The Postcards crew was in Montevideo yesterday capturing a story on American Surplus & Manufacturing in Montevideo, better known as the makers of Ice Castle fish houses. Stay tuned later in the season to hear about how this popular brand is revolutionizing fishing.
The next installment of Pioneer Public Television's Postcards program to be aired at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday February 23rd will trace the effort of a Willmar native to make a crime thriller movie in his home county, explore how a community based dinner theatre thrives in the village of Barrett, (pop.408) and document how one man, with a passion for history and community, created a museum in Milan, Minnesota (pop. 361). The 30 minute episode will be repeated on Monday, February 24th at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday, February 27th at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after the Febraury 23rd broadcast through the station’s web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
Nicholas Engan is the subject of the first Postcards segment which explores the story behind the making of his yet to be released feature film “Kandiyohi” which was shot in various locations in western Minnesota in 2009. The film, as Engan describes it, is “a character study and a thriller” centered on the plight of three childhood friends, a robbery gone wrong and a ruthless, corrupt sheriff out for revenge. Postcards viewers will be treated to scenes from the film’s trailer which were filmed at the Cenex gas station in Clara City, lonesome roadside locations in Kandiyohi County and the Horseshoe Bar in Lake Lillian. “Making independent, personal films is terrible, beautiful and wonderful all at the same time,” says Engan.
The next segment captures the excitement surrounding the final performance of Tennessee Williams “The Glass Menagerie” by the Prairie Wind Players in Barrett, Minnesota. Director Twig Webster shares his excitement about the performance and his sorrow that after two months of intense practice, the show must come to an end. “We’ve become a family,” he says. This is the way it has been for the past 35 years as the company has grown to include more than 150 members, drawing a cast of volunteers and patrons from a 100 mile radius around Barrett. “We’ve found that people like to get dressed up and have a nice catered meal,” said executive director Christy Johnson. “I am proud of the quality and that I can be a part of this unique community theatre,” she added.
The episode concludes with a feature on Billy Thompson and the Arv Hus Museum in Milan. Thompson is the 3rd generation to work out of the family building on Main Street in Milan. “Billy,” as he is known by the locals, tells the story about how his father started the museum out of his appliance and electrical shop back in 1983, but it wasn’t until Billy retired in 1993 that he began in earnest to create the tourist destination Milan is known for today. With more than 400 photographs, dozens of antique radios and exceptionally well preserved vestiges of Milan’s history, the Milan Arv Hus Museum is truly one of a kind. “The good Lord put an idea into my head and from there it went to my heart and from there to my hands,” said Thompson as he described the process of creating the museum over the past several years. “I want people to know about our forefathers.” he added. “The past always forms the future.”
When Aaslak Thompson and his fellow Norwegian immigrants first staked their claim in Milan in the 1870's they could not imagine that one day their town would become home to immigrants from the South Pacific islands of Micronesia. But Milan (pop. 353) is a community that is continually reinventing itself, as all communities must do in order to survive. The Micronesian experience in this predominantly Norwegian community of western Minnesota is the subject of a special 30 minute episode of Pioneer Public TV's popular Postcards program to be aired on Sunday, February 16 at 7:00 p.m. The episode will be repeated on Monday, February 17 at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after the premiere broadcast through the station's web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
The journey from Micronesia to Milan began in the early 1980's when Erik Thompson of Milan lived on the island of Chuuk as part of a stint in the Peace Corps. Thompson kept in touch with his host family on the island over the years and eventually his host brother from Chuuk asked if he could move to Milan and bring his family. Erik made the arrangements and eventually one family led to another with more and more relatives coming to join them. Today more than 20% of Milan's population is Micronesian and they are having an impact. "They've brought life to the community," says Thompson.
The episode is full of scenes of colorful social events and parties organized by the Chuukese people at the Milan Community Center. The program features touching moments of women singing and working together. "Music and dancing is a big thing in our lives and the elder people teach the younger ones from generation to generation," says teenager Christa Herman who is interviewed in the documentary. "We don't want to forget how to do those things."
The program also documents a community gardening and food processing experiment carried out by the community in the summer of 2013. Bob Ryan of Olivia talks about how he secured a grant to set up and organize the project which involved the entire community in an exploration of food self sufficiency. "It has been a very rewarding experience," said Ryan.
This special Postcards production was directed by Pioneer Public Television's award winning producer Dana Johnson. Johnson worked over the course of a year to collect the footage used in the final program. Johnson specializes in stories about how diverse people define what "home" means to them. Over the past few years she has produced specials about the Somali culture in Willmar, about young musicians who grew up in western Minnesota who find success in the big city and now this Micronesians in Milan piece. Johnson is currently working on a documentary about Haitian children who are adopted by western Minnesota families which will air in May of 2014.
Love of place is what makes a small town and learning how to dance, sing, celebrate and watch movies together gets us through the cold days and the isolation -- this is the take away from the upcoming episode of Pioneer Public Television's Postcards program which airs on Sunday, February 9th at 7:00 p.m. The city of Granite Falls' experience with outdoor walking theater productions, the community of Madison's story of how they saved and renovated the Grand Movie Theater, and a window into the life of a small town dance instructor are all contained in this 30 minute episode which will be repeated on Monday, February 10th at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday, February 13th at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after February 9th through the station's web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
The episode begins with a feature on PlaceBase Productions -- a new kind of theatre company led by Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord. The two artists talk about their process of going into a town and collecting stories and writing an original play based on those stories. They then take the sidewalks and buildings of the community and turn them into a stage where the play is performed by local actors. "This process is transformational," said Scott Tedrick, the local newspaper editor who also acted in the three plays staged by PlaceBase Productions in Granite Falls over the past few years. "Our intent is to use theatre to remind communities of what they have," says Hanson. "Our goal is community revitalization."
The next segment of the program tells the history of the Grand Theater in Madison, Minnesota. Long time community champion Maynard Meyer, the owner and operator of KLQP FM, tells the story of how the original theater burnt down and was restored, only to fall into decline. However, The Grand was recently revitalized through the contributions of many volunteers and the city government. Several theater goers are interviewed in the episode including Molly Hacker, Stan Bjorgan and Charlie and JT Ulstad. "The Grand Theater is really supported by the community -- it is a gathering place for all of us and it gives something for the kids to do," says Meyer.
The love of dancing and how someone can turn a passion into a career is the subject of the final story about Sara Konsbruck of Morris, Minnesota. Konsbruck gave up a career as a school counselor to teach dance to young girls and to lead Zumba and other fitness classes to adults in the community. She choreographs many of her own routines and serves as a guest choreographer for University of Minnesota Morris Dance Ensemble productions. Konsbruck displays her grace, poise and determined work ethic in the program. "I like being busy," said Konsbruck with a laugh. "I love teaching and seeing people leave the studio with a big smile on their face," she adds.
Postcards viewers will also be treated to a performance of an original song by Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers at the Riversong Music Festival that is held every July in Hutchinson. The episode concludes with a performance by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame as he sings the song "It's Magic."
Alexandria's Radio Plays, Luverne's Drive-in Theater and Ortonville "Couch Culture" to be featured on Postcards February 2nd
One thing you can say about the western and southern edges of Minnesota is that the people here have learned how to make their own fun. This cultural trait shines through on the upcoming episode of Pioneer Public Television's Postcards program to be aired onSunday Feb 2, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.. Through short stories about a radio theatre troupe in Alexandria, a late blooming painter in Ortonville and a historic drive-in movie theater in Luverne, Postcards highlights how the residents of the region have built unique communities around passionate individuals with vision and talent. The 30 minute episode will be repeated on Monday, February 3 at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday, February 6 at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after February 3 through the station's web site:www.pioneer.org.
The episode begins with a story about how the Lakes Area Theatre (LAT) of Alexandria got in the business of producing radio dramas for a growing network of 16 radio stations. LAT's artistic director Anne Hermes credits Mike Roers for "planting the seed of the idea which marinated and started to grow" into a troupe of 150 actors who participate in the radio play productions, which are recorded in front of live audiences. "We are doing this because we love production work and we love acting," says Hermes. Author Amelia Dellos of Chicago is also featured in the story as she talks about her experience of translating her novel "Courting Bertha -- Love Under Fire" into a radio play. "There is something within all of us that loves the spoken word, " says Dellos.
Artist Deb Larson of Ortonville is the subject of the next segment of this Postcardsepisode which explores her paintings featuring local residents sitting on couches, surrounded by items of personal importance. Larson studied painting at the University of Minnesota Morris as a second career after raising her children and though many of her paintings feature landscapes and wildlife, her real passion lies in painting people. Postcardsfeatures a gallery opening of Larson's "couch culture" paintings at the Java Jules coffee shop in Ortonville where many local residents discussed Larson's work, including Dan and Maureen Stores and Edie Barrett. "I love being part of an arts community," says Larson. "For me, painting is a way of communicating, a way of being and it is very freeing."
The final story is about the famous Verne Theater in Luverne Minnesota. The original owner and founder of the theater, Walter Deutsch is interviewed about the unorthodox promotion strategies he used to get people to come to the theater in the early days, which included placing canoe based signage on top of his family car to promote the movieDeliverance. The current owner, Glenn Burmeister talks about how he remodeled and invested in the theater where Deutsch left off; constructing new buildings, concession stands and a sound system. Today the Verne theater is one of the few drive-in theaters left in the state and families come from miles around to watch movies during the warmer months. "I love the people who come and I take pride in being able to offer a unique and affordable family fun experience for the region," Burmeister said.
Over the past few years, Minnesota has sent a fair share of contestants to compete on the popular Norwegian Television program “Alt for Norge” (All for Norway) and Pioneer Public TV will be sharing some of their stories on two upcoming episodes of the Postcards weekly art, history and culture program to be broadcast on successive Sundays, January 19 & 26 at 7:00 p.m. The 30 minute episodes will be repeated on Monday, January 20th and January 27th at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday, January 23rd and January 30th at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after Janauary 20th through the station’s web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
Deb Breberg, an insurance agent from Dawson, Grant Aaseng a minister from Shalom Lutheran Church in Alexandria and Amy Hesteness, an Early Childhood professional from Moorhead are all featured in the two episodes. The Pioneer Postcards production crew visited each contestant in their hometown and captured their stories about being chosen for the award winning Alt for Norge which was voted Norway’s best reality show in 2011 and 2012.
Locally produced footage is intermingled with clips from the actual program shot on location in Norway where western Minnesota residents are shown taking part in challenges and activities designed to teach them more about Norwegian heritage and culture. Joseph Ruud, a student and football player at the University of Minnesota Morris, also appears in the program as a contestant.
The contestants must be of Norwegian descent and the reality show documents how they travel throughout the country and compete in a variety of events for the opportunity to meet with distant relatives descended from family members who have remained in Norway.
Breberg was given the name “Sexy Lefse” by the Alt for Norge producers, much to her chagrin. Aaseng displays his skills as a canoeist and fire starter in one of the contests. Hesteness is moved to tears when she is shown the village where her ancestors came from in the wake of a devastating fire in 1836.
“It is really captivating television,” stated Postcards Senior Producer Dana Johnson. “It is fascinating to see how much we can learn about our own culture by watching our friends and neighbors delve into this Norwegian adventure,” she added.
Postcards is funded by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. Producers for the program are Andrea Singleton and Dana Johnson; videographers and editors are Kristofor Gieske and Ben Dempcy. Business sponsors for Postcards include Shalom Hill Farm, the Arrowwood Resort, Alexandria Hotel & Hospitality, Steffl Drilling and Pump and the Senior Perspectives newspaper.
On , Pioneer Public Television will air the fourth installment of the fifth season of Postcards -- a weekly regional art, culture and history program. The episode will feature stories about an internationally recognized contemporary artist living in Spicer, a highly regarded violin maker and repairer in Benson, an up and coming filmmaker in Montevideo and a state wide Rural Arts and Culture Summit in Morris. The 30 minute episode will be repeated on and on The program will also be available for online viewing after through the station's web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
Brian David Downs is the subject of the first segment of the Postcards program. Downs is a contemporary artist with national clients living in the small town of Spicer, MN (pop: 1,180). Downs has a BFA Cum Laude from St. Cloud State University and has made his mark designing album covers and posters for bands such as Daniel Johnston and Tapes 'n Tapes. According to Downs, "I make a lot of art here in Spicer. It's a bit quieter out here. I have about a million ideas a second in my brain so having just the quietness just allows me to sit in my head a bit and sift through ideas."
The second segment features Ken Amundson a "luthier" (maker of stringed instruments) who has made a name for himself as a fine instrument builder and now has returned to set up shop in his home town of Benson. Amundson shares stories about the famous musicians he has assisted over the years, but believes that it's the average person who walks through his door who makes his job meaningful. "There's an awful lot of Benson that was here when I was 14 in 1959 that I still love very, very much, " Amundson says. "It's the closeness of the community and how everybody knows you and respects you," he continues. "I can say with a real good feeling in my heart, I have come home."
The third story of the program is about filmmaker Sam Hathaway of Montevideo. Hathaway has a dream of making a film that he has written and he has created a film promo to showcase his vision. A portion of that promo will be shown in this segment of Postcards. "The promo was all filmed in southwestern Minnesota using local artists to create props, local letterpress, A to Z Letterpress in Montevideo, a local wood artisan, and so it was just a great collaborative effort with the community," Hathaway says.
The episode wraps up with a short story about the Rural Arts and Culture Summit hosted by the Center for Small Towns on the University of Minnesota Campus in June 2013. The Summit brought together hundreds of artists and art administrators from throughout the Upper Midwest to share stories about ways that the arts are serving to revitalize small towns.
On Sunday, December 29 at 7:00 p.m Pioneer Public Television will air the third installment of the fifth season of Postcards -- a weekly regional art, culture and history program. The episode will feature stories about the Historic State Theater in Windom, Minnesota, the Worthington International Festival and the Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra. The 30 minute episode will be repeated on Monday, Dec. 30th at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday, January 2nd at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after December 29th through the station's web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
The episode begins with a story about the revitalization of the Historic State Theater in Windom. For the past several years, volunteers have been working to raise money to restore the historic marquee and the treasured building, which serves as a social hub for the community. Buckwheat Johnson, President of Windom State Theater Inc. is featured on the program as he recalls receiving generous donations from people all over Minnesota to help the theater make the conversion to digital projection. "We're just totally blown away," Johnson says. "We had some donations, some local people, some businesses that helped with this and to get two checks from the cities from people who have no real connection with Windom let alone the theater, we were just amazed they would do that."
The Postcards show continues with a segment featuring the Worthington International Festival-- an annual event taking place each summer in downtown Worthington with a mission to promote acceptance of individual differences and foster relationships between the many ethnic groups that call Worthington home. The story features Worthington resident MayLary Htoo from Burma. "We have a lot of refugees coming from many different countries. So Worthington is colorful and culture-full," says Htoo.
The final segment of the upcoming Postcards episode tells the story of the outgoing director of the Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra, Steven Eckblad. Eckblad was only one of four directors that the Willmar Orchestra has had in its 60 year history. Through interviews and footage from a concert held in May 2013, Postcards pays a tribute to the much beloved Eckblad. "I joke with the orchestra that conductors and ministers shouldn't stay longer than ten years," Eckblad said. "But, it's time for somebody else."
On Sunday, December 22 at 7:00 p.m Pioneer Public Television will air the second installment of the fifth season of Postcards a weekly regional art, culture and history program. The episode will feature stories about the Prospect House in Battle Lake, the Morris Theater Cooperative and nationally recognized artist Marcella Rose of Pelican Rapids. The 30 minute episode will be repeated on Monday, Dec. 23rd at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday, Dec. 26 at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after December 22nd through the station’s web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
The episode begins with a story about the Prospect House in Battle Lake as told by Jay Johnson, the descendent of the original builder of the house, civil war veteran “Cap” Colehour. The Prospect House was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places and features a Civil War museum containing thousand of artifacts. Describing years spent picking through his family’s artifacts Johnson said: “There’s always a little gold nugget in there somewhere and it just keeps you going and going and going. It’s like a giant picture puzzle with pieces missing all over the place that you keep finding and say ‘I got another one! I know where this goes’."
The second segment of the episode features a story about how the community of Morris formed a cooperative to save, remodel and operate the Morris Theater. According to David Ericksen, a professor at the U of M Morris who serves on the board of the Theater Cooperative: “This is a really fun building for a town like this and it was one I wanted to keep going because I want the movies in town and I’m willing to do my bit to help out. It’s fun!"
The final segment of the episode features nationally recognized artist Marcella Rose of Pelican Rapids. Rose is representative of a growing number of professionals who are returning from accomplished careers elsewhere to their roots growing up on the prairies of western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. According to Rose: "When I’m painting I don’t hear, see, feel anything else. I’m just there and I believe that that is a connection with the divine. I would like for everyone to have that same experience and find their own path, their own excitement, their own passion."
On Sunday, December 15th at 7:00 p.m Pioneer Public Television will premiere the fifth season of Postcards a weekly regional art, culture and history program. The first episode will feature artists that were chosen to display their work at the Horizontal Grandeur Fine Art exhibition that was held this past July at the Stevens County Historical Society in the historic 1905 Carnegie Library in Morris, Minnesota. The 30 minute episode will be repeated on Monday Dec. 16th at 1:30 p.m. and on Thursday Dec. 19 at 7:00 p.m. The program will also be available for online viewing after December 16th through the station’s web site: www.pioneer.org/postcards.
The season premiere of Postcards begins with a feature story on the work of Hancock-based artist Della Conroy. Conroy is a prolific and awardwinning western Minnesota artist and musician specializing in watercolors, oil on canvas, pastels and several other mediums. She has a painting studio in Hancock that is open to the public where she is accompanied daily by her parakeet Whistler who makes a cameo appearance in the program. According to Conroy: “Everyone has talent, but it takes practice to develop it.”
The second portion of the Postcards premiere features the photography of Sylke Boyd. Boyd is an associate professor of physics at the University of Minnesota, Morris who specializes in the field of Atmospheric Physics. Her scientific profession blends with her artistic interest in nature photography. The Postcards episode features an array of intriguingly beautiful photos taken by Boyd with a simple point and shoot camera. According to Boyd: “It helps to just experiment. It doesn't take long to take a few pictures every day.”
The final segment explores the artwork of Mary Jo Wentz of Battle Lake. Wentz is a retired elementary school teacher and curriculum developer who is now emerging as a fiber artist, painter and photographer. “Postcards” documents her intriguing stepbystep process to create her fiber baskets. According to Wentz: “Life is fun.”
Pioneer intends to produce and air 20 episodes of Postcards for the 2013-2014 season. The program is funded by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. Producers for the program are Andrea Singleton and Dana Johnson videographers and editors are Kristofor Gieske and Ben Dempcy.