Tag Archives: North Dakota Council on the Arts

Historic Movie Theaters: Restoring the Walla Walla

The Roxy Movie Theater in Langdon, North Dakota. Photo from February 2014.

The Roxy Movie Theater in Langdon, North Dakota. Photo from February 2014.

Today in the Forum News Service, Ryan Bakken reported on the rehabilitated movie theater in Mayville, North Dakota. It got me thinking a bit about how we are witnessing numerous historic movie theaters get an updated restart in communities across the northern Great Plains (and elsewhere).

The movie theater is an important place, allowing a community of movie goers to engage, as we say, in a collective experience. This gives us points of reference in conversation — “Hey, you remember that line from ‘Walter Mitty’?” — and it also allows us to explore and ponder our own humanity. It is different, of course, from live theater, where there is always a direct interaction between actresses/actors and the audience. But the theater idea is the same: bringing together a group of people to take in a performance, or a spectacle. Life is a stage, after all.

Beyond Mayville, here are a couple more theaters in smaller North Dakota communities, to add to Bakken’s great write-up of Mayville. The Roxy theater is located in Langdon, North Dakota, just north-northwest of the long-since abandoned Nekoma ICBM missile defense concrete pyramid (it would be good to watch “Dr. Strangelove” at the Roxy some day). I snapped a photo of this Roxy in February 2014. It is up and running, having been brought back to life by the community in and around Langdon.

The historic 1949 Walla Walla Theater in Walhalla, North Dakota. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, and the regional arts community is crowd-sourcing funds for its 21st century rehabilitation.

The historic 1949 Walla Walla Theater in Walhalla, North Dakota. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, and the regional arts community is crowd-sourcing funds for its 21st century rehabilitation.

And here is the Walla Walla theater in Walhalla, North Dakota. Built shortly after the end of WWII in 1949, this theater was justly placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. The Gorge Arts & Heritage Council (Facebook page here) is in the midst of crowd-sourcing funds to bring this theater back to life. This is a good idea. If you want to take pocket-book action, click on this link here for more information.

I was thinking today how much I enjoy these old time movie houses, and how the smaller the town, the more I enjoy them. I like the way that old time movie marquee stretches way out over the pedestrian sidewalk, acting as both a visual lure and a way to bring passersby under its influence. It is a much different feeling than when driving by more modern suburban theaters in our hermetically sealed automobiles. In addition to this, the old time theater is added value to any town, at least so the evening outing option isn’t always a default to the local tavern (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you know what I mean). Yes, theater regularly plays out in local taverns. But it’s good to have the option to spend an evening in a defined theater proper.

Downtown Walhalla, North Dakota, with the Walla Walla Theater to the left.

Downtown Walhalla, North Dakota, with the Walla Walla Theater to the left.


Human Puzzles: Peruvian-pan-North Dakota Art

Sculptures by Guillermo Guardia.

Human puzzle sculpture by Guillermo Guardia. Note the sculpture in the backdrop as well.

I just snapped a bunch of photos of Guillermo Guardia’s (the Peruvian-North Dakotan artist, not the Costa Rican football striker) exhibit on display at The Arts Center in downtown Jamestown, North Dakota (the exhibit is sponsored by the North Dakota Art Gallery Association with support from the North Dakota Council on the Arts). Guardia hails from Perú, and did his MFA at the University of North Dakota. In 2009, he started working for the North Dakota Museum of Art as an Artist-in-residence. Guardia’s exhibit will be on display in Jamestown until July 6, 2013.

The pieces, specifically the puzzle-human pieces, got my mental gears cranking. Below is the narrative Guardia put together to accompany these pieces. As you enter the gallery, the narrative is just to your left.

 

 

Guillermo Guardia, “3 Truths / 3 Verdades: Puzzle Pieces”

When I began my Masters of Fine Art degree at the University of North Dakota, I knew I wanted to continue depicting the human figure and using it as my main subject and form of art. After building numerous figures in clay, I concluded I was failing at creating the figure I had envisioned. This was very frustrating. I was not pleased with any of my new works. It left me unsure of what direction to take my artwork. My frustration was compounded by the fact that it was my first time in the United States, and my first time out of Perú. At that time, everything was new for me. I had problems communicating with my peers, as it is different to learn English in a Spanish speaking country than practicing it in the United States. Some days I went home with painful headaches.

Two more human puzzles by Guillermo Guardia.

Two more human puzzles by Guillermo Guardia.

In 2003, I turned my attention to building clay figures that looked as if they were thinking (The Thinker by Rodin was a big influence). I quickly finished my first new figure. The new work looked good, but again, it didn’t match the image I had in mind. I sat in front of it, contemplated for a while, took a carving tool, and began to draw some lines over the surface. Eventually those lines crossed each other and became patterns. It made the figure look as if it was built of individual pieces, becoming the inspiration for my current puzzle piece series. The first figure in this series was filled with these puzzle pieces. This puzzle figure was holding a single piece in his hand as if pondering where it fit or where it came from. Perhaps the image of the puzzle piece came from a childhood memory as I remembered my sister always playing with puzzles, something that was beyond my abilities and patience.

Most of us have felt the sensation of something missing and not knowing what it is. We have felt that uncomfortable feeling of emptiness and are unable to describe it. I don’t believe life is a walk in the park anymore. It is difficult and complex. The puzzle pieces represent those little parts of everyone’s life and shape us as human beings. I never thought of myself as a real artist until 3 years ago. So many things have happened since I arrived in North Dakota making me what I am today.