Artsmakers | AspenTimes.com

Artsmakers

Stewart Oksenhorn

"Rose with Hand Gesture," a silver gelatin print, is part of Cliff Mohwinkel's new photography series, "Cut Flowers," showing at Mohwinkel Fine Art. (Courtesy Cliff Mohwinkel)

Like any landscape photographer, Cliff Mohwinkel has spent plenty of time revealing the beauty of flowers. But with his latest series of images, the Aspenite is looking largely at the inner beauty of roses, tulips and lisanthiuses.With Edward Weston’s images of halved cabbages in mind, but otherwise simply musing outside the box, Mohwinkel took scissors – or some similar implement – to a gift bouquet of flowers last July. Cutting the flowers, Mohwinkel saw another dimension of beauty and meaning.”They’re revealing. You can find things in a cut flower you’d never see otherwise,” said Mohwinkel. “The symmetry is amazing. There’s fine line detail, versus the usual soft edges of flowers.”

“Cut Flowers,” Mohwinkel’s series of large-format silver gelatin prints is on display at Mohwinkel Fine Art, a gallery/studio at 309 C Airport Business Center. The show also includes flower-oriented photographs and paintings by Kay Hanna, Judy Hill, Mary Russel, Lee Shapiro, Georgeann Waggaman, Madelyn Wolke and Elle Gould.Mohwinkel’s photographs are uncommonly effective, showing shapes and designs not typically seen in floral images. Particularly attractive are the way certain photographs suggest human movement, even ballet. And some viewers have focused on another aspect of the work not usually seen in flowers.”Some of the reactions are disturbed. Because these are sex parts that I’m showing,” said Mohwinkel, who had a greenhouse business at the age of 10.Mohwinkel won’t reveal his own method of dissecting his subjects. Much of the cutting, however, is spontaneous. “Some of the shapes, I have no idea when they’ll come about. It’s just cut, and there it is,” he said.The “Cut Flowers” series has Mohwinkel feeling more of an artist than ever. There is the originality of the work; he says, “nobody has ever seen anything like this before.” And in shaping the flowers, he has become more of a involved participant in the creation of art.”It’s the first time I’ve allowed myself not to be imprisoned by landscape photography,” he said. “It’s freedom to be able to make something, rather than just walk around and find something.”To schedule a showing, call 925-7983 or 544-6446, or e-mail mohwinkel@earthlink.net.

Janice Estey gets periodic e-mails that are signed, “Your son forever.” One day last week, she went snowshoeing with another of her male offspring.Strictly speaking, Estey has no children. But this week, for the second year running, the Carbondalian will play Ma Bailey, mother to George and Harry, in Theatre Aspen’s stage production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And for Estey, playing mother onstage means having an experience of motherhood off it.”What’s really cool is, playing Ma Bailey, I’ve gotten two complete sets of sons,” said Estey, referring to the two sets of actors who have played the Bailey boys. “I feel very close to these guys.”

David Ledingham, who starred last year as George, addresses Estey as “Ma” in his e-mail messages. Rick Stear, a visiting New Yorker who takes the role of Bedford Falls’ hometown hero George this year, got an introduction to the local outdoor life courtesy of Estey. “I love the work so much. I don’t understand why anyone would do it differently,” said Estey, of breaking down the wall between theater life and real life. “I don’t know how to do it otherwise, without making it real.”Estey has had a rich onstage existence over the past two decades. She appeared as the Wicked Witch of the West on Aspen Community Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz.” (“If someone gives you a chance to fly on a bicycle across the stage, are you gonna say no?” she says of the casting, which had the immensely sweet actress playing against type.) With Theatre Aspen, she has performed in the comedy “Tartuffe” and the musical “Baby.” And she put in some 14 years as a cast member with Aspen’s Crystal Palace dinner theater.Estey does have an offstage life, though even that involves the theater. This summer, Estey will have a play – most likely, a version of the Johnny Appleseed story – produced by Theatre Aspen. It will mark the third children’s presentation she has written for the local company; she was also the playwright behind the recent “Aesop-a-Rebop” and “Quack!” During her years with the Crystal Palace, she wrote a good amount of lyrics for the satirical shows, a form she has continued practicing for the Fort Lauderdale dinner theater, Laffing Matterz. She has also written, both kids shows and an adult comedy, for the Heritage Square Opera House in Golden.

It will come as a shock to those who know her now, but Basaltine Ann MacLeod was, for the majority of her life, a cat person. Then in her early 40s, a dog entered the household. A true convert, MacLeod now publishes the Willits Dog News, an occasional free pamphlet of puppy photos, canine news and more, and has advocated successfully for an off-leash dog park in the midvalley. (The park, at the Crown Mountain Recreational Area near El Jebel, is slated to open next fall.)MacLeod’s latest dog-related venture is “The Lost Dogs of Shoretown,” a novel written under the name Annie Mack. The novel, a prison-break mystery about a series of dog abductions, takes the point of view of the dogs. The most intriguing conceit of the book is how MacLeod portrays the characters. The dogs speak, but apart from that, they think and behave like your average Fido. The dogs organize themselves according to strict canine codes – domineering alphas Jenny and Toro, subservient sorts like Bowser and Handsome. And while the Shoretown pups can sometimes show advanced thought processes, they are easily distracted by the mere scent of a liver treat.MacLeod, who moved to the valley in 2000 after a career as a computer programmer at the University of California, Berkeley, has written romance novels. But “The Lost Dogs of Shoretown” required a different way of thinking, especially since she didn’t want to anthropomorphize the characters too much.”I’m used to showing emotion with human expression and gestures,” she said. “Here, I use the dog’s tail-wagging, flattening their ears. It’s a revelation to me. I’d have the dogs laughing. And rewriting, I’d say, ‘Well, dogs don’t laugh – they wag their tails.'”One human voice that does come through is MacLeod’s. A believer in giving dogs opportunities to run free, the plot centers around the dogs’ desire to be off-leash and bird-watchers who find the roaming dogs a nuisance. The issue relates to an experience MacLeod had on the coast in northern California.”I felt ambivalent about it,” she said of her encounter with a bird watcher. “I knew somehow he was right. Koko [the 10-year-old Australian Shepherd who accompanied her to the interview] shouldn’t be disturbing the birds. But I figured, I’m a fiction writer. I can represent both points of view – I’m not a judge.”The dogs I’ve had need to run free. They have so much fun, and it’s fun to watch.”

The best trick of “The Lost Dogs of Shoretown” is how MacLeod convinces readers she does know what goes on in the canine head.”When you live with a dog, something tender is touched in you,” said MacLeod, who is at work on a sequel, “The Shoretown Dogs Go Loco.” “Dogs have so many qualities I would like to have: patience, courage, some kind of wild love of nature. They seem to conditionally love us. “Although I don’t think they’re as innocent as we think they are. They know how to play us.””The Lost Dogs of Shoretown” is available at most valley book stores and pet shops. For more on MacLeod’s canine activities, go to http://www.kokothedetective.com.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com