WEDU Arts Plus


Episode 1006

Meet the culinary artists at a St. Petersburg bakery who are crafting mouthwatering works of art. Learn about the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, a visual arts organization that celebrates the art of making books. Hear the award-winning a cappella group, Stiletta, an all-female musical sextet. Louisiana artist Jeromy Young shares the process behind his classically styled paintings.

AIRED: March 18, 2021 | 0:26:45

- [Announcer] This is a production of WEDU PBS,

Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota.

(bright orchestral music)

- [Announcer] Major funding for WEDU Arts Plus

is provided through the Greater Cincinnati Foundation

by an arts-loving donor who encourages others

to support your PBS station, WEDU.

And by the Pinellas Community Foundation,

giving humanity a hand since 1969.

- [Dalia] In this edition of WEDU Arts Plus,

local bakers create mouthwatering works of art.

- Everything we've put on the cakes,

usually, for the most part, is edible.

So our airbrushing is all edible,

our hand-painting is all edible.

- [Dalia] Making books from scratch.

- [Jeff] There's always been a constant stream

of very talented artists and residents

that have worked in the space.

- [Dalia] Creating sound underground.

(acapella music)

- We perform at the Times Square-42nd Street Station a lot.

And you get tourists, you get commuters,

you get crazy people.

- [Dalia] And drawing inspiration from the masters.

- I put a lot of thought into the idea.

I look at a lot of old master compositions and everything.

and I'll do some sketches and stuff,

some drawings, and make sure I get my composition right.

- It's all coming up next on WEDU Arts Plus.

(rhythmic piano music)

(relaxed electronic music)

Hello, I'm Dalia Colon, and this is WEDU Arts Plus.

This first segment was produced by students

at St. Petersburg College in partnership with WEDU.

Baker Jovana Boksen leads a close-knit team

of culinary artists in creating delicious masterpieces

in the form of custom cakes.

Go behind the scenes of the process

at the Artistic Whisk in St. Petersburg.

(light electronic music)

- So our main focus at the Artistic Whisk

in our wedding cakes

is to always give the clients what they want.

So I usually meet with clients, lately on Zoom or Skype,

to get their design and their ideas.

So most of our outdoor weddings

are actually styrofoam cakes.

So fake inside,

decorated with fondant edible materials on the outside.

And then all the cake served to guests

is actually kept in the kitchen

in a nice room-temperature room.

So no one knows they didn't eat

that beautiful cake on display.

So not only do we do wedding cakes

here at the Artistic Whisk,

but we also do a lot of celebration cakes,

groom's cakes, anniversaries, graduation.

And we get to do some really fun cakes.

A lot of sculpted cakes

that is really much like 3D artwork

that you can also get to eat.

(light electronic music continues)

- The team here at the Artistic Whisk

is kinda something that you've always wanted

in your whole working experience.

It's something that I've always wanted in my life.

Much more like a family-team vibe

that we have going on here.

- Earlier this year,

we all decided to get matching tattoos.

'Cause we all are kind of tattoo people.

We all did different pieces to a recipe

'cause that's kinda how we are here.

We're a small team, but we're very strong together.

I have sugar and salt, sweet and salty.

- I myself ended up with butter and vanilla beans.

- I have the scales.

- I have baking powder and an egg.

- Mine is flour or wheat.

- We're all very much friends,

not only in the workplace, but outside as well.

I think that's what makes us work so well together.

I've never airbrushed anything before I worked here.

And it very quickly became one of my favorite things to do.

The cake I was just working on

with the mermaid scales, that actually uses a stencil.

So it's done much differently.

It's much more time consuming, a lot more delicate.

You have to be a lot more patient with this.

And it's done with just a little stencil

that you have to actually tape

or pin onto the cake itself.

The cake also has to be fondant,

which is much different too.

You can't do this technique on a buttercream cake

because it has to be a firm surface

in order to use this stencil.

So you'd pin the stencil onto the cake.

And then I airbrush certain colors.

For this cake, it was different colors,

mermaid colors, like a dark royal blue,

a lavender color, and a deep purple.

So I airbrush a mixture of those colors

to kind of fade into one another.

And then after they dry a little bit,

I pull the the stencil off of there.

And then very delicately,

I have to go back with a paint brush

and clean in between those little lines,

because the stencil is also very, very fine.

So it sometimes leaks a little bit of color.

In order to get those very clean, crisp lines,

you have to go back and clean sometimes a little bit.

- I feel like one of the most exciting ones

of cakes that we've all gotten to work on

was one it's actually over there.

It's just like a big tiered cake

with a bunch of sugar flowers all over it.

And that was a big project for all of us.

One of our biggest projects here.

- Each one of these flowers is made petal by petal,

that you have to roll out your gum paste first.

We actually use a pasta roller

so that we can get it super, super thin.

Then we cut it out with whatever cutter we need

to make the specific flower that we're working on.

After you cut out each petal,

then you put it onto a foam pad.

And then with a metal baller tool,

you round every single edge, ruffling it,

thinning it out even more, making it look more lifelike.

Depending on the flower that you're making,

some of the petals have to dry and sit overnight

before you can build the flower to itself.

Some of them, such as roses, you build them petal by petal

onto its little stem onto the bulb.

So it's really cool to see all of those come to life.

- So everything we've put on the cakes,

usually, for the most part, is edible.

So our airbrushing is all edible.

Our hand-painting is all edible.

And for the tree stump cake,

we did use airbrushing and a combination of hand painting.

So it just depended on which parts

of the cake you were painting.

I would say all the fungi was hand painted.

I would say transporting our cakes

is the scariest part of our job.

We have a delivery van now that's just new this year.

If our cakes are very tall,

or if they're really skinny and narrow,

we always drive a wooden dowel

down the middle of the entire cake,

keeping from it tipping over all the way.

Kind of is another added support.

Each tier, I would say,

so that way it's not collapsing on itself.

We use a plant-based plastic straw.

So it's biodegradable.

It's not regular plastic.

So that's what we do.

- For more information, visit

From paper to prints, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts

celebrates the art of making books

and takes us inside their annual tradition

of the Winter Book, a publication

that embodies the artistic vision of the organization.

(relaxed electronic music)

- The book, like painting, like sculpture, has evolved.

We have a really broad definition of book.

We think of the book as a contained narrative.

And the container can be anything

from traditional book covers

to a box that contains a set of cards,

a wall where a sequence of images has been placed.

It could be a sculptural book

that people would see from a number of different angles.

We really want people to understand

that books still are relevant,

but books might look different.

(rhythmic piano music) (machine whirs)

Minnesota Center for Book Arts

is a nonprofit visual arts center

that focuses on the arts of the book.

It opened its doors in 1985.

We're proud to say

that we're the largest and most comprehensive center

of its kind in the world.

From the very beginning, it's always been about community

for the Center in terms of having multiple access points

for the services and the programs that we offer.

So we have programs

that span from preschoolers to master artists.

In our main gallery, we have about four shows each year.

The gallery really gives us the opportunity

to engage the public, educate,

and show them just how far this idea of book can go.

We have a retail shop called the Shop at MCBA.

We're consigning well over 300 different artists

representing their work.

And it's a wonderful shop in many different ways.

First and foremost, it's to provide income to artists.

There's a number of different ways

that artists can engage with the MCBA.

There's always been a constant stream

of very talented artists and residents

that have worked in the space,

both in printing, binding, and paper.

That continues today in projects like the Winter Book.

(bright orchestral music)

The Winter Book is a publication

that we think of as our flagship publication.

We try to incorporate the different traditional methods

that are being done in our studios.

The Winter Book is hand printed.

It's hand bound.

We have a great community that comes in and helps with it.

We have master binders and master printers.

It really celebrates the idea of craft.

It's a wonderful way for us to demonstrate

what we do here at the Center and what we stand for.

So each year when we do a Winter Book, it's quite unique.

We start with the text, and then we work off of that.

This is the Winter Book that we did in 2013.

It's done with paper that we made in our studios here.

It's all about this relationship to the Earth.

This is a book called "Come and Get It,"

poetry and three stories by Kevin Kling.

He has put down on paper a performance piece that he did.

This is a Winter Book that we did in 2007.

It was a anthology of visual poets called "Vispoeologee."

So within, you have a score for a performance.

You have additional prints and broadsides.

Different games that you can play.

You have books in the form of a set

of foreign language cards, dealing with a made-up alphabet.

All of these are examples of Winter Books,

and each one kind of uses the structure of the Winter Book,

the materials that go into it, to best tell the message.

- So the importance of a Winter Book being made by hand

is a celebration of the tradition

of all of the crafts that go into making a book.

This year's Winter Book, it's the 25th book,

and it's a collection of writing from the community members.

So it's the first time ever

that the writing has come from the actual makers

that work at the Center for Book Arts.

- The people who work here know so much

about what it means to shape something by hand,

be this paper-making or bookbinding or printing.

We know about that.

So we are calling it "From the Center:

"On Community and The Practice of Making."

And so we wanted to really acknowledge

not just the people who've worked on the book,

but all the other people.

(upbeat instrumental music)

- The mission of Minnesota Center for Book Arts

is to lead the advancement of the book

as an evolving art form.

We have a dedication to preserving the traditions,

but we also want to encourage experimentation.

We want to be able to offer artists

the opportunity to express themselves

in a way that makes sense to their contemporaries.

I like to think of Minnesota Center for Book Arts

as a full resource for artists to come in and create.

We have a very inspiring space to work in.

We have great instructors.

That it's a place where people can come and explore.

They can appreciate.

They can master skills.

Or they can just come here and be inspired.

(water splashing)

(light chiming music)

- Learn more about the organization at

Music Under New York is an integral part

of New York city's transit program to promote the arts.

Award-winning acapella sextet Stiletta

stands out with their unique musical arrangements

and the unmistakable sound

of one of the world's best beatboxers.

(lively acapella music) (singers vocalizing)

♪ Get down ♪

♪ Get pumped ♪

(MC Beats beatboxing)

- When I moved to New York City,

I had this vision that I wanted

this fierce, strong feminine girl group

that incorporated both acapella music

and choreography and dance.

And so that's how I came up with the idea for Stiletta.

(lively acapella music)

♪ You in ♪

♪ I am ♪

(overlapping vocals)

♪ One, two, three ♪

I came up with the idea of the stiletto heel,

which is extremely feminine, obviously.

And also a stiletto is a knife.

So it's both feminine and fierce.

(lively acapella music)

♪ You run and tell your friends that you're leaving me ♪

♪ You say they don't see what you see in me ♪

♪ You wait a couple months then you gon' see ♪

♪ You'll never find nobody better than me, ha ♪

There's just some incredible art and music

and culture in the subway.

And something just made me think, you know,

"I've got this fantastic acapella group,

"I wonder if we could do something like this."

I went to the website.

I found the application, and I submitted it.

We got accepted to audition.

There was a panel of, like, 30 judges.

It was wild, but I don't regret it for a second.

I think it's been

the most amazing, rewarding experience for us.

- We perform at the Times Square-42nd Street Station a lot.

And you get tourists, you get commuters,

you get crazy people, you get everybody. (chuckles)

And it's really, really fun, and it's always a trip.


People will stop.

And they'll stand and watch our entire set,

which is, like, an hour long.

- So we're @stilettanyc.

- Our main goal, and not just in the music that we pick,

but in just who we are as people,

is to inspire our audiences

and uplift women and empower women.

And so the songs that really Judy chooses

all have that kind of message. (lively acapella music)

♪ I used to compromise ♪

♪ I had no voice ♪

♪ I tried to imitate ♪

♪ That was my choice ♪

♪ So now this melody ♪

♪ Has taken over me ♪

♪ And so I'll be there ♪

♪ To makin' noise ♪

We have an original song called "Get Pumped."

It's just about basically getting up and dancing

and just feeling good about yourself and wearing high heels.

♪ Stomp your heels and strut ♪

- What makes us different maybe

from other acapella groups that are out there,

of course, there's the choreo that we do.

But also our arrangements are very specific

to our own sound. (lively acapella music)

♪ Get high, get high ♪

♪ Get low, get low ♪

♪ Get into the beat now ♪

♪ It's bound to explode ♪

(MC Beats beatboxing)

♪ Get pumped ♪

MC Beats is a huge part of why we sound the way that we do.

- I am the percussionist and beatboxer of the group.


2012 was the first time I went to the world championship.

So at that point I was beatboxing a couple of years.

And I ended up placing third in the world.


Shortly after, Judy found me,

and I started doing acapella.

And that's been my main focus since then.

(crowd cheers)

Thank you so much.

My main job is to keep tempo.

- With most acapella groups,

the bass and the VP or the beatboxer,

they work together to create the beats.

Because you need to add a sort of bassy feel

to a lot of the beats to sound like an electronic system.

(beatboxing) ♪ Doom, doom, doom ♪

♪ Doom-doom, doom, doom ♪

♪ Doom-doom, doom-doom, doom ♪

My main job is to sound completely non-human.

- There was a time where people,

when we were doing our Music Under New York gigs,

and people were like, you know,

"Unplug the radio," or stuff like that.

'Cause they really thought we had tracks underneath us.

We never do. It's always live.

And it's always all six of us doing it.

(lively acapella music) (vocalizing)

- In these past two years,

since we started performing in MUNY,

we've gotten so much tighter.

So many hours after hours after hours

of singing together in that subway.

It's made our group really, really grow.

♪ Let me take you there ♪

- It seems like in that moment

when the six of us are finally together,

it's like, even though there's all this chaos around

and you never know what's gonna happen,

and you never know what you're gonna get,

it's, like, our sense of calm.


- Being in a subway kind of forces you

to acknowledge what's immediately in front of you.

♪ You need a girl to blow your mind, yeah ♪


(crowd cheers)

(light chiming music)

- You can hear more by visiting

One of the joys of painting

is that artists can express themselves in their own ways.

But there are still those who believe strongly

in the classical tradition.

Jeromy Young of Lafayette, Louisiana is among them.

And he couldn't have a more prestigious role model.

(pleasant orchestral music)

- I studied Rembrandt the most obsessively

because he's, like, the pinnacle of painting.

He had this intimate knowledge of paint.

Not only that, but he had great ideas.

His compositions were genius.

He turned out lots of paintings,

just all complete masterpieces.

- [Narrator] You don't have to spend much time

peering at one of Young's paintings

to see that his diligence is paying off.

His depiction of his mother's tea set is so precise

that it almost looks as though you could pick up the teapot

and pour yourself a cup of tea.

To achieve this look, Young has studied every aspect

of the works of artisans from the Baroque period,

even down to the way they prepare

their canvases and wooden panels.

Panels require more work, but he likes their sturdiness.

- Get rabbit skin glue, some gesso.

You have to prepare the rabbit skin glue,

mix it with water, heat it.

Let it gel. Mix the gesso.

And then you paint a layer onto your panel.

Let it dry. Sand it smooth.

Paint another layer, sand it smooth.

Do that about four or five times.

And then I do the imprimatura, which is,

basically, it's a colored layer,

and depending on what you're painting,

determines what color you're gonna use.

- [Narrator] Young says he always knows

exactly what he's going to paint

before he dips his brush into any color.

With still life, Young positions each item

exactly as he wants to paint it

and makes sure the lighting is also just as he wants it.

- I put a lot of thought into the idea.

I look at a lot of old master compositions and everything.

And I'll do some sketches and stuff, some drawings,

and make sure I get my composition right.

- [Narrator] With what he considers the ideal setup

and rough drawings on his canvas,

the artist begins the process

of adding many layers of paint,

but only after the proceeding layers have dried.

- The reasoning behind that is depth.

When I go to a museum, you know,

and I look at old master works,

there is a depth to those paintings that's uncommon today.

The reason they had depth

is because they did them in layers.

- [Narrator] As the project builds

to the final layers of painting,

Jeromy says the work takes on more definition,

but it also gains a protective layer.

- Glazing and scumbling,

a lot of your aesthetics go on at that time.

A lot of your more brilliant colors and everything.

You can do some retouching after that,

but that layer is gonna be high in oils.

Each successive layer has to have more oil than the last

so that it prevents cracking.

- Many of Young's completed works

look as though they were pulled from earlier times,

perhaps because he does study the Baroque period.

- This is like a Chardin.

Chardin was one of the most famous still life painters.

So you know you can get a fine influence from that.

Walnuts he would use sometimes and stuff, you know.

Some of it's, like figs in a jar is more somethin'

that represents us around here.

- [Narrator] Young paints oysters,

something art lovers in South Louisiana

enjoy more of more often.

One of his oyster paintings is drawing fans nationwide.

- The piece that was showing at the new Orleans auction,

the minute I walked in and saw it,

it was like, "That is, it's exquisite."

The exterior of the oyster shell

is so unattractive and rough and those brown colors.

But then on the inside, the pearl and the luminescence.

When you see the pieces, you get to see

sort of the ugly side of the oyster

with the beautiful interior.

- [Narrator] But that's not Ken Douet's favorite

Jeromy Young painting.

- The way the oak trees flow here in South Louisiana

with the moss on them and everything,

he captures those so well.

The piece in particular that I like and that I have

has that singular oak tree with the moss in it.

And it just makes me feel very comfortable, very at home.

And then, of course, the cattle.

Growing up a country boy,

we had cows, and we'd milk cows and stuff like that.

- The young artist also does portraits.

He admits that can be quite challenging.

- 'Cause it's the most difficult thing to do.

And it's something you have to constantly study, you know.

And it's very aesthetic at the same time.

You can't fake a portrait.

You have to get everything pretty much just right.

- Well, I wanted to give something very special to my niece.

When I started looking at what exactly I wanted,

I decided I wanted a painting of her and her future husband.

And at that time, I came to Jeromy

and asked him if he would do it.

And he did.

He did one when she got engaged,

and he did one after her wedding.

And both of them are just absolutely beautiful.

- Jeromy says he started painting at about nine.

But by then, he had already spent a few years

perfecting drawings of his dog and some landscapes.

By the time he was 18, he was getting small commissions.

- And my mom, you know, at work she'd say,

"Hey, my son's a painter."

People might be talking

about getting a portrait or something painted.

Then they would call me up and ask me to do it.

And I would do it for this very inexpensive,

(chuckles) this low price.

- In addition to painting, Young runs his own gallery,

which doubles as a frame shop.

- I also enjoy promoting local artists.

And I'm glad to be able to give them

a place to hang their work.

At some point, I will commit more to painting.

That's where I wanna be.

Framing, I can't give that up.

Framing can be expensive, and it's expensive for a reason.

It's expensive for me to get the materials

to make the frames.

But I have access to any frame that I want.

So I can frame my paintings however I want 'em.

(pleasant orchestral music)

(light chiming music)

- For more of Young's work, go to

And that wraps it up for this edition WEDU Arts Plus.

For more arts and culture, visit

Until next time, I'm Dalia Colon.

Thanks for watching.

(rhythmic orchestral music)

- [Announcer] Major funding for WEDU Arts Plus

is provided through the Greater Cincinnati Foundation

by an arts-loving donor who encourages others

to support your PBS station, WEDU.

And by the Pinellas Community Foundation,

giving humanity a hand since 1969.

(light music)