WLIW Arts Beat

S2017 E9 | FULL EPISODE

WLIW Arts Beat - November 2, 2017

This month on WLIW Arts Beat, we go underground to hear opera, get an eyeful of motorcycle culture via photography, explore how one artist's work defies duplication, and watch as a production of The Nutcracker gets a 21st century reboot.

AIRED: November 02, 2017 | 0:26:54
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TRANSCRIPT

♪♪

♪♪

>> Coming up on this edition of

"WLIW Arts Beat"...

a melodious subculture delights

New York City commuters.

>> [ Singing opera ]

>> Motorcycle enthusiasts share

the love of the ride.

>> We wanted to have what people

who do ride and experience do.

So, we're sharing it with people

who don't have that opportunity.

>> We meet a Sacramento artist

whose work can never be

duplicated.

>> I'm just having fun with what

I find and trying to make a

picture out of pieces and

fitting the puzzle pieces

together.

>> And we'll show you how

"The Nutcracker" is getting a

21st-century reboot.

>> It's a fun show.

It's about colors and movements

and magic.

I mean, it's supposed to bring

people to this imaginary world.

>> Stay with us for

"WLIW Arts Beat."

Funding for "WLIW Arts Beat" is

made possible by viewers like

you.

Thank you.

♪♪

Welcome to "WLIW Arts Beat."

I'm Diane Masciale.

They say if you can make it in

New York City, you can make it

anywhere.

But if you can stop a crowd in a

subway with your talent, you've

really got something.

Correspondent Maddie Orton goes

underground to bring us the

story.

>> Loud noises and talking

audience members could fluster

the greatest of performers.

But for the Opera Collective,

which performs in the

New York City subway system,

distractions are a way of life.

>> [ Singing opera ]

>> Every week, about 15 singers

rotate performing around the

city, mainly below ground,

singing in different subway

stations.

>> The biggest challenge, of

course, is noise from expected

and unexpected places.

Of course, the trains.

[ Train rumbling ]

>> Sometimes people are paying

attention to you, and sometimes

people don't.

And sometimes people respond

with the most interesting

things.

[ Laughs ]

>> But much of the time,

passersby are enthralled when

they come across an exquisite

aria in the depths of the subway

system.

>> [ Singing opera ]

>> Commuters still scurry by to

catch trains, but for the crowd

that gathers to listen to the

Opera Collective, time stands

still.

>> I have missed I don't know

how many trains to go back home,

but I don't mind [Laughs]

because this is a present for my

soul.

>> [ Singing opera ]

>> The Collective started over

ten years ago as a way to bring

opera off the stage and to the

people.

>> So many people don't have

the resources to go to the

opera.

>> You can turn on the TV, and

you can see it, but the hair on

the back of your neck doesn't

stand up when you see it on TV.

But when you hear someone live

really pumping it out, then

people understand what it's all

about.

>> I met so many people through

this venue that are like, "Wow,

how do you do that?"

♪ Fish are jumping

and the cotton is high ♪

Or people will walk really close

in front of us because they're

trying to test.

They're like, "That's not real."

But then they get an earful of

sound, and it's like, "Well, it

is."

♪ And your ma is good-looking

>> Cassandra Douglas and her

fellow performers know that

cultivating new interest in

opera is key for the art form's

longevity.

>> I know that there's somebody

out there that's gonna connect

with it.

I love the looks of young

children who look at me,

specifically black, little,

young girls who look at me in

awe like, "I didn't know I

could do that."

>> I like the fact that it helps

show that opera's for everyone,

and people stop and say, "Oh, my

grandmother used to love opera,

and I miss her.

This is so touching."

>> I've had women come up to me

in tears when I thought I was

doing a terrible job.

They were like, "Oh, my God,

you made my day."

>> This performance is no

different.

And while the Opera Collective's

mission is about access, singing

down here also provides members

a way to perform, rehearse, and

grow as artists.

>> Opera singers generally in

Manhattan practice in little,

tiny rehearsal rooms or in their

living rooms, where there isn't

a real acoustic.

And so singing in the wide-open

spaces in the subway, it's a

live acoustic.

It helps a singer to project

their voice into the space.

>> The MTA facilitates live

performances by acts like the

Opera Collective through it's

"Music Under New York," or MUNY

program.

Competition is steep to become

one of these performers.

Over 300 acts applied this year

for a place on the roster.

>> [ Singing opera ]

>> Though you don't need a

permit to perform, performers

showcasing the pink MUNY sign

are a part of the 30-year-old

program.

It's an unpaid gig, but

performers keep their tips, and

they get exposure in one of the

greatest cities in the world for

performing arts.

>> We schedule them in about 30

locations that are designated

for Music Under New York.

The number of customers that

come through, you never know who

may be seeing you perform.

So, a lot of times they'll

receive inquiries about

performing or other interests.

>> Last year, around this

time...

[ Singing opera ]

It was so mind-blowing that I

was just in awe.

>> So, when you're catching a

train, try to leave a little

extra time.

>> [ Singing opera ]

>> You never know who you might

hear.

>> For more information, visit

the link on our Web page.

What images come to mind when

you think of motorcycles and

bikers?

Motorcycle enthusiasts and

riders Cormac Kehoe and

Terry Haller want people to see

that there's more to bikers than

leather jackets and riding.

So, they curated the first-ever

exhibit of motorcycle photos in

the Midwest.

Here's a look at

"Moto Photo Show."

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

>> Hi. My name is Terry Haller.

>> And my name is Cormac Kehoe.

>> And we are the Moto Photo

Show.

♪♪

>> It is a photography exhibit

of the Midwestern motorcycle

community.

We gathered together about 30

motorcyclists and photographers

around Wisconsin to have them

exhibit photographs that they've

taken that showed our community,

what we do, how we ride, the

bikes we have, the friends we

have.

And it's all up on the wall here

at Café LuLu.

>> We just want to be able to

showcase really fun art, and

it's great because we get to

choose what we want to have up

on the walls.

So, we book basically four

artists a year, and Cormac

approached me about doing this,

and the timing was perfect.

And because it's been a

gathering place for

motorcyclists, it seemed like a

logical fit to do that.

>> Basically, I'm a photographer

and a motorcyclist, and one day

I was just saying to myself, "I

want a chance to put my photos

on a gallery wall, and there's

nowhere for that."

I was thinking, "Where's the

venue?

Where do we have a Midwestern

motorcycle photography show?

Where do we have any photography

show for motorcycles pretty much

anywhere?"

>> Yeah.

>> And this is Milwaukee.

So, what I love about Milwaukee

is this a place where you can

just do stuff.

So, I said, "It doesn't exist.

So, we're gonna do that."

All of our friends, and we've

seen them taking pictures at all

these motorcycle events, and

they don't have anywhere to show

this stuff.

We want all their pictures out

of their cameras and on a wall

somewhere.

Terry was like, "Yeah, yeah, we

need to stop hearing about

pictures people see.

We need to see them on the

wall."

>> Traditionally, what tends to

happen is Cormac comes up with

very, very abstract ideas, and

then I kind of ground him on

what's actually possible.

>> Absolutely.

>> And it works out very nicely.

"Okay, yeah, we can do that."

"Then, let's do it."

>> We wanted to make it really

authentic and really from within

the motorcycle community.

>> It's everything from the

solo rider in the summer down

that twisted road.

There's some just wonderful

shots of the Wisconsin and the

Midwest scenery to Road America

and dirt tracking and trail

riding.

It's really representational of

the full range of year-round

motoculture experience for

Wisconsin and the Midwest.

>> We ended up getting these

amazing shots taken by racers,

by race fans, by dirt trackers,

people riding motorcycles on

frozen lakes when it's 20 below

zero, people riding on dirt,

people's kids on bikes.

We got shots through the

handlebars of a chopper of a guy

going 80 miles an hour with all

his chopper buddies around him,

leaning to a curve on the

highway at 80 miles an hour.

And that's something most people

never get a chance to share.

We have a chance to show that

now because we have people who

shot from within that, know that

culture, know what's going on,

and shared it with us, and it's

all on the wall right now and

completely authentic.

>> What you're really gonna see

is what the motorcycle culture

is for the Midwest.

And you see people just from all

walks of life getting together

for any reason year-round.

It's not just a single season

for us.

We get together with our friends

and wrench on the bikes all

winter.

Same time, we have friends who

are studding the tires and

getting out on the snow and

doing ice riding.

>> I think the misconceptions

are things that you get from

looking at magazine ads and

things like that, that were

photographic, people who are not

motorcyclists, who don't ride,

or just using a bike as an

image.

We wanted to have what people

who do ride and experience do.

So, we're sharing it with people

who don't have that opportunity.

It's sort of part anthropology,

part photojournalism that we're

doing here.

>> What I really, really love,

especially about our group --

and it's represented on this

wall -- is just the complete

diversity of all the people.

There is everything from little

Vespa scooters up to the

big-twin Harleys, across to the

Triumphs and the Ducatis and

the Japanese, the Yamahas and

everything.

It's just great.

And it runs the gamut, too, from

enduro off-road bikes to big

touring bikes to, again, little,

tiny scooters.

>> These motorcycles are

beautiful.

And you can tell so much work

and creativity went into them.

Every one has been modified,

painted, changed, lovingly

wrenched.

They turn into sculptures, and

they turn into sculptures by the

people who ride them.

>> We have machinists.

We have artists.

We have business professionals,

teachers.

It runs the gamut, and in our

case, the motorcycle is that

common element.

>> You see these chopper guys.

You see these guys on their

Harleys with their beards, with

their knife stuck on them, and

you just think biker, you think

wrencher, you think grease

monkey.

You don't realize that these

guys are artists, and they have

amazing talent and ability.

>> Talent-wise, it's all top

tier, from my eyes.

And we're talking about people

who -- some are professional

photographers and do it for a

living.

Others are literally

self-taught.

Bought a camera one day and just

started trying to figure it out,

just a range of skills and the

surprise that you just meet.

>> I think the quality of all

the shots are really great.

I think we were all really

surprised by just the level of

professionalism and polish on a

lot of these.

Even some of the rougher stuff,

it really works.

I think everybody who's in this

show submitted some really great

pieces of work.

>> Just help people understand

that it's not just about the

bike you ride or the kind of

bike you ride.

It's about the people and it's

about each other and it's about

the social aspect of the whole

thing.

And it's about sort of that

independent feeling when you're

just riding and knowing that

there's other people who

understand that.

>> Yes.

>> It's a community, really

awesome.

>> You know, it's just a really

great community of people.

Cormac and Terry did a really

great job curating it and

putting it all together.

It can't help but become more

polished as time goes on.

>> I think a lot of people,

because it's a public space, a

lot of people come by who aren't

really familiar with motorcycles

and what we do -- I just wanted

them to come away amazed.

I just wanted them to see

beautiful things that they never

saw or imagined before and say,

"Wow, that is really nice."

>> It's all again about

welcoming.

You're welcome here.

It's a fun atmosphere.

Come and join us.

>> To find out more, visit the

link on our Web page.

Now here's a look at this

month's Fun Fact...

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

>> Sacramento, California's

Maureen Hood always knew she

would become an artist.

But finding a medium that

captured her artistic

expressions was a challenge

until she found the answer in

pieces all around her.

>> I think it was probably when

I was about 5 years old, I

recall making a statement that

"I'm gonna be an artist

someday."

And I'm the daughter of a

carpenter and a seamstress.

And so, there was always wood

lying around, pieces of wood.

There were always pieces of

cloth lying around.

So, it was a matter of, like any

child would do, putting them

together and building on them.

So, I took some painting

lessons, some oil-painting

lessons, but they just didn't

jibe.

So, I thought, "Well, all right,

I need to find something else to

do."

I tried some mixed-media things,

tried some sculpture, and I

always thought, though, that you

had to paint to be a good

artist or to really be able to

express yourself.

It took me all the way until

my undergraduate work at Davis

to figure out that I really

didn't have to paint anymore.

So, that was the beginning of

putting together things in

pieces and papers and paint and

all kinds of different things --

cloth for a while -- and kind of

distilled itself down to the

paper-and-paint process that I

do now.

Well, I first choose the

subject, and most of the time

it's photographically based,

either on photographs that I've

taken in my travels or just

around town.

Sometimes the photographs are

vintage photographs that I found

at garage sales.

Some are vintage photographs of

my own family.

And some are cutouts from

vintage magazines, nothing

current.

I prefer images that are a

little bit older.

I'm really into the natural

beauty around us.

It's amazing.

And other artists?

I never, ever tire of looking at

other artists' work, even if I

hate it.

There's something about that

creative process that really,

really inspires me.

I like to create a mixed-media

form of art.

If I had to describe it to a

child, it would probably be that

I'm just having fun with what I

find and trying to make a

picture out of pieces and

fitting the puzzle pieces

together.

And so I build a huge stack of

papers, and after that stack of

papers, I just start putting

them on the canvas and arranging

them to whatever looks good at

the time.

And, of course, that changes day

to day, so it makes it a little

more difficult.

I have an emotional response to

every piece of paper that I put

on, and that's something that's

so deep inside that I don't even

realize it's happening.

And once they're all in one

place, and I seem to be fairly

satisfied with the way they look

on the canvas or the paper, then

it's gluing them down.

It's an art-history lesson on

the canvas.

I think my art is a little bit

different than most collage

makers.

I think other artists could do

maybe something similar, but I

think it's really impossible for

anyone to do the same art as

another person because it comes

from such a deep place

emotionally and intellectually,

and no two people are alike.

It's just because it's me, and I

made it.

And it's just gonna be hard for

anyone else to do the same

thing.

It's wonderful to come up here

in my studio and shut the door

and turn on the music just to

let go, you know?

You can't ask for more than

having fun.

>> To find out more, visit the

link on our Web page.

And now, here's a look at what

happened in Arts History...

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

In our next segment, we take you

inside one holiday institution's

production of "The Nutcracker."

We go behind the scenes with

Kansas City Ballet Artistic

Director Devon Carney.

As the clock ticks down on the

opening curtain, Carney promises

a "Nutcracker" like no other.

Here's a look.

[ "March" from "The Nutcracker"

plays ]

♪♪

>> Really good job on the trim.

♪♪

>> I think we need a little

shine, like, here.

♪♪

>> I have a very nice working

relationship with Rachel.

She knows what I like and what

I'm expecting.

They care what they do, and it

shows on the floor.

♪♪

>> I often liken what we do to

being a musician in an

orchestra.

>> We're not jazz musicians.

We're orchestra musicians who do

what they're asked to do and do

it as well as we can.

Oh, this looks nice.

>> If you're looking for Act 2

of Kansas City's new

"Nutcracker" -- the scenic

backdrops, anyway, are about a

thousand miles from home right

now.

Cobalt Studios, in White Lake,

New York, is teaming with all

kinds of sugary-sweet imagery.

But big as the place may be,

three more shops are also hard

at work, building this show.

>> We would not have been able

to paint all of the soft goods

for the show in the given time

frame.

We could do this act this year,

the next act another year, but

Kansas City wants -- they want

it all at once.

And so, more than this shop has

to be painting at this time.

>> But I want to see the spray.

I want to see the spray.

>> As a result, Alain has been

making the circuit between

White Lake and Albany, Dayton

and Chicago, tracking the

progress of gigantic pieces

which began as small paintings

in the same studio where he also

creates children's books.

>> It's sometime frustrating,

sometime disappointing, sometime

exciting because somebody else

is doing it and somebody else is

translating your own design,

your own painting.

And it's up to me to make sure

we keep, even if it's a

different artist, keep the look

of the original drawing.

>> The costume designer,

Holly Hynes, suggested Alain,

and I had, of course, thought of

him immediately.

That was my first thought.

But I had heard he kind of

stepped away from set design.

>> So, here's where our story

turns full circle.

Back in 1985, Devon danced the

title role for Boston Ballet's

production of "Romeo and Juliet"

in front of Alain's first major

set designs.

These many years later, they're

collaborating for the first

time, turned loose to build a

"Nutcracker" for the

21st century.

>> Just like a uniform needs

shining up and getting some

sparkle into it, we've got a lot

of technology nowadays that we

didn't have 30 years ago.

There's so much more that we can

add to a show now.

>> Ours will be solid classic --

sweets, balloons, sleighs, giant

clocks and couches, giant trees,

everything right in your face.

>> And there will be puppets,

too, thanks to Paul Mesner and

his crew, adding even more

energy to the onstage mix.

Of course, the real clock is

ticking on all this.

In less than four months, the

sets, costumes, props, and

dancers will converge here at

the Kauffman Center to start

putting it al together in time

for the opening curtain on

December 5th.

>> Every one of those line sets

overhead has already been

occupied and reserved for a

particular set or drop for our

new "Nutcracker."

And it's exciting, you know?

But we have other shows that

we're doing, and those are the

ones we're doing right now.

[ Laughs ]

♪♪

>> In other words, about the

same time last spring that Devon

was guiding the troupe through

"Giselle"...

>> And elbows roll and up.

>> ...he also managed to sneak

in the first official rehearsal

for "The Nutcracker."

Since then, it's been piecemeal

at best, but just a few weeks

back, he seized an opportunity

to workshop a few ideas for

Act 2's "Waltz of the Flowers."

>> I'm working on it with

students from our summer

program -- young, aspiring

dancers from all over the

country.

Here's the challenge.

I'm working with students when

I'm gonna be presenting

professional dancers.

But the fact that I can have the

opportunity to work with some

kids for a couple weeks and sort

of get a sketch really helps me

a lot.

It's also helping me start to

kind of open my eyes and start

to see the large -- the

production as a whole is coming

at me.

I want the company to feel

confident and comfortable with

what they're doing so that when

we get to the theater, this is a

show that's ready to go.

[ "Waltz of the Flowers"

from "The Nutcracker" plays ]

♪♪

>> It's a fun show.

It's about colors and movements

and magic.

It's supposed to bring people to

this imaginary world.

I need this to be a little

bigger.

And this guy will be a little

bigger.

It's a whirlwind you get caught

in, and it's out of your

control.

It's just a big machine in

progress.

>> That machine has a $2 million

price tag.

So, to quote the artistic

director, "It had better be a

bang-up show that lasts for

years and years."

After all, its predecessor

became firmly entrenched as a

Kansas City tradition.

>> It's the same tradition.

It's just a different set of

sets, costumes, and

choreography.

But the concept is still there.

It's "Nutcracker."

The story isn't changing.

The story is still there, and

that's what the beauty of

"The Nutcracker" is, is it's not

gonna change.

There's still Clara going on a

fabulous adventure.

[ "Waltz of the Flowers"

continues ]

>> To see more, visit the link

on our Web page.

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

you.

Thank you.

♪♪

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