Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Focus on Romania

The third annual Romanian Film Festival takes place this week, with screenings of feature films, shorts and documentaries held at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Organized by the Romanian Cultural Institute and UW–Madison’s Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia, or CREECA, the festival showcases films in Romanian with English subtitles—and admission is free.

Festival coordinator Elena Richard recently shared insights into the event, as well as the fascinating history of Romanian filmmaking.

How did the Romanian Film Festival come about in Madison?

Through a series of fortunate events that started when the Romanian Cultural Institute was looking for partners at the UW. CREECA was the department that entered that partnership. The idea of starting the festival was born then. We received incredible support from the organizers of the Wisconsin Film Festival, who also showed some of the most acclaimed Romanian films, like The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and 12:08 East of Bucharest. The small Romanian community in Madison and the large number of non-Romanian citizens of Madison who love film embraced us from the very beginning.

What is the background of Romanian filmmaking? And what’s going on today?

Last year we had an epic movie The Rest of Silence that told the story of the making of the first Romanian long feature film made in 1912. After 1912, filmmaking in Romania went through decades of creating mostly forgettable films with a few very memorable productions. After the late 1940s, the Romanian film industry was coerced into integrating communist ideology in its films, which resulted in producing hundreds of unremarkable propagandistic films reflecting a false reality. The refuge for many directors was to dramatize literary classics or illustrate historical events by bringing epic battles several hundred years old to the big screen. There are titles that are still remarkable and passed the test of time. One of them, Reenactment, which was banned for twenty-two years after its release, unmasks a political system that claimed to put people first, but in actuality destroyed them in an instant in the name of moral re-education. It was one the films we showed last year. Yet another example, Sequences, is part of our program this year and it’s a classic that illustrates the behind the scenes of moviemaking. One of the scenes shows that the conflict between the extras at the shoot—former victim and persecutor—is far more intense than the conflict between the characters of the film.

How has the film festival been received the past two years?

From its inception and first showings, it was received very well, and last year we had the pleasant surprise of having a much larger audience than the previous year. I think the interest for international—and in particular, for Romanian film—in Madison is quite remarkable. The first two editions of our festival brought to Madison a series of very new and well-received films. Romanian film is going through a revival that started approximately ten years ago and which has generated a lot of interest from international critics and audiences.

Tell me about this year’s festival. What films will you be showing and what’s new this time around?

Most of the films are full-length feature debuts: Crossing Dates, Tache, Elevator. Anca Damian (of Crossing Dates) had previously directed documentaries, Igor Cobileanski (Tache) is a well-known director of short films and George Dorobantu (Elevator) is at his very first film. Exchange is the most recent premiere of Nicolae Margineanu, a director that belongs to a different generation. Day Bar and Other Stories is a beautifully filmed documentary made during the year when the city of Sibiu was the cultural capital of Europe. We also showcase a selection of shorts. In 2008 the Romanian short films were the ones that attracted international awards at festivals all over the globe. The program includes A Good Day for a Swim, the recipient of 2008 Palme d'Or for Best Short, and Megatron, the winner of the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival. Waves, Alexandra and The Fear of Mr. G also created a buzz at numerous festivals. I already mentioned Sequences, a film that is still as modern today as it was in 1982.

What are you most excited about in this year’s festival?

I think it’s the overall selection of films. I am very happy with the mosaic of subjects. I am very excited we can show the documentary Day Bar and Other Stories, a very poetic and profound film that uses no script, just actual confessions of ordinary people in a brilliant way.

What are your goals for the film festival, this year as well as in the future?

I hope it grows to become a familiar presence on Madison’s cultural scene, that it will attract more viewers each year and that we’ll be able to continue to bring intriguing and interesting films.

What do you hope people get from attending the festival and seeing the films?

I hope they gain an appreciation for and an understanding of Romanian culture.

Images top to bottom are from Elevator, Day Bar and Other Stories and Sequences, and courtesy of the Romanian Film Festival.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

March Artist: Time for Art

Isn’t it strange how the passage of time can feel fast or slow depending on what’s going on in your life? Uncomfortable moments can seem like they’ll never end, while a series of years can appear to fly by in moments.

As a senior at Edgewood College about to step into the “real world,” time is likely moving at a good clip for Emily Rausch right now. Fortunately, the student artist was able to pause for a few minutes to discuss her new show, Time is Pear-Shaped, which runs March 15 to April 3 at Edgewood’s DeRicci Gallery.

How did you become an artist?

I have always enjoyed art since as far back as I can remember. I have played with many different media throughout the years, but in high school I found a love for graphic design, which is what I am majoring in with a minor in art.

What type of art are you drawn to create?

I tend to look at things from a different perspective and I want others to see how I perceive the world. Photography and acrylics are what I consider my two best media to help me share my views. I am inspired by Pop art, particularly Roy Lichtenstein, and Surrealism, especially René Magritte. I haven’t been able to pin myself down to one genre, but if you look closely you can see influences from my inspirations.

How did the idea of time become part of your work?

Thinking about art in general, I noticed how all works are just moments captured in time. All of my works focus on an aspect of time, whether it is a snap of a shutter, a stroke of a paintbrush or a scrawl from a pencil. I truly believe that artists strive to capture something powerful in their frozen frames.

Tell me about the Time is Pear-Shaped show. What’s in it and how did it come about?

My show is a retrospective of my student art career at Edgewood College. The show contains a mix of my favorite media including photography, paint and a variety of common everyday objects. My show is titled from my main piece, “Time is Pear-Shaped.” I feel that this piece gives the illusion of time as something out of the ordinary and I think it accomplishes my goal of showing my perspective on how I see the world. I hope the audience will be able to follow my creative thought process.

What do you hope people get from seeing your work?

I hope people get to see that I am not tied down to one medium, I create pieces from all artistic areas that I have learned at Edgewood College, including 2D, 3D and graphic design. Showing my creativity and my ability to think outside the box is important to me.
I am willing to experiment with art and try anything once to see where it can take me. I hope people have a fun experience at my show.

What’s next for you?

I graduate from Edgewood this May and will soon begin my search for a job. I am curious to see where art will take me.

Images are courtesy of Emily Rausch.

IN THE MAGAZINE: The March issue of Madison Magazine comes out tomorrow. Here’s some of the arts content you’ll find within the pages:
• A profile on Paddy and Otehlia Cassidy of West African Dance of Madison, or WADOMA.
• A poem by Sarah Busse.
• Our monthly Overtones section with picks on the can’t-miss performances, concerts and exhibits taking place in March.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Loving Local Arts

Valentine’s Day doesn’t seem to fall on a weekend very often. And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday than by showing some love to local arts.

Here are a few ways to fill your Saturday, no matter what type of art you heart (but as always, check ahead to make sure tickets are available for performances).


David Bicknase 7 p.m.–11 p.m. The Cove Lounge, The Edgewater, 666 Wisconsin Ave. 256-9071,

Cherry Pie 9:30 p.m. The Dry Bean, 5264 Verona Rd., Fitchburg. 274-2326.

Desperate Ottos 10 p.m. Harmony Bar and Grill, 2201 Atwood Ave. 249-4333.

DJ Vinny T 10:30 p.m. Café Montmartre, 127 E. Mifflin St. 255-5900.

Elf Lettuce 10 p.m. Mr. Roberts, 2116 Atwood Ave. 249-1660.

Goran Ivanovic & Andreas Kapsalis 9:30p.m. Restaurant Magnus, 120 E. Wilson St. 258-8787.

Thriving Ivory and Missy Higgins with Company of Thieves 9 p.m. Majestic Theatre, 115 King St. 255-0901.

Little Mama Joe featuring Susan Hofer 9 p.m.–12 a.m. The Brink Lounge, 701 E. Washington Ave., Suite 105. 661-8599.

Umphrey’s McGee 8 p.m. Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave.

Umphrey’s Afterparty 10 p.m. High Noon Saloon, 701A E. Washington Ave. 268-1122.

UW School of Music Faculty Concert Series: Parry, Howard and Frances Karp 8 p.m. Mills Hall, Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St. 263-9485.


A Wake 8 p.m. Broom Street Theater, 1119 Williamson St. 244-8338.

Jesus Christ Superstar 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Overture Center, 201 State St. 258-4141.

Kenosha! (Not Quite Chicago) 6:30 p.m. By WhoopDeDoo Productions at the West Side Club, 437 County Hwy M. 442-5806.

Love is in the Air 8 p.m. By Strollers Theatre at the Bartell Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St. 661-9696 x2.

Proof 7:30 p.m. By Madison Theatre Guild at the Bartell Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St. 238-9322.

Steel Magnolias 7:30 p.m. By the Sun Prairie Civic Theatre at the Sun Prairie High School Auditorium, 220 Kroncke Dr., Sun Prairie. 837-8217.

Those Fabulous Fifties—Part 2 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Fireside Theatre, 1131 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson. 1-800-477-9505.

Vagina Monologues 8 p.m. Wisconsin Union Theater, 800 Langdon St. 262-2201.


A Fairyland of Fabrics: The Victorian Crazy Quilt 12–5 p.m. Design Gallery, UW School of Human Ecology, 1300 Linden Dr. 262-8815.

A Show of Affection: Valentine’s Day Gift Special 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Fanny Garver Gallery, 230 State St. 256-6755.

Everett Kitts 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Absolutely Art, 2322 Atwood Ave. 249-9100.

From China to Madison: Crossing Cultural Bridges, Mayra Rangel-Capelle & Ana Rangel: Our Mexico, Our Roots and Respite = Relief: 30 Years of Building in Children through Art 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Overture Galleries, 201 State St. 258-4177.

Dagny Quisling Myrah 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Grace Chosy Gallery, 1825 Monroe St. 255-1211.

Rafael Francisco Salas: Recent Drawings and Paintings 8 a.m.–8 p.m. DeRicci Gallery at Edgewood College, 1000 Edgewood College Dr.

Ann Singsass: Birches and Others 12:30–4 p.m. UW Arboretum Steinhauer Trust Gallery, 1207 Seminole Hwy. 263-7888.

Something Wicked This Way Comes and Barbara Probst: Exposures 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St. 257-0158.

SuperBug: An Installation by Jennifer Angus and John Hitchcock 11 a.m.–9 p.m. James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
201 State St. (Overture Center). 265-2500.

The Joy is in the Middle: Michael Wodyn, Eternal Return: Brian DeLevie, Abstract in the Representative: Zsuzsanna Nagy and Fictitious Plants: Jsun Laliberte 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Wisconsin Union Galleries, 800 Langdon St. 262-7592.

Writing with Thread: Traditional Textiles of Southwest Chinese Minorities and Mannerism in Italy and the Low Countries 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Chazen Museum of Art, 800 University Ave. 263-2068.

Images of Parry Karp, Jesus Christ Superstar and a work from Mannerism in Italy and the Low Country are courtesy of the UW School of Music, Overture Center and Chazen Museum of Art.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Middle Man

For Michael Wodyn, the joy of making art comes when he is fully immersed in creating a painting. It’s this “middle” stage of the artistic process that has inspired him to exhibit a collection of his abstract acrylic paintings in a new show, The Joy is in the Middle, at the Wisconsin Union Galleries. His large, colorful paintings are showcased along with work by Brian DeLevie, Jsun Laliberté and Zsuzsanna Nagy through March 10.

Before the show opened January 30, Wodyn answered a few questions about his process, inspirations and more.

How did you become an artist?

I became interested in drawing at a young age. That interest grew to include success with other media as well. I need to produce art in order to be happy with my life. It is not an interest I can leave behind, nor would I want to.

How would you describe the art you create?

My art is abstract and I view each piece as a history of the ideas, struggles and emotions that were part of its creation.

What draws you to acrylics and why do you tend toward colorful and large work?

I use acrylic paint for several reasons. I like that I am not exposing myself to toxic solvents. As for the paint’s other properties, my canvasses are usually several paint layers deep and the faster drying time allows the surface to be built up relatively quickly. However, the paint is workable for a limited time so decisions must be made and carried out without hesitation. This is especially true with large work, but I enjoy the challenge. I also like the physical engagement that comes with large work. Sometimes the most rewarding and visually interesting paintings were a tremendous struggle to complete.

I usually don't spend much time planning a color scheme. I just begin and react as the painting progresses.

What inspires your art?

Other art forms and artists inspire my art. I try always to be receptive to the world around me. Beginning a painting inspires me, and the belief that I need to search for the most honest means of expression keeps me producing more.

Why did you choose The Joy is in the Middle as the name for your show?

The title of my show refers to the period of pure creativity that occurs when I am engaged with a painting. I lose all track of time, ideas are tried, kept or scraped away, the painting can change, be destroyed and rebuilt, it can shift from dark to light and back to light again. It is a process that is both mentally and physically demanding and it is the reason why I love it so much.

What do you hope viewers get from seeing your work?

I would like viewers to approach my art without trying to figure out what the painting is supposed to “mean.” One doesn’t ask what a beautifully made pot or table means. They are objects and we can appreciate the colors and patterns, the marks that occurred during their creation, the evidence of the artist’s hand. If I have an idea in mind when I make a painting I usually give it a title. Otherwise the work is an object made of paint and canvas, colors, marks and patterns. The meaning for me comes during its creation. The meaning for the viewer is up to them.

What’s next for you?

To keep painting, to continue to strive for the most truthful way to express what I need to and to show my work when I feel it is good enough.

Images are courtesy of Michael Wodyn.