Management! by! portraiture!

Welcome to my management style, which is called…MANAGEMENT BY PORTRAITURE!

STEP ONE: Engage Keith Bridges Media. Could be somebody else, I guess, but Keith is the one who says “pick a place you like, you should like the place we shoot, cuz that’ll come through in the photos.” He tells you, “look normal, look like yourselves or it’ll be weird when you show up for whatever you applied for and you don’t look like your headshot.” Plus, many other things that make it seem the most normal thing in the world, some weeknight, to stand in Stephanie’s driveway smiling and smiling.

STEP TWO. Show up. Everybody show up after a long day, no exceptional primping. Accidentally coordinated necklines a BONUS!!!

STEP THREE: Now. Now comes the management piece. Tell your team: “We will all now apply for something that requires a professional headshot.”

Can be anything. Solo exhibition of your profoundly emotive photos of organic vegetables? Yes. Solo exhibition of your wrenchingly wrenching sculptures somewhere other than the gallery where you work? Yes yes.

Leader of a movement to replace the custom of coloring gray hair with the new custom of weaving in dreadlocks made from the felted shearings of an equally-or-more-graying alpaca from Golden Meadow Alpacas? [Which is kind of near Amboy, a beautiful drive, I got a speed warning last time and the cop was like “ma’am is there some reason for the speed” and I’m like “well it’s really pretty out here and I was just really enjoying myself.”]

Anyway. Yes. This is the intended focal point of my personal headshot. “Leader of a movement” doesn’t have an application process requiring a portrait but I’m not concerned about that right now.

Pick your thing. An exhibition, an audition, a job you don’t hate, a movement (but not my movement, mine is taken). You have options. For starters, though, get the shots. Look like yourself. Get the shots and then do the thing it forces you to do.

A portrait gives you more information than you can stand, sometimes. Because it’s not your own (possibly warped) version of you, it’s actual-you, through the nonfilter of generous human vision and talent. So. Here is Keith’s stuff.


Burlap, satin, passion. Pageant fashion.

It’s pageant season! Not as in The Miss America Pageant although it might be that season as well. I’m not sure. I quit paying attention to that in 1983 after I won a spot on the high school homecoming court, and wrote in my bio that my big life goal was “to win The Miss America Pageant,” which I thought was hilarious due to irony but that didn’t come through in the homecoming flyer distributed school-wide so basically I set myself up for a year’s worth of mockery and I think it’s understandable why I’ve worked since then to dissociate myself altogether from that kind of pageantry.

No, it’s church pageantry season we’re talking about, the type familiar to those who grew up in Protestant churches lucky enough to have a volunteer youth music director, some kids with decent singing voices, and a couple of moms who could craft.

By “craft” I mean they could take the blandest remnants of burlap, felt, yarn, trim, etc., and create wearable works of art evoking whatever it was our characters were supposed to evoke. A leader, a follower, a skeptic, a truth-teller, a mob. While the music and storytelling of Christmas and Easter pageants tended to be literal and easy to learn in a few rehearsals, costumery was high concept. More suggestive of the notion of “leper” than, like, actual face-latex representation of “leper.”

Pageant Momface

Jill Fischer, Pageant Mom of the Jesus Christ Superstar Pageant & Singalong, complete with purse which yeah probably has a tissue if you need it.

Forever and ever and evaaaaahhhhh

Lisa Noll, Artistic Director of Pageant Costumery, in bloodytoned lace-up Judas burgundy.

Like a whole lot of creative achievements, this arose from necessity. No church with a volunteer music director has a costume budget. You work with what you’ve got, you figure out how to evoke complex and epic states of being using only scrap and suggestion and hot glue. As the late music and fashion icon Prince said in his concept album about spirituality, sensuality, love and racism (The Rainbow Children, 2001) — “you do the work.”

Right now, In this same vein, about 20 Mankato-area music lovers are busy assembling costumes for the roles they’ll sing on Saturday, April 8, in the one-night-only free public performance of the world’s first Jesus Christ Superstar Pageant & Singalong.

The cast consists of local public officials, professionals, full-time parents, part-time students, radio hosts and others — myriad grownups, most of whom don’t perform publicly but have been belting out Jesus Christ Superstar alone in their cars or showers for years. They started showing up for rehearsals at the Arts Center of Saint Peter in September, and word spread and the band and cast formed, and now this. Allllll this…

Hey JC!

Willy Faulstich (violin, guitar), Shelley Pierce (bass), Joe Tougas (guitar), Scott Rahe (drums) & Gordon Aase (keyboards) are the badass Hey JC Band.

HEYYY, aren't, you, scared of me Christ

Suzanne Douma (Mary Magdalene) & Shane Frederick (King Herod) don’t always drape themselves in earth tones and librettos, but when they do it’s for the Jesus Christ Superstar Pageant & Singalong.

Shyboy Tim

Even Videographer Tim Lind dresses the part. The part of Videographer Tim Lind.

See eee eee how see how I die

Curt Douma, reprising his 1970 role as Jesus (in the Wilson Campus School production) (YEP) delivers a heartbreaking Gethsemane and wears the hell out of this tunic.


Shane Frederick as Herod. Strong autonomous brilliant local wymyn as His Ladiez.

heckyes kazoos

Suzanne Douma with I don’t actually know what this is. Kazoo maybe. Suzanne’s ideas are reliably good (see: RUFFLES!) so just trust it.

What if I just stayed here and ruined your ambition

LadyJudases Jenn Melby-Kelley & Lisa Noll, whose voices kill me and whose wardrobe choices to represent the skeptical inscrutable indispensable Judas are spot-on.

And they’re approaching costume-planning with fitting gravitas. Expected to appear in the wardrobe tableau: White tunics posing to represent ray-of-light-ish-ness. Burlap for historical accuracy (historical as in church pageants of our youth, not New Testament). Blood-red scarves, wearable coin purses, cowhide. Leaves (plastic and palm, both). Cardboard, bathrobes, sandals.

Don't let me stop your great self-destruction

Oh just Kim Henricks (Pontius Pilate) in laurel wreath relaxing near Pac-Man, with Jeff McConnell (Annas) in beanie that echoes the tones of the video golf screen. Pageant fashion, everyone.

Some of the choices come from cast members’ hopes of sparking reflection on the notions of service, sacrifice, leadership and followership — ideas first cracked open for them, personally, by way of this music. Some of the choices are inspired solely by a love of fringe or flared legs or other flamboyance that doesn’t get much wear in regular daily life.

My own style, that night, will reference the makeshift togas my choir friends wore to the last singalong party I hosted, which was in high school, not long after my “Miss America” screw-up. Choir was a sanctuary where self-expression met discipline met community. Choir friends got the joke and wore the togas.

Whether you’re a former choir geek or not, a fan of rock opera or not, a tunic-wearer or rainbow child or not, you’re invited to come out April 8 and wear your feelings on your sleeve. Or on your head or around your neck or whatever you’ve got. Make use of your personal style. Make use of your voice. Scour your closet and come flaunt, strut, share, get beeeautifully loud with us.

One more open rehearsal remains! Wednesday, March 30, setup 7-8 p.m., music 8-9:30 p.m. Lyrics provided. Talent absolutely not necessary. Free free free, and so is the main event:


Saturday, April 8, 8 p.m.

Patrick’s on Third, St. Peter

A co-production of KMSU Radio and the Arts Center of Saint Peter

Ann’s Fashion Tarot: 3D Edition

So my friend Laurie’s like, yeah, I want a reading but I don’t think I want to know the future.

0 I II

     0. The Fool  I. The Magician  II. The High Priestess

I’m like, Laurie, they don’t do that. They can’t show you the future.


     III. The Empress  IV. The Emperor  V. The Hierophant

They’re clay.


     VI. The Lovers  VII. The Chariot  XI. Strength  VIII. The Hermit

They can only hug your finger and force you to stare at what’s right in front of you.

Which, if you’re doing this right, is a puppet. A puppet version of the Major Arcana. Those are the big-deal cards of the Tarot. The states and stages a person moves through over and over, like it or not, starting with 0.The Fool [open, empty, ready, assume nothing, zero] all the way to XXI. The World [wholeness, completion, fulfillment — not an ending, but completion of a cycle that starts right on over again at terrifying beautiful zero].


I’m like, Laurie, all the Tarot Puppets can do is help you see what’s in front of you. Things in your present. Things you weren’t already seeing, or things you kind of sensed were there but just refused or forgot to see. That’s all they can do.


     VIII. Justice X. The Wheel XII. The Hanged Man

To some people, when Tarot Puppets help them see what they kind of actually probably felt but didn’t want to see in their personal private hopes or fears or addictions, a lot of people feel like: OMG OMG HOW DID THEY KNOW?!?!?!?!


     XIII. Death XIV. Temperance XV. The Devil

But I’m telling you, they didn’t. They don’t know anything. They can only show you what you weren’t seeing.

I think what freaks people out even more than the feeling of HOW DID THEY KNOW is the fact that once you see what’s in front of you, and it’s huge and/or thrilling and/or stupidly obvious and/or embarrassing, you kind of expect the puppet to back off, like, be polite and get out of the way while you feel your feelings and decide what to do now.

But it doesn’t. They don’t. The Major Arcana are not polite and they also don’t judge. They just look at you.

That, I think, is the actual freaky part. The puppets keep on staring their lovestare, and they don’t damn you for not-seeing in the first place. Or for feeding any particular hopes or fears or addictions.

They also don’t damn you for starving any particular hopes, or fears, or addictions.

I mean. They’re puppets.


     XVI. The Tower

They are unflappable.


     XVII. The Stars

They’ve been around forever. Older than dirt. Technically speaking, they are actual dirt.


     XVII. The Moon XIX. The Sun

They have seen it all and they find all of it gorgeous.


     XX. Judgment XXI. The World

Including whatever Laurie’s not yet seeing but kind of wants to see but hopes somebody else will just see it first and point it out. Laurie. It’s gonna be cool. Call me when you’re ready.

mystic golden hanger


Wait, so how is this about fashion? A) Because you WEAR THEM. The puppets. B) Because I can’t give a reading without wardrobe suggestions at the end. Like, if your reading suggests that The Chariot is your thing — the yoking together of unlike forces which will move you forward all swift and steady — then I’m sorry but you’re gonna need to wear some very unmatching things to remind you of that. Pretty much all the time. Or start mixing your metals. Clash your shoes. I don’t know exactly but I think you have some shopping to do.

Here’s the original Ann’s Fashion Tarot if you want to see. I mean just if you want to.


April is the pearlest month day twenty-nine: PAUSE THE FOLKTALE, woman with no pearls got something to say

One fierce final guest post. Please welcome Stephanie Thull.

I must be the exception. Not only do I not own a real strand of pearls – proud owner of a down-to-your knees strand of fakes granted after the departure of my mother’s mother, per my request of all her odd, impartial jewelry that I proudly wear when the outfit presents itself – but no, real pearls are not a part of my life. I want them to be, but really, any eligible milestone that would incur the passing down, or gifting of pearls to my behest, has passed.

30 & pearless

30 & pearless but making the most of it.

Not that I’m complaining, quite the opposite. Instead – Furs.


I own furs…gifted and second-hand of course, but, and perhaps this will become some sort of spin-off, but does that really make any difference should you decide to wear the fur in public? Most likely not. I don’t even eat meat.

fakes & furs

fakes & furs

After my father’s mother passed away, my aunts decided to give me the coordinating fur stole and muffler that were the possession of my great grandmother. Positively mink, but not the head and feet kind. Just the basic, Gordon Furs of St. Paul stole and muff, soft, brown and completely useless…

quilt & furs

the quilt is not completely useless, and was the last one Marie made – a way better gift

And furs, like pearls, are complicated articles of fashion. Seriously, find me an occasion where wearing this is appropriate.

sunlit cape

the cape. a glorious find from the thread shed III in sauk centre, mn…$25. i couldn’t not buy it.

Okay, maybe here:

it works great if you're going as a beaver – or mink, i guess.

it works great if you’re going as a beaver – or mink, i guess.

But that is it.

As for the muff & stole…you guessed it, wrapped up stashed away in my closet (I am not even sure if properly stored, I suppose I should ask a furrier).

Much like many a lady’s pearls – neatly stored in their velvet boxes – waiting for the right time, my furs await the fateful winter day they get rustled out from their hiding spot and used as nature intended.

I assume it would be to a funeral.

I assume it would be to a funeral.


You know that impossibly cool stuff at the St. Peter Food Co-Op & Deli besides the food? The scarves, the finger puppets, the rubber things that turn a faucet into a drinking fountain? That’s Stephanie. She’s the one who acquires and displays that stuff. She’s also the person who acquires and displays the goods in the Arts Center’s gallery shop. So basically if you’re interested in buying or selling or consigning cool goods in southern Minnesota, basically, I hope you own some fur.

Tomorrow: Foiled plans, stubborn legacies, and the end of me talking about my pearls.