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Thinking Magically

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The paintings of Jorge A. Yances evoke a mysterious interplay between past and present, reality and fantasy, a style called magical realism. “I paint first and foremost because it is a necessity for myself. It’s something that I have to do almost every day, even if I take just the pencil and just draw on a blank paper. It is a feeling of satisfaction of the body and the mind to be able to create something,” he says.  For more than 15 years, Yances has created paintings using vivid colors and delicate brushstrokes. Yances’ artwork has been critically acclaimed and exhibited throughout the United States, South America and Asia.Jorges YancesMagical realism is often described as “surreal,” and Yances says it was by chance that magical realism entered his life.   “The magical realism part was not something I set out to paint because I did not know what it meant. I only knew of Gary Garcia Marquez and his magical realism literature,” he says. “A professor at the University in Tennessee came in my gallery downtown close to Hillsboro Village in Nashville and she said, ‘Your work is nice and it’s so magical realism.’ It was then after she explained what it was that I agreed that yes, my paintings can be called magical realism.”Yances’ art contains complex hidden images. He describes magical realism this way: “Magical realism for me is expressing something that is inside of you. I let the painting pretty much be free. I don’t want to show what’s behind it. Sometimes there’s three or four different layers on the paintings,” he says.  “So, the faces and the bodies and everything that appears on my canvases, they are there. I don’t paint them.  They kind of reveal themselves.” Some of Yances’ drawings come from discoveries from his native city of Cartagena, Colombia. Yances emigrated to Nashville, TN with his family when he was 13. Jorge YancesYances says the teachings of a relative also influenced his art. “My aunt was also an artist. She taught my cousins and me. She wanted us to know the different between watercolor and oil painting, the smell of paint and just all the little details,” he says.Yances says his aunt taught him that technique is not enough. Any artist can portray the beauty of a city, he says, but she encouraged him to reveal more than what may be visible. “It is more than paint on a canvas,” Yances says. “It is art which detects the power of the stories that surrounds all of us.”

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Sculpting Chocolate

Juliana Desmond is a sculptor. She also has a passion for chocolate. During many of her travels to Mexico,Desmond became inspired to shape and form chocolate that looks like art.

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Dispensing medical marijuana

Aari Ruben is an advocate for marijuana legalization, drug policy reform and human rights. Ruben is the director and owner of Desert Bloom Re-Leaf Center.

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Dispensing Medical Marijuana

Cannabis is a medicinal plant, an herbal remedy to relieve symptoms or treat various diseases. In some U.S. states, marijuana is legal for treating specific health problems, but not at the federal level.Prior to opening the dispensary, Ruben worked as an administrator for a pain management and mental health clinic that treated people with opioids. “My experience was that those medicines create dependence and addictive behaviors in a large number of people. Patients get on opiates because of some type of injury or operation. They’re on well controlled prescribed amounts of opiates, and through the course of treatment those doses are increased because of their developing a tolerance and needing more medication to achieve the desired analgesic effect. And you know, at some point, the doctor has a responsibility to the patient and to the system that exists and that patients tend to get cut off or not allowed to increase their dose further, and that’s when problems start to arise. The medications themselves are extremely effective. We absolutely need them for surgery and for immediate emergent situations. However, they don’t seem to be a good alternative for most individuals for long term use. The toxic effects seem to outweigh the benefits.”  California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996. Since then, more than half of U.S. states have done so. Ruben says support continues to increase in the United States for the legalization of cannabis. “There’s more support for the legalization of marijuana than there has ever been. The last time that we were close to this amount of the voting populace in support was in the mid-70s. And we’ve surpassed the amount of people that support legalization of marijuana. The support for medical uses is at an all-time high, and I believe to be in the 80 or 90 percent range in terms of adults that support people having safe legal access to medical marijuana for reasonable medical use,” says Ruben.  Although the federal government hasn’t given its approval to marijuana for medicinal use, it has signed off on three related compounds (cannabinoid, dronabinol or nabilone) as specific treatments. Ruben says new customers may come to his shop with very little information from their physician. And prescribing the best treatment for customers can be trial and error, but he says cannabis has a high safety profile.  “We experiment and do our trial and error process with individuals with a high degree of security and confidence that nothing bad is going to happen to them, that we can navigate that safely and find what works for them, and use that information then to help others with similar circumstances. And so that to me is fascinating and one of the most interesting parts of my job, matching up the right plants with the right people, which happens organically over time.” 

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Beauty on the Wing

Butterfly Wonderland is the largest conservatory in the country. Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, more than 70 species of butterflies can be found there in 3,000 square feet there in 3,000 square meters of tropical paradise in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.

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For Indian Immigrant, Dance is a Religion

Minnesota-based Ragamala Dance Company has educated, performed and evolved for over 25 years. Ranee Ragamala and her daughters Aparna and Ashwini are trained in the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam. Their performances capture an intercultural and multidisciplinary form of dance.