Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Arts & Life

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Here in the Midwest, on the cusps of spring, on days when I won­der when win­ter will tru­ly end, I wel­come this deft­ly shaped reminder by David Bak­er of the sea­son that has just passed.

He dra­ma­tizes beau­ti­ful­ly the com­ing of win­ter and the way it takes hold of us. Baker’s title ​“Quick­er” sug­gests move­ment and not sta­sis, some­thing hope­ful, even, in the promise that comes with the chang­ing seasons.

By David Baker

the season quicker now
the darkening—

no longer the leaves
fluttering down

but the whole shadowed earth
reaching up, taking hold

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2022 by David Baker, “Quicker” from The Southern Review, 58:1, Winter 2022 Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

Ben Rosenblum. Photo by Kazuo Goshima.

LAKEPORT, Calif. — The Ben Rosenblum Trio will be performing at the Soper Reese Theatre in Lakeport on Friday, April 15, at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available through the theater’s website.

Award-winning New York City jazz pianist and accordionist Ben Rosenblum has been described as “mature beyond his years,” (Sea of Tranquility), an “impressive talent” (All About Jazz), who “caresses [the music] with the reverence it merits” (Downbeat Magazine).

Since the release of his debut trio album, “Instead,” Rosenblum has toured extensively with his trio and sextet throughout the United States, including multiple trips to the Northeast, Midwest, South and West Coast, as well as internationally in Canada, Europe and Japan.

He was a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall's Stern-Perelman Auditorium — with Reona Ito's New York Harmonic Band — and has appeared at prestigious venues throughout the world, including at the Appel Room at Lincoln Center, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Ravinia, Himawari-No-Sato Concert Hall in Yokohama, Bird's Eye in Basel and the Library of Congress.

Rosenblum's second trio album in 2018, River City, was called “richly romantic” and “well-realized” by JAZZIZ Magazine, which featured the title track as part of their Best of Fall 2018 CD.

Most recently, Rosenblum released his third album, “Kites and Strings,” which is the first to feature him on both piano and accordion alongside his new sextet, the Nebula Project.

In 2020, the Nebula Project was voted runner-up for Best New Artist in JazzTimes' Readers' Poll.

Rosenblum has been privileged to share the stage with many highly acclaimed jazz musicians, including extensive work with Curtis Lundy, Winard Harper, Deborah Davis and Chris Washburne, as well as appearances with Bobby Watson, Sean Jones, TS Monk, Warren Wolf, Eliot Zigmund and many others.

Rosenblum's musical interests also extend beyond jazz to include work in numerous world music scenes, including musical styles from Brazil, Peru, Croatia, Bulgaria, India, Ireland, Jewish traditions and more.

The Soper Reese Theatre is located at 275 S. Main St. in Lakeport.

The annual Mendocino College New Play Festival is a homegrown feast of local talent. Photo courtesy of Mendocino College.
NORTH COAST, Calif. — After a two-year hiatus, the Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department will present the 16th Annual Festival of New Plays on Thursday, April 7, through Saturday, April 9.

The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Center Theatre at the Ukiah campus.

This festival marks the return of a beloved Ukiah theater tradition, which was put on hold due to the COVID pandemic.

This year's festival features eight new plays by local playwrights. Each play is approximately 10 minutes long and will be presented at each performance.

The plays were selected from among over 80 scripts submitted by writers from throughout Mendocino and other nearby counties.

The play directors are students in the Mendocino College theatrical directing class taught by Professor Reid Edelman.

Festival actors include students in the college’s conservatory cohort group, as well as other local students and community members.

The short plays cover a wide range of topics and performance styles. The festival also features original set designs, lighting and technical support by students under the direction of college Technical Director Steve Decker.

In particular, student Jordan Wegner, a student in the college’s new Technical Theatre certificate program, is designing lights for the full production. Music and sound effects edited by Theatre Technician David Wolf will help sustain the high-energy spirit of the production.

“This annual festival is one of the college theater program’s most exciting projects, and we are delighted to be able to bring the event back to life once again,” Edelman said.

This year’s festival opens with Logan Silva’s stylized comedy "All Power to the McSoviet" in which Vladimir Lenin spars with an American capitalist in a fast-food restaurant, raising questions about whether any ideology can ever really benefit real people. The director is college theater major Alexander Marsh; the cast includes conservatory cohort students Ari Sunbeam and Dakota Laiwa McKay as well as Julayne Ringstrom and Madison McDonald.

Next, “Little Book of Fears” by David Burton explores the layers of a troubled marital relationship. The cast includes Andrea McCullough and Pat Nunes under the direction of conservatory cohort student Gwendolen van Wyk.

Kyle Whitrock’s play “Match Made” evokes the feeling of a classic black and white Christmas movie as two angels come back to earth to arrange a romance for their surviving boyfriend and brother respectively. The cast includes Dakota Laiwa McKay, Brisa Yepez and Ari Sunbeam. Christian Avalos is the director.

Phaedra Kincaid Swearengin is directing Michael Riedell’s play “Crazier Train Fundraiser” in which a young man hides out in a tax office after the jewelry heist to fund his musical pursuits goes wrong. The cast features Matt McClelland, Maria Monti, Pat Nunes and Gwendolen van Wyk.

“Mari,” by Shannon Sawyer, powerfully and personally confronts the issue of mental illness and its impact on a relationship. The cast includes Joni Marie McLeod and Jasmine Norris. The director is Brittani McKemy.

In Natasha Yim’s comedic play “Salsa Dancing” three generations of characters confront relationships and the enjoyment of life and love at different stages of maturity. Dakota Laiwa McKay directs actors Rosemary Eddy, Megan Regan, and Les Clow.

“Making It” by Chris Douthit and directed by Kelly Alvarez, is a touching drama about two lovers’ final days together as one faces the end stage of a terminal illness. Their shared love and imminent loss is reflected in the food they have been creating together from a special recipe book. The cast includes Jordan Wegner, Todd Hale and Janet Denninger.

Finally, the evening ends with a magical celebration of all who have died before us.

Jessica Lee’s “Amma’s Dance Party” takes place in a kitchen in which food, music and dance unite a family and celebrate the spirits of those who have passed. John Pegan directs a cast which includes Brittani McKemy, Rickie Emilie Farah and Gwendolen van Wyk.

Tickets are available in Ukiah at the Mendocino Book Co. and online at www.ArtsMendocino.org, and at the door as available. This production is recommended for ages 12 and up. Admission is $10. Audience members are encouraged to purchase tickets early. For more information, call Reid Edelman at 707-468-3172.​

Please note regarding the Mendocino College Covid Safety Policy: Mendocino College has adopted a vaccine mandate for indoor events. All guests must show proof of full vaccination (two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) in order to enter the theater. Masks are recommended, but not required.

Each audience member will need to present proof of vaccination upon entry. This can include: screenshot of a valid CA digital vaccine card or QR code, physical CDC vaccination card, or a screenshot or photo of a CDC vaccination card on a phone. Photo ID or an accompanying roster for children who do not have identification must accompany all health documents.


That so few comedies make it to theaters anymore allows “The Lost City” to be a welcome relief during an inexplicable drought of good humor and goofy antics mixed in with adventure.

Thematically, this action-adventure comedy teaming Sandra Bullock as a romance novelist and Channing Tatum as the cover model for her books is reminiscent in several ways of 1984’s “Romancing the Stone” with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in almost similar situations.

One significant difference from the 1984 film is that Douglas’ character was a mercenary rogue and irreverent soldier of fortune who fit the Indiana Jones profile, while Tatum’s role is neither reckless nor particularly adventurous, at least at the outset.

Bullock’s Loretta Sage has lost the spirit that drives her to churn out her popular romance novels after the death of her archaeologist husband, and so she reluctantly agrees to a book tour for her newest release of “The Lost City of D.”

Loretta’s publicist Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) pushes for her appearance at a marketing event with male model Alan (Channing Tatum), looking very much like Fabio with his long-haired wig for a pose as the hero on her book cover.

Disinterested in promoting her latest book, Loretta is even less enthralled with the rather dim Alan and probably for the reason that the audience at the marketing event seems only interested in having Alan remove his shirt as if he were a Chippendale dancer.

Shortly after the promotion, Loretta is abducted by lunatic billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who explains his given name is supposedly gender-neutral, on the belief that her novel’s titular city contains clues that would unlock the whereabouts of a legendary treasure.

Of course, the lost city is hidden in the jungle of a remote island in the Atlantic, and Alan takes off in search of the missing Loretta, mistakenly believing that his cover model as the heroic Dash in the novel actually makes him one.

Brad Pitt’s Jack Trainer, an adventurer much like Indiana Jones or Michael Douglas’s soldier of fortune, steps in for the rescue mission. Escaping the grip of Fairfax’s henchmen, Loretta and Alan end up on the run in the jungle.

Meanwhile, Beth is so frantic to find Loretta that her excursion turns into an entire subplot full of pitfalls in foreign lands, eventually hooking up with randy bush pilot Oscar (Oscar Nunez) and his goat to reach the remote tropical island.

While Loretta spends most of the film running around the jungle in a sequined jumpsuit and high heels, Alan is more often partially disrobed and at one point totally naked as Loretta suffers the humorous indignity of removing leeches from his backside.

That freedom from captivity doesn’t last long for the odd couple allows Fairfax more screen time to indulge his wildly psychopathic madness to an extent we may well forget that Daniel Radcliffe was once the titular character of the “Harry Potter” films.

There are plenty of delightfully crowd-pleasing aspects to “The Lost City,” from the chemistry between Bullock and Tatum to the physical comedy such as when Alan runs Loretta through the jungle in a wheelbarrow while she’s strapped to a chair.

Regardless of any minor faults, “The Lost City” is about as good of a screwball comedy as one can get in a modern-day Hollywood that has lost much of its sense of humor whether out of knee jerk obedience to political correctness or an absence of comedic writing talent.


Getting closer to the start of the TCM Classic Film Festival on April 21, additional films along with personal appearances by the stars have been announced.

For the opening night celebration of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” actors Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore will now join director Steven Spielberg. Thomas played Elliott, the young boy who befriends the friendly alien and Barrymore had the role of his sister Gertie.

“A League of Their Own,” the baseball classic, celebrates its 30th anniversary with stars Lori Petty, Anne Ramsay, Ann Cusack, Megan Cavanagh and Jon Lovitz in attendance. The only thing that would make it better would be to have Geena Davis and Tom Hanks joining the group.

Singer-dancer-choreographer Paula Abdul will part of the festivities for the screening of the 70th anniversary of “Singin’ in the Rain.” Abdul’s mentor and friend Gene Kelly inspired her to become a dancer.

“Diner,” which was released 40 years ago and featured many actors seen early in their careers, will now have stars Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Steve Guttenberg and Tim Daly joining the screening.

Writer-director-actor Warren Beatty will be present for the comedy “Heaven Can Wait.” Jane Seymour will celebrate the screening of the romantic fantasy “Somewhere in Time,” and Pam Grier will be on hand for the iconic blaxploitation film “Coffy.”

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

A cluster of finished and in-progress works by Alana Clearlake.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — The Middletown Art Center welcomes the public to its 45th exhibit, opening “Clusters” on Saturday, April 2, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The opening will take place in-person only at MAC and falls around the anniversary of MAC’s initial opening March 28, 2015.

The title “Clusters” originally was chosen in reference to a series of works connected by an inquiry or exploration of form, subject matter or concept, materials or format.

“As artists began submitting work, additional interpretations and perspectives of the word ‘cluster’ emerged, which we encouraged,” explained Lisa Kaplan, director and co-curator at MAC.

“Come to the opening to see what different artists came up with,” said Kaplan with a smile.

Clusters features work by familiar and new local and regional artists including Cobb Mountain artist Alana Clearlake. Her submission for Clusters came from “a little inspiration applied to some leftovers” from paper-on-felt vessels from her previous series The White Album.

She recently became intrigued with eco printing, a form of natural dyeing where the colors from plant material are transferred to fabric and paper.

“Since I had extra vessels that felt unfinished, I tried eco printing on them”, said Clearlake. “All of the pieces have warm coloration, as many of the leaves that provide good print quality print orange or red. Because I enjoy the play of complimentary colors and the vessels have paper incorporated into the wool, I was able to add cool colors using media, such as watercolor and pencil in some of the vessels,” she said.

Selections from a new series of work by French-American artist Anne Ducrot are also on view. "These evening musings appear spontaneously under my brush, “ she explained. “They are an expression of the deep inner-stirrings of my soul. Fresh. Alive. Full of details and magical marks yet sometimes ambiguous, and continuously surprising me with utterly unexpected delight. The multiplicity of readings they evoke is unique to each viewer and fascinating to me — reflecting as much the viewer's inner life as that of the artist.”

Clusters will be on view through June 26, Thursday through Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment by calling 707-809-8118.

A virtual tour will be available on MAC’s website by April 8, and a conversation with the artists will take place in hybrid format in May.

Find out more about programs, opportunities, and ways to get involved, support, and celebrate the MAC’s efforts to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County ​at www.​middletownartcenter.org.​

New work By Anne Ducrot.

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Each line in “Visitors” is a gift for meditation that is accessible. In the end we arrive at the conclusion that Joan Naviyuk Kane is seeking to articulate in symbolic language an understanding of the fleeting nature of our brief “visit” to the earth as humans.

The comic tragedy is that we are here for a while, and yet we are here forever when we pass on our rituals of survival to the next generation.

There is, though, a warning at the end of the poem. Often, she says, there are forces — small in spirit in the face of the grand generosity of an open door — that seek to bar our entry. We grow weary, and must be wary of such forces.

By Joan Naviyuk Kane

Every door stands an open door:
our human settlements all temporary.

We share together the incidental shore
and teach the young to tend the lamp's wick,

weary of anyone small enough to bar our entry.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2021 by Joan Naviyuk Kane, “Visitors” from Dark Traffic (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

Upcoming Calendar

03.29.2023 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Virtual town hall
03.30.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
03.30.2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Character Design~Art Class for Teens
04.01.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
04.01.2023 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Lake County Spring Dance Festival
04.01.2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Lake County Spring Dance Festival
04.03.2023 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Courting The Muse~Mixed Media Art Class
04.06.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
04.06.2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Character Design~Art Class for Teens
04.08.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

Mini Calendar



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