Author: Jon Erik Haines

DNNR PRTY to release new compilation CD

St. Olaf is well-known for its choral and classical music. But seeing and hearing the recording process for DNNR PRTY’s compilation album made a pretty strong case for the college’s rock and roll chops.

DNNR PRTY pronounced with vowels as “dinner party”, a new student organization devoted to fostering an independent music scene on campus, started recording for their end-of-year compilation album this Interim.

“We want the compilation CD to be a snapshot of the St. Olaf music scene this year,” said Horacio Lopez ’14, chair and founder of DNNR PRTY.

Thirty-six different student bands submitted original songs, recorded mostly on computers and smart phones, to DNNR PRTY. Fourteen bands were then chosen to record with the DNNR PRTY production team.

“It was a little intimidating at first but really a sweet experience,” said Tim Patton ’14, guitarist of Real Talk America, one of the featured bands. “I probably never would have done anything like this if it weren’t for DNNR PRTY.”

With funding from Student Government Association and access to recording equipment from the music department and student-run campus radio station KSTO, student bands were treated to a high-quality recording experience.

“We want to give campus musicians the most professional experience possible, really a step up from just recording in basements,” Lopez said. “No offense to anyone who has ever recorded in a basement.”

To create that professional atmosphere, the DNNR PRTY team transformed Studio A in Skifter Hall into a full-blown recording studio. The space was originally a broadcast venue for the now defunct college radio station WCAL. Now it is used as a recital hall, rehearsal space and organ practice room.

“The best part about this session was the really cool vibes that everyone had,” said John Kronolokken ’16, a DNNR PRTY producer. “I think it was largely due to the room that we were in. It’s a gorgeous space, and it sounds absolutely incredible.”

“It is an incredibly professional recording process for an organization that is just starting up,” said Aleksander Seeman ’16, the manager of DNNR PRTY’s production team.

Seeman and Kronolokken, along with Colin Loynachan ’16 and Christian Wheeler ’16, make up the DNNR PRTY production team. They recorded four groups during one Interim weekend and the rest during second semester.

“When you record four bands in a weekend, you have to react quickly,” Seeman said.

Though negotiations with disc printing companies are ongoing, the plan is to release the album in mid-April. Tentatively, DNNR PRTY plans to print 300 CDs. The sale price is still being discussed.

The idea for DNNR PRTY began last year when Lopez played a show with his punk band at Carleton and was blown away by the reception they got and the atmosphere of support for alternative music on the cross-town campus.

“I knew people were doing cool things here too, but there wasn’t a good outlet for them,” Lopez said.

So, during spring semester last year, Lopez began bringing people together who were as passionate as he is about alternative music.

Now his idea is coming to life before his eyes. The organization was only officially recognized by SGA in late October, but since then DNNR PRTY has hit the ground running. In addition to recording the compilation album, they have hosted a meet-and-greet session and a songwriting forum.

“DNNR PRTY has a two-fold mission. One side is to give campus bands a chance to get their music out there. The other is to build a community,” Lopez said.

The recording process seemed to fulfill both of those objectives. The compilation album will give campus bands more exposure, and the recording itself brought musicians together for a fun-filled weekend.

“Those four hours flew by,” said Abi Enockson ’14, a violist and singer for the folk group Appomattox.

“For three days we’d record starting at 9 a.m. and sometimes work until midnight,” Kronlokken said. “I had such a blast. If that’s not the life, then I don’t know what is.”

hainesj@stolaf.edu

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Apprentices open up about Assemblance

The fifth-year art apprentices just closed a show in Dittmann Center titled “Assemblance of a Whole.” Here is the inside scoop on these artists’ work and their lives.

Gina Gaetz ’13

Many of the art apprentices voiced difficulties they encountered in learning how to market and explain their art in the “real world.” Learning how to talk about her art has been tricky for Gina Gaetz.

“My process is just so intuitive. People always ask me why I made things the way I did … I did it because I thought it looked good, that’s why,” she said.

A “city girl” from Minneapolis, Gaetz had the widest variety of pieces in the show, featuring ceramic platters, hanging ceramic plant pots with live growth and mixed media collages that combined drawings, pictures and thread.

Inspiration from the natural world was the connecting theme that held all of Gaetz’s pieces together. “I’m really drawn to organic shapes and landscapes,” she said.

Anna Carlson ’13

We often associate art with spontaneity, but Anna Carlson describes her creative process as meditative and deliberate: “I’m very Type A in my art. I like doing things that other people don’t have the patience for,” said Carlson, a native of Washington, Conn.

Her works in the art apprentice show are carefully detailed, monochromatic patterns that appear perfect from a distance but reveal quirks and imperfections upon closer examination. They bear influence from an Interim trip Carlson took to Morocco last year where she discovered an interest in math.

“I have become obsessed with geometry. I’m really kicking myself for not paying attention in my math classes,” she said.

Noah Sanders ’13

In the year 2013, Noah Sanders graduated from college, was accepted to the St. Olaf art department’s 5th-year art apprenticeship program and got married.

It is no surprise that his art reflects the clutter of a busy mind. Sanders’s piece in the art apprentice show, titled “Visual Dictionary,” was a checkerboard collage of doodles taken from the margins of his notepads and textbooks.

“This piece was all about repurposing and giving a second chance to these sketches,” he said. “A lot of these are precious to me but no one would ever have seen them.”

Sanders, who grew up in Nashville, Tenn. but is an Ohio native, noted how pulling all these doodles together caused him to notice patterns and repetitions in his work. Religious imagery occupies a particularly noticeable place.

Noah was an active participant in Thursday night bible study at St. Olaf. “Exploring my faith, expressing it … that’s really my underpinning. That’s why I am an artist; that’s my long-term goal as an artist.”

Addie Rosenwinkel ’13

Years ago, Addie Rosenwinkel found a box of tiny, old pictures in a junk store. These photos of strangers have stuck with Rosenwinkel over the years and have found their way into her art. Her pieces in the art apprentice show are blown-up versions of these black and white photographs with a little color added, bringing out features in the pictures like a woman’s polka-dot dress.

“I wanted to take images that seem very familiar and brighten them up,” said Rosenwinkel, who hails from Chicago.

She has played with several different ways to make the pictures into art over the years. One earlier version had her cutting out features of the pictures with a hole-punch.

For the upcoming art apprentice show at the Northfield Arts Guild in April, Rosenwinkel has learned how to make ukuleles and plans to display her newfound skill.

Kara Sajeske ’13

Kara Sajeske, a native of Elmhurst, Ill., contributed work to “Assemblance of a Whole” that featured two projectors beaming kodachrome photos onto a wall. The top set of photos are her own; the bottom set, projected upside-down and underneath the first set to create a reflective effect, are photos taken by her parents in the early 1970s. Her parents were supportive of the idea – Sajeske’s mom even consented to letting Sajeske use a picture of her nude in a bathtub the photo was taken by Sajeske’s father.

Sajeske is drawn to the conceptual side of art. “My creative process begins with coming up with something that interests me and I want to explore,” she said. She then tries to communicate her exploration in a way that appeals to viewers and to her own artistic sensibility.

The art apprentices’ next show is a joint exhibition with the Carleton art department interns at the Northfield Arts Guild. The exhibit runs from April 18 – May 10.

hainesj@stolaf.edu

Photo Credit: MADISON VANG/MANITOU MESSENGER

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Student organizations collaborate for Earth Weeks

The barrage of late snows blanketing the flora on Manitou Heights last week did not stop St. Olaf’s environmental organizations from showing the campus what it means to be green. A group of student organizations held events both on and off the Hill to celebrate Earth Weeks 2013.

Earth Day activities are held all over the world on April 22. Not satisfied with just one day of environmental celebration, St. Olaf students expanded Earth Day into two weeks worth of activities. Events ranged from Phenology Walks with Ole naturalists to speakers focused on environmental topics.

Though the official Earth Day has passed, Earth Weeks’ events will continue until May 1. Campus organizations involved in the Earth Weeks programming included SustainAbilities, Environment-Asia Connections, Environmental Coalition, the Environmental Studies Department and other academic departments, the Student Naturalists, the Clean Plate Campaign, individual students and Transition Northfield.

The variety of organizations involved brought people from all corners of St. Olaf together to stand up for the Earth. SustainAbilities coordinator Sonja Smerud ’14 saw this wide mix of students as a big plus for the cause.

“Environmentalism shouldn’t be limited to the ‘earthy-crunchy-hippie-tree huggers,’ but involve people in a variety of social groups,” Smerud said. In an attempt to extend the reach of Earth Weeks beyond those traditionally concerned with environmental issues, the coordinators made an effort to give Oles a range of opportunities to get involved.

Earth Weeks had a unifying effect on St. Olaf’s relationship with the greater Northfield community as well. Oles collaborated with Carleton students and Northfield residents at events like Carleton’s Earth Day Contra Dance. Many students embraced the celebration of green living on Saturday, April 19 at a Northfield celebration involving mind-opening discussions, food and music.

On the Hill, one of the most visible Earth Weeks events was the Environmental Arts Extravaganza held Thursday, April 17 in the Buntrock Commons Crossroads. Many students were drawn to the sounds of poetry and music as they passed through Crossroads.

The event gave students a chance to take a break from their busy schedules and show off their creative sides by making environmental art with provided supplies. The highlights of the event were appearances by musical groups such as Agnes A Cappella and the Krossmen.

Members of the Poetry House read environmental poems between musical acts. Thomas Churchill ’14, one of the poets involved, said, “It’s cool that so many different groups of students played a part in this event.”

The Bon Appétit staff, guided by Board Manager Randy Clay, also contributed to Earth Weeks with Low-Carbon Diet Day on Monday. Bon Appétit gave out free smoothies and educated students about reducing the carbon footprint of their food choices.

“The smoothies were so good,” Lizzie Carlson ’14 said. Regan Keller ’14 echoed her sentiment, adding, “It was awesome to see Randy teaching students about earth-friendly eating. You could tell he was so passionate about it.”

“Turnout at events thus far has been good,” Smerud said. “One residence hall event had 70 people at it . . . and the Olaf compost event pulled 30 people, which is not bad for a dinner discussion around here.”

Other students attended movie showings to learn more about topics like environmental activism in China and climate change. Despite the many successes, last week’s bizarre weather did affect some Earth Weeks plans.

Environmental Coalition Organizer Kirsten Maier ’13 canceled Monday’s Campus Trash Pickup amidst flurries of snowflakes. Other events had to be moved inside and there were concerns about whether a tree planting that was planned for Friday, April 26 would even be possible with the wet ground.

Those involved with Earth Weeks saw the erratic weather as evidence of the need for increased environmental concern.

“This should be a discussion that is on everyone’s minds. Look at the snow outside! A lot of the extreme weather we’re seeing is caused or made worse by changing global climates,” SustainAbilities representative Christian Graefe ’13 said.

Those interested in learning more about environmental issues should check out the continued Earth Weeks programming this month. More information about environmental organizations at St. Olaf can be found on the St. Olaf Environmental Coalition Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/stolafec?fref=ts.

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Andy Warhol exhibit gives glimpse of a lost New York

In 2008, the Flaten Art Museum here at St. Olaf was one of 80 art institutions to be awarded a number of Polaroid pictures taken by Andy Warhol in the 1970s and 80s. These photographs are now on display, along with photographs by others who were part of Warhol’s scene and one current photographer based in New York City. The exhibit is called Andy Warhol and his Contemporaries: An urban milieu – New York in the 1970s and 1980s, and today. It will be on display until Dec. 9.

The pictures are raw and vulnerable. The photos are all thematically and emotionally colorful though some appear in black and white. The viewer can sense the vibrant, electric atmosphere of the city and the times. The pictures range from tranquil morning-after snapshots to raucous, rosy-cheeked party shots to homoerotic bed scenes. Essential to the pictures is the persona of Warhol and the scene that swirled around him, attracting celebrities, artists and fringe characters of every sort. I found myself imagining the situation that spawned each picture, and could easily picture the inspired Warhol, demanding his subjects to stop what they’re doing so Warhol could capture the aura of a moment.

There is a Polaroid “Big Shot” camera on display in the exhibit, Warhol’s favorite camera and the one used for most of the exhibit’s pictures. The unique nature of the camera, made exclusively for portraits, is central to the aesthetic of the exhibit. The camera has interesting limitations that must have appealed to Warhol: a fixed focus frame that allowed a maximum of two closely entwined people in each shot, flash lighting that consistently overexposes his subjects and a clunky physical appearance. It produced instant snapshots that took about a minute to print. The eccentric mechanics of the camera mirror the wild, short-lived atmosphere of the times and the pictures produced are evidence of that.

The euphoria and unregulated nature of a New York City that no longer exists flashes across these images. Some highlights include a bearded Sylvester Stallone staring despondently out at the viewer; a blurry black-and-white of Madonna and Tom Waits, sharing a joint animatedly a Muxter shot rather than Warhol and two hugging men posing in a tender moment. As an exercise in time-travel, the exhibition does a fantastic job of bringing the viewer into Warhol’s New York City.

The exhibit also features a few portraits by the current New York photographer Amy Elkins. The photos are of shirtless young men placed in front of floral wallpaper, creating a striking juxtaposition. The pictures draw you in and fit well with many of the themes from the older photographs. They are at once vulnerable and defensive, self-assured and insecure. For all of their merits, they have none of the libertine feel of Warhol’s shots and feel much more affected and artificial.

Perhaps the differences between the contemporary photos and those from the 70s and 80s is telling. No matter how hard today’s hipsterized Brooklyn tries, the wild magic of New York City’s past cannot be reproduced. The unregulated, underground New York of a bygone time is no more, but to get a glimpse of what it looked like through the lens of one of its great icons, visit Andy Warhol and His Contemporaries.

hainesj@stolaf.edu

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One year later, message of Occupy Wall Street remains vital

One year has passed since protesters first began gathering at Zuccotti Park in New York City, the most famous site of what came to be known as the Occupy Wall Street movement. Though Occupy Wall Street represents the most well-known of the Occupy protests, the powerful language of the movement has appeared at Occupy gatherings in over 82 countries. Much like the protests that have occurred around the world in the past several tumultuous years, the Occupy movement has faced many difficult questions in the aftermath of its moment in the media spotlight. The bold scope, decentralized leadership and dissolution of the Occupy movement have spurred questions over its intentions, values, consequences and relevancy. Though it is hard to speculate about the varied effects of the Occupy movement, I would argue that the issues raised by the protests are some of the most important of our troubled time.

Despite claims of incoherency by those on the right, there are several issues that are clearly defining for the Occupy movement. Significantly, these issues revolve around the dangerously growing power and influence of the financial industry on governments and the world economy. The fallout of the crisis, when millions of hard-working Americans lost their jobs in large part because of the risky betting of powerful financiers, provided the spark for the protests. The fact that essentially none of these financiers have faced jail time for taking down the world economy with irresponsible behavior should be troublesome to all Americans. Even if it is true that no illegal action took place, shouldn’t that be a cause to rethink our legislation? Do we really want to live in a country where a powerful, wealthy elite dealing with a financial world that is beyond the comprehension of not only most normal Americans, but also of most lawmakers as well, can send the entire economy reeling for years?

Not only have these executives and financiers gotten away with the risky betting, but many of them are also doing very well despite the sufferings of most common Americans. This is due in large part to the massive bank bailouts built on the concept of the largest financial institutions being “too big to fail.” This frightening concept is central to why Occupy Wall Street is so important. The assumption that giant financial institutions are too important to the global economy to allow them to fail is at the heart of modern American corporatism. “Too big to fail” implies that the government will always be obligated to bail out the uber-influential, poorly regulated driving forces of global capitalism. Beyond that, it seems that the free, democratic governments of the world have made it one of their primary concerns that these behemoths run smoothly. The Occupy movement represents a legitimate frustration with the fact that in the face of the many problems exposed by the financial crisis, the government has doubled down on its commitment to the institutions that caused the meltdown in the first place.

In 2011, Time Magazine recognized “The Protester” as its Person of the Year. Around the world, from the Occupy movement to the Arab Spring to the Tea Party, people are taking to the streets in search of an alternative to the monolithic advance of the status quo. Since the fall of 20th-century communism, consumerist cultural capitalism has been the sole world power and has steadily plowed over any opposition. I would argue the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq represent just that. The financial crisis of 2008 exposed the dangerous inconsistencies of this ideology, and throughout the world, people have risen up in various forms to call for a meaningful discussion of these problems. It has become increasingly clear that the powers-that-be have no interest in dealing with these critiques in a constructive manner. Look no further than the petty distractions of the current presidential campaign for evidence of that. If the more recent violent protests in the Middle East are any indication, we have yet to see the end of global unrest.

Given the failure of global leadership, we the people have a responsibility to demand a vital discourse on the questions that will define our futures. If that means taking the discussion to the streets, so be it.

Jon Erik Haines ’14 hainesj@stolaf.edu is from Golden Valley, Minn. He majors in English and philosophy.

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