its support, the staff at the Ralph decided to host a free all-ages outdoor concert. Although the concert was moved indoors to the Olympic Arena due to poor weather conditions, it was still a great event. Doors opened at 6 p.m. with free beer sampling and some games for the kids. Then, singer-songwriter Tate Maris took the stage with his guitar at 7 p.m.

Unfortunately, I didn’t arrive at the event until after 8 p.m. when Tate Maris had already completed his set. I was disappointed to miss his performance, but I’m sure I’ll catch him another time. Local cover band Identity 5 was rocking out on the stage when I arrived. They played everything from Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” Their set ended on a bitter-sweet note as they announced it was the last song they’d ever perform together for a live audience.

After a short intermission, DJ En Fuego of PopRocks got the crowd moving with the Cupid Shuffle while the rest of the band prepped for the show. With seven performers, the Minneapolis cover band is known for their energetic performances and many costume changes. In a pre-show interview, vocalist and bass guitarist J-Bone said their concerts combine a DJ in a dance club with radio, with a Broadway musical, and they didn’t disappoint. From Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to Vanilla Ice and Run DMC, to Sandy and Danny Zuko, the band brought all our favorite singers (and characters) to the show with nearly 50 costume changes.

Although the poor weather conditions and change of locations led to low attendance, many who attended stuck around to see the entire show and an encore performance from PopRocks.

The event is over, but you can still read my full article here.

I also wrote an article about a tribute gallery being held for a North Dakota native who used zippers to create beautiful pieces of art. If you’d like to read more about it, you can view the story here.

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