Of Punch and Judy fame, Albuquerque’s Michael McCormick is a globally lauded puppeteer and collaborated with Sesame’s Streets’ Jim Henson.
Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:
Frederick Hammersley Foundation ...and Viewers Like You
>>THIS TIME, ON COLORES!
OF PUNCH AND JUDY FAME ALBUQUERQUE'S MICHAEL
MCCORMICK IS A GLOBALLY LAUDED PUPPETEER AND
COLLABORATED WITH SESAME'S STREETS' JIM HENSON.
>>IN HIGH SCHOOL HOUSTON'S THOMAS IRVEN FOUND HIS
PASSION FOR WOOD-TURNING AND MADE IT A CAREER.
>>CARICATURIST JOHN KASCHT INVESTIGATES THE
NUANCES OF WHO WE ARE.
>>PET PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER SARAH BETH
ERNHART DOCUMENTS LOVING MOMENTS.
IT'S ALL AHEAD ON COLORES!
>>BRINGING PUPPETS TO LIFE.
>>Megan Kamerick: As a puppet maker and a
performer yourself, when you are fashioning raw
material into a puppet, what makes it come alive
and become part of the human drama?
>>Michael McCormick: Well, you are right, because it
is just a pile of sticks and bits and pieces of
fabric and paint, I think the minute a human being
actually touches it when it's a figure, that
process humanizes the object itself.
And there's so many like the Punch and Judy, it's
some of them, you know, intense traditions of
hundreds of years, maybe thousands of years.
Because these have been going on, when you think
about it, it's classic Greek theater, I mean, we
are using these kinds of characters.
You know, somebody said, how did puppets start?
And I said, well we are seating around a fire and
I'm the showman, and I am telling you how yesterday
I encountered, and I picked up this creature. Right?
Okay, puppetry starts.
>>Kamerick: What was it like to go from a small
production like Punch and Judy to working with Jim
Henson at the creature shop and in large
theatrical productions like the Dark Crystal?
>>McCormick: Yeah, that's great, yeah, it was a
severe shock, but there's an enormous amount of
synchronicity, in a Jungian sense, going on
with that whole thing because I had used Brian
Froud's book on faeries that became the most
popular book of its type at the time, and I had
used that book for references for the puppets
I had built that were on the back seat of my car
when Roger Miller saw them and gave me the
introduction to Jim Henson.
I didn't come back for four years.
>>McCormick: It's really funny because you walked
through the studio doors or even come past the
gate, your total experience, life experience changes.
And it's, for that day, right?
>>McCormick: And then you go home, and you have your
dinner and sit there and have a drink, try to come down.
>>McCormick: And it, ah.
>>Kamerick: Does your...
>>McCormick: Because you've just spent twelve
to fourteen hours inside this rarefied atmosphere
of pressure, pressure, pressure; and when you
realized that if for some reason your, whatever it
is, isn't working the way it should be you just cost
the production, in the case of Dark Crystal,
about eighty thousand bucks.
>>Kamerick: What was your role in a production that
size as a storyteller?
>>McCormick: I was a puppet builder so that put
me in touch with, you know, all the puppeteers
from Davey Goelz, to Frank Oz to, you know, to
whoever, and try to build the Skeksis to a level
that they will be useable and, what can I say,
agreeable that they weren't drawing blood on
the puppeteer, which is always something sharp
sticking in there, whatever.
And so, when the puppet was in a performance state
then it would go to a stage for a test shot to
see if it was going to be working and sort of
building up to that grand moment, it was, you know,
a spectacular way to come into the industry.
>>Kamerick: What is it like seeing your puppets,
your creations, in those scenarios, in those situations?
>>McCormick: It was great, it was like having your
daughter or son, sort of.
Look I did that!
>>Kamerick: What was it like to work with this
team of artist and with Jim Henson?
>>McCormick: Probably the most dynamic single situation.
I've been working with artists from the time I
was teaching at the Institute of American
Indian Arts in Santa Fe and we were just working
with a wall of talent from T. C.
Canon to just, you know, you name them, just one
genius after another, and there I was in London with
the same situation.
Jim is, was probably the finest manager of artistic
talent that I've ever experienced.
>>McCormick: He tuned, it was like a, ultimately
like a well-tuned musical instrument that just
produced what he needed to get done what he needed to
get done, but a...
>>Kamerick: What kind of person was he? What was he like?
>>McCormick: He was very available.
He usually came into the shop at least once a week,
David Odell, who was the writer, was living in
Jim's apartment or house just across the road from
where our shop was.
And so, he was over there, so we had the writer, we
had Jim, we had Ossie Morris, was, you know, the
What can I say, it hummed at every level.
>>Kamerick: Sounds like it. Sounds amazing.
It, you couldn't get away from it. I mean, even.
>>McCormick: Even in the shop, almost every day,
every second day, somebody was coming with a new
material to test, to try, a new tool.
We had introduced the Disney term animatronics
to the English trade at that point, the only
reason I could have been there or many of the other people.
It's hard to say, it was like a tsunami of
emotional effect at every level of your body.
>>Kamerick: Why is it important to tell these
stories that you bring to live through the art of
puppetry, these kinds of architypes we see?
>>McCormick: Well, it's good term, I mean, Punch
and hence the characters in his family are in fact
It fills out an area of the psyche, I believe,
that isn't readily available otherwise.
It's a dark side of not only life but of
psychology, it a shadowed side, and...
>>Kamerick: Wait, where these the puppeteers that
you'll, like children in France will go see these
>>McCormick: And did.
>>McCormick: For centuries, literally, and
when you look at the behavior you think, ah,
this is a human behavior, and we have sort of been
not wanting to look at it.
Yeah, so, if the, what you want to call it, the
chemistry of the psyche I believe it becomes Punch
particularly because he is such a warped twisted
malformed creature himself.
All of a sudden, the psyche is free to deal
with those aspects of his own twisted nature.
And I, I think it's a, he is a valuable guy.
>>Kamerick: What do you hope to achieve with your
work as you continue to do it?
>>McCormick: Besides having a terrific time.
>>Kamerick: That's always important.
>>McCormick: I think, I want to offer that thing
to American children and adults because it's
appreciated, it's, the thing it's a rolling
double entendres, so two different shows happening
at the same time.
So, the adults get one show, the kids get another
show, but they appreciate, can talk about it, and
that's the thing I noticed about Punch is that it
creates talk between children and parents
because the kids want to know, why did Mr. Punch,
why, you know, immediately, and so the
parents have to sort of flounder in their psyches
to come up with some kind of reasonable answer.
>>Kamerick: When you talk about the shows bringing
together children and parents to talk about an
art form, it's very similar to what Henson did
with his work with Sesame Street and his other creations.
>>Kamerick: Why is that so rewarding?
>>McCormick: Those joys that are inherent of doing
something like this as a child of sitting on your
bed and talking as any child would to a doll,
only it's okay.
And, you know, that started so early when I
was sort of three and four where the first shows that
I saw during the war in New York, Brooklyn, there
was an Italian troupe that got stuck there because of
the war, and they performed on the lawns and
gardens in front of the Brooklyn Museum, and they
did some incredible things and they were very large
marionettes and that just of course creates, you
know, this mental fervor and it, it just, that,
that level of excitement is just inherent in the
process for me.
It sounds silly that I'm sitting there working on a
puppet or sculpting or something and I'm
experiencing many of those same joys that I
experienced as a child, sort of not just redone,
but revives the same feeling, not a new
feeling, the same feeling gets brought up again
inside my head. Yeah, I guess that's it. Okay.
>>Kamerick: Mike McCormick thank you so much for
coming and talking with us.
>>McCormick: It was an absolute pleasure.
>>GOING WITH THE GRAIN.
>>It's the wood itself in the work itself.
It's always out there and I always think about it.
Really good to be right in the moment and not have to
worry about other Things.
Just focus on what you're doing at the time and time
seems to fly away.
I see a tree or a piece of wood that's been cut Down;
oh that make a nice box or that make a great bowl.
You have to look for further grain in the wood, there's
different colors different variations in the grains.
My name is Thomas Irven and I'm a wood Artist.
7th or 8th grade or ninth grade and we had a woods
in metals class and I got to turn a clock.
I always remembered it and it wasn't till after I was
working on my master's degree that I came back to
it so just kind of latent back there but it popped
out growing up in Indiana and we had a lot of acorn
trees so that kind of started me doing boxes and
acorns and it's grown from there.
Wood turning is typically done on the lathe it's
kind of like a potter's wheel only turned sideways
so the wood spins on a machine and then you use
sharp tools to kind of carve it out.
Sometimes the wood just will tell you what it
wants to be and I'll just look at it over a period
of time and then eventually it's like that
little piece of wood kind of magically says that's
what I want to be.
A bowl is basically a bead in a cove you have a bead
underneath if you turn it over you'd have a round
bottom that that's a bead if you turn the other way
where the hollow is the hollow is a Cove.
There's really not much in woodturning that is other
than a bead in a Cove and a and a break or a
transition that's basically all there is an eternity.
So if you can master doing that it's not too hard to
do whatever you want to.
In practice it's a little bit harder than it sounds.
Woodturners like what carpenters will just kind
of toss aside when you cut a green tree down you have
these crotch pieces will go cut those off and
they'll kind of throw them in a pile and not use them
as they don't make good straight lumber.
Woodturner's love that.
Emotion comes into it a lot if I'm angry about
something else it's going to show up in the work.
All the emotions kind of come into play can be a
wonderful thing there's a piece in the back of the
shop here that I I made after my father's death
and so I know that's that part of my life that
period of time.
Wood is a it's a living object and sometimes you
think it's still alive when it's flying off the
lathe that you you know but their bark inclusions
and things that you can't see sometimes so you have
to be very careful on what's in there and just
aware of what you're doing.
I hope more people look at woodworking as art but
I'll just keep making what I make and hopefully they like it.
>>AMPLIFYING WHAT MAKES A PERSON UNIQUE.
>>John Kascht: There's a conception, and it's a
misconception, that caricature is about distortion.
What makes people think of distortion is that it's
very exaggerated, it's very amplified but there's
a big difference there.
I'm amplifying in the direction of what makes
that person unique.
My name is John Kascht and I'm a caricaturist.
Caricature is not cartooning, it's not
illustration, it's not a comic strip.
Caricature is a very specialized form of portraiture.
Like all portraitists, caricaturists are
interested in nailing the likeness.
What it is an investigation into exactly
what makes a person unique.
You find the things that make you different from
everybody else, and then those things get amplified.
And the more of the nuances that make that
person unique that I can observe and get into a
drawing, the more complete the likeness is and the
greater the recognition on the part of the person
looking at it and they say, "yes, I recognize that person".
I was very much that kid in the back of class
drawing the teachers.
And the thing about me is that I never stopped.
I'm still kind of drawing the teachers or the
authority figures anyway but now it's politicians,
it's performers, that kind of thing.
I've drawn primarily celebrities or notable public figures.
So when I'm drawing an idea that I have, I
usually do quick thumbnail sketches just to kind of
start mapping out the way the piece could look.
I draw on vellum, transparent vellum, so
that if I have something in a sketch that I like,
I'll slide it under a fresh sheet, draw over the
top of it and keep the parts I like, don't keep
the parts I don't like until eventually I've got
the fully realized sketch that I wanna paint from.
I use watercolor and paint in light layers of glaze.
Ideally if I have 16 hours to 20 hours on
something-you know, obviously each piece has
its own requirements-but 16 to 20 hours is a great
amount of time for me for an average piece in my style.
>>Bonnie Byrd: The Waukesha County Historic
Society and Museum was founded in 1914, so we've
got more than 100 years behind us of celebrating
what this region, what Waukesha County has to
offer in the world and what impacts we've
made in the world.
"Making Faces" is our feature exhibition.
The artist John Kascht is originally from Waukesha,
city of Waukesha, graduate of Catholic Memorial High
School just a mile and a quarter down the road from here.
And so a really lovely way to celebrate someone from
this part of the world and to take and appreciate his
The wonderful nature of the work that John does is
that he as the artist gets to retain very often the
original that he makes.
And so he's been kind of sitting on this incredible
back catalog, 30 years worth of work.
>>Kascht: The exhibition here is a collection of
about 100-ish pieces that are my favorites.
>>Byrd: Bill Murray is one of the large-format prints
and we put him kind of front and center right
inside the gallery space as you walk in.
We really start with just in general what goes into
his caricature and portraiture work, things
like body language and also what the process is
to get to a finished product.
And really take people on that journey from
appreciating what this art form can be when it's done
to the expert level that John's able to achieve on
through its multiple iterations and kind of uses.
My favorite piece is the first piece of work he ever sold.
It's a political cartoon that he sold to the
>>Kascht: One day I just went down to the Waukesha
Freeman offices with a bunch of drawings of the
teachers, of family members.
And I just went in and asked to see the editor,
'cause I had in my mind that I wanted to do
political cartoons because that's where I was seeing
I think because he was puzzled he agreed to meet
with me, I was 14, and amazingly he said I could
submit cartoons to them.
And in retrospect, I realize he did me a great
favor, a great service there professionally.
He took me seriously at that age.
And I started identifying myself as a professional.
>>Byrd: And to start with that piece and see
everything that's come after that is just this
incredible story of what a lifetime of work can do.
>>Kascht: My favorite things in the exhibition
actually are the sketches because to me that's where
the creativity really is.
The likeness is happening or it's not, and when it's
not, boy, it can be tough.
But then, when I finally capture it, it really
still to me feels like a miracle when that person
is looking back at me from the paper.
With caricature you think of, you know, big nose,
big chin, big ears, that stuff's all part of it,
but so are nuances like a person's particular skin
tone, do they slouch or do they sit up straight, do
they use their hands a lot, are they more
contained and don't reveal much.
All of those nuances convey ultimately who we
are on the inside.
I'm still amazed that how we hold ourselves
outwardly says so much and says so accurately who we
are on the inside.
I feel in some ways I'm trying to learn about
myself one person at a time.
>>PET, PLAY AND PHOTOGRAPH.
>>Sarah Beth: I would say that my work is fun and
modern It's very bright and colorful and I feel
like it's very real very honest.
I really try to capture the personality and spirit
of my subjects.
>>I never set out to be a pet photographer I came
out it very organically.
I've always been an animal lover and I went to school
for graphic design and through that job, I kind
of got into photography professionally and I
started photographing kids and families and weddings
and discovered that I wasn't really for me.
So I started volunteering with some pet rescues and
that got me involved with other businesses and it
grew from there.
It was a part time thing and now it's full time and
I love it.
(Talking to Dog)
>>Coming into the studio is a very
strange experience for a lot of animals and they do
tend to be kind of excitable or nervous, just
kind of having a routine helps keep the sessions
going smoothly and animals is on a much different
communication level and they're not always going
to do what you want them to do.
(Talking to pets)
>>I love my clients relationships
with their pets, their pets are their children in
a sense and it's such a sweet and a very short
lived relationship which I think it makes them
embrace it a little more because they know they
only have a short amount of time and a big part of
what I do is end of life photography sessions for
terminally ill and elderly pets.
>>Just seeing the relationships that these
people have had.
It's. The best part of what I do is really the owners
interacting and hearing about all of their
wonderful experiences with their pets.
>>Client: We did a photo shoot I think like five
years ago and it was all I remember.
Because then we did our Christmas cards.
Our pets are our kids basically I mean we don't
We love them.
They're a huge part of our lives.
It seems like it would be unnatural to me not to
have professional photography of our animals.
>>Sarah Beth: Sometimes I think about what I do and
I just have to laugh because I say this is what I do.
I photograph pets and so many people that I meet
are like oh my gosh you have my dream job.
I'd love to do that.
I think from the outside people think that it's
really just playing with animals all the time and
it's so much work.
But the hour that I get to spend with some amazing
animal makes all the rest of it totally worth it.
>>And. I don't know, I can't imagine doing anything else.
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"UNTIL NEXT WEEK, THANK YOU FOR WATCHING."
>>Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:
Frederick Hammersley Foundation ...and Viewers Like You