WLIW Arts Beat


WLIW Arts Beat - April 5, 2021

In this edition of WLIW Arts Beat, Native American tribes come together to share their culture and weave baskets; an artist renders bold, expressive art that is available to everyone; creating connections through portrait photography; a dance company that presents ballet with an edgy twist.

AIRED: April 05, 2021 | 0:28:46


>> In this edition of

"WLIW Arts Beat"...

weaving baskets full of meaning.

>> I think it's about bringing

the people together and being

able to share the traditions

that have been passed on from

generation to generation, from

our ancestors.

>> ...creating art for public


>> If I can do anything to bring

more personality or life or

color, any sort of expression to

something, more than just, "This

is a white slab of concrete..."

And that is what I want to do.

>> ...portraiture through the

camera lens...

>> I like photographs the most

when a person kind of forgets

everything around them and it's

just about them.

You know what I mean

So I want to tell your story in

that photograph.

>> ...a ballet company with a

modern edge.

>> All of dance just brings a

different connection to people.

It's something that's

expressive, and people can come

and just step away from all of

what's going on in the world and

just come and watch something

entertaining and something fun.

>> It's all ahead on this

edition of "WLIW Arts Beat."

Funding for "WLIW Arts Beat" was

made possible by viewers like


Thank you.

Welcome to "WLIW Arts Beat."

I'm Diane Masciale.

In this segment, Native American

tribes come together to embrace

tradition, share their culture,

and create wonderfully woven


Each basket is a special work of



>> Everything is connected, and

that's what makes, you know,

string and especially some of

these other materials so special

is that it's part of this life


It's part of the earth.

It's part of these things that

are native to this area, just

like we are.

You come home.

You're making dinner for your

family or you're...


>> Each basket tells a story.

Some stories have purpose.

Some stories have meanings for

each individual person.

You might be going through a

hard time, and so you would just

make a basket to help you out of

that dark space.

I think it's about bringing the

people together and being able

to share the traditions that

have been passed on from

generation to generation, from

our ancestors.

>> And that. Have it flat.

So you just eyeball it, about

where it's gonna be at.

>> I've been doing tule now for

about -- I'll say 15 years, and

what I like from it is talking

to the kids about, we have a

plant that has given its life to

us, and we need to treat that

life with care, respect it.

It's part of our culture.

Our kids sometimes will get

caught up with the games that

they can play on their phones or

the TVs.

I don't think we're losing it.

I think we're just not taking

the time to understand it and

gather it, and that's what we

need to do.

>> I think, today, a lot of

youth are having a hard time

figuring out who they are, what

it means to be Indian, or

anything like that.


>> [ Laughs ]

>> Growing up, we didn't have

the luxury of knowing a lot of

things, traditionally.

You know, a lot of them we've

learned later.

And so the connection was kind

of -- I think it was

disconnected just slightly, and

it's nice to know that we're

making it again and that

hopefully nobody forgets and we

don't have any type of other

thing that interrupts that

knowledge again.

>> Basketry tells a story of how

our people have survived.

It's the one thing that remains

constant in our culture.

>> Because, for us, everything

is connected.

Especially, you know, speaking

as a native person in general,

you know, everybody always

separates things, but everything

is connected -- the baskets and

the ceremonies and the string

and the food and the land and

the stories and the animals.

>> [ Laughs ]

>> Attention, everybody!

We had a young lady last year --

she did a tule mat and she came

back and she did a bigger one.

Her name's Sally.

[ Cheers and applause ]

>> Look at this beautiful piece

of artwork that you made.

That's special because not

everybody can do that, you know?

And so we see value in every

single thing that's done.

You know, you have little kids

right now at our gathering, and

they're making little tule ducks

or tule mats, you know?

And for us, those are, like, the

most beautiful things ever,

because that's what this is all

about is passing on that


>> Everybody that makes

something is part of this big

collective of people that are

creative and that can make

something out of nothing.

Seeking those people out that

know how to do it, you know, and

sharing their knowledge, and

then, you know -- And that's the

wonderful thing about this is

people teaching other people.

>> So, I think that's what we're

trying to do is, we're trying to

preserve that knowledge and

promote it in different ways.

It's, like, the essence of our

community, you know, and so it's

a part of us.

>> To find out more, head to


And now the "Artist Quote of the


For artist Skylar Suarez, the

street is her canvas.

Based in Tampa, Florida, this

muralist, painter, and

illustrator renders bold,

expressive art that is available

for everyone to experience.


>> You see all these houses, all

these buildings all the same

color, cookie-cutter, and I just

feel like that is so dry and


And if I can do anything to

bring more personality or life

or color, any sort of expression

to something, more than just,

"This is a white slab of

concrete," then that is what I

want to do.

[ Spray-paint can rattling ]

When I came to the U.S., first,

I had to learn English.

The way I learned English mainly

was watching a lot of TV, so I

watched a lot of cartoons --

Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network,

that kind of stuff.

>> ♪ Fairly odd parents

>> Yeah, right!

>> That was probably where I

started getting interested in as

far as, like, drawing different

styles and why one person can

look the same in one show but

different in the other,

especially when they did, like,

crossover episodes.

>> Sorry I was such a jerk.

>> Some other sources of

inspiration have been anime.

So, at first in my art career, I

didn't actually start by just

being a muralist.

I started by doing fan art and

selling at conventions, like

Tampa Bay Comic Con and MegaCon,

METROCON, all of those.

Then I started to realize that I

liked, you know, painting on

bigger canvases.

The first gig I ever got as a

muralist was -- I put an ad on

Craigslist saying, "I'm looking

for projects.

I work at a very discounted


So, I got one or two gigs off of

that, and from there,

eventually, they start coming to


>> There are fears that a serial

killer is on the loose in Tampa,


Police are warning people not to

walk alone at night in the

Seminole Heights neighborhood.

That's after a third person in

10 days was shot to death, on

Thursday night.

>> The way that the

Seminole Heights memorial mural

happened was Facebook.

Someone posted in the

Seminole Heights group, saying,

"I own this building.

I have an idea of how we could

use it to help the community."

And there were some ideas

floating around in that thread

at that point, and I said, "Hey,

I'm a mural artist.

I'm relatively new.

And I want to help out, so I

will do the mural for free.

I don't mind.

I will do the mural for free.

I'll help."

So, basically, I got up on two

big scaffolds and sketched this


I had someone -- a couple

people, actually, help me paint


And my name is down here next to

the garland situation that they

have here.

Then, about a day or two after

this was finished, we installed

these panels.

These are attached to the wall


And each one of these is for

each one of the victims.

And then we invited the

community, the Tampa police, and

everyone to come here and to

write down any messages or any

condolences they had for the

families or the community.

>> It's nerve-racking, but it's


We're a great, strong community,

and it's fantastic.

>> For the longest time, the

Francis House in

Seminole Heights didn't want to

draw your attention.

It's an HIV support home

extremely protective of its


>> Because of the work that we

do, there is stigma.

We've never had issues.

Our neighbors have always been


>> The new mural, titled

"Rooted Bloom," was painted

by Skylar Suarez.

Skylar is best-known for this,

her first memorial for the

Seminole Heights victims, a

place that's become a refuge to

mourn and pay tribute.


>> When you create something

from scratch, you definitely get

attached to it.

The point is -- I made that,

that is there, but you can't --

it's not as tangible, because

this, I can keep if I want,


This is mine.

I could sell it, but it is mine.

The moment that I put something

on a wall that isn't mine, it's

not mine anymore.

It's everyone's.

So everyone gets to enjoy it,

and, of course, you get to enjoy

it, too.

You can go there and look at it

if you want.

If you ever feel like you miss

your mural, you can go visit

your mural.

I know people who have had their

work tagged like more than once,

so this is probably not the only

time I'll have to come out

here and repaint an area.

As long as they don't touch my

name, I don't -- That's gonna

make me mad if they do that, if

they touch my name.


Life is really short.

I'm not gonna be here forever.

The bigger legacy I can leave

behind, the best, right?

So if I paint this big mural

somewhere that stays there long

after I'm gone, there will be a

piece of me left behind.

>> To see more of Suarez's work,

visit her website,


Now here's a look at this

month's "Fun Fact."

In Colorado, Caleb Alvarado

wishes to create connections

through portrait photography.

With his camera, he interacts

with individuals and tells their


Take a look.


>> Through technology, we are

more connected globally than we

have ever been, sometimes at the

expense of people right next to


However, it seems artistic

expression -- music, paintings,

sculptures -- are appreciated by

people across the world and

become a means for commonality.

[ Camera shutter clicks ]

One man chose to tell stories of

connection and create human


His name is Caleb Alvarado, a


Mexican-American who grew up

with Spanish as his only

language, shares with us how

photography became his


>> My dad used to always take

photographs of us.

And we grew up in a pretty poor

family, so we'd get a lot of

stuff at garage sales.

Most people get rid of film

cameras 'cause they don't want

them, right?

My dad bought me one one day,

and he was like, "Figure it


I couldn't afford the film, so a

lot of times, I would just look

through the viewfinder as a kid

and just, like, you know, act

like I'm taking photos.

But I would, like -- In my head,

I'm like, "Oh, I took that

photo, I took that photo."

So I started to learn to see


>> After moving to Denver from

Phoenix, Arizona, Caleb was

immediately drawn to the diverse

patrons of Whittier Cafe, a

community-driven African

espresso bar nestled in the

historically diverse part of our


>> Of all the places I'd been in

Denver, it is a true place of

social exchange.

And when you walk in there, you

see all walks of life, right?

And I would just go in there and

I'd be fascinated with just the

people that would go in there.

So that's when I approached

Millete and I asked her -- I was

like, "Hey, would you let me do

a portrait series outside of

your building?"

Outside the little patio and by

the mural that's there, set up

like two lights, brought a

camera, and then just people

walking down the sidewalk,

people inside of the coffee


[ Camera shutter clicks ]

I would say like, "Hey, I've

seen you come here before.

I would love to shoot a

portrait of you."

>> Caleb is really special,

because he's doing something

that is lacking in our culture

right now, I feel like.

You know, we have Facebook and

all these different forms of

social media that make you feel

like you know people, but you

really know no one.

You know, there's a lack of


There's a lack of depth to the


So what Caleb did was, you know,

take these portraits of folks

where you can't help but look in

their eyes and wonder, "What's

his story?" or "What's her


And it sparked people to have

conversations about their

neighbors or the regulars who

see each other all the time and

maybe don't have conversations.

So we need the connection.

I think people are yearning for


So it was a very deep, deep


>> As a society, what we could

do to better our interactions is

honestly just listen to each

other, like, be vulnerable to

other people, be self-aware of

other people, be mindful of

other people.

>> You know, photography is

powerful like that, and

especially when you're someone

like Caleb, who can draw out

that story in an image.

I don't think that's an easy

thing to do, and it's causing us

to really dig deep.

>> His favorite camera to use

for his portraits is the

1922 Korona Gundlach, a

4x5 wooden camera.

It allows him the ability to

slow down his process and truly

focus on the story being told

through the lens.

>> I like photographs the most

when a person kind of forgets

everything around them and it's

just about them.

You know what I mean?

So I want to tell your story in

that photograph.

>> Caleb's portraits force you

to look deep into the eyes of

his subjects and listen to the

story within the photographs


>> When I've been open to

learning from other people, that

has helped me grow


>> For Caleb Alvarado,

photography was his medium for

cultural connection, but if you

ask him, Caleb will tell you

it's more than just taking


>> Photography can be used as a

way to communicate and connect

with others.

I personally don't consider

myself to be a photographer.

I see my camera as just a tool

to tell stories.

So I consider myself a lot more

of a storyteller rather than a


>> We all have a story to tell,

and if we're able to listen to

each other, learn from one

another, and love our neighbors,

those lines of separation begin

to go out of focus.

For "Arts District," I'm

Sebastian Powell.

>> Check out more of Alvarado's

work at calebalvarado.com.

And here's a look at this week's

"Art History."

Founded in 2017, Ballet Edge

Detroit is a dance company that

presents classical technique

with an edgy, modern twist.

Up next, we hear from the

company's founders and dancers

and learn more about their



>> Ballet is not just an

activity or a hobby.

It's a lifestyle.


I've always loved movement since

I was a child.

I was actually more of a late

bloomer when it came to ballet.

I started around the time of

13 years old.

But I loved it since.

>> Ballet is something that I

have done my entire life.

It's just been this passion

inside me, and I've always kind

of wanted to get back to it.

So a few years ago, I got back

into ballet.

>> When I first moved to

Detroit, I felt like I really

needed to find my passion and

establish more of an identity

for myself, so I went back to

taking dance classes, and I

realized how much I missed it.

And that's how I started meeting

these wonderful dancers, in


>> Meeting Angel, really

just the passion for ballet that

we both had, was our instant


And we didn't really see any

ballet companies in Detroit.

Most larger cities do have

ballet companies, and we thought

that this would be a great

chance to really try to bring

that ballet, that art back to

the city.

>> And we decided to start

working together after class and

learning choreography together.

And performances starting

popping up for us.

So that's how Ballet Edge


>> All of dance just brings a

different connection to people.

It's something that's

expressive, and people can come

and just step away from all of

what's going on in the world and

just come and watch something

entertaining and something fun.

>> Our mission is to bring a

bold and innovative twist to

ballet through using our trained

classical technique but putting

more of a relatable, modern

twist on it so that all audience

members can relate to our


>> We're really trying to bring

a new, refreshing outlook on

ballet to Detroit.

Our name is Ballet Edge

Detroit, so we try to be edgy

and different and, you know, we

kind of try to break the mold of

what people typically think of

classical ballet, that it's just

tutus and classical music.

We really try to bring

something fun and unique so that

everyone will enjoy it.

>> We're trying to attract all

people to our performances, not

just people who are really

familiar with ballet.

So in order to attract all of

Detroit, we need to have dancers

that each audience member can

relate to.

So maybe an audience member will

say, "Oh, I can relate to that


I can't believe she's dancing

out there still.

She's got kids, but she's still

holding on to her passion."

>> I think that it's very

important, especially as women

and for those of us who are


A lot of times, we put ourselves

and our passions and our dreams

and what drives us -- we put

those on the back burner to be

there for our families.

So it's great to kind of reclaim

some of that and kind of

remember who you are.

Everybody just comes from

different walks of life and

everyone has their own little

backstory before they come to

Ballet Edge.

I'm a huge advocate for

following your dreams regardless

of where you are, age or stage,

in life.

>> I think one of the things

that makes us different and

perhaps mature is that many of

our dancers have done other

things in their life, such as

work or gone to college.

And those experiences make us

very comfortable with who we are

and made us realize how much we

love dance and make us come back

to dance.

So we are experiencing the best

of both worlds.

>> I think it's so cool to go to

my job, and people are like,

"Oh, what are you doing this


And I'm like, "Oh, I've got a

five-hour ballet rehearsal."

And they're like, "Wow!

That's so amazing!"

And it is amazing.

But I think it's inspirational,

because now other people can see

they can do that, too.

Not only with dance, but

whatever your thing is, you're

never too old or too busy.

The situation is never too

chaotic for you to remember who

you are.

>> This group of women is


They show their personality.

Whatever the musicality or the

artistry calls for, whether it

be sad, happy, serious,

exciting, they can do it.

And you'll be able to see that

in all of the pieces that we


>> We're going to be getting

ready for our show.

We've got some large-group


We've got some small-group


We're going to be cleaning,

cleaning, cleaning.

We just finished learning all

of the choreography, so now we

make sure everyone's looking the

same way and everyone's arm is

the same way.

So it's gonna be kind of a wide

range of things.

>> Angel Lavery does all the


She's really open to listening

to everyone and making sure that

we all feel comfortable in the

dance because, you know, that's

how we're going to be the best

that we can be is if we're all

comfortable with what we're


>> Angel is a great


I think she has really

interesting ideas when it comes

to choosing music.

>> I pick out the music first.

I listen to the music over and

over and over again and I see

the choreography in my mind, and

that's how I choreograph.

We try to portray what the music

is trying to tell.

So, for example, we do a piece

called "Embrace," which is to

Vivaldi's "Winter."

And that is more about

friendship and our relationship

together as a company.

We all get along and we truly

embrace each other's presence.

We've done a piece to

"Game of Thrones," and that's

really to portray the theme of

that wildly popular show.

It's very serious.

It's about battling and trying

to be in power.

We have a piece currently to

Beethoven's "Fur Elise."

And these are all songs that the

majority of people will

recognize, and they get drawn

in, they get hooked in, and they

end up enjoying the pieces.

>> Ballet is very challenging.

It requires a lot of


We've all been training for

15-plus years.

>> We are all top professionals

and we work really hard.

Ballet dancers have great


They have great flexibility.

They have the discipline to

come to class, to stay in shape.

>> And I think that the talent

that's in Ballet Edge is just


It's unbelievable, honestly, to

me to know that there are so

many talented, like, amazingly

talented, dancers that are right

here in the city.

>> Typically, when people see a

ballet company in Detroit, it's

a ballet company that passes

through Detroit and leaves.

And we are making ballet

accessible to Detroit


We keep our pricing affordable

for everybody to come see us.

We are homegrown and we're

proud to be Detroit.

>> I'm so grateful for

Ballet Edge.

I think that it's so great for

so many different women to be

able to come together in the

name of ballet and put together

something so professional and

something so unique and

something so entertaining.

>> Long-term goals for

Ballet Edge Detroit is really

just to continue growing the

ballet company.

You know, we would love to have

more dancers and really be able

to put on more shows.

>> I think that the climb that

Detroit is making right now --

really, all it's missing is some


So I'm really excited that

Ballet Edge is right there

growing with the city and making

the presence of ballet known in

that growth.

>> Discover more at


That wraps it up for this

edition of "WLIW Arts Beat."

We'd like to hear what you

think, so like us on Facebook,

join the conversation on

Twitter, and visit our web page

for features and to watch

episodes of the show.

We hope to see you next time.

I'm Diane Masciale.

Thank you for watching

"WLIW Arts Beat."

Funding for "WLIW Arts Beat" was

made possible by viewers like


Thank you.



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