“A Brown Tale” at Capri Theater


What follows is a post I wrote for our Capri Theater Blog:

Artists are by nature entrepreneurial in spirit, but how many times have you asked an artist (or have been asked as an artist):  “Can you make a living doing that?”

Minnesota’s thriving arts scene provides full- and part-time employment for thousands. However, an ever-changing creative economy means that independent artists are always searching for new ways to fund and produce their work.

The Capri Theater is staking its claim to be a resource to artist entrepreneurs. Today we’re pleased to announce a special partnership we have established with actor and playwright James T. Alfred for his presentation of “A Brown Tale,” which opens on Capri Saturday, Sept. 6. (Click here to order tickets.)

Directed by Lou Bellamy and performed by James, “A Brown Tale” premiered to rave reviews this past September at Penumbra Theatre’s Claude Edison Purdy Festival for Individual Artists.

Since then, James has been searching for a venue that would work for him to produce his one-person show. He explored possibilities with us just one month after our “Capri Conversation” focus groups and online survey in March revealed a desire for more theatrical productions at the Capri. You also told us that you value the Capri’s support to artists as an affordable performing arts venue. The timing for James and for us couldn’t have been better.

As a collaborative partner, the Capri Theater is providing an affordable space for James to produce his show, and our team is offering its marketing and production expertise. Our Capri Youth Apprentices will operate their concession business during this theatrical run, and they will assist with front-of-house duties. TicketWorks is managing ticket sales. James, as a most creative impresario, is producing his show.

“A Brown Tale” marks the first multi-week theatrical run in recent history at the Capri Theater. It’s a major milestone for us, as well as for the show’s producer and star, James T. Alfred. To learn more about “A Brown Tale,” click here.

Art-A-Whirl 2014

Presented by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), Art-A-Whirl is the largest open studio tour in the country. It’s a great opportunity to tour private artist studios and galleries, connect with the artists, and purchase original artwork. ~ NEMAA on Art-A-Whirl


My partner Reynaldo Diaz has some amazing new works on exhibit for Art-A-Whirl 2014. You can check out his pieces in the California Building’s Studio 211. (The California Building is located at 2205 California Street, Minneapolis, MN 55418.)

I helped Reynaldo create an artist statement for his work:

My art is inspired by music, by emotions, by history and by my ancestral roots of Central America. In recent years I’ve explored geometric forms, color and spiritual connections inspired by Mayan, Aztec, African and Spanish influences. My ethnic background is a melting pot of all these, and my art reflects this inspiration.

While I am self-taught, I have studied the work of many masters, particularly Kandinsky. My art has a strong connection to my love for music and nature.

I’ve never been one to just “paint a pretty picture.” My work comes with many layers, which reveal themselves to the viewer, especially those who take time to absorb these intricacies.

It’s hard for me to put words to what I actually create. In a sense, my paintings are my language. You will find hints of faces, eyes, movement, nature and other forms coming through my newest works.

As I move forward in my creative life, I want to find ways to more effectively meld my visual creations with music. I believe paintings include rhythm, timbre and tones.

The artists on the second floor of the California Building have also come together to create a new exhibition space on our floor thanks to generous support from California Building owners John Kremer and Jennifer Young called the on2gallery.

2014 Dates and Hours:
Friday, May 16 –  5 to 10 p.m.
Saturday,  May 17 –  12 Noon to 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 18 –   12 Noon to 5 p.m.

We hope to see you at Art-A-Whirl 2014. There is so much to see … and you will find that the California Building has a friendly and diverse community of artists!


The world’s greatest Mom

14.MothersDay.72On this Mother’s Day … I count my blessings. I have “the world’s greatest Mom” who raised five kids (all born in the span of one decade) with lots of love, fun and laughs on a dairy farm in Northern Minnesota.

62.Mom.graduation.blogI look back fondly at all the amazing experiences I have shared with my Mom, including the two times we encountered black bears. Or all the time we spent gardening together. We taught a Sunday School class at Good Shepard Lutheran Church in Clearbrook two years in a row when I was in high school. The list goes on and on.

Among the most vivid memories of my childhood, I remember sitting in the school lunchroom with my third-grade class when my Mom stopped by deliver the lunch bag I forgot at home. After she departed, my classmates couldn’t stop talking about how “young and beautiful” my Mother was. Yes … she was young and beautiful, I beamed, and added that she makes great cookies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too!

I have always adored my Mom’s wit and sense of humor. I’ve always wished that I had her gift for the perfect comeback to almost any comment. When I was in fifth grade, I was tormented at school for my lack of athletic skills … especially related to my inability to throw a softball. I remember coming home after a particularly grueling day of taunting, and my Mom advised:

“The next time they call you a sissy, just hit them with your purse!”

She reminded me that even though I couldn’t get the hang of throwing a softball correctly, I was among the toughest boys she knew. She was also willing to bet that the boys in my class would have a different view if they only knew how I took on rigorous farm chores day in and day out.

My Mom is an inspiration to me, particularly for her resilience in facing challenges that life throws her way. When she was diagnosed with colon cancer more than three years ago, she faced major surgery and a half year’s worth of chemotherapy with a brave and positive attitude that proved to be so healing. Today she is in good health, and I am blessed to have my courageous Mom as my very best friend.

I love you, Mom!

Teaching artists inspire our youth to shine


14.010.Tempest.EnsembleWhen professional artists give their time and talent to teach and mentor our youth, our collective future becomes so much brighter. During last night’s performance of The Tempest by our Capri After School Theater (CAST) students, I was in awe of how these students have grown in confidence and theatrical ability during the course of this school year.

We owe this success to our dedicated teaching artists – amazing professionals in our vibrant theater community – for believing in the potential of our youth, and helping them shine on our Capri stage.

This spring teaching artists Kevin D. West and Greta Oglesby have worked tirelessly to motivate our CAST students to step outside their comfort zones and to bring their characters to life on stage. The camaraderie they foster among our students, Capri/PCYC team and collaborators is what creates a strong foundation for this success.

Kevin and Greta often talk about their experiences as teens, recalling the mentors who cultivated their talents and who motivated them to launch the distinguished careers they enjoy today. For many artists, teaching is a calling. We are blessed to so many gifted professional artists committed to serving our youth through our Capri programs.

“This year the theme of nature and how we exist within it kept recurring,” Kevin says. “As I thought about plays that deal with nature, Shakespeare’s The Tempest came to mind. I considered doing the original, but then I came across a scholastic version that was well suited for our company of actors.”

Kevin adds this about his co-director for The Tempest: “I want to thank my sister, friend and colleague Greta for bringing her insight, expertise and passion to this project. This production would not be as clear without her nurturing, artistic touch.”

We are also grateful to our colleagues at Children’s Theatre Company (CTC), for their support of CAST. CTC has been an important collaborator for CAST these past few years. CAST is made possible thanks to support from the Carlson Family Foundation, as well as support this past year from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Tonight our CAST students present Craig Mason’s modern English version of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest at 7 p.m. on last time. The show is free and open to the public.

I’ve included a few photos by Greg Helgeson from last night’s performance. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and these photos speak volumes about how Kevin and Greta have inspired our young artists to become rising stars!

(I also posted this on our Capri Theater blog.)











Dad & Rowdy circa 1986



Just as it is hard to imagine life without internet and cell phones … I’ve been recalling the emotional highs and lows I experienced taking photos before the era of digital cameras. I had my trusty 35 mm Pentax K1ooo — one of the most durable single-lens reflex cameras a young photographer could own. I trusted the camera, but I couldn’t trust myself. Did I roll the film correctly? Did I use the right settings?

In 1986 I was taking a basic black-and-white photography class at Bemidji State University, and during spring break I shot this photo to be part of my final project … capturing life on the farm. I new I had framed a wonderful photo … but there was no way of knowing if it turned out until I went into the dark room to develop the film and then print a contact sheet. I had to wait a week until I had access to a dark room.

The process was always fraught with risk. What if I exposed the film to light? What if I processed the film incorrectly? All that anxiety before you even knew there would be a photo worth printing. What an exciting adventure it was.  My final project turned out well. I documented the birth of a calf, took a few portraits of pigs and explored the detail on old farm implements. This photo of Dad and Rowdy was my favorite — and it certainly earned me the “A” for Photo 101!