ELEVATED
Crazy for the Road, the Night Sky, and You
by Leslie Vreeland
Feb 23, 2012 | 390 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<b>NIGHT SKY</b> - A photograph of the Orion Nebula, an interstellar gas and dust cloud where stars are born. (By Black Canyon Astronomical Society President Bryan Cashion)
NIGHT SKY - A photograph of the Orion Nebula, an interstellar gas and dust cloud where stars are born. (By Black Canyon Astronomical Society President Bryan Cashion)
slideshow
Twenty by Telluride

Telluride Arts presents its latest installment of “Twenty by Telluride,” a fast-paced series of slide shows and stories by artists and other creative thinkers, loosely organized around a central theme, On Monday, Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m. This week’s theme is in collaboration with Gay Ski Week, and is titled “Out of the Closet.”

The concept behind TBT is a movement called PechaKucha, which began in Tokyo in 2003 as a way for architects and designers to showcase their ideas without getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty.

“Architects talk too much!” the founders of PechaKucha explain. “Give a microphone and some images to an architect – or most creative people, for that matter – and they’ll go on forever. Give Power Point to anyone else, and they have the same problem.”

The PechaKucha solution was simple: limit presentations to twenty slides of twenty seconds each. Twenty by Telluride’s presenters do the same thing. The venue is always different, and so are the presenters. Although most of them are artists, past presenters in Telluride have also included a pinball wizard, a fireman, a chef and a “professional hobo.” One of the best, says Telluride Arts Director Kate Jones, was realtor Rosie Cusack, whose presentation was “Things Rosie Loves” (on her list: wine, doors, and concrete). Cusack’s delivery, Jones says, was “passionate, funny, and beautiful.”

This week’s presenters, who include three locals and three guests from out of town, sound just as promising. There is Telluride poet Kierstin Bridger, who will present on her passion: “my obsession with the road.” Former rodeo cowboy David Westman, better known as wisecracking Drag Queen Nuclia Waste, will also be in attendance. When Westman’s Vespa was stolen years ago, he/she remarked to Newsweek, “Never ever steal from a drag queen. She will hunt you down and make you pay, and she’ll look fabulous the whole time she’s doing it.”

Telluride painter Robert Weatherford will also be a presenter. Although Weatherford is an esteemed artist, he plans to focus not only on his work, but the beauty of family. “When you have the privilege of raising kids, it transforms you,” he says. “It pushes you along” in the world. Weatherford has never been a presenter until now, but he attended Twenty by Telluride in its four incarnations last year. “I’ve been very impressed. All we really have is our stories – they’re what make us.”

Twenty by Telluride takes place in the Great Room at the Peaks Resort. The event is free.

Astrophotography in Montrose

The Black Canyon Astronomical Society will hold its monthly meeting at the Montrose Library this Tuesday evening. It includes a primer on photographing the night sky from BCAS President Bryan Cashion.

Although the universe can seem overwhelmingly huge, capturing deep-sky images is neither daunting nor even necessarily expensive, Cashion says. In fact, a good part of his presentation will be on what you don’t need to get started, i.e., a night at an astronomical observatory, a ride in the space shuttle, many thousands of dollars’ worth of special equipment, or even a telescope. “It just depends on how involved you want to get,” Cashion says. Of Tuesday’s meeting, “All you need to bring is your curiosity.”

What really helps aspiring astrophotographers in this region is something we happen to have a lot of: dark night skies. Black Canyon Society member Adam Sherman took a super-sharp photograph of the iconic Horse Head nebula, a cloud of dust, ice and gas in the Orion arm of the Milky Way galaxy, from Delta. He also captured a stunning image from Crested Butte: the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way’s biggest neighbor and also our biggest nemesis (the two galaxies are approaching each other at the rate of several hundred kilometers per second, and are destined to collide). “This is the season for galaxies,” says past Society president John Pool. “There’s [also] a comet out there that will be visible until March.” Residents of this part of the world are in an ideal area for stargazing. Cashion isn’t sure we realize just how fortunate we are. “People in cities are lucky to see a dozen stars with the naked eye. We step outside and see 6,000.”

To learn more about the Black Canyon Astronomical Society and see some images its members have photographed, go to blackcanyonastronomy.com. The astrophotography primer begins at 7 p.m. Crazy for You in Grand Junction Crazy for You, with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, will play at the Moss Performing Arts Center at Colorado Mesa University beginning this Thursday, Feb. 23 and for the next two weekends. The show premiered on Broadway in 1992. It swept the Tonys, where it won almost every award, including best musical, best director, best choreography, best costumes and best lighting design. As critic Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote, “Crazy for You scrapes away decades of cabaret and jazz and variety-show interpretations to reclaim the Gershwins’ standards, in all their glorious youth, for the dynamism of the stage.”

It turns out that plenty of dynamism, in the form of athletic ability, is required to perform in this musical. The trickiest part of casting was not for the acting or the singing, says Crazy for You’s director Tim Pinnow, the head of Mesa University’s theatre department. It was for the dancing. Not just any dancing was required: it was tap-dancing. And not just one or two tap-dancers were needed, but a whole chorus-line full of 16; nor were there only one or two songs featuring tap-dancing. “There are five musical tap-dance numbers,” Pinnow says. “That was the real challenge.”

Pinnow was in luck, as Mesa University is one of the few schools that offers tap classes. His own degree is in musical theatre (his favorite production is Brigadoon), so he well understands the peculiar rigors his actors are up against.

Crazy for You is based on the Gershwins’ 1930 musical Girl Crazy, with a few more of their songs thrown in. As a result, “It’s not typical of a standard musical. There are more production numbers than you’d usually find. I tell my cast if they’re not falling down from exhaustion [by the end of a performance], they’re not working hard enough.”

Pinnow holds a 6th degree black belt in ninjutsu, and believes his martial arts skills allow him to do his job better. “The single-mindedness a black-belt requires is also required of this cast,” he says. “It’s very similar in that respect, and it really helps me to guide young actors.”

Crazy for You will be performed Feb. 23-25 and Feb. 29-March 3 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 26 and March at 2 p.m. Tickets are $6-$20. To reserve, visit coloradomesa.edu/moss/theatretickets.html.

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