African Storyteller draws crowd into Arcata Playhouse

By Bailey Tennery
Flapjack staff

Once upon a time laughter filled the Arcata Playhouse on April 4, as a Grammy-nominated storyteller Diane Ferlatte, 72, acted out lively characters from one of her stories. The audience sat and listened quietly during the beginning, but throughout the end the audience became incorporated in the story by singing along or clapping when given instructions to.

Ferlatte believes that personal narratives as well as folktales can be used to help cross cultural understanding, and hopes her audiences grasps the message she is sending.

“It gives me the opportunity to pass on history, especially folk history, culture, and values, in the most traditional and effective way,” said Ferlatte. “Good stories can serve as excellent examples and teaching tools in the area of character development.”

Ferlatte’s mother was poor. She was a maid all her life cleaning and washing for Europeans.

“She was happy,”said Ferlatte. “Sometimes when you’re poor it doesn’t take long for the whole bottom to fall out.”

The Street Sweeper was Ferlatte favorite story she told that night. It was about a poor farmer who left his family to get a job in the city. The farmer swept the streets and kept his money in the shop of a jeweler. After five years the jeweler refused to return the money.

“No one wants to do business with a man who wants to steal from the poorest of the poor,” said Ferlatte. “You’re not rich by what you possess your rich by how you can do without. Those who know enough is enough will always have enough.”

Ferlatte believes that African culture storytelling is not a spectator sport in comparison to European culture. She appreciates audience interactions.

“I was once invited to tell stories at a brunch, their faces were stone, arms crossed, legs crossed, eyes crossed, no face,” said Ferlatte. “When I finished they roared and gave me a standing ovation, but I thought why didn’t they show me a sign.”

A high school psychology and history teacher Ana Farina, 34, received a master’s degree in education from the University of San Francisco. Farina full-heartedly believes in the art of storytelling.

“Storytelling is an invaluable tool that I use to help my students remember things,” said Farina. “It enables me to attach emotion to a concept or historical event in a way that a textbook never can.”

The part Ferlatte loves most about storytelling, is that when a person has a dark day a simple story can make them feel better.

“When we tell stories, especially personal stories where we open ourselves up to whoever is listening, there is often for the listener a value to be learned,” said Ferlatte. “There is also encouragement to be gained, knowing that others before them have conquered fears and challenges similar to their own.”

Before Ferlatte became a storyteller held an office job. The idea to change careers sparked when she adopted a four-year-old boy named Joey, with her husband Tom. The boy was glued to the television, she dedicated herself to breaking him from it.

A private school 5th grader, Kayla Fiedler, gave her full attention during the performance and expressed her thoughts about Ferlatte’s act.

“I liked how she used sound effects and sign language,” said Fiedler. “I also liked how she used her own life references in her stories.”

David Ferney, 54, has been in the world of theater for 40 years and has performed in 20 different countries. Ferlatte’s performance was a part of the Playhouse’s Family Fun Series which was sponsored by Kokatat Watersports Wear, Holly Yashi Jewelry and Wildberries Marketplace.

“We bring the schools here to the Playhouse instead of us going to them, to their schools,” said Ferney. “We do this so that they gain experience in theater and that they become exposed to the performers, and when they become older they come back to the theater.”

Erik Pearson a native Pennsylvanian, adds music to Ferlatte stories. Pearson studied music at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. According to him, there is no rehearsal before performances with Ferlatte.

“It is organic, most of it is listening and having an idea of how to respond to fit the story she is telling,” said Pearson. “She used to have another musician, but he moved away before she was about to perform at the Hollywood Bowl an outdoor amphitheater in LA.”

According to Ferlatte stories are a mirror, meaning that they teach us a lot about ourselves. There are many reasons why she tells stories, one of them is to educate other cultures.

“I like to tell stories to teach people about my culture,” said Ferlatte. “Other cultures have been telling our stories for long enough, it’s time that people hear our stories from our culture.”


Underfunding of art programs looms

By Andrea Curiel
Flapjack staff

For many involved in a creative program, their involvement is their main method of stress relief. Take away that method of stress relief, and the negative results are endless. Then there are the countless stories of shy, introverted teenagers possibly saved by joining some kind of creative ensemble and coming out of school with irreplaceable friend groups and outgoing personalities. Art programs are crucial to human development. But in many public schools, they’re becoming obsolete.

Braedyn Tawyea, psychology major at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, was involved in his high school’s music program and thoroughly believes his involvement was beneficial to his overall health and wellbeing.

“I love music so I participated in choir, band, and marching band in high school. I got to relieve a lot of stress when I played or sang,” Tawyea said. “I would say 100 percent that art programs aren’t seen as valuable anymore, which sucks considering how helpful they can be when you’re stressing about core classes and you just want that one fun class to be creative in.”

With President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities,  federal support for the arts is on track to failure. New York Times writer Sopan Deb reports that only $300 million of the $1.1 trillion annual discretionary spending is currently being put towards both endowments, and each endowment receives a multitude of grants from coveted artists for decades, which solidifies the importance in society. Unfortunately, the government thinks otherwise, and some are fully determined to eliminate all “unnecessary” spending.

In K-12 public schools, similar funding concerns have resulted in classroom creativity being overlooked at young ages, and the emergence of increasingly STEM-heavy curriculum.

In high schools, art programs are losing funding, and are treated more as electives instead of requirements. Music programs are forced to fundraise year-round, art and theater classes resort to using scrap materials, journalism and design programs lack the proper technology to generate a decent product.

However, on the other end of the educational spectrum, science labs receive new equipment more frequently than arts programs. Math lessons are more prevalent than music lessons, and it seems as though being unable to write a decent sentence is not a problem as long as you know how to balance math equations.

Ana Judith Puga, a 19 year-old environmental studies major at HSU, is passionate about the sciences but has always had a special connection to the arts.

“I do feel like art programs have decreased because people don’t think funding for art is as important for as other academics,” Puga said. “I took art and music classes in middle school and high school, and our theater class was never a class, just a separate program.”

Recent high school graduate Kasea Horn, 19, believes her lack of involvement in art programs was because of the severe underfunding of them.

“I was involved in photo for two years,” Horn said. “I was never really too involved though because the programs at my school had no money. It’s like art programs aren’t really emphasized in school these days.”


Students explain HSU’s decreasing enrollment

By Uche Anusiem
Flapjack staff

Leaving your family member and loved ones to go off to college is not an easy task. Many people even get home sick from being apart for so long. But could that also contribute to the number of students choosing to transfer out or leave Humboldt State University?

It is not a secret that students are dropping out or choosing not to attend this university due to various reasons, though not all students will disclose those reasons.

HSU computer science major Deejay Watson, 23, is from Riverside, California, in SoCal, and has been going to HSU for two years. Watson likes the college town vibe but he isn’t crazy about the weather here, and at times he’s concerned for his safety.

“I like how it’s a town filled with a majority of college students, makes me feel like we can relate to the same struggles of living in a town that usually doesn’t have much going on,” said Watson. “And some of the things that I don’t like about being up here is the constant cold weather. And also I’m concerned about my safety up here.”

The Mad River Union newspaper reported on the decreasing number of student enrollments for Fall 2016.

“Humboldt State University’s Fall 2016 enrollment figures are down 250 students from a year ago, accompanied by a loss in freshman-to-sophomore retention rate,” wrote Jack Durham from the Mad River Union.

For a majority of students interviewed, two things that stood out. One of them being the weather in Humboldt County, and the other being their safety in the area. That comes as no surprise as the city of Arcata is known to have cold weather and constant rain fall. And in Humboldt County especially in Eureka, there have been known crimes to occur in the area.

HSU marketing major Jake Hunt, 21, is not coming back to HSU in the fall. Hunt is from Santa Rosa, California, north of San Francisco. Though it is not SoCal, areas such as Riverside and Santa Rosa both differ immensely from some of the towns here in Humboldt County.

“I feel like there’s people that leave Humboldt because this isn’t really a place that has many things going on to begin with,” Hunt said. “Like there’s really not much to do up here compared to other places or campus locations.”

For several students, the university is not located in the most favorable of areas compared to other schools in more populated areas like UC Berkeley, Chico State and Sacramento State. The homeless problem in the Arcata community also troubles students. It does not give the university or the area the best image when trying to actually recruit student to attend the university.

HSU science major James Flag, 20, has been a student at Humboldt for a little over two years now.

“To be honest man, this isn’t the funnest or safest place to attend school. Especially for someone who might be looking for that full college experience, you know?” Flag said. “Don’t get me wrong though, you can still have a great college experience coming up here. It’s just that there might be some students who came from places like the inner city areas or places where you know they had many options that were close by to and eat or places to go have fun at like clubs or bars and stuff. Not saying they don’t have it here but it’s not a lot or it’s too far.”

Magic of film survives in a digital world

By Lauren Shea
Flapjack staff

Roxana Ramirez, a 21-year old art student, shoots in both film and digital.

“I think it looks more organic than shooting with digital,” Ramirez said.  “I like how the colors show up in film.”

Film photography is still around and people enjoying shooting in that format. Film photography may not be popular with everyone anymore, but people still enjoy film photography.  It’s a great learning tool for people that want to learn more about photography.

“I think we should keep it around because that’s where it all started,” Ramirez said. “I would hope it would last as long as digital is around. I hope it never goes away. I think it would be a really bad choice on our part to just think that it’s over.”

Nicole Hill, HSU art professor from Eureka, California, thinks that film is a great tool in teaching beginning photography students. Film provides more basic information about how a camera’s manual settings work. The photographer controls the ISO, the aperture, the shutter speed and the focus on the lens.

“From a teaching perspective, it’s incredibly valuable,” Hill said. “It helps reiterate the concepts of camera functions and exposure. You can teach it a lot better if you have access to both because you can’t really fidget with film. With film photography, it forces you to slow down and pre-visualize the picture before you actually hit the shutter. There’s also the anticipation that goes into it and the kind of excitement from the reveal of that experience that I think is really magical.”

People can take multiple photos at a time. There’s this tendency today for people shoot many photos thinking that some of the photos will be great. That however is not the case most of the time. Taking more photos won’t make great photos, but taking the time to take the shot will.

“There’s this feeling that the cameras are so advanced now and that they can capture these really great pictures, but actually a daguerreotype that was utilized back in 1839 has far more detail  because it really came down to the optics of the lens and the way it was capturing information,” Hill said.

The difference between shooting film and digital is that the image on film is recorded by light sensitive particles on the film that is brought out when light hits the film and then goes through a developing process to bring out a negative image that a photographer can then print through another process. Everything is a lot more hands on in film photography. Digital cameras record light that hits the sensor and then digitally records the information on a secure digital (SD) card and saves it as a collection of pixels in a file that make up a photo. The analogue cameras are able to capture more details of objects and light onto film better than digital can.

“Film was only really uncool for a very brief window of time because people got excited about digital, but then digital was everywhere all the time and it saturated our lived experience almost immediately,” Hill said. “I think it’s going to become more of a niche thing like printmaking or vinyl records, but I think it’s always going to exist.”

Here in Humboldt County, there is still places where you can buy film and places to develop film. Swanlund’s Camera in Eureka still develops film in their shop as well as provides digital services. Joaquin Freixas, manager of Swanlund’s Photo from Eureka talked about film in the digital world.

“Digital in today’s world is a must,” Freixas said. “However, I would say what’s probably disappointing with digital is that people don’t make a lot of prints probably because they aren’t necessarily satisfied with what comes out from their camera. They have everything online and saved on their computer hardly ever getting around the time to organize photos and look at them in the same way. I think people are missing a huge part of their history. I think film will be around because it has the capabilities that digital doesn’t.”

Photography really comes down to the knowledge of the photographer and not necessarily the tools the photographer decides to use to capture an image. People are drawn to a photograph regardless of it being film or digital and chances are most people wouldn’t even know the difference.

“The limitation to digital photography is your imagination, your time and your money,” Freixas said. “The biggest part about any picture is does it tell a story and if it tells a story, people will be drawn to it.”


Painting the Pacific Northwest’s peaks with Ken Jarvela

By Casey Barton
Flapjack staff

Comfortably situated in Korbel, California lives Ken Jarvela, a Humboldt-born resident of 59 years and a respected local artist. After studying and cultivating a sensitivity to natural rhythms, Jarvela has painted hundreds of landscapes which capture the atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest and preserve their limitless majesty.

One might meet this funny and likely paint-dribbled artist at his favorite lookout spot on a nice day, or on rainy days hunkered-down in his trailer. Upon entering his home, it would be hard to miss the flanks of paintings that have accumulated or been set aside for future touch-ups. Walls are covered in sketches, favorite paintings or intricate topographic maps. One piece stands out from the colorful array and holds a special place in his heart. It’s a large chalk pastel of a redwood grove which was beautifully drawn by his grandmother.

“This skill has been dormant in the family for generations,” Jarvela said. “I’m proud to share my work with others.”

Along with an inherited artistic spark, Jarvela’s youthful explorations of the woods in Sunny Brae and hiking trips in the Trinity alps with his cousin gave him the opportunity to observe and appreciate natural landscapes. When he reached the age of 19, Jarvela finally started practicing with his own style and subjects. It was in a Beginning Drawing class at College of the Redwoods, with professor Jerry Smith, where he was actually encouraged to focus and start drawing what he really felt drawn to, mountains.

Jarvela began taking deeper explorations into to the Trinities with close friends and over time spent longer and longer periods in the mountains, documenting what he saw and living wildly. Michael Harris, also a local artist and succeeding in photography, would study composition with him and was one of the brave friends to join him in the wild. When reminiscing on their trips into the Trinities, Harris shared clear memories of the great take-away shots that they would capture and their mild cases of frostbite.

“Our backpacking trips were some of the most memorable moments for me,” he said. “We would go snow camping too and boy it would get cold!”

Harris would also help hike supplies out to different spots where Jarvela would camp until there was little left to eat. Even though it was a rough way to live at first, these periods of seclusion granted Jarvela another sense, an attunement with the landscape that never came as naturally in the city.

“When you go out there you remember you’re apart of something greater,” Jarvela said. “And the days start to seem just as quiet as the night.”

Jarvela’s deep love for the mountains never failed him and really only grew to include other beautiful landscapes, such as Mount Shasta, Crater Lake and Yosemite, to name a few.

“Sure I’ve traveled around,” he said. “But one really only needs to walk ten feet from where they’re standing to see a whole different world.”

Jarvela’s work oftentimes reveals that quality as if one is being transported to the very place he represents in a painting. Some days he even feels like he’s painting kaleidoscope images, with the colors and shadow his subject changing as the day ripens. Another photographer and close friend of Jarvela’s, Michaela Murphy, shared her experience in their friendship and her appreciation for his paintings.

“Ken is known for his atmosphere; there’s a life that his work takes on. I’ve always enjoyed seeing the progression of his paintings– from the first sketching or layer of paint to when he’s completed the work and eventually lets it go,” Murphy said. “Sometimes it can be sad to see them sold but the art really has a life and purpose of it’s own.”

Jarvela’s work has been featured all over Humboldt county. Some of his paintings currently live at the Erickson Fine Art Gallery in Healdsburg, Strawberry Rock Gallery in Trinidad, and a lasting mural above the storefront for Pacific Paradise in Arcata. With the support and awe that he has already, Jarvela plans to continue painting.

“Sure you can paint for yourself, but without others having the chance to recognize the work,” Jarvela says, “there would be no point to it all.”