Monday, August 22, 2011

At Open Eye Figure Theatre - Puppet-Making and Joice Rejoice!

Open Eye Figure Theatre is a nationally recognized puppetry and theatre company in Minneapolis. They do pieces in a historic theatre space as well as in neighborhoods in the Twin Cities during a tour of area communities called the "Driveway Tour." The work there is always unique, exploring and experimenting with the magic of performing objects.

In the winter, I took some workshops at Open Eye, and I met Susan Haas and Michael Sommers, the artistic directors of the theatre.  After going to see a show there in June, Michael Sommers invited me out to help construct puppets for an upcoming show.

So, over the course of about two weeks in late July, I went out to Open Eye and helped the artistic directors build their puppet's heads out of papier mâché.  I also helped move items around the studio, painted stage components, and wired up a lighting fixture to illuminate the puppets.

Work-in-progress shot of what I helped on.
The puppet show we constructed is a Punch and Judy-style show to be interpolated into the larger show, Joice Rejoice, conceived and written by Kevin Kling, who is a well-loved playwright and storyteller and a frequent collaborator with Open-Eye.
Left to right:  The Devil, Michael Sommers, Sara Richardson,
Eric Jensen, Kevin Kling, Jacqueline Ultan 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Always Bringing, Always Taking Away - At Paper Moose Jumpsuit and Co.

Back in June, I worked with puppeteers Kate Saturday and Olli Johnson, as well as musicians Erik Ostrom and Brian Rowe to perform a Puppet Show about the Mississippi river onboard a Paddleboat for a live audience.  The show went pretty darn well, so we decided to do an encore presentation.

Because Olli was busy this summer working on a puppet show at the Minnesota Zoo (which I eventually got to see with my friend Michael - a post on this zoo trip is coming soon), we recruited my friend Spencer Riedel (who is a musician, puppeteer and all-around awesome and friendly guy what can also entertain you), to fill in for her.

We practiced together a bunch more and then on August 7th, took Always Bringing, Always Taking Away (or ABATA as we call it) to a performing arts space in Minneapolis called Paper Moose Jumpsuit and Co.

Paper Moose is a very weird place, in a good way.  It is located inside an old paper factory.  The front door is always locked so audiences must enter through the fire escape (!!!).  Walking through the building begins as a tour of a decrepit factory and suddenly transforms into a cozy and intimate arts space.  With a sitting room, a stage, and a little bar.

This time, unlike the performance on the boat, the performance was less river-centric, and more like a get-together of friends and associates to focus on each other and art.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Just Add Ink: A Comic Cookbook - Gallery Opening and Discussion

One might remember when I created a "How to Cook a Story - With Thomas Bake-a-Chef-Ski,"  a comic to be submitted to a cookbook-themed anthology.  It was a project I first heard about at SpringCon 2011 and taking on that project is how I became aware of the International Cartoonist Conspiracy —a group with which I've since done quite a few collaborations.

The anthology has finally been put together.  You can download it for free, and physical copies are being sold at the Altered Esthetics gallery in Minneapolis.  At the same time, the gallery is hosting a showcase of the original artworks (and work-in-progress art) created by the 45 cartoonists and illustrators who contributed to the book (myself included).

The gallery opened with a small party on August 5th and will remain open until August 25th.
Here is some coverage of the evening:

Thursday, August 4, 2011