Friday, November 27, 2009

Nutcracker Ballet Partial Dress Rehearsal

Liora Reshef, 21, and fellow dancers warm up backstage before performing in a partial dress rehearsal Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at McCaw Hall. The Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker will run from Nov. 27 until Dec. 30.

Within a dimly-lit backstage, dancers prepare to perform in the partial dress rehearsal.

Maggie Mullin, 20, bobby-pins her hat to her hair before dancing.

A ballet dancer moves from off to on-stage during the program.

Shamber Goldstein, 12, and members of the tan infantry, prepare backstage before dancing

At the end of the Act 1, dancers perform in the snowflake scene, seen backstage, during a partial dress rehearsal

Jim Gable, who works in props, sweeps up the fake snow after the snowflake scene during a partial dress rehearsal at McCaw Hall.

Dancers wait for their time onstage in the wings of McCaw Hall.

Mice costumes are stored backstage in McCaw Hall during the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker. The sets and costumes were designed by Maurice Sendak.

Laura Gilbreath, as the Peacock, watches the performance behind the curtain at a partial dress rehearsal of the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker.

The peacock dances during an evening dress rehearsal of the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker.

Young performers watch other dancers during an evening dress rehearsal of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker.

Dancers leave the wings of the backstage.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Backstage Red

One of the cast members of Seattle Semi-Pro applies her lipstick in the basement of a Capitol Hill club before the show.
Earlier this year, I photographed the Seattle Semi-Pro wrestlers on the closing night of their show circut. For several years, they performed in Capitol Hill circles, creating a small, but dedicated cult following. A disgruntled banana (a former wrestler upset with the troupe) eventually called the state's Department of Licensing. The DOL ruled the wrestlers were defined under "sports entertainment," and were subject to safety regulations, high fees and needed medical personnel at the shows. Seattle Semi-Pro argued they were not "real" wrestlers, but "fight-cabaret," more theater than athletics. Will the band of wrestlers return in another form? Recently I heard it might resurrect in another form, but time will tell.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wheat Harvest Blossoms

Earlier this autumn, The Seattle Times sent business reporter Melissa Allison and I to a small town outside of Spokane, Washington for an article about our state's wheat farmers.

Fred Fleming's wheat farm and 32 other Pacific Northwest farms banded together a few years ago, calling themselves Shepherd's Grain, to capitalize on the growing interest in locally produced food.

They market their flour directly to area bakeries and others, bypassing the global commodity market's unpredictable prices.

The Shepard's Grain farmers practice no-till farming, meaning they don't plow to kill weeds and aerate the soil. They plant on top of stubble from the last harvest, saving tractor fuel and giving the topsoil something to hold onto when the rains come.

Ever tasted one of Cupcake Royal's little frosted wonders? They're made with Shepard's Grain wheat. Familiar with Hot Lips Pizza in Portland? They were Shepard's Grain first customer.

For a Wyoming girl, this kind of assignment is a small slice of heaven. The rural towns east of the Cascades remind me of home. The pace is a little slower. The horizon stretches for miles on every side. Light is bright. The land is arid. The farmers are kind. I am able to breathe a little deeper.

Garrett Ziebell, 19, helps unload wheat during the harvest this month at E&F Farm, owned by Fred Fleming, near Reardan in Lincoln County. Fleming helped start Shepherd's Grain, an alliance of Pacific Northwest farmers who practice sustainable farming.

A road cuts through the countryside of wheat farms near Reardan, Washington.

Wheat is transferred to the silos at Nollmeyer Farm.

Garrett Ziebell, 19, rests during the wheat harvest at Fred Fleming's E&F Farm near Reardan, Wash.

Jim Nollmeyer walks toward a combine while harvesting near Reardan, Washinton. Nollmeyer changed to sustainable farming after witnessing the soil erosion caused by conventional farming methods.

Wheat fields are pictured at E&F Farm near Reardan, Wash.

Clifford Abell, 19, helps unload the wheat from the transport trucks near Reardan, Washington.

Soft White Spring wheat, a class of wheat, pours into a bed of a transport truck near Reardan, Wash.

Wheat fields can be seen out the windows of an abandoned farm house near Reardan, Wash.

Connor Palmen, 5, plays at Fred Fleming's E&F wheat farm during a dinner break in the fields near Reardan, Wash. His stepfather Jason Echelbarger, will likely take on the next generation of wheat farming at E&F Farm.

A truck rumbles down the road, transporting wheat from the combines to the storage facilities during harvest near Reardan, Wash.

Jim Nollmeyer, a longtime wheat farmer, climbs into a combine.

Click here, to read Melissa's story on The Seattle Times' website.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Northern Arizona

Grey Mountain, artwork by Chip Thomas

Copyright/Chip Thomas

Chip Thomas, a self-taught photographer and a long-time physician on the Navajo Reservation, has been documenting rural Arizona with his camera for more than a dozen years.

Thomas’ interest in guerrilla and public art sparked during his sabbatical to Brazil earlier this year.

When he returned from the trip, he debated how to introduce street art to an indigenous culture with little tradition in public art.

Since last June — Thomas and a few friends have been wheat-pasting huge, photocopied, printmaking prints and photographs of Navajo iconography. They attached them to old buildings and water tanks.

Now, in quasi-public spaces you can see elders, code talkers, sheep, corn and coyotes. There are images of a wedding, bronc buster, and, even peyote flowers in bloom.

During a recent visit to Flagstaff, photographer Gary O’Brien invited me on a drive to Grey Mountain to see Thomas’ artwork. O'Brien, with the Charlotte Observe, creates amazing panoramic photo composites. (Below, there is a link to his work.)

To see more of Chip Thomas’ photos and Navajo guerilla art:
Bitter Springs: Time lapse:
Gary O’Brien:

Grey Mountain, Sheep and Photographer Gary O'Brien

Grey Mountain

Wupatki, looking towards the Painted Desert.


Returning to Flagstaff and to NAU feels like coming home. For a few days, I was invited to help with Peter Schwepker's photojournalism classes and their homecoming project. For me, that's a huge honor. Peter has been the heart and soul of NAU's photo-j program. And, without a doubt, he's the reason why I'm a photographer today.

He's the type of professor that will stay up helping his students until the wee hours the morning. He will write his students dozens of letters of recommendation. He believes documentary photojournalism is done with the heart, as much as the eyes. There are many of us grads who are thankful for his efforts.

Highway 89, hills.

Wupatki, brush.

San Francisco Mountains, looking south.
All images copyright Erika Schultz or The Seattle Times