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Artist of the Month - January 2007

La Donna da Rinascimento
by Annabelle Numaguchi

Donna Metzler
Donna Metzler

Even if you can't list one characteristic of the 15th century Italian art movement, you'd probably be in agreement with me to want to call Donna Metzler, writer, pianist and painter, a Renaissance Woman.

In her case, I'm more inclined to apply the expression in its original language since it fits her so well - la donna da Rinascimento.

An equally accomplished artist in the three main categories of Fine Arts - written, visual and aural - Metzle's personality exudes energy and creativity.

What makes her individually impressive accomplishments even more inspiring is that Metzler is raising two daughters with her husband and works full-time as Moab's city manager.

Oh, and did I mention that she also hosts her own radio show, "Interstellar Overdrive," on KZMU, on Wednesdays from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m., playing indy and alternative rock.

Now, I realize that the titles we attribute to artists, such as "writer" or "painter," are slightly ambiguous because where is the fine line between a person who journals and a writer who publishes, or a doodler in a sketchbook and a painter exhibiting in a gallery. Without expanding further on this issue, I will suggest that inviting the public to contemplate one's artistic endeavor gives merit to the titles.

Metzler earns the various titles bestowed on her artistic accomplishments, in part, because she does just that.

Her first artistic passion was the piano. Mostly self-taught, thanks in part to her older brother who passed on the lessons he received, Metzler found both a creative and emotional outlet on the piano.

Inspired by the loss of her mother at the age of twelve, Metzler began composing pieces. Music provided an expression to the flood of emotions she experienced during this time.

Metzler currently describes her compositions as "impressionistic pieces that create a specific mood." She plays the music differently each time, evoking the feelings she is experiencing.

Although she can read music, Metzler records her compositions aurally. Having unusual foresight for a young adult, she began recording the music she created as soon as she created it.

Thanks to advances in recording technology, she was able to produce an album on her own, which she entitled, "Another Journey," in the late '90’s.

This CD is a collection of her original compositions cataloguing various figurative and physical journeys people can make. Some are based on personal experiences and others on what she imagines other people have gone through.

Often, Metzler carries an image in her head, as varied as a rainstorm or the act of ironing clothes, and translates this vision into sound through the music she composes for the piano, and sometimes into oil paintings.

In addition to her album, she performs for audiences. She grew up playing in church and for talent shows, and, more recently, she has played for the Moab Arts Festival (in May), weddings and the theater.

Her music, she became involved in The Moab Repertory Theater. She became fascinated with the "theater as an art form." Metzler found herself drawn by its demand for collaboration among the different elements involved in putting on a performance and by the levels of interpretation theater affords.

Possessing a curious mind and seemingly limitless energy galvanized Metzler into trying her hand at writing.

Her first foray into play writing was a parody on pop culture that took place in Australia, entitled "Down and Under." The Moab Repertory Theater produced this fifteen-minute satire, and Metzler was hooked by the interaction between writer-and-performers, and performers-and-audience.

Enervated by the success of this project, she has continued to write plays, most recently the sold-out mystery dinner theater the Moab Art and Recreation Center (MARC) put on as a fund raiser, which took place at Buck's Grill.

Metzler was given specific parameters for this full-length play, including that the mystery had to incorporate an actual auction at which local artists' works were sold. She rose to this challenge and wrote a clever scenario centering on the theft of a piece of art, using an actual incident in which a Van Gogh was stolen from the museum in Amsterdam as the springboard for her fictional plot.

The Quick Draw auction (for which eight Moab artists created works during the action of the play) became the climax of the piece, and the real-life highest bidder unwittingly also acquired the role of the thief.

The cleverness which she imbued this play with reveals that Metzler is a person who rises to a challenge.

She obviously seeks them out. She holds two degrees (B.A. in philosophy, M.S. in Public Policy Analysis), which represent the dual nature, intuitive and academic, of this incredibly talented and prolific woman.

I can't help asking the question: does Metzler live in a twenty-four hour day like the rest of us, or has she found some extra hours hidden under a dusty sofa somewhere. Short of some sci-fi scenario, she must live within the same time limits we all are forced to respect, yet she accomplishes so much. Clearly, this is a woman who doesn't waste energy on an endeavor without endowing it with creativity and meaning.

In the same way we shout out to a guy who succeeds in a remarkable feat, "you da man!," it is tempting to grace Metzler with title, The Woman. Or better yet, La Donna.

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