Daily: ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’

By Christa Lawler
Duluth News Tribune

Harry Potter fans arrived with the famous scribbled lightning bolts on foreheads, and in schoolgirl skirts and ties — the official Hogwarts uniform.

Sonny Schiefelbein wore a baggy green dress, wild hair wrapped in a multi-

colored scarf, argyle socks and oversized round black-framed glasses. She took a little extra effort to transform herself into the character Professor Trelawney.

“Professor?” asked Nathaniel Harvie, 14, approaching her. “Isn’t this so sad?”

Schiefelbein, 22, agreed with the boy she had never met before the premiere of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” early Friday at Duluth 10 theaters. Part One of the cinematic finale to the popular series of wizard fiction by J.K. Rowling was showing on three screens. It had sold out — more than 700 tickets — at least three weeks before it opened. Superior 7 and Lakes 10 theaters also sold out midnight shows.

Before the movie started, Harvie and Schiefelbein talked about this ending to the story they had both grown up reading and watching. Harvie had a black cape draped around his shoulders.

“It’s a cloak,” the Duluth East freshman corrected.

The final 45 minutes of the movie had the audience cackling and sniffling. Among the diehards asked, it was unanimous: Best Harry Potter movie yet. It was edgy, funny and sad, with a side of love.

Billy Wagness, 23, waited for friends in the lobby. He was dressed in a long, fitted black robe and carried a wand. Professor Snape, right down to the hair.

“Hands down the most true to the books,” Wagness said. “The most fulfilling movie of the series. They really covered their bases.”

Harvie said it was hard to compare this dark story to the other movies set at Hogwarts, where the magic is more charming.

“I cried like eight times,” he said. “I’m still sort of processing.”

“It’s very dark,” Logan West, 19, said. “The darkest they’ve done.”

“It’s really emotional,” added his friend, Chloe Meyer.

The orphaned hero with magical powers entered the collective conscience in 1997, and over the next decade, Rowling published six additional books. The young, scarred boy grows up, makes friends and enemies, and … well, we won’t spoil it for you. The final book has been split into two movies. The second is scheduled to be released next summer.

Plenty of the people in the audience had been steeped in Potter lore for the entirety of their reading life.

“This is sad because after this, it’s the end of an era,” Harvie said. “From the time I was 8, there has always been a new book coming out, every year. It’s like a routine. By the end of this, everyone has gotten such a connection to the characters.”

Anna Ambrosi, 13, wore a wild black wig, a long velvet dress and black boots. She opted for evil, in the guise of death eater Bellatrix Lestrange, a strong woman, which Ambrosi said she likes in a character. Ambrosi was with a friend who was dressed as Hermione Granger, part of Harry Potter’s posse who gets crushy with the third member of the trio, Ron Weasley.

“She’s definitely a scary character,” Ambrosi said of Lestrange. “It’s a moving story that inspires perseverance and being strong. Like Hermione — she’s really strong and smart, unlike some girls in books.”

Like “Twilight”?

“Harry Potter and ‘Twilight’ fans don’t mix,” Ambrosi said.

Jason Hafeman, 20, prefers the books to the big screen and said that he hoped dividing the final book would allow for a more-detailed movie. He wore a white shirt, suspenders, black pants and — of course — the lightning-bolt scar.

“I wanted to let everyone here know I’m here for a purpose,” he said.

This story was in the November 20, 2010 edition of the Duluth News Tribune.

Daily: X-treme painting by Lee Zimmerman

By Christa Lawler
Duluth News Tribune

From behind the 30-foot-tall expanse of taut white silk, Lee Zimmerman had the harnessed and accessorized look of a man set to wash the windows of a skyscraper.

He wore a Velcro vest with bottles filled with dye, brushes and cups attached.

“I made it myself,” he said. “Yeah. I cut a hole in a big chunk of Velcro.”

The artist was seated on a small padded bench equipped with side saddles: a bucket on his left, a pocketed satchel to his right. Behind him, resident climbing expert Nick Fleming — the muscles of the operation — used a block and tackle to hoist the silk painter to different points of the sheer fabric hanging from the trusses at the warehouse-like space.

“Up a foot and a half,” Zimmerman called back to Fleming — one of many directives given as they considered the kinks that could occur in front of an audience.

On Monday night, Zimmerman had a tech run of a live art show that will be part of a fundraiser for the Domestic Abuse Intervention Program. “Brave” is on Oct. 23 at Clyde Iron Works, and includes Zimmerman’s most vertical attempt at silk painting, while Kathy McTavish provides cello music. Sheila Packa and other local poets will be reading while he paints. Afterward, Karen McTavish will create five quilts from Zimmerman’s single painting. These quilts are being auctioned off before the show. Go to http://www.braveevent.blogspot.com for details.

As the idea was forming, Zimmerman sought out Fleming, the facilities manager at Vertical Endeavors in Canal Park, to help him with the logistics.

“I thought it was possible, but crazy,” Fleming said.

At Monday night’s rehearsal, Fleming had ropes attached to a belt, and took direction from Zimmerman. He had already done a pre-show lift of Zimmerman, and considered the strength of the roof trusses and the weight of the artist. Fleming consulted a piece of white tagboard with rough sketches of the themes Zimmerman wanted to incorporate and a map of stopping points along the swatch of silk — written out almost like a sheet of music. For every foot Fleming cranked the pulley system, Zimmerman moved three inches.

Zimmerman’s style is to be positioned behind the fabric, which is lit in a way that reveals the color absorbing into the silk as he develops his figures. Last winter, he created a new backdrop at each performance of “The Secret Garden” at the Duluth Playhouse, creating images on five panels each night.

Zimmerman had a handful of helpers on board, keeping track of problem areas and serving as caddies as he worked. His wife, Andrea Wahman, brought him a roll of tape and consulted with the artist. She is the one who kicks these ideas around with Zimmerman.

“I married an electrical engineer,” she joked as he ascended the structure.

This is all part of a big plan that Zimmerman is plotting. He would like to do a painting on the outside of a building in a particularly rainy city. Something where the colors could pool at the bottom of his piece.

“I’ve been wanting to go vertical,” Zimmerman said of this project. “I like the idea of painting big.”

This story ran in the September 28, 2010, edition of the Duluth News Tribune.