October 20, 2014
Overcast, light rain
  • 50 °F
  • Overcast, light rain
Comment

Fostering Design

Visitors to Dallas and Susan Foster’s home and gardens in Vincennes, Ind., on Sept. 21 will be treated to the landscape designers’ signature mosaic of landscape color and texture.

Landscapes by Dallas Foster is partnering with Evansville Living to host “A Day at Hawthorn Winds,” an exclusive tour of Dallas and Susan Foster’s personal landscape. The tour benefits the Knox County Humane Society and will be held in Vincennes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST). Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Entrance for children 12 and under is free.

The Fosters’ personal residence, a showplace for the company’s landscape values, features eight acres of gently contoured lawn and woodlands. A pond surrounded by 12 ornamental Winter King Hawthorn trees defines the landscape for which the homestead was named. The Fosters have hosted prior tours at Hawthorn Winds, and again this year visitors will have the opportunity to explore the many destinations within the landscape, to talk with Dallas and Susan Foster and their knowledgeable staff, and to enjoy snacks and beverages.

The Acropolis Restaurant will serve finger foods, and Gigi’s Cupcakes will offer desserts. Companies serving beverages will be Oliver Winery, Dad’s Root Beer, and Hedinger Beverage Distributing Co. T.R.U. Event Rental will provide places to rest and gather.

Comment

When In Rome

Local cafe and art gallery offers an offbeat entertainment and dining experience
As a painter, Todd Huber wanted to create a welcome creative space for other artists and musicians.

Have you ever heard of the Roman Emperor Pupienus Maximus? Todd Huber, owner of PG café and art gallery, had never heard of him, either, until he started demolition on PG’s building at 1418 W. Franklin St.

“We didn’t have a name yet, and when we were doing demolition, we found this wallpaper that had Roman emperors on it,” he says. “One of the names was ‘Pupienus Maximus.’”

Pupienus Maximus reigned as co-emperor of Rome with Balbinus from April 22 to July 29 in 238 A.D. He and Balbinus were assassinated on the same day by soldiers of the Praetorian Guard.

Huber decided to name the café PG, as in Pupienus’ glove. Huber says it’s not known if Pupienus actually had a glove, but he likes the idea of “developing a weird story. It’s about creating a legendary myth” and being inspired as a result of someone else’s inspiration.

A native of the West Side, Huber graduated from Reitz High School in 1999 before moving to Bloomington, Boston, California, and Oregon. It was in Oregon that Huber had the idea of opening a café and art gallery.

“My girlfriend, Kate Horvath, and I were looking at starting a place in Portland, but my brother, who owns Tin Man, was going to demolish the PG building for a parking lot, so we decided to come back,” says Huber. “We thought this was the perfect spot so we were going to make this building work for us.”

“I grew up here, and as a kid there was basically nowhere to hang out on Franklin Street,” says Huber. “We want to be the place that attracts both younger and older generations.”

After starting demolition in March 2012, PG opened its doors on March 15 of this year. The goal is to put on one to three events each weekend, ranging from art shows to live bands and even some open mic nights. Huber wants the customer to experience something that’s comfortable and enjoyable, where people can come sit down and work or just hang out.

“We want people to focus on doing something they wouldn’t do at other bars or galleries,” says Huber. So far, there have been four experimental open mic nights. These have allowed participants to produce video art, electronic music, and other kinds of art.

Besides offering entertainment, PG also serves food and beer, wine, homemade sodas, and coffee. All of its meals are made from scratch and are “as socially and environmentally responsible as possible,” says Horvath, the kitchen manager. She is self-taught in the culinary arts.

The lunch menu changes almost daily, but the breakfast menu will usually stay the same, consisting of omelets, hash browns, waffles, and more. Lunches always offer a soup, pasta, and a salad as well as other often-changing options, too. The smoked salmon has been a popular item and the grilled cheese with jalapeno poppers is quickly becoming a favorite.

Overall, PG hopes to encourage experimentation in Evansville.

“We try to be different,” says Huber. “Our art is something that you won’t find at other galleries.”

PG also has plans to expand in the near future. A second floor of the building will need to be made handicap accessible before it can be used during opening hours.

“Eventually, we would like to have little PG’s all over town, a little empire,” Huber laughs.

For more information about PG, call 402-4445 or visit pgeville.com.

Comment

Colour of Humanity

He was a child refugee. Now Derreck Kayongo is considered a fearless visionary. And on Friday, Oct. 11, he will be the keynote speaker at the Evansville African-American Museum’s fifth annual Colour of Humanity Gala.

Kayongo and his wife, Sarah, started their own non-governmental organization, The Global Soap Project, which repurposes partially used soap from hotels into new soap for needy populations. So far, the organization has donated more than half a million bars of soap to more than 20 countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Swaziland, Kenya, and Ghana.

The Colour of Humanity Gala will raise funds to continue the educational programs and support the exhibits of the African-American Museum. It will also support the museum’s general operating expenses. The evening will include cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner, dancing, and a live auction with 10 items.

“The auction items are unique and distinct experiences,” says Nancy Drake, who co-chairs the gala along with Kevin Wells. “The dinner on Oct. 11, we call that our Signature Soul Food Buffet. Everybody loves that buffet.”

The theme for this year’s gala is “The Color Purple,” and it will be held at the Tropicana Executive Conference Center, 421 NW Riverside Drive. Individual tickets are $125 and table sponsorships range from $1,500 to $5,000. Tickets are available for purchase through the museum. If you cannot attend the event, the museum is also accepting donations.

Comment

Delicious Bids

The chefs will be hard at work in the makeshift kitchen, but the key ingredient is you. The 2013 Evansville Signature Chefs Auction will take place on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the Scottish Rite, 203 Chestnut St.

The Chefs Auction is an annual event — this will be its 16th year — to raise money for the March of Dimes, which helps mothers have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.

This year’s Ambassador Family is Jono, Jessica, and Taytum Connor of Vincennes, Ind. Taytum Connor was born at around 29 weeks during an emergency C-section. Ten weeks later, after various medical issues, she was discharged from the hospital on what should have been her due date.
The Nov. 7 event will allow the best chefs in southwest Indiana to prepare signature dishes for guests, who will also have an opportunity to socialize with other attendees. A live auction including unique epicurean experiences and items will cap off the evening.

Various dishes from Acropolis, Franco’s Catering, Just Rennie’s, Kanpai, Commonwealth Bar + Grill, Texas Roadhouse, Outback Steakhouse, Bar Louie, RiRa Irish Pub, and the Tin Fish in Newburgh will be available.

Open to the public, tickets are $50 per person, $100 per couple, or $1,075 for a corporate table of eight. Interested parties may purchase tickets by cash, check, or credit card.

For more information, contact Southwest Indiana Community Director Ashley Murray at 812-266-6005.

Comment

Regifted

Christ The King’s 8th Annual Jingle Mingle Mart offers a unique experience for area shoppers with more than 60 vendors, from across the Tri-State, in one festive and convenient location. The vendors will showcase a unique array of clothing, jewelry, home and garden décor, gourmet food, artwork, and holiday items.

B.J. McHugh of Loveworn will be one of the vendors returning to this year’s Jingle Mart. Loveworn “reinvents and recycles” T-shirts into adorable skirts and scarves. This year is the 100th anniversary of the T-shirt and, in the past two years, McHugh, a popular exhibitor at the annual Broad Ripple Art Fair in Indianapolis, has recycled more than 10,000 T-shirts. She will have racks of ready-to-wear items, including Indiana University skirts just in time for football season. Customers can bring their own T-shirts to the Jingle Mart and McHugh will create a one-of-a-kind garment for them.

The Jingle Mingle Mart will take place at Christ The King School Friday, Nov. 8, from 5 to 9 p.m. An $8 entrance fee will include an evening of shopping, entertainment, complimentary food, and a silent auction. All proceeds from this fundraiser benefit Christ The King School’s PTO.

Comment

In the Third Act

Previous owner of Evansville’s former gourmet food store A La Carte now earns applause as a creator of Back Alley Musicals
Ron Waite, a culinary artist turned theater producer, takes the director’s position at the RiverPark Center.

Thirty years in education, culminating with a stretch as a middle school principal, would leave most people with just enough stamina to lounge poolside or maybe play a weekly round of bridge. Not Ron Waite. The Owensboro, Ky., native, who many Evansvillians may recognize as the proprietor of the much-missed “A La Carte Food and Wine” on S. Green River Road, is still a man on fire, splitting his time in various volunteer positions and helping run Back Alley Musicals, the musical theatre company he helped establish in 2010.

Where did you learn to cook, and how did you make the transition from teaching to gourmet food shop owner and caterer?
I have always liked to cook. My mother and father were both fine cooks, but the art part of it is what I enjoy. In the early 1960s, as part of “The Great Society,” there was an initiative to teach mothers how to budget and buy and cook better food. We couldn’t get any takers, so it turned into an adult education class with me teaching gourmet cooking. We had a ball! I think it cost all of five dollars per person for the whole course, which was six classes. One night we did quiche — of course, that’s passé now, but at the time people didn’t know what it was! Anyway, in the midst of this, Jacques Pepin, who had been Charles DeGaulle’s personal chef, came to Louisville. I took a class with him, which led to me getting into a class with James Beard (American chef and food writer) at his home on 14th Street in the Village in New York City. Everybody there was someone, but me. In fact, one night, Julia and Paul Child came by to pick up Mr. Beard. (And, yes, she was very tall.) They were going to a big party at The Four Seasons to announce the opening of La Varenne, a new cooking school in Paris. I thought “I’d better get myself to France,” and eventually I did spend six weeks there one summer. It was wonderful. We made croissants out the wazoo.

What recipes do people ask you for the most?
They always want the Curry Chicken Salad, the Seelbach Salad, and the Waldorf Salad.

Do you give them the recipes?
Not really — I still kind of keep them in my personal file. If they say, “Does it have mustard?” or something, I’ll give them a yes or a no.

What was your first personal experience with musicals?
Well, when I was a child, we played “Show,” you know — but when I started teaching for the great sum of $2,300 a year, I got a $50 bonus for putting on a musical. So we did a musical a year at what was then Eastern Junior High School in Owensboro. When I started my master’s degree, we could take hours in whatever we wanted, so I took a lot of mine at Indiana University in the theater department. I thought it might help in putting on the shows, and it did, but it was also just a lot of fun.

What was the impetus for “BAM” (Back Alley Musicals)?
In the summer of 2010, some people did “The King and I” and it was such fun that the next summer, we said, “Why don’t we do a small musical?” so we did “The Taffetas,” which only has four characters. People loved it, and we sold out. So we set out to do four musicals and decided to sell season tickets. Our goal was to sell 50 and we sold 110. We started at the Healing America building, then moved to Pangea Café, and now we are on to the River Park Center. When we were at Healing America and were trying to come up with a name, somebody said, “Nobody’s going to find us on this back alley,” and there it was. So we’re not on the back alley anymore, but we’re keeping the name.

Why do you think there’s been such a response and turnout to BAM’s shows?
People love musicals. They make you feel good. Of course, they’re also the most expensive; not only do you have to pay for the rights to the show, but there’s also the orchestra. The sets are more elaborate. The demand on the actors is higher, too; they have to be able to sing, act, and dance … often all at the same time.

What do you love the most — the cooking or the music?
Well, I don’t like both at the same time! They’re both artistic endeavors. Musicals involve many people. Cooking is personal. You meet interesting people in both.

Okay, cliché but fun. You can invite five people — living or dead — to dinner. Who are they?
James Beard — he could carry on a conversation and he would appreciate the food; Carol Channing; Eartha Kitt (an actress best known for her role as “Catwoman” in the TV series “Batman”); Leonard Bernstein — he’s just a scoundrel! What a mess! And Marlene Dietrich — you gotta have a little trash along.  

For more information about Back Alley Musicals, call 270-925-4963 or visit backalleymusicals.com.

Comment

Serving it to the Community

Macie Elliott

When the Women’s Hospital 2013 Classic takes place Monday, July 15, through Sunday, July 21, a local tennis player will likely get a lot of attention.

Macie Elliott graduated from Reitz Memorial High School and will attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas in the fall to play tennis. This will be her first year to compete in the main draw of the tournament.

Elliott won the girls Indiana state tennis singles tournament held at North Central High School in Indianapolis as a sophomore in June 2011. This year, Elliott and Brenna Wu won their doubles semifinal and championship matches at the Indiana High School Athletic Association state championship in Indianapolis on June 8.

“I was chosen as a wildcard, which they usually give to someone local,” Elliott says. “When I heard the news that I would get to compete, I was really excited to get out there and show my skills.”

This is the 15th year of the tournament, which benefits the newly opened Evansville Tennis Center. The United States Tennis Association Pro Circuit event helps young women, usually ages 18 to 23, trying to become professional tennis players obtain enough points to qualify for the next level.

“Macie is a very hard-working, committed young lady,” Anna Hazlett, manager of the Evansville Tennis Center says. “She always strives to be the best, whether it is in academics or tennis.”

The tournament offers competitors $10,000 in prize money split between winners and finalists.

Events will take place throughout the week, including a family day clinic on Saturday, July 20, from 9 to 10 a.m. On the final day of the competition, Lic’s Deli & Ice Cream will provide free strawberries and ice cream to everyone who attends.

The tournament will take place outside at Wesselman Tennis Center. If it rains, it will be held indoors at the new tennis facility located at 5428 Davis Lant Drive, which is on Green River Road near Evansville Day School.

Admission to the tournament and clinics is free all week.

The Women’s Hospital - Deaconess Health System is the title sponsor of the event.

For more information, visit USTA.com or evansvilletennis.net.

Comment

Treasure Pleasure

Former school is perfect site to preserve Warrick County history
Colleen Talley, secretary of the Warrick County Museum board, is available to give tours.

If you’re looking for an education in Warrick County history, there’s no better place to start than the old Ella Williams School. Located at 217 S. First St. in Boonville, Ind., part of this 1901 red brick structure became a museum in 1977, after the school closed in 1976.

Led by board president Connie Barnhill, the Warrick County Museum aims to collect, preserve, and promote the history of Warrick County.

“Ninety-nine percent of what we have has been given to us by citizens of the county,” says Colleen Talley, the secretary of the museum board and one of the museum’s kind volunteers. She takes visitors on free tours from 1 to 4 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday — and by appointment — leading them through rooms filled with displays and exhibits devoted to a variety of themes.

A room for politics, for instance, contains information about James A. Hemenway, the only U.S. senator from Warrick County, who served in the Senate from 1905 to 1909.

Another room about the family and home includes pictures of women whose recipes were featured in the 1950s in The Boonville Standard, a newspaper with offices just around the corner.

As you move upstairs, you’ll see an Honor Roll on the landing naming all the Warrick County men who served during World War II. The museum also displays clothing worn by members of the Red Cross who supported the war effort in its “War and Peace” room. This room focuses mostly on World War I and World War II and has items from each branch of the service, Talley says. One of the oldest items in the museum is a drum from the Civil War. It is part of a collection of musical instruments from that war, which also includes two fifes and a set of cymbals. There also is an original paymaster’s roll listing the men who served in the Union Army and the amount they earned for a month’s service, Talley says.

The “School Room” is set up like a one-room schoolhouse and includes items tied to literature, fossils, insects, and Native American artifacts. It’s a nod, Talley says, to the diverse number of subjects teachers at the time were expected to be knowledgeable about. The room also has information about high schools in the county that no longer exist.

Regardless of your interest, the Warrick County Museum is a treasure to behold.

“Your support through donations of items, donations of your time, and monetary donations either through membership or other forms helps the museum out tremendously,” the museum says on its website.

For more information on the Warrick County Museum, call 812-897-3100 or visit warrickcountymuseum.org.

Comment

Singing His Praises

Sandy Lee Watkins Songfest to benefit RiverBend Academy
Kerry Kurt Phillips was a personal friend of Sandy Lee Watkins, and the two talked in detail about the songwriting craft.

Words used to just roll off of Sandy Lee Watkins’ tongue. The man who often referred to himself as “husky petite” also was known for touting that “there’s no place like 42420,” the Zip code for Henderson, Ky. When the longtime Judge-executive died unexpectedly on Aug. 28, 2010, at age 58, the response was immediate. Residents called him “funny,” “talented,” and “a consummate politician.” But most of all, they declared him missed.

The 2013 Sandy Lee Watkins Songwriters Festival, planned for July 31-Aug. 3 in Henderson, is dedicated to Watkins’ memory. And it’s a fitting tribute to the man who used to attend songwriters festivals throughout the country, analyzing and studying song lyrics and the stories behind the tunes he loved so well.

“He was one of those people that the minute you meet him, you feel like you’ve been friends with him your whole life,” says Kerry Kurt Phillips, a Henderson native who has been called one of America’s favorite songwriters. Phillips now lives in Nashville, Tenn., and has written songs that have been nominated for Grammy Awards. His songs have been featured in movies, on television, and in Super Bowl commercials. Some of his biggest hits include “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair” by George Jones, “Is It Cold In Here” by Joe Diffie, and “Down On the Farm” by Tim McGraw.

“After being in this career for almost 30 years, I’ve learned that people listen differently,” Phillips says. “Some people listen on the surface, so to speak, and other people listen deeper and try to get to the emotion that the writer was trying to get across. It’s just taken in different ways, and (Sandy) was one of those guys who really took it to heart and loved how a song could take you on a journey to some place you remember or some place you’ve never been.”

The Sandy Lee Watkins Songwriters Festival aims to do those same things and more by allowing songwriters from all over the United States to tell the stories behind their songs. What began as a two-day start-up event in 2010 and 2011 has turned into a four-day festival featuring songwriters like Phillips, Steve Williams, and Tony Arata. Williams wrote “Redneck Yacht Club,” recorded by Craig Morgan, and Arata wrote “The Dance,” recorded by Garth Brooks. A total of 26 songwriters were scheduled to perform at the festival as of late May.

The festival will benefit RiverBend Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, a school of visual and performing arts that also is a 501(c)3 organization. Phillips says the proceeds from the songwriting festival will go to the academy for scholarships for people to learn how to play a new instrument. The academy also offers acting, dance, and culinary classes.

Meanwhile, the festival also will offer a second annual songwriting competition, the winner of which will receive a prize package provided by the Songwriting Competition Sponsors.

Participants may purchase an All-Access Pass for $125, a Lanyard Party Pass for $75, or individual tickets for $5 and $25 to enjoy the music, fun, and stories from songwriters.

For more information, visit sandyleesongfest.com.

Comment

Hitting a High Note

Maestro Alfred Savia is the internal heartbeat of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra. For almost 25 seasons, the music director has expanded the activities of the Evansville Philharmonic, which now includes a comprehensive Youth Orchestra program, the Philharmonic Chorus, and the Eykamp String Quartet. Savia also is a frequent guest conductor throughout North America and around the globe.

“The orchestra is over 75 years old, and for someone to obtain that kind of longevity is really a great positive for the Evansville area,” says Neal Franklin, a board member of the Evansville Philharmonic who also is the chairwoman of the celebration.

Originally from New Jersey, Savia graduated from Butler University’s Jordan College of Fine Arts. He studied conducting with Franco Ferrara at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and privately with Sixten Ehrling and Otto Werner Mueller, both of whom have taught conducting at Juilliard School of Music. Savia’s first professional appointment as assistant conductor of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra came from conducting studies at the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Institute of Orchestral Studies and the Tanglewood Music Center.

Musical America and Symphony magazine boasted of Savia’s innovative programming skills and his ability to connect with audiences everywhere. He has assisted in the emergence of other philharmonic orchestras in Orlando and New Orleans and conducted in one of the first post-Katrina concerts.

On Saturday, Sept. 7, the Evansville Philharmonic will have a “Silver Soiree” celebrating the start of Savia’s 25th season. The soiree will take place in the Tropicana Conference Center Ballroom at 6 p.m.