Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Recently we went to see the current production of Roman Holiday at the Guthrie Theater in downtown Minneapolis. It’s running through August 19th on their McGuire Proscenium Stage. The Guthrie has produced a fine musical leveraging the incredible music of Cole Porter and wrapped it around the famous film that originally starred Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn won Best Actress and the film won for screenplay and costume. While attending the play, we learned a bit more about the original film. Produced and directed by William Wyler, it was unusual that a film at its time was actually shot on location in Rome. This was not a common occurrence for film productions in or before 1953. Most of the time locations were re-created in sets. By shooting on location movie-goers were able to experience a Roman holiday for themselves. This was as delightful as the CGI used to surprise today’s movie-goers. The location became another character in the movie. Audiences were as much intrigued with the story as with their ability to lose themselves in the piazza’s of Rome with the other actors. It was a novel introduction into american movie making that we take for granted today.

In case you’re not familiar with the story of Roman Holiday, it’s about a princess (Anne) who escapes from her controlled surroundings long enough to spend a fun filled day as a common, normal person with a reporter (Joe) that turns romantic. He figures out early on who she really is, but doesn’t tell her that he knows and he seeks to use the opportunity to “cash in” on getting an exclusive interview and photos with one of Europe’s royals (in this case of an un-named country). Along the way, the princess exposes her own vulnerability in her hopes and dreams of living a “normal” life that isn’t scripted. The tiny bit of friction is introduced as Joe has to eventually decide whether to cash-in on his luck or whether he’ll help Anne keep her holiday and her dreams a secret in the eternal city.  Does being true, loyal, caring, considerate and loving win out over the promise of easy money and getting what Joe’s been hoping for?

The choreography, acting and singing are wonderfully produced in this musical adaptation. Stephanie Rothenberg delivers a fantastic performance as Princess Anne in her first appearance at the Guthrie. And the rest of players have been superbly cast. If you’re looking for a really fun evening, we highly recommend it. If you’ve seen it or if you go, please comment back and tell us what you thought about it as we’d enjoy hearing what you have to say.


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Last Friday, Brent and I spent the evening with paintbrushes in hand. No, not another home project. This time it was Van Gogh and Botticelli!

One of my birthday gifts to Brent was a trip to the “Simply Jane” studio in Minneapolis. I discovered the offer through “Trubates” which meant 50% off the usual $40 fee for Jane’s “Paint the Greats” event. This gave us three hours of painting masterpiece-inspired work, including all materials and instruction. It was inspiring, relaxing and lots of fun.

“Painting the Greats” might sound a little intimidating, but Jane does a great job of making art accessible to every level of student. When you arrive, the canvases are already prepared with a sketch of a well-known work of art. That means you get to bypass one of the most challenging parts of painting: drawing! From there, she provides all the supplies needed as you fill in the sketch and she teaches tips on highlighting and texturizing.

We may not have come away with masterpieces, but after many years of not picking up a paintbrush, this was the perfect way to step back up to a canvas.

One of the many things that Brent and I share is a love for the arts. Years ago, he picked up a pencil and started sketching and then he signed up for painting classes. His work shows that a formal arts education isn’t necessary to produce beauty on a canvas. He captured wonderful scenes from his years in the Peace Corp that are hanging in our home today.

I focused on Graphic Design as an art major before graduating in Journalism. I loved being able to experiment and learn about everything from drawing, three-dimensional design, lettering, photography, art metals to print production and more. Today I’m thankful my job provides opportunities for creativity almost on a daily basis.

But, for both of us, it’s been years since we’ve actively pursued something like painting. “Paint the Greats” reminded us how much we love it. As we ended the evening, Brent commented that he couldn’t remember the last time he felt that relaxed. We realized we really needed to prioritize opportunities for creativity for that reason if none other. So we walked away a little more relaxed and dreaming about possibly having an art studio in our home one day.

Whether you have some latent artsi-ness you want to re-visit or you just want to have fun with friends, we highly recommend Jane’s studio.

What do you do to inspire creativity? Let us know in the comments below.
I haven’t read it yet, but this looks like a great resource for artists. I’ll give you an update when I get to read it!

“You Need to Read the War of Art” by Jeff Goins

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Lisa and I have discovered a small jewel that we think is worth mentioning, especially if you’re looking for a nice “date night”. The place is Urban Olive and Vine in Hudson, Wisconsin. Hudsonis a small bedroom community on the east side of the St. Croix River, but only a short drive from the

Kay Timm has transformed an historic store front into a delightful shop

Friends joined us for Limoncello Marscapone Cake!

Twin Cities. Situated right off Interstate 94, it’s easy to get there and get home without difficulty.

Scattered along the main street of Hudson are several bar and grilles, cafés,  boutiques and art galleries [Art Festival will be in late September]. Running parallel to main street is the water front with marinas and a park with ample picnic areas and beaches.

We think you’ll like Urban Olive & Vine [like their Facebook page here] because the food is terrific and affordable. The ambiance is a mixture of original brownstone merchant store [painted white] in the front and a modern decor in the back. The owner is Kay Timm. She left her corporate job after several decades to pursue her passion and open her own shop. She offers a variety of tea, coffee, custom picnic baskets for a special afternoon stroll near the river, unique treats, several pairings of wine that complement fresh cheese, breads, olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Her menu is deliciously thoughtful and made from scratch. You’ll find surprising specials that are complemented with fresh home grown herbs and served by an attentive staff.

The Antipasta Plate and a local micro-brew

Date night at the UO&V is made special on Friday and Saturday evenings with local, live jazz from 7-10pm. Cleverly billed as “Hudson Unplugged”, it’s a fresh twist when compared to the typical boisterous, blue collar crowds gathering at Pier 500 or the other college-aged venues like Dibbos (yeah, Dibbos is still there.)

Back in our day, the drinking age in Minnesota was 19, but in Wisconsin it was 18. So Wisconsin drew a lot of 18 year olds from Minnesota to drive east. But now that most of us [hopefully] have outgrown venues like Dibbos, the UO&V offers us a new reason to make the trip across the river and rediscover Hudson all over again.

Peach & Strawberry Sangria w/ fresh mint!

Thank you Kay for your creativity and bravery at starting a new business. We hope to be back often!

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Ever notice that God brings themed seasons into our lives? Sometimes it’s just a matter of bringing related topics across your path over and over in a short period of time. If I’m paying attention, that’s hopefully when I stop and ask him what he wants to show me. Sometimes he makes it clear right there and other times I just sense that I’m supposed to keep a heads up and watch. Here’s one of those times.

Over the past few weeks, the theme seems to be using gifts and talents to bless others. One after the other, we’ve come across numerous stories of people who uniquely serve others. Whether or not they even know or consciously serve God, I see great hope in seeing God accomplish beautiful things through his creation. As you watch these stories, maybe you’ll be as touched, challenged and inspired as we’ve been.

Healing Injured Children
Elissa Montanti has devoted her life to helping children who have been severely injured by crossfire or roadside bombs in war torn areas of the world. She “has little money and no training in humanitarian relief, but against the odds she has changed the fortunes of more than 100 crippled children, one child at a time.”

Painting for Japan
This artist is using her talent to creatively craft and sell artwork to raise money for the victims of the recent tsunami in Japan.

A Friend to  Abuse Victims
This one somehow surprised me most. I’m not one to follow celebrities much. I suppose I feel like their lives make it pretty challenging to live in reality and so many appear to be rather narcissistic. Not sure if that’s realistic or fair, but it sure can seem that way. I don’t know much about David Schwimmer (Ross from “Friends”), but this interview we recently watched offered new respect for him. Apparently he has taken up directing and one of his recent projects is dedicated to calling attention to the dangers of sexual predators on the Internet. He talked about feeling a responsibility to use his celebrity stature and resources to help others.

Capturing Fallen Soldiers
Utah artist, Kaziah Hancock, paints portraits of soldiers, sailors and marines who have died in war and gifts them to their loved ones. She lovingly captures their likeness from photographs and then ships the portraits off to the fallen soldier’s family.

The world can be a pretty challenging place. All you have to do is watch the news or read the paper and there’s no denying it. But I’m thankful to ultimately know that God is in control and I love it when he gives us glimpses of his goodness and power through others. These stories have inspired us to ask God how he wants us to use the gifts he’s gifts he’s given to reflect the light of who he is to a sometimes dark world.

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I’m a graphic designer, so I love seeing when good design helps solve problems. I’m also intrigued with learning how  average people can take charge of their personal health. These two areas, health and design, might seem rather odd companions, but a recent “TED” talk married them quite nicely.

By the way, if you’re not familiar with
“TED” you might want to be. TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design. This organization sponsors a video site that highlights the best of their TED talks around the world.

So, the TED talk that inspired this post presents a great idea for something I think is long over due. If you’ve ever been perplexed or even highly annoyed by medical charts, forms and lab reports, it may also strike a chord with you. If you’re like me, you dread when envelopes arrive from the doctor’s office. I immediately wonder if the contents will involve six phone calls to get things straightened out or to just understand what they mean. Anyone who suggests plausible ways to simplify the contents of those envelopes is a hero to me.

Thomas Goetz is a designer, not typical hero material, but what he proposes in this talk is almost too simple. Take a look at the average medical report, chart, invoice or drug description. You usually need a dictionary, medical degree or magnifying glass to even begin to read it. Why is that? How are we suppose to take charge of our health without adequate information? Is it cynical to think they’re purposely written to keep people from understanding them? Or perhaps they’re just designed by the wrong people. Has anyone thought to have a designer do the designing?

Mr. Goetz has and, as it turns out, he’s not the only one. Instead of tiny fonts, confusing markings and unclear formats, he displays forms with meaningful color-coding, simple language and easy-to-follow designs. Some bright designers actually patterned one example after nutrition information on a cereal box. Mr. Goetz suggests that if we have laws that require easy-to-read nutrition labels, why wouldn’t our drug labels be at least as understandable. Now, there’s some health reform I can buy into!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably taken the idea for granted that these forms must be complicated and unreadable. But after listening to this talk, my only question is, “How can we encourage the health care profession to present our information in a way that helps us understand and become better advocates for our own health?”

One other suggestion Mr. Goetz made is to arm yourself with these four simple questions when you have medical tests done:

  1. Can I have my results?
  2. What does this mean?
  3. What are my options?
  4. What’s next?

Two things I have done in recent years include creating a family medical history chart and being prepared for doctor visits. Yes, the chart took some time. I had to interview my parents about illnesses relatives had endured and how some had passed away. Frankly, I was just tired of doctors asking questions about family history and me not having the answers. Then, I also realized I am my very best advocate for my health. Each year at annual exam time, I write up a list of all questions I have regarding my health. I have learned to not be shy about pulling that list out and running down it when the physician asks if I have any questions.

I’d be interested in knowing what others in the medical profession think about Mr. Goetz’s suggestions. What have been keys for you in being your own health advocate? What do you think about TED talks?

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