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Interview With Local Artist Orren Fen

Interview With Local Artist Orren Fen

by Mary Ellen Kaluza Last month the alley debuted a new feature highlighting young artists in Phillips. Within moments of having the idea of a regular featured artist, I knew I had to talk with Orren Fen. I first met Orren a few years ago, in pre-COVID times. I was visiting their home and they showed me a project they were working on: a puppet stage made out of cardboard, maybe 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. I was blown away by the clever design, the creativity, the engineering — both structural and mechanical. Orren explained all the parts, moving and stationary, in great detail. Like I said, I was blown away! Lucky for us, Orren graciously agreed to be interviewed for the alley. How old are you? What grade are you in? Fourteen, and I'm a freshman in high school. Describe your main art form. I focus mostly on puppetry and performance art. What inspired you to take up your art? I grew up two blocks from In the Heart of the Beast Theatre, and participated in the May Day parades since I was two years old. It's always been part of my life. I've also participated in BareBones Halloween Extravaganza since a young age. Where do you get your ideas? I have a lot of random creative ideas that pop up. Sometimes I delve into them, and sometimes I keep them tucked in the corners of my mind. Do you have a mentor or teacher? I grew up with Mark Safford, a puppeteer who has been a mentor to me through BareBones. And Harry Waters, Jr., a person I met through the May Day ceremony, and more recently I have worked with Harry on multiple theater projects. Are there other art forms you want to try? I really enjoy puppetry because it is a very fluid and adaptive art form that involves so many other art forms – painting, sculpting, acting, sewing. What other interests do you have? I'm very interested in costume and set design. I'm also very interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of theater, but puppetry is a very good way to be involved [...]

Interview with Local Artist Noelle

Interview with Local Artist Noelle

By MARY ELLEN KALUZA Late last summer my 19 year old cat died and I was sad. I told my neighbors and their four children about it. They were sad for me. One day the young neighbors came over with something to help cheer me up. They gave me beautiful paintings of things they knew I liked: butterflies, bees, flowers. And fairies. (I had been asked the previous week if I liked fairies. I replied incredulously, “Who doesn't like fairies?!”) Noelle and her siblings were taking art classes online at the time – a COVID inspired pastime. Besides being very touched by their kindness, I was immensely impressed with the paintings, which then inspired this new feature in the alley highlighting young artists in our Phillips Community. Noelle's creations that were gifted to me are featured here. I recently sat down with Noelle at her home to ask her about her art and herself. And, I had the great fortune to see several more of Noelle's paintings while we talked – all beautiful! How old are you, Noelle? What grade are you in? I'm eight years old and in 2nd grade. Describe your art? What do you like to do primarily? I usually do paintings and sometimes drawings. What inspired you to start painting and drawing? Frida Kahlo, and our friend Mac from church. He's an artist who does comics and illustrates them. Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist . How did you learn about her? My dad is from Mexico, maybe from him. Or, a book at my school Emerson. What do you like about Frida Kahlo or her painting? I like that she's Mexican. And she drew herself in a mirror. You and your family have traveled to Mexico. Have you visited Frida Kahlo's home, the Blue House, la Casa Azul? Not yet. I want to go. Maybe in a couple of years. Do you have a mentor or teacher? Miss Patty. Sometimes on video and sometimes on Zoom. She has a website. Where do you get your ideas? From around my house – like that plant , the ukuleles , flowers, things [...]

Challenging Responsibility part two

Interview with Amy Koehnen of Ebenezer Senior Living, Part Two By DWIGHT HOBBES Ebenezer holds fast against COVID-19, operating its business of caring for people with exactly that – care. The alley concludes its conversation with Amy Koehnen, Minneapolis Campus Administrator. You have your hands at the wheel. I personally believe in being professionally hands-on. Early on, I went to each site, seven days a week. I keep my fingers in it. No sooner did things become reasonably manageable than the Omicron variant arrived. How do you cope with the curve balls this virus throws us? We made sure staff were vaccinated or given an approved accommodation. Otherwise they couldn’t be employed at Ebenezer sites. Every weekday at 9, 9:30 we do calls to pass along information, ask questions. February 24, the Minneapolis rescinded mask requirements. Except for city owned or managed buildings. Where did that leave Ebenezer? March 13, Governor Tim Walz declared a state of emergency. The Department of Motor Vehicles was open, the day before, when my son got his driver’s license, it was terrible. Human beings were coughing all over each other. Ebenezer had our assisted living and nursing homes shut and lock their doors. Signs said, “No visitors.” It made you want to cry. I can’t count the twists and turns, the different directives we were given. Between the Minnesota Department of Health, Center for Disease Control, Center for Medicaid and Medicare, World Health Organization we have many bosses who tell us what to do. The Ebenezer leadership team gathered all that information, giving it to us and my job was to give it to the staff. Speaking of leadership, it seems corporation CEO isn’t just a high placed suit, but rather cares about people. Absolutely. The mission we have is not just written on paper. John Lundberg and the leadership team genuinely emulate that. Which flows down to the people I work with. Dignity, compassion, innovation. [...]

Challenging Responsibility

Interview with Amy Koehnen of Ebenezer Senior Living, Part One Editors note: When this article was first published online we incorrectly stated that if you are unvaccinated you can work at Ebenezer. This error has been corrected. By DWIGHT HOBBES The corona virus contagion threw South Minneapolis businesses for a loop.  Those that haven’t closed are fighting to hold on.  On top of which the highly contagious Omicron variant continues spreading across the country, eclipsing those fueled by the Delta variant over last summer: businesses are  far from full strength.  "There are many places in the country where hospitalizations now are increasing," Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN in December.  As of January, the rate of infections in Hennepin County is “very high”, according to the New York Times. Ebenezer shoulders the unenviable responsibility to not only stay in business – after all, the bottom line is the bottom line – but continue providing invaluable human services, for tenants and residents the most  highly at risk Ebenezer Park Apartments and Ebenezer Tower Apartments (senior housing), Ebenezer Loren On Park (assisted living) and Ebenezer Care Center (nursing home). As of January 6, Ebenezer complies with the City of Minneapolis’ reinstated mask mandate.  On top of which, if you’re not vaccinated, you can't work at Ebenezer.  Amy Koehnen, Minneapolis Campus Administrator spoke with The Alley about meeting the challenges these past couple years. Yours is no easy job. It isn’t. But, I have  experience. Twenty-seven years in the profession, doing this type of work. For good measure, you oversee a fifth site. The University of Minnesota Transitional Care Unit. It is on the west bank and is connected to the Acute Rehab also at the University of Minnesota. It is licensed as a skilled nursing facility so I am the administrator of record. Although they do [...]

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