Five things worth knowing this week
1 – Fabulous Kamishibai
It’s Wednesday as I write this, and I have been transfixed and transported by the 5thgrade project that went on display this week in the Blue Heron Education Center. As I write, the student dramatists/artists have come and gone from their own private gallery opening. The whole experience was a thing to behold.
The art form is called Kamishibai, and it is a Japanese tradition of storytelling, literally translating to “Paper Play.” Kamishibai has its roots in the 8th century, when Buddhist monks used picture scrolls to teach history. Its golden age was during the 1930s when kamishibaiya (kamishibai narrators) would ride from town to town on bikes pulling a portable stage. This stage held hand-painted art, and the story would be narrated as the images changed. This form of street theatre was very popular, and the stories could be traditional or personal tales, painting a picture of life during the time they were written.
This residency included two 5th grade classes at Chautauqua Elementary School. Each student told a story from their own family history and illustrated 3 scenes to be narrated using a watercolor wash technique.
Like all good storytelling, Kamishibai is meant to be heard aloud and every student had the opportunity to perform their story for their peers and also for their younger study-buddies. Students were excited and proud of how their work was received, and the experience gave them a sense of accomplishment and connection with their community.
Teaching Artists: Nancy Scott Wienker and Roxy Hathaway
Classroom Teachers: Matthew Chasan and Doug Swan
2 – An April Like No Other
All I can say is “get ready” for April. IMHO it’s going to be a month of programming like we’ve never undertaken before. Behold . . .
Get your tickets here:
BLUE HERON EDUCATION CENTER
Tap Dance 1 – with Rico Lastrapes
House of Blue Leaves: Acting Intensive – with Kaycie Alanis
Barre Fitness – with Elise Erickson
Art Explorers – with Anna Sander and Molly Wilson
Adult Improv – with Mik Kuhlman
Enroll in classes here
VISUAL ARTS – Opening Friday April 5
PHOTOGRAPHY – Mark Milroy, Ed Holmes and Marguerite Garth
LEXICON OF LIGHT – An integration of the storytelling power of poetry and photography which all comes alive with a Poetry reading April 25th.
WORD & IMAGE… Broadsides, postcards, book sculptures and two Art Book exhibitions
Read more about the exhibits here.
And then there’s Vashon Lit Con (Lit Con), an incredibly ambitious and cool four-day celebration of literary arts anchored at Vashon Center for the Arts but popping up at lots of other Vashon Island venues that kicks off with the Pearl Django concert on April 11 and winds up on Sunday, April 14th.
Lit Con will feature award-winning authors from Vashon, Seattle, and Tacoma with 75 events for writers and those who love to read. Tickets, including a Full Pass are available for purchase, and there will also be two free events: The Friday Lit Crawl and The Children’s Lit Con.
Friday Lit Crawl
- Friday, April 12that 2-11pm
- All takes place within walking distance in Vashon Town.
- Host Venues: Snapdragon Bakery, Relish, Gather Vashon, Vashon Brewing & Community Pub, Vashon Bookshop, Voice of Vashon, Island Quilter
- 20 local and regional authors will be reading selections from their writing throughout the day
- Check out the schedule of readings and “crawl” from venue to venue here.
Children’s Lit Con
- Activities for all ages taking place April 12-14 at Vashon Library and the Blue Heron Education Center
- Includes 2 Teen Workshops and a Poetry Slam
- In partnership with KCLS, Friends of Vashon Library and Humanities WA
Get the 411 on all things LitCon, including schedule, speakers, and tickets here.
3 – Kid Stop Motion in the House
It’s still Wednesday and the gift of student art just keeps giving. For the third straight year, VCA showcased Kid Stop Motion, a film festival celebrating the creativity of 4th graders at Chautauqua.
Vashon Artists in Schools teaching artist Alisara Martin worked with classroom teachers Karen Barich, Shanon Browne, Laura Jensen and Chris Muller to teach students the fundamentals of digital animation. This interdisciplinary residency ties creative writing to video illustration and voice-over narration, where written word and visual imagery echo and reinforce each other.
Keeping things in the family, Alisara’s husband and VCA team member, Ben McQuillen managed the audio recording part of the process, ensuring sparkling sound to go with the delightful story telling.
Alisara told me that “close to 300 kids” have made a stop-action movie these past three years, and I would concur with her judgement that they just get better and better. If you were here, you know. If not, pencil it in for next year. So fun!
4 – This just in, even more kid goodness!
Molly Wilson and Anna Sander, island preschool teachers extraordinaire, are bringing their boundless creativity to VCA this spring!
Art Explorers! will introduce kids (and families!) to the joy of art, through theme-based projects. First up is “Earth Day,” where, Molly says, “kids will create their own magical little worlds inside a terrarium, using living plants and these whimsical little figures.” Seeing each project take shape is Anna’s favorite part of teaching, because students “always surprise me with new and creative ideas.”
Check out Art Explorers! classes here:
- Ages: 7 and up (kids under 7 accompanied by adult)
- Sunday, Apr 14, 2-4 pm
- Tuition: $40 Member, $50 General (includes $15 materials fee)
- Ages: 3-6
- Mondays, Apr 15-May 6, 1-3 pm
- Tuition: $110 Member | $120 General (includes $20 materials fee)
- Ages: 5-10
- Saturday, May 11, 10 am-noon
- Tuition: $40 Member, $50 General (includes $15 materials fee)
5 – Connecting with Chuck Roehm
I first met Chuck Roehm because of his most excellent ginormous red hay truck. Buy him a cup of coffee sometime and ask him to tell you the story. In the meantime, I caught up with Chuck, who along with Stephen Cline will be playing in our theater on April 10th. Read on.
Me: When did you start playing music?
Chuck: I started with tenor banjo when I was eight years old but gave up after the teacher started hitting my hands with a baton whenever I made a mistake – not a teaching method I would recommend!
Eventually in my 30’s I taught myself to play Clawhammer banjo. After I moved to the island Bob Woodman and Peter Larsen showed me some chords on the guitar and I continued learning a little more year by year so that I could play along with others and accompany myself on the songs that I started writing.
Me: What do you consider your musical roots/influences?
Chuck: My father and grandfather had good singing voices. Our home was filled with lots of popular music from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Those who have influenced my own songwriting include John Denver, John Fogerty, Dan Fogelberg, Jim Croce, and the Moody Blues.
Me: What is the big idea behind your new album? What motivated you to get in the studio and make it happen?
Chuck: My Onward and Upward album started with the intention of writing and publishing songs that would provide an uplifting alternative to the negative messaging that occurs frequently in popular culture. It’s hard to imagine any aspects of life on Earth that wouldn’t benefit from people moving Onward and Upward in their awareness and consciousness.
I’m very grateful to Jeff Woollen of Raven Cries Recording Studio for his encouragement and assistance throughout the recording process. His mastery of recording, mixing and mastering of the songs is on a high level, and we’re fortunate to have such a terrific resource here on the island. I also appreciate the contributions of the talented island musicians who added skillful instrumentation or vocals to the album.
Me: You have a live concert coming up at VCA. Tell us about that?
Chuck: I am looking forward to performing at VCA with my long-time friend from Hawaii, Stephen Cline, a very talented multi-instrumentalist and songwriter.
My wife Nancy and I recently decided to expand the “Onward and Upward” idea further by forming a non-profit 501(c)(3) — Onward and Upward Foundation Inc. — to provide funding for a broader range of projects within the framework of moving Onward and Upward. Through album sales and additional donations, our intention is to fund endeavors that assist people in moving forward with new skills or educational opportunities while developing awareness of the power of love, gratitude, joy, and compassion in our lives.
6 – Finally, and this is a sixth thing
Faithful Fish Wrap readers may recall my lengthy ode to Woody Guthrie’s anthemic “This Land is Your Land” (read it again here). I was on a sort of Americana jag that week and was swept away by a version I just loved by LA-based band Chicano Batman. It was done as part of an ad campaign for a whiskey company. Here it is again.
So imagine my surprise and delight to discover this week that NPR was on the same scent with its American Anthem series. Along with This Land, the editors have tucked into Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown, and Beige.
The full story of Born in the USA is well worth a read or listen (follow this link). The backstory is the song is rooted in The Boss’ experiences doing a benefit for Vietnam Vets in 1981.
The song went through a fascinating metamorphosis. An early version survives as a demo with the lyrics . . .
“Son, understand, if it was up to me …
‘Bout half the town’s out of work
Ain’t nothin’ for you here
From the assembly line to the front line
But I guess you didn’t hear:
You died in Vietnam.”
Springsteen continues to develop the song, adding the anthemic refrain. Give a listen . . .
The version we all know was the massive 1984 hit where he turns up the energy and volume, shouting out the lyrics we all know by now.
Quoting now from the NPR article . . .
As the musician later told WHYY’s Fresh Air, he meant it that way. “The pride was in the chorus,” Springsteen said to host Terry Gross in a 2005 interview. “In my songs, the spiritual part, the hope part, is in the choruses. The blues and your daily realities are in the details of the verses.”
Springsteen fans will tell you the effect that big chorus had on crowds, whether or not the message of the verses was entirely understood. Take Chris Christie — yes, that one — who saw Springsteen at New Jersey’s Giants Stadium decades before he became governor of that state.
“Bruce started every show with a really rousing, anthemic-type version of ‘Born in the U.S.A.,’ ” Christie recalls. “With a bandanna on and a cutoff shirt and the fist-pumping, it felt like a celebration of being born in the USA — when really, it’s a defiant song about ‘I was born in the USA, and I deserve better than what I’m getting.’ I think plenty of people didn’t get what it was about, including the president of the United States.”
There are so many versions of the song out in the wild at this point, you can pretty much pick a favorite. Interesting, The Boss later returned to the song’s roots with this acoustic take.
Another time we’ll look at Black, Brown, and Beige. Have to save something for later!
Why “Fish Wrap”? Years ago, living in San Francisco, I became a devotee of a legendary journalists named Herb Caen. While he may not have been the first to use the phrase in connection with “yesterday’s news,” he is the one I remember. Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish wrap. Maybe it’s a generational thing. At any rate, we call our Friday wrap up, The Friday Fish Wrap . . . Five things worth knowing about VCA this Friday.