Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Frame of Mind 7/12/06 Gay Games

With "The Electric Horseman" echoing out over the ice, Oak Park resident Dana Ginsberg glided backward, preparing for a jump.

The figure skater was outfitted in black velvet butterfly print, her skirt fluttering in the breeze generated by her speed, flesh-tone tights on her legs. She jumped, two singles one after the other.

Ginsberg shared the Oakton Ice Arena in Park Ridge with 14 other people, figure skaters and coaches running through their routines. She glided around and past each during her long program practice, the one she plans to perform at Gay Games VII in Chicago this month.

The music wound up, and Ginsberg hopped forward, both skates off the ice, stepped twice and finished with her arms in the air, her head back. She slid on one knee to the arena blue line and bowed to the audience, though the arena was devoid of applause.

Coming off the ice, Ginsberg panted and grabbed a bottle of water from an athletic bag sitting on a bench alongside the ice.

"I messed up a couple of jumps, but otherwise it was good," she said, sitting down. "I like it a lot."

Swallowing some water and putting on a pair of blue gloves to warm her hands, Ginsberg headed back to the ice, practicing jumps and spins in preparation for another long program run.

Ginsberg began skating as a young girl on a frozen lake in Twin Lakes, Wis., where her family had a summer and winter home.

"It was on this frozen pond on the lake, and I started out in blue, plastic double-runner skates," she said. "I used to watch skating on TV as a kid, Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill and all the spinning stuff they could do and the cute little skirts that they wore. I wanted to be like them."

Until she read the book "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes," and discovered what it took to become a figure skater.

"They have to starve themselves," Ginsberg said. "They have to have just the right image, just the right amount of luck. There are horror stories of pushy stage mothers behind them."

Ginsberg dropped skating in high school, picking it up again after college. She has skated for the last 13 years, entering various competitions.

A "straight but not narrow gay supporter," Ginsberg will skate in the Gay Games July 18 and 19 at McFetridge Park, 3843 N. California Ave. in Chicago.

"It really makes me angry when people talk about banning gay marriages in different states and think it's a good thing when we could be focusing on more important issues, like universal health care."

-Chris LaFortune

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Frame of Mind 7/05/06 A Heartbeat, A History

Slapping clay onto tables, pushing and prodding it into shape, the artists formed the
pieces of their mural, completing the parts before they could construct the whole.

Flipping the clay over and over, Hannah Karcher and Keyone Sellers, stretched it into wide rectangles and squares at
one table.

“You stretch it out so it’s not so thick,” Karcher said. “It uses more clay instead of taking a whole chunk of it and trying to fit it.”

At another table, three others formed the clay into flowers petals, birds and leaves. “This is kind of a bird,” Oak Park resident Emily Whitehead said, shaping the clay with her thumb and first finger, a plastic cup of water before her. “The petals are turning into birds. So they’re semi-birds.”

The art is for a mural on the railroad embankment wall alongside the Oak Park-River
Forest High School south athletic fields. The project, titled “Off the Wall,” is a six-week teen summer employment program with the Oak Park Area Arts Council and Chicago Public Art Group. One of the lead artists, Carolyn Elaine, said the mural’s theme is movement.

“We’ll bring life to the wall,” Elaine said of the mural. “It has a heartbeat, a history. It tells a story.”

-Chris LaFortune