WEDU Arts Plus


Episode 1007

An interactive museum in Tarpon Springs aims to keep the experience of arcades and vintage video games alive. Helen Cordero's renowned figurines reflect her culture's emphasis on oral tradition. Abel Alejandre explores themes of masculinity and vulnerability in his intricate pencil drawings. A program is working to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to express themselves.

AIRED: April 01, 2021 | 0:26:45

- [Announcer] This is a production

of WEDU PBS. (gentle upbeat music)

Tampa, St.Petersburg, Sarasota.

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.

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

no quarters required for this fun interactive museum.

- To me, it's gaming therapy

it's very relaxing, getting to hit the flippers to see

how much the game has evolved over the years.

- Pottery that conveys history.

- She thought of her grandfather, she said, "you know

I'm gonna make a piece

for my grandfather and he's, he'll be telling a story."

- [Announcer] An exploration of masculinity,

and vulnerability through an artist's drawings.

- [Narrator] I paint,

I've done some sculpture, some film work.

That's why I prefer going by artists

because it gives me the freedom to basically do

whatever I want.

- [Announcer] And a special place

where creativity is front and center.

- I think by giving them this opportunity

we're tapping into something that a lot

of people have either been told they can't do.

Or people might have a curiosity about, can I do this?

Am I a dancer?

What do I look like dancing?

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

(upbeat jazz music)

(gentle upbeat 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.

The Replay Museum preserves the experience

of retro arcade games for generations to enjoy.

Check out this hands-on experience located

in Tarpon Springs.

(soft rhythmic music)

(upbeat gaming music)

- My name is Bobbi.

I work the front desk

and help handle our event calendar, try

to plan some fun events for people to come out and play for.

I worked here for four years.

I love it.

My husband and I actually had our, our wedding here.

So I love it like it's mine, even though I just work here.

Brian and Becky are just big gamers themselves.

They love amusements, they love playing games.

So I think that they amassed this collection,

and kind of felt selfish, just keeping it all to themselves

and wanted to share it with the rest of the world.

- A place like replay is like a test ground for these games.

We see things break that nobody else sees.

We have problems that nobody else will encounter because

of the amount of plays that these games get on them.

You know longevity is always the goal.

I wanna make sure each repair is something that's gonna make

the game last a lot longer, hopefully as opposed

to like continually going back in and fixing something.

But yeah, there's sort of a checklist as far as like looking

for bad connectors because that can just cause things

to overheat, if there's not good signal going through

- [Narrator] Just cleaning the pin balls

so that the game will play properly is a big part of it.

- [Announcer] A lot of the older games we'll switch out

to different style of light bulbs

and put LEDs inside of them.

So just to take away the heat, it draws less power.

So, there's, there's certain things like that

to keep in mind.

The designers of the game would put notes in the game

that a well lit game is going to be played more.

And at that matter, a clean well lit game.

So it's more like, you know we've got people

that come in for the first time and they,

they kinda just start walking around

and it's kind of hard to say what makes them go

and put their hands on that first game

especially if it's one they haven't seen before.

But I think it always comes down to some part

of like what they've been through in their life.

Some part of their history, whether they're into cars

or like if there's some kind of movie that they're into.

It could be a band

that's, that's highlighted in one of these games.

A lot of it will, will definitely be like the artwork.

I feel like if you're able to see the game,

it's going to be the artwork.

(gaming machine noises)

- Who knows if it's the colors, if it's the imagination.

I mean the older pinball machines from the seventies

they definitely pop are trying to be eye-catching

sometimes maybe slightly suggestive in a sexual manner.

But, these were back in my days

when it was, you know a room full of guys playing pinball,

where there weren't really children involved,

maybe not women around.

So you can see the kind of development

and change of art kind of moving back from risque art pieces

and being more family-friendly.

- [Announcer] I mean, you can find out a lot about yourself

just by playing games, whether it's just by yourself

you can kind of tell like how competitive

of a person you are

and how well you deal with stressful situations.

- To me, it's gaming therapy, just very relaxing, getting

to hit the flippers,

just to see how much the game has evolved over the years.

I just love it. (Ryan laughing)

- In a place like Replay with

the games that we have here

this style of gaming is something

where even if you're playing by yourself, you still have

like a social connection with people.

Whether you hear somebody yelling out of frustration

because they just lost the ball,

or somebody is like cheering because they just got to replay

or an insanely high score.

We definitely have people coming in

that are trying to set high scores.

Um, Replay is known for having scores that are

just like super hard to beat

because of how many people come in and play the games.

- [Narrator] I had a number three, number four,

for a little bit, and I've, I've been surpassed.

So I got to have to go chase it again.

- My best high score here is gonna be my GC

on Tales of Arabian Nights.

It's 44 million, I got to the wizard mode,

and rescued the princess.

Part of my, like high score chase isn't

even technically the score.

It's more beating the game and reaching that wizard mode

whatever that final objective is.

- My son is in the Navy now he's up in South Carolina,

I'll send him like a text message real quick

and say, "look at the score I just put up."

And he'll do the same thing.

If he goes out in the community

and he's able to play pinball

or any of the video games, he'll send me a score back.

So, it's a way for us to stay in contact with each other

and connect, even though we're hundreds of miles apart.

- Seeing the generations actually come together, enjoy,

and love these games, is why I do what I do.

I know we're doing the right thing.

I know we're here for the right reasons.

And we are sharing all this fun with generations to come

because we need the younger kids to be interested in this.

If there's any history or future for arcades

we got to get kids playing.

We got to get kids playing pinball.

We got to get kids playing the retro games

because someone's got to be interested

once we're gone. (gentle upbeat music)

- [Dalia] For more information, visit

- In new Mexico's Cochiti Pueblo, Potter Helen Cordero

renowned figurines showcase her culture's emphasis

on oral tradition and storytelling.

It was her grandfather's stories

that helped inspire her clay sculptures.

(native music playing)

- She put her, her life breath

and her soul her spirit into every piece.

You know, it goes back to, you know working with the clay

and bringing it out from mother earth.

You know, you offer the cornmeal and then

when you start to work with the clay, you put your spirit

into it by breathing on it and you know, working

with it and putting your soul into the, into the piece.

- What Helen did was she taught the outside world

the non-Cochiti world, that these figures all had stories

or what we'd say with narratives.

And by telling us that story, she personalized pottery

for the non-native world

and what Helen kept alive throughout her life,

through her smile.

And her willingness to talk to people was the story

of her family and her life at Cochiti.

- She was almost like a hero to me, a heroine to me.

Helen Cordero was not only a famous Potter

who invented the storyteller,

but she was also my grandmother

and grandmother to a lot of other kids in the Pueblo.

She cared about family

she cared about culture.

She was very big on traditions.

She can remember, you know sitting around with

the other children listening

to her grandfather, tell stories

(native American chanting music)

Not only is the,

the story being told, you know, from, from visions.

But the children are also envisioning

that same story in their minds.

And that goes hand in hand with Pueblo life.

We don't write down our stories they're told, you know

by word of mouth and we teach, you know verbally

and you have to be a good listener if you're gonna,

if you're gonna learn.

I think her biggest struggle was

that she started so late in life.

She didn't start till her kids were grown

and they had kids of their own.

And she kind of had that free time or that idle time.

She started off with pots

and she just, you know she couldn't make them symmetrical

and it didn't it wasn't flowing for her.

It wasn't something that she enjoyed doing.

And she made, I think some animals at first

and she thought of her grandfather.

She said, you know, I'm,

I'm gonna make a piece for my grandfather

and he's he'll be telling a story.

When we create the figurine the eyes are closed

because he's really envisioning

the story as he's telling it.

And his mouth is open because he's narrating the story.

And she always said, you know, make him make him handsome

or (foreign language)

And the children

that are climbing around, you know she said, "look, look at

the children now and see how they sit or see how they lay.

And that's how you place them on the Grandfather."

And she always said, "and, and make them look kinda chubby."

You know, she liked to see chubby children.

That was her idea of healthy, healthy children.

(gentle upbeat music)

- Social commentary in

the Pueblo is a longstanding tradition.

And Cochiti is well-known for that,

for that social commentary through clay.

There is figures that the latter part

of the 19th century, 1880s perhaps 1890s of circus figures,

of Spaniards, of Anglos, they appear to be bureaucrats

and other officials.

(upbeat music)

Helen grew up in a world that was quiet

of other inventions, other places

that she grew up farming and

and taking care of the family, taking care

of the traditions in the village.

Following that, that period of World War II

there was this rapid increase of, of things that happened.

Part of it is maybe radio or television

that comes to the village.

Part of it is electricity that comes

to the village in the 1950s.

So Helen, is one of those people who,

who are between those era's.

Helen telling the story

of her grandfather is reminding people

that to listen to these stories

that your elders are telling you.

That they still have relevance, even the day of TVs and cars

and the things that, that Helen enjoyed having around her.

That these stories

that her grandfather told her still had a day

to day relevance to her were still important to her.

- [Elizabeth] When she was creating, she was in her,

you know, her happy place, that was, that was her joy

and that was what she, she really liked to do.

- Helen's work is,

like any other great aesthetically minded person.

Somehow they anticipate the coming era

and people's appreciation of things.

She had that ability to

to see the world, understand the world, digest it,

and put it back in front of us through her clay.

Her ability as a visionary is seeing the world

and showing us what the world looks like.

- You know, I'm proud of her.

She really, I wanna say broke the ground

for everybody else.

(native music)

Working on the storyteller, that was kind of a way for her

to put a special time in her life when she was growing up

into something that she was creating.

I think that's, you know, so special.

(bright upbeat music)

- [Dalia] To learn more, visit

and search "Helen Cordero."

- Hyper realist artists, Abel Alejandre, is best known

for his exploration of masculinity and vulnerability

through his intricate pencil drawings.

Up next, Alejandre shares his thoughts

with young artists attending Fullerton College

in California. (bright upbeat music)

- My name is Abel Alejandre and I am in artists.

I do printmaking, I draw, I, I paint,

I've done some sculpture, some film work,

and some performance work.

And that's why I, I prefer going by artist

because it gives me the freedom to basically do

whatever I want. (laughing)

I feel that it's a privilege

and I feel honored to be able to do what I do.

And generally, and people are very supportive.

And so I feel blessed by that.

(fast paced, upbeat music)

I just kind of go with

what I'm feeling about, you know, like

like what I think would work best.

And so it was like, like just, I just want this

this line where to look nervous.

I may do like a, you know, like not such a clean lines

like kinda like a little, a little wavy

just it has some nervous energy to it.

But like I'm more interested in

in relaxing and having fun with it

and just trying to make a better piece.

And I don't like I don't have any rules

as to how to do anything.

And I'm always, I'm always trying to experiment

and just see where things go.

And I, I, can I consider him up here.

(upbeat music)

Well, in this case, (throat clearing)

that piece is about, is it's called it's a tale

of two birds, but it's a play on a tale of two cities.

It's about the widest El Paso border and all the death

and violence that, that meant that stays there.

Most of it orchestrated by men.

The people which is a central figure on the hands of people.

They were appealing to the heavens be liberated

and so that's what, like the telephone lines

that resemble, all these crosses, you know, reaching

to the heavens.

They're, they're calling God

and that they, they want to be rescued,

but they're not being rescued

and they're just, they're just living in chaos and death.

And the roosters represent the men who they,

they put their faith in they're are not getting them out.

Yeah, they're flightless birds.


And so, so you know, sometimes, you know, I'll use

the rooster to,

to just advance like other, other narratives

that, you know, that I've been working on for the work.

(cheerful instrumental music)

- I wanted to really just educate them about

what I do and what the art world is like you know, to the,

to the extent that I've experienced it.

And, hopefully they do get some sort of idea

that they can then put into action and, you know

or not get burned or not get too hung up

on what people think.

And, you know, just to be mentally healthy

and just create the work, regardless

of what other people say that you know, your work should be.

So that, that, that's, that's what I, I, I'm hoping

that I did here.

And if I didn't, I, I'm

I'm still glad that I came here and that I tried.

(Soft upbeat music)

- [Narrator] To find out more, check out

- What do you get when you mix art

and what's called day habilitation?

You get creativity, happiness, opportunity, and confidence.

You also get Rochester, New York's Arc of Monroe Program

where they're working to ensure

that everyone has the opportunity to express themselves.

- Thank you. (cheery piano music playing)

I knew somebody would take the bait.

- [Announcer] Dance and human being is one of

the very first things that humans ever started to do.

It's so, it's so evolutionarily built into us.

It's one of the key elements

that connects the right and the left side of your brain.

So naturally people are dancers.

- [Instructor] As a human race, we are creative people.

And, I think everybody has a need

and a want, even if they don't realize it

to create and to make art.

And it enhances the individual's lives

and I think it's just an outlet to

just be who you are.

(loud saxophone music)

- [Announcer] I have always looked

at my students as music students.

Music education itself, hasn't changed in 3000 years.

And I believe everybody can do music of some kind

regardless of any background, any physical

or supposed limitation.

(gentle upbeat music)

- Community Arts Connection is day habilitation program

that supports people with intellectual

and developmental disabilities.

They're served by the Arc of Monroe County.

- [Narrator] And they get "Oh, good.

And then when you get down..."

- [Kim] Community Arts Connection,

we actually have two programs.

We have the job readiness program, and then

we have the Artspace program.

And we utilize visual arts dance theater,

and music, fiber arts, literary arts

to allow the individuals could come

either professional artists within the community

or for them to take hobbies

or interests that they have and learn skills

that will either get them employment

or they've had employment

and now they're ready to just, have fun.

- So, there's white snow back here.

- Yeah.

- And there's snow back here, and...

- I'm in charge of the art studio.

So I teach ten different classes a week

and it ranges from jewelry making, ceramics,

to painting and working with recycled objects.

They pretty much have a wide range of classes.

I think art in itself is good for anyone.

- I enjoy working with fiber arts.

I like, like working things

with my hands like drawing pictures and painting.

After I was coming here, I feel like I'm being creative.

It makes me feel more relaxed,

and more enjoyable doing things.

- As with any, any individual, they might not be able

to have the creative outlet at home.

They might not have the materials at home

or have the support to create art or make music or dance.

So kind of give them the opportunity more here

and coming to a program like this.

And it's teaching them the skills

that they might not have learned in school.

(upbeat music)

- You want to be meaningful, all right.

So do your best possible dancing, be creative.

You can copy your neighbor,

but don't follow them around.

- [Instructor] A lot of people

who were disabled grow up being told a lot

that they can't do something

or they can't do lots of things.

I try to do the opposite.

What more can you do?

Show me, sometimes there isn't anything more,

but a lot of times there is.

- My name is Brenna Glan and I'm an artist

and in dance troupe.


I think by giving them this opportunity

we're tapping into something that a lot

of people have either been told they can't do

or people might have a curiosity about, can I do this?

Am I a dancer?

What do I look like dancing?

Will people still like me, if I get out there

and do my groove thing?

And then the recognition that comes

with the skills you learn

when you become a dancer?

Okay, well, now I know my right from my left.

Now I can identify music skills, like tempo,

and beat, and pulse.

And everyone can do the same dance at the same time.

If they want to.

Does it look like a dance you might pay $55

to go see at a big theater?

No, but it is dance.

And that person is dancing.

And that person might be doing a dance

they've never done before.

So it might not look like much,

but to that person, that could be everything.

- Good job (fast paced music)

- I started doing music for 13 years I play Trombone.

I like all music.

I like Jazz, Standard, Blues,

Rock, Classic Rock, and Motown.

(gentle upbeat music)

- when they're playing, they, they're

to a very professional level now in terms

of performance and in terms of playing with each other.

So I think socially it's added a dimension,

intellectually it's added dimension.

And to me, the bottom line is fun.

(music playing and singing)

- Art benefits anyone,

whether you have a disability or not.

Everyone has the ability,

and having a creative outlet in life, enriches one's life.

So when they have found an interest

whether it's an art, dance, music, or theater,

we're helping them own those skills

so that they can share their love of their hobby

with other people, with their families, with themselves.

And it just, it gives that creative outlet

that I think all human beings want

to have the opportunity to partake in.

- [Narrator] Learn more at

- And that wraps it up for this edition

of WEDU Arts Plus.

For more arts and culture, visit

Until next time I'm Dalia Colon.

Thanks for watching.

(dramatic upbeat 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.

(gentle upbeat music)