Epicurean Tampa: Wine, steak and refuge | PostIndependent.com

Epicurean Tampa: Wine, steak and refuge

When you think of a wine destination, places like Burgundy or the Barossa Valley come to mind. But for the wine cognoscenti, there is a place in Central Florida that is a must-visit on the wine road.

“What?” you ask. “Florida? Does Disney have a virtual vineyard? Is Universal City launching a ‘Be the blend!’ interactive experience?” Hardly.

No, for those who know wine, the place to go is Bern’s Steak House, not far from the Bay in Tampa, yes, Florida. Bern’s houses what is touted as one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive wine cellars on earth. They claim to offer 6,500 different wines and they cellar and store a collection that ranges from 500,000 to 600,000 bottles. Each is listed in a book bigger than the original Gutenberg Bible (dinner guests receive a smaller, edited version), and is stored in one of four temperature-controlled warehouses.

In 2016, the James Beard Awards honored Bern’s Steak House as having America’s most “Outstanding Wine Program.” It is an honor that they last received in 1992.

THE EPICUREAN HOTEL

But the best news for gourmands and wine lovers is that one can dine and imbibe at Bern’s, pairing the world’s best wines with epic steaks, and then simply walk across South Howard street to the Epicurean Hotel and sleep it off in comfort.

That’s right, steps away from the iconic steakhouse is a one-of-a-kind, contemporary hotel, designed with the same culinary ethos as Bern’s to meet the travel needs of the culinary voyager. The Epicurean, which opened in 2013, is a collaboration between the Laxner family, which owns Bern’s, and a high-end Florida hotel developer, Mainsail Lodging and Development. It operates under the Autograph Collection brand of Marriott and is totally committed to creating a space devoted to the pleasures of food and wine.

”We have 137 rooms and six culinary or wine outlets on-property,” said the Epicurean’s General Manager Tom Haines when talking about the layout of the hotel. “Every hotel has food and beverage, but nobody that we know of has built a hotel around the food and beverage program.”

THE EXPERIENCE

Indeed, when you first walk into the Epicurean you know you are in a different kind of hotel. The check-in desk sits atop wine racks filled with fine wines. The walls of the reception area are covered with the side panels of wine crates from the world’s most esteemed wine chateaus and estates. Instead of a lobby store selling assorted sundries, there is a world-class wine shop, Bern’s Fine Wine and Spirits, that is worth an hour of any wine lover’s time.

As you walk to the elevators, you pass an open kitchen theatre, where top chefs offer cooking demonstrations and classes. Once in your room, there are five half-bottle varietals, ranging from Rombauer Chardonnay to Justin Cabernet, for your sipping pleasure. Schedule a massage in the Spa Evangeline, and your wine-themed rub down will be administered in a room soundproofed by 20,000 corks from wines that once enchanted Bern’s customers.

There is a restaurant, Élevage, under the auspices of chef Chad Johnson, a Beard-nominated chef who has a decade and a half of experience with Bern’s and their other local eatery, Haven. Chad is considered the culinary visionary who has overseen the creative development of the property. A rooftop bar, Edge, with a view of Tampa, and French patisserie, Chocolate Pi, round out the rides … er … culinary outlets.

“When we first started to concept this property, we thought a lot about our regular local guests,” Johnson said. “We wanted to create a space where locals could come and get a quality experience and still feel comfortable in blue jeans. If we made them comfortable, we were sure our hotel guests would also be comfortable.”

“When a hotel opens and builds a restaurant, you find that guests come in and ask ‘what’s the great local’s spot?’ and the hotel restaurant sits empty,” Haines said. “We wanted to build a great locals spot that hotel guests would want to stay and eat in.”

While a boutique property, the connection with Marriot has established an upscale business clientele. But both Johnson and Haines are most pleased with the eclectic profile of the guests. “If you are in the trade or significantly involved in food and wine, this is where you stay,” said Haines. “We also get a significant number of weddings and guests who come for our ‘STEAK-cation’ packages that include a reservation at Bern’s.” A tough ticket.

Leave Disney World to the kids. If you are planning a sojourn to Florida, the Epicurean is the wine lovers choice.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass. He can be reached at malibukj@aol.com.

Arts & entertainment briefs 1/20/17

THIS WEEKEND

Live Music with Chris Bank and Mark Johnson

BASALT — Heather’s Savory Pies and Tapas Bar hosts local musicians Chris Bank, who has performed with Kenny Loggins, The Temptations, John Denver, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Buffet and Francine Reed, as well as jazz greats Ernie Watts, Nelson Rangell and Mark Johnson for live and local music on a Friday night.

7-10:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20

Admission: Free

166 Midland Ave.

Info: 927-0151 and heatherssavorypies.com

Consensual Improv Comedy

CARBONDALE — Back by popular demand, Thunder River Theatre Company’s new improvisational comedy troupe returns to the stage with high-energy improv games and good times. This show is unrated and may contain adult situations. Cash bar available.

Doors open at 7:30, show at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20 and Saturday, Jan. 21

Admission: $10 general admission

67 Promenade

Info: 963-8200, email info@thunderrivertheatre.com and thunderrivertheatre.com

Live Music with Shaefer Welch

CARBONDALE — The Marble Distillery’s head bartender and spirit ambassador, Shaefer Welch, of Rosewood Divine, performs for an evening of intimate music at the Marble Bar. Welch is a soulful acoustic singer-songwriter singing a mix of engaging originals and easy-listening classics. Enjoy the sounds of live music while sipping your favorite MDC signature cocktail.

8-10:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20

Admission: Free

10 Main St.

Info: 963-7008 and marbledistilling.com

Live Music with the Leonard Curry Trio

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The Leonard Curry Trio plays a fun mix of Americana music in the Rivers Restaurant bar after dinner.

9 p.m. to midnight Friday, Jan. 20

Admission: Free

2525 South Grand Ave.

Info: 928-8813 and theriversrestaurant.com

Live Music with Potcheen

CARBONDALE — Arvada’s Potcheen will deliver its signature rapid-fire, high-energy show mixing Celtic rock infused with bluegrass, ska, Cajun-Zydeco, punk, folk and Americana, rolled up with a pirate sensibility, at the Black Nugget.

9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20

Admission: Free

403 Main St.

Info: potcheen.band

Free Community Paint Day

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Join the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts for a free community paint day in preparation for the annual “6×6” art exhibit. You’ll have all the supplies you can imagine, plus the assistance of art instructor Terry Muldoon, or take your canvas home and bring it back by Feb. 3.

1-3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 (and every Saturday throughout January)

Admission: Free

601 East Sixth St.

Info and RSVP: 945-2414, email info@glenwoodarts.org and glenwoodarts.org

UPCOMING

Live Music with the Crowlin Ferlies

CARBONDALE — The Marble Bar at the Marble Distillery Company hosts the Crowlin Ferlies, a local Celtic/Irish band that puts on a great live music show. Members include Sandy Munro, Steve Johnson, Don Paine, April Moon, Tammie Lane, and Trevor Mountjoy. The perfect music to accompany your favorite MDC signature cocktail.

6-9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24

Admission: Free

10 Main St.

Info: 963-7008 and marbledistilling.com

Stand-Up Comedy Round-Up

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — This WindWalkers benefit comedy night features local talent including Mission Improv-able Troupe, with members of the Glenwood Springs High School Drama Club. Also performing are comics Todd Hartley, an Aspen Times humor columnist, KDNK DJ and former member of the Laugh Your Aspen Off comedy troupe, and Don Chaney, of KMTS radio and former morning host and general manager of KSNO. He is also a member of the Thunder River Theatre Company’s Consenual Improv group, and an original comic from Laugh Your Aspen Off.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for dinner and drinks, showtime 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27

Admission: $30, online or at the door (if not full)

Springs Theater, 915 Grand Ave.

Info and reservations: 945-9699, 963-2909 and gvrshow.com

Mini Music Fest

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Announcing the Almost Second Annual Mini Music Fest at the Glenwood Vaudeville, featuring three essentially local bands: Lizzy Plotkin and Natalie Spears, of Free the Honey, The Defiance String Band, and introducing Stray Grass from Grand Junction. Food and beverages are available, so make it a full night out.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., showtime 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28

Admission: $10, online or available at the door until full

Springs Theater, 915 Grand Ave.

Info and reserve seats/table early: 945-9699, gvrshow.com and bluegrasstickets.com

Dance Party

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Meet up at the Glenwood Springs Masonic Lodge for a nonstop dance music mixed to keep you on the floor. Line dancing is mixed in so everyone dances. Includes West Coast/triple music, retro disco, today’s country for some two-stepping, the right mix of slow/fast/waltz/NC2/salsa and Bachata. Singles and new dancers encouraged. Scott Hopkins will teach a beginning hustle dance lesson from 6:30-7:25 p.m.

7:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28

Admission: $5/class, $10/dance, $14/class and dance

901 Colorado Ave.

Info: 379-4956 and meetup.com/RFVDance/events/236481990

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” Auditions

SPRING VALLEY — Sopris Theatre Company at Colorado Mountain College will hold open auditions for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” winner of both the Tony and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play. The cast consists of roles for 15 characters, of varying ethnicities and ages 18 and older. Performance dates are April 14-15 and 20-23. Those auditioning are asked to prepare a dramatic contemporary monologue of approximately one minute. Scripts are available at the box office or at the Quigley Library on campus.

3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29 (callbacks will be held the following day)

New Space Theatre, 3000 County Road 114

Info: 947-8177 or email svticketsales@coloradomtn.edu

“Art Around Town” Artist Call-out

CARBONDALE — The Carbondale Public Arts Commission seeks 15 new sculptures for its annual “Art Around Town” exhibit. This year-long street exhibition showcases outdoor sculptures.

Selected artists are paid a $750 honorarium (at installation) and are also eligible for a $1,000 award for Best in Show next fall. Participants are invited to a community artist reception on June 1, and also to participate in Carbondale’s First Friday Art Walk June 2. Sculptures will be on display for one year.

Entry deadline: Feb. 5; show opens June 1, with installations beginning late May and early June by Carbondale’s public works crew

Main Street, Rio Grande Trail, and other high-use areas around town

Info and submissions: Call for Entry (CAFE) website at callforentry.org

“How Not to Die!” Author Meet and Greet

CARBONDALE — Meet the author of the community-wide reading selection, “How Not to Die!” The presentation and Q&A featuring Dr. Michael Greger takes place at The Orchard’s Gathering Place.

7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9

Admission: Free

110 Snowmass Dr.

Info: 384-6951

Glen-A-Palooza

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Celebrate Glenwood Springs, open for business for a community evening of pre-Valentine’s shopping and festivities. Featuring events throughout downtown Glenwood every second Friday at participating Glen-A-Palooza businesses along Grand Avenue and side streets. Enjoy bargains, activities, food and fun for all.

4-10 pm. Friday, Feb. 10

Admission: Free

Downtown Glenwood, Grand Avenue and cross streets

Info: facebook.com/glenapalooza

ONGOING

Cooper Corner Gallery Art Exhibit

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Cooper Corner Gallery hosts January’s art event with local photography by George Cutting III.

Admission: Free

315 Eighth St.

Info: 945-5199

“37th Annual Valley Visual Art Show”

CARBONDALE — Join Carbondale Arts in celebrating the artists of the Roaring Fork Valley during the annual “Valley Visual Art Show.” The exhibit features 50 local artists and their two- and three-dimensional work in a wide variety of mediums.

Through Feb. 17

Admission: Free

The Launchpad, 76 S. Fourth St.

Info: 963-1680, email info@carbondalearts.org and carbondalearts.com

“Food, Flower and Drink” Exhibit

CARBONDALE — Japanese sensibility comes to the Carbondale Clay Center through Jan. 27, with a cross-cultural ceramic exhibition from ceramic artists Fumiko Nagai and Frank McGuirk.

Admission: Free

135 Main St.

Info: 963-2529, email info@carbondaleclay.org and carbondaleclay.org

Art by Betsy Blackard

RIFLE — Bookcliffs Arts Center celebrates the works of pastel artist Betsy Blackard with her art for sale and public viewing.

Admission: Free

The Stone House, 1100 East 16th St.

Info: 625-1889 and bookcliffsartscenter.org

Art in Silt

SILT — Crack in the Wall Gallery hosts art by more than 30 artists from the community showing their new work in photography, jewelry, oil paintings, pottery, notecards, and more.

Admission: Free

1887 County Road 237 (Harvey Gap Road)

Info: crackinthewallgallery.com

Art by Noemi Kosmoski

RIFLE — The Midland Arts Company features paintings by Glenwood Springs artist Noemi Kosmoski, on display and available for purchase, and more.

Normal gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Admission: Free

101 E. Third St.

Info: 625-3068 and midlandartscompany.com

Trivia Night

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Glenwood Springs Brew Garden hosts Trivia Night with comics Max Graf and Greg Bensen, aka DJ Phathead, open to the public. Come out for brews, food truck eats, and trivia fun with prize giveaways.

8:30 p.m. Thursdays

Admission: Free

115 Sixth St.

Info: glenwoodspringsbrewgarden.com

Live Piano Music with Dinner

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Riviera Supper Club and Piano Bar’s new-and-improved persona features live piano music for dinner and drinks in downtown Glenwood. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays feature Jonathan Gorst on the piano. The former music director for “The Phantom of the Opera,” Gorst plays for the dinner hour and takes requests all evening. Every Thursday pianist Kyle Jones offers up his extraordinary musical stylings and interpretations, playing for the dinner hour and also taking requests all evening.

Music starts at 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays

Admission: Free

702 Grand Ave.

Info: 945-7692 and rivieraglenwood.com

Kill the Keg and Geeks Who Drink

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Thursdays are fun at Big Daddy’s Sports Bar as they play national themed bar trivia pastime Geeks Who Drink. Also play Big Daddy’s Kill the Keg game by purchasing any appetizer or entree at regular price and receiving a bottomless cup of beer until the keg is dead.

Kill the Keg starts at 7 p.m., Geeks Who Drink at 8 p.m. Thursdays

Admission: Free

55 Mel Rey Road

Info: 987-5056 and bigdaddysglenwood.com

Free Wine and Spirits Tastings

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Enjoy free tastings every weekend in downtown Glenwood Springs, as Cooper Wine and Spirits showcases different varieties of hand-selected wines, craft beers and Colorado spirits.

5-7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Admission: Free

732 Cooper Ave.

Info: facebook.com/pages/Cooper-Wine-Spirit/206692372844660

Crab Dinner and Live Music

RIFLE — Enjoy Friday night crab dinner at Farm Fresh Cafe and Steakhouse with 1 and 1/2 pounds of Opilio crab, two sides, and soup or salad bar, followed by live music by the Goodman Band from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.

5 p.m. Fridays

Admission: Free; $22.99/dinner

1733 Railroad Ave.

Info: clubfresh.me

Tutus and Karaoke

NEW CASTLE — Every Friday, its karaoke at Chapman’s Pub. Come on down to croon your old favorites. Grab and friend and make it a night out with signature drinks and a great fun vibe. Karaoke starts at 8:30 p.m. Fridays

Admission: Free

366 W. Main St.

Info: 984-7249 and chapmanspubhouse.com

Live Music and Dance

RIFLE — Take free country dance lessons from 5:30-7 p.m., then practice your new moves to live music by Spaghetti Western from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m., with a prime rib dinner in between at Farm Fresh Cafe and Steakhouse.

5:30 p.m. Saturdays

Admission: Free; $19.99/dinner

1733 Railroad Ave.

Info: clubfresh.me

Karaoke with the Sandman

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Have fun with karaoke in downtown Glenwood Springs and sing whatever you like at Loyal Brothers Lounge.

9 p.m. Tuesdays

Admission: Free

813 Grand Ave.

Info: karaokewithsandman.smugmug.com

Local Artisan and Craft Fair

RIFLE — The Midland Arts Company is a co-operative gift shop features the work of Western Slope artists: handmade soaps and candles, fabric arts, iron work, original paintings, and turned-wood lamps, artisan jewelry and pottery.

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays

Admission: Free

101 E. Third St., Rifle

Info: 625-3068 and midlandartscompany.com

Total Barre class with Vicki Tobia

CARBONDALE — Coredination and Bonedale Ballet offers Total Barre, a 60-minute dance-inspired body-conditioning workout, class with Vicki Tobia. She has an extensive and professional background in dance, pilates and fitness.

5:30-6:30 p.m. Mondays

First class special: $5 off your first class

455 S. Third St.

Info and to RSVP: Alexandra Jerkunica at 379-2187 and bonedaleballet.com

Art Classes at The Launchpad

CARBONDALE — Movement, music, and dance classes are in full swing at The Launchpad. Crystal River Ballet, The Yard Hip Hop, Carbondale Rhythm Collective, DanceLAB, Core Healing Arts, Aspen Dance Connection, and more offer classes for all ages seven days a week. Pick up a full schedule at the Launchpad or visit and click on Launchpad.

76 S. Fourth St.

Info: e-mail contact@launchpadcarbondale.com and carbondalearts.com

Art Gallery

CARBONDALE — The Powers Art Center strives to teach the public about contemporary and pop art through exhibitions.

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday

Admission: Free

13110 Colorado 82

Info: 963-4445, e-mail menglish@powersartcenter.org and powersartcenter.org

Jail House Studio/Gallery

CARBONDALE — Harvest Pottery has opened its doors to the Jail House Studio/Gallery with new work on display. The historic jailhouse and cabin is free to visit and open to the public.

Admission: Free

500 Weant Blvd.

Info: 963-2550, email harvestpottery@q.com and harvestpottery.com

Open Mic Nights

NEW CASTLE — Open Mic every Sunday for music therapy at the Black Dog Saloon.

5 p.m. Sundays

Admission: Free

219 W. Main St.

Info: 984-0999, thedognewcastle.com and facebook.com/pages/Groves-Black-Dog-Saloon

Figure Drawing Sessions

CARBONDALE — Drop-in, non-taught model figure drawing session facilitated by Philip Hone Williams with a live figure model.

6-9 p.m. Mondays

CCAH classroom, Third Street Center

Info: 456-2865 or e-mail honewilliams@gmail.com to reserve space

Phat Pagan Open Mic Night

CARBONDALE — Patrick Fagan invites performers of all types for free expression, liberal libations and musical invention at Carbondale Beer Works. No cover.

7:30 p.m. Mondays

Admission: Free

647 Main St.

Info: 704-1216 and carbondalebeerworks.com

Open Mic Nite

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Rivers Restaurant’s open mic for artists of all types hosted by Dan Rosenthal. All talents welcome. $1 taco special. No cover.

8-10 p.m., Wednesdays

Admission: Free

2525 S. Grand Ave.

Info: 928-8813

Artist spotlight: Olivia Savard prepares to reprise ‘Uncle Vanya’ role

Theater has long been an essential part of Olivia Savard’s life.

Savard became the first junior company member of Thunder River Theatre Company as a teen, and became a full-fledged member following her 16th birthday. Savard is now in her fifth year with the company and will serve as stage manager for a production of “The Tempest” next month.

Since her early days in theater, Savard’s connections have spread and now include involvement with a number of area companies. She also teaches drama at Cornerstone School in Basalt, and intends to pursue a teaching career.

Savard will again assume the role of Sonya in an encore performance of “Uncle Vanya,” an interpretation of Anton Chekhov’s work by the same name. It’s the tale of Vanya and his niece Sonya, and the play explores love, hope and loss. Savard initially played Sonya in Sopris Theatre Company’s 2015-2016 season. The encore show will run at Wheeler Opera House in Aspen on Feb. 2 and 3. The Post Independent spoke to Savard in advance of the show. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Post Independent: How does repeating this role, nearly a year after the show’s original run, compare to the first experience?

Olivia Savard: A lot of actors who do encore performances say that the second go is a lot easier. I disagree (laugh). There’s something about having a new work and it’s fresh, it’s new. To be working on it and living with the characters and the play for four to six weeks is a really incredible thing.

I think that’s why a lot of us choose to do live theater, because we’re able to really envelop ourselves inside the world the playwright creates.

When we’re doing an encore, there’s just not that four-week process. … In terms of feeling really comfortable with the character and knowing who you’re playing, I’m just not feeling that yet. I’ve had eight months away from Sonya and now trying to get back into her mindset, it’s hard.

PI: Tell me more about Sonya. Why does the character appeal to you?

OS: There’s a powerful quote where she says, ‘Don’t tell me the truth because there’s still a possibility of hope when you don’t know the truth, isn’t there?’ She’s trying so hard to stay positive. She’s the rock of the family. She’d rather be naïve in certain realms of her mind than really know.

This is my first time on stage in an actual role I could sink my teeth into since seventh grade. Gary asked me to audition and I did, and I ended up getting cast as Sonya, which was very unexpected.

She’s relatable. There are elements of her that I can draw directly to my life. It’s fun to explore. I know how I handle my own situations. It’s fun to see how someone else handles theirs, and have to put yourself in the mind of somebody else and live in a specific way.

… I didn’t have a lot of prep to draw me to this role. I just ended up falling in love with her.

PI: How has your relationship with theater evolved over the years?

OS: In four years, I did about 30 productions. I started taking a step back. I’m now enrolled at CSU Global and it’s a much larger workload. I also work several jobs.

I’ve taken a bit of a step back, I’m only doing one show a year right now. Except right now I’m doing two. … I love theater and I love being a part of the creative process, but I just couldn’t keep up that energy level.

PI: What are the differences in your attraction to acting and technical theater?

OS: In technical theater, I realized that, as a stage manager you have a lot of pressure put on you. But I also think it’s an easier pressure than getting up in front of other people—no, it’s not easier, it’s just different. Your concerns are making sure everybody’s in the right place at the right time, everybody’s set. If something goes wrong, it really falls onto your head. I like that. I like that if something happens, I can take care of it. I can say, ‘That was me, I can take care of it.’ If it was someone on my crew, I can go talk to them one on one.

But with acting, I’ve found that it’s a whole different kind of stress. There’s the stress of getting up in front of people, which we can all identify with. Especially when playing a more dramatic role … there are a lot of actors that it’s very hard for them to go through a production from start to finish and stay completely sane. I didn’t realize this, but my mom said when I came upstairs after closing night of “Uncle Vanya,” there was a different air about me. I’d let (Sonya) go.

That’s something that contributes greatly to the production, but when you’re out of it, it’s like you’re seeing sunlight for the first time again. So very, very different types of stresses, but both creative and not necessarily bad. There’s good stress and bad stress.

Lunafest educates, entertains and supports local nonprofit

Dinner and a movie. An evening of awareness. Fundraising for two nonprofits.

Lunafest is all of those things, and this year it’s also the sole 2017 fundraiser for Advocate Safehouse Project.

The organization serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence throughout Garfield County, and 85 percent of proceeds from the local event will benefit ASP. The remaining 15 percent goes to the Breast Cancer Fund. The touring festival will include nine short films, and this year patrons will also receive discounts at four area restaurants with their ticket stubs.

Although the film festival’s tagline is “by, for and about women,” ASP Community Education Advocate Sarah Buckley is quick to point out the event is for everyone. Likewise, breast cancer and domestic and sexual violence affect both women and men.

“We can’t do it without male support. We need allies,” she said. “We’re still human. It’s a human issue. The idea of separating them is not something I believe in.”

Each installment of Lunafest, which is in its 16th year nationally and eighth locally, features different films with female directors and actors. The themes don’t necessarily reflect the work of the local nonprofits with which the festival partners. However, one of 2017’s films, “Nkosi Coiffure,” touches on themes of domestic violence. Buckley said that sort of tie-in helps audiences connect the dots between what they see on screen and the need ASP fills.

The organization provides a 24-hour help line, outreach, community awareness, a volunteer advocate program and the area’s only safehouse program. Many people believe domestic and sexual violence happens to someone else, Buckley said. But it crosses all demographic lines.

The film festival is the sole fundraiser for ASP this year, the organization’s 30th. Buckley said it is also an opportunity for the community to come together and enjoy art. Lunafest films are not rated, but are appropriate for people high-school age and older. The event will include popcorn and a cash bar.

She’s just her type

Type O.

It’s the name [sic] of the Post Independent newsroom cat. By definition, when hyphenated, it’s short for typographical error, aka a spelling/grammatical mistake. It could be my pro wrestling name if I ever entered the ring.

It’s also the blood type that changed the lives of two women last week.

On Jan. 12, Type O connected an old Glenwood Springs friend of mine, Michelle, who now lives in California, to her new friend, Sue. The two came to know each other, quite well as of late, through their boyfriends, who have known each other since the late ‘80s. And a little something we all know and love called Facebook. Michelle had noticed that Sue’s boyfriend, Corey, posted a few times on Facebook that Sue was seeking a kidney.

She knew she had to act.

“The first one I saw was in January last year, and then in August he posted again that she was still on the waiting list and mentioned that she was Type O,” Michelle wrote, from her recovery bed. “I’m a blood donor and also registered for bone marrow, so I knew my blood type was right. We’re the hardest to match as recipients, but can donate to anyone.”

Michelle soon filled out the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center’s screening questionnaire. That started her down a path that eventually intersected for the two women who both happened to have the Type O classification of blood.

Then tests, tests and more tests, ensued.

“After two 24-hour urine collections, more than 100 little tubes of blood samples, and a chest X-ray, EKG and CT angiogram, I was declared young and healthy, and the doctors picked my right kidney as the lucky match,” wrote Michelle, in her crowd-funding campaign description, which has easily doubled its $1,000 goal. “I finally met my kidney buddy in December, and Sue is wonderful; I think my kidney will have a lovely new home.”

Last Thursday, both women underwent surgeries that saved Sue’s life and gave Michelle a whole new perspective on living. Michelle believes if she were in Sue’s position, she would do anything for someone to step up and help like she was able to and willing.

“What it really came down to was that she needed this thing I had in order to live,” Michelle said. “In the end, she had over 25 people who specifically stepped forward for her, but they were all incompatible tissue types or not healthy enough for the surgery. It turned out that Sue was tough to match and I was nearly a 100 percent match for her.”

Michelle describes the medical match in one word: Serendipity.

“She also lives only about a mile from me in Oakland. So weird,” she said. “The coolest part about living kidney donation, I think, is that you can have chains of donations kicked off by the right match. So, if I wasn’t a match for Sue, but was for Joe Blow, and he has a donor who was a match for Plain Jane and she had a donor who was a match for Sue, everyone would get a kidney.”

Michelle said in her research on living donations, she read that the record for a paired donation chain was somewhere around 60 or 70 kidneys, which blew her mind. In preparing for surgery, she set up the crowd-funding campaign to help as she and her boyfriend miss work for a few weeks, or possibly more. She also wanted to cover any expenses her parents, who have traveled from Southern California to be by her side during recovery, may incur. Since their surgeries, both Sue and Michelle have taken to Facebook and the crowd-funding page to thank those who have helped along their serendipitous journey with encouragement as well as donations.

“The outpouring of physical, emotional and financial help during this whole process has been nothing short of amazing,” wrote Michelle, just five days after the kidney donation and transplant surgeries. “You are all wonderful people, and feeling your love and hope for Sue and myself is beautiful. … I love you, even if I’ve never heard of you.”

In donating her right kidney to a once-stranger, Michelle now has an unbreakable bond with her new friend. And people she’s never even met who have come together in support of the kidney swap on social networking. Michelle says all the kind words and generosity, ranging from friends and family to complete strangers, have warmed both women’s hearts.

“They have reinforced my decision that this is the right thing to do,” she said.

And it all started with a matching blood type named O.

April E. Allford hopes people show Michelle and Sue their love by donating at https://www.youcaring.com/michelledunn-730307. April can be reached at aprilallford@gmail.com.

Say yes to fun in Glenwood Springs

Before I moved to Glenwood Springs, I set a policy: Whenever someone asked me to hang out, I should say yes.

That’s the best way to get to know people, places and events when you’re new to town. I arrived here with several well-established friendships and eager to build even more relationships. It’s a process that can take time — sometimes a lot of it, as I learned when I moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for graduate school.

Tuscaloosa was the first place I moved after college, and I naively expected it would be as easy to find my place there as it was in undergrad. I didn’t account for the fact that I graduated Florida State a year early, and so Tuscaloosa residents my age were in their senior year. Their friendships were long established. I was the new girl, and in most circles, I was the only new girl. I spent many Friday nights laboring over my blog rather than with other people, and it was rarely by choice.

It took years and several moves around central Alabama, but I eventually found my group. When I first arrived, I made a friend here and there. By the time I left, nearly 14 years later, I knew the city and its people well.

I expected a warm welcome in Glenwood; after all, my friends here called from their Thanksgiving celebration to loudly congratulate me on this job. But that’s a group of six or eight people. It should take longer to feel at home in the city as a whole.

Was I ever wrong!

Last Friday marked the end of my first full week in this beautiful city. My “say yes” policy was quickly forced out the window — not because I chose to spend time alone, but because I had too many offers on the table. Board games? Valley Visual Arts? A quick drink at the pub? Glen-a-palooza? The choices were plentiful — and yet I’m told this is the slow season.

This week I made my first appearance on KSPN to discuss the weekend’s goings-on around town. I thought of my radio segment back in Alabama. Host Scott Register and I were quick to say if you were bored in Birmingham, it was your own fault. There was always more to discuss than we could fit into a 15-minute segment, and more to do than our 30- and 40-something-year-old selves could cram into a weekend.

It seems the Roaring Fork Valley and surrounding area share that problem. From visual arts to theater to music to outdoors, there’s always something to do here. And we get to do all of that with some of the most stunning views I’ve witnessed. I’ll continue to say yes, and I’ll rejoice when I realize there’s more I’d like to see than one day can contain. Boy, am I glad to be in Glenwood.

Carla Jean Whitley is features editor of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. She sure would love for you to add your events at tinyurl.com/pievents and share art news by emailing arts@postindependent.com.

Arts and Entertainment briefs, Jan. 13

THIS WEEKEND

Second Friday Artist Reception

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Cooper Corner Gallery hosts January’s First Friday art opening with local photography by George Cutting III. Visit the artist and enjoy wine and refreshments.

5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13

Admission: Free

315 Eighth St.

Info: 945-5199

Live Music with Nelson Oldham and Hap Harriman

BASALT — Heather’s Savory Pies and Tapas Bar hosts local musicians Nelson Oldham and Hap Harriman for live and local music on a Friday night.

7-10:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13

Admission: Free

166 Midland Ave.

Info: 927-0151 and heatherssavorypies.com

Live Music with Dwight F. Ferren

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Solo acoustic guitar instrumentals by Dwight F. Ferren with your sushi and sake at Kanpai Sushi Bar and Lounge Friday evening.

7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13

Admission: Free

3950 Midland Ave.

Info: 230-9498 and kanpaisushilounge.com

Bessie and Friends Music Jam

SILT — Every second Friday, musicians and music fans can gather at the First Baptist Church in Silt for a live music jam.

7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13

Admission: Free

632 Grand Ave.

Info: Bessie Burr at 309-2764

Live Music with Scary Doug and Friends

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Dance to live originals and cover tunes by Scary Doug and Friends in the Rivers Restaurant bar after dinner.

9 p.m. to midnight Friday, Jan. 13

Admission: Free

2525 South Grand Ave.

Info: 928-8813 and theriversrestaurant.com

Stand-Up Comedy

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Comic Jared Logan has appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail,” “TJ Miller’s Mash Up” and “John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show,” as well as in his own half-hour special. He was a series regular on VH1’s “Best Week Ever” and TruTV’s “World’s Dumbest.” His debut comedy album, “My Brave Battle,” was hailed by Vulture as one of the best stand-up specials of the year. He writes for “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and is the host of “The Secret Masters” podcast. Features adult content humor and is not the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue’s traditional show. Attendees must be 18 or older.

Doors open 7 p.m. for dinner and drinks, show at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14

Admission: $25 show only; food and beverages optional and a la carte

Springs Theater, 915 Grand Ave.

Info and reservations: 945-9699 and gvrshow.com

Consensual Improv Comedy

CARBONDALE — Back by popular demand, Thunder River Theatre Company’s new improvisational comedy troupe returns to the stage with high-energy improv games and good times. This show is unrated and may contain adult situations. Cash bar available.

Doors open at 7:30, show at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14

Admission: $10

67 Promenade

Info: 963-8200, email info@thunderrivertheatre.com and thunderrivertheatre.com

Live Music with Fort Defiance

CARBONDALE — The Marble Bar hosts Sunday Funday with Fort Defiance, an Americana duo from Nashville hailed for honest songwriting, timeless harmonies and high-energy stage performances. The husband-wife team has toured tirelessly, playing more than 200 shows in 2016. Their passion and grassroots work ethic has garnered heavy attention from around the country, with critics to calling them “breathtakingly seductive” (That Music Mag) and “good, honest, and full of real heart” (Orlando Weekly).

3-6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15

Admission: Free

10 Main St.

Info: 963-7008 and marbledistilling.com

UPCOMING

Yappy Hour

CARBONDALE — Join Colorado Animal Rescue for the monthly Yappy Hour at the Marble Distilling Company’s Marble Bar. Sip on handcrafted cocktails and meet an adoptable C.A.R.E. dog, with $1 from every drink sold donated. Bring your own dog along as well.

5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19

Admission: Free

150 Main St.

Info: 947-9173, 963-7008 and marbledistilling.com

Lunafest

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Lunafest is an annual fundraiser for Advocate Safehouse Project, a nonprofit providing support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Held at the historic Hotel Colorado, the night features two showings at 5 and 7:30 p.m. This year, a new component features four local restaurants offering discounts or deals when presented with Lunafest ticket stubs over the weekend (Jan. 20-23).

5-9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21

Admission: $20

526 Pine St.

Info: 928-2074 and lunafest.org

Live Music with The Seth Walker Band

CARBONDALE — The Seth Walker Band is an Austin-based ensemble that will play a mixture of traditional blues with a New Orleans flair at Steve’s Guitars for the first show of 2017.

8:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21

19 N. Fourth. St.

Info: 963-3304, email sguitars@sopris.net, stevesguitars.net and sethwalker.com

Stand-Up Comedy Round-Up

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — This WindWalkers benefit comedy night features local talent including Mission Improv-able Troupe, with members of the Glenwood Springs High School Drama Club. Also performing are comics Todd Hartley, an Aspen Times humor columnist, KDNK DJ and former member of the Laugh Your Aspen Off comedy troupe, and Don Chaney, of KMTS radio and former morning host and general manager of KSNO. He is also a member of the Thunder River Theatre Company’s Consenual Improv group, and an original comic from Laugh Your Aspen Off.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for dinner and drinks, showtime 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27

Admission: $30, online or at the door (if not full)

915 Grand Ave.

Info and reservations: 945-9699, 963-2909 and gvrshow.com

Mini Music Fest

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Announcing the Almost Second Annual Mini Music Fest at the Glenwood Vaudeville, featuring three essentially local bands: Lizzy Plotkin and Natalie Spears of Free the Honey, The Defiance String Band and introducing Stray Grass from Grand Junction. Food and beverages are available, so make it a full night out.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., showtime 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28

Admission: $10, online or available at the door until full

915 Grand Ave.

Info and reserve seats/table early: 945-9699, gvrshow.com and bluegrasstickets.com

“Art Around Town” Artist Call-out

CARBONDALE — The Carbondale Public Arts Commission seeks 15 new sculptures for its annual “Art Around Town” exhibit. This year-long street exhibition showcases outdoor sculptures. Selected artists are paid a $750 honorarium (at installation) and are also eligible for a $1,000 award for Best in Show next fall. Participants are invited to a community artist reception on June 1, and also to participate in Carbondale’s First Friday Art Walk June 2. Sculptures will be on display for one year.

Entry deadline: Feb. 5; show opens June 1, with installations beginning late May and early June by Carbondale’s public works crew

Main Street, Rio Grande Trail, and other high-use areas around town

Info and submissions: Call for Entry (CAFE) website callforentry.org

“How Not to Die!” Author Meet and Greet

CARBONDALE — Meet the author of the community-wide reading selection, “How Not to Die!” The presentation and Q&A featuring Dr. Michael Greger takes place at The Orchard’s Gathering Place.

7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9

Admission: Free

110 Snowmass Dr.

Info: 384-6951

Glen-A-Palooza

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Celebrate Glenwood Springs, open for business for a community evening of pre-Valentine’s shopping and festivities. Featuring events throughout downtown Glenwood every second Friday at participating Glen-A-Palooza businesses along Grand Avenue and side streets. Enjoy bargains, activities, food and fun for all.

4-10 pm. Friday, Feb. 10

Admission: Free

Downtown Glenwood, Grand Avenue and cross streets

Info: facebook.com/glenapalooza

ONGOING

“Food, Flower and Drink” Exhibit

CARBONDALE — Japanese sensibility comes to the Carbondale Clay Center through Jan. 27, with a cross-cultural ceramic exhibition from Fumiko Nagai and Frank McGuirk.

Admission: Free

135 Main St.

Info: 963-2529, email info@carbondaleclay.org and carbondaleclay.org

Art by Betsy Blackard

RIFLE — Bookcliffs Arts Center celebrates the works of pastel artist Betsy Blackard with her art for sale and public viewing.

Admission: Free

The Stone House, 1100 East 16th St.

Info: 625-1889 and bookcliffsartscenter.org

Art in Silt

SILT — Crack in the Wall Gallery hosts art by more than 30 artists from the community showing their new work in photography, jewelry, oil paintings, pottery, notecards and more.

Admission: Free

1887 County Road 237 (Harvey Gap Road)

Info: crackinthewallgallery.com

Art by Noemi Kosmoski

RIFLE — The Midland Arts Company features paintings by Glenwood Springs artist Noemi Kosmoski, on display and available for purchase, and more.

Normal gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Admission: Free

101 E. Third St.

Info: 625-3068 and midlandartscompany.com

Trivia Night

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Glenwood Springs Brew Garden hosts Trivia Night with comics Max Graf and Greg Bensen, aka DJ Phathead, open to the public. Come out for brews, food truck eats and trivia fun with prize giveaways.

8:30 p.m. Thursdays

Admission: Free

115 Sixth St.

Info: glenwoodspringsbrewgarden.com

Live Piano Music with Dinner

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Riviera Supper Club and Piano Bar’s new-and-improved persona features live piano music for dinner and drinks in downtown Glenwood. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays feature Jonathan Gorst on the piano. The former music director for “The Phantom of the Opera,” Gorst plays for the dinner hour and takes requests all evening. Every Thursday pianist Kyle Jones offers up his extraordinary musical stylings and interpretations, playing for the dinner hour and also taking requests all evening.

Music starts at 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays

Admission: Free

702 Grand Ave.

Info: 945-7692 and rivieraglenwood.com

Kill the Keg and Geeks Who Drink

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Thursdays are fun at Big Daddy’s Sports Bar as they play national themed bar trivia pastime Geeks Who Drink. Also play Big Daddy’s Kill the Keg game by purchasing any appetizer or entree at regular price and receiving a bottomless cup of beer until the keg is dead.

Kill the Keg starts at 7 p.m., Geeks Who Drink at 8 p.m. Thursdays

Admission: Free

55 Mel Rey Road

Info: 987-5056 and bigdaddysglenwood.com

Free Wine and Spirits Tastings

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Enjoy free tastings every weekend in downtown Glenwood Springs, as Cooper Wine and Spirits showcases different varieties of hand-selected wines, craft beers and Colorado spirits.

5-7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Admission: Free

732 Cooper Ave.

Info: facebook.com/pages/Cooper-Wine-Spirit/206692372844660

Crab Dinner and Live Music

RIFLE — Enjoy Friday night crab dinner at Farm Fresh Cafe and Steakhouse with 1 and 1/2 pounds of Opilio crab, two sides and soup or salad bar, followed by live music by the Goodman Band from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.

5 p.m. Fridays

Admission: Free; $22.99/dinner

1733 Railroad Ave.

Info: clubfresh.me

Tutus and Karaoke

NEW CASTLE — Every Friday, it’s karaoke at Chapman’s Pub. Come on down to croon your old favorites. Grab and friend and make it a night out with signature drinks and a great fun vibe. Karaoke starts at 8:30 p.m. Fridays

Admission: Free

366 W. Main St.

Info: 984-7249 and chapmanspubhouse.com

Live Music and Dance

RIFLE — Take free country dance lessons from 5:30-7 p.m., then practice your new moves to live music by Spaghetti Western from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m., with a prime rib dinner in between at Farm Fresh Cafe and Steakhouse.

5:30 p.m. Saturdays

Admission: Free; $19.99/dinner

1733 Railroad Ave.

Info: clubfresh.me

Karaoke with the Sandman

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Have fun with karaoke in downtown Glenwood Springs and sing whatever you like at Loyal Brothers Lounge.

9 p.m. Tuesdays

Admission: Free

813 Grand Ave.

Info: karaokewithsandman.smugmug.com

Local Artisan and Craft Fair

RIFLE — The Midland Arts Company is a co-operative gift shop features the work of Western Slope artists: handmade soaps and candles, fabric arts, iron work, original paintings, turned-wood lamps, artisan jewelry and pottery.

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays

Admission: Free

101 E. Third St., Rifle

Info: 625-3068 and midlandartscompany.com

Total Barre class with Vicki Tobia

CARBONDALE — Coredination and Bonedale Ballet offers Total Barre, a 60-minute dance-inspired body-conditioning workout class with Vicki Tobia. She has an extensive and professional background in dance, Pilates and fitness.

5:30-6:30 p.m. Mondays

First class special: $5 off your first class

455 S. Third St.

Info and to RSVP: Alexandra Jerkunica at 379-2187 and bonedaleballet.com

Art Classes at The Launchpad

CARBONDALE — Movement, music and dance classes are in full swing at The Launchpad. Crystal River Ballet, The Yard Hip Hop, Carbondale Rhythm Collective, DanceLAB, Core Healing Arts, Aspen Dance Connection and more offer classes for all ages seven days a week. Pick up a full schedule at the Launchpad or visit and click on Launchpad.

76 S. Fourth St.

Info: e-mail contact@launchpadcarbondale.com and carbondalearts.com

Art Gallery

CARBONDALE — The Powers Art Center strives to teach the public about contemporary and pop art through exhibitions.

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday

Admission: Free

13110 Colorado 82

Info: 963-4445, e-mail menglish@powersartcenter.org and powersartcenter.org

Jail House Studio/Gallery

CARBONDALE — Harvest Pottery has opened its doors to the Jail House Studio/Gallery with new work on display. The historic jailhouse and cabin is free to visit and open to the public.

Admission: Free

500 Weant Blvd.

Info: 963-2550, email harvestpottery@q.com and harvestpottery.com

Open Mic Nights

NEW CASTLE — Open mic every Sunday for music therapy at the Black Dog Saloon.

5 p.m. Sundays

Admission: Free

219 W. Main St.

Info: 984-0999, thedognewcastle.com and facebook.com/pages/Groves-Black-Dog-Saloon

Figure Drawing Sessions

CARBONDALE — Drop-in, non-taught model figure drawing session facilitated by Philip Hone Williams with a live figure model.

6-9 p.m. Mondays

CCAH classroom, Third Street Center

Info: 456-2865 or e-mail honewilliams@gmail.com to reserve space

Phat Pagan Open Mic Night

CARBONDALE — Patrick Fagan invites performers of all types for free expression, liberal libations and musical invention at Carbondale Beer Works. No cover.

7:30 p.m. Mondays

Admission: Free

647 Main St.

Info: 704-1216 and carbondalebeerworks.com

Open Mic Nite

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Rivers Restaurant’s open mic for artists of all types hosted by Dan Rosenthal. All talents welcome. $1 taco special. No cover.

8-10 p.m., Wednesdays

Admission: Free

2525 S. Grand Ave.

Info: 928-8813

Southern gal at heart, Western gal by choice

People ask why I moved to Glenwood Springs. The answer is simple: Look outside.

My first trip to this area was in May 2015. One of my college roommates invited us to her still-new home for a girls’ weekend, and two of us flew across the country to visit. As we drove through Glenwood Canyon, I took photos and videos, thrilled by the sight. I had no idea how much wonder lay ahead.

Our hostess, Heather, worried aloud about showing us a good time. She needn’t fret, we said. Even driving along the Interstate was exciting, although of course it paled in comparison to our hike to Hanging Lake. We were charmed by the drive into Carbondale, and then exhilarated by the bike ride back to Glenwood.

By the end of that trip, I itched for another. The Western Slope called me again in January 2016. I jumped hip-deep into snowdrifts and reveled in frigid walks through downtown. I cried the night before my departure, unprepared to leave this magical place behind.

Little did I know that, just less than a year later, I would call Glenwood Springs home.

That’s a big move for a Southern gal. Prior to last week, I’d never lived north of Cullman or west of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I spent my developmental years in north Florida and the first 11 years of my career in my birthplace, Alabama. As I interviewed to become this paper’s features editor and prepared to relocate from Birmingham, Alabama, person after person asked if I liked winter. I think so, but heck if I know, I said. I’m a Southerner. I barely know what snow is.

Time will tell, but here’s what I can say a week into my residency: I love the warmth in strangers’ greetings and their affection for this community. I’m thrilled to walk, rather than drive, my lunchtime errands. I’m tickled by this place’s combination of low-key, small-town charm and access to entertainment. And there’s no greater sensation than crisp air whipping by as you ski at Sunlight.

I can also tell you about my credentials, and I don’t mind doing so (I love talking shop). They include eight years as a magazine editor, three of newspaper reporting and a couple of books.

What I’m really interested in discussing, though, is heart. That’s what drew me to this community, and I bet that’s true for you, too. Glenwood is a special place, one that helped even the most die-hard supporters of my hometown understand why I would leave. After a few days here, my father, who lives in Florida, joked that he should call my mom and ask her to sell the house. She could meet him here, he said. Though he was kidding (he boarded a plane two days later), he left with a lengthy to-do list for his next trip.

Help me understand what makes this community important to you. Email me at cj@postindependent.com with story ideas or to schedule a chat over coffee. No one knows a place better than the people who call it home. I’m fortunate to be in a position to share these stories, but you are the people who have lived them. I’m so happy to join you.

Carla Jean Whitley is the new features editor at Glenwood Springs Post Independent. You can learn way too much about her life and professional experience at carlajeanwhitley.com.

April in Glenwood: Gaga over ‘La La Land’

I remember my first musical. I was around 4 years old, and it was “The Wizard of Oz.” I watched it on broadcast television with my grandmother on the old box-style set in her living room.

I was as scared as I was delighted.

That infamous scene, in black and white, when the mean neighbor Miss Gulch comes to take Toto the dog away in the basket of her bicycle to have him euthanized, really stuck with me. She’s diligent to crush Dorothy’s dreams in her tall hat and mean face. But, alas, Toto jumps out of the basket and America’s sweetheart and her best friend are reunited. There’s a tornado, and a house crushes a witch with striped socks and pointy shoes. Then there’s another witch, this one green-faced and spiteful, who looks suspiciously like Miss Gulch. Plus those frightening monkeys in weird coats.

All those creepy little flying primates.

These are the elements of the 1939 fantasy film, adapted from L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” that create suspense and conflict. And just a few of the reasons I still remember watching my first musical as a 4-year-old. Of course it’s the sparkly ruby red slippers and fabulous yellow brick road, which came alive through Technicolor, that made me forget all about the scary witches, flying monkeys and handsy apple trees in the forest. I mostly thought about how, when I grew up, I wanted to be Dorothy, the innocent farm-girl heroine with the cute pigtails toting her pet dog in a basket. I daydreamed of singing and dancing to “We’re Off to See the Wizard” with my band of unlikely friends — a lion, tin man and scarecrow — in a quest to find the mystical land of Oz. I later played the not-so glamorous role of the straw-stuffed scarecrow in my first tap dance recital. Imagine my delight.

I still feel like I should have been Dorothy.

The music and the dancing are exactly why I wanted to watch “The Wizard of Oz” when it came on TV every year for as long as I can remember. That was such a beloved annual tradition for families like mine, the Library of Congress named it the most-viewed motion picture on television syndication. For good reason. I could look past the flying monkeys because I knew there would be friendly munchkins singing on behalf of the Lollipop Guild.

And a horse that repeatedly changed colors in Emerald City.

There was so much magic in that musical, even the creepy parts where I hid my eyes under a blanket didn’t deter me from coming back to it every year. Sure, I always knew what was coming in the plot and ending. But it’s that charm and allure of old Hollywood productions that has kept “The Wizard of Oz” so close to my heart. I feel the same about other musicals from my childhood.

Especially “Annie,” “Grease” and “Mary Poppins.” Those films shined the spotlight on what audiences still to this day love about Broadway stage productions — the choreography, musicality and artistry — exposing millions over the years to this specialized genre of art. That’s why I couldn’t wait to see “La La Land” recently before it left local theaters. For the unfamiliar, this 2016 romantic musical comedy-drama starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling follows the romance of an aspiring actress and jazz pianist who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles.

Their story is told through song and dance, my favorite form of entertainment.

This year, “La La Land” was nominated for seven Golden Globes, sweeping every category last weekend at the annual awards show. Luckily I saw the movie with my girlfriends a few hours before the stars hit the red carpet at the Globes. So I had some perspective on all the hype. As a fan of the musical, I thought it lived up to it.

The opening scene really is great.

During the film, I laughed. I cried. I connected with Emma Stone’s character, Mia, who keeps her dreams of acting in Hollywood alive by auditioning and being rejected, repeatedly. She writes her own one-woman show, which I once accomplished. I can’t really sing, though, unless karaoke counts. And in my head I can tap dance way better than I actually can. More lessons wouldn’t hurt. I’m not in LA or New York, and I’m not as young as I used to be, but I’m still a dreamer about comedy and acting. I’ve auditioned for plays and commercials and been rejected, more than a few times. I’ve been embarrassed, and I’ve laughed at myself along the way. I still try because I remember watching my first musical, sitting in my grandma’s living room. I was as scared as I was delighted.

And that can be about the best feeling in the world.

April E. Allford wonders if she could still learn to play the piano. She can be reached at aprilallford@gmail.com.

See local work at Valley Visual Art Show

Carbondale Arts will host the opening reception of its popular Valley Visual Art Show tonight at The Launchpad in downtown Carbondale.

The show, now in its 37th year, features the works of 50 local artists from across the Roaring Fork, Crystal and Colorado River valleys.

“Everyone with a piece in the show must reside within a ZIP code beginning with 816,” said Carbondale Arts Gallery Manager Brian Colley. “That’s the truly special part of this show every year — it’s a genuine celebration of the diverse range of artists living right here in our community.”

Carbondale Arts opened an application process in October. Applicants submitted two works for consideration, of which one was ultimately chosen to be displayed in the gallery. Colley noted that the first-come, first-served nature of this process allows a unique opportunity for the young and the seasoned alike to see their work displayed in a large, well-attended show.

“There is such a great mix every year, and that’s the best thing about it,” he said. “From high-school age artists on up, plus beginners and those who are more experienced, all together in one place. There is also a range of mediums: paintings and drawings, sculpture, video, encaustic, mixed media and more.”

The lone requirements, he added, were spatial: Pieces must be no more than 32 inches wide or 10 feet tall. Many of the artists are well-known locally, and some are first-timers who recently relocated to the area.

“Some of the artists include Lewis Cooper, who’s a photographer from Redstone — he uses drones to capture aerial images of local landscapes,” Colley said. “Plus there is a very unique work from local glass artist Robert Burch, who fused glass and metal to create a piece called ‘Wooden Indian.’ There is also a submission from Roaring Fork High School senior Katelyn Krehbiel, who won our People’s Choice award last year. She does oil portraits on plywood with resin.”

Colley, himself a local artist working primarily in watercolor, acrylic and printmaking, also has a piece in the show titled “Space Man.”

All works will be available for purchase, priced anywhere from $100 to $5,000. For any locals who consider the purchase of a genuine piece of art to be a daunting act, fear not: Find what speaks to you, and put it on layaway.

“Yes, that’s right: We offer a layaway program for monthly payments,” Colley noted. “We’re a nonprofit gallery, so this is something we’ve been able to make possible for anyone who thinks they can’t afford real art created by local artists. We want people to own the real thing, not the mass-produced stuff from Ikea or Target.”

The show, which features food, drinks and plenty of mingling with the artists, is Carbondale Arts’ first of 2017. For community members unable to attend the festivities tonight, the organization is planning another celebratory evening for First Friday on Feb. 3.

“Thirty percent of sales from the Valley Visual Art Show will go toward supporting Carbondale Arts,” Colley said. “We welcome anyone and everyone to come and enjoy the hard work of our amazing local artists.”