June 24, 2018
Scattered clouds
  • 82.4 °F
  • Scattered clouds
Comment

Wine, Dine, and Save Lives

The March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction offers guests exquisite food, a chance to win quality items at a live and silent auction, and best of all, the opportunity to help families in the Evansville community.

The March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to help prevent premature birth and other issues
related to childbirth. For this event’s 19th year, Dr. Aaron Dewees will be honored with help from the March of Dimes Ambassador family, Brandon and Jill Scott.

This event takes place at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 3, at the National Guard Armory, 3000 E. Division St.

For more information about the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction, contact Ashley Murray (812) 266-6005 or visit marchofdimes.org/indiana

Comment

Fall Into Gardening

Everyone has the opportunity to learn about gardening from the masters on Oct. 15 at the Southwestern Indiana Master Gardner Association’s semiannual Ohio Valley Garden Conference, held in the Tropicana Evansville Conference Center, 421 N.W. Riverside Drive.

“Laboring in a garden soothes the soul, strengthens the limbs, and provides nourishment for the body,” says keynote speaker Peter Hatch. “Caring for a garden — whether pet trees, favorite flowers, or juicy tomatoes — instills life values: humility, perseverance, experimentation, pride.”

Hatch served as director of gardens and grounds at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for 35 years and plans to speak about how Jefferson’s legacy has carried into today’s farm-to-table movement.

“I hope my audience will understand how few topics tell us more about Thomas Jefferson than gardening,” says Hatch.

Five other speakers also will cover topics from horticulture to bees.

More than 20 vendor booths, including Bee Tree Pottery, Soapstone Soap Company, and Wild Birds Unlimited, will be open for shopping.

Tickets cost $49, including breakfast, lunch, covered parking, and the chance to win prizes. The deadline to purchase tickets is Oct. 1.

For more information about the Southwestern Indiana Master Gardener Association, visit swimga.org.

Comment

A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Who says motorcyclists can’t be classy? The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride starts with a bike show at Deaconess Gateway Hospital at 11 a.m., Oct. 2, and showcases classic and custom bikes.

After the show, the highly distinguished, finely dressed, and dapper gentlemen and women hit the road to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer.

The first bike leaves at 1 p.m. with the ride wrapping up at Lamasco Bar & Grill, 1331 W. Franklin St., at 3:30 p.m.

For more information about the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, visit deaconess.com/ride.

Comment

Wonders of the World

New Harmony festival brings cultures together
The 10-member, music group Funkadesi headlines the Global Crossroads Culture and Music Festival in New Harmony, Indiana.

Music that spans the cultures of India and the Caribbean, food that transports you to a Central American marketplace, and art that teaches you the traditions of a continent half way across the world. All of these elements are brought together in historic New Harmony, Indiana, with the third annual Global Crossroads Culture and Music Festival.

Set for Oct. 22, the festival incorporates multiple venues in the community to showcase global cultures, focusing this year on Indian culture, as well as Afro-Caribbean, Latino, and Hispanic traditions. The theme is centered on the festival’s main act, the 10-member, multi-cultural group Funkadesi, which incorporates Bollywood, Bhangra, reggae, funk, and Afro-Caribbean styles and dance into their music.

“We made a conscious decision to look for a band that would bring different cultures together within the group,” says Connie Weinzapfel, director of University of Southern Indiana’s Historic New Harmony program. “And that’s what Funkadesi ended up being.”

“The day is a global focus celebrating international music and culture,” adds community engagement manager Erin McCracken Merris.

The festival features food and art vendors, fair trade products, a film fest featuring Bollywood movies, and dancing from local traditional Indian dance troupes. McCracken Merris says the festival teamed up with the Cultural Society of India, different local Hindu temples, and several other cultural organizations to bring this educational festival tolife.

“We all have different stories, and we’re all from different areas of the world,” she adds. “That makes up our community here in Southern Indiana. It’s actually a lot more diverse than people know and give credit to.”

Global Crossroads began three years ago as a partnership between USI’s Historic New Harmony program and Under the Beams concert series.

“As part of USI’s mission for diversity, we decided we would build on what Under the Beams has done so well with the concert series for 16 years and begin a global culture and music festival,” says Weinzapfel.

Why host the festival in New Harmony? Weinzapfel says with the history of the town, it just made sense.

“We have accounts of people visiting New Harmony from 175 years ago. New Harmony always has been a place that has attracted people for lots of different reasons,” she says. “I think that spirit still lives here.”

This year’s festival, which is free and open to the public, begins at 1 p.m. and lasts until 7 p.m. The event is family-friendly and includes games and activities along with the vendors and entertainment. Pop-up concerts with Funkadesi will occur throughout the day as well, leading up to the 7 p.m. concert at Murphy Auditorium. Tickets are required for the show.

For more information, call 812-682-4488 or visit usi.edu/gcfest.

Comment

Community Outreach

Every third Saturday in September, the Kenny Kent Lexus Jazz and Wine Festival is held in the heart of Evansville’s Downtown on Main Street. Now, in its ninth year, the festival brings in local musicians, wineries, and restaurants for the community to enjoy. The festival, held Sept. 17 this year, showcases non-stop entertainment on three stages featuring 13 jazz bands and several street musicians performing in between sets. In addition to the live entertainment, 15 wineries and 16 restaurants will be in attendance. 

“Holding an annual event like this Downtown for nine years speaks to the energy, creativity, and spirit of Evansville,” says Ann Almquist, committee chair on the Evansville Philharmonic Guild. The festival is produced by the Evansville Philharmonic Guild each year and proceeds go toward promoting education of the local youth in live orchestral music.

“When children experience the live orchestra for the first time, they are enthralled by the experience,” says Almquist. “The Guild appreciates the opportunity to bring that type of enjoyment to our local youth.

“Our festival has the total package and we enjoy bringing the whole community together to help us celebrate our mission,” she says.

For more information about the Kenny Kent Jazz and Wine Festival, call 812-425-5050 or visit evansvillejazzfest.com.

Comment

What a Classic

This year, the 21st Annual British Motor Car Day on the River will do more than promote British-made vehicles; it will auction off a restored classic car for charity for the first time.

The Southern Indiana Region British (S.I.R. BRIT) Car Club has around 50 local members; members who live in Kentucky are called S.I.R. BRIT South. The club began 20 years ago, after holding their first car show in Downtown Evansville. Every year since, the car show has been in Newburgh, Indiana.

The car auction will feature a newly restored 1970 MGB. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center. Funds raised from the car show go to the Dream Center of Evansville. This year the event also is held in memory of Jim Barrow, a founding member of the club and an active member in the British car scene. Barrow owned an MG dealership, located where the Pet Food Center in Newburgh, Indiana, now sits. “Jim had a love for British-made vehicles and was always willing to help people fix their cars,” says Dave Mullins, chair of the event.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Old Lock and Dam Park in Newburgh.

For more information about the 21st Annual British Motor Car Day on the River, visit sirbrit.com, sirbrit.blogspot.com, or their Facebook page.

Comment

Curtain Up

The actors tread the boards – Christina Hager keeps them in repair
Christina Hager accepted the position of executive director for the Evansville Civic Theatre in 2015 and hit the stage running.

Almost lost behind the stacks of projects covering her desk, Christina Hager shoulders an enormous responsibility. As the executive director of the Evansville Civic Theatre, she must act as a sort of curator for its treasured legacy while propelling it full-force into contemporary performance and on into the future.

She doesn’t look worried.  She looks confident and excited.

Now located at the corner of Fulton and Columbia, ECT has been at the cultural heart of the city since it was founded as the People’s Players back in 1925. Its popularity swelled and shrank a few times over the years, then enjoyed resurgence in the decades leading to the millennium while it was in the capable hands of acclaimed director Dick Engbers. Although it continued to offer high-quality entertainment, the theater faltered a bit after his retirement; ticket sales began to slow, the facility showed its age, patrons drifted away, and the vibrancy began to dim.

Enter Hager, stage left.

In the year since she came on board, attendance has increased, there have been improvements to the physical structure, and the offerings have expanded in scope. In June, after several years relying on guest directors, the organization announced it had hired a new artistic director, Kevin Roach.

In addition to its Main Stage productions, ECT partners with the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana to offer experimental “Black Box” theater in its Underground series. Its NEXTWAVE program provides theater classes for children, teens, and adults, and the hands-on experience of participating in a live production.

This season’s offerings include “Peter and the Star Catcher,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and“Crimes of the Heart,” on the Main Stage. The Underground includes “The Conversation About the Keys,” and “The Nether.”

Why did you decide to join ECT, and what was your prior experience?

I started as a grant writer with the Girl Scouts and became development director. Then I worked several years with Tales and Scales, a non-profit group promoting “music telling” and conducting programs for kids. We received Kennedy Center honors, but funding was an ongoing issue and it was difficult for the organization to operate on its own. I helped to transition it into a program at the Evansville Philharmonic.

The experience at Tales and Scales was a little bit similar to the situation ECT was facing, and when I first learned they were seeking an executive director, I did not apply. I said I’d have to be crazy to do that again. But the board members were passionate and determined, and that convinced me. If you’ve got a good board of directors, you’ve got something to work with.

What are some of the physical challenges, and what improvements are in the works?

We have a four-phase renovation project underway. We’re currently making structural repairs to the south side of the building and repainting. We’ll tackle the east side next; work there will include replacing doors and repainting that wall.

We were fortunate that we got our box office remodeled thanks to a Boy Scout who handled it for his Eagle Scout project. Another item high on the to-do list is the ladies restroom. It’s upstairs and there is no elevator, making it inaccessible for some people. So come hell or high water, we’re going to address that.

We’ve had the opportunity to make an offer on the property next door, so in the near future we should be able to expand and offer more parking. There is long-range talk of a whole new facility and we’ll continue that discussion, but in my mind it makes no sense to allow this place to fall down around our ears while we’re talking.

What’s the advantage of having both an artistic director and an executive director?

Dick Engbers was able to handle both areas. He was probably the most influential person in the history of ECT next to its founder Frances Golden. But it is the rare individual who can do that.

If you have to be concerned with things like fundraising, ticket sales, and the cost of repairs, it starts to affect your ability to be creative. If an executive director handles the administrative aspects, the artistic director is free to concentrate on production. He doesn’t have to worry about how to pay the light bill; he just thinks of how to make the magic on stage.

We’re really excited to have Kevin Roach come in as artistic director; he’s been a guest director in the past. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. He seems to be the perfect complement to the other staff.

How would you describe the Main Stage and the Underground?

The Main Stage productions are more traditional theater and are the most popular. Plays on the Main Stage run for six performances, and musicals run for eight performances. The Underground features are lesser-known, more edgy plays that generally run for just four performances. Sometimes the audience is sparse. 

We did a lot of promotion of the Underground last season and the series really started building some momentum. “Bug” got a phenomenal response; that show was standing room only all four performances. We plan to build on that.

For tickets and more information about the Evansville Civic Theatre, call 812-425-2800 or visit evansvillecivictheatre.org.

Comment

The First Step

cMoe’s newest exhibit kicks off museum’s 10th year

Enter the Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville from Fifth Street. Look to your right and up at a vibrant aluminum sign by Sign Graphics of Evansville.

“Aluminate.”

A 26-foot tower climbs to the top of the second story and spirals back to the floor in the form of an orange slide. A bridge extends to another tower at the far wall. Wispy scarves slip up tubes with the help of a fan and glide from the ceiling into the hands of intrigued children.

Just one year ago, you would have seen no more than an unadorned lobby floor.

Initial planning for the Aluminate exhibit began three years ago, with a grant from the Alcoa Foundation and funding from Vectren Corporation. It began with the design expertise of Evansville’s Rachel Wambach, the construction experience of Chicago-based RedBox Workshop, and the dream of the cMoe team.

“The great thing about working with Alcoa was that they were really able to guide us in how we could use aluminum in the actual production of the exhibit,” says Ashley McReynolds, cMoe Director of Marketing and Outreach. “And they sat on the team to help design it, as well.”

After countless hours of work, a crew from RedBox drove the exhibit components to Evansville, where Matt Fugate,
cMoe Director of Facilities and Exhibits, and four volunteers from Tin Man Brewing Company helped unload the truck.

By the end of Jan. 30, the ribbon strung between the exhibit’s towers had been cut, and the latest addition was ready to facilitate learning through play and family interaction.

Aluminate, which teaches about energy efficiency and everyday aluminum usage through panels of facts and a fun structure, is only the beginning of a year of development at the museum.

“Evansville is growing around us currently,” says McReynolds, “so we want to make sure that we also grow, with the kids and with Evansville.”

For more information about cMoe, call 812-464-2663 or visit cmoekids.org.

Comment

Artistic Freedom

Judith Powers says her talent is a blessing
Judith Powers paints many works for herself and others in her studio in Mount Vernon, Indiana.

In grade school, Judith Powers was a strong student. But her teachers repeatedly reminded the Evansville native that her pencil should be completing assignments and not sketching drawings.

“Needless to say, I always have drawn,” says Powers, a graduate of F.J. Reitz High School. “I wasn’t really into schooling; I just wanted to paint and go ride horses.” Growing up, her passion was horses. Not only did Powers love to draw the animals, but her desire as a young girl was to be a cowboy. “Because cowboys got to ride horses all day,” she says.

Through the years as she grew up, her dreams of owning her own horse became reality. Hours were dedicated to grooming and caring for her horses, raising several foals, and taking long rides through the countryside with friends. When she and her first husband trained retrievers for the American Kennel Club (AKC) licensed field trails for many years, Powers once again found her way to painting, completing numerous works of retrievers and their owners, along with many other dogs.

“Others saw the portraits and asked if I would paint their dogs. It just kind of snowballed into this business,” she says.

Powers has commissions all over the U.S., from portraits of beloved family pets and children to many well-known murals throughout the Tri-State. Her projects can be found at Turoni’s Pizzery in Newburgh, Indiana, Western Ribeye & Ribs, Wild Birds Unlimited, Golf Plus, churches, libraries, and private homes.

“I just feel like I’ve been blessed to meet the most wonderful people and their pets. We’ve become friends and have remained friends,” says Powers. “Painting is something that I do and that I never take for granted. It’s a lot of fun to get up every day and do what you absolutely love.”

What was your first commission?

The very first I had, I will never forget. It was a huge oil painting. One of my art teacher’s friends was a Hadi Shriner in the horse patrol. He wanted a painting of his horse done and I remember doing this white horse for him. I don’t have a picture of it. I don’t really remember what it looked like; it probably was atrocious. But he was thrilled with it. And I was thrilled that he was thrilled. I was a junior in high school. That was kind of neat.

Why do you feel you are drawn or attached to art?

It’s something I’ve always done. I guess you could say I was born with a pencil in my hand, not a silver spoon. Sketching was second nature for me and it was part of what I did. In school, I took art classes and was introduced to painting and different mediums. Pastels and oils are my favorite mediums of choice. Everything evolved into this whole new world of art and I loved it. Horses were my passion and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I studied every aspect of them from anatomy to movement to the different color patterns. All of it fascinated me. There was something I was drawn to, no pun intended.

Who has given you inspiration?

Some of my earlier inspirations came from a western artist Orren Mixer. I also loved Norman Rockwell, how he could tell a story. But Mixer was just big. I still haven’t been able to find anybody that can do horses like he did. He was amazing. I like the realism of being able to tell a story with paints and have someone feel like they could walk into the story or that they had a similar experience — the love of a puppy, the smile on a child’s face — all those little things that just endear you to a painting. It has to evoke emotion or it doesn’t come across. For me, in my paintings, I want someone to feel something when they look at my work.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

I am very detail oriented. I love to do all the details. It drives some of my other artist friends nuts. They ask why I put all that detail in and I usually say it’s because that’s what I see. I see leaves on trees; I don’t see blobs of color. I’ve developed this style over the years and I tell my art students not to paint like I do. I can teach them basics. But it is up to them to develop their own style. Everyone has his or her own style.

What is the biggest challenge when working on a mural?

The biggest challenge is putting it on the wall and having the perspective and the colors look as good from a distance as they do up close. In other words, a lot of things look good from a distance but when you get up close, it looks like they’ve been painted with a broom. Since I’m detailed orientated, that is first and foremost when I put it on the wall. Whether it is 4 feet tall, 6 feet tall, or whatever, (I think about) how is it going to come across. There’s a lot of planning that goes into it before you put the paint on the wall.

What advice do you have for someone who feels frustrated with their painting?

I would encourage anyone to never give up. Anyone can paint. It’s just about having the determination to do it and never give up. Stop telling yourself you can’t and start telling yourself you will. It won’t be perfect the first time, but it’s ok because each time you do this, you’re learning more and more. It’s like a stepping-stone to sitting down and being comfortable, knowing what paints to mix to create colors, and more. Experience is the best teacher.

For more information about Judith Powers, call 812-457-0606.

Comment

And the Show Goes On

Princeton Theatre and Community Center experiences new life
The Princeton Theatre and Community Center opened in June 2015 with the play “Gypsy.”

In 2014, those who walked into the former Princeton, Indiana, movie theater at 301 W. Broadway St., would have seen anything but a theater.

“It was down to the dirt floors,” says Logan Vickers, facilities manager and events coordinator for the now Princeton Theatre and Community Center. “There was a lot of mold and it was just not in good shape. A lot of work had to be put in.”

Renovations on the theater — which originally was built in the late 1940s and opened in 1949 as a movie house — began in 2014 with a goal of restoring it into a performing arts theater and community center. Funded by a multi-million dollar Stellar Communities Designation Program grant awarded to the city of Princeton in 2012 (the city also plans to develop its downtown area with other projects including additions to the Bicentennial Plaza and updating gateways into the city with more sidewalks), the city’s mayor at the time Bob Hurst, the Broadway Players theater group, architect Jonathan Young of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf in Indianapolis, and contractors with Danco Construction, Inc. of Evansville worked together to develop a plan for the facility.

“It was a culmination of a lot of people’s hard work,” says Vickers.

The playhouse opened in June 2015 with its first performance at the end of July last year filling the house.

“It was astounding how successful it was, how much the community embraced us and has continued to,” says Vickers. “All of our shows have been very successful.”

Along with hosting the Broadway Players’ productions, the theater and community center has hosted a bridal show, private parties, weddings, showers, karaoke nights, a performance by the Badgett Playhouse of Grand Rivers, Kentucky, and a Christian music concert. The theater seats 280 people and the community center area at the front of the building has access to a kitchen.

The Broadway Players are the performing troupe that calls the playhouse home. Originally started in June 2003 as the Gibson County Theater Company, the group was founded by educators who were working with children who perform.

“They kind of all looked at each other and said, ‘We want to be doing this ourselves. There’s nothing for us to do.’ So they started a theater company for adults,” says Vickers.

For a time, the company performed mainly out of the Princeton Community High School auditorium, then found a home base at the activities building at the Gibson County Fairgrounds. The company now is made up of actors from all over the Tri-State, from Vincennes, Indiana, and Evansville to nearby Illinois. Vickers says everyone from the players to board members helps out and volunteers with running the facility.

“They’ll come and help with organizing or construction on things or help with karaoke nights, checking IDs, and taking cover charges,” says Vickers.

The upcoming season for the company and the theater is packed and exciting, he says. Auditions for the next play, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” were held in early May. Performances will be July 29, 30, and 31, and Aug. 5, 6, and 7. Two other shows are planned for the year: “Blithe Spirit” in October and “The Gift of the Magi” in December.

Vickers says the Badgett players also will return in June for a murder mystery dinner theater show.

“We really needed something like this (in Princeton),” he says of the playhouse. “It really has been a labor of love from the entire community.”

For more information about the Princeton Theatre and Community Center, call 812-635-9185 or visit princetontheatre.org.