The late William Safire, author of On Language and the writer of a popular weekly column on etymology, went on a hunt for the origins of the phrase “skin in the game” several years back. Safire came up empty-handed, but he did find a money-and-investment editor at the Wall Street Journal who summed up its meaning pretty well. “The first time I heard it was probably about 10 years ago, primarily used to convey financial risk in any venture,” the editor said. “But you could stretch it to mean some kind of emotional investment. Can you have skin in the game of your marriage? Well, you ought to.”
Over the next two weeks, there will be numerous opportunities to get more emotionally invested in the arts in this region – to get some skin in the game, in addition to simply observing the many goings-on, as festivals begin and the summer season kicks in. Several venues really need your help; whatever it is they are showcasing, they literally can’t do it without you. Here is a sampling.
Ridgway Sculpture Contest
The first-ever Ridgway Amateur Sculpture Contest will be held at Hartwell Park on Saturday, June 23. The top three contestants to sculpt five pounds of sculpting clay in two hours win prizes of $250-$1,000. The contest is local sculptor Michael McCullough’s idea; he says he was inspired to organize it after teaching a class for the blind at the Center for Independence in Grand Junction that turned out to be “quite an incredible event. Sculpting is not something the blind are normally invited to participate in, but they probably see better with their hands than anybody else.” Sculpting is the oldest known art, according to McCullough. We may not be aware of it, but we do it every day. “How we arrange our books on a shelf, or our clothes in a drawer to be aesthetically pleasing. Or the way a teenager arranges his room to be deliberately displeasing. We’re all sculptors,” he says. “We want everybody to get involved in this contest, because everybody can sculpt.” The first-prize money is being donated by John Billings, maker of the Grammy Awards, who will have his studio open the day of the contest so people can see how the Grammys are made.
Speaking of studio tours, McCullough just gave one of his Firehouse Studio as part of an artists’ studio-tour series offered by Weehawken Arts (Weehawken is also a sponsor of this contest). “But you want to know a secret?” he said. “The tour runs every day, for anyone who wants to see where I work. If I’m around, all they have to do is ask.” For more information about the sculpture contest, visit weehawkenarts.org.
Photos Wanted in Ouray, Writers Wanted in Grand Junction
The Ouray County Historical Museum will soon host its eighth annual juried photo exhibit, and this year’s theme is “San Juan Memories,” meaning, photos of the San Juan Mountains. Both amateur and professional photographers are invited to submit photos. “So often, Ouray residents and visitors are able to see truly remarkable things in the high country,” says Susan Dougherty of the Ouray Historical Society. “We’re looking for people’s unique take on what they encounter.” The setting may be familiar, Dougherty says, but what counts is the photographer’s vision of the mountains, not the hills themselves. “We’re hoping for something unusual – a different perspective.” For specifics about the contest, call the museum at 970/325-4576.
In Grand Junction, the Western Colorado Writers’ Forum is also looking for people’s participation, in a free, one-day training seminar June 16 for active poets, playwrights and fiction writers, sponsored by the WCWF and Colorado Humanities. The training will allow the writers to teach in the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program at schools along the Western Slope. It’s the first time the training has been held outside of Denver; WITS will pay writers who attend this seminar to conduct writing workshops in local classrooms. “It’s good work that pays well,” says Sandy Dorr, director of the WCWF. For more information, contact WITS coordinator Tim Hernandez at email@example.com or the WCWF at 970/256-4662.
Shakespeare Tryouts and Poetry Prizes in Telluride
This season’s Shakespeare-in-the-Park play is Measure for Measure, and director Jeb Berrier is looking for one good Claudio and Isabella. Auditions for those two leads, as well as other cast members, will be held next Weds.-Thurs., May 30-31 from 4-6 p.m. at the Wilkinson Library. To schedule an audition time, call 970/708-3934, and don’t sweat memorizing any of the Bard’s speeches; Berrier will supply a script to read from.
Finally, some good news for local poets who did get some skin in the game recently, and who entered the Mark Fischer poetry award contest: judge Kierstin Bridger was so overwhelmed with terrific poetry, she named not only four winners, but also several honorable mentions. “I honestly could have included 10 more honorable mentions,” she said. “The quality of the work was exceptionally high, with such conscientious consideration of the spirit of the award.” There were 96 poems submitted in all; so many were so good, Bridger says, she was only able to eliminate “20 or so in the first round.” Top prize goes to “Psalm 656” by Santa Fe poet Wayne Lee. Here it is:
Oh Lord, let the length in feet of a home run hit in 1951 by 19-year-old New York Yankees centerfielder Mickey Mantle forever be the longest round-tripper by a rookie in baseball history.
Humbly we pray on the date of the Battle of the Camel between Ali and Aisha during the first civil war in Islam.
We rejoice in the height in feet of Tornado Tower, Qatar,
Heads Leap Falls, South Island, New Zealand,
an oil column discovered in Vesuvio prospect near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and
in three Chinese stone arch bridges, the largest such cluster in Asia.
Blessed be the area code for Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Verily, the weight in pounds of Special Olympian Lewis Maxwell’s deadlift at a Special Olympics competition in Maryville, Tennessee shall remain a world record.
We are grateful for the length in feet of a 5,500-ton lignite dredger in a pit mine near Cologne, Germany, and for the length in feet of monofilament line included with a 7-inch Ball Bearing Kite String Winder sold on e-Bay.
We marvel, O Lord, at the payout in hundreds of thousands of dollars for a $2 pick-six wager at Saratoga Race Track on Sept. 4, 2009.
Praise be the depth in feet at which sunlight no longer penetrates water.
Other winners include Julie Shavin of Colorado Springs, who took second place with “Apotheosis,” and “Failte Eire” by Beth Paulson of Ouray, which was written in couplets. “I practiced this in my best Irish Brogue, and it was beautiful,” Bridger says. Congratulations, all. The winning poets will read from their work at an awards ceremony, 6 p.m. next Thursday at the Steaming Bean.