Best Bets: Visual feast, musical banquet this weekend

Posted: Thursday, March 07, 2002

Juneau will be rich with color this weekend. Two art shows will provide a visual feast, and a concert featuring three bands should satisfy a yearning for music. Perseverance Theatre opens a new play this weekend, but I'm trying to ignore it.

Fabric and glass are ideal media for deep, saturated colors. "Fabulous Fibers...and Beads," a show opening Friday at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery, promises to be a treat for the eyes. Three artists have collaborated to bring very different, yet complementary, pieces to the gallery. The show represents hundreds of hours of work, possibly thousands of hours all told, by these artists.

For intense color, Susan Sloss has the advantage. Silk is her preferred medium and silk shows off color like nothing else. She'll have a number of hand-painted and hand-dyed pieces on display.

Nancy Karacand has beaded baskets, jewelry and beaded garments on display. I'm particularly interested in checking out her coil baskets.

I've yet to see Ellen Anderson's work, but I've heard other artists sing her praises. I like the ideas behind her work, using fabric, beads and fiber to create artwork inspired by nature - silk as bark, beads as wet stones, sheer fabric as water.

The two-hour reception Friday evening is an opportunity to meet the artists and ask questions about their work. All the artists I've talked to at these openings have been happy to discuss in detail their techniques and inspirations, often with great enthusiasm.

If you prefer a quieter, more contemplative opportunity to check out the artwork, drop by the arts council on weekday afternoons.

Another free exhibit is the Capital City Quilters annual show this weekend at Centennial Hall. Aptly titled "Quilt 2002," this is the group's annual showcase of quilts.

About 125 quilts will be displayed, as well as table runners, wall hangings, wearable art and other fabric creations. It's ideal for folks who sew and quilt. For those of us who don't, it's an opportunity to see a huge array of work in a friendly, casual setting.

Music lovers can indulge in a concert and dance featuring three bands Friday night at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. The "Save the Land Jam" is a benefit for the Gustavus Land Legacy, a group working to purchase and protect 2,200 acres in the Gustavus area.

The Fiery Gypsies kick off the music at about 7 p.m. - that's the plan, but it seems pretty early and I suspect they'll start a little later. Although the five instrumentalists in the band are extremely proficient technically, they are not obsessed with the mechanics of music. They play with verve and spirit, and deliver tight, soulful renditions of Eastern European gypsy music. They'll throw in some tangos as well.

The Panhandle Crabgrass Revival Band follows the Fiery Gypsies with bluegrass, old-time and "crabgrassified" country, and will showcase original music from their CD.

Kudzu follows and will wrap up the night. The band includes guitarist Justin Smith, who led a popular blues band in Juneau for several years. Kudzu is guitar-oriented, but in a different vein from the Cook County Blues Band.

"The blues band was all high energy," Smith said. "This (band plays) slower, heavy grooves, not all the frantic loads of energy like the blues boogie stuff. People should definitely be prepared to dance."

The band includes Joel Bergsbaken triggering digital samples and scratching vinyl on a pair of turntables.

I've been wracked with daily panic attacks the past six weeks. I'm practicing so I can have them on command. I auditioned for a part in "The Wooden Breeks," which opens this weekend at Perseverance Theatre. I play a hermit lighthouse keeper, rattled by his first real contact with the outside world. Even without practicing, I could probably muster a panic attack thinking about acting for the first time in my life.

As the arts reporter, I figured it would be enlightening to be in a play. What better way to learn the process behind theater - to rehearse 30 hours a week for a month and a half and then perform 17 shows. Something like the police reporter riding around nights in a patrol cruiser to see the action firsthand. For three months.

As a writer, memorizing a well-written 142-page script and analyzing every word, idea and theme seemed like a terrific exercise. Glen Berger, the playwright of "The Wooden Breeks," is masterful at restating themes in different ways, using ghosts as a metaphor for memories and teasing the rich iconic value inherent in a simple prop such as a box or a flame. I loved the device of a storyteller brooding at his fire, telling a ragamuffin orphan one last story, which comes to life and unfolds like a gothic pop-up book.

I loved that when I read it, but you probably will never read "The Wooden Breeks," and I'll probably never see it. Just as reading a story and being read to are two different experiences, being in a play is not watching the play. In fact, as the reclusive scholar in his lighthouse, I am trying to completely ignore the activity in the village of Brood. So I can't offer a recommendation about the play. This is one play I have to miss.

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