The Art Hounds are here this week to whet your appetite with a puppet production that will make you think, an exhibit that showcases inventive printmakers, and a vocal group specializing in ancient harmonies.
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Maria Santiago, who teaches printmaking at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, loved the energy on display at DIY Printing: Presses Not Required. The exhibit at the Minnesota Museum of American Art Project Space shows that limitations often give birth to great creativity, as printmakers find ways to make art without fancy equipment. The show runs through April 28, with many interactive events scheduled in the next few weeks.
In Mad Munchkin Productions' "Paper Garden: Entomos," puppets help tell the story of a girl and her beloved insects that live in her family's garden. Actor and stage manager Al Broeffle loved that this seemingly simple story raised questions of race, finding one's place in the world and the balance between science and nature -- all while making him laugh. There are five more performances of the show this weekend at the California Building in Northeast Minneapolis.
When puppeteer and public artist Soozin Hirschmugl tells her friends about the Zedashe Ensemble, she says listening to their music is like eating really rich dirt or drinking your favorite glass of red wine. The ancient harmonies from Georgia (the country, not the state) may sound foreign to ears used to western harmonies, but Soozin says they will reverberate through you and transport you. They'll be performing a concert of sacred music on Wednesday, April 3 at St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral in Minneapolis and will also present a concert of both sacred and folk music with dancers and musicians at Concordia University in St. Paul on Saturday, April 6. They'll also be holding workshops at the Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis.
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It's much more than flipping a switch. For Tom Letness, projectionist and owner of the Heights Theater on Central Avenue in Columbia Heights, film projection is a craft.
Every film Letness receives, he manually inspects "on the bench" -- the work table in the booth -- to make sure the film doesn't contain bad splices or damaged sprockets, and to ensure it has cue marks, those black dots that appear in the upper-right corner of a film frame to help projectionists start a new reel during reel-to-reel changeovers.
Projectionist Tom Letness inspects a film "on the bench."
Letness then previews at least two reels of the film to make sure the aperture, focus and sound levels are properly set. "Time you spend checking the film saves a lot of grief during the presentation," he explains. "I believe that if people are going to come back on a regular basis, you have to have good presentation."
Inside the projection booth at the Heights are two Philips Norelco model AAII 35/70mm mechanical film projectors, both dating from the 1960s. "It's the greatest projector that was ever made, hands down," Letness says. "They are still running and they show a great image and I'm able to do so much with them."
Letness uses his Norelcos for many purposes: to screen new 35mm releases -- on this night, a print of Clint Eastwood's biopic J. Edgar is prepped and recumbent on an adjacent platter; to screen classic silent films and 1930s Hollywood fare; to project the Fifties' widescreen Cinemascope and Vista Vision films; and to show 70mm prints that became popular in the '60s and '70s and ended with 1997's megahit Titanic.
The Philips Norleco AAII projector can play either 35mm or 70mm film. Letness added several different audio readers to enable multiple soundtrack formats.
Having two projectors allows Letness to do reel-to-reel changes, a necessity for screenings of archival films, which are often from such sources as the Library of Congress, the UCLA Film and Television Archive and New York's Museum of Modern Art. Those archives enforce strict rules that prohibit projectionists from automating -- essentially, taping together -- film reels. "A lot of these classic films, it's the only print they have left," Letness explains.
Alongside the Norelco projectors, the cooling fans whirr on a DLP Cinema projector, which just completed a screening of The Nutcracker ballet. A hulking black block aimed out a porthole, the DLP slightly resembles a 19th-century naval cannon; as a digital projector, however, the DLP is strictly 21st-century technology. Next year, Letness plans to upgrade the eight-year-old DLP to Digital Cinema.
"Avatar was the big game-changer because it was making so much money," Letness says. "We want to be able to show any 3D if it comes out. In order to do that, we have to be digital because that's where the technology is going. ... For the average cinema, the average multiplex, their film days are, if not done, almost done."
At the AMC Southdale 16 in Edina this week, Jason Reitman's Young Adult -- partially shot on location in Minnesota -- is being shown on film. But according to Ryan Noonan, director of public relations at AMC Theatres, film presentations are becoming less common for the cinema chain. "Approximately two-thirds of our auditoriums at AMC Theatres are digital as the conversion process is ongoing," Noonan explained via e-mail. "With a few exceptions, it's AMC's goal to be fully digital during the next few years."
In his recent book, The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex, BBC film critic Mark Kermode cautions about the rapid proliferation of digital cinema and what that means for projectionists. "The great profession of projection (in the traditional sense of the craft) is in the process of becoming obsolete," Kermode writes.
Letness, however, believes digital and film can peacefully coexist.
"Digital is not the enemy," Letness insists. "I think for a new release, if your digital system is set up right, if you have a bright lamp house, if everything is the way it should be, I think it looks really great."
Letness says digital will enable him to start a showing at the Heights from vacation in Florida using his smartphone; he also says digital provides many more opportunities for contemporary alternative programming, such as operas, ballets, concerts and stage plays.
"I think for actual mainstream theaters, film will be gone forever," Letness says. "But for theaters like mine and other theaters that already specialize in film and archive screenings, film will continue."
The Heights Theater
One pervasive attraction remains, no matter the format: "I think the biggest thing is the community event," Letness says. "It really is the communal event of watching the film together, even though I don't know if people necessarily realize that."
What do you think about digital cinema versus film? Share your thoughts and experiences below.
"People always ask, 'What's a gaffer? What is a best boy? What is a grip?'" says writer/producer/director Wade Barry. "Those are questions that come up all the time."
Today we'll answer those questions and more as we continue our series explaining unusual words and phrases in the arts by looking at the language of film and video.
Barry, of Minneapolis, has worked as a producer on Hometime, a home-improvement series for PBS. Currently, Barry is working as a writer on the Food Network series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and he's also in development on a film he'll write and direct for PBS that's based on the life and work of Charles Dickens.
Wade Barry of Minneapolis has worked in nearly every facet of film and video production.
Italian director Marco Amenta -- recently in Minnesota for the Italian Film Festival of Minneapolis/St Paul -- was also interviewed for this post.
Director Marco Amenta (R) was in Minneapolis to introduce and discuss his film, La Siciliana Ribelle (The Sicilian Girl). He was accompanied by his sister, Simonetta Amenta (L), a producer on the film.
This term is not quite as perplexing to British film audiences as it is to American ones; in the U.K., a gaffer is common slang for any kind of boss or manager. On a film set, however, the gaffer is the head electrician; i.e. the person in charge of all the lighting on a set.
"Best boy is the gaffer's right-hand person," Barry says. "It's an assistant, basically. But you don't always have a best boy when it's a small crew. You'll just have a gaffer and electricians."
A grip on a film set is analogous to a stagehand in live theater. In various productions, Barry has worked as a grip, a key grip and a dolly grip. "A grip is somebody on set who sets up equipment," he says. "A dolly grip is specifically in charge of operating the camera dolly if there is one. The key grip is the head grip that all the other grips answer to."
Wade Barry (L) working on a production for the Food Network. (Photo by Julie L. Swanson-Andersen; courtesy Wade Barry)
On a film or video set, a stinger is an extension cord.
Everyone knows that Hollywood is the film-production hotbed in California or the metaphorical place that is shorthand for the world of major-release motion pictures, but did you know that Hollywood can also be a verb? "If somebody tells you to 'Hollywood' something on a set," Barry explains, "it means don't take the time to put it on a stand, just hold it and hold it where it needs to be."
Barry says the reasons for Hollywooding a light or other piece of equipment range from being in a hurry to working in a space where there isn't room to set up a lot of stands and other gear.
"A Dutch angle is basically just the camera tilted at a weird angle," Barry chuckles. "The old Batman TV series was famous for that!"
A jib arm is a counterweighted beam onto which a camera can be mounted. "They're sort of like a mini-crane," Barry says. "It can swing around through space and give you really interesting moving shots."
Wade Barry operates a camera mounted to a jib arm. (Photo by Jamie Vincent; courtesy Wade Barry)
A foot-candle is a unit of measurement that describes light output. As a director, Barry doesn't get too concerned about foot-candles. "But a directory of photography might be," he says, "because they're dealing with the minutiae of the image, and they want to know how many foot-candles a certain light is putting off."
Barry says this technique is used extensively in television and film. A rack focus involves setting up a camera with a limited depth of field, then shifting the focus somewhere else in the scene. "It directs your attention from one object to another," Barry says. "It's very dramatic and visually interesting."
Barry (behind camera, at left) says that rack focuses are more difficult to do on digital cameras because they lack the limited depth-of-field found on film cameras -- although he says the technology is changing to be more like film. (photo by Jamie Vincent; courtesy Wade Barry)
Marco Amenta adds that the construction of images -- through techniques such as rack focus -- speak volumes. "These things express meaning without words or facts," he says. "They talk not to your brain but to your gut."
This term refers to an effect often seen in old black-and-white films. "In the old days, the way light would bounce around in the emulsion of the film created almost a halo around a brightly lit object," Barry explains. "They used to like to do that in black-and-white films because the actors sometimes, with that lighting, would kind of bloom a little bit and it makes them looks almost angelic."
A word the English language borrowed from Italian, chiaroscuro (key-AHR-oh-SKOO-roh) refers to the light and dark within a shot. "As soon as you put light on something," Marco Amenta says, "there is a light zone and there is a dark zone. It's also like life; in life, you have a dark side and a light side."
In Amenta's film, La Siciliana Ribelle (The Sicilian Girl), a young woman finds herself standing up to the Mafia. As the Mafia's pernicious influence intensifies during the course of the film, the scenes get darker. "The audience may not see it directly, but you feel it," Amenta says. "You have to feel this darkness that is all around the protagonist."
Trailer for the U.S. release of The Sicilian Girl. Even in this trailier, note Amenta's use of light and dark -- aka chiaroscuro. (Music Box Films, via YouTube)
A honeywagon is often seen parked near a film set. "That's the RV that the actor stays in," says Wade Barry. "When you're working with celebrities, the star gets his or her own RV, and it's called the honeywagon."
Next Tuesday, we wrap up our series on arts lingo with a look back and a fun quiz.
"A lot of architects tend to make up their own words," says architect Evan Hall. "They're always trying to find the new word to describe a new way of generating space, so it's really hard to kind of narrow it down to a few we use a lot."
Today we continue our series explaining unusual words and phrases in the arts by looking at the language of architecture.
Hall's own style of practicing architecture involves making foam-core models of conceived structures and spaces, which helps avoid having to coin a lot of descriptive words to conjure an imagined building. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in architecture and worked for a year in Japan before getting a Fulbright to study architecture in Korea, where he worked in architecture and urban planning.
Evan Hall (at right) presents a model of a proposed structure while working as an architect at Sejima and Nishizawa Architects Associates in Tokyo. (photo courtesy Evan Hall)
Hall is now back in Minnesota and is preparing for the next chapter in his architecture career, and he recently shared a number of interesting terms from his profession.
A building that's described as being tectonic is one where steel or wood framing and other devices are used to support the structure, where the push and pull of physical elements is evident.
Tom Fisher, the dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, says the Marquette Plaza building in Minneapolis -- with its transparent suspension-bridge support system -- is a good example of a tectonic building.
Hall says stereotonic is a good counterpoint to tectonic, insofar as a stereotonic building is one where the primary structure consists of limestone or granite, without the aid of secondary materials or structures to keep it standing. Because so many buildings combine stereotonic and tectonic elements, Hall says it is difficult to classify buildings as exclusively one or the other.
Hall says the Minneapolis City Hall (built 1904) may appear stereotonic, but it has steel and wood structures on the inside to help support it.
An axonometric drawing is a three-dimensional drawing that architects make where every line is measureable. "If you were to see a perfect cube in an axonometric drawing, you would be able to go in and measure every line and they would all be the same," Hall says. "In a perspective drawing, however, the lines start to get distorted a little bit."
The material that is put up over an exterior wall is called cladding. It can be wood, metal, stone, vinyl ... the most important thing is that cladding is waterproof.
The UBS Forum at Minnesota Public Radio is covered in sheet-metal cladding.
A wall that doesn't provide any structural support to a building but keeps out the elements or separates interior spaces is called a curtain wall. Such walls are called "curtain walls" because, like window curtains, they hang from a supporting framework.
Similar to a mechanical pencil, a leadholder is a drawing tool into which an architect can insert lead or plastic pieces of various softness and weight. "Sometimes you can have a whole book of different types of pencils that you can use for different line weights," Hall says. "The line weights are extremely important when making a drawing."
According to Hall, the reason line weights are so important is because the thickness of a line weight connotes the architectural significance of a drawn feature. "All architectural drawings are abstractions of something that is designed to be crafted in reality," he says. "Line weights in drawings give hierarchy to an idea."
This sounds like a specific type of rounded detail, but a French curve is actually a tool that architects use when drawing plans. "It's a plastic or metal stencil that has curves on the inside and outside," Hall explains, "and pretty much any type of curve that you need to draw in an architectural drawing, you can get off the French curve in combination with a compass or a straight edge."
When architects need to make a quick sketch of a building detail, whether from a paper plan or an autocad rendering, they'll lay a thin piece of vellum over the plan and trace the detail onto it. This thin sheet of tracing paper is called bumwad ... and yes, the name comes from exactly what one might suspect. "It looks kind of like a cheap toilet paper," Hall laughs. "I'm pretty sure you could just use it for that purpose!"
Evan Hall at his desk; in his right hand is a leadholder; the thin yellow paper is bumwad. (photo courtesy Evan Hall)
Visit State of the Arts next week, when we look at words from film and video.
Scraffito and blunging may suggest the inventive vocabulary created by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, but they're actually terms you might overhear in a conversation among real-life potters.
Today we continue our series explaining unusual words and phrases in the arts by looking at the language of the ceramic arts, sometimes referred to as pottery.
According to ceramic artist Kip O'Krongly, the question of whether it's called "ceramics" or "pottery" arises because ceramics is a functional art form, putting it in a category that straddles art and craft.
A display of some of ceramic artist Kip O'Krongly's work
In expressing herself through her work, O'Krongly embraces both the functional and artistic aspects of ceramics. Acknowledging that people use ceramics on a daily basis, often at mealtimes, O'Krongly infuses her work with images of topics that interest her; specifically, food production, transportation and energy. "There is this really intimate relationship with pots that maybe we don't have with other art forms," she asserts. "The dinner table is a great place for conversation, so I'm hoping that with people using these bowls, cups and dishes, it's a way to start conversations and to ask questions about these social issues."
The Northern Clay Center is on Franklin Avenue in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis.
O'Krongly recently wrapped up a show at the Northern Clay Center (where she has her studio and also teaches classes) as well as a show in Tennessee. She's looking forward to deeper exploration of traditional ceramics methods in Cambridge, England, this summer. Just last week, O'Krongly spent some time describing the colorful terminology in her chosen art form.
This is a method of covering a clay surface with a contrasting color of thin clay, then drawing through that thin layer. "It looks like there is a pencil drawing on the surface," O'Krongly explains, "but it's actually scratching away the lighter color to reveal the darker color beneath it."
Much of O'Krongly's work exhibits the scraffito technique.
The layer of thin clay that is applied in scraffito is called slip. Slip is simply clay and usually other materials suspended in water.
The act of mixing slip is called blunging. The tool that's used is called a blunger. "I don't know why it's called blunging," O'Krongly laughs. "I guess it could relate to 'bludgeon' because you are really beating the heck out of it when you do that!"
O'Krongly brandishes the blunger.
Glaze is the glassy substance that is fused onto the surface of ceramics to form a hard coating. O'Krongly says that a glaze mixture -- which includes silica, alumina, water and other materials -- has a tendency to want to settle out, so artists alter the chemistry of the mixture using a process called flocculating. "What we use to flocculate is Epsom salts, which makes the clay particles stay in suspension," she explains. "When you're glazing you want all of the materials to be evenly distributed on your work.
Mixing glaze that's been flocculated with Epsom salts.
In a ceramics studio, reclaim is also a noun. Simply put, reclaim is recycled clay; the excess clay that runs off a potter's wheel can be gathered and reused. "We throw all this sloppy, juicy clay into big buckets and then I mix it up with dry materials until it's back to the consistency of clay again," O'Krongly says. "The reclaim tends to be one of the nicer clays. It gets better with time."
Used clay breaks down in buckets like this; it's mixed with dry materials to form reclaim.
A pug mill is the device that extrudes reclaim into neat blocks. The blocks of reclaim can then be bagged, stacked and stored.
A digital pyrometer can accurately give the temperature within a kiln at a given moment, but it can't measure elapsed time. That's why witness cones are vital. Witness cones are series of spiky clay pieces that are placed inside a kiln. "When you're thinking about temperature, you also have to think about how long the clay has been at that temperature," O'Krongly explains. "Witness cones measure both the time and the temperature when they start to curl over and bend."
Witness cones melt after certain times and temperatures have been reached. A set of witness cones is called a 'cone pack'.
Witness cones need to be occasionally visible, so kilns have what are called spy holes. To keep heat from escaping, the spy holes are covered with peeps; peeps are removed when ceramic artists want to have a peep at witness cones. "I always think of the marshmallow peeps," O'Krongly smiles, "but these peeps are usually made of high-temperature ceramic material, often porcelain or brick."
A visible flame surges from the kiln when the peep is removed.
An undesired effect that can happen when firing glazed earthenware is that the clay underneath the glaze shrinks faster than the glaze itself, causing the glaze to flake off the piece; this is called shivering. "Glaze is essentially glass, so you really don't want glass in your cup of coffee in the morning," O'Krongly says. "Shivering is probably the worst fault."
Crazing is the opposite of shivering in that the glaze shrinks more than the clay, creating a network of cracks that permeate the surface of the object. What's interesting about crazing (versus shivering) is that sometimes it's a desired effect. "Some people love that look and will actually stain the crazed lines with black ink or something to really bring them out," O'Krongly says. "They can be very beautiful."
The texture on this bowl is the result of crazing.
No circus performer would want anything to do with these. Clay objects that are placed in a kiln must not come in contact with one another or with the kiln walls. Objects are carefully stacked on platforms, and the bricks that separate the platforms are called stilts.
Stilts separate platforms of earthenware objects loaded in the kiln.
This is an adjective that's used to describe clay that is solid at first, but becomes really soft when it's manipulated. "A lot of people will take a block of clay and drop it on the floor a number of times and then it's much softer than if they had just taken it right out of the bag," O'Krongly says. "That's thixotropic. I love that word!"
Next Tuesday, visit State of the Arts for words from architecture.
The word photography is interesting in its own right. "It means 'light writing'," explains Minneapolis photographer Rebecca Pavlenko, "because light is actually inscribing into the film."
Today we continue our series explaining unusual words and phrases in the arts by looking at the language of photography.
Pavlenko has been doing photography for 35 years. Her work tends to be more conceptual than documentary, and it is heavily influenced by her Zen practice. She eschews digital processing in favor of traditional film and darkroom techniques. Pavlenko's photos are held in permanent collections in the U.S., Mexico and Japan.
Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art on Third Avenue North in Minneapolis.
From March 7 to April 22, Pavlenko's work will be on display along with the work of Jennifer Bong and Claudia Danielson in a show called "Hand-Painted Nature(s)" at the Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art in Minneapolis. Despite her busy schedule, Pavlenko recently took time to talk about interesting terminology from photography.
developer, stop and fix
These are the three chemicals that are used in darkroom photo developing. "They have actual chemical terms," Pavlenko says, "but we usually refer to them by these names."
The developer is what gets the image to appear on the photo paper; the stop ceases the development process because if it were to continue, the image would turn completely black; and the fix makes the photo safe to look at in normal light.
Pans for developer, stop and fix in Rebecca Pavlenko's darkroom.
This is something photographers can do during development. Pavlenko says to dodge a photo is to block light from hitting the photo paper, thereby making the image lighter.
This term is the opposite of dodge. To burn in is to add extra light to darken areas of the print. "When you're in the darkroom and manipulating the print, you're actually painting with light," Pavlenko says about dodging and burning. "You're either adding more or less light to the print."
Pavlenko demonstrates one of the methods she uses for focusing light when burning in on an image.
The term wet process -- along with analogue, darkroom, hand-printed and traditional -- are shorthand terms photographers use to describe non-digital photography methods.
This is a term digital photographers use to describe the time they spend at the computer retouching and finishing their photographs.
Pavlenko says a lot of terms from the darkroom, such as dodge and burn, have been incorporated into the vocabulary of Photoshop and other image-editing software.
A bounce board is a secondary light source used in shooting photos. Primary light sources range from studio lighting to the sun. "A bounce board is a light-colored board or it could be tin foil that will bounce light so it will hit your subject," Pavlenko says. It's usually not as bright as the initial light source."
The large disc is a bounce board, which redirects light onto a subject.
A gobo is something that is put between the camera and a light source to block light from hitting the camera or subject. "It 'goes between', so it's a gobo," Pavlenko says. "A black card is often used for that."
A small gobo has been placed between Pavlenko's camera and the light source.
A cookie is often used in studio photography, and it's a cut-out shape that's put in front of a focusing light to create a pattern on the subject. Shadows from window grids or blinds are often simulated with cookies.
grip and grin
"If you do the kind of photography where you go to events and you're documenting the event for somebody, people will shake hands and smile for pictures," Pavlenko explains. "That's a grip and grin."
Pavlenko points out that grip and grin photos are common when documenting events involving visiting dignitaries.
Pavlenko says the golden hour is critical to those who photograph outdoors. "It's usually a time right at dusk or dawn when people like to photograph because the light is really interesting," she says.
Rebecca Pavlenko in her studio in Minneapolis.
"Have an f16-at-a-thousand day!"
If you're a photographer and you receive an e-mail from Rebecca Pavlenko, she may sign off with this phrase. "That refers to a very small aperture and a very fast shutter speed, so it means it's really, really sunny out!" she laughs. "It's kind of a photographer's way of saying, 'Have a really great day.'"
Next Tuesday, visit State of the Arts for words from the ceramic arts.
Want to find a place in the arts world that abounds with colorful language? Try looking at an art that's dependent on it.
Today we continue our series explaining unusual words and phrases in the arts by looking at the language of book publishing.
Open Book on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis calls itself "a home for literary and book arts." Among its tenants are Milkweed Editions, a nonprofit publisher of literature for adults and young readers; and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA), which is dedicated to preserving the traditional crafts of bookmaking.
Open Book in Minneapolis celebrated its tenth anniversary last May.
Ben Barnhart, an editor at Milkweed, and Jeff Rathermel, the executive director at MCBA, were happy to share the specialized language from their industry, an industry filled with terms that sound anything from cryptic to macabre.
According to Milkweed's Barnhart, the slushpile is the stack of manuscript submissions that accumulates at a publishing house. Items in the slushpile are waiting to be read by an editor, who then determines whether a publisher will pursue or decline the submission. Barnhart has seen photos of slushpiles that tower over editors' heads, but those days may be over. "Now our slushpile is actually digital because we take submissions online," he says. "We don't have that looming spectre of manuscripts anymore."
Editor Ben Barnhart of Milkweed Editions.
dead dogs and dead cats
"I don't think anyone would mistake 'dead dogs and dead cats' for something pleasant," Barnhart prefaces before explaining that dead dogs and dead cats are manuscripts that have been sent to -- and rejected by -- every publisher in the industry. Barnhart says that he expects persistent book agents to send dead dogs and dead cats, and that sometimes a manuscript rejected by a larger publishing house is just right for Milkweed. "But if you're an editor worth your title, you'll have at least one phone call with an agent when you'll say, 'I want to see new work, and I don't want to see any dead dogs or dead cats!'" he chuckles. "That's just kind of part of the game we play."
mould and deckle
This pairing comprises the equipment that's used to make a piece of paper. The mould is a frame with a screen on it that sieves paper out of pulp. The deckle is the frame. "And the little shelf where you put your frame, that's called the ass," Rathermel laughs. "I think that comes from the 'mule' sense of the word."
MCBA's Jeff Rathermel holds a mould and deckle.
In a paper mill, the dandy roll is a little roller that embosses a watermark onto freshly pulled paper.
In a print shop, the printer's devil is a young apprentice.
"out of sorts"
An individual piece of lead type is called a sort. A drawer that doesn't contain enough of the letter E, for example, is described as being "out of sorts".
Rathermel selects a sort from the Bookman typeface.
Because a case of type that is "out of sorts" is not fully functional or usable, we've gained the general idiom "out of sorts" to describe a person who is not well or not behaving properly. Yet another idiom that comes from printing is...
"mind your Ps and Qs"
"...and your Bs and Ds," Rathermel cautions. "When you're typesetting with lead type, you're setting type upside down and backwards, so p's, b's, d's, q's all kind of look the same. But you can't just use a d backwards to be a q; they're all designed in a specific way."
Rathermel suggests it's from this rule in the printing world that we get the idiomatic expression admonishing us to be on our best behavior, although etymologist Michael Quinion isn't so sure.
Any pieces of type that are dropped on the floor in a print shop are picked up and tossed into the hell box. "It's a box of lead pieces from maybe 20, 30 different type faces, all different sizes, and someone--usually the printer's devil--has to find the right cabinet each piece goes back into," Rathermel explains. "It is a hell box. That's where the name comes from."
The hell box contains a jumble of lead type pieces, all of which must eventually be returned to their proper places.
widows and orphans
An orphan is when the last word of a preceding paragraph doesn't reach past the empty indent space for a subsequent paragraph; a widow is when the last line of a paragraph gets bumped over a page spread, so only a single or partial line of text appears at the top of the page. "I think those are crazy terms," Barnhart muses, "but they're kind of wonderful terms as well."
Widows and orphans can be fixed by reflowing the type so it lines up in a more visually pleasing way.
The gutters are the inside margins within a page layout.
Although a signature can certainly be an author's autograph, when it comes to bookbinding, a signature is collection of page layouts that are folded together into a booklet. Ordinal stacks of signatures are what will eventually be bound into completed books.
An array of signatures is what becomes a finished book.
Once signatures are stacked in the right order, they are "knocked up" -- or squared into place -- before they are bound into books.
When signatures are folded together, the edges of the center piece of paper are going to extend further out than the edges of the outside piece of paper. That difference is called creep. Sometimes a publisher will choose to leave the undulating pattern of creep in place; most of the time, publishers will lop off the creep. And the name of the device used to do that?
A guillotine is the device publishers use to cut the creep off a book. "It cuts pretty easy," Rathermel explains as he pulls a massive iron lever that lowers a huge blade across a thick volume. "It's a very sharp blade and it's counterweighted, so it just kind of comes at it, has this sideways angle, and it just kind of slices it off."
Rathermel prepares to guillotine a book.
It may be obvious but it merits saying: Keep fingers clear.
Next Tuesday, visit State of the Arts for lingo from the world of photography.
If you're a musician, do you scrape, bang or blow? And if you're a fan of classical music, what are your thoughts about Rocky II?
Today we continue our series explaining unusual words and phrases in the arts by looking at the insider language of classical musicians.
Sam Bergman, a violist with the Minnesota Orchestra, isn't certain he and his colleagues in the classical music world use a lot of jargon. "We don't really have slang because we have Italian," he insists, but a recent conversation with the affable violist revealed a few examples to the contrary.
Minnesota Orchestra violist Sam Bergman.
scrape, bang and blow
Bergman credits the late Canadian singer and comedienne Anna Russell with nicknaming the string, percussion and horn sections of an orchestra scrape, bang and blow, respectively.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra (photo by Lara Platman).
Rock / Proke / Shosty
Because their names are long and frequently appear in the orchestra's repertoire, Bergman says it's typical to clip the names of Eastern European and Russian composers. Therefore, Dmitri Shostakovich is Shosty, Sergei Rachmaninoff is Rock, and Sergei Prokofiev is Proke.
Pieces of music can get nicknames, too. "Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is usually just called Rock Pag," Bergman says. "If we're doing Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, it's Rocky II."
"Yo, Sergei." (Sylvester Stallone photo by Alan Light, used with permission)
Some of the on-stage furniture at Orchestra Hall has likely been repaired over time, but that's not what "fixed chair" means. According to Bergman, a fixed chair is a musician with a title in front of his or her name, e.g. principal, assistant principal. The fixed chair in a section has a leadership role that Bergman likens to a team captain in sports. The remaining section members do not have a hierarchy. "In the Minnesota Orchestra, we revolve within the section, so every couple of weeks, we'll switch seats," Bergman explains. "The titled players, the fixed chairs, do not. They stay where they are."
Osmo Vänskä isn't among them, but some conductors like to call the trombones in an orchestra simply bones. Bergman doesn't recommend this. "I think it's a macho thing," he says. "One of our other violists today was saying, 'Really, conductors who say 'bones' should just be banned.'"
"the Marylou Strad"
Many people know that Strad is the shortened name for a Stradivarius, a violin made in the late 17th or early 18th centuries by renowned Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari. But here's a lesser-known part: Because the violins have been around for so many years and only a few hundred exist, each violin tends to take on the name of a previous user or owner.
For example, when Sam Bergman was a youngster, one of his teachers was Marylou Speaker Churchill, the late New England Conservatory instructor and member of the Boston Symphony. Her violin is now known as the Marylou Strad.
The violin played by Joshua Bell is currently known as the Gibson Strad, named for a prominent 19th-century English violinist who once played it. Bergman believes one day this instrument will be known as Josh Bell's Strad. To read the full story of this fascinating instrument -- there's intrigue, feuds and two thefts -- visit this page on Joshua Bell's official website.
Joshua Bell plays the 1713 Gibson Strad in the Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio during a 2005 visit to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR photo/Vaughn Ormseth).
As for Bergman's instrument? "I play a Canadian viola that was made in 1992," he says, "so I'm the only owner it's ever had."
Double-reed players -- the oboists and bassoonists -- care about this deeply. A cane source is the person who provides the raw material double-reed players use to make their delicate mouthpieces. Because double-reed players spend hours each week scraping cane to fashion their reeds, finding a good cane source is vital.
Bergman playfully lowers his voice and shifts his eyes as if he's selling "used" (ahem) stereo equipment out the back of a van. "When double-reed players find somebody who they consider to be a good cane source," he jokily imparts, "they want that person to always supply them ... and they probably want to limit the people who know about that."
Bergman admits string players have their own obsessions, one of which involves having their bows rehaired several times a year. "We're forever discussing who seems to have the best hair in town," he says. "We're always exchanging information on that."
Finn Meyer of Minneapolis makes violins and violas, and he rehairs bows. The hair in his right hand is used for bows; it is clipped from horses' tails, then cleaned and dressed. Meyer says good bow hair can cost as much as $700 per pound.
This one is peculiar to the Minnesota Orchestra. Bravo Man is the name the orchestra members have for the person heard enthusiastically shouting "Bravo!" into the still-silent Orchestra Hall at the end of a piece. Bergman reveals that Bravo Man is a local artist whose real name is Egil. "He knows he's Bravo Man and he actually calls himself that," Bergman chuckles.
"He's a nice guy, he's very considerate," Bergman continues. "He's usually in the third tier and if there's somebody in front of him, he'll always cup his hands to his mouth and point his face to the ceiling so he's not yelling directly into their head."
Next Tuesday, visit State of the Arts for lingo from the world of book publishing.
Here's a quick quiz: When a curator at an art museum talks about a scumble, is he or she describing:
A) a museum patron who's behaving boorishly?
B) bits of debris that flake off when a painting is dropped?
C) a brawl in the gallery?
D) the use of light paint over darker paint?
Today we continue our series explaining unusual words and phrases in the arts by looking at the language used by those who curate paintings at museums. Read on to find out the true answer to the question above.
Erika Holmquist-Wall is a curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA). Incidentally, she says the word "curator" comes from a Latin term meaning "to care for," which accurately describes what she and her colleagues do for the MIA's collection of paintings. "You see our work when you go through the galleries in how works are installed, how they're described and how they're arranged," she says. "We're also responsible for the conservation of the paintings."
Holmquist-Wall recently explained some of the lesser-known words she and her colleagues use in their work.
A scumble is a thin, lighter-color paint that's applied over darker underpaint. "If you look at the clouds in the sky in a painting and see the way the brush dances across to make the clouds or tinges of white, that would be a good example of a scumble," Holmquist-Wall says.
The sky in Paul Huet's Caretaker's Cottage in the Forest of Compiegne (1826) provides a good example of scumbles.
The term that describes the texture created by an artist's brushwork is impasto. Vincent Van Gogh, for example, daubed thick, rich impasto. Compare that to Georges-Pierre Seurat, who created crisp, delicate impasto.
Taken from Italian where it means "change of mind," a pentimento is an artist's alteration to a painting. A famous example in the MIA's collection is Rembrandt's Lucretia. "If you stand back and look at it in the right light," Holmquist-Wall suggests, 'you're able to see where Rembrandt had originally drawn her shoulder slightly higher."
Rembrandt's Lucretia contains a pentimento.
As a painting ages, a craquelure -- or pattern of cracks -- develops on its surface. Craquelure doesn't diminish the value of the work. "It offers clues to environmental conditions, if it was rolled up, if it was struck by an object, what kind of support was used on it," Holmquist-Wall says. "The craquelure in the paint tells us basically what's happened over the years to the work."
You can see the craquelure in this close-up of Silenus by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.
This isn't an art thief. Fugitive is a term that's used when describing pigment. Over time, the pigments used in certain oil paints tend to fade. An example Holmquist-Wall gives involves a pigment called yellow lake; Dutch painters of the 17th century mixed yellow lake with blue paint to make green. In the course of a few centuries, however, yellow lake has faded, so certain features, such as leaves in trees, have lost their yellow tint and now appear bluish. The yellow is therefore deemed "fugitive" because it flees the light.
The recto is the front of a painting, the verso is the back. The verso is particularly important in determining ...
... which is the history of an artwork's ownership. The verso of a painting can give clues to the work's provenance, as it often bears collector's stamps. The stamps can be anything from the seal of a royal family to what's called an atelier stamp, the mark of a particular artist's workshop. Holmquist-Wall says a large part of her work as a curator is tracing the provenance of new works that enter the museum's collection.
These three images are assembled from Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's Penitent Magdelene , shown in its entirety at left. The middle and right images are details from the lower corners of the painting where visible markings provide hints to the painting's provenance. Before coming to the MIA, this piece was once item #629 in the collection of Queen Isabella Farnese of Spain (1692 - 1766).
Finally, a didactic is the placard next to a work of art that contains information about it. The word "didactic" is an adjective that means "intending to explain or instruct." As such, the didactics in a museum can tell us about: what's depicted in a painting, who the artist was and what he or she was like, what social or political factors may have been influences, where the painting has "lived" during its lifetime--i.e., its provenance and any other details that help give context to a work.
This didactic tells us that the painting next to it once belonged to Minnesota's most famous railway businessman.
Next Tuesday, visit State of the Arts for some slang used by classical music performers.(1 Comments)
In the world of dance, there's a backspace but no keyboard. There are space-eaters but no astronauts. And it's polite -- if not required -- to shout, "Merde!"
Today we continue our series explaining unusual words and phrases in the arts by looking at the language of dance.
Carl Flink chairs the department of Theatre Arts & Dance at the University of Minnesota. He's also the founder of Black Label Movement, a Minneapolis dance company. Flink recently took time out from a two-week residency at the University of Illinois to discuss a few inscrutable terms in his chosen art form.
Flink describes backspace as the vulnerable area immediately behind a dancer. "If you're dancing behind me, you are responsible to make sure I don't run into you," Flink says. "It's kind of like rear-ending someone in an automobile: No matter what the person does in front of you, if you run into them, you're kind of at fault."
Before getting into dance, Flink was a highly competitive soccer player; to this day, his dance style is influenced by the athleticism of the beautiful game. "When a soccer coach tells you to pass the ball into space," Flink says, "the player going to the ball is aggressively taking that space."
Flink and other like-minded choreographers insist on the same from their dancers, urging them to not merely move within a performance space, but to project themselves into it, to seize it, to greedily consume it. "You'll often hear choreographers say, 'I want you to be space-eaters'," Flink says.
Black Label Movement's Stephanie Laager aggressively moves into space (photo by William Cameron, provided by Carl Flink).
Like the green claymation figure, a gumby is a dancer who is extremely flexible. Flink says calling a dancer "a gumby" is affectionate and positive.
In counterpoint to gumby is brick, a dancer who is more solid, muscular and not as flexible.
Being called a brick is a descriptive compliment indicative of a dancer's style.
If Carl Flink tells you to vop your leg, "It means kick your damn leg as high as you can," he says.
Vopping is a dance term that simply means to go all out, to spare no effort, to pull out all the stops. "It's a term I'm sure is used a lot in Broadway settings where it's really about showing off what you can do," Flink explains. "To say, 'I'm going to vop myself here' is a way to describe going for it in a very showy way."
Stephanie Laager and Eddie Oroyan of Black Label Movement. Flink says Laager's kick is a good example of vopping (photo by William Cameron, courtesy Carl Flink).
Birding / Herding / Flocking
These three words describe subtly different movement concepts. Flink says birding is so named because it's analogous to the way geese fly. "You dance with the person who's in the lead," he says. "You don't overtake them, you don't pass their backstream, you just stay in formation."
That's different from herding, which is a group follow-the-leader in tight formation. Flocking is similar but is more dispersed across the performance space. "I could flock with someone and be 30 feet away from them," Flink says.
Actors say "break a leg" as a good-luck wish before a show, but you certainly wouldn't wish that to a dancer. Opt for a French swear word instead. "In the dance world, we just tell each other 'Merde!'," Flink laughs. "I have no idea where that tradition comes from. My sense is that it means throw everything to the wind, there's nothing to lose, just go for it."
Black Label Movement's Leslie O'Neill steps on Carl Flink in a bold choreographed move (photo by William Cameron, courtesy Carl Flink).
A similar superstition involves a German expression meant to banish the devil, "Toi toi toi" (sounds like English "toy"). When Flink danced with the José Limón Company in New York, the company had a pre-show ritual of sitting in a circle, pretending to spit and uttering the Teutonic incantation.
"There are multiple traditions," Flink chuckles. "You know how in theater, you're supposed to call Macbeth 'the Scottish play'? Well, avoid saying 'break a leg' to a dancer."
Next Tuesday, visit State of the Arts for unusual words from the world of museums and paintings.
Are you a triple threat or merely essential? If you're the former, you'll probably want to have a zits probe. After that, you may be required to stand in a vom line.
This is the first in a series of posts that explore unusual behind-the-scenes lingo from various areas of the arts. Remarkably, all of the boldfaced words above are examples of real terminology used in live theater. Let's have a closer look:
Originally a term from Broadway, a triple threat is a performer who is equally proficient in singing, acting and dancing. Performers who fit this description include such luminaries as Gene Kelly, Julie Andrews, Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman.
Essentials / Supernumeraries
The funny thing about essentials is they're not. "That's kind of the irony of that word," says director Peter Rothstein. "If it involves doing anything essential to the play happening and you're a union theater, then you need to hire a union actor to do that."
Peter Rothstein directs a rehearsal of Ten Thousand Things Theatre's Doubt, A Parable, a play with a small cast and no "essentials."
People who fill out crowd scenes in a stage play but don't have any lines can be called extras, essentials or supernumeraries. Rothstein says he uses the terms interchangeably. Whatever the job is called, it gives inexperienced performers opportunities to get experience and stage credit -- important qualifications for eventual membership in an actors' union.
Most of us think of swings as a type of playground equipment, but to Peter Van Johnson and Randy Ingram of the production department at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, a swing is a kind of hyper-understudy who has to know five or six different parts. "In a lot of shows, the understudy might be a secondary character, so if the understudy goes on [in a main role], then the swing will go on for the part that the understudy would have normally played," Ingram explains.
"And then another swing has to cover what that swing did," Van Johnson adds, gesturing the cascade effect this can have on a cast.
Randy Ingram (L) and Peter Van Johnson of the Ordway's Production Department
Park and Bark
On Midmorning on Dec. 16, Allan Naplan, the incoming president of the Minnesota Opera, explained the term "park and bark" to substitute host Tom Crann. "It's an industry term where people just move downstage and sing loud and have absolutely no theatricality to what they're doing," Naplan said.
Fortunately, this term has nothing to do with people getting sick. "In order for there to be sightlines for everyone to see the action at all times, you work on what we call the vom line," explains Rothstein, who is currently directing Ten Thousand Things Theatre's upcoming production of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, A Parable.
Taken from the ancient vomitorium, the contemporary term "vom line" is used in productions on thrust stages or in the round (like Doubt). Vom lines are imaginary continuations of the aisles into the performance space, providing axes of action that help guide the actors' movements.
Photo of the Guthrie Theater's Wurtele Thrust Stage, retouched to show the approximate vom lines. (Photo credit: Gallop Studios)
The Ordway's Ingram and Van Johnson know the subway grate doesn't refer to New York City's underground train network. A subway grate -- also known as the gridiron or the high steel -- is a series of beams from which all the pulleys, scenery and lighting in a theater are suspended.
The Ordway is well equipped for elaborate lighting and scenery. "We have 70 line sets in our theater," Van Johnson says. "It all goes up to the gridiron, which has to be able to support 100,000 pounds."
Block and Fall / Tripping
Scenery changes, which seem to happen by magic, can often be credited to the block and fall, i.e. the pulley system used for lifting scenery. Tripping, meanwhile, is nothing to do with pratfalls or psychotropic drugs; it simply refers to bundling a large piece of scenery in half so it can be tucked out of sight of the audience.
Probably the oddest-sounding term in the batch, zits probe comes not from dermatology but from opera. "That is the first rehearsal that the actors or the performers have with the orchestra," Ingram says.
It's an anglicized form of the German word sitzprobe, which literally means "seat preview." Ingram says at the Ordway, a zits probe is more commonly called a wander probe. "Typically in opera, they are just sitting," he says. "The reason we call it a 'wander probe' is because we let the actors get up and wander around, so if they feel like moving around on stage, we let them."
Next Tuesday, visit State of the Arts for unusual words from the world of dance.
Minnesota Playlist asked theater professionals for their advice to people just getting started in the performing arts business. Here are a few of the responses:
Polly Carl, former producing artistic director of the Playwright's Center and current Director of Artistic Development at the Steppenwolf Theate:
I guess what I usually tell people at the front end of a career in the arts is to not spend a lot of time asking "if"--"if it makes sense?" "if it's really possible?" but rather start from the question of "how?" Then I say the first order of business is to become your own arts administrator. If you stand around waiting for an institution or an artistic director to make something happen in your career it's likely you'll be standing around waiting for a long time. Instead be your own institution and your own artistic director and take charge of your career from the get go.
Aditi Kapil, playwright and performer in the Twin Cities:
I generally don't give advice, but I guess I think you need to be ok with two things: 1. Making a complete ass of yourself regularly, with all the embarrassment, cringing, humility that involves, because if you're not, you're playing it safe, which only takes you so far. 2. Working harder than most people consider reasonable at a job that pays little and erratically for the privilege of making an ass of yourself regularly. But also, hopefully, for those magical moments when it all clicks, and you connect with people in that way that only art can, making all that labor completely worth it.
Michelle Hensley, artistic director and founder of Ten Thousand Things Theatre:
Ask yourself the question "Why do theater?" Really. Why, in this troubled of a world, do you need to do it and why does the world need you to do it? Dig deep and ask it hard and often to yourself. Then, throw away the rules of how institutions have made us think theater has to be, follow your heart and make it up yourself. Make it up from scratch -- find out what you really need and throw away whatever you don't.
You can read the full list of advice here.
What about you? What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
While the market for buying and selling art tends to be the domain of the cultural elite, many of us have picked up a favorite wall-hanging at a local gallery or art fair. For those of us on a budget, it's just as important to know the value of what we're getting, and that can vary drastically depending on whether we're buying an "original," a "limited-edition print" or a "giclée." To better understand the differences myself, I consulted some experts around town.
Megan Bell with her painting, "It Was All About Compromise." (photo courtesy the artist)
I started with painter Megan Bell in Minneapolis. Over the past 18 years, Bell has sold many of her original oil paintings. Although originals may retain or even increase in value over time, Bell says it's not always practical or affordable for people to purchase original art. That's why she and many other artists order reproductions of their work that they then sell for much less than the original. A popular technique for creating reproductions is called giclée.
That brought me to Terry Schopper, co-owner of Vongsouvan Fine Art Printers in northeast Minneapolis, a company that specializes in giclée printing. Schopper says that giclée actually just means inkjet. "You have a giclée printer on your desktop; it's the type of inks that we use that make a difference," he says.
Most conventional printing--including on desktop inkjet printers--creates colors using CMYK inks: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. "But an artist's palette doesn't have cyan, magenta, yellow and black," Schopper says. "It has crimson. It has cobalt blue. It has sunflower yellow. It has aqua. It has burnt umber. So we developed a printing method that has those colors in it."
Terry Schopper of Vongsouvan Fine Art Printers with the Roland da Vinci inkjet printer.
Schopper says a high-quality inkjet gives artists an affordable way to make long-lasting, saleable copies of their work. He showed me an example giclée print, a reproduction of a painting by artist Mark Keller, and how the print bears minute details such as the wispy trails of blended colors Keller made with his brush.
"We've kind of backed away from the word 'giclée'," Schopper admits. "We like to call ourselves 'master fine art reproduction printers' because 'giclée' is offensive to a few art people out there."
Cole Rogers is of those people. Rogers is the artistic director at the Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis, which champions traditional print methods such as etching and lithography. Rogers makes it clear Highpoint does not reproduce existing art, and he has reservations about the way some artists use the word giclée to sell copies of their work. "I feel like often times 'giclée' is used as a term to obfuscate that it's an inkjet and to try to convince people that it has some added value," he says.
Cole Rogers, artistic director at Highpoint Center for Printmaking.
Rogers thinks limited-edition giclées are particularly problematic. "That artist made a painting--probably a different size, a completely different medium--and the fact that [the giclée is] signed and numbered gives it no intrinsic value," he says. "So if the buyer turns around and tries to sell it, they'll probably find out that it's basically worthless. They're paying for a poster, and the signing and numbering doesn't bring any value, much like a limited-edition Beanie Baby. The only value really should be in how much [the buyer] loves it."
Rogers advises art collectors to know what they're buying. "If people know that [a giclée is] an inkjet and that what they're buying is probably a reproduction of something," Rogers says, "then that's great."
But in today's high-tech art world sometimes a giclée is an original. Tom Rassieur, head curator of prints and drawings at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, points out that inkjet prints are originals for digital artists (i.e. people who create their work using computers). "That's the physical form that the ideas ultimately take," he says.
Minneapolis digital artist Richard Bonk, with some of his original giclées.
For "limited-edition giclées," Rassieur says he's obliged to trust a publisher stopped making them.
Essential to a true limited-edition print is the artist's hand in the work. Rassieur describes how painter Susan Rothenberg might produce an edition of 20 or 30 prints, but intentionally make each print unique by inking them differently. Cole Rogers, walking through a gallery of 18 prints made at Highpoint by artist Chloe Piene, explains how every print is an original because each one comes from a drawing Piene made on a plate.
Ultimately it's an art buyer's duty to educate him- or herself. There's no dishonesty in a giclée; they're printed using archival inks, often on canvas or fine art paper. It's the way some artists choose to market such prints -- neglecting to clearly state that they are actually reproductions of an original work -- that can mislead buyers to overestimate the value of the work.
Back in her studio, Megan Bell has copies of her paintings for sale, but she doesn't call them "giclée" or "limited edition". "I think reproductions serve their purpose and can be perfectly nice," Bell says. "However, I will always be somewhat partial to original works. There is something very humbling to me about the experience of standing in front of an original painting, be it a Van Gogh or a Pollock, knowing the artist once stood in front of a blank canvas and created that painting."
Is there something in the arts that you'd like to know more about? Share your thought below, and it could become a future Arts 101.
In our continued pursuit of answers to deceptively simple questions, I asked colleague Luke Taylor to investigate one reader's query about copying famous works, and then selling them. Here's what he found:
In Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 2001 film Amélie, the title character lives upstairs from an enigmatic neighbor known as L'Homme de Verre or "The Glass Man" due to his brittle-bone condition. The Glass Man occupies himself by painting copy after copy of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party.
One could easily imagine the Glass Man posing a question just like the one posted to Arts 101 by reader E. Baker. Baker asks, "If I paint a picture that is a copy of a famous artist's work, can I sell it?"
Randall A. Hillson, PhD, is a lawyer with the intellectual property firm Merchant & Gould in Minneapolis. When asked Baker's question, Hillson replies with another: "The first question is, can you paint the picture at all?"
Hillson isn't asking whether someone is technically capable of painting. He's asking whether the work the artist intends to copy is protected by copyright. "If the answer to that is 'yes,' then presumably you don't have permission."
When it comes to copyrighted works, age does matter. Hillson says it's fairly straightforward that if a painting is sufficiently old, it's not under copyright. For example, Luncheon of the Boating Party was painted by Renoir in 1881, so the Glass Man isn't violating copyright. If he wanted to sell his copies, he could certainly do that.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party"
"But if the painting was created recently, for example, within the last 30 years," Hillson explains, "then I can say it's almost certain the work is under copyright, in which case your copy would be a violation of copyright."
According to the United States Copyright Office, copyright protection in works created under the current law endures for the life of the artist plus 70 years after the artist's death (reasonable advice for artists: enjoy a healthy lifestyle). Duration may be different for works created before the present law took effect. Copyright laws in other countries help copyright protection apply across borders.
Beyond protecting original works, Hillson says that copyright law extends a creator's protection to preventing derivative works. "A derivative work is a work that's based on a previous work but isn't necessarily a copy of it," Hillson says. "An example of a derivative work is a work made by transforming a work from one medium to another."
I didn't have to go far to find an example of derivative-work protection. Randy Hanson of St. Paul, a longtime friend, is a visual artist who, while on a visit to Las Vegas in 2001, took a photograph of the ceiling at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, which features a blown-glass art installation by Dale Chihuly. Hanson liked his photo so much that he put it up for sale on Zazzle.com; many customers purchased Hanson's print over a period of several years.
In August, 2009, that changed.
"I was contacted via automated e-mail that my image had been removed due to violations of Zazzle's terms of service," Hanson recalls. "After further inquiry, I received a reply from Zazzle's Content Management Team that stated, 'We were contacted by Dale Chihuly and asked to remove products in violation of his intellectual property rights.' Several other contributors were also asked to remove their photos of Chihuly's artwork."
Detail of Fiori di Como by Dale Chihuly,1998
Bellagio Resort, Las Vegas Nevada
Hanson discovered that such items--including postcards, books and posters--are available from Chihuly himself through his publisher, Portland Press.
Lawyer Randall Hillson isn't surprised by a story like this. "If a person takes a picture of a copyrighted work, they are making a copy or derivative work of it, which is something a copyright owner may have a right to stop."
And according to Hillson, Randy Hanson's misstep didn't necessarily begin when he made his Chihuly photo available for sale on the Web. "I want to address the myth that it's the activity of sale that creates the problem--it's not. It's the creation of the infringing work that's the problem," Hillson stresses. "It doesn't necessarily matter whether a person sells it or just possesses it if it's an unlawful work to start with."
Hillson explains that under the current law in the United States, an artist doesn't have to do anything other than make something to become a copyright holder. "Copyright exists when you create the work," Hillson says. "The person who created the artistic work has a copyright, provided it's a work that's protectable."
That said, U.S.-based artists can receive further protection by registering their original works with the United States Copyright Office. Information about the law and on how to register can be found on the Copyright Office's website, copyright.gov.
And just as patent laws were established not only to document but to stimulate innovation in science and industry, "copyright laws exist for that reason as well, to stimulate artistic development," Hillson says. "What it basically does is it says, if you create the work and it eventually has value, you'll still be able to derive the benefit of that value even if a long time has passed."
Even Amélie's Glass Man could stand to benefit. "His paintings would also be subject to copyright because they must have some modicum of his own originality in them," Hillson says. "The guy can't be Renoir. He's at least putting some of his own originality into the painting, and whatever that is, he should be entitled to copyright protection."
Thanks to Luke Taylor for his thorough and lucid report!
For a different take on copyright protection, view this State of the Arts post that features a presentation by Johanna Blakely, deputy director of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California.
What do you think about copyright laws? Have you experienced either side of copyright, whether as someone protected by copyright or someone asked to respect a copyright?
What other questions do you have for Arts 101?(4 Comments)
A sampling of theater signs and logos from around the Twin Cities.
At State of the Arts we welcome questions that at first might appear simplistic or obvious. Because, more often than not, we find out something new in the process. That's why I've created a special category "Arts 101" to handle just these sorts of topics.
For our latest installment, I asked colleague and "Grammar Grater" Luke Taylor to hunt down a question that I've pondered for years, namely, why do some theaters spell their name Theater, and others spell it Theatre? Here's what he learned...
Melodie Bahan, the Guthrie Theater's director of communications, knows a little piece of Guthrie lore that most of us don't.
"Originally it was the Guthrie Theatre, R-E," Bahan reveals. "It was so named until 1970. If you go back and you look at all of our materials, all of our programs, it was R-E."
You may be surprised about what precipitated the Guthrie's spelling switch, and we'll get to that a bit later. But The Guthrie's change from Theatre to Theater reflects a wider inconsistency throughout the theater community. A quick survey of some performance spaces in the Twin Cities exemplifies that: the Guthrie, Jungle, Fitzgerald and Varsity fall in the E-R camp; Penumbra, Mixed Blood, and the State/Orpheum/Pantages (the Hennepin Trust properties) opt for R-E.
Fowler's Modern English Usage, the venerable reference for all things related to the English language, says that the spelling rules for words ending in R-E and E-R generally differ between British and American English, respectively, but notes that "the contrast ... is not totally systematic." Examples of this irregularity include such words as somber/sombre, specter/spectre, and of course, theater/theatre.
So what's behind the choice to use theatre (R-E) or theater (E-R)?
Katherine Scheil is an associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota, specializing in theater history and performance studies. Her spelling preference is R-E. "I think 'theater' and 'theatre' have different connotations," Scheil says, "and I would imagine that a director or founder of a theatre would want to tap into those."
Lou Bellamy, founder and artistic director of the Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, did exactly as Scheil imagines. Bellamy carefully considered the spelling of theatre when he named the Penumbra. "It's my feeling that R-E connotes the 'craft' and that E-R connotes the building within which the craft takes place," he says.
Scheil speculates that the American spelling, theater, may convey more of a sense of accessibility for a potential audience rather than the elite connotations of theatre, but admits such connotations are unfounded. "British theatre has a long history of amateur performance, and at least in London, theatre is much more accessible to common people that it is here in the U.S. in terms of cheap tickets," Scheil says. "The Globe in particular encourages a more democratic audience base with cheap tickets, audience participation, and a more rowdy atmosphere than one would find at the Guthrie, for example."
One might think the Guthrie's E-R spelling was chosen to reflect the fact it was a major project designed to bring theater to the heartland of America. The Guthrie's Bahan notes that the Associated Press Stylebook advises American writers to use theater unless the proper name of such a place is Theatre. "Of course I latch on to [the AP Stylebook] because it confirms our spelling," she laughs. "I'm sure if the accepted AP style was R-E, I'd find some reason why we were correct and AP was wrong!"
But the truth about the Guthrie's spelling has nothing to do with the company's mission or the AP Stylebook. Bahan says that in 1970, the Walker and the Guthrie simultaneously expanded, and together they built a shared lobby space on Vineland Place in Minneapolis. "On the entrance to that space, there was this beautiful steel typeface: 'The Walker Art Center and the Guthrie Theater,'" Bahan explains. "It was a decision that was made--my guess would be that it was led by the Walker--that they wanted a visual consistency between 'center' and 'theater'. So that was when it was changed to E-R. And everything else after that time, all of our materials, it was Guthrie Theater, E-R. It was totally driven by signage."
Bahan says that when the Guthrie moved to its new standalone building in 2006, there was never discussion of reverting to the R-E spelling. Not that others don't get it confused. Asked if she ever sees its name misspelled elsewhere, she replies, exasperatedly, "All. The. Time."
When writing the playbills for the Guthrie's performances, Bahan and her staff are always meticulous about listing credits accurately, ensuring that theater names are correctly spelled ER or RE. "It's very frustrating when I go to other theaters or go to New York or DC or someplace and I look at playbills and I see actors' credits who have worked at the Guthrie and see theater spelled RE when it's us," Bahan says. "That just seems sloppy and lazy, so a little frustrating."
The Penumbra Theatre's Lou Bellamy has a different attitude about such spelling mix-ups. "It doesn't really matter to me," he says, "so long as they can find the theater to attend shows."
Can this arbitrary spelling be a nuisance for audience members? An informal survey conducted simultaneously on Gather and Facebook yielded a few results about public perception of the theater/theatre spellings. One respondent on Gather said having two spellings didn't bother him at all. Another celebrated the fact that she is British and doesn't need to worry about different spellings. "No problems," she wrote. "We only spell it one way, i.e. theatRE."
Cory Busse, former Grammar Grater teammate, mused, "I am more willing to accept a 'theatre' putting on a play than I am a 'movie theatre.' The first makes sense to me ... the second seems pretentious. Which is funny, because--as you can tell--I'm the one guilty of snobbery here."
Context can indeed influence a writer's spelling choice. Professor Scheil's work at the University of Minnesota is mainly about British theatre, so she uses that spelling. She acknowledges, however, that scholarly authors who write books or articles about theater/theatre are usually bound by a publisher's preferred spelling of the word, regardless of context. We here at MPR follow AP Stylebook guidelines.
In her day-to-day work, Professor Scheil keeps an open mind. "I use 'theatre' but have always accepted both spellings from my students," she says. "After this interview, I may have to caution them to think about the connotations behind the different spellings before they choose one!"
What do you think? Theater E-R or theatre R-E? Why? Share your thoughts.
Have any other questions for Arts 101? Let us know!
Have an arts related question you've always wondered about, but have been too embarrassed to ask? Never fear, "Arts 101" is here!
I have noticed the tendency of a few friends to take me aside when no one else is around, and say "Can you explain (fill in the blank) to me?"
For example, recently a colleague of mine and I had a chat about paintings. She wanted to know if a certain painting hanging on the walls of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts was "the original" or if the MIA simply owned a replica. So I explained that sometimes an artist will create a series of similar works - like Monet's haystacks - and that many museums may own an "original" that looks very much like some other museum's "original."
I have to tell you, I was thrilled that my colleague was willing to come to me with her question, and I was delighted to be able to provide her with an answer (face it, one of the great joys of journalism is being able to find out answers to people's questions - how useful!).
So consider this your "free pass" to ask any question you want about art. No question will be considered too simple! You will not be judged on the merits of your question, and I will do my best to find the right answer. And if it leads to some interesting fact-finding, it may even turn into a radio story.(1 Comments)
Theatre de la Jeune Lune had its own theater, and rented it out to other theaters to perform in. Now two of the performers from Jeune Lune (Steve Epp and Dominique Serrand, shown above) are starting a new theater company, and are performing in other people's theaters. Confused? Read on...
I was trawling through Facebook the other day when I stumbled across a thread that caught my eye. A couple of theater professionals were bemoaning the confusion that often arises when a small theater company performs in somebody else's building.
For example, the Guthrie Theater is a professional company with a national reputation for its work. But the building it works out of has three stages, and it often allows other, smaller companies to perform in its space. So a theater-goer who's not paying attention might see a show that was put on by Penumbra, or Theater Mu, or Frank Theater, and come away thinking they had just seen a "Guthrie production."
At the least it means the performing company doesn't get word-of-mouth credit for its work, and loses some potential marketing. But sometimes it can mean the wrong theater company gets a donation at the end of the year. Christopher Kidder, the director of the annual "Klingon Christmas Carol," said he knows of at least one person who gave $100 to Mixed Blood Theatre Company by accident, after having seen his production there.
While the confusion between a theater company and a theater building can frustrate some professionals, others have been known to use it to their advantage. Kidder (and others on his Facebook thread) had heard of at least a couple of instances in which an actor claimed "I've got the lead in a Guthrie play!" In truth, they are performing in a much smaller theater company's production - it just happens to be on a Guthrie stage.
So what to do? The root of the problem is that both the buildings and the companies are called "theaters," and I don't see that changing anytime soon. The best that anyone can ask for is that audience members take a moment to make sure they know the name of the theater company they're seeing, not just the name of the building they're in.
(And if a friend tells you they got the lead in a Guthrie play, you might want to do some fact-checking... )