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July 14, 2014

Nancy in the Tribune!

(E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune)

This past weekend CFA’s Executive Director, Nancy Watrous, was spotlighted in the Chicago Tribune. Take a look here or read below….

 

Nancy Watrous, film archivist

 

Executive director of Chicago Film Archives preserves pictures of the city in reel time

July 13, 2014|By William Hageman, Tribune Newspapers

Being executive director of Chicago FilmArchives has its perks. Why, you could sit all day and watch the movies of Margaret Conneely (an amateur Chicago filmmaker who worked in the latter half of the 20th century).

Not that Nancy Watrous has the time. Her calendars are full running the CFA, a nonprofit in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood that collects, preserves and makes available to the public films reflecting Chicago and Midwest history and culture that otherwise would be lost. It hosts events and has films viewable on its website, chicagofilmarchives.org.

Watrous, born in Riverside and raised in Glen Ellyn, was the moving force in establishing the CFA, which was incorporated in 2003. It was a natural progression for someone who quit school (Miami University in Ohio) to travel and later went to work in the film industry. When the Chicago Public Library was looking for a home for its collection of 5,000 films, Watrous was the right person at the right time.

Part of the library’s collection were the films of Conneely.

“She used to do these fiction story films, using family and friends,” Watrous said. “They all had this dark streak running through them. The first one we saw, we thought it was a mistake. But then we watched more. Now her films have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in London. Her work is traveling.”

Watrous, who lives in Chicago, is married and the mother of a 19-year-old son. What follows is an edited transcript.

Q: Were you always a film buff?

A: One of the places I took off to when I was in my early 20s was New Orleans. I got introduced to the film business there. I met a producer who had come out of New York, producing trailers. We talked, and he said he’d hire me once he got started. And he did. I was a production coordinator, I took script notes, arranged for locations. Later I got hired as an assistant in a prop department for films. My first film was “J.D.’s Revenge” (1976). When I moved back to Chicago (where she got a degree in Latin American studies and international relations from the University of Illinois at Chicago), I stayed in the business. This was late ’79.

Q: Did you just advance through the ranks?

A: I had a background in film production. I’ve been a (Directors Guild of America) assistant director (for) commercial and industrial films and feature films in Chicago. I worked on “Nothing in Common” (1986) with Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks. That’s how I made my living during the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Q: How was the CFA born?

A: I heard about the Chicago Public Library’s collection, and that they were getting rid of it (the library was moving to a new location). There was an experimental filmmaker who made a little noise because he heard the films were going to be thrown out. I went to the library and made a proposal that before they got rid of the films they do an assessment. They had about 5,000 films. I made the case for keeping the collection together, with the idea that I could help decide where the collection would be placed. … It became clear nobody wanted all the films. … Eventually they offered the collection to us if I’d start a nonprofit. I had help from people in film preservation, and people from the University of Chicago graduate program. We were offered space in a building on LaSalle Street, free. We used that for awhile — we actually broke their elevator; films are heavy. We decided we had to take this seriously. So we found the space we’re in now.

Q: And the library’s films were just a start.

A: Industrial films, home movies, experimental films. We now have 93 film collections, 20,000 films. A lot of the collections are amateurs, home movies, industrial films, all genres. Documentaries.

Q: People don’t think of Chicago as a film center.

A: Historically, the work that comes out of Chicago has been ignored. Chicago has always had a second position with regard to the coasts, definitely with the film industry.

Q: How? Why?

A: In Los Angeles, New York, even Austin now, it’s a major industry. Ever since I was young, people asked, “How can we become like Los Angeles, become like New York?” I’ve come to realize Chicago has always been huge for incubation. It doesn’t have the industry constraints or business constraints you have to deal with in L.A. or New York. (People in Chicago) do wonderful work, often more brilliant than things people do in those other places. Artists and musicians don’t have those standards they have to live up to. They can work outside the box and do work that’s unexpected, not derivative.

Q: What draws people to these films?

A: I think there’s a human continuity component that focuses on films from before our time, and people want current and past films to be there for the future. It’s part of the human continuum, whether it’s researchers who want to learn about architecture that no longer exists or people who want to learn about social movements or people who come to Home Movie Day (a CFA event where people can share their home movies; this year it’s Oct. 18 at the Chicago History Museum).

Q: The films you get, what condition are they in?

A: Some of them, it depends on how often they were used. And it depends on the stock. In the ’60s and ’70s the stock faded easily. That’s what got Martin Scorsese into preservation; he saw that films were deteriorating.

Q: Talk about some of the collections.

A: We’ve got a pro wrestling film collection from the ’50s from California. It’s one of our favorites. We got it from Russ and Sylvia Davis (who lived and worked in Chicago for many years); they produced these wrestling matches. He was the commentator. Very dry sense of humor. They’re really entertaining to watch. The cans were rusted out, but the films were in great shape. Then there’s Frank Koza’s collection. He was a newsreel photographer who passed last year. We haven’t been able to process (the collection) but Frank had over 1,000 reels. It’s one we really want to get to, but we have another large collection we have to do. Travelogues. Right now I’m looking for funding for the travelogues.

Q: What do you do with films when you get them?

A: We stabilize them. We hand inspect them and enter any data, put on a new leader, fix splices. It’s pretty time-consuming.

Q: Do you learn the history of some of these collections?

A: With a lot of the filmmakers, we try to get there and film them. Margaret Conneely was one of our first collections. We got her on film. She was in her late 80s when I first met her. (She died in 2007.) I think she’s a clever filmmaker, very funny and pretty bold.

Q: Any personal favorites?

A: I love the Margaret Conneely collection in general. Another film we’ve got that I also like is “The New World of Stainless Steel.” On the can the title was “Iran,” and on the leader was “Iran.” We put it on a projector, and it was this industrial film by Republic Steel. Hilarious. It was made in 1959 or ’61. Everyone is talking about all the uses of stainless steel. It’s very surreal. I haven’t found it anywhere else. It was in phenomenal condition.

Q: Do you have a favorite discovery?

A: There are really so many great finds, I can’t say I have a favorite. The Ruth Page collection goes back to the 1920s. There are hundreds of films of her performing that no one has ever seen. And they were sitting in a closet, these explosive, decaying nitrate films. Because she was so well known we were able to get funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Donnelley Foundation to get the film stabilized.

Q: Do you get random calls from people who have old film?

A: Yes, we do. There’s a lot of people who can’t bear to throw away any of their film reels.

Q: What can we get out of these old films?

A: We’re building this historical picture, a 20th-century picture, of Chicago through these films. But not famous events; life behind the scenes. We’re building this century of Chicago through these orphan films.

Q: Do you dream of finding a treasure trove of old films?

A: Yes, every film archivist does. The mother lode. You might find footage, even if it’s damaged, of 1909 Chicago. But most (film) from before 1920 is lost, 90 percent is the number they use. That mother lode isn’t as important as the orphan films.

Q: To do what you do, a person has to be very orderly and precise. Did that come naturally to you? Can a person improve that skill in themselves?

A: I think all archivists have an “organizing streak” to them. We all like order. But it’s not necessarily because that’s how our minds work. In my case my brain seems to take in different influences and messages all at once and on top of each other. … It’s sometimes pure chaos up there and it’s very useful to have organizing tools to deal with my very unorganized mind. I particularly like color-coding. I recommend color-coding for everyone.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: I don’t have a lot. I’m sort of angry because I like to travel. That’s one thing I worry about; everybody does. Everybody today is too busy with their jobs. I feel that sometimes you have to walk away from your job a little so you can come back (recharged).

Q: Where would be the first place you’d travel to if expense were not an issue?

A: Brazil. My husband grew up there, and he, our son and I went there a few years ago. We spent a lot of time with a large Brazilian family he became close with while growing up.

Q: Are you a music person?

A: I love jazz. That’s worked out here because there are silent films, and we’ve been partnering and commissioning jazz musicians to score some of them.

Q: Who are some of the artists you enjoy? Maybe someone who needs more fame?

A: I’m lucky that I know (music writer) Peter Margasak because he turns me on to current names that bring me to that same zone where I was years ago. So I’ve come to know Mike Reed’s work a little, David Boykin and Jeff Parker. Not sure if they deserve or need more fame but maybe more money.

Q: Who has influenced your life? A great filmmaker?

A: There’s many people, but probably my first was when I studied dance with Frances Allis. She was probably in her 70s. She was a modern dancer and toured the world. She was such an artist. She taught us how to move. She was one of the first who knocked my socks off. I never became a great dancer; I was an OK dancer, though. But it went beyond dance. She taught us how to take in and appreciate the different aspects of art. She was the real deal.

Q: Do you have an all-time favorite film, not one at the archives?

A: John Cassavetes’ “A Woman Under the Influence.”

Q: At the movies, popcorn or Raisinets?

A: Twizzlers. I don’t like raisins. And the quality of movie theater popcorn got bad somewhere along the line.

bhageman@tribune.com

Drawing inspiration

“I’m inspired by what I don’t know yet,” Nancy Watrous said. “As I get older, and my experiences accumulate and the people I meet and engage with expands, I realize how much more there is to know and understand. What I don’t know feels a lot more vast and more exciting to me than when I was younger.”

July 3, 2014

Ruth Page Collection Update + a Surprise Find

RUTH PAGE COLLECTION UPDATE…

We’re almost finished uploading all of the Ruth Page films to the Ruth Page Collection Finding Aid (we have about 25 films more to go). After that we will be uploading the collection’s videos, whose formats range from 2″ and 1″ open reel formats to the more familiar cassette varieties of Betacam and Betacam SP.  Thanks to a grant from the NEA and Donnelley Foundation, we were able to ship the tapes out to Bay Area Video Coalition to have digital preservation files made of each video. Be on the lookout for these uploaded videos in the upcoming months! The content of the videos range from oral history type interviews with Ruth Page collaborators to taped rehearsals and performances.

Pamela Krayenbuhl

I’d also like to remind you all that none of these Ruth Page Collection films or videos are fully cataloged quite yet (more on our decision to publish these materials early here). But we have good news! Thanks to another grant from the NEA, we’re currently in the beginning stages of cataloging. As we’ve mentioned before, describing a dance collection can be tricky and requires a deep understanding of dance and dance history.  We are delighted to welcome Pamela Krayenbuhl on board to complete this project. Pam is a PhD student in Screen Cultures and a Mellon Foundation Fellow in Interdisciplinary Studies at Northwestern University, and holds an MA in Screen Cultures and a Graduate Certificate in Critical Theory from Northwestern as well as a dual BA with highest honors in Rhetoric and Interdisciplinary Studies from U.C. Berkeley. Her research focuses on screendance, primarily dance film, while her other academic interests include intermediality, adaptation, authorship, and American popular culture. Pam is also a ballet dancer, choreographer, photographer, and poet. Pam’s dance background and academic interests will certainly prove invaluable throughout the year long process to catalog CFA’s Ruth Page Collection dance films and videos.  

A SURPRISE FIND….

While uploading the remaining films we came across what we think to be a pretty rare find. It’s a 16mm camera original reversal print featuring another pioneering Ruth of dance – Ruth St. Denis (1879 – 1968). In the reel (embedded below) Ruth performs her famous East Indian Nautch dance….enjoy!

 

 

June 24, 2014

Introducing CFA CRASHERS

**CORRECTION** – please note the new start time of 6:00PM 

Exciting news! We have a new film series in the works. It’s called CFA CRASHERS and it starts this August (over happy hour) at the Hideout.

We’ve invited some of our favorite locals to guest curate a program of CFA films all their own (no rules or strings attached). The general motivation behind the series is to have a lot of different communities and voices engaging with our materials, as we’re increasingly interested in collaborating with those who are eager to mix it up with the CFA films in ways not thought of before. It’s also a nod to those around town who make us proud to call Chicago home -or selfishly, a good excuse for us to collaborate with some people we admire ; )

So…mark those calendars (!) and join us at the Hideout the second Tuesday of every month. Expect a mix of films and topics, ranging from women in the workplace to local architecture and the existence of UFOs, all of which will be presented in 16mm thanks to our tabletop Eiki. Each program will begin roughly at 6:30PM 6:00PM (feel free to stop by early!) and end at 8PM before the Hideout’s live music programming commences. And we realize most of you might be craving a snack or dinner around that time (we sure do). We’ve got food trucks and general snacking options in the works…stay tuned !

Now let us introduce you to our guest programmers aka Crashers: 

August 12, 2014: JESSICA HOPPER 

Jessica Hopper kicks off the series with two films about women in the workplace.  Jessica is a Chicago-based music journalist and the author of The Girls Guide to Rocking. She is the music editor at Rookie, an editor at The Pitchfork Review and an advice columnist for the Village Voice. An anthology of her criticism is due out next spring.

WOMEN IN BUSINESS (1980, LSB Productions, 16mm., Color, Sound, 24 min., found in CFA’s Chicago Public Library Collection)
Six different women who have successfully started their own business are profiled in this upbeat motivational film. Owners of a moving company, a security guard firm, a cooking school, a commodities brokerage & other businesses demonstrate how entrepreneurial spirit & hard work have made dreams into satisfying realities.

THE WILLMAR 8 (1980, Lee Grant, 16mm., Color, Sound, 50 min., found in CFA’s Chicago Public Library Collection)
Activist, actor and director Lee Grant shares the story of eight unassuming, apolitical women in America’s heartland–Willmar, Minnesota–who were driven by sex discrimination at work to take the most unexpected step of their lives and found themselves in the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights. Risking jobs, friends, family and the opposition of church and community, they began the longest bank strike in American history in a dramatic attempt to assert their own equality and self-worth.

event link: http://www.chicagofilmarchives.org/current-events/cfa-crashers-jessica-hopper  

 

September 9, 2014: THE-DRUM 

Chicago production duo The-Drum consists of Jeremiah Chrome and Brandon Boom. Since arriving on the hybrid online electronic music scene in 2010, the two have put their touch on a variety of impressive releases (Le1f , Dre Green and as part of their R&B collective, JODY, to name a few). Just this past month they released their label’s debut compilation, Lo Motion Singles Vol. 1, which features 14 cuts of faded R&B from The-Drum and friends. More on Chrome and Boom here (via Britt Julious & Noisey).

Film program TBA


October 14, 2014: LEE BEY

Architecture Critic, Lee Bey, is one of Chicago’s keenest observers of architecture and urban planning. For four years he published the WBEZ blog, “Beyond the Boat Tour,” and before that he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Central Area Committee  and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and Design for Chicago Mayor Richad M. Daley. Today, Bey is civic engagement and special projects manager at the Arts Incubator with The University of Chicago Arts and Public Life Initiative, where he manages strategic initiatives and partnerships with arts organizations, community groups and civic leaders.

Film program TBA


November 11, 2014: CHRISTEN CARTER

Christen Carter founded the Busy Beaver Button Company in 1995 after spending some time in England, where buttons (called “badges” over there) were still very popular. She moved back to the States and started making buttons for bands and record labels. Busy Beaver has gone from a one-woman operation in Christen’s college apartment to a Logan Square storefront with fifteen employees. Over the last 17 years, the Busy Beaver crew has overseen over 60,000 designs and produced millions upon millions of custom buttons for clients like Brooklyn Brewery, NBC Entertainment, The Art Institute of Chicago, Threadless, WordPress as well as thousands of bands, non-profits, small businesses and other great folks. Along with her brother, Joel Carter, Christen also founded The Busy Beaver Button Museum, one of the world’s only museums dedicated solely to pinback buttons.The museum, which is located at the company’s Logan Square headquarters, displays over 9,000 historical buttons and is open to the public M-F from 10-4 or by appointment.

Film program TBA


December 9, 2014: MIMI NGUYEN

Mimi Thi Nguyen is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her first book, called The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages, focuses on the promise of “giving” freedom concurrent and contingent with waging war and its afterlife (Duke University Press, 2012). She continues to understand her scholarship through the frame of transnational feminist cultural studies, and in particular as an untangling of the liberal way of war that pledges “aid,” freedom, rights, movement, and other social goods, with her following project on the promise of beauty. Nguyen was recently named a Conrad Humanities Scholar for 2013-2018, a designation supporting the work of outstanding associate professors in the humanities within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois.

She is also co-editor with Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu of Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America (Duke University Press, 2007), and co-editor with Fiona I.B. Ngo and Mariam Lam of a special issue of positions on Southeast Asians in diaspora (Winter 2012). She publishes also on queer subcultures, the politics of fashion, and punk feminisms. In 2012 and 2013, she went on the POC Zine Project/Race Riot! Tour to discuss and read from zines by people of color.

Film program TBA


January 13, 2015: GREG EASTERLING

Chicago native Greg Easterling got his start in radio while in twelfth grade at New Trier High School and later honed his skills at the University of Illinois’ WPGU. Now we know Greg as the voice of Chicago’s WDRV (97.1FM) overnight show, which airs Monday through Friday from midnight-5AM.

Film program TBA

 

May 15, 2014

Earthkeeping, Episode Six: “Help Yourself”

The final episode of Earthkeeping delves into behavioral concepts such as nature vs. nurture, and investigates the ways in which the environment shapes personal behavior. Several psychological questions are raised, such as the degree to which an individual may act independently of his/her environment.

The work of Dr. Roger Park, who spent 25+ years living in and studying a small Kansas town, is used as a case study for understanding how social etiquette is informed by different environments. This relationship is introduced as the “behavior setting”, and described as the “intersection of two environments: the physical and the social”. The “environment” in Oskaloosa is depicted as continuously in flux; it is constantly evolving depending on the actions of Oskaloosa’s citizens.

Once again, the members of Second City provide interludes to the program by staging a parody game show. On “This Was Your Life”, the host (Jim Fisher) runs through some of the important chapters of Jesus Rodriguez’ (John Belushi) life. These events include the destruction of Jesus’ childhood home due to urban renewal developments and making various acquaintances with characters like Harry the Junkie (Harold Ramis). The selected events of Jesus’ life are presented as a snowball effect, leading Jesus to life on the streets with a $90/day dope habit, and eventually doing multiple stints in prison (convicted by “an all-white jury and an all-white judge”).

Thanks for watching and reading, and please check out the other DeWitt Beall works we have streaming here! Additionally, stay tuned for more information regarding the “Lord Thing” restoration premiere at the Siskel Film Center this fall.

May 1, 2014

Helen Balfour Morrison (1901-1984)

Self Portrait, Helen Balfour Morrison

Our FIRST STEPS program tonight spotlights dancers/choreographers Ruth Page and Sybil Shearer, but let’s not forget about another talented woman behind these films – Helen Balfour Morrison. Helen collaborated with Sybil Shearer to produce a large collection of extraordinary dance photographs and films. Helen was behind the camera, while Sybil was in front of it.

The Morrison-Shearer Film Collection, which is owned by the Morrison-Shearer Foundation and housed and cared for by CFA, contains over 430 16mm films, 195 8mm films and 200 1/4″ audio reels. Almost all of the moving-image materials were shot by Helen.

Helen Balfour Morrison (1901-1984) was born in Evanston, Illinois, the daughter of Fannie Lindley and Alexander Balfour, an engineer and a proud, aristocratic Scotsman. When Helen was 17, her mother died, and Helen took a job in a photography studio to help support the family. At this studio she learned to use the portrait camera and helped expand the studio’s business with creative ideas of her own.

In the 1930s, Helen embarked upon a personal photography project – the Great Americans series. She photographed some 200 notable personalities including Robert Frost, Helen Hayes, Nelson Algren, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein, Mies van der Rohe, Amelia Earhart, Jane Addams, and Saul Bellow. Most of these portrait sessions took place in Chicago or in New York and were exhibited widely in museums throughout the country.

In 1942, Morrison met Sybil Shearer, and although her portrait work and exhibitions of the Great Americans continued, her attention gradually shifted to Sybil as her primary subject. She finally abandoned the Great Americans series in 1945. Her collaboration with Sybil Shearer produced a large collection of extraordinary dance photographs and films, as well as an intense and sensitive documentation of the life of this artist. Today her extensive portfolio remains largely unpublished and unknown, something the Morrison-Shearer Foundation and now, CFA, are working to rectify.

In a real sense, Helen sacrificed her own career to promote that of Sybil. Besides designing the lighting, Helen took over the complete management of Sybil’s publicity, performances, travel arrangements, and hospitality. She experimented with the role of impresario, presenting dancer Ruth St. Denis in 1946 and both dancer Eleanor King and sculptor Richard Lippold in 1948. In 1949 she conceived a short-lived series of programs which she called “Rondo,” presenting other artists, including Uta Hagan, Merce Cunningham, pianist William Masselos, and Frank Lloyd Wright. In later years she made films to record Sybil’s dances, and made one artistic film of her own.

See Helen’s moving-image work tonight at FIRST STEPS  – Thursday, May 1st (7PM) at Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema (1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor). More on the program here

April 30, 2014

Premiere of Jeff Parker Film Scores

For tomorrow’s FIRST STEPS program at Columbia College we enlisted the talented Jeff Parker (pictured above) to score all of the silent Ruth Page films and home movies, including:

DANSE MACABRE (1922), BOLERO (1930), VARIATIONS ON EUCLID (circa 1938),  FRANKIE & JOHNNY (1938), and Ruth Page Home Movies shot in Bali, Indonesia (circa 1928)

We have been blown away at the quality of Jeff’s work and are really really excited to share his scores with the public for the first time. Each score melts naturally into the film, making the previously silent images feel more alive and accessible rather than interrupted or interfered with.

Jeff Parker is a guitarist, composer, educator, and sculptor of sonic textures. Since 1990, he has focused on being adaptable in musical environments that are constantly changing. His sonic palette may employ techniques from sample-based technologies, analog and digital synthesis, and conventional and extended techniques from his 35 years of playing the guitar.

Recognized as one of contemporary music’s most versatile and innovative electric guitarists, his music is characterized by ideas of angularity and logic, as well as an instantly recognizable tone on the instrument. He works in a variety of mediums, from Jazz to contemporary music, using ideas informed by innovations and trends in both popular and experimental music. He creates works that explore and exploit the contrary relationships between tradition and technology, improvisation and composition, and the familiar and the abstract.

He is a founding member of the critically acclaimed and innovative groups Isotope 217˚ and Chicago Underground, and a longtime member of the band Tortoise. He has released several collaborative albums under his own name. Currently he has been focusing on solitary work and solo performance – to cultivate and establish an idiosyncratic relationship between electronic and acoustic compositional properties in music and sound. (bio courtesy of Jeff Parker)

You can see and hear it all at FIRST STEPS – Thursday, May 1st (7PM) at Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema (1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor). More on the program here

April 7, 2014

Earthkeeping, Episode Five: “Sodbusters”

The historical approach taken in “Sodbusters” differentiates the episode from the others in Earthkeeping – the narrative draws a comparison between the pioneer mindset of westward expansion/Manifest Destiny and the sense of entitlement possessed by corporate developers in the twentieth century. How much have modern practices of resource exploitation changed since the days of John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Company?

On The Yesterday Show, Robert Trashman (John Belushi) stands up for the environment, squaring off against cowboy star Jack Crabbe (Joe Flaherty) and industrialist C. Steel Mills (Harold Ramis).

Second City's "Yesterday Show" sketch (l-r: Joe Flaherty, John Belushi, Harold Ramis)

Also in the episode, David Rasche recites a stanza from Walt Whitman’s poem, “Pioneers! O Pioneers!”:

We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines within,
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

April 2, 2014

Robert & Theresa Davis Collection Update

Oh, the glorious Kodachrome...

Last week (March 24-27), CFA hosted University of Alberta associate professor Liz Czach as she conducted research on our Robert & Theresa Davis Collection. Liz is currently researching a number of travelogue filmmakers, but her particular interest in the Davis Collection stems from its relative completeness – in many instances, archives only hold on to the travelogue films themselves and perhaps a few other relevant artefacts. In the case of the Davis Collection, the films are not limited to final prints, but also include outtakes and various other production elements. Additionally, large amounts of complementary presentation material, such as ¼ inch audio soundtracks, full narration scripts, and Robert Davis’ personal cue cards, are being preserved along with the films. The collection also includes over twenty boxes of other promotional and personal material. This additional ephemera provides insights not only into the working habits and biographies of Robert & Theresa Davis, but also helps to shed light on the history of the travelogue genre and circuit.

In order to fully understand the contexts in which these films were presented, the preservation of many different elements is essential. The footage from the Davis’ travels was used in several different iterations – besides the lecture films (which ran about an hour and twenty minutes and were presented with live narration by Robert Davis), the films were also re-edited and sold as shorter educational programs (which typically ran roughly twenty minutes). As an example, here is a selection of materials related to the Davis’ educational film, Incredible Iceland (one of their favorite travel destinations):

Title card to the film

Above: Promotional materials for Incredible Iceland – “Meticulous attention to detail guarantees an unusually pleasing travel tonic.” Click the thumbnails for full-size images.

A page from a narration script draft, with Robert Davis' edits in pen

Cue cards featuring Robert Davis' signature shorthand. We're still trying to figure out how these were used...

Sound effects employed in the film. PUFFIN EFFECT!

Although the films have been inventoried, neither they nor the paper materials have been processed. Liz’s visit greatly helped to shine a light on what we have on our hands, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Updates on the Robert & Theresa Davis Collection, including digitized film transfers, biographical information on Bob & Terry, and more on the travelogue genre, will be appearing in the weeks to come.

April 1, 2014

Early 8mm Films of the Chicago World’s Fair Arrive at CFA

This year, we were fortunate to acquire five more reels of home movies featuring the 1933 Chicago “Century of Progress” World’s Fair. They were shot by Russell V. Zahn (1901-1993) of Racine, Wisconsin and part of a larger collection of home movies donated by the family (you can read more about our Zahn Home Movie Collection here).

Previously, we only had two 16mm reels documenting the fair, one in our Ferd Isserman Collection and another in our David Gray Collection. The Isserman film is and reads very much like a home movie, while the Gray film *appears* to be a silent commercially produced film spliced together with home movie footage. I almost prefer the home movie footage over the commercially produced films about the fair. Each home movie gives a unique on-the-ground (and sometimes overhead!) perspective, shaky camera and all. They often highlight family members & friends and even include quiet downtime moments or breaks from the hustle and bustle, giving us 21st century viewers a more personal experience of the fair.

What’s particularly unique about these five newly donated reels is that they were shot on 8mm, a celluloid format that entered the market in 1932 (just to point out the obvious, only a year before these were shot!). More on the 8mm format via Kodak:

“By 1932, with America in the throes of the Great Depression, a new format, the “Cine Kodak Eight”, was introduced. Utilizing a special 16mm film which had double the number of perforations on both sides, the filmmaker would run the film through the camera in one direction, then reload and expose the other side of the film, the way an audio cassette is used today…. After development, the laboratory would slit the film lengthwise down the center, and splice one end to the other, yielding fifty feet of finished 8 mm movies. The success of 8mm film was almost immediate, and within about fifteen years, 16 mm film became almost exclusively a format of the professional filmmaker.”

These five reels (now streaming on our site and below via CFA’s Youtube channel) are the oldest 8mm films we have and they happen to document one of our favorite subjects in all its troubled splendor. At this time, it’s unclear what order the reels were shot, but we have labeled them Reels 1-5 in order for us to differentiate the titles among reels (all were titled simply “1933 Chicago World’s Fair,” but each contains unique footage). Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

March 31, 2014

Earthkeeping, Episode Four: “Megapolis”

Architect Harry Weese describes the structural design of Park Forest South, IL (today known as University Park)

Over the next six weeks, CFA will present newly digtized episodes of Earthkeeping – a series produced in the early 1970s for WTTW that explores environmental, ecological and sociological issues. In presenting this series, we hope to reintroduce DeWitt Beall, a Chicago-based filmmaker primarily active in the 1960s and 70s. Now to episode four, “Megapolis” (pardon the color fade):

[*Stream the episode here, on the CFA website]

“Megapolis” contains insightful interviews with Lewis Mumford, who was a prominent early figure in urban planning and the history of cities. Mumford predicted the expansion of cities into megalopolises in the 1930s in his book, The Culture of Cities, and in this episode reflects on how cities will continue to evolve. The episode also looks at Illinois-specific neighborhood development through an interview with architect Harry Weese. At that time, Weese was working on the design of Park Forest South, IL (today known as University Park). As Weese predicted for the community in 1972, “Park Forest South is not going to be an instant Paris, or anything of its kind, but it will be a community big enough to encompass many activities, including employment, education… it also provides for varying lifestyles and income groups.” (Any Park Forest South/University Park residents out there care to comment on this prediction?) Weese and the narrator put emphasis on the neighborhood’s innovative walkway system, which allows for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel without intersecting with major roads.

Much of the content in “Megapolis” is common knowledge today (cars are bad for the environment, etc.), but it is necessary to consider the episode in context, looking at how it relates to the history of environmental activism. The Earthkeeping series was produced only three years after the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, and as the other episodes of the series attest, during a period of rapid urban growth and industrialization. The episodes of Earthkeeping are by no means objective; the series is less documentary and more a call to action. The content of Earthkeeping greatly reflects the personal ideology of the filmmaker. In an email correspondence, Elina Katsioula-Beall (DeWitt’s second wife) pointed out how important the issues of the series were to DeWitt’s personal life: “It is certainly safe to say that DeWitt was very interested in all sociological and ecological issues. He had a respect for earth and for all life, long before this was fashionable.”

Just as the “City Life” episode concludes with a plea for community participation, so does “Megapolis” implore viewers to take action. Architect Richard Saul Wurman (who later co-founded the TED conference) expresses his disdain for public inaction: “Apathy has destroyed the city more than wanton destruction. I mean, there has to be a change of attitude to save the city.” Ultimately, it is up to the citizens of the city to control the growth of our man-made environments.

March 24, 2014

“Small gauge film is not larger than life, it’s part of life.”

This Wednesday, March 26th, we’re celebrating Home Movie Day in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Per usual, we’re inviting the community to bring their celluloid home movies (16mm, 8mm and/or Super 8mm) to have them projected in front of a live audience. Don’t have any films? Don’t fret! We also have a program of CFA home movies in store (more on that soon).

This is a very collaborative event all around. We were invited by The Post Family to help create and co-host the event. They’re a Chicago art collective with their own printmaking studio, office, and gallery space, and they’ve courageously taken over Comfort Station programming for the entire month of March (you can peek at their remaining events here). We’re also teaming up with Northwest Chicago Film Society, who will offer their wisdom & expertise by projecting these treasured celluloid films for all to see, and Logan Square International Film Series (Comfort Films), who continue to help spread the word. The Post Family has also enlisted the help of Synesthetic (Angel Elmore : piano, Joe Vajarsky : tenor saxophone, Norman Long : field recordings, Dan Godston : trumpet & Lou Ciccoteli : drums) to accompany any or all films.

JoAnn Elam in "Boyers & Rhinos," an 8mm film from 1981

We’re using this community-fueled event as a good excuse to crack open our JoAnn Elam Collection, or more specifically, to showcase rarely screened 8mm home movies from the collection.

Just in case, some quick background:  JoAnn Elam (1949-2009) is a central figure in the history of Chicago’s experimental film community. Her short experimental and documentary films capture the spirit and ethos of a politically active, feminist, and socially conscious artist. She also happened to be a Logan Square resident, often filming her neighbors, community events, gardens, co-workers & friends with her 8mm Carena Zoomex camera.

JoAnn always thought of her films as home movies and validated them as such. These feelings were upheld in JoAnn’s “manifestette,” which she co-wrote with fellow filmmaker & friend, Chuck Kleinhans (Northwestern University, Jump Cut), for a joint show:

Small gauge film (regular 8 and Super 8 ) is low cost, technically accessible, and appropriate for small scale viewing.

Because it’s cheap and you can shoot a lot of film, filming can be flexible and spontaneous. Because the equipment is light and unobtrusive, the filming relationship can be immediate and personal.

The appropriate viewing situation is a small space with a small number of people. Therefore it invites films made for or with specific audiences. Often the filmmaker and/or people filmed are present at a screening. The filming and viewing events can be considered as part of the editing process. Editing decisions can be made before, during, and after filming and can incorporate feedback from an audience. Connections can be made between production and consumption, filmmaker and audience and subject matter.

Small gauge film is not larger than life, it’s part of life.

JoAnn Elam
Chuck Kleinhans

"Boyers & Rhinos," 1981

The intimate Comfort Station Logan Square provides an “appropriate viewing situation” as well as a geographically meaningful space to screen JoAnn’s 8mm films. This Wednesday’s program isn’t a retrospective of JoAnn’s work, but rather a showcase of the Logan Square-centric home movies found in her collection. The selected films include scenes of Palmer Square Art Fairs, back porch lounging, a double exposed bbq and energetic black kittens. One reel, simply titled “Belden & Kimball,” documents smaller neighborhood moments – potted plants, parallel parking and youthful sidewalk shenanigans.

To compliment JoAnn’s films, we’ll also be screening very Chicago home movies from our other collections (primarily, the Rhodes Patterson Collection). These 16mm reels were all shot during or around the same time as JoAnn’s, but go beyond the neighborhood of Logan Square. Highlights include a shaky helicopter ride around the loop, a crowded lunch break at Grant Park, a trip down late 1970′s Maxwell Street Market and a panorama of Great America in 1977.

Join us from 7-9PM to celebrate home movies, small gauge cinema, Logan Square and JoAnn Elam with YOUR home movies and the following program:

-Loop Christmas (Rhodes Patterson, circa 1969, 16mm., Color, Silent, 5 min.)
-Blizzard of ’79 (JoAnn Elam, 1979, 8mm., Color, Silent, 4.5 min.)
-Helicopter Chicago Loop (Rhodes Patterson, 1973, 16mm., Color, Silent, 6 min.)
-Belden & Kimball (JoAnn Elam, circa 1977, 8mm., Color, Silent, 3 min.)
-Grant Park Frisbee (Rhodes Patterson, 1971, 16mm., Color, Silent, 4.5 min.)
-Palmer Square (JoAnn Elam, circa 1976, 8mm., Color, Silent, 13 min.)
-Apollo 11 Chicago Parade (Rhodes Patterson, 1969, 16mm., Color, Silent, 8 min.)
-Julia & Kittens (JoAnn Elam, circa 1979, 8mm., B&W, Silent, 2.5 min)
-Great America 1977 (Rhodes Patterson, 1977, 16mm., Color, Silent, 6 min.)
-Boyers & Rhinos (JoAnn Elam, circa 1981, 8mm., Color, Silent, 5 min.)
-Walls & Helen – Chicago’s Maxwell Street Market (Glick-Berolzheimer Collection, 1978, 16mm., B&W, Silent, 5 min.)
-Palmer Square Art Fair ‘85 (JoAnn Elam, 1985, 8mm., Color, Silent, 7 min.)
More here and here

 

March 17, 2014

Earthkeeping, Episode Three: “Little Big Land”

Over the next six weeks, CFA will present newly digtized episodes of Earthkeeping - a series produced in the early 1970s for WTTW that explores environmental, ecological and sociological issues. In presenting this series, we hope to reintroduce DeWitt Beall, a Chicago-based filmmaker primarily active in the 1960s and 70s. Now to episode three, “Little Big Land”:

Last week’s episode, “Greenbacks,” introduced the “external costs” tied into urban expansion, looking at how the real costs of development exceed the explicit dollar value.  “Little Big Land” further explores this by visiting the rapidly disappearing farmlands and diminishing areas of nature.  The growth of cities like Chicago and the expansion of the highway, while beneficial to a growing urban population, have also come at the cost of the landscape. The episode looks critically at land privatization, and warns that “if present trends continue, the urban blanket will be drawn indiscriminately across the landscape – house by house, shopping center by shopping center.”  Some potential prevention strategies are introduced, including the idea of instituting a green belt.

The challenges of balancing urban expansion and environmental preservation are further complicated by the increasing birth rate in the United States.  The episode features a brief interview with Dennis Meadows, who had just recently published his co-authored study, The Limits to Growth.  The study utilizes computer models and programming, plugging in a number of variables to examine the rate at which population will exceed production. Although the results found in The Limits of Growth have been somewhat polarizing, it is still interesting to see the ways in which computers were used for environmental predictions and calculations some forty years ago.

Second City’s David Rasche has a solution to the increasing demand for new urban developments: Grand Canyon Estates, which has transformed “a useless hole in the ground into the most unique community you’ll ever be fortunate enough to invest in.”  The new development will feature the world’s deepest artificial lake, as well as the “largest collection of plastic vegetation ever assembled in one place.”  It’s an exciting investment opportunity too good to pass up.

Early in the episode, the narrator predicts that in the future, “Chicago will grow outward, as will Indianapolis, Gary, Milwaukee, forming one giant megapolitan region around Lake Michigan.”  This introduction to the megalopolis serves as a nice segue into next week’s episode.


We’ll be taking a quick break next week, but stay tuned Monday (March 31st) for our next episode, “Megapolis” …

March 10, 2014

Earthkeeping, Episode Two: “Greenbacks”

Second City's "Pass the Buck" sketch (from l-r: Eugenie Ross-Leming, Jim Fisher, Ann Ryerson, Harold Ramis)

Over the next six weeks, CFA will present newly digtized episodes of Earthkeeping- a series produced in the early 1970s for WTTW that explores environmental, ecological and sociological issues. In presenting this series, we hope to reintroduce DeWitt Beall, a Chicago-based filmmaker primarily active in the 1960s and 70s. Now to episode two, “Greenbacks”:

Aside from the explicit financial cost, what is the true price of industrial production? Further, how are these costs transferred to the public?

Greenbacks” takes us to two sites to explore these various hidden (or “external”) costs. The first stop is America’s “carpet capital,” Dalton, GA.  On the one hand, the influx of new industry that moved into Dalton after the Second World War can be seen as an economic boon. However, while the new factories provided many jobs for Dalton residents, the resulting air and water pollution created long-term environmental detriments – the Conasauga River and nearby Drowning Bear Creek have become so polluted that nothing can live in their waters.  Although a secondary water treatment facility was constructed in Dalton as a response, the water cannot be truly pollution-free without a more expensive method of tertiary (advanced) water treatment.  The price of tertiary treatment is only more expensive in the short term – without it, Dalton’s water supply remains polluted and the treatment facility is only a token to assuage local fears of water pollution.

The St. Louis district of Soulard, surrounded by a Monsanto plant and the Anheuser-Busch brewery, is used as another example of these hidden costs.  As the episode’s narrator explains, “… a one percent increase in sulfur trioxide was matched with a similar decrease in property values, so the pollution was paid for – not by the sources that produced it, but by the homeowner whose home was worth less.”  Economist Robert Heilbroner illustrates how these types of hidden costs, which also include increasing health problems for local residents, are not reflected in the cost of products. Therefore, the companies can get away with charging less than what the product really costs (Heilbroner refers to the Consolidated Edison energy company in his example.)

Finding a culprit for these environmental concerns often entails much finger-pointing and blame-shifting, a process satirized in the Second City game show sketch, Pass the Buck: the regular panelists are representatives from Government (Joe Flaherty), Management (Harold Ramis), and Labor (David Rasche).  These three contestants face off against one another, as well as a representative of the public (Ann Ryerson), in trying to quickly create a scapegoat for hypothetical environmental problems.

Stay tuned next Monday (March 17th) for our next episode, “Little Big Land” …

March 3, 2014

Online Launch of DeWitt Beall’s Earthkeeping series

Opening title card of Earthkeeping

Over the next six weeks, CFA will be presenting episodes of Earthkeeping, a series produced in the early 1970s for WTTW that explores environmental, ecological and sociological issues. In presenting this series, we hope to reintroduce DeWitt Beall, a Chicago-based filmmaker primarily active in the 1960s and 70s.

Earthkeeping was written, directed and produced by DeWitt, who himself professed a personal interest in the same topics examined in the series. Originally born in Sherman Oaks, CA, DeWitt moved to Chicago after graduating from Dartmouth College in 1962. His filmography illustrates a balance between ‘filmmaker-for-hire’ works (commercial work for Sears, educational films for the National Safety Council and the National Dairy Council) and the projects closer related to his interests.  These more personal projects include a documentary about the formation of the Conservative Vice Lords (“Lord Thing”, a film that provided the Vice Lords with a platform to tell their own story), and a sponsored film about the challenges black Americans face in entering the workforce (“Making It”).  Further evincing his commitment to social change, DeWitt was a co-founder of a scholarship program called Foundation Years.  This program provided disadvantaged black Chicagoans the opportunity to attend his alma mater with a chance to matriculate (two of the interviewees in “Making It” were participants in this program). [1]

Although the footage in Earthkeeping is largely rooted in Chicago, the series also travels to other Midwest locations (and even makes a quick jaunt down to Dalton, GA in the “Greenbacks” episode).  The series features interviews with prominent scholars from different fields, including economist Robert Heilbroner, ecologist Barry Commoner, and sociologist/urbanist Lewis Mumford.  Additionally, the series utilizes topical interludes written and performed by members of the Second City, including the recently departed Harold Ramis and pre-SNL John Belushi.  This gives us an opportunity to glimpse performances from these comedians that would go otherwise unseen.  Just like network programming, we will upload and stream one episode of Earthkeeping per week for the next six weeks.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments on the series below.

[1] The Foundation Years program was, regrettably, short-lived.  In 2011, Chicago Magazine did an in-depth piece on the program, which can be read here.

This week’s episode: City Life

“City Life” focuses on the sociological consequences inherent in the rapid growth of urban landscapes.  The episode first orients the viewer by explaining how city growth has transformed the concept of ‘community’: the transition from village life to city life has necessitated the development of neighborhoods, which are established in order to retain the same sense of community once found in the village.  Without these new forms of community, the narrator asserts, the city would be nothing more than “…a collection of strangers; an anonymous and faceless place,” despite its size and population.

Additionally, the narrator makes the claim that our cities “have been built for profit, not people,” and the episode employs two architectural examples to evidence this.  The first is the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, MO, a thirty-six building development which is equated to a “prison for the poor.”  The design of Pruitt-Igoe favored minimizing expenditure over benefiting its citizens – for example, designing the development without a single playground, despite the projected high number of children that would be living there.  This idea of housing projects as a ‘prison’ is reinforced through interviews with urbanist Lewis Mumford and economist Robert Heilbroner.  Both interviewees elaborate on the effect of large-scale migration from rural to urban environments:  whereas the first generation to move to the city had family in the country to fall back on should things not work out financially, that is no longer the case for most impoverished city dwellers.

On the other side of the socioeconomic scale is the architectural example of waterfront properties developed along Chicago’s Lake Michigan waterfront.  “City Life” documents the efforts of the Chicago’s Citizens’ Action Program (CAP) as they seek to prevent further impediment on the city’s waterfront.  Lewis Mumford, among other interviewees, encourages citizens to engage in their local politics, as doing so is the only way that positive changes may be affected within a city.  In a fiery hearing, CAP representative Paul Booth testifies that the construction of new waterfront high-rises would benefit only a small minority at the cost of destroying the lake’s beauty for the rest of the city. The hearing eventually devolves into a screaming match between CAP members and Illinois State Senator Hon. John L. Knuppel.  However, the episode concludes with an empowering message, returning to the idea of the ‘village’ and the duty of the citizen to politicize and participate in city affairs:

“At the heart of a healthy city is the village, the small community, the neighborhood.  At the heart of the neighborhood is the individual who feels that if something is wrong, he can do something to change it.  A healthy city is one in which the people, all the people, have a stake in the functioning order; something to lose if that order breaks down; a sense that it is responsive to their needs.”

Stay tuned next Monday (March 10th) for our next episode, “Greenbacks”….

February 25, 2014

CFA Media Mixer 2014: Meet this Year’s Artists

It’s hard to believe that our little toddler of a fundraiser, CFA MEDIA MIXER, turns three this year (right?!). At the heart of each year’s event is the premiere of 3 video collaborations made entirely with footage from CFA. More specifically, we ask three artists and three musicians to team up with one another to create and score a short film using digitized footage from our vault. We then screen each pairing’s finished film (sound & image) at the Hide Out as part of our annual fundraiser.

We’re already hard at work organizing this year’s MEDIA MIXER (Thursday, June 19th at the Hideout). In fact, just last week we confirmed this year’s CRAZY TALENTED line up of artist pairings, and we’re delighted to share them with you (filmmakers listed first, followed by musicians):

Lori Felker AND Cheer-Accident
Deborah Stratman AND Olivia Block 
Latham Zearfoss AND Bastardgeist 

More on this year’s artists…

THE FILMMAKERS:

Lori Felker chose Filmmaking as her official second language in 2003-ish, bumping German into third place. Eventual fluency is important to her, so she employs many forms/formats, practices frequently with others, and tries hard not to shy away from expressing her thoughts on human behavior, participation, frustration, failure, in-eloquence and political irritants. Lori has many lives to live simultaneously. They currently live, make films/videos, teach, project, program, and compulsively collaborate in Chicago.
http://www.felkercommalori.com/

Deborah Stratman is an artist and filmmaker interested in landscapes and systems. Recent projects have addressed freedom, sinkholes, surveillance, the paranormal, sonic warfare, faith and comets. She lives in Chicago where she teaches at the University of Illinois.
http://www.pythagorasfilm.com/

Latham Zearfoss is an artist and cultural producer living and working in Chicago. His artwork often centers on reclaiming historical and mythological texts, and revising them to incorporate radical notions of love and sex, possibility and probability. His commitment to art and activism has also manifested in the creation of sporadic, temporary utopias like Pilot TV and Chances Dances. Latham graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a BFA in 2008 and the University of Illinois at Chicago with an MFA in 2011. He has exhibited his work internationally and all over the U.S.
http://lathamzearfoss.org/

THE MUSICIANS:

Bastardgeist is Chicago-based songwriter and performer Joel Midden. On his latest release Infinite Lives, he has crafted a lush and dizzying album about memory and displacement. Through nine, kaleidoscopic songs, Midden—featuring contributions from Sam Scranton of Volcano! (Leaf Label), Oliver Barrett of Bleeding Heart Narrative (Tartaruga Records), and James Mabbett of Napoleon IIIrd (Brainlove Records)—employs hypnotic kalimba cycles, warm string arrangements, haunted samples, and ethereal vocals to craft an album that is at turns nervous and peaceful, fragile and ecstatic.
http://bastardgeist.bandcamp.com

Olivia Block creates original sound compositions for concerts, site-specific multi-speaker installations, live cinema, and performance. Her compositions often include field recordings, chamber instruments, and electronic textures. Additionally, she performs multi-speaker electronic compositions, and compositions for inside piano and objects. Her latest LP/download release, Karren (Sedimental, 2013), an electroacoustic and orchestral piece performed by Chicago Composer’s Orchestra, has been chosen as “Best of 2014″ by The Wire, Pitchfork, and Artforum, among other publications.
http://www.oliviablock.net/
https://soundcloud.com/olivia-block

Hailing from the singularly vibrant musical hotbed known as Chicago, CHEER-ACCIDENT has been a creative, vital force in rock music for over 20 years. They constantly strive to surprise their audiences and themselves through relentless reinvention. From dreamy pop to angular art-rock, CHEER-ACCIDENT strikes a powerful balance between personalized and unique studio wizardry and the visceral excitement of a well-honed, explosive live rock band. The band is a quintet at its foundation, but they often presents themselves in various configurations…including this year’s CFA Media Mixer lineup of Jeff Libersher (guitar, vocals),Thymme Jones (drums, vocals), Evelyn Davis (piano, vocals) & Dante Kester (bass).
http://www.cheer-accident.com/

More news to come! but in the meantime, you can view CFA MEDIA MIXER 2012 collaborations here & 2013′s here.



!!EXCITING UPDATE!! Latham Zearfoss & Bastardgeist’s video collaboration will feature a live and magnetic performance by Darling Shear – poster child for all things Fabulous from the 1500′s to 1900′s.

Darling is the daughter of the sensational “PINKY SHEAR” the famous French Maid to some the worlds most fabulous burlesque performers. Darling did not want to take up a feather duster but feather boa, and Pinky Shear knew her daughter was meant to be something more than a French Maid. Darling spent many years in classical dance training at her mothers wishes and from the first moment she put on her tutu she never wanted to think of picking up anything with feathers unless it was for a costume. Although Darling loved the world of classical Ballet that was molding her she too a fancy to the freedom of Jazz dance; I mean her mother works for burlesque performers. She started to take more Jazz classes and soon became a overnight sensation with her first job she got at the age of 15 from one of her mothers Burlesque friends. Darlings love for the gyration of the hips, seductive poses, and flashy bare all quality shined so bright on that night she had audiences in the palm of her hands. And from that point on to this day every time Darling takes the stage the audience stops so they won’t miss a single pirouette turn. Now Darling performs Historical Jazz Dance re-stagings and reenactments.