AHA! A House for Arts



Visit the design studio of Pratt + Hebert to learn about their handmade art. Joanie Smith reflects on Shapiro and Smith's iconic piece, “To Have and to Hold.” Take a look at Mita’s Restaurant where the menu pays tribute to the food created by his grandmother. Curators at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston react to the gift of over a hundred works of 17th-century Dutch paintings.

AIRED: June 03, 2019 | 0:26:46

(upbeat music)

- On this episode of aha.

(upbeat music)

Pratt and Herbert.

Choreography that imitates life.

Exploring heritage through food.

Painting that expands on museums collection.

It's all ahead on this episode of aha.

- [Narrator] Funding for aha has been provided

by your contribution

and by contributions to the WMHT venture fund

contributors include the

Leo Cox Beach Philanthropic Foundation

Chet and Karen Opalka

Robert and Doris Fischer Malesardi

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.

(upbeat music)

- Hi, I'm Matt Rogowicz and this is aha.

A house for arts

a place for all things creative.

Sarah Pratt is a ceramicist

producing functional wheel thrown

porcelain and stoneware.

Curt Herbert is a furniture maker and sculptor

using wood and metal.

Together they formed Pratt and Herbert.

We visited their design studio

to learn more about their handmade art.


(upbeat music)

- I just love the idea

that you have this raw material

and then you can turn it into something.

Not only beautiful but useful.

(upbeat music)

My name is Sarah Pratt

and I run Pratt and Herbert

With my husband Curt.

I make ceramics and he makes furniture.

(electric saw cutting wood)

(upbeat music)


(water running)

Often I think when people think of pottery

they think of chunkier work.

Maybe a little bit heavier

maybe a little bit more rustic

and my work is very smooth and clean and precise.

And I think that's very surprising to people

especially when they find out

that it's wheel thrown.

(ethereal music)

My degree is in political science.

So I was working for a company based out of D.C.

I quit my job because I knew

I wanted to do something more creative.

I took a pottery class,

actually it was my mom who suggested

that I take the pottery class

'cause she was taking one down in Louisiana

and she said this is really fun you should do it

and I said well it would be nice

to explore other mediums

even if I don't really like it that much.

So it was Hudson Valley Community College course

that I took and it was really great

it was very comprehensive.

And then I just decided

I wanted to learn everything I could

about ceramics and started working

at the Art Center of the Capital Region.

And just learning everything I could,

and eventually was the studio manager there

for a while and started teaching there

so now I teach there as well.

And Curtis has also done some teaching.

- This is a piece of white oak.

I got it from some friends in Berne

who have a sawmill.

And this was a piece that wasn't

really good enough to saw.

So but it's good for me to turn a bowl.

(upbeat music)

- We went to LSU together and started dating

my senior year of college.

And he's always made furniture.

- I started woodworking

I was about 13 years old.

It kinda was all I wanted to do, was make things.

And also there's just the

necessity if you need stuff.

And I hate buying stuff,

and I'm frustrated a lot of times

with either the things I can afford

or the things that are available

so it's a good solution for me.

Well Sarah my wife, she's next door

in the pottery studio.

She's got superb tastes.

- He's (laughs) very creative.

- An eye for beauty.

- Really brilliant.

- She's got the clear thinking.

- I mean he's kind of a genius.

(upbeat music comes to an end)

He still has another job as an engineer.

- I design large generators for power plants.

Been doing that for about 11 years now.

(upbeat music)

I am just addicted to tools and machines

and I'm always on the hunt.

(upbeat music)

Well this planer is an Oliver from 1926.

And it's got a GE motor on it

it was built right here in Schenectady in 1925

probably I guess.

And this planer was owned by the city of Schenectady

till they auctioned it it off and I got it.

My dream is kinda to buy the Superdome

and just fill it with up with machines

and be able to wake up everyday

and just build whatever I want,

have unlimited capabilities.

- We finally have this studio almost done.

So this is brand new

and it's not even completely done.

But after we get this done

than we can really do

more furniture production work.

More collaborative work

and just bigger things.

People in this community

want to support local makers.

And wanna buy things from us

and know how important it is to support artists

and they really value that here

and that's extremely touching.

And makes me feel very very fortunate.

- Shapiro and Smith is a dance company

based in Minneapolis Minnesota.

Choreographer Joni Smith

reflects on the company's iconic piece

To Have and to Hold.

Take a look.


- [Narrarator] Have you noticed

for you it's a question of economy

where do you buy hay in the city

enough for a mattress.

- [Joni Smith] The Gist is interesting

the way that we used text.

- [Narrarator] Enough to lie down.

- [Joni Smith] The actual poem is very sparse.

The text has it's own imagery

it has it's own rhythm

and the dance movement has it's own

imagery and rhythm

and every now and then there's an intersection.

- [Narrarator] An evening long passed.

- [Joni Smith] They've heightened each other.

I use it to sort of explode the imagery.

It let's you know clearly

where the relationship is.

This relationship is older

and it's probably ending.

Which might have taken a very long time

to show you in dance.

And so I think placing it suddenly there

the first word is midnight. - [Narrarator] Midnight.

- [Joni Smith] Boom there we are

in the middle of the night.

Obviously somethings wrong.

It locates us, that's important.

- [Narrarator] Why are we eating so late?

- Relationships always seem to

have some kind of role in the work that I make.

I find that so interesting the impact

people have on one another,

or have on whole groups of people.

Because we all see relationships

we all see how we fit in the world

and how we respond to other

people very differently.

(upbeat music) (skin sliding on wood floor)

Shapiro and Smith Dance is ever changing.

At first it was this dream that Danny and I had.

We wanted to choreograph

we found somehow together

that we could make things.

The first dances were duets.

And then the possibilities got too small.

So then we expanded and we got

more company members.

That was a whole amazing thing

to have all these different voices then.

Not just Danny's and mine.

It was like going from a string quartet

to an orchestra.

The relationships, the structures,

the harmonies, the dissonance.

Everything became so much more complex.

Which was exciting.

To Have and to Hold bench,

Danny and I made in in 1989

we had just returned to New York

from a year in Finland.

Everything had changed.

It was the time of AIDS.

It just seemed that so many things were different.

It seemed that we couldn't hang onto anything.

So we suddenly started thinking about

making a work where people were waiting.

We thought of three unfinished wood benches.

And as we started sort of

playing with these benches,

we got into sliding across them

and that made sense to us in the imagery.

Because it was sort of like

life sliding by and trying to

hang onto something and you couldn't.

- And it starts out with a

feeling of high energy

and the desire as a youthful person might

to best something, and to concur the world.

And to pair up, to find a partner.

And by the end of the dance we find

the dancers letting these partners

that they've found go.

So the journey from not a care in the world

to having to let someone go forever.

- [Joni Smith] It's about the persistence of memory

the people beneath the bench reach up

and are touching the person above.

To me that image was like when someone died

there you are and you suddenly

smell a piece of their clothing.


The memories come back.

Danny and I could never figure out

why a bench works so well.

600 dancers have performed it.

So many companies so many schools

have asked us to restage it.

It seems to still resonate for people.

Danny added For Those we Have

Lost but Never Forgotten

because so many people had died of aids.

Little did we know it would

ultimately serve for him.

Danny died in 2006 in October.

He died of cancer

he was diagnosed at age 44

'cause he fought.

He managed to stay with us until he was 48.

During that time he choreographed and toured

and he fully intended to perform

that November but he left us instead.

We did dance bench at his memorial at the Joyce.

Whew that was tough.

- [Male Voice] Oh yeah.

- [Joni Smith] My relationship with the dancers

has really changed since Danny died.

I found it really difficult

to just be by myself

making decisions, searching for imagery.

So I have more and more been inviting the dancers

to participate in that process.

That height of that energy

where you might go next.

It's an improvisation.

- She sees our unique strengths

and the things that really challenge us.

And she always strives

to show us in our best light.

Or in a light that challenges us.

- [Joni Smith] Fantastic.

- [Laura Virtucio] Which is a gift as an artist

working for a choreographer.

- What was so great is

it just was like so smooth coming down.

They enjoy that a lot.

They really enjoy contributing.

Sometimes they improvise.

Sometimes they bring in something

that they say oh look at this,

isn't this an interesting idea?

I love that there's the excitement

and the energy in the room.

We also have regular guests all the time.

This year Sally Ruess will be guesting with us.

We've had Judith Howard, Aaron Thompson.

That's an interesting way to sort of

expand who the company is.

To bring in these very particular voices.

We wanna kind of smooth through there.

- Yeah.

- Were interested in finding the unique gesture.

If I actually pay attention to the

weight, and the time, and the shape of my hand

and if I add to that the effort of it,

now I'm dancing.

And it's different than just this gesture.

Because I paid attention to

time, shape, space, force, energy.

And that's what dance does.

And it's just with that consciousness

'cause I'm paying attention to the emotion.

The emotion is it.

(woodwind tone)

- Inspired by his Columbian heritage

James Beard nominated chef

Jose Salazar opened Mita's Restaurant

in Cincinnati Ohio in 2015.

Mita's eclectic menu features

both traditional and modern dishes

of Spain and Latin America.

And pays tribute to the food

created by his grandmother.

(ethereal music)

- [Jose Salazar] When you're here early

there isn't all the commotion.

You have a chance to gather your thoughts.

(upbeat music)

Most of the time

a dish is born based on an ingredient.

You have a foundation

You know maybe it's

a type of fish that the fish monger

called up and said that they have

and you start to think

okay so what's the texture of the fish.

What's the flavor of the fish?

I sort of just use my memory.

You know my palette

what I remember something tasting like

or the texture of something

and let that sort of guide me.

If you over think it

and you make it too scientific

you lose some of the soul

and that's at it's heart

what cooking's all about.

It's soulful it's meant to be from the heart.

(upbeat music)

Mita's is really a

Latin American Spanish restaurant

focused around tapas or small plates.

It was a way for me to tap into my

South American ethnicity.

This restaurant, it's named after my grandmother

we called her momita which is

sort of a word for grandma.

And then we shortened it even more to Mita.

I had to incorporate some of

her style of cooking.

And a lot of it is comfort food.

It's those things that

you know the rice and the empanadas

and the arepas and things that are just kind of

Columbian soul food.

The menu is purposefully

encompassing a huge swat.

Like it's Spanish and Latin American.

The empanadas are probably our number one seller.

Probably our signature dish

so it's a cornmeal crust

as opposed to a wheat base

you know or wheat dough

that you get in some other countries.

And then they come with this

really wonderful sauce

called ají or piqué.

Which translates to chili in Spanish.

I took some of the inspiration from the

Columbian traditional foods and

maybe just kind of give it

a little little tiny twist.

I think acid is probably

one of those ingredients that

a seasoned chef

somebody who's been doing it for a while

will tell you that behind salt

it's probably the next most important

item in a dish.

The aroma, the brightness,

the balance that you get

versus that like grilled smokey flavor

it's I think what rounds out a dish.

Vegetables are very versatile

and I like the texture of a vegetable

in different ways sometimes.

You take a parsnip and you puree it

you add a little bit of cream

a little bit of butter or olive oil

and it's this really delicious creamy

you know almost kind of sauce

in it's own right, right.

And it's sweet and full of flavor.

But then you take that same parsnip

and maybe you roast it.

And then you take the same parsnip

and you slice it real thin and deep fry it.

And all of a sudden you have

three different textures but also

three very distinct flavors

of that same vegetable.

And that's always a good way

to highlight an ingredient

and showcase it in a few different ways.

(upbeat music)

- Jose Salazar and I have been working

together for about two and a half years.

He likes to play with textures

and using ingredients in multiple different ways.

(upbeat music)

On the national level we've been nominated

semifinalist for the James Beard foundation

the past two years.

Here locally we've been named in the top 10

of the Cincinnati Magazine.

It's a blessing to get a chance

to work that closely with someone

who is being recognized on a national level.

- [Jose Salazar] The team's everything.

I think that they respect me

and know that I'm willing to roll up my sleeves

and do just about anything it takes

to get the job done.

I'm really nothing without them.

And that sounds cliche but it's a reality.

We just got some beautiful lamb in

from a farm in Kentucky

and really are focusing on

how can we use every part of the animal

in different and interesting ways.

I'm thinking I want to do empanadas

with the lamb neck.

So we're gonna braise the lamb neck

and do a really nice baked empanada

in a kind of a puff pastry crust.

And maybe a sauce with a little bit

of ginger and herbs

and something that plays off the

slight gameness of the lamb.

(elevator music)

I love the way that our menu's structured I really do.

Now it feels more cohesive.

It fits with the overall

theme of the restaurant

and the guests have really loved it.

- There are very few places where

you can have a tapas experience

of authentic Spanish cheese meat piaya

it's one of the only options in the city

and it's top notch.

- [Jose Salazar] I started working in restaurants

when I was about 18

'cause I didn't know what

I wanted to do with my life.

I thought okay I'll work in restaurants

for a little bit until

till I figure it out.

Ultimately I found myself kinda cooking at home

and wanting to explore foods

and again I didn't grow up eating or going out

to experience these gastronomy.

But it just took hold and I said

all right this is kinda it.

And so it's more of a sense,

I don't know that you can really say

I do it for this and that other than

you just end up falling in love with it.

- The Museum of Fine Arts

in Boston Massachusetts

received a transformative gift

of over 100 works of 17th century Dutch paintings.

These pieces from the Dutch golden age

helped fill gaps in the museum's collection.

Take a look at how the curators reacted

to this announcement.

- The together by any standard

are a collection of masterpieces.

And with ours, the collection that exists here

we can say the sum is

truly greater than the parts.

- [Narrarator] Museum of Fine Arts director,

Matthew Teitelbaum is talking

about the collection of Dutch and Flemish art

now hanging on his museum's walls.

Flowers of vivid you long for their scent.

Still lives that appear as though the

table has just been set and thoroughly enjoyed.

Landscapes with distinctly Dutch skies of blue.

They appeared virtually over night

as a promised gift to the museum.

It was momentous enough for a ribbon cutting.


How significant is this gift

for the Museum of Fine Arts?

- I don't think we can overstate the importance

of this gift on so many levels.

It makes our collection of

Dutch and Flemish painting

doubled in size almost.

- [Narrator] The largest gift of

European painting in the museum's history

the work is from the Dutch golden age

spanning the 17th century.

And it includes what's considered

one of the finest Rembrandt's

still in private hands

says MFA senior curator Ronni Baer.

- [Ronni Baer] When you come to see Aeltje

you will see why Rembrandt is

one of the great artists of all time.

On one hand he's showing us his talent

as a portraitist and how he can capture

an essence of a person

and on the other his virtuosity with a brush.

- [Narrator] The promised gift of 113 works

comes from two Massachusetts families

who spent decades assembling their collections.

Rose-Marie van Otterloo says that as she

and her husband began acquiring

their criteria was simple,

find the best work by the best artists.

- We always thought that we were just temporary

caretakers of this art

and we've always known at one point

we would give it away.

The MFA deserves it

it's a wonderful institution here in Boston.

It's well known around the world.

- [Narrator] With the paintings also comes

the funds to establish a center

for Netherlandish art at the MFA.

Which fellow donor Susan Weatherbie

says should make the museum

an international destination for study.

- To bring this critical mass really of

paintings that really do compliment one another

and I think that this will unfold

as people study the collections.

- [Narrator] Until then the works are

warm and welcoming enough

that you could practically curl up with them.

- And that wraps it up

for this edition of aha.

For more arts and culture

visit wmht.org/aha

where you'll find features about out

creative world in our backyards

and across the country.

Until next time I'm Matt Rogowicz thanks for watching.

(upbeat music)

- [Narrator] Funding for aha has been provided

by your contribution

and by contributions to the WMHT venture fund.

Contributors include the

Leo Cox Beach Philanthropic Foundation

Chet and Karen Opalka

Robert and Doris Fischer Malesardi

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.


  • ios
  • apple_tv
  • android
  • roku
  • firetv


You Are Cordially Invited
Wyld Ryce
Write Around the Corner
WQED Sessions
World Channel
WLIW21 Specials
WLIW Arts Beat
When The World Answered
We Sing
Walk, Turn, Walk
Under a Minute
Tree of Life: A Concert for Peace and Unity
Tractor: The Movie