Arts & Life

Arts and lifestyle coverage from around the globe and Illinois.

Ways to Connect

An event featuring art, music, and kids activities tomorrow (Saturday 7/26) will highlight the need for support of the arts from the community. The Prairie Art Alliance's Gallery II, located in Springfield's Old State Capitol Plaza, will have art on display and right outside musicians will perform. Rachel Otwell recently spoke with planners of the event, musician Chris Maxey and Prairie Art Alliance interim executive director Jennifer Snopko:

Springfield guitarist and vocalist Carrie Jo Stucki also goes by CJ Thunder - and for good reason. The vivacious singer with a booming voice holds nothing back while she performs her original tunes. She's made a name for herself on the downtown Springfield circuit, frequently playing open mics, as well as with various other local musicians and bands. Stucki joined us at the WUIS studios to share some of her original tunes and tell us about her background:

Carrie Jo Stucki is joined by Dustin Strother on guitar, in this original tune by Stucki called ‘Unnamed Hymn’.

Illinois Prairie Pastel Society

The Illinois Prairie Pastel Society aims to promote and foster creative use of the medium. It was established a few years ago, and what started with a handful of members has grown since then. The group has artwork on display at the Chatham Area Public Library. President of the group, George King, joins us now to talk about that exhibit and why the pastel society was formed in the first place.  

The Prairie Capitol Convention Center in Springfield has hosted some big names when it comes to musicians, like country singer and American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, and the decades-old prog-rock band Kansas. But the center is taking a bit of a hiatus as plans are finalized to make it more appealing to convention-goers and concert-goers alike. Brian Oaks is the general manager of the center, he joins us for this interview about the on-going renovations: 

Springfield's Muni starts its run of Dreamgirls this weekend - the Broadway production was made especially famous by the movie starring Beyonce back in 2006. The local version features over twenty actors who are brand new to the Muni's stage. We recently spoke with cast members Fania Bourn, Kate VonDeBur, and Marisa Cook for this interview:

Can You Code A Better Government?

Jul 12, 2013

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Why We Collaborate.

About Jennifer Pahlka's TEDTalk

Can government be run like the Internet, permissionless and open? Coder and activist Jennifer Pahlka believes it can — and that apps, built quickly and cheaply, are a powerful new way to connect citizens to their governments — and their neighbors.

About Jennifer Pahlka

Johsua Cox

Joshua Cox is an artist and professor at Bradley University in Peoria. His works involve memories, especially related to his childhood growing up in central Illinois. He uses unique mediums to create alternate universes that transport his viewers utilizing life size, and temporary, artworks. Cox is the guest artist for The Pharmacy's Sixth Group Art Exhibition, where other area artists will also have their latest creations on display.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Each month Springfield's artist co-op, The Pharmacy, hosts a writer's critique open to the public. Adam Nicholson helps organize that event, he joins WUIS to talk about the writing arm of the artist group, which meets tomorrow night at 7: 

Donna Lounsberry

Carly Shank joins us to talk about the play 'The Crucible', written by Arthur Miller. The final performances are Thursday through Sunday at The Theatre in the Park in New Salem. Carly Shank is the director of that production:

CLICK HERE for more information about the production and to purchase tickets.

Every spring and summer, local artists can be seen performing in the plaza outside of the old state capitol in Springfield. We speak with Sheila Walk, who tells us about the Artist on the Plaza events which happen twice a week:

CLICK HERE for more information on the Artist on the Plaza events on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in downtown Springfield.

dynamic patterns theatre

Central Illinois audiences with the recent drought still fresh in their minds may be able to sympathize with the characters of "The Rainmaker". 

The story of a midwest farm family and a man promising to quench their land's thirst comes to Jacksonville and Springfield this weekend. 

Director Rich McCoy and actors Michelle Dearing and Evan Rumler joined Peter Gray on Illinois Edition to talk about the show:

CLICK HERE for Jacksonville tickets

The Legacy Theatre

Sunset Boulevard is a musical that almost never was. It went through multiple failed plans before Andrew Lloyd Weber - who also wrote the music for The Phantom of the Opera - took the story line of a movie from 1950 and made it a Broadway hit. And now, the musical is coming to The Legacy Theatre in Springfield - the first time it will have a run in the city.

ISO's New Performance Lineup

Jun 28, 2013
Alastair Willis
Todd Rosenberg Photography / AlastairWillis.com

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra has announced its new season.

Music Director Alastair Willis says the season that starts in October will include appearances from the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and young cellist Julie Albers.

http://www.route66filmfestival.net
www.route66filmfestival.net

The film festival held in Springfield each fall has expanded its calendar of events to include "mini-screenings" this summer.

Route 66 International Film Festival board member Thea Chesley joined Peter Gray on Illinois Edition to discuss the short films her group is now sharing with moviegoers - in a setting that's more casual than conventional:

Springfield’s Muni out-door theater is putting on its largest production yet. With a cast of just about fifty actors, plus chorus singers, Les Miserables cost 50 percent more than the average Muni show. When Les Mis recently became available to amateur theaters, The Muni was quick to buy the rights. The show is in its second week… performances start at 8:30. They are tonight through Sunday, and again next week – Thursday through Saturday. Here's the interview with cast members Sydney Assalley & Jerry Hicks and the vocal director, Damien Kaplan.

SOHO is in its 9th year of highlighting local bands with a downtown street festival. The festival begins tonight (Fri. 6/7) and goes through Saturday. There will be food and alcoholic beverages on site as well as a kids area on Saturday. Local art will be on display and for sale. The event benefits the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery in Springfield.

Here's the interview with Eric Welch who is the founder of and heads the music fest:

 

  Michigan native Marshall Crenshaw hasn’t stopped playing music since he rose to fame in the 1980s. It’s been a career that spans just over 30 years – he’s also been an author, actor, radio host, and music producer.

Rachel Otwell

  Country music seems to be a genre that’s either loved or hated. But even country-lovers don’t always agree on which type is the best. Country roots music is bit of an umbrella label, including honky-tonk, folk, and rockabilly. It’s gained a foothold across the nation with artists like Pokey LaFarge and the Old Crow Medicine Show providing alternatives to Top 40 contemporary country offerings.

For Whom The Bells Toll

May 31, 2013
www.carillon-rees.org

Carillonneur Robin Austin calls Thomas Rees one of his “great heroes”.

Last fall the Springfield Park District chose Austin to succeed Karel Keldermans, who played the 67-bell instrument dedicated to Thomas Rees for 35 years.

This week Robin Austin follows in the footsteps -or on the foot pedals - of the Keldermans family.  It will be his first year as host of the city’s annual International Carillon Festival.

Dynamic Patterns Theatre

Famed poet Emily Dickinson dedicated herself to documenting the joys and sorrows of life in the 1800s.

This month actor Sherri Mitchell brings Dickinson's life and work to the stage in Springfield and Jacksonville.

Mitchell joined Peter Gray on Illinois Edition to talk about her one-woman production, The Belle of Amherst, and what it's like to transport audiences back to the 19th century:

For information about Jacksonville performances May 30-June 2, CLICK HERE

  JP Harris & the Tough Choices play at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield tonight (5/17) as part of WUIS’ Bedrock 66 Live Concert Series. Harris’s music has been called “real country” and Harris calls his music “Hank Williams with a Motorhead attitude.” The Alabama native and Nashville transplant shares his music and what inspires it in this interview:

 

CLICK HERE to get tickets to tonight’s show.

John Michael Presney is a Rochester native who’s spent the last couple years touring the country as part of a musical production that he played rockabilly star Carl Perkins in. But 25 year old Presney has crafted a music-style all his own. And he has a new EP called ‘The Nighttime and the Dawn’ to prove it.

  The third Springfield PrideFest is this Saturday. The all-day event celebrating gay pride includes food, drinks, and performances. The festival will be on Capitol Avenue between 4th and 6th streets downtown. WUIS’ Rachel Otwell recently spoke with Jonna Cooley about it, she’s the executive director of The Pheonix Center which puts on the event:

CLICK HERE for more info about the event on Saturday in downtown Springfield from noon to 9pm.

Davina And The Vagabonds: Piano Licks, Vocal Tricks

Apr 26, 2013

Davina Sowers' classically trained right fingers shimmy down the piano keys and meet up with an insistent boogie-woogie bass. Then she reveals her other musical talent: a sassy, salty, sweet voice that's childlike at the top, husky at the bottom.

The Ultimate Soloist

Apr 26, 2013

Got an idea for a classical cartoon or a reaction to this one? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist working with sculpture, drawing, photography and performance. His new book is Helguera's Artunes. You can see more of his work atArtworld Salon and on his own site.

Pickle Dog

Feb 27, 2013
Kristen Koch - Jacksonville High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

As a child, I would always wait with excitement by the door, counting down the minutes for my parents to come home from work. Now that I am in high school, I often fail to greet my parents with anything other than a “what’s for dinner?”

Sharing Meals

Feb 26, 2013
Elaina Conley-Keck - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

Renay DeFrees - Lanphier High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

Scared.  Utterly terrified.  That is the only way I can describe how I felt when I was told my father was going to die. I was eight years old when my father was diagnosed with cancer. That was November 18th, 2002. A few weeks passed and everyone held their breath. On December 16th we were told the cancer was terminal. The carcinoma had metastasized and had already spread throughout his whole body. The doctors did not expect him to make it through the week. “It is time to say goodbye”, they said.

Kindness

Feb 24, 2013
Samantha Comerford - Rochester High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

I believe in kindness. The small act of holding the door, or smiling as someone passes. Everyday on the news I hear of an arguing government, a suffering economy, and a war overseas. It is hard to keep a kind spirit when it seems that anger surrounds us. In times like these, I believe that kindness is more important than ever.

Being the Little Big Brother

Feb 23, 2013
Aaron Vasquez
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

 The strength and willingness to accept those with autism may seem to be a daunting task at times, but many people overlook the strength the few individuals that are diagnosed with autism actually possess.

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