Five things worth knowing this week
1 – Welcome Allison Halstead Reid as our new Associate Executive Director
I am thrilled to tell you we have created a new position of Associate Executive Director and that Allison Halstead Reid has accepted the appointment.
Allison is well known to many on Vashon for her work at Harbor School as Director of Advancement, and before that Marketing & Development Director, as well as for the work she has done putting on numerous successful auctions and events.
Allison brings VCA an incredibly valuable skill set. She has a deep background in performing arts, is a skilled marketer, has worked for many years in education, and is an experienced and effective fund raiser. She is well-regarded in the community and has over the past year built up a deep working knowledge of VCA through her tenure on our board.
Reporting to Allison will be the five program areas, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Arts Education, Dance, and Vashon Artists in Schools, as well as marketing. Finance/Operations, Facilities, and Development will continue to report directly to me.
As part of the reorganization, the position of Artistic Director has been eliminated.
2 – Will you Wonka with us?
Once again, parent volunteers are coming through for VCA and the musical theatre program.
Oi Durahim has built a magical Bucket Shack for our Willy Wonka Jr. production, which features a kitchen for Mr. and Mrs. Bucket and a loft bed for the grandparents. Better yet, it transforms into the Chocolate Smelter for Act II where Augustus Gloomp meets his untimely demise!
Oi has transformed a literal back-of-the-envelope sketch into a spectacular reality, fabricating brackets and creating a massive modular set piece so we can store and reassemble the Shack as needed . . . all just in time for rehearsals on stage.
When combined with fabulous artwork from Britt Freda and generous donations of set pieces by Drama Dock and other island organizations and parents, this will be our most ambitious set ever. The kids and directors are incredibly lucky to get to perform with the support of so many talented islanders!
But wait, there’s more (you knew that was coming).
There is no Wonka without hats. I’ve been given a peek at two I’m told will figure prominently in our production They’ve been made by a Baltimore-based artist friend of our Director, Chris Dawson, and they are a tasty looking lot indeed.
I’m told to not give away the punchline but can say our cast and crew have “BIG plans to stage a beautiful, sweet and delicious lobby, set up in a very “chocolate factory” sense.”
Sounds like the place to be.
More Wonka than you can shake a stick at!
3 – Loving Alisara Martin
I’ve been following Alisara for the past year . . . literally following her around the VCA campus, watching and listening to her teach, photographing with wonder the groaning board of art supplies she lays out for her students, and rejoicing in the intensity with which her young students go after their projects.
Alisara is teaching two classes for us, and I thought it would be fun to ask her about them.
Me: How long have you been involved with VCA?
Alisara: I have been a teaching artist at VCA since the summer of 2016. I was part of the Science of Art camp, and we made motorized scribble bots to create large drawings; it was so fun!
Me: Say some things about the what you’re teaching this spring.
Alisara: The garden banner class on April 27th is chance to create a unique prayer flag or bunting banner to transform indoor and outdoor spaces. For me, spring is a time to start renewing the spaces that have been left during winter, and bringing art outdoors is a great way to do that.
The forms we are using (pennants, flags, banners, and bunting) have long traditions. They are used to make places festive, sacred, and personal. Using a combination of hand-drawn and stencil techniques, these mixed-media indoor/outdoor pieces are a beautiful way to share a message.
As an islander, capturing a sense of place is always fascinating. The natural beauty, energy, and biodiversity of the island is a magnificent backdrop for life’s daily routines. This class is about finding how the views that we love interact with other scenes in our life, memory, and imagination.
We will use contemporary materials, such as clear watercolor ground, and simple pastel and watercolor techniques to create landscapes on unusual surfaces like shells and wood. We will also create pastel drawings from observation and imagination to rework by adding landscape elements, focusing on bringing a sense of place into our personal imagery.
Me: I know you have a lot of energy for family involvement in the arts. Say some things about that.
Alisara: The arts are powerful forms of communication and create a bond of shared positive experience. We learn to let our creativity free, while cultivating resilience, open-mindedness, and trust. The opportunity to do this with our family, friends, and community members is quite special. I have seen students transformed by finding their visual voice and leave class ready to share something new about themselves with the people they love and the wider world. My energy comes from working with people of all ages to find that voice and feel confident using it.
Me: Tell me about some of your personal art projects.
Alisara: I am working on large-scale handmade books that include etching, lithography, and screen printing. My current piece, ReLume, opens to about three feet, so it captures that physical memory of being small. It tells a short story of a girl who wakes up as a giant and what she does next.
4 – Cinco at the Center
As you may or may not know, we have one of the few Baile Folklorico dance groups in the region, and one of the very few that teaches this traditional form of Mexican dance. In case you missed our first ever Cinco de Mayo celebration . . . well, it was an awesome performance, spectacle, and party.
So we’re doing it again. Here’s the 4-1-1.
Island treasure Nidia Sahagun will be hosting a one-hour show filled with performances from our Baile Folklorico dance group and festive music from Seattle’s very own (and very fine) Mariachi de Guadalajara band. The students will showcase traditional dances in vibrant and colorful costumes representing different states in Mexico.
If you are even remotely a fan of mariachi, this band is all that and then some. There is no happier sound, and once the band is finished on stage, they’re headed straight to our atrium to light up the hall while the fiesta continues with food (donated by families), dancing, singing, and plenty of fun for all.
The fun begins at 2:00 on May 5th. Tickets are a very modest $5 and help make this wonderful program and fiesta happen. There will be no happier place on Vashon that day and time than here!
5 – Fourth Graders in the House
What’s that I hear?
Sometimes I think the sweetest music on our campus is the happy bedlam of the fourth grade bird kids. This has been going on for long before my time . . . a big, big part of the fourth grade ciriculum is centered on all things birds.
For the past two years, island artist and Bruce Morser (or as the kids call him, Batman) has been leading the art part of this wonderful program. Avid readers and drivers will recall the spectacular mural of bird paintings we posted in our breezeway last year. That was him. That was them. That’s going to happen again.
In the run up to that fabulous public display of art, the kids came down to The Kay to sharpen their skills. Behold.
6 – Finally, and this is a 6th thing
I had another sixth post in mind for this week, but the events in Paris caused me to go looking for music that had been recorded in that sacred space. I have had the opportunity over these many years to visit famous places and spaces like Notre Dame but I have no recollection of hearing music and never a mass in that building.
As an aside, I did have the opportunity to hear Mozart’s Requiem played at St. Martin’s in the Field in London, but that is a story for another day.
The first and most obvious findem is a piece of organ music from Olivier Latry, who was at the time one of three organists at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and is widely regarded as a living master. The track was laid down on October 7, 2007 by JAV Recordings. The liner notes indicate the music was improvised by Mr. Latry.
Three years later, Mr. Latry was again recorded, this time playing a magnificent version of Sinfonia from Cantata BWV 29 (Transcr. Marcel Dupré). If you are going to listen to just one organ piece, this is the one as the quality is superb.
I wasn’t able to confirm this was recorded in Notre Dame, but I believe it is. At any rate, it is cellist Mischa Maisky playing the full Bach Cello Suite No.1 in G. It is superb and will make you weep if you are prone to that sort of thing.
And finally, in a nod to popular culture, here’s a short clip of Michael Arden singing the soaring “Out There” from the Studio Cast Album of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Fitting.
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.