The ski season isn’t the only thing ending this weekend in Telluride. So is “Harvest of Heritage,” an exhibit that pays tribute to the work and legacy of over two dozen Colorado folk artists at the Telluride Historical Museum. The exhibit features examples of wheat art, ornamental iron work and leather and rawhide braiding; two of the artists, San Luis Valley weaver Eppie Archuleta and the late ornamental blacksmith Francis Whitaker of Carbondale, have received National Heritage Fellowship Awards, the National Endowment for the Arts’ highest honor.
“Harvest” has been travelling the state since it opened in Fort Garland in 2010, and has made stops at the National Western Stock Show and the Colorado State Fair. It will close Saturday at 5 p.m., maybe for good. “I had thought this was the last stop, but I’ve gotten some requests from other towns to keep it going,” said Ronna Lee Sharpe, the show’s curator. Sharpe, a regional folklorist for the somewhat awkwardly titled Colorado Council on Creative Industries (formerly the Colorado Council on the Arts) has been ferrying the exhibit around herself, in a 14-foot U-Haul. She’s one of three regional folklorists who worked on this show, and estimates the trio put in “thousands and thousands” of miles and over two decades of work to track down, nurture, and eventually, exhibit the artists whose work is on display. Now, because of state budget cuts, she’s the last folklorist standing. “I try desperately to cover the whole state,” Sharpe said. Still, with just one person to cover 103,642 square miles, it’s unlikely that anything approaching the scope of this exhibit will come around again any time soon.
Sharpe says she has “the best job in the world.” Like every good curator, she not only introduces her artists to the public, she also seems to introduce them to themselves. “There’s an older gentleman on a ranch in Craig who braids leather and makes working tack,” she said. “I’ve known him 15 years. He tells me, ‘You come up here and I have this stuff lyin’ around my shop. You put it in a case, and it looks like art.’”
‘Diary of Anne Frank’ at Colorado Mesa
This past Monday, April 2, Colorado Mesa University began its annual Holocaust Remembrance Week. Events associated with this week include a remembrance service and a Field of Flags, a display of over 2,000 donated flags paying tribute to various groups targeted by the Nazis (each flag represents 5,000 individuals). Also in honor of this week, the CMU Department of Theatre Arts presents its last play of the 2011-2012 season, The Diary of Anne Frank. The play is a new adaption of the 1955 Broadway production of Diary (itself an adaption of Diary of a Young Girl, the classic autobiography of a young Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam). The new version is by Wendy Kesselman, who received a Tony nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for her work. It is directed by Jeanine Howe, associate professor of theatre at CMU. Howe attended CMU’s Fields of Flags display last year. “It was very emotional,” she says. “I was so moved, I picked this play to direct.”
As Diary’s director, Howe says her task was simple but not straightforward. “I’m taking a cast of very contemporary actors and leading them on a journey that is very far from where we are living today.” And she did it in a very short time: CMU’s spring break “hit right in the middle of our rehearsal schedule.”
To help her young cast better understand “what it might have been like” to feel pursued the way Anne and her family did, Kesselman invited history professors (including one whose specialty is 20th Century German history) and a holocaust survivor to speak with the actors, and screened the film Anne Frank Remembered for them. The lead is played by freshman Millie Schreibman; the musical theatre major calls it one of her dream roles. This new version of Diary “offers no treacly consolations about the triumph of the spirit,” New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley wrote. It “never relaxes its awareness of the hostile world beyond the attic that was the Franks’ prison for two years, nor of the religious identity that made them a quarry.” The lead (played on Broadway by Natalie Portman, in her first stage role) progresses “from self-centered girlishness to the cusp of self-aware womanhood” over the course of the play. “To learn again that she will not be allowed to go further still shatters the heart.” Performances are April 11-14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the box office of the Moss Performing Arts Center, by calling 970/248-1604, or online at coloradomesa.edu/moss/theatretickets.html.
‘Pina’ at Fox Theatre in Montrose
On Sunday, April 8, it’s Second Sunday Cinema time at the Fox theater in Montrose – a tradition of 15 years. This month’s film will be Pina, a documentary in 3D about the German choreographer Pina Bausch and her Danztheater Wuppertal, a dramatic form of dance she created that is characterized by flowing movements and prominent stage sets (her Rite of Spring required the stage to be covered by soil). It is directed by Wim Wenders. Second Sunday is composed of three board members: Ridgway interior designer Kay Lair, Linda Munson-Haley (the board recorder for the Ouray County Commissioners) and Montrose attorney Jim Delman. They rent the second floor, or “penthouse space,” at the Fox each month. It seats 300. Lair briefly wondered if there would be sufficient interest in independent, occasionally foreign, often what she calls “challenging” films in Montrose early on. Two of their earliest, biggest hits, Amelie and What the Bleep Do We Know? proved her wrong. “One’s in French, one’s metaphysical, we were in Montrose and having to turn people away,” she said. “We definitely had an audience.”
And, in turn, Pina was recommended to Lair by members of that audience. “One person saw it when it premiered in Telluride; another had lived in New York City and seen Pina Bausch’s dance troupe live,” she says. “Second Sunday really likes to push the limit. Art requires you to work to understand it. That’s why it’s art, and not entertainment.”
Pina’s backstory is nearly as dramatic as the choreographer’s work: Bausch died of cancer in 2009. It was only five days after being diagnosed, and just two before shooting was to begin on the film, a project she’d had in the works for years with her friend Wenders. He was devastated, and wanted to drop the whole project, but was eventually persuaded by the choreographer’s troupe (who were just about to begin rehearsing the choreography for the film) and Bausch’s many admirers worldwide to go ahead with the shooting. As Wenders recalled, “Every detail of her choreography was still alive and present and inscribed into the bodies of her dancers. Now, in spite of the great loss, was the right moment, and maybe the last one to record all this on film.” He dedicated it to her memory. <>The film screens at 1 p.m.; tickets are $6.50, available at the box office.
This week’s short poem in honor of National Poetry Month is from Kierstin Bridger, who splits her time between Ridgway and Telluride. She won it last year, and will be the judge for this year’s Mark Fischer Poetry Award.
When the flume of memory is frozen
any expanse will burst the pipe
flood the basement
but all you’ll remember
a watermarked wall,
and the swell of drywall
the high cost of repair