February 27, 2017
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All Thriller, No Filler

“The Nutcracker,” one of the longest standing Christmas traditions among American ballet dancers and audiences since the late 1960s, is getting a makeover from Studio 321’s Ballet Directors David and Sarah Goud and Ballet Indiana.

The ballet academy’s adaptation of the 1892 E.T.A. Hoffmann story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” which normally is a two-act ballet, is condensed to one hour and gives every Studio 321 dancer a chance to take the lead.

The Ballet Academy at Studio 321 has offered comprehensive pre-professional ballet training for serious-minded dancers or recreational dancers ages 3 to adult since July 2014. David and Sarah, who also are artistic directors of Ballet Indiana, a nonprofit organization that sponsors performances, teach up to 80 students a week on the studio’s specially engineered dance floors.

“We’ve made an adaptation where Clara, who is usually the star little girl of ‘The Nutcracker,’ is now a grandmother and when her grandchildren are going through the attic on Christmas Eve, they find the magic chest where she has stored the nutcracker,” says David. “The nutcracker has since enchanted this chest and made it a portal to the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets.”

“Sarah had the great idea to make every little girl Clara in our adaptation,” says David. “We have like a wolf pack of little girls who are all Clara’s grandchildren, all going on this journey, and vicariously the audience will go with them.”

To transform a two-part ballet into a one-part, one-hour performance, the Gouds decided to only include the most popular “Nutcracker” musical selections.

The Studio 321 performances of “The Nutcracker,” which the Gouds titled “The Nutcracker Sweet,” are at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 and 2 p.m. Dec. 6 at AIS the Diamond Center (formerly North High School).

For more information about Studio 321, visit studio321.dance.


Feature Presentation

Bollywood movies come to Evansville AMC Theatres
The newest film to be released Nov. 12 is "Prem Ratan Dhan Payo."

With a mix of bright colors, song and dance, and sweeping story lines, Bollywood movies are designed to provide an escape from reality for moviegoers. This Indian movie industry based in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay, thus the nickname of Bollywood) rivals Hollywood in Southern California in size and popularity; in 2014 it totaled $2.1 billion in revenues. Now AMC Theatres in Evansville has brought these blockbuster films to the Tri-State area.

“We’re trying to bring in new Bollywood titles and the goal is to open them the same time they open internationally,” say Josh Boze, general manager of the AMC Evansville 16 Theatre. “We’ve had a lot of help from the Indian community locally and the studios who have produced the content.”

Bollywood movies are very progressive says Dr. Rajiv Sharma, a native of India and currently a gastroenterologist at Digestive Care Center in Evansville. “The whole goal basically is to have a film industry that will reflect Indian culture, the changes in Indian culture, and how India may look in a few years.”

Indian cinema arriving in AMC theaters in the Tri-State happened thanks to a series of fortunate events, says Sharma. A good friend of Sharma’s who works at one of the largest movie distribution and production companies in India asked where the local doctor watched Indian movies. Upon hearing Sharma waits for new films to be released on DVD, the friend contacted AMC and the rest is history.

“We’ve already seen a lot of benefit from them because there’s been a strong audience,” says Boze. “What we’ve also seen is other independent studios are taking notice too. So we’ve seen an increase in independent products.”

The happiness and joy expressed in Bollywood movies is why Sharma believes the films are so popular. “They want to make sure when you pay money, you escape the reality and look at what’s out there and enjoy it,” he says.

By having Indian and other international movies available to Tri-State moviegoers, Sharma says it brings a focus on cultural awareness to the community. As the world becomes more connected, he says having an appreciation and respect for Indian culture could have benefits for the future.

“Our children, no matter where they grow up, they are going to be growing into a world that’s very global,” says Sharma. “It’s helpful to their evolution as American citizens to be exposed to the global landscape.”

The popularity of Bollywood in Evansville expands beyond the movies as well. Sharma and his wife Monica coordinated the Bollywood Bash Nov. 8 at D’Alto Studios. The event featured Indian music, dance performances, food, shopping, and a fashion show. For a time, D’Alto Studios even offered a Bollywood Body Fitness dancing class.

“The whole idea is to bring people close to what Indian culture is and what we do,” says Sharma. “We want to show we’re a fun culture.”

Boze agrees and adds treating Bollywood movies just as Hollywood releases and opening them to the public offers a cultural experience to everyone. “I think that’s an important factor … it allows it to be shared with everybody.”

Sharma hopes AMC’s showings open the door for more things to come, including possibly welcoming Indian cinema productions to Indiana. “I just want people to be aware of India. Keep an eye on India, on the arts and culture.”

AMC Evansville 16 Theatre’s next Indian cinema movie will be “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo,” a musical about the unconditional love that all families must have for each other. The movie will premiere Nov. 12.

For more information about AMC Evansville 16 Theatre’s Indian cinema releases, visit amctheatres.com/indian.


New Beginnings

Dakri Sinclair reflects on creative inspirations and her new studio
Newburgh, Indiana, artist Dakri Sinclair works in her studio, the garage attached to her home that was converted.

When Newburgh, Indiana, artist Dakri Sinclair begins a painting, she sometimes writes the words “new beginning” on the canvas. With every vibrant and colorful brushstroke, the message disappears and her final artwork shines through.

It’s a season of new beginnings for Sinclair, 47, who experienced the passing of her mother Angie Sinclair in 2012. The artist used her mother’s home, a small rented cabin on the Ohio River in Newburgh, as a studio until recently when she was forced to relocate. Sinclair debated about where she should start again, and the decision was reached to convert the garage of her Newburgh home, which she shares with her husband Jim Herrell of 15 years and their three children Brauly Sinclair, 16, Maggie Herrell, 14, and Graden Herrell, 11.

Sinclair, who attended Evansville Day School and Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she studied fashion design and illustration, also has seen her artwork transform. Her career was jumpstarted through her parents’ former manufacturing company Arbor Hill House (makers of decorative hand-painted wooden alphabet letters and accessories, and writers of stories of their adventures under the name Tootie Mouse), which took her to Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, and others. Although she continues to create products for her Etsy account, a popular online commerce retailer of vintage items, arts, and supplies, and has done commissioned murals all over Evansville, including several in Jane Schroeder’s Newburgh home (Look for “With Open Doors” on page 50), Sinclair says she now has the confidence to paint without knowing what the end result will be.

How has your artwork changed during the many transitions in your life?
I will hibernate and lock myself in my studio and paint, which I’ve never really had the time to do. I’ve always been busy with commissioned work, or the products, or the murals. I usually start with however I’m feeling and lately those feelings have had to do with the transitioning into a new space. If I don’t know where to start or what the subject matter is I want to paint, I will just write “new beginning” on a canvas and just go from there. I will flip it over, turn it over, by the end of it, you don’t see the words. I blow dry a lot as I go. I paint very fast. It takes about an hour and a half to two hours. It’s fun. It’s a very therapeutic process.

Who inspired you to start painting for yourself?
Last year, I hosted artist Tracy Verdugo from Australia in April. She’s on a nine-month tour doing workshops and she’s phenomenal. That really enlightened me a lot. She has become a good friend in the process. Everything I’ve created has been very specific to a room, whether it is a mural or a canvas. I have to look at the bedding colors, the wall color, and I have to take all those factors into consideration. After I took her class, that’s really the first time I felt comfortable and confident in grabbing a canvas and having no idea what I was going to do. I’ve spent years knowing exactly what I had to do and what the final product was going to look like. Especially the murals, I would sketch them out before I would start painting. It was very different for me to grab a canvas and start painting. That’s been so much fun and it’s all I want to do. She will be back again next May.

How did mural painting become your specialty?
Friends of mine Don and Lisa Cobb had a restaurant Rosie O’Gradys Sports Bar in Downtown Evansville. I hadn’t really thought of doing large-scale art. He asked me to do a mural of Evansville with the river and a paddleboat. I went and grabbed tiny little paintbrushes for this huge wall — I didn’t know what I was doing. I just started painting. It was life changing. I’ve done a lot for St. Mary’s and Playville J.L.E. (a project of the Junior League of Evansville, located outside of St. Mary’s Pediatric Unit). It has kind of morphed into specializing into children’s rooms and environments.

I knew Jane Schroeder’s daughter in high school and she knew me and was familiar with my work and that I painted murals. It was a perfect fit. It was definitely a subject matter that was out of my box and my comfort zone. She made it easy. I did a mural in the hallway going back to the bedroom, which is called The Scripture Gallery, a baptism scene, three panels in the guest room upstairs, a painting of a church, and canvases here and there throughout her home. When you hear the whole house is white, you think sterile and uncomfortable, but it is so not like that. It is so well done.

What does the future look like for you and your creations?
My own home has more of my kids’ artwork than mine. I love working with kids and art. I aspire to get involved with more workshops, host more artists like I did with Tracy, and look into possibly getting a commercial space. (Creating art) is a part of me. It’s in my blood. It’s my happy place. What I hear a lot from people is that my work makes them feel happy — what more can I ask for?

Look for Sinclair’s work online at her Etsy store, visit her Facebook and Instagram pages to watch videos of her painting process, or stop by the 10th Annual Jingle Mingle Mart from 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 13 at Christ the King School. Last year the event had more than 70 vendors, and more than 900 shoppers attended.


Supportive Songs

Gary Puckett and the Union Gap will be one of the iconic musical groups at Water for People event.

In an age where it’s common for families to receive clean drinking water straight from their home’s faucets, there still are millions of people around the world affected every year by contaminated drinking water. The Indiana Section of the American Water Works Association is working to help by hosting a benefit concert.

The concert, which takes place on Sept. 24 at the Victory Theatre, located at 600 Main St., features two iconic musical groups of the 1960s — Herman’s Hermits and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. Preceding the 7 p.m. show is a cash bar and silent auction beginning at 6 p.m.

All proceeds from the event benefit Water for People, a charity that strives to provide resources and education about sanitation and filtering to developing countries around the world.

“The proceeds pay for the raw materials to build pipelines and help with other needs,” says Duane Gilles, water distribution manager for Evansville Water and Sewer Utilities.

“The impact this has is tenfold of what we raise by the time it gets to the impoverished countries.”

Gilles helped select the musical talent for the fundraising event. The support for the chosen bands has been abundant as many tickets were sold before advertising began, he says.

For more information about the concert, visit victorytheatre.com/events/viewall/details/?event_id=19. For more information about Water for People, visit waterforpeople.org.


Changing the World

Malala Fund ambassador to share experience at Victory Theatre
Shiza Shahid is listed under Time Magazine's 30 under 30 World Changers, Forbes Top 30 Under 30 List, and has her own Ted Talk.

Shiza Shahid grew up in Pakistan with Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. In 2012, when Yousafzai was just 15, she was shot by the Taliban on her way to school.

During this time, Shahid was studying at Stanford University in Stanford, California, and came to Yousafzai’s Birmingham, England, hospital bedside to act as a buffer between her and the onslaught of media attention the incident had attracted.

Now, Shahid is the global ambassador of the Malala Fund, investing in women leaders around the world to enable their success.

“As a founder, I hope to see the organization have major impact in supporting girls’ education globally,” says Shahid.

She will share her story and more on the Malala Fund at Uncharted International’s Stories of Resilience 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 at the Victory Theatre, 600 Main St.

“(Shahid) is listed under Time Magazine’s 30 Under 30 World Changers, Forbes Top 30 Under 30 list, and she has spoken on ‘Ted Talks.’ So, for us to be able to bring her to Evansville is just incredible,” says Betsy Hopkins, Uncharted International’s director of marketing.

Shahid will talk about her experiences with Yousafzai, growing up in Pakistan, the challenges she faced in her education, and how she and Yousafzai began to connect on this global platform to raise awareness for education for girls.

“I hope to inspire people to know that no matter who they are, no matter what obstacles they face, they can change their own lives and create a major impact in the world,” says Shahid. “I want people to see their struggles as an opportunity to be stronger and more fearless, and to not accept defeat.”

Uncharted International is a nonprofit based in Evansville that operates 11 orphanages in Myanmar. In its 20 years working in Myanmar and five years as a nonprofit, Uncharted International has focused on caring for the homeless, fighting human trafficking, leadership development, remedial education for orphans as well as preparation for employment.

They have taken more than 800 people in the Evansville area with them to the countries they serve.

Shahid and Uncharted International both work to provide young girls with education opportunities.

“One of the areas we work in is Afghanistan, and education for girls there is very difficult,” says Hopkins. “A lot of children go on the streets and beg to make money, so we have a program where we approach the mother and say, ‘We’re going to give you a sewing machine and you can create items for sale if you’ll allow your children to come to our school.’”

That program has been very successful, says Hopkins.

She hopes Shahid’s speech, along with the rest of the Stories of Resilience, will help Uncharted International continue educating Evansville on some of the work organizations like themselves and the Malala Fund are doing and why this work is necessary.

“It has been a true pleasure to interact with such a mission-driven organization,” says Shahid.

For more information on Stories of Resilience, visit unchartedinternational.org/resilience.


Elegant Evening

SPARK Award recipient Karan Pastora

After shining on the national scene, the Tri-State Medical Alliance wants others to shimmer at its premiere event.

The Tri-State Medical Alliance is an organization whose members strive to assist their physician spouses in improving healthcare in the region. Despite being a year old, the American Medical Association Alliance awarded TSMA a spot on its Membership Honor Roll this year. It also won the AMAA’s Social Media Excellence Award, and president Karan Pastora won the Outstanding SPARK Leader award in June.

“It is a great honor to be recognized for such a prestigious award by a national and well-respected entity,” says Pastora.

TSMA is hosting an event starting at 10 a.m. on Sept. 24 at Evansville Country Club, 3810 Stringtown Road, to raise money for other nonprofit organizations. “Put Some Bling On It” will feature shopping for items from various vendors with more than 20 booths present. There also will be a silent auction with many items, including a $2,900 diamond pendant from The Diamond Galleria and a $3,000 hand-knotted rug from the Rug Gallery in Newburgh, Indiana. A one-carat solitaire diamond, retail valued at $9,000, from The Diamond Galleria and an international vacation package highlight the bidding pieces for the live auction.

Sponsors include Harding, Shymanski, and Company, The Diamond Galleria, Dillard’s, Victoria’s Boutique, St. Mary’s Hospital, Deaconess Hospital, Banterra Bank, and Tucker Publishing Group. In addition to the items up for bid, each attendee also will receive an original Alex and Ani designer bracelet from The Diamond Galleria.

“All the funds from this event are donated back into the Tri-State area to help various nonprofit healthcare entities, which is our main goal,” says Pastora.

For more information about the Tri-State Medical Alliance, email tristatemedicalalliance1@gmail.com.


Be Informed and Inspired

Tri-State residents who enjoy watching videos made possible by TED, a nonprofit organization that sponsors powerful talks about Ideas Worth Spreading, can now enjoy a similar event in Evansville.

TEDxEvansville is organized by a volunteer group of community advocates who wanted to promote ideas and discussion in the region. They planned TEDxEvansville 2015, scheduled for Oct. 13 at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science’s Koch Immersive Theater. These local occurrences are branded TEDx, meaning they are independently organized TED events. This year’s theme is renaissance — rebirth, revival, and renewal — with the goal of leveraging Evansville’s legacy while continuing to pursue progress.

TEDxEvansville received more than 100 written submissions and narrowed the list to roughly 30 for auditions, selecting a final count of 14. The speakers were chosen based on their ideas regarding the theme and their ability to convey those ideas in a creative and inspirational manner. Application reviewers did not have access to candidates’ names to ensure focus on the ideas.

Some of the presenters include Steve Burger, vice president of radio & digital at WNIN; Rob Carroll, principal of South Heights Elementary School; and Lynn Miller Pease, CEO of Leadership Evansville, Inc.

“Every application was based solely on the idea’s authenticity, relevance to the renaissance theme, and originality, as well as potential for community impact — not on who submitted it,” says Jenn Schultheis, curatorial team lead for TEDxEvansville.

Seating is limited, so anyone who is unable to attend can watch the event via live stream on tedxevansville.com.

For more information about TEDxEvansville, visit tedxevansville.com.


Rock Show

Annual event is Evansville Lapidary Society’s crowning jewel
Evansville Lapidary Society members Ruth Reisinger, Sara Rappee, and Danielle Schultz stand behind a display of specimens.

Rock lovers from all 50 states drive many miles to see the gems on display at the Evansville Lapidary Society’s annual Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show, set for Oct. 24 and 25 at Washington Square Mall, Green River Road, and Washington Avenue.

“It’s huge,” says Sara Rappee, show chair and society past president. “We advertise all the way to the Chicago area. We try to get information out as far as we can and bring people in from all states.”

This year marks the 49th show for the Lapidary Society. More than 20 different vendors from across the country bring in a wide variety of wares from beads, jewelry, and carvings to geodes, slabs, fossils, minerals, and gems from all over the world. Rappee says the show also includes working demonstrations, where society members use a portable unit to show the public how to grind and polish rocks.

“People bring stuff to them and (the collectors) tell them what they have,” says Lapidary Society Treasurer Ruth Reisinger. “These guys would know anything.”

The annual show started as a way to help the society get information about the group out to the public and as a way to help the nonprofit bring in needed funds. The Evansville Lapidary Society began in 1953 and was founded by a group of individuals interested in earth science, explains Reisinger. Group members rented a room in the YMCA building for their equipment and taught classes on earth science, and cutting and polishing stones.

“That’s what lapidary is — starting with a rough (stone), cutting it, and polishing it into a gemstone,” she says.

Today, the organization is located in its own building at 1304 N. Willow Road. Anyone interested in learning about lapidary may ask questions, see displays, and attend their first three classes for free.

“It’s nice to be able to provide one here,” says Rappee. “And this shop here, we’re really special and unique because there is not a lot of lapidary societies that have a working facility where the public just has access to come out to the shop.”

The Gem, Mineral, & Fossil Show will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 24 and noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 25. For more information about the Evansville Lapidary Society, call 812-425-4367.


Paint the Way

Jon Siau’s legacy shapes Evansville’s art and education
Jon Siau stands with pieces of his artwork including a drawing of Johnny Bench, who was a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds.

Who is Uncle Vinny? He is a muscled, grinning character Evansville artist and educator Jon Siau designed for Turoni’s Pizzery & Brewery and has been drawing for around 20 years.

“It’s cartoons,” says Siau, while sitting in Turoni’s Newburgh restaurant. “It’s for the restaurant and walls. It’s what a lot of people know me for.”

Siau also designed a large mural inside the front door of the restaurant, depicting “Wizard of Oz” characters dancing down a pizza-lined road leading to the three Evansville restaurants, with Uncle Vinny perched on a motorcycle on an adjacent wall.

But the 65-year-old retired North High School art teacher has won honors that extend far beyond his Evansville roots. He has done work for the U.S. Olympic committee, including a magazine that went worldwide, and completed artwork for celebrities such as Don Mattingly, Garth Brooks, and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.

And he has passed on his talents to his students, with more than 100 winning national art awards. One former student designed the interior of luxury jets for the late pop star Michael Jackson and the prince of the Southeast Asian country of Brunei. Another former student studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, served apprenticeships with Vera Wang and Victoria’s Secret, and now works for Polo Ralph Lauren.

Born and raised in Evansville, Siau attended Harper Elementary School, Harrison High School, and completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Evansville. He taught art at North High School from the fall of 1971 until the spring of 2013, when he retired for health reasons.

“It was hard for me to walk away,” says Siau. “It was a tearful decision.”

Siau’s awards include the 2002 Power of Art award presented by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (Washington D.C.) for outstanding work with students with disabilities. The award was presented at a formal banquet held at the National Gallery of Art.

In 2006, he was named recipient of the American Stars of Teaching program. The award is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Siau was selected from more than 60,000 teachers in the state of Indiana and the only art teacher in the nation to be chosen for the national honor.

“I don’t care about awards,” says Siau, who is single and lives on Evansville’s North Side. “I want to get back into the show scene.”

In addition to teaching, Siau coached boy’s track, girl’s golf and tennis, and boy’s and girl’s cross-country.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” said Siau. “I’ve led a very blessed life.”

When did your interest in art begin?
I’ve just always loved it. It’s the one thing I had confidence in. I love being able to sit down with a blank piece of paper and create.

What medium do you enjoy most?
Watercolors. I enjoy just sitting down and painting what I want to paint. I love to observe. I’m very visual.

What are the current projects you are working on?
I’m writing and illustrating a book. The subtitle will be “Life’s Lessons.” The book is about awkward moments and the things you learn along the way. Then after that, I’m going to write a song. I scored miserable on the tone pitch test as a child. The teacher asked me to pantomime instead of sing. My father said, ‘Son, don’t feel too bad. None of us has any musical talent.’ Someone in our family had all the music talent — I later learned through a relative who had done genealogical research that my family is related to Johann Sebastian Bach.

Why do you want to write a song and author a book?
It’s definitely the challenge part of it. And creating something outside my normal safety net of arts. The song and the book are painting with words.

Do you consider yourself a teacher or an artist?
I’m not teaching anymore. When I was a teacher, I was all in. I just loved it. You get to take the one thing you’re really good at, pass it on, and share it with young minds who really want to know. I didn’t have a job for 42 years. To me, I had a career. I got to work with great students, parents, and other teachers.

Have you seen students make positive changes as the result of being in art class?
I have seen some students change a lot. I’ve seen kids come into class shy with no confidence. Then they discover they can draw and it’s just amazing the transformation. We all need someone to believe in us. You need two people to believe in you — yourself and someone who believes you can do things.

Where would you like to be in a year?
I would like to be immersed in my artwork and my community. I believe in giving back. I’ve worked with every medium except computers. And I want to do plein air work (French term for painting outdoors) and sit there and talk to people. Art has soothed my troubled soul many times.

For more information about Jon Siau, visit jonsiau.com.


Creative Rebirth

Ten years ago, tragedy struck the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans across the nation. August marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast. Out of the tragedy, a story of triumph began.

To commemorate the anniversary, three Mississippi Gulf Coast artists featured in the Journeys Art Exhibit, held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, July 24 at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, 318 Main St., Ste. 101, share the story with the community. After the loss of their homes and studios, Lori K. Gordon, Julie Nelson, and Mary-Pat Forrest began to rebuild.

Today, the artists are displaying the progress they have achieved over the last decade through a documentary shown at the exhibit, which is free to the public. Also featured in the exhibit are ceramics, mixed media, and 2D paintings shaped by Hurricane Katrina.

“These three women’s experience was colored by Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath, as well as by the outpouring of support they received from fellow artists around the country,” says Anne Shoemaker McKim, executive director at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana. “The opportunity for the Arts Council’s Bower-Suhrheinrich Foundation Gallery to host this exhibit is very exciting, as is the privilege of now being a part of their story.”

“Coming from my perspective as a full-time artist for them to go through that tragedy and begin again, it is truly remarkable,” says Emily Gartner, Evansville artist, who with the help of fellow Evansville artist Laura Spradley aided Gordon during her time of need.

For more information about the Journeys Art Exhibit, call 812-422-2111 or visit artswin.org.