Arts & Life

Arts and lifestyle coverage from around the globe and Illinois.

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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.

Hallmarks

Feb 22, 2013
Vlada Gudzenko
WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

The Girl Detective and Me

Feb 21, 2013
Elisabeth Dunn – Sangamon Valley High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

At the age of eight, I was introduced to the young woman who would change my life.  The more I learned about her, the more I admired her. We went on adventures together, and though some were a little too scary for me, I was always delighted to tag along.

This woman’s name was Nancy Drew.  Yes, she was a fictional character, but she was also my friend. In a single summer, I read every one of the 56 original Nancy Drew books. That was the same summer that I became a Reader.

Leaping into Action

Feb 20, 2013
Callista Suarez – Southeast High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

When I was younger, someone told me a story. Once there were three frogs sitting on lily pads. One day, one of them made a decision to jump off. How many frogs were left? Three. I thought this story was really stupid and obnoxious at the time, but now I understand its true meaning. I believe in the power of doing. It sounds like a very simple concept, but it is much more powerful than most people realize. Like the story of the frogs, making a decision means nothing if nothing is done to act upon it.

Wetsuits

Feb 19, 2013
Jacob Roth
Randy Eccles / WUIS

  “Wetsuits are the best clothes for picking up chicks!” asserted Ben, the awkward, lanky dive master. After some skeptical scoffs from the assembled scuba divers before him, he proceeded to explain: If you have a body worth showing off, leave the wetsuit unzipped. If not, get a sufficiently thick suit that covers things up nicely, zip it up, and you’ll be looking like a superhero.

Speak Up for What You Believe In

Feb 18, 2013
Natalie Knox
Randy Eccles / WUIS

  My mom, as a dermatologist, has taught me sun safety since I was small. I was that kid who smelled like sunscreen during elementary school recess and wore rashguard shirts to the pool. Although I didn’t always appreciate what she was doing to protect me, I knew she was right. It knew it would be worth it later in life when my skin was still beautiful and wrinkle-free. I believed wholeheartedly that protecting yourself from the dangers of overexposure to ultraviolet light was a worthwhile lifetime habit. My beliefs were put to the test last summer, when I made the decision to testify in front of the Springfield City Council.

Alt-country musician Robbie Fulks doesn't get much airplay on country radio, and he often takes an adversarial stance against the Nashville establishment. So a big part of his reputation is based on his more humorous songs — and his raucous live shows.

Fulks has just released his first live album, a two-disc set called Revenge; critic Ken Tucker has a review.

Janis Martin, 'The Female Elvis,' Returns

Sep 30, 2012

Janis Martin was just a teenager from Virginia when she was christened "The Female Elvis." In the mid-1950s, she sold 750,000 copies of a song called "Will You, Willyum." She played the Grand Ole Opry, American Bandstand and The Tonight Show. But her fame was short-lived. Martin got married and had a baby, which didn't sit so well with the people managing her career. Her label dropped her, and she fell off the musical map.

I Am History

Feb 26, 2012
Joshua Cleaver - Southeast High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

I believe in History. Not the kind you read about in books, or learn in class, but pure History, no interpretations, just facts. You see, I am History; we are all History.  Each of us has a story to tell and the past is the key to the future.

Create Your Future

Feb 25, 2012
Mariah Pattie - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

Always an American

Feb 24, 2012
Amena Tayyab - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

I was born and raised in Springfield, IL and categorize myself as an American Muslim; always have, always will. Some, however, forget I have the same basic rights, memories and needs as every American. We have all experienced the aftermath of 9/11, but as an American Muslim living in a post 9/11 world, my experiences have differed greatly.

Dreadlocks

Feb 23, 2012
Travis Lascody - Lanphier High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

I believe that what you look like does not define who you are as a person, whether you have tattoos, piercings, or a crazy hairstyle. You should not be judged for how you look, but on what you do. The doctor that performs your next surgery could be covered in tattoos underneath his scrubs. My sophomore year of high school I decided to dread my hair, knowing that to many people it would be frowned upon.

Stroke Me a Key or Two

Feb 22, 2012
Terea Tran - Southeast High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

They say that what does not kill us makes us stronger.  I have learned this is true, but a keyboard and a passion for music certainly don’t hurt either.  Making music is what makes me feel entirely unique and special.  When I sit in front of a piano I no longer feel helpless.  Unlike the rest of my often-hectic life, I can dictate what happens and what is played.  I have found that music is the greatest way to release my emotions.  In the hardest period of my life I found great beauty.  I believe in music. I believe in what music can do for a soul.

The Trouble with "Troubled"

Feb 21, 2012
Olivia Rosen - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

"Wakaru" - To Understand

Feb 20, 2012
Maggie Cornelius - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

“We’re going to drive to the football game at nine tonight,” I said to Ayumi, explaining our plans for the evening.

She cocked her head and gave me a quizzical look.

I tried again. “At nine o’clock, we will drive to the football game.”

She shook her head. Wakarimasen. I don’t understand.

I paused, rephrasing the sentence in my mind. “Tonight, at nine o’clock, we will go to the football game.”

Wakarimasu! She understood. “Oh! Okay,” Ayumi said. “I am happy!”

Anything Boys Can Do

Feb 19, 2012
Mackenzie McDermott headshot
Randy Eccles / WUIS - Illinois Issues

THIS I BELIEVE - I was only five when I came home from kindergarten with an American Youth Football League flyer, begging my parents to sign me up. They didn’t hesitate. There were never “boy” things or “girl” things in my house. There were just things. This was how it worked in my family where my father was in the kitchen cooking while my mother was in the living room screaming at the football game. Plopping down next to my mom on the couch with my over-sized Packer’s jersey seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

Born This Way

Feb 18, 2012
Derinn Wallace - Glenwood High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

 

Everyone is scared of something. Whether it is spiders, clowns, black holes, or something else, we all have a fear in life. One fear that many people share is a fear of homosexuality, or homophobia. Like many other fears, though, this fear can be conquered. All it takes to overcome homophobia is an open mind and a little education. That education starts here. This I believe: homosexuality is not a choice, and being gay does not change who a person is.

On the Death of My Father

Feb 17, 2012
Ally M Perko - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

Can the Arts Salve The Wounds of the Recession?

Dec 1, 2011

A single mom working as a part-time postal clerk at a small village post office in Shelby County moves briskly, dispensing stamps, weighing letters and shifting bulky packages. When not on duty at the post office, she works the late shift at the convenience store, sweeping the floors and locking up. She also manages to baby-sit and clean houses at other hours, all in an effort to make the proverbial ends meet in the slow drag of this recession.

Ragdale House in the fall.
Sarah Hadley / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Back home in Philadelphia, Beth Feldman Brandt reserves her Fridays for writing poetry. At least, in theory she does. Distractions tend to get in the way for the busy foundation director.

So, for the second time in two years, Brandt has traveled to Ragdale, a retreat-style campus in Lake Forest, to recharge her batteries as an artist. Within a week of arriving, she had already made significant strides on one of her next projects, a series of poems based on arcane maps she viewed at Chicago’s Newberry Library. 

Ragdale House in the fall.
Sarah Hadley / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Back home in Philadelphia, Beth Feldman Brandt reserves her Fridays for writing poetry. At least, in theory she does. Distractions tend to get in the way for the busy foundation director.

So, for the second time in two years, Brandt has traveled to Ragdale, a retreat-style campus in Lake Forest, to recharge her batteries as an artist. Within a week of arriving, she had already made significant strides on one of her next projects, a series of poems based on arcane maps she viewed at Chicago’s Newberry Library. 

Becoming Ray Bradbury

Dec 1, 2011
Photograph by Ralph Nelson courtesy of the Ray Bradbury family
Ralph Nelson / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Ray Bradbury has lived his life in two different worlds. Not on faraway planets like the settings of many of his science fiction tales. Bradbury’s life has been divided between his early childhood in Waukegan and his adult life in California. 

The Illinois Artisan Program
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The way former Gov. James R. Thompson tells it, the idea for the Illinois Artisans Program came to him on a trip out east.

“We went through Vermont, and Vermont had these artisan shops at their rest stops — a couple of them anyway — in which they exhibited and sold crafts and art done by Vermont artists and folk artists. It was a very impressive display, and I thought, ‘You know what, I’ll bet Illinois has artists and artisans as good as those in Vermont. Why aren’t we promoting Illinois arts and crafts?’”

Painting with Spaghetti

Dec 1, 2011
Installation view of Scott Reeder’s Untitled, 2011, MCA Chicago. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago|Berlin. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Commission
Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago / Museum of Contemporary Art

Scott Reeder paints ice cream cones that watch themselves melt in a mirror, depicts cigar-smoking fruit and crafts art made of spaghetti.

“All of my work is kind of humorous, deals with humor in different ways. My paintings come from conversations I have with people or funny or interesting things that I read,” says Reeder, an artist and associate professor at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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