Spotlight February 2015

<![CDATA[Spotlight February 2015: Community Arts, Oil Effects, & Science!]]> Spotlight February 2015: Community Arts, Oil Effects, & Science!
News, Events, Interviews, and More!
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February 2015
Wu Chen's Notes

Welcome back!

It’s been a busy month. Whether you’re looking for career seminars on Arts Advocacy Day or technical workshops at the Guthrie, we’ve got a wide variety of events coming up so be sure to check out our calendar!

This month’s issue of Spotlight features a redesigned format, and an incredible look inside the mind of lighting designer Barry Browning as he explains how he did this:

I also chat with local props designer Terri Ristow, who is also a chemical engineer, about science and art and Chris Lutter tells us a bit about community-oriented art.

Next month, look forward to a fascinating exchange between sound designer Katharine Horowitz and costume designer Andrea Gross about the intersection of their disciplines and how Andrea’s process and design influenced Katharine’s work in Romeo and Juliet at Park Square Theater.

Our first Meet and Greet at Republic was a great success and a lovely time. We hope you’ll join us again on Monday, February 9th at Merlin’s Rest!
Wu Chen Khoo
Tech Tools co-founder and Operations Director


Tech Tools Calendar of Events
Come enjoy a drink with TTT's instructors and other industry professionals.
RSVP via our Facebook Event or email

Local lighting designer & Guthrie Lighting Supervisor Tom Mays
Arts Advocacy Day event presented in collaboration with the Minnesota Theater Alliance

Production Stage Managers Jenny Friend (CTC) & Tiffany Orr (Latte Da)
Arts Advocacy Day event presented in collaboration with the Minnesota Theater Alliance

Get proper and official certification for Scissors and Boom lift operation.
Always be legally allowed to operate lifts!

Tuesday, February 24th - Hearts and Crafts
7:30pm at the Playwright Center
Five teams of one designer + one playwright present 10 minute plays.
See what happens when a designer's specialty drives the story!

Visit our Events Calendar for March & April, too!

Not seeing something you'd like TTT to offer? Let us know HERE!

Arts & Sciences

An Interview with Terri Ristow
Terri Ristow is a local props designer. Having trained as a chemical engineer, Terri has worked for 3M and Boston Scientific as an analytical chemist working in research. She’s relatively new to working primarily in the theater, having started in 2009 after being laid off as a result of the economic downturn.

Wu Chen: Why do you think there’s this difference between the arts and the science communities?

Terri Ristow: That’s an old question and I don’t know if anyone has answered that one. It could be that artists are used to living on less and working more with people. Science is more of a, here is your day job and here is your paycheck. It’s a regular field and it’s rather competitive so sometimes people are competing a lot over jobs or getting their name out there in a science way. I guess I don’t really have a really good answer for that, I only have my theories...


Oil Show: Lighting Love, Janis

Article by Barry Browning, lighting designer

When asked to design the lighting for the Ordway's production of Love, Janis, I knew I would have to recreate the iconic 1960s “oil effect.” I was aware that an overhead projector was involved in producing the effect, but there had to be more to the story - pictures from that period showed images that were too bright to be produced solely by a typical projector.

While researching psychedelic light shows, I found a treasure trove of information...


Community Art & Determining Value

An Interview with Chris Lutter

Chris Lutter, designer, inventor, theater-maker, and community educator, sat down with Wu Chen and gave insights to his background and focus on community arts while creating works that revolve around the design, construction, and performance of puppets, masks, props, costumes, unique theatrical inventions, kinetic-sets, and sculptural installations. 

"A lot of the projects I did in Wisconsin and on Madeline Island and throughout the state in the early days, were done in open air tents out in parks. Public space where people just come walking through. Kids will come through on their bikes and suddenly the next day, they’re totally hooked. They’re building a beast or something to join into the whole artistic fray."

But the discussion didn't stop there as they go on to tackle the sometimes delicate topic of worth and how to put a dollar value on art and artist's time...

"Being freelance is particularly difficult because one has to manage their own security for retirement, for insurance, and all that stuff. So I’m not afraid to give people sticker shock when it comes to building something for them or designing something. It’s taken many years to learn how to price things fairly for freelance, but I’m happy to help educate people about the real cost of work."

Read the interview and listen to the full audio HERE!

Wu Chen Recommends...

Last month, I mentioned that of the SciShow programming, my favourite was the Great Minds series. This month I want to recommend the BBC podcast In Our Time. Episodes run around 45 minutes, and are audio-only, making them great companions when sorting tools or benching lights.

In Our Time puts out weekly episodes on different topics and is hosted by Melvyn Bragg with a couple of guest experts. Episodes on Avicenna, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Euler’s Number, the Bluestockings and The Talmud all took place over a short time, so there’s plenty of variety.
Students listen closely as Guthrie Staff Carpenters Nate Saul and Molly Diers prepare them for a MIG welding workshop. Safety first!
All the photos used in this publication are copyrighted to Farrington Starnes and used with permission.
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and please feel free to share this newsletter with your friends!
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