Art Entertainment at the Zoo
Visit a restaurant where Spanish and Latin American dishes are inspired by the Chef's grandmother and the recipes she created; next step into a world of miniature movie sets, puppets and sculptures, then see how trainers at the Sacramento Zoo use art to build stronger relationships with their animals; and finally, get a front row seat in a home where folk music and family are one.
BJ Robinson: In this edition of "KPBS/arts,"
exploring heritage through food.
Jose Salazar: This restaurant is--it's named after
We called her "mamita," which is a word for "grandma,"
and then we shortened it even more to "mita."
BJ: Crafting fantastical creatures.
Rob Rogalski: It's kind of one of those processes where you
become someone who wears many hats.
BJ: Zoo animals expressing their artistic side.
Lara Kirkendall: It's not just for the animal to show art.
It's for us to maybe get in touch with our animals in a
BJ: And bringing folk music home.
Roy Brand: For the performers who really love this place,
it's acoustically perfect.
They could play unplugged here.
BJ: It's all ahead on this edition of "KPBS/arts."
BJ Robinson: Hi, I'm BJ Robinson, and this is
"KPBS/arts," the show that explores art of all kinds.
We're here in beautiful Balboa Park, filled with museums,
fountains, theaters, and stunning architecture.
It's one of the best places in our city to enjoy the arts.
Inspired by his Colombian 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.
Jose Salazar: When you're here early,
there isn't all the commotion.
You have a chance to gather your thoughts.
Jose: Most of the time, a dish is born,
based on ingredient.
You have a foundation.
You know, maybe it's, you know, maybe it's a type of fish that
the fishmonger called up and said that they have,
and you start to think, "Okay, so what's the texture of
What's the flavor of the fish?"
I sort of just use my memory, you know, my palate, my,
what I remember something tasting like or the texture of
something, and let that sort of guide me.
If you overthink it and you make it too scientific,
you lose some of the soul, and that's, you know, at its heart,
what cooking is all about.
It's meant--it's meant to be from the heart.
Jose: 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 is--it's named after my grandmother.
We called her "mamita," 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.
You know, it's those things that, you know,
the rice and the empanadas and the arepa,
and things that are just, kind of, Colombian soul food.
Jose: The menu is purposely encompassing a huge swap,
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 "aji" or "piqueá*," which translates to "chili"
I took some of the inspiration from the Colombian traditional
foods and maybe just, kind of, gave it a little,
little tiny twist.
I think acid is probably one of those ingredients that a
seasoned chef, somebody who's been doin' 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, you know, grilled, smoky 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 its own right, right?
And it's sweet, but it's 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.
Brendan Long: 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.
Brendan: On the national level,
we've been nominated semifinalists for the James
Beard Foundation in the past two years.
Here locally, you know, we've been named in the Top 10 of the
It's a blessing to get a chance to work that closely with
someone who is being recognized on a national level.
Jose: 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
I'm really nothin' without them, and that sounds cliche,
but it's a reality.
Jose: 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 wanna 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 gaminess of the lamb.
Jose: I love the way our menu is structured.
I really do.
Now it feels more cohesive, fits with the overall theme of the
restaurant, and the guests have really loved it.
male: There are very few places where you can have a
tapas experience of authentic Spanish
It's one of the only options in the city, and it's top-notch.
Jose: 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 just--I'll work in restaurants
for a little bit until I figure it out."
Ultimately, I found myself, kind of,
cooking at home and wanting to explore foods.
And, again, I didn't grow up, you know,
eating or going out to experience, you know, astronomy,
so--but it just took hold, and I said, "All right,
this is kind of it."
Like, I--and so it's more of a sense.
I don't know that you can really say, you know,
"I do it for this or that," other than you just end up
falling in love with it.
BJ: For more information about eating at Mita's,
go to mitas.com.
And now here's a look at some of the arts events happening this
week in our community.
BJ: Rob Rogalski is an artist in Rochester, New York,
whose whimsical art enraptures those who visit his studio.
His miniature movie sets, his puppets,
and his sculptures transport you to a fantasy world that seems
We met up with Rob in his studio to take a look at some of
Robert: My name is Robert Rogalski.
I'm a local artist here in Rochester, New York.
Robert: The work I do is whimsical and fanciful.
Robert: I have a love of puppetry and all things geeky.
People are always asking me, "Well,
what medium do you work in?"
And I work in multiple mediums.
I'm a sculptor.
I do illustration.
Robert: My background was, of course,
I wanted to get into visual effects when I was younger.
I was desperate to work for a creature shop for Hollywood,
so that involved learning all these different disciplines such
as illustration, design, sculpting, model making,
all these kind of things.
So it's kind of one of those processes where you become
someone who wears many hats.
Robert: I have two areas that I focus in on the most
right now, which is doing illustration work,
and that's usually my bread and butter.
Kind of a lot of fun doing poster work and things along
those lines, but then the other one is, of course,
Robert: My teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I
I said, "Oh, I wanna be a book Illustrator."
And then my interest shifted away from doing two-dimensional
work, and working in three-dimensional work.
Sometimes I don't have a clue what I'm gonna do.
Other times, I have a vague idea,
and then there are the moments where, yes,
you know exactly what you wanna do, what you wanna create,
but you often find out that, especially if you're working
with found objects, like I do, that the objects will dictate
what you're going to make.
Robert: It's a very organic process.
You pick something up, and then you look at it in different
angles, and you could suddenly see, well, wait a second,
this should be part of a headset for a character,
or this should be a piston, or maybe this will be a part of a
I don't know.
Robert: There have been times too,
when I started working on a project and midway through,
I'm like, "Oh, this is going to be horrible,
this isn't working," and then suddenly I'm done with it,
and I look at it, and I'm like, "Oh, I love this.
This is--this turned out better than I thought it would."
Robert: I Started out with wanting to get into animation,
and then it turned into a "Wait a second,
I can actually build these things that will be real
creatures right there."
Robert: I love practical effects.
I still love puppets and sculptures and miniature
landscapes and models and all that kind of stuff,
and that's why I kind of became obsessed with making it.
You know, I could probably focus in on figure sculpture and other
kinds of things, but this is a lot more fun.
BJ: If you'd like to see more of his work,
go to his website at robertrogalski.com.
And now here's a look at some upcoming arts events around
BJ: At the Sacramento Zoo in California,
animals get the opportunity to create works of art.
It's all part of a program that helps build stronger
relationships with the animals and their trainers.
Lara Kirkendall: We use operant conditioning here at the zoo.
So, if an animal chooses not to participate in any of the
activities we have scheduled for them, they don't have to.
So sometimes our animals will just sit there and stare at us.
That's enriching as well.
They can watch others paint.
Lara: Well, behavioral enrichment programs have been
part of the zoo community for decades and decades,
making sure to enrich our animals and give them new,
unique opportunities that they would experience had they grown
up in the wild, and here in human care,
making sure they have a similar type of behavioral atmosphere
that they would in the wild.
We don't have any rules for our art here at the zoo.
The animals can experience it however they like,
but painting is kind of new because it gives us an
opportunity to enrich our animals in kind of a different,
So we thought it would be entertaining for the visitors
It'd be a good bonding experience between the animals
and their keepers, and everybody loves to paint,
so we figured our animals would, too.
It's a tempera-based paint, so it's just exactly what you would
use for your children.
Sadie Hutchinson: When lemurs are painting,
it's definitely a different reaction compared
Chimpanzees do seem to be very aware when we are getting
something ready for them, and we'll see those excited
behaviors and vocalizations that they do.
With lemurs, they're really food-motivated,
so they'll just notice that you have a cup of treats,
and if you have a target pole, like the yellow ball.
They really can just connect those dots and say that, "Oh,
they're about to start a target training session," and so,
oftentimes, they'll run right over to the target.
Sara: So during painting, we have a few different options.
If the chimpanzees are all separated,
we can do some one-on-one painting sessions,
or if they're all together, we can do a co-op painting,
if you will, and that's where the personalities come
Maria, who is Amelia's daughter, she is 16 years old,
and she has learned a lot from her mother.
She is very expressive, so if she's upset,
she will let you know, and she'll let all the other
Amelia and Maria have no problem just pushing right to the front
and taking over the painting session.
The boys who are a little less confident can have their turn
when they're all separated for feeding.
Sara: You can watch their mind trying to see what they
wanna do with the paintbrush, so if they turn around and start
painting the walls, you can really see some sort of
If they decide that they just wanna smear some fun stuff all
over the walls or the floors of their enclosure, they're done.
I think I have gotten a little bit closer with these animals,
and I've built a little bit of trust by doing some of these
painting and training sessions and enrichment programs
Lara: There are a lot of purposes to this painting.
It's not just for the animals to show art.
It's for us to maybe get in touch with our animals in a
A lot of our animals are protected contact,
so we can't get our hands on them.
Let's say, an animal needs an ultrasound.
Maybe they need salve put on their foot.
Maybe they have an injury to a toenail.
If we've worked with our keeper-staff to maintain a
trustworthy relationship, and they've had fun with their
keepers, paint is no different than ultrasound gel.
So you can put that on the animal.
They've experienced this before, so it's a win-win situation for
the keeper as well as the animal.
Lara: If we stopped that painting program and behavioral
enrichment we have here, I think some of the animals would
definitely be disappointed.
The hedgehog may not notice, but the chimpanzees,
after about three or four months, would maybe notice,
"Hey, not having as much color as I used to.
I'm not getting to interact with those fun things,"
and then it's just a little bit less of a sensory treat for
them, so we'd have to find other ways of engaging those animals,
so that would be a little bit of a work and a stretch for us to
find other ways because they really do enjoy it,
and it's part and parcel to making their lives as best as
they can be here in human care.
BJ: Learn more about the Sacramento Zoo at saczoo.org.
BJ: Located in Orlando, Florida,
Villa ConRoy is the home of Connie and Roy Brand.
Each month, they open their home for a concert,
bringing together folk musicians and fans.
♪ My dog is black and white, sings to me at night ♪
♪ Never quite remembers the words ♪
♪ But he knows it's all right
♪ Leans up against my door
♪ And he sings more than I ask him for ♪
♪ And his howl is howlin' free ♪
♪ But he never quite remembers about the melody ♪
♪ Runs around
Connie Brand: One reason we continue to have these
concerts is because we feel like we wanna preserve folk.
It's acoustic, it's bluegrass, it's Americana,
but mainly it's the singer-songwriters.
♪ And he raises a brow and makes it clear ♪
♪ Let me out or I'll go right here ♪
Connie: A lot of people come for the first time said,
"We had no idea it was gonna be this great."
We are motivated by our desires to promote culture.
We've had performers all over the world come here,
and it's very interesting to learn the individual's
perception on life through their music and through their songs.
♪ My second wife and I made vows to love and to protect ♪
♪ If only someone at the church would've stood up to object ♪
♪ Oh, but how the heck could anyone ♪
♪ Have known what she'd become
♪ 'Cause instead of bein' better ♪
♪ She was worse than number one ♪
♪ And if I wasn't so
Tony Macaluso: With a place like this, it's just fantastic.
I mean, the reception you get, it's just--it just makes you
feel so good.
It's, just, it's really special.
It's always warm, it's always great.
It's always really, really comfortable.
You know, that first--that first round of applause was just
It's just really good.
♪ I've become so bitter, I can't be sweet on you ♪
Mike Jurgensen: Few and far between are the acoustic venues
around the state these days, it seems,
so it's such a treat to find a place like this where people can
get together and hear live music and have fun together.
Roy Brand: I am a commercial builder,
and I design houses, based on Frank Lloyd Wright "form
How the place looks is "form," but function is more important.
Roy: For the performers who really love this place,
it's acoustically perfect.
They could play unplugged here, which means they don't have to
have the amplification because it's like a violin case.
♪ This porch swing, man, I wish it could talk ♪
♪ It's swung a thousand miles
♪ Sure seen a lot
♪ Birthday parties, Halloweens ♪
♪ The good years, the bad years ♪
♪ And in-betweens
♪ Training wheels when they came off ♪
♪ The first ride solo around the block ♪
♪ Kids off to practice, back home from school ♪
♪ The teenage years when we weren't cool ♪
♪ And all of the sudden, before you know ♪
♪ A young couple's out front, swingin' real slow ♪
♪ Try not to pry, but keep 'em in sight ♪
♪ Till we flash a porch light
♪ Time to say good night
Mike Jurgensen: It's hugely important for us to have
opportunities to play at a place like Villa ConRoy.
We're always looking for places to play our kind of music,
folk music, contemporary folk, and it's rare to come across a
place like Villa ConRoy.
It's such a treasure to have here in Orlando.
♪ Now the years have passed, the kids have grown ♪
♪ And they've moved on out, built lives of their own ♪
♪ But we still have those quiet nights ♪
♪ Sittin' in this swing in the soft moonlight ♪
♪ This porch swing might've seen better days ♪
♪ The slats are worn, and the cushion's frayed ♪
♪ The squeaky chain marks a steady beat ♪
♪ Swayin' back and forth as you swing your feet ♪
♪ The grandkids sure don't mind a bit ♪
♪ They laugh and play as they swing on it ♪
♪ I wouldn't replace it for anything ♪
♪ There's memories in this old porch swing ♪
♪ Yeah, there's memories in this old porch swing ♪
Mike: Thank you.
Melanie Bischof: Roy and Connie are just incredible to have
opened their home to us, and such a beautiful home.
What I love about these concerts is the community and the feeling
of family in this, and we really feel like we've been brought
into as a part of the folk community over the years we've
It's like a big family.
Sigy Nagys: Most venues are dying out that feature,
this type of music, and we are basically a
Roy: Now, Connie and I are art collectors.
We are not artists; however, we know art.
She brought me into the world of ballet.
She brought me into the world of philharmonic.
She brought me--she drug me into it,
but I walked behind her with my wallet open,
and we have--we have a lot of fun,
have a lot of fun.
♪ In a song, singin' out at the top of a mountain ♪
♪ Comes the plea of someone
♪ Who's been blessed with it all ♪
♪ Too close to the edge in search of the meanin' ♪
♪ Lost in the rhyme, I'm startin' to thaw ♪
♪ Help me, help me, help me
♪ All you gotta do is help me
♪ Why don't you help me
BJ: And that wraps it up for this edition of "KPBS/arts."
For more arts and culture, visit KPBS.org/Arts,
where you'll find featured videos, blogs,
and information on upcoming arts events.
Until next time, I'm BJ Robinson.
Thanks for watching.
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