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  • Impressions of a new medium

    first_imgBut her roots in the world of paint and canvas weren’t strong enough to slow her progress in the medium of monotype, a brand of printmaking that sees the artist drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface and transferring the image to paper via a printing press. The process goes back to the 17th century, but modern artists have kept it alive, using zinc and acrylic glass.“I am primarily a painter. I graduated with an emphasis in drawing. I even came to painting relatively late,” said Hoffman, whose monotype works form the focus of a show that kicked off last week at the Red Delicious Press in Aurora. “The monotypes, they’re sort of a lark. I wanted to try something different. I studied with (local artist) Joe Higgins. I really took to it, it’s really intuitive and really quick.”Hoffman’s show at Red Delicious, titled simply “Monotypes,” shows that rapid and intuitive progress through a collection of 21 framed works on the wall and a collection of about 60 monotypes for sale in the gallery’s bins. Like her canvases, the monotypes explore themes rooted in storytelling and mythology. The pieces hint at biblical stories and old legends. Animals and human faces play a central role in these works, as do characters that speak of ancient mythologies.“My usual imagery repeats itself – animals, faces. A couple of them touch on biblical themes and old stories. It’s probably part of my psyche,” Hoffman said, pointing to the piece “Mammon” as an example. The 22-inch-by-15-inch monotype with colored pencil and gold leaf illustrates a New Testament reference to material wealth and greed, a vice spelled out in the Sermon on the Mount as a false god. “It’s a face and some hands and a crown and some gold. It’s sort of like a depiction of the god Mammon … The Bible has so many stories in it. To me, there as interesting as any other stories. I grew up Methodist, my father was an atheist (but) it’s something that I’m interested in. You’ll also see images of Greek mythology.”Giving form to those themes in the medium of monotype meant switching artistic mindsets, Hoffman said. The feel of brush on canvas was much different from the precise, functional method behind printmaking, a medium with long and rich history. Unlike other forms of printmaking, monotype does not lend itself to multiple copies of a single piece, an immediate dynamic that appealed to Hoffman.“There’s the whole reversal process. You paint on the glass over the plastic. The entire thing is reversed. That was a challenge and a joy because there’s a surprise there,” she said. “It’s kind of a one shot thing. You have to get it right the first time.”For Hoffman, the Red Delicious gallery was a perfect venue to spotlight and explore a fresh medium. Hoffman, who works out of a gallery in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District, said visiting the gallery in Aurora that’s solely devoted to printmaking as an art form offered a rare opportunity.“It seems to me that Red Delicious is unique. It’s a place where there’s a work area for the members, and a lot of hard working print makers are there,” she said. “I feel incredibly honored that they would let me in. I’m not really a printmaker. I have gotten some good feedback from other printmakers … It’s a very open form.” Reach reporter Adam Goldstein at agoldstein@aurorasentinel.com or 720-449-9707 AURORA | Intuition played a big part in Katie Hoffman’s shift from painting to monotype.The Denver-based artist and graduate of Metropolitan State University has been solidly focused on the canvas for the majority of her career. Hoffman’s paintings evoke the surreal landscapes and dream-like tableaus of Marc Chagall. She cites the work of Francisco Goya as a major influence, and speaks fondly of the paintings of local artist Frank Sampson.center_img  “Katie Hoffman: Monotypes” runs until Oct. 27 at the Red Delcious Press gallery, 9901 E. 16th Ave. in Aurora. Admission is free. Information and appointments: 303-366-2922 or reddeliciouspress.com.last_img read more

  • CAN’T BREAK FOR LEGS: Ambitious schedule at John Hand has crews…

    first_imgReach reporter Adam Goldstein at agoldstein@aurorasentinel.com or720-449-9707 AURORA | The cramped, 1940s-era newsroom disappeared in a matter of hours.Vintage wooden desks and heavy typewriters vanished. The framed portraits that hung on the walls, the reams of paper and the clunky chairs became invisible. The newspaper office gave way to an interior from a modern, Midwestern home from another era, and it happened quickly. Actress Johanna Jaquith helps with a quick set change March 2 at the John Hand Theater. The John Hand Theater is hosting two very different plays that share the same stage, which requires a quick turnover from set to set. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Cast and crew from two separate shows help tear down a set before the next show, March 2 at the John Hand Theater. The John Hand Theater is hosting two very different plays that share the same stage, which requires a quick turnover from set to set. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Stage manager Amy Brosius does a quick set change March 2 at the John Hand Theater. The John Hand Theater is hosting two very different plays that share the same stage, which requires a quick turnover from set to set. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)center_img Stage manager Amy Brosius does a quick set change March 2 at the John Hand Theater. The John Hand Theater is hosting two very different plays that share the same stage, which requires a quick turnover from set to set. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Cast and crew from two separate shows help tear down a set before the next show, March 2 at the John Hand Theater. The John Hand Theater is hosting two very different plays that share the same stage, which requires a quick turnover from set to set. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) “All of their stuff gets pushed back,” said Johanna Jaquith, an actress and founding member of the Silhouette Theatre Company. Along with other members of the Silhouette troupe, she was working to transform the stage at the John Hand Theatre a few hours before curtain call on a Saturday afternoon. “We have a main curtain that we’re going to hang on this beam,” she said, pointing to the ceiling of venue tucked away on the grounds of the Colorado Free University in the Lowry neighborhood. “It’s going to create a black box theater.”The Silhouette’s production of Neil Labutte’s contemporary drama “This Is How It Goes” is running concurrently with “The Front Page,” the latest comedy from the Spotlight Theatre Company set in pre-World War II America. With two very different plays sharing the same stage in a single day, a quick turnover from set to set was necessary. But it was also impressive, considering the humble size of the stage at the 72-seat John Hand Theatre.This is no Denver Center for the Performing Arts, with its complex of multiple stages and thousands of seats. It’s not even on par with the smaller Aurora Fox theater, a venue that includes a main stage and a smaller, black-box theater in a different section of the former Art Deco movie palace. At John Hand, the tiny stage plays every role. It’s smaller than most high school auditoriums. Audience members have to cross the stage to reach their seats, and the backstage area is part of the maze of classrooms and halls that make up CFU.But that small scope hasn’t kept the venue from keeping up an ambitious menu of theater since CFU founder John Hand opened the small space in 2001 as Toad Hall. It’s become the home for two resident companies, the Spotlight and the Firehouse Theatre troupes. Within the past two years, the newly formed Silhouette company has joined John Hand’s ranks, putting on at least two shows a year.“It’s a healthy way to run a theater … You have to be able to engage people before you can try different things. It’s a very organized approach,” said Carol Petitmaire, who’s directing “The Front Page.” “It’s not a presenting house where people come in and nobody knows anybody. People here function as a family, as a team. It’s valuable for logistics.”There’s a lot of traffic here, and that much is clear in the schedule for the two shows in March. “The Front Page” runs on Fridays. “This Is How It Goes” runs on Thursdays. Both run at different times on Saturdays and Sundays.That simultaneous schedule doesn’t mean the two shows share much in the way of content, theme or layout. “The Front Page,” based partly on the 1940 film “His Girl Friday” and the 1974 remake, is the product of another theatrical era. Penned by Chicago newspaper vets Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur in 1928, the show features a cast of nearly 20 actors and plenty of pop culture references from a different time. Some actors don’t make appearances on stage until well into the second act, and the pace of comedy is rapid.“Sometimes I feel like I’m going to confront a warmed-up audience,” said John Greene, who plays Pinkus in “The Front Page.” He doesn’t come on the stage until late in the show. “Sometimes it’s an audience that doesn’t get all the ‘in’ jokes of the time period, and they still need a little warming up.”In comparison, the Silhouette company’s production of “This Is How It Goes” is minimal. There are three actors in the cast. The theme deals with modern questions of race, prejudice and social hang-ups. Instead of looking for laughs, Neil LaBute’s show poses uncomfortable questions.That fits in with the larger arc of the company’s short history. So far, the troupe has presented shows about class and parenthood; it’s explored uncomfortable questions about coming of age in the 21st century. Just as the titles “Spotlight” and “Silhouette” indicate, one company is focused on the lighter side of theater while the other is happy to explore darker themes.“To be challenged and to be changed is sort of our mission, which is very different from what Spotlight is doing,” Jaquith said. “My whole idea when I came up with that model is that great theater changes you … Ours just happens to be the challenging side of theater. We want you to come and face your own truths, your feelings about some of these very complex issues.”The troupes that share the John Hand Theatre may have different approaches to their art, but all of the creative missions seem to easily fit in the small space. On the opening weekend for both shows, Silhouette and Spotlight crews worked together to reinvent a limited space. They scaled ladders to hang black curtains, they lugged heavy wooden furniture to the back of the house and they cycled through different lighting cues for the two shows.“We’ve taken pictures of everything. We know where it goes so that the other stage manager doesn’t need to freak out when she comes in and say ‘Nothing is in place,’” said Paul Jaquith, another founding Silhouette troupe member. “We want people to come back and want to work with us again.”last_img read more

  • Fruit and vegetable leathers: Easy and not just for kids

    first_imgWhat does a schoolchild’s packed lunch have in common with a $300-a-head meal at a three-Michelin-star restaurant? These days, both frequently include an edible leather: a puree of fruit (or, in the case of the restaurant, more often of a vegetable, such as tomato or onion) spread thin and dehydrated until it becomes stretchy.Commercial fruit leathers roll out of factories by the yard, and those served at high-priced restaurants are prepared by expert chefs, so you might think that such a modern creation is beyond the means of the home cook. But it’s actually amazingly quick and easy to make an all-natural fruit leather that is a tasty, healthful and highly portable snack for the lunch box or backpack. My 10-year-old loves the mango chili leather.In this image taken on July 8, 2013, sweet raspberry leather is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)And you can use the same technique to create savory vegetable leathers that add interesting, modern touches to traditional dishes. At The Cooking Lab, for example, we put tomato leather on lobster rolls. A little tangle of thin onion leather strips makes a terrific garnish for gazpacho or vichyssoise; apple leather pairs nicely with squash soup.All you need to make your own leather is a blender, an oven and about 20 minutes of prep time. Edible leathers do need one to three hours to dehydrate — the thicker the layer of puree, the longer it takes to dry — but you can do other things while they sit in the oven. For these recipes, timing is not critical.There are just three prep steps: prepare the fruit or vegetable by coring, peeling and dicing it; puree all the ingredients in a blender to a smooth slurry; then spread the puree in a thin, even layer onto a silicone baking mat. An offset spatula is an ideal tool for that last step, but if you don’t have one, you can instead wrap six to eight loops of masking tape around both ends of a ruler so that it leaves a gap of about 1/16 inch (2 mm) as you draw it across the mat.Except for leathers made from fruits, like mango, which are naturally high in pectin, you’ll need to add a smidgen of gelling agent to the puree to get the right degree of stretchiness to the leather. Pectin can work, but its gelling strength varies greatly depending on the acidity of the puree. Xanthan gum, which you can find in the baking ingredients aisle of bigger grocers, performs more consistently. Xanthan is a natural product fermented from sugars. It is powerful stuff, so measure it carefully; use a digital scale if you have one.SWEET RASPBERRY LEATHERStart to finish: 2 hoursServings: 42 cups (300 grams) raspberries1 tablespoon (12 milliliters) cooking oil1/4 cup (45 grams) sugar0.6 grams (3/16 teaspoon) xanthan gumArrange an 11-by-17-inch nonstick silicone mat on a rimmed baking sheet. Heat a food dehydrator to 150 F, or set your oven to its lowest temperature.Combine all ingredients in a blender, then puree until thoroughly blended, at least 30 seconds. Working quickly, pour the puree onto the mat and use an offset spatula or other long, flat utensil to spread it into an even layer 1/16 inch thick. If the puree sits too long in the blender it may set into a custard-like gel; if that happens, blend it again until it becomes fluid enough that you can spread it easily across the mat.Place the baking sheet in the dehydrator or oven, and dry until leathery and tacky to the touch. A drying time of 1-1/2 to 2 hours is typical, but the time required can vary considerably depending on the thickness and wetness of the puree layer, the temperature of the chamber, and the humidity of the air. Use the convection setting on your oven if one is available.When the leather is done, peel it gently from the mat, and use scissors to trim it to individual serving sizes; for use as a garnish, cut it into long, thin strips. To store the leather pieces, roll them individually in waxed paper and then in plastic wrap. The leather will keep for a week when packaged this way.___MANGO CHILI LEATHERStart to finish: 2 hoursServings: 42 cups (300 grams) peeled and diced mango (about 1 medium mango)1 tablespoon (12 milliliters) cooking oil1 1/4 teaspoons (6 grams) sugar1 1/2 teaspoons (3 grams) minced red Thai chili or red jalapenoArrange an 11-by-17-inch nonstick silicone mat on a rimmed baking sheet. Heat a food dehydrator to 150 F, or set your oven to its lowest temperature.Combine all ingredients in a blender, then puree until thoroughly blended, at least 30 seconds. Working quickly, pour the puree onto the mat and use an offset spatula or other long, flat utensil to spread it into an even layer 1/16 inch thick. If the puree sits too long in the blender it may set into a custard-like gel; if that happens, blend it again until it becomes fluid enough that you can spread it easily across the mat.Place the baking sheet in the dehydrator or oven, and dry until leathery and tacky to the touch. A drying time of 1-1/2 to 2 hours is typical, but the time required can vary considerably depending on the thickness and wetness of the puree layer, the temperature of the chamber, and the humidity of the air. Use the convection setting on your oven if one is available.When the leather is done, peel it gently from the mat, and use scissors to trim it to individual serving sizes; for use as a garnish, cut it into long, thin strips. To store the leather pieces, roll them individually in waxed paper and then in plastic wrap. The leather will keep for a week when packaged this way.___OTHER FRUIT LEATHERSFollow the directions above, but substitute 2 cups (300 grams) cored, peeled and diced persimmons, apples, pears or apricots for the raspberries, and reduce the amount of sugar to 2 1/2 tablespoons (30 grams). Use more sugar if you or your kids prefer sweeter snacks.___TOMATO LEATHERStart to finish: 2 hoursServings: 41 1/8 cups (300 grams) tomato paste3 3/8 teaspoons (18 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil4 1/4 teaspoons (21 milliliters) red wine vinegar6 drops hot sauce3/16 teaspoon (0.6 grams) xanthan gumArrange an 11-by-17-inch nonstick silicone mat on a rimmed baking sheet. Heat a food dehydrator to 150 F, or set your oven to its lowest temperature.Combine all ingredients in a blender, then puree until thoroughly blended, at least 30 seconds. Working quickly, pour the puree onto the mat and use an offset spatula or other long, flat utensil to spread it into an even layer 1/16 inch thick. If the puree sits too long in the blender it may set into a custard-like gel; if that happens, blend it again until it becomes fluid enough that you can spread it easily across the mat.Place the baking sheet in the dehydrator or oven, and dry until leathery and tacky to the touch. A drying time of 1-1/2 to 2 hours is typical, but the time required can vary considerably depending on the thickness and wetness of the puree layer, the temperature of the chamber, and the humidity of the air. Use the convection setting on your oven if one is available.When the leather is done, peel it gently from the mat, and use scissors to trim it to individual serving sizes; for use as a garnish, cut it into long, thin strips. To store the leather pieces, roll them individually in waxed paper and then in plastic wrap. The leather will keep for a week when packaged this way.___ONION LEATHERFollow the recipe above for tomato leather, but substitute 1 1/8 cups (300 grams) pureed cooked onion or shallot for the tomato paste, and substitute cooking oil for the olive oil.___EDITOR’S NOTE: W. Wayt Gibbs is editor-in-chief of The Cooking Lab, the culinary research team led by Nathan Myhrvold that produced the cookbooks “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking” and “Modernist Cuisine at Home.” Their latest book, “The Photography of Modernist Cuisine,” will be released in October.last_img read more

  • Shrimp tacos in less time than takeout pizza

    first_imgWhat I really wanted was pizza. But I was too lazy to drive down to the pizza shop to get it, and they only deliver if you order $40 or more. And as much as I like pizza, that’s a lot of pizza.So I needed a dinner that was equally comforting, equally flavorful, but required even less effort and time than heading into town. My inspiration? Well, aside from the pizza I wasn’t having, that is… A 1-pound bag of frozen raw shrimp.I firmly believe that if you like shrimp, you should always have a few bags of them in the freezer. They thaw quickly, and cook even more quickly. As in minutes. I decided to convert my bag into sweet-and-tangy shrimp tacos, a good eat-with-your-hands sort of comfort food that would come together with minimal fuss.Aside from the cooking of the shrimp, use this recipe just as a guide. I like to top my tacos with soft goat cheese and avocado, but use whatever you like. Ditto for the flour tortillas; corn would be fine, too. Or if you really want, take all the same ingredients and dump them over a plate of tortilla chips for easy nachos.Whatever you do, don’t skip the tiny amount of sugar added when cooking the shrimp. It’s a trick I learned from Alex Guarnaschelli. It acts like salt to help highlight the natural briny-sweet flavor of the shrimp.SWEET-AND-TANGY SHRIMP TACOSStart to finish: 20 minutesServings: 42 tablespoons butter1/2 medium red onion, diced1 pound shelled, raw large shrimp1 teaspoon sugar1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes1/2 cup thinly sliced Peppadew peppersGround black pepperFour 8-inch flour tortillas1 heart romaine lettuce, finely chopped2 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese1 avocado, peeled, pitted and slicedIn a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and sugar and saute until just barely pink and firm, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes and Peppadews, then heat for another minute. Season with black pepper.Arrange a quarter of the romaine down the center of each tortilla, then top with a quarter of the shrimp and Peppadew mixture. Top each serving with a quarter of the cheese and avocado slices. Serve immediately.Nutrition information per serving: 460 calories; 190 calories from fat (41 percent of total calories); 22 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 195 mg cholesterol; 34 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 31 g protein; 750 mg sodium.J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at https://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets athttps://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at jhirsch@ap.orgCopyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

  • Permits, paperwork, fits, starts and bumps, Mu Brew opens as Colfax’s…

    first_img Nathan Flatland, owner of Mu Brewery, takes a quick couple of seconds from his hectic opening-day schedule to pose for a portrait on June 7 at 9735 East Colfax Avenue. After a year of remodeling the brewery and fine tuning his beer list, Flatland was ecstatic to serve up his work to satisfied customers. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) AURORA | It wasn’t fast.And it wasn’t without a few hiccups along the way. But after more than a year of work, beers are flowing at Mu Brewery on East Colfax Avenue. Nathan Flatland, the founder and brewer at Mu, said that after city inspectors gave him the go-ahead last month, he started brewing his first batch of beer. He served the first few customers June 6.  Nathan Flatland, owner of Mu Brewery, triple checks his product on opening day June 7 at 9735 E. Colfax Ave. After a year of remodeling the brewery and fine tuning his beer list, Flatland was ecstatic to open his business and serve up his work to satisfied customers. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Nathan Flatland, owner of Mu Brewery, shows customers his bright tanks June 14 at 9735 E. Colfax Ave. After a year of remodeling the brewery and fine tuning his beer list, Flatland was ecstatic to open his business on June 7 and serve up his work to satisfied customers. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Tap handles made by KOTA Longboard’s owner Mike Maloney, wait for opening hour on June 7 at Mu Brewery. After a year of remodeling the brewery and fine tuning his beer list, Nathan Flatland was ecstatic to serve up his work to satisfied customers. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Nathan Flatland, owner of Mu Brewery, takes a quick couple of seconds from his hectic opening-day schedule to pose for a portrait on June 7 at 9735 East Colfax Avenue. After a year of remodeling the brewery and fine tuning his beer list, Flatland was ecstatic to serve up his work to satisfied customers. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Nathan Flatland, owner of Mu Brewery, pours the first beer on opening day on June 7 at 9735 East Colfax Avenue. After a year of remodeling the brewery and fine tuning his beer list, Flatland was ecstatic to serve up his work to satisfied customers. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Lance Franklin, Chief Financial Officer of Mu Brewery, nervously checks the time on opening day June 7 at 9735 E. Colfax Ave. Franklin and owner Nathan Flatland completed the finishing touches on their brewery just in time for opening after a year of remodeling the brewery and fine tuning the beer list. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Nathan Flatland talks to customers June 14 at 9735 E. Colfax Ave. After a year of remodeling the brewery and fine tuning his beer list, Flatland was ecstatic to open his business on June 7 and serve up his work to satisfied customers. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) Jen Jayden sings her heart out to customers June 14 at Mu Brewery. After being open a week, Mu Brewery is offering live music along with a finely tuned beer list for its satisfied customers. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel) That isn’t to say those first few brew days were easy. They weren’t. Still, Flatland said that after the first few tries, whipping up batch after of batch of Mu’s raspberry red, maple porter, whit and others is getting easier and easier. “Now I’ve got the process down,” he said last week as he sweated through a marathon brewing session for Mu’s raspberry red. That brew has been so popular during Mu’s early days — which haven’t featured much marketing as the brewery gets off the ground slowly with a “soft opening” — that Flatland said he had to brew a second batch a week after pouring those first pints. For Flatland, the process of launching his own brewery at 9735 E. Colfax Ave. — in the heart of the burgeoning Aurora Cultural Arts District — was a lengthy one that had its share of lumps. Initially, when he announced plans for the brewery in spring 2013, Flatland planned to be up and running by the following fall. The target was the annual Oktoberfest weekends, a popular time for beer drinking. But the fall passed and the small storefront near East Colfax Avenue and Dayton Street sat unchanged, the squishy floor and dusty counter once used by a day labor operation still sitting there. Finding a contractor to turn the storefront into a brewery and tasting room proved more difficult that Flatland imagined. It wasn’t until February that construction there finally started. From there, the following few weeks were a bit of a blur. The long-dormant storefront quickly morphed into a spacious tasting room with a brew house in the back. With construction quickly moving along, Flatland had hoped for an opening sometime in April, but problems with a ventilation system pushed that out to June. Flatland said that once he got started brewing at Mu, he realized he had a lot left to learn about commercial brewing. He has been brewing beer at home for years, but scaling up to a large-scale operation was trickier than heexpected. The first day was a brutal 17-hour slog. “I was like, ‘Maybe I did this wrong, maybe I was an idiot and didn’t know what I was up against,’” he said. The first batch of brown ale had to be dumped down the drain after a glass thermometer in the kettle burst, mixing shards of glass with the otherwise tasty brew. With the frustration mounting, Flatland said he found helpful advice from some other local brewers who told him that several uber-successful local brew pubs experienced equally rough first days. Flatland said it took him a while, but he figured things out over time. “I didn’t get better until about day four,” he said.Flatland has said he hopes Mu will tap into a growing number of beer aficionados always looking to try something new from local craft brewers. According to the Boulder-based Brewers Association, more than 400 new breweries opened around the country in 2013, bringing the total number to more than 2,700. That’s up from 1,900 in 2007.For now, Mu is open Thursday through Sunday and Flatland said he is planning a grand opening celebration sometime in July.last_img read more

  • New Las Vegas tourism ad features Imagine Dragons

    first_imgLAS VEGAS | The latest ‘What Happens Here, Stays Here’ Las Vegas ad campaign features a familiar musical act from, well, right here.Indie-rock band Imagine Dragons has teamed up with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for the latest ad from firm R&R Partners.One is selling a destination.The other is selling a forthcoming as-yet-unnamed album.The creative crew for R&R tasked with keeping the ad campaign fresh, had their idea: two ads, one with a man, the other a woman, who both crisscross through Las Vegas scenes running into each other pool-side, or amid a fire-breathing variety act, at a 1920s-themed nightclub and a concert venue.Then, about two months ago, the hometown band Imagine Dragons came along with their newest single, “I bet my life.”The quickly conceived commercials that debut Monday were shot on location at SLS Las Vegas and MGM Grand casino-hotels. They cost $1.2 million to produce and will cost the Las Vegas tourism agency an additional $7.6 million to buy national air time on NBC, ABC, FOX, E!, Bravo, Food Network, USA, Travel Channel, Comedy Central and several others.Come spring, Chicago, Dallas and Houston should expect to see the spots a bit more than most.“We’re in debt to Vegas,” said Dan Reynolds, the band’s lead singer and a Las Vegas native, in interviews filmed by R&R. “We really owe everything to Vegas.”Imagine Dragons sold more than 3.9 million copies of its 2012 debut album “Night Visions” which included Grammy-award winning single “Radioactive.”Rob Dondero with R&R Partners, who leads the team that sells Las Vegas to the world, said the spots’ messages are simple.“Las Vegas is a place where anything can happen,” he said.The destination has been relying more and more on entertainment that doesn’t involve taking an actual gamble, and the ads don’t show a single slot machines or casino floor.Caroline Coyle, the visitor’s authority vice present of brand strategy indicated that wasn’t on purpose and said the campaign’s goal isn’t to highlight one particular aspect of Las Vegas.“We really like to evoke just a feeling for Vegas,” she said.last_img read more

  • Spinning top, puppet among 12 Toy Hall of Fame finalists

    first_imgROCHESTER, N.Y. | The spinning top, coloring book, Wiffle Ball and puppet are vying for a place in the National Toy Hall of Fame. The simple classics are among 12 finalists for this year’s class announced Monday.They are up against American Girl dolls, Battleship, Jenga, PLAYMOBIL, the scooter, Super Soaker, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Twister.Two winners will be inducted into hall at The Strong museum on Nov. 5.This undated photo provided by the The Strong museum, shows the 2015 finalists for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame. The two winners will be inducted into hall at The Strong museum on Nov. 5, 2015. (Bethany Mosher/The Strong via AP)Anyone can nominate a toy, but to earn a place in the hall of fame, they must have survived multiple generations, be widely recognized and foster learning, creativity or discovery through play.The finalists are chosen by historians and curators at The Strong. From there, a national panel of judges made up of inventors, educators, psychologists and others choose the winners.Last year, little green Army men, the Rubik’s Cube and bubbles took their place in the hall, joining 53 other old favorites, including Barbie, Easy-Bake Oven, G.I. Joe, the Frisbee and View-Master.This year’s finalists include two toys that date to ancient times, the puppet and the top. At the other end of the timeline is the Super Soaker, which put a tank of water on a squirt gun in 1990.American Girl dolls, Jenga and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys emerged in the 1980s, while the PLAYMOBIL line of three-inch figures was a product of the 1970s. Twister was introduced in 1966, followed a year later by Battleship. The Wiffle Ball was introduced in 1953.Scooters have been around since the turn of the 20th century, according to The Strong, along with coloring books, whose popularity soared with the invention of crayons.last_img read more

  • Museum of the Bible, built by Hobby Lobby owner, opens in…

    first_img Steve Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby and a founder and major backer of the Museum of the Bible, poses for a portrait at the museum, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in Washington. The museum cost $500 million to build, covers 430,000 square feet and is a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) On Friday, that vision will be realized when the 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible opens three blocks from the U.S. Capitol in what marks the most prominent public display of the family’s deep religious commitment. The $500 million museum includes pieces from the family’s collection from the Dead Sea Scrolls, towering bronze gates inscribed with text from the Gutenberg Bible and a soundscape of the 10 plagues, enhanced by smog and a glowing red light to symbolize the Nile turned to blood.It is an ambitious attempt to appeal simultaneously to people of deep faith and no faith, and to stand out amid the impressive constellation of museums in Washington. The Bible exhibits are so extensive, administrators say it would take days to see everything.Green says the institution he largely funded is meant to educate, not evangelize, though critics are dubious. Museum administrators have taken pains to hire a broad group of scholars as advisers. Lawrence Schiffman, a New York University Jewish studies professor and Dead Sea Scrolls expert, called the museum a “monument” to interfaith cooperation. Exhibits are planned from the Vatican Museum and the Israel Antiquities Authority.“There’s just a basic need for people to read the book,” said Green, sitting in a hotel-style suite inside the museum where visiting dignitaries can stay. “This book has had an impact on our world and we just think people ought to know it and hopefully they’ll be inspired to engage with it after they come here.”The last major splash the Greens made in Washington was over their religious objections to birth control. In 2014, Hobby Lobby persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to exempt for-profit companies like theirs from the contraception coverage requirement in President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. That culture war victory has in part colored reactions to the museum even before it opens.The Oklahoma company also had to pay a $3 million fine and return artifacts after federal prosecutors said they got caught up in an antiquities smuggling scheme. Steve Green said the company had been naive in doing business with the dealers. Items at the center of the fines were never destined for the museum, administrators say. Of the 1,100 items the museum owns, 300 come from the Greens’ personal collection.But skepticism surrounding the intent of the project has focused more on the Greens’ record of putting their fortune and influence behind spreading their particular religious beliefs. The museum will be the centerpiece of several of the family’s efforts, including sponsoring research on the Bible and promoting a Bible curriculum they hope will be used in U.S. public schools. An initial attempt in an Oklahoma school district was withdrawn following complaints the lessons weren’t neutral.“The museum is a massive advertisement for the curriculum,” said Mark Chancey, a religious studies professor at Southern Methodist University who has critically analyzed content of the Bible lesson plans.A new book written by Green and his wife Jackie about how they developed the museum seems to send mixed signals about their goals.In “This Dangerous Book, How the Bible Has Shaped Our World and Why It Still Matters Today,” the Greens write of the museum, “we’re not creating a place to proselytize.” They also write, “we believe there are multiple applications for Scripture, but only one interpretation,” and “time and time again, evidence has shown the Bible to be accurate.”Still, the museum avoids debates over interpreting the Bible, and over contentious issues such as evolution and marriage.Separately, critics have seized on a changing mission statement of the museum from its earliest days, when founders said they aimed to prove the authority of the Bible, to a new, more neutral goal of inviting people to learn more about the Bible. Museum president Cary Summers described the change as a natural progression as the project moved ahead.But John Fea, a historian at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, points to the family’s goal of helping people “engage with” the Bible as a telling indication about what the Greens hope to achieve. He said the “Bible engagement” concept was popularized by the American Bible Society in the 1990s amid concern that people who owned copies of the Scriptures weren’t necessarily reading them.Fea said advocates for this strategy ultimately hope the Bible will inspire a desire to learn more and maybe accept Christ.“There’s a public face to this Bible engagement rhetoric and then there’s a private aspect of what it really means,” Fea said. “It debunks the whole notion that this is just a history museum.”Green’s response to such arguments: Visit the museum and decide for yourself.Located near the National Mall, the building alone has been designed to inspire a sense of wonder. The Gutenberg gates flank the entrance. A 140-foot LED display runs the length of the entrance hall ceiling, bathing the lobby in a changing array of color. The floors are a mix of shimmering marble from Denmark and Tunisia, complemented by columns of Jerusalem stone. From two high stories, a glass atrium curves from ceiling to floor, echoing the shape of a scroll and providing a clear view of the Capitol dome and the Washington Monument.A section dedicated to the Bible’s modern-day influence includes a replica of the Liberty Bell, inscribed with a verse from Leviticus, and exhibits touching on slavery, abolition and the civil rights movement. A motion simulator called “Washington Revelations,” creates the sensation of flying over the nation’s capital to see Bible inscriptions and references in buildings and monuments throughout the city.The ceremony opening the museum aims to underscore a message of inclusivity, and will feature, among the dignitaries, a rabbi and two Roman Catholic cardinals bearing a message from Pope Francis.“I think people will come in here and will be surprised at how much this book has impacted their life in ways that they probably don’t even know,” Green said. Cary Summers, president of the Museum of the Bible, walks through an exhibit at the museum, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in Washington. The museum was built by the owners of Hobby Lobby, cost $500 million to build, covers 430,000 square feet and is a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) A door opens to the “Exodus” section at the end of the “Passover” presentation inside the Museum of the Bible, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in Washington. The project is largely funded by the conservative Christian owners of the Hobby Lobby crafts chain. Hobby Lobby president Steve Green says the aim is to educate not evangelize. But skeptics call the project a Christian ministry disguised as a museum. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) WASHINGTON | Eight years ago, Hobby Lobby president Steve Green found a new way to express his Christian faith. His family’s $4 billion arts and craft chain was already known for closing stores on Sundays, waging a Supreme Court fight over birth control and donating tens of millions of dollars to religious groups.Now, Green would begin collecting biblical artifacts that he hoped could become the starting point for a museum.center_img An exhibit discussing slavery in the United States is displayed inside the Museum of the Bible, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in Washington. The project is largely funded by the conservative Christian owners of the Hobby Lobby crafts chain. Hobby Lobby president Steve Green says the aim is to educate not evangelize. But skeptics call the project a Christian ministry disguised as a museum. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) People preview the exhibit “The World of Jesus of Nazareth” at the Museum of the Bible, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in Washington. The museum was built by the owners of Hobby Lobby, cost $500 million to build, covers 430,000 square feet and is a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Steve Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby and a founder and major backer of the Museum of the Bible, poses for a portrait at the museum, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in Washington. The museum cost $500 million to build, covers 430,000 square feet and is a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)last_img read more

  • Joy to the weed! Marijuana legalization comes bearing gifts

    first_img In this Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 photo, a marijuana bud is seen in Portland, Maine. Gift-giving has long been a part of marijuana culture, and the drug’s newly legal status is a source of Yuletide celebration in four states.Voters in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana last year, and some residents of those states will legally stuff stockings with spliffs for the first time this Christmas. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) In this Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 photo, James MacWilliams prunes a marijuana plant that he is growing indoors in Portland, Maine. “I figure, I’ve got all this pot, I might as well just give it away for Christmas,” said MacWilliams, who started growing weed when it became legal and is giving away fancy jars of his stash this year. “I told my friends, you’re all getting a little bit of pot for Christmas.” (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) PORTLAND, Maine | Peter Bernard’s Yuletide plans include dressing up in a tuxedo emblazoned with marijuana leaves, donning a green Santa hat and doling out cookie bars made with marijuana to his friends from a big pillowcase.“That’s me exercising my right to give marijuana this Christmas,” said Bernard, a Taunton, Massachusetts, pot lover who heads the Massachusetts Growers Advocacy Council when not doubling as “Pot Santa” at events for weed enthusiasts.Not everyone’s plans are quite so flamboyant, but for many pot lovers, this Christmas is much more about reefer than wreaths. Gift-giving has long been a part of marijuana culture, and the drug’s newly legal status is a source of Yuletide celebration in four states. In this Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 photo, marijuana plants grow indoors in Portland, Maine. Marijuana fans say one particularly popular gift this holiday season is homegrown marijuana, because it’s still not legal to purchase weed in many jurisdictions where it’s now legal to grow and use it. Voters in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana last year, and some residents of those states will legally stuff stockings with spliffs for the first time this Christmas. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) Voters in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana last year, and some residents of those states will legally stuff stockings with spliffs for the first time this Christmas.Because retail sales are operating in only one of those states — Nevada — Bernard and others excited about legalized pot said homegrown marijuana is one particularly popular gift.“I figure, I’ve got all this pot, I might as well just give it away for Christmas,” said James MacWilliams, of Portland, Maine, who started growing weed when it became legal and is giving away fancy jars of his stash this year. “I told my friends, you’re all getting a little bit of pot for Christmas.”Others plan to give marijuana-infused baked goods or even decorations made of pot plants.Statistics about legal sales of marijuana suggest a modest bump around the holidays. In the four states where it was already legal, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, it has been “generally a good month,” slightly ahead of November and January, said Roy Bingham, chief executive officer of BDS Analytics, a firm that compiles data about the pot industry. December sales accounted for 9.38 percent of sales revenue in Colorado last year, which is one percentage point above average, according to statistics provided by the firm.California’s retail laws begin next month, while Massachusetts’ retail laws are scheduled for July and Maine’s are still being developed.Legalization means pot lovers can legally do something they’ve always done, which is give away marijuana to people they love, said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.“People consume cannabis on the holidays and they always have,” Smith said. “Now they are doing so through a regulated system.”The drug remains illegal on the federal level, which means activities such as driving it across state lines or sending it through the mail are off limits. Authorities will deal with incidents involving marijuana in interstate commerce “on a case by case basis,” said Matthew O’Shaughnessy, a Boston-based spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, said marijuana was likely to be a part of Christmas in California this year whether it was legal or not.“Cannabis has been pretty ubiquitous here for several generations,” he said. “Honestly, I think everyone’s just a little more open about it.”last_img read more

  • ASK A DESIGNER: Creating a perfectly cozy place to read

    first_imgWe decorate our homes in order to enjoy them. For book lovers, adding a cozy and well-lit space dedicated to reading can be the perfect finishing touch.Most homes, of course, don’t have a spare room for use as a library. But interior designers often carve out one section of a living room, sunroom or master bedroom as a dedicated reading area, says designer Pamela Harvey.Harvey, who splits her time between design projects in Florida and in the northern Virginia/Washington, D.C., area, says that where you put a reading space depends on your habits. Are you seeking a spot that’s private and silent, or would you rather have an open, airy reading space to share with family members? This undated photo provided by Sherry Moeller shows a reading area on a Florida screened porch designed by Pamela Harvey. Reading nooks can be outdoors. (Colleen Duffley/Sherry Moeller via AP) This undated photo provided by Sherry Moeller shows an upper level seating area in a home designed by Pamela Harvey in McLean, Va. A bar cart placed near a comfortable window seat provides a place for a reading lamp and a spot to rest a mug or glass, creating a cozy reading nook with plenty of natural light. (Angie Seckinger/Sherry Moeller via AP) 1 of 3center_img This undated photo provided by Sherry Moeller shows a home library designed by Kelley Proxmire in Washington, D.C. An ottoman helps turn a comfortable chair into the perfect place for reading. (Angie Seckinger/Sherry Moeller via AP) Here, she and two other interior designers — Kansas City-based Jaclyn Joslin, founder of Coveted Home, and Bethesda, Maryland-based Kelley Proxmire — suggest ways to create a perfectly luxurious space, even on a budget.CREATIVE LOCATIONSJoslin has helped two clients turn unused formal dining rooms into multi-use spaces. Although the rooms are used by the whole family, she says, “in both homes we added nice comfy chairs for the adults to sit in and read.”Proxmire added a reading space to a home office for a woman who wanted her kids to cuddle up and read while she worked.She has also creatively repurposed spare closets, a trick that’s especially useful in children’s bedrooms. For one client, she removed closet doors, added a padded bench seat across the width of the closet, and then added a wall-mounted light fixture. Built-in drawers underneath the seat and shelf space above mean the closet still offers storage.Add pillows to the padded seat and a curtain for privacy, Proxmire says, and you’ve got the perfect place for a child to curl up and get lost in books.And if your reading space must be in a common area, you can still have a measure of privacy. Try adding a decorative screen or stragetically placed bookcase that functions as a room divider. That’s “a great way to carve out a little space in a corner of a room for a retreat-like feeling,” Joslin says.LAYERED LIGHTINGBuild in “the flexibility to have different levels of light” in your reading space, Harvey says.She suggests a mix of table lamps, floor lamps and small reading lamps.“Task lamps work really well,” she says.Joslin agrees: “I love floor lamps that are sleek and minimal that can be tucked under or right next to the chair to provide direct light for reading,” she says. “Swing arm wall sconces are also a great option for a reading nook.”Along with plenty of spots to plug in all this lighting, don’t forget to have enough outlets for chargers if you’ll be reading on a digital device, Harvey says.ALL THE RIGHT ELEMENTSReading chairs don’t have to be expensive. But they must be comfortable.“A chair large enough to curl your legs up into is the ultimate comfy zone for reading,” Joslin says, “so choosing chairs with arms and styles that don’t skimp on seat space is key.”And no matter how comfortable and large your reading chair may be, all three designers suggest including an ottoman or footstool so that your legs can be stretched out and elevated.“Drink tables next to the chairs are also a priority item, along with a few cozy throw blankets strewn about,” Joslin says.Keep these items within arm’s reach so you won’t have to get up once you’ve settled in to read. You’ll also want to keep reading material easily at hand.“If you’re tight on floor space,” Joslin says, “try some wall-mounted shelving to display books or a very utilitarian yet still stylish vertical bookcase.”Consider adding a small rolling bar cart or even a wet bar if your budget and space permit, Harvey says.“Maybe you’ll want a glass of scotch or maybe it’s a coffee bar,” she says. Whatever your preference, having these items in your reading space adds to the sense of luxury.LIBRARY STYLE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE DARK AND MASCULINEIf you have enough space and love a traditional “library” look, Joslin says, then “go full tilt with a sliding ladder, wing chairs in either leather or some tweed/wool type fabric and a chaise lounger if there is room.”But Proxmire says you don’t have to be limited to dark paneling and leather upholstery. Have fun with soft or bold colors and cheerful prints if they’ll bring you joy.EDITOR’S NOTE – Melissa Rayworth writes the Ask a Designer column monthly for The Associated Press. Follow her on Twitter at @mrayworth.On the Web:https://www.kelleyproxmire.com/https://www.pamelaharveyinteriordesign.com/https://covetedhome.com/last_img read more