AHA! A House for Arts


AHA! | 617

Explore abstract art from self-taught software developer Hazal Ozturk. Crandell Theatre Executive Director Annie Brody shares how the Crandell is managing to stay connected to the community while theaters are closed. Listen to a woodpecker-inspired song by singer/songwriter Angelina Valente.

AIRED: October 13, 2020 | 0:26:46

(upbeat music)

- Software developer by day, artist by night.

Chat with Annie Brody about Chatham's Crandell Theater.

And catch a performance by Angelina Valenti.

It's all ahead on this episode of AHA, A House for Arts

- [Announcer] Funding for AHA has been provided

by your contribution

and by contributions to the WMHT Venture Fund.

Contributors include Chet and Karen Opalka,

Robert and Doris Fischer Malesardi,

The Alexander and Marjorie Hover Foundation

and The Robison Family Foundation.

- At M&T bank we understand that the vitality

of our communities is crucial to our continued success.

That's why we take an active role in our community.

M&T Bank is pleased to support

WMHT programming that highlights the arts

and we invite you to do the same.

(relaxing music)

- Hi I'm Laura Ayad and this is AHA.

A house for Arts, a place for all things creative.

Let's see what Matt Rogowicz is up to today.

- I'm right here in Malta NY,

just off of Exit 12 of the North Way.

And we're about to step into the studio of Hazal Ozturk.

Now she said to text her when I get here

and the door will open.

Let's see.


Mask on.

(relaxing jazz music)

- I am originally from Turkey

but I've been living in the States since 2012.

I am a self-taught artists

and a self-taught software developer.

You need to be in the same creative mindset to do both.

So I always say that during the day I am an artist

and after five, my medium changes.

After five when I just like turn off my computer

my left side off the brain is also like turned off

and the right side of my brain just takes it over.

My whole career is a little unorthodox,

so I learned to color

then I got a degree in Chemistry back in Turkey.

And we decided to move here with my husband

to get our master's degrees.

And for me, it was again in Chemistry.

But I was always involved in the tech industry.

I was always like interested in writing code

or like finding creative problems.

I got my master's degree, I worked in a research lab

and I decided to become a full time software developer.

That journey started like that.

And my arts journey,

I think I was always an artist from the beginning.

I just didn't know about it.

I have a very good friend back in Lincoln, Nebraska

JP, he's a great artist.

So he helped me to put my hands in arts.

I started reading about art history

and like techniques and Picasso.

I was always an abstract expressionists.

I realized that I shouldn't be ashamed

of my abstract artwork.

And I decided to be an artist.

My art makes people happy, it makes me happy.

And I think I'm generally a happy soul

so I just reflect it and people get it.

I mostly, I work with acrylic paints on canvas.

Normally I do like big abstract shapes on big canvases

but this time I'm going a little off the book.

So I have like very small details on the canvas.

I use some different mediums and materials as well.

My current project is for example,

turning my husband's old symbols to an artwork.

Art helps me to stay sane, especially during this time.

Art helps me to forget about like the problems in life.

Everybody has ups and downs of course.

And we are from Turkey, so everybody is back in Turkey.

We miss them a lot of course,

like family, friends everybody.

When I start doing an artwork

I just stop thinking about them a little.

It helps me to go through that.

And it's helps me to be successful at my job too.

'Cause it's, I think it's clears my mind

and when my brain is super tired

it's like a brain spa for me to paint or to do something.

So yes it's everything for me, art.

One time Tony, the Director of Alban Center Gallery,

he told me that if you make art, you're an artist,

you're a creator so don't be ashamed of your work.

Don't think that it's not show-able,

just keep making arts, keep producing art,

keep being creative.

- Any Brody is the Executive Director

of the Crandell Theatre in Chatham NY.

With theater still closed due to coronavirus.

How has the Crandell managing to stay connected

with the community?

Let's chat with Annie to find out.

Annie, welcome to house for arts.

It's a pleasure having you.

- Thank you so much for inviting us.

- Tell me a bit about the Crandell Theatre.

What is its history and why is it important to Chatham?

- Oh, it's had a long history.

First off the Crandell was built in 1926,

so it's 95 years old.

It was built by a native Chathamite Walter S. Crandell.

And he was an entrepreneur and a banker

and he just wanted to give something to his community.

So he built this huge 534-seat Theater,

originally to be a vaudeville theater

because movies really hadn't begun fully yet

in the early twenties.

And it's the largest, oldest single-screen theater

in Columbia County.

And that's where Chatham is

it's a small village in Columbia County.

- And tell me a bit too about how you became

Executive Director of the Crandell Theatre.

- It's a great story because I was a volunteer.


I always love to tell people that,

when I first moved from New York City up here in 1999

I was thrilled to find The Crandell because I do like films.

And I even had some background in film production,

and I volunteered for the Film Festival

to help out with the media coverage.

And then years later I became a member obviously

and I saw that they were looking

for their first part-time Executive Director.

And that's how it happened.

- Were you a filmmaker yourself at any point?

How did you get so interested in film?

- Well, as an Executive Director,

it's not so much the creative part

as it is the administrative part.

As it happened, I did make a film

at the American Film Institute when I was younger.

I was interested in film production.

So I did have some background in it

but really my strengths were in having run small businesses

and also nonprofit organizations.

And for The Crandell Theatre

which is a 501(c)(3) organization,

having an administrator with that background

was actually more helpful.

- What kinds of films has the Crandell Theatre been filming

over the past several years?

- Well, we have two kinds of programming.

We have our everyday programming,

every week we show one or two new films.

They've tend to be what we call first and second run.

First run being the new releases.

Second run, a little behind the other theaters maybe,

but for our crowd they'd rather wait

and see it at the Crandell

'cause it's their neighborhood community theater,

it's right on Main Street.

And it feels like you're going

to your community living room.

We also do Film Columbia once a year

which has become a 10-day film festival

with over 50 films from all over the world.

Animation, shots, documentaries, features, foreign language

and is a very welcome event in town.

We have about 8,500 people attending each year.

- Sounds like people are also coming in from out of town.

- Yes, exactly.

It does attract people from out of town.

We are fortunate enough to get films

that have not premiered yet in the United States.

And that's because we have a wonderful Board of Director,

Peter Biskind who has been curating the films

along with Larry Kardish,

who was former curator of MoMA film.

Here we are in this little small town but we've got

this great board of people that have connections

and have helped make this theater and the film Columbia

what it is today.

- It sounds like you have a really great collaborative team.

Are there any particular films that have been screened

at the Crandell or during this Columbia Festival

that have been particularly popular?

And I'm also curious to know because I'm wondering

how do these films also promote

the Cedar's mission on a wider level?

- Oh, well, that's a more complex conversation

but I'll start there because it does give context.

I have to go back and tell the story

that the Crandell was privately owned for many, many years,

and then the owner died.

And there had been a small group of film lovers

in Columbia County in Chatham area,

who had been really looking to show more independent films

at the theater and had rented the theater,

I think once a month.

Well, when the idea that the Crandell might be sold

to an outsider and maybe even torn down

this group came together and raised money from the community

from the Ellsworth Kelly foundation,

from truth philanthropists in the town,

but really from the local community.

Nobody wanted to see the Crandell on Main Street go dark.

So we were able to purchase it, the Chatham Film Club.

And then they became a 501(c)(3) which was in 2009.

So for the last 10 years, it's been a nonprofit theater

but prior to that it was a commercial.

Now the mission is to really develop people's appreciation

for film and filmmaking as an art.

And, as with all the arts we believe that that contributes

to a very rich social and cultural life for families,

for individuals and for the whole community.

And the Crandell is very much about programming

for our community because being so small and local,

you can do that, that's one of the charms about it.

So with the Film Festival, however, we go way out there.

We bring the world to Chatham.

I mean they films come from every part of the globe.

- Yeah, what are examples?

- They're films that you might not have seen.

We also show a lot of films that you have seen.

We've done...

Silver Linings Playbook, was one of the favorites.

I remember that was and again

people saw it before it was ever released.

So it was a fresh experience,

that hadn't heard anything about it

and you really get a visceral reaction to film

when that's the case.

I know that's not a recent one but now of course

I can't think of the others,

but they've been films with famous directors.

Oh, well, James Schamus as a Producer

and Ang Lee as a Director,

we've shown almost all of their premiers.


- Brokeback Mountain?

- Brokeback Mountain, thank you.

Last year we honored James Schamus

and we showed a new film that he had produced.

So we get from the both the celebrated films,

the films that have been at the festivals

and won awards but haven't been released yet

to these small films like Sweet Bean,

which was a Japanese film about a sweet bean maker

who had a cart.

And it has some magical surrealism in it,

with her and the small children that came every day.

And it was just a poem of a film,

as the way I like to think of it.

And you wouldn't see it,

get a chance to see it any other place.

That's really what the film festival specializes in.

But the everyday films we try and mix it up.

But mainly I would say it's quality films independent

and major ones.

Not so much blockbusters anymore

because people can go to the mall

and see it on a small screen.

Whereas with the Crandell it's one of the few places

where you can see a film on a 26 by 14 foot screen still,

which is quite an experience.

- Well, it sounds Annie, like one of those special things

The Crandell does compared to other theaters,

is it brings movies to people before they keep hearing

a lot of discourse and talking about it

so that they can appreciate it for its artistic qualities

first before being kind of influenced by hype

or by critics and things like that.

That sounds like a really valuable kind of creative process.

- Yes, no, it truly is.

And our community really appreciates that too.

They gather together after the shows

and stand under the marquee and talk

for like a half an hour.

And it's amazing to see how the film can catalyze

that kind of interaction from people who may not

even know each other.

- Right.

It sounds to me...

You were telling me

that the theater became a nonprofit in 2010.

I know too that in the twenties

it also acquired sound equipment

so that they could screen talkies,

so called talkies at the time.

it seems like over the course of the Crandell's

really long history it's been a barometer

for large cultural and economic changes

that have taken place not just in Chatham,

but in the US more widely.

And I'm kind of wondering how has the pandemic impacted

the movie business and the theater in particular.

What can we tell about our current moment

by looking at the Crandell Theatre?

- Well, it definitely has impacted us.

We closed the day, I think before the Governor

asked people to close, because we saw the signs coming

and we didn't wanna risk anything.

And we've remained closed all this time.

Obviously, theaters are still not allowed to be open.

We shifted to virtual cinema as many

other small independent theaters have done.

And there are some new films coming out around the world.

Not a lot of big films,

but we've been showing films that we showed once

at Film Festival that people may not have seen

like R.B.G, we are just showing her again this week.

- And a very important time to show that right?

- Yes, exactly.

And we're able to be timely because with virtual cinema,

you don't have to wait for the film to be shipped to you

for the drive to be shipped.

You can just stream it right away.

So it has given us a chance to be more timely

with the community.

We also showed Good Trouble, with John Lewis

as soon as he passed away, like the very next weekend

And that drew a big crowd virtually.

So we've been doing that.

And we've also been hosting community events

where we can find a film to spark discussion

about a subject that's of interest to our community

and then Zoom it and have live discussion afterwards.

Q and A with a panel.

We recently did Harvesting Change

about food in our pandemic times.

And it was about farms and farming

and the food supply system and had a very diverse panel.

And we had over a hundred people participating in that

which was quite good given that there's so much competition

for people's attention on the screen these days,

a small screen anyway.

- Yes, absolutely.

Well, any of these all sound like such amazing programs

and I can't wait to just get involved

and maybe sit in on one of these discussions.

Is there any information that people can find maybe online

about The Crandell's different programs and events?

- Absolutely, crandelltheatre.org

T-H-E-A-T-R-E the old fashioned kind, .org.

And there you'll see about our programs

and you can join our email list

and we send weekly emails out

about what's coming up ahead.

- That sounds fantastic.

Annie thank you so much on being our House for Arts.

It was a real pleasure chatting with you.

- Thank you so much for having me.

- Please welcome Angelina Valente.

- So this is a song called The Woodpecker.

It's very new actually, I just wrote it.

And I woke up one morning,

I don't know if you've ever heard this

but if you've ever heard a woodpecker bang against metal,

it's really loud and very aggressive.

And I woke up one where I was like,

"Oh my God, that's a woodpecker."

Just bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.

And then later that day

I'm upstairs in my room and my windows are all open.

And all of a sudden I'm sitting there

and I go to start playing some piano.

And I hear this very soft

like tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

And I realize it's this woodpecker outside my window

on a tree.

And I was like,

"Oh my God this morning he was banging his head

"against metal and he finally found a tree."

And it was a really lovely moment.

And I realized, people, we humans are very similar, right.

We sometimes you gotta bang your head against the metal

and then a couple of times and then you finally find

the nice soft tree that has good things inside.

So that's what the song is about, this is the woodpecker.

(slow piano music)

♪ What do you suppose birds say ♪

♪ When they twitter back and forth ♪

♪ Are they asking are you okay ♪

♪ Or what's all this for ♪

♪ Do you think they ever want more ♪

♪ There is that woodpecker I woke up to this morning ♪

♪ Banging on the chiller in the front yard. ♪

♪ Now he's knocking on that ♪

♪ Tree ♪

♪ What do I think it means ♪

(slow piano music)

♪ I'm not who I was when I woke up this morning ♪

♪ And I'll change it all again before I fall asleep tonight ♪

♪ Isn't it remarkable how we're ever changing ♪

♪ We learn from our mistakes ♪

♪ Just trying to find what feels all right ♪

(slow piano music)

♪ There's that little voice within me ♪

♪ And I know it knows what's best ♪

♪ But as the years passed by it dampened ♪

♪ Buried underneath the noise ♪

♪ Of all the the rains ♪

♪ So I close my eyes and listen ♪

♪ And it drowns out all the sound ♪

♪ No need to know where I am headed ♪

♪ As long as I got my two feet ♪

♪ In the ground ♪

♪ I'm not who I was when woke up this morning ♪

♪ And I'll change it all again before I fall asleep tonight ♪

♪ Isn't it remarkable how we're ever changing ♪

♪ We learn from our mistakes ♪

♪ Just trying to find what feels ♪

♪ All ♪

♪ Right ♪

♪ All ♪

♪ Right ♪

♪ Ooh ♪

(slow piano music)

♪ Just like that little woodpecker ♪

♪ It might a couple of tries ♪

♪ Knocking against the shinning metal ♪

♪ Before I realize ♪

♪ It's hollow on the inside ♪

(slow piano music)

♪ So when I find a tree ♪

♪ That's bark is somehow strong inside ♪

♪ I'll tap it so gently ♪

♪ And find it's ♪

♪ Good () ♪

♪ That I need. ♪

(slow piano music)

♪ Out of the mountains ♪

♪ Down to the water ♪

♪ That's where you'll find her ♪

♪ One with the sea ♪

♪ Longing to go there ♪

♪ Finding her way there ♪

♪ That's where you find her ♪

♪ Longing to be free ♪

(calming piano music)

♪ Deep in the forest in the trees ♪

♪ You ll find me down on Monday at night ♪

♪ Hoping I will find you ♪

♪ I'm always looking at the stars ♪

♪ 'Cause no matter where you are ♪

♪ They will never be the same ♪

♪ And I learn to fight ♪

♪ Like a blue bird in the sky ♪

♪ And I'm not taking no ♪

♪ We've got no place there to go ♪

(calming piano music)

♪ I'll make our house up in the tree ♪

♪ Found the best place for all the breeze ♪

♪ Feel the wind brush on your face ♪

♪ And you know this is the place to be ♪

♪ And I ♪

♪ I want to fly ♪

♪ Like a blue bird in the sky ♪

♪ And I am not taking no ♪

♪ You've got no place there to go ♪

(slow piano music)

♪ Out of the mountain down to the water ♪

♪ That's where you'll find her ♪

♪ One with the sea ♪

♪ Longing to go there ♪

♪ Finding her way there ♪

♪ That's where you'll find her longing ♪

♪ Mm-Hmm ♪

♪ To be free ♪

(slow piano music)

- Thanks for joining us.

For more arts visit wmht.org/AHA.

And be sure to connect with WMHT on social.

I'm Laura Ayad.

Thanks for watching.

- I'm right here in Malta, New York,

just off of exit 12 (giggles)

Oh, no, they might be coming right here.

I have to do that again, I forgot to put my mask on.

- Oh yeah.

- I have to wear my mask.

- [Announcer] Funding for AHA has been provided

by your contribution and by contributions

to the WMHT Venture Fund.

Contributors include Chet and Karen Opalka,

Robert and Doris Fischer Malesardi,

The Alexander and Marjorie Hover Foundation.

and The Robison Family Foundation.

At M&T Bank, we understand that the vitality

of our communities is crucial to our continued success.

That's why we take an active role in our community.

M&T bank is pleased to support WMHT programming

that highlights the arts and we invite you to do the same.


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