MICHIGAN CITY — On Friday, at 7:30 p.m. Kristina Isabelle Dance and Tryon Farm Institute’s Art In Nature series will present “Mr. Canoe,” a documentary film about the life of Ralph Frese, master canoe builder, historian and expedition paddler and his 1976 expedition recreating Lasalle’s trip from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and their snow storm portage through NW Indiana.

Director James Forni will be onsite to share his story and the making of this film. Plus musician Tom Kastle will share his maritime songs and stories as it relates to Ralph Frese. The public is invited to come with a picnic and share an evening under the stars at Tryon Farm.

Suggested donations: $20 adults / $10 kids

In fall 2012, Chicago filmmaker James Forni was introduced to Ralph Frese, a world-renowned canoe-builder and conservationist whose Portage Park shop Chicagoland Canoe Base was known as the city’s last working blacksmith shop. 

Forni was able to dig into Frese’s past through research and interviews with more than 30 friends and peers. Forni and colleagues from his production company, Octane Rich Media, combed through archive materials, films, and radio and television interviews spanning half a century to create a 45-minute film that paints the “complex portrait of one of Chicago’s most interesting and influential citizens,” according to Octane’s synopsis of the film.

James Forni is an award-winning director, photographer and the founder of Chicago-based studio: Octane Rich Media. James has directed more than 1,000 television spots, webisode series, websites, short films and tutorials. 

For more than 25 years James Forni has created work for brands and Fortune 500 companies like Abercrombie & Kent, Dove, Hyatt, Jarden, Jim Beam, Levi’s, MasterCard, Mercedes Benz, the National Basketball Association and Rolex. In addition, James has worked directly with prominent personalities from Justin Timberlake to Lenny Kravitz and Michael Jordan.

Tom Kastle traveled the world, collecting and performing maritime songs and stories and captaining sailing ships on the Great Lakes. These days, his passions are even more diverse and include theatrical projects, from Man of La Mancha to Henry IV; film projects, like Francisco Torres’ Delight In the Mountain; and television, where he hosted a short documentary that was nominated for an Emmy Award. He is a musical director and composer, writing and performing concert opera narrations, hosting and interpreting nautical events, and being a musical and “concertina consultant” for Lookingglass Theater.

Kristina Isabelle Dance has partnered with the Tryon Farm Institute to present Art In Nature, a monthly performance series featuring dance, film, music and art experiences at Tryon Farm in Michigan City. It’s designed to bring a unique partnership to allow artists a chance to explore the ecological environment to develop their work as well as to introduce the public to new artistic experiences based in nature.

The series runs once a month through Oct. 12.

All events are outside and some will require walking – wear appropriate footwear. Flashlights recommended. If you need an ADA accommodation, call (614) 638-6186.

All performances at Tryon Farm 1500 Tryon Road, Michigan City. 

Additional Art In Nature events:

n Sept. 14 — Drawing You Outside, art experience 3-5 p.m.

Christine Forni will create a mobile outdoor drawing room for participants to explore nature and the landscape though handmade charcoal. All ages and experience are welcome. Drawing You Outside brings international visual artist Forni back to Tryon, she participated in last years Hunter’s Moon Dance Happening. Artist Salon Talk begins at 5 p.m. and will feature Forni, Kimberly Beck and other visual artists as the share their work and how nature influences their art.

n Oct. 12 — Site-specific walking performance 5-7 p.m.

Oct 12 will be the third annual Hunters Moon Dance Happening, a curated evening of dance and music on the land and features a diverse group of artists including Erin Kilmurray Dance, Jenn Freeman, Precious Jennings and Amelia Charter movement artists, opera singer Julian Otis, musician Angel Bat Dawid and cellist Wilson Tanner Smith. Followed by a Bonfire Dance Party.


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