July 28, 2015
Clear sky
  • 84.2 °F
  • Clear sky

Fabric of Survival

Tapestries are centerpiece of citywide educational program
Esther Nisenthal Krinitz poses in front of one of her tapestries.

In 1942, 15-year-old Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and her family were Jews living in Poland. When the Nazis ordered all Jewish residents in her town to report to the local train depot, she and her 13-year-old sister fled, hiding out in the countryside for two years. They never saw the rest of their family again.

Starting in 1977, Esther began creating tapestries to illustrate those two years on the run. With no formal training in art, she made the 36 panels just for her two daughters. But her daughters believed the strong, vivid images and folk art realism needed to be seen by a wider audience, and created a nonprofit organization to allow a traveling exhibition of the tapestries.

From Sept. 7 through Nov. 30, Esther’s tapestries will be displayed in the Old Gallery of the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science in an exhibit called “Through the Eye of the Needle: Fabric of Survival.” Mary Bower, the museum’s interim director, says this is something the museum has wanted to do for many years.

“We really hope that by looking at one woman’s story and her struggle, it will teach people and they will be become more empathetic, aware, and tolerant of others in the community,” says Bower.

The museum exhibit was of immediate interest to Carol Abrams, chairperson of the Committee to Promote Respect in Schools (CYPRESS), who thought it could become the centerpiece of a citywide educational and cultural program.

“People have to know what mankind is capable of, and what they did,” says Abrams. “In a worldwide survey (from the Wall Street Journal), 66 percent of people in the world either do not know anything about the Holocaust or they deny that it happened. It was the worst of mankind, but there are heroic stories.”

Titled “Evansville Remembers the Holocaust and World War II,” the program is a cooperative effort between the museum, Evansville Vanderburgh Public School Corp., Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Public Education Foundation, Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, Temple Adath B’nai Israel, University of Evansville, University of Southern Indiana, and others.

Abrams says when she approached those groups and asked them to participate, they were eager to sign up.

“Everybody got it, and they wanted to be on board,” says Abrams. “It is wonderful, because some of these people have never met. We just started making calls, and everybody said yes. It is a network we hope very much will continue, and it should.”

For more information on “Through the Eye of the Needle: Fabric of Survival,” visit emuseum.org.


Sculpting the Future

Retired ceramics teacher Lenny Dowhie donates $1 million to USI
Former University of Southern Indiana ceramics professor Lenny Dowhie stands next to one of the many sculptures in his yard.

As a man who grew up just outside of Manhattan but left his native state of New Jersey to attend Arizona State University for college, Lenny Dowhie is no stranger to adventure or risks. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in art education from Arizona State, and a master of fine arts from Indiana State University. Attracted to the school’s potential, he began teaching at the University of Southern Indiana in 1978.

Dowhie taught ceramics for 33 years and was chair of the Art Department at USI before retiring in 2011, earning him the honor of longest serving ceramics professor at the university. Dowhie and his wife Anne, who taught art at Central High School for 30 years, donated $1 million in February to Campaign USI: Elevating Excellence, which will provide ongoing support for USI’s ceramics program. USI has renamed the ceramics studio in the couple’s honor.

Now that you are retired, what types of projects are you working on?

I mostly still work with ceramic sculpture but there are some drawings. Here’s an older piece that someone dropped that I’m repairing. These are unfired vases using a Chinese technique. I spent most of the fall living in China, working. These are very high-fire transfers that generally most people in the U.S. don’t do. I do a lot. There’s work of mine all around (my home) studio.

I do art and own businesses but I’ve been overseas a lot. I get invited around the world and I’ll go almost anywhere anyone will take or invite me. The University of West Virginia had been trying to get me to do this program where I mentored their students and I basically just spent most of the fall – September, November, and part of October – over in Jingdezhen, (China) which is the oldest porcelain center in the world. It was the oldest in existence for at least 1,700 years, continuously operating.

How would you describe your work?

All of the things that I do fundamentally have something to do with clay, but really more often than not have something to do with the social ideas that I perceive in our country. In the USI Faculty Art Show at the museum, I had a (ceramic) piece that I had shot (with a gun) the day after the Newtown massacre. I shot that piece 28 times. Then I shot another piece 83 times, which is the number of Americans killed everyday. The whole thing was this contrast that we’re all upset about the school kids getting killed but we tend to forget or ignore the fact that 83 people die every single day.

With all of your experiences, what is it about Evansville that keeps you here? I came here in 1978 to teach, and bought my home back then. And of course, it wasn’t like how it is now back then. It was a farmhouse. As time goes on, I purchased all the property around it. There’s space to live here. One of my only complaints about Evansville is that it’s not four hours closer to Chicago because I do so much connecting business there. I’m gone frequently enough that it’s nice to come home.

Is it hard not going to campus each day?

Even though I don’t teach anymore, I still see kids and kids still come over here to my home studio. I told Al (current ceramics professor, Alisa Holen) I wasn’t going to be around very much and it wasn’t because I had any bad vibes, but in order for her to get established. I was there for 33 years; anybody on campus who needed information on the clay-art world came to me. So I just couldn’t imagine if I was that person’s replacement and they were sitting in the classroom working. This way, I come in when she asks and we work together, but leaving her alone was a deliberate thing.

Were you always planning to donate to the university?

I do think it was something we always planned to do. We don’t have kids so that’s number one. I’ve been business minded to a large degree for a long time and I started investing as soon as I came here. I was making something like $13,500 a year, which is not a great sum of money. But part of the reason we all came back then was we were young, new, and it was a chance to build something. On top of investing money, I, along with some other friends, invested and started an art expo business in Chicago. We created a company called Expressions of Culture which then also produced a show called SOFA: Sculpture, Objects, Functional Art, which still is the largest show of 3-D galleries in the world. We built that up and in our 15th year sold it to the Daily Mail Group in England for a substantial amount of money. I owned about 18 percent of the company so I took that money and invested more, founded another company (in Chicago), which is the largest art expo of paintings and drawings outside of Art Basel in Switzerland. So I’ve managed to make money. I’m not like super rich, but I’m not poor by any stretch. I ended up funding things on my own when I taught, so I gave them the million bucks because it is going to give whoever is here after me $40,000 to $45,000 every year.

What are your plans for the future?

We know we live a really lucky life. Obviously, we made some of our luck from work but I’m the first to admit, we don’t live like the average person. In 2004, I did my best impression as a dead person and spent five months in the hospital (after complications with surgery). Somehow I survived and we said, “Let’s spend this money.” We’d been talking about it for years and we’ve enjoyed it for 10 years. And part of our reason for spreading our resources around is so maybe somebody else will have that opportunity.


Weather Woman

Memories of Marcia Yockey is life recreated in exhibit
Evansville weather caster Marcia Yockey’s life is revisited in collected memorabilia in the Notable Women of Evansville exhibit.

The photos are up, the awards and medals are on display, and a giant cartoon caricature of Marcia Yockey is greeting guests as they walk through the front door of the Newburgh Museum. As part of the Notable Women of Newburgh exhibit, memories of Yockey’s unique and eccentric life are currently on display.

Collected memorabilia ranging from personal Poloraids taken during holiday parades to a television interview with David James in 1986 honoring the local weather anchor known for her wacky evening weather forecasts from 1953 to 1988.

“Most of our special exhibits, about 90 percent of the items are on loan,” says Suzie Byers, the Newburgh Museum’s secretary and display chair. “We had talked to Kay Lant (Warrick County historian), and she had a lot of things on Marcia and it was always in our mind to do something on her. And when we contacted her (Lant) about it, she gave us more names of people to contact and before we knew it, we had a whole exhibit of Marcia.”

The museum had an overwhelmingly positive response to the idea, and many people donated items for permanent use. All of the permanent displays currently in the museum were shuffled to accommodate the size of the special exhibit, and Friends of Newburgh, Inc., donated money for custom display panels so as much as possible could be displayed.

“There were a number of people who donated,” says Byers. “Some of them gave us only one photo and some of them gave us a bunch of things, including a lot of newspapers that we used for reference materials.”

Our Favorite Marcia Story is a binder the museum has set up at the display for guests to write about their own personal memory of Yockey.

“People always say, ‘Oh, I have a great Marcia story!’ so those are coming in and we hope to make it a booklet to sell to benefit the museum,” says Byers.

For more information on the Newburgh Museum, call 812-853-5045.


Lucky for You

Latin Grammy Award winners Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band are playing at the Art in the Park event on June 21 at Wesselman Nature Preserve.
For the husband and wife duo Alisha Gaddis and Lucky Diaz, it is a homecoming and an introduction to Evansville. Gaddis moved to the West Side when she was young and is a 1999 F.J. Reitz graduate.

“Actually, this is the first time we have come back to my old stomping ground for shows,” says Gaddis. “It makes it even more exciting. I can’t wait to see all my old friends from school and their new families. So many of my childhood friends, now have children of their own. It is so special that I get to share what I do with them in such a fun capacity.

“I am also truly thrilled to show my husband the town I grew up in and still cherish. Can’t wait to take him to Turoni’s and buy him some Ski.”

Art in the Park is the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana’s free, public outdoor art festival. Following the performance, there will be a meet and greet for students interested in careers in music, theatre, and performing arts. There also will be a round-table discussion with Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band earlier in the day on the importance of the arts in early childhood education.

The festival runs from noon to 6 p.m., but the event schedule has not yet been posted. Art in the Park will be followed by Art After Dark, running until 9 p.m., with performances by three regional and local bands.

For more information on Lucky Diaz and The Family Jam Band, visit luckydiazmusic.com.


The Art of Healing

Fine art displays add final touches to St. Mary’s Epworth Crossing
Anne Johnston, director of St. Mary’s Epworth Crossing, sits in the new outpatient center

When St. Mary’s planned its new Epworth Crossing outpatient center, it was designed to heal mind, body, and spirit. Since research has shown that environmental factors like light, color, and artwork can have a significant impact on stress levels, great care was taken to make the patient experience as positive as possible.

The artwork inside St. Mary’s Epworth Crossing, a 44,000-square-foot facility, was selected by Begley Art Source, a division of the Evansville Museum Shop of the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science. The Begley Art Source specializes in custom artwork for site-specific projects in addition to museum curatorial services, and chose 23 artists to feature at Epworth Crossing.

“We knew that the artwork selection was critical to the overall look and feel of the facility,” says Anne Johnston, director of Epworth Crossing. “We selected artwork that would provide color and life and also support the healing environment. We hoped that the artwork would resonate on some level with every person in the facility.”

Of the 23 commissioned artists, 11 were local. Those local artists are Kristen Wilkens, Lenny Dowhie, John and Donna Hendricks, Larry and Karen Hampton, Joycelyn Todisco, Alex Morgan, Tara Blessinger, Jordan Barclay, and Amy Musia. A number of photography pieces were placed in the corridors of the Clinic area. The photographers were local professionals who provided nature imagery from the region. All of the art is now on display at St. Mary’s Epworth Crossing.

Local artist Karen Hampton spent more than 300 quilting hours on her luminescent digital fiber art piece — not including design time. Hampton, who collaborated with her husband Larry, used nature’s elements of water, rocks, leaves, trees, gardens, and ponds with an emphasis on water to produce a soothing mood in the piece, titled “Tranquility.” The Hamptons’ tapestry is in the waiting room of the new and expanded Breast Center.

Fellow artist Amy Musia was asked to produce art that would be placed outside of a life-changing room for patients — a room where one may learn that he or she has cancer. Musia wanted to provide a piece, entitled “Zen,” that can transcend the patient away from the current situation for a moment.

“Studies have shown that healthcare facilities with art inside them may cut the healing time in half for the patients,” says Musia.

For more information about the artwork at St. Mary’s Epworth Crossing, call The Begley Art Source at 812-402-2180 or visit begleyartsource.com.


Pop Onto Main Street

 Celebrate what Downtown Evansville has to offer with the Pop Up Evansville event along Main Street on Saturday, March 29 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The event, Pop Up Main Street, coincides with the Division II Elite Eight NCAA Basketball Tournament played throughout the week at The Ford Center.

Pop Up Main Street features several “pop up” storefronts hosted by various local businesses. Expect to see exciting live performances from Studio D dancers, a book signing, shopping from local boutiques as they display exclusive clothing in storefronts along Main Street, and much more.

Inspired by the mission of Leadership Evansville’s VOICE, City Core and Experiences, Pop Up Evansville hopes this event will encourage families to enjoy a fun day strolling alongside the pop ups discovering the gift shops, local artwork and exhibits, and numerous restaurants featuring local and ethnic cuisine.

Event volunteer Jennifer Stewart says “Main Street is my home for my family and for my business. I know how great living and working here is and would love for other families and businesses to experience the life of Downtown Evansville.”

The event also is supported by the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville (GAGE), an organization that provides support to new and existing businesses that enhance the overall economic vitality of Evansville and Vanderburgh County.

For more information on the Pop Up Main Street event, see our Guide.


Sing Your Heart Out

Inspired by the popular TV show “American Idol,” the fourth annual Marian Educational Outreach Tri-State IDOL Gala will take place on Friday, April 25 at the Clarion Inn Conference Center on U.S. Highway 41-N. in Evansville.

“The first year we raised approximately $20,000, last year we netted more than $60,000 so we’re definitely looking to exceed those numbers again this year,” says Beverly Williamson, Director at MEO.

Williamson says MEO is trying something different this year. Instead of “celebrity judges” voting on the winners, they will only use a “pay to vote” system where audience members can donate to support their favorite contestant. The singing competition will feature six finalists who will vie for $1,300 in prizes.

Dinner, a cash bar, and live and silent auctions will accompany the singing competition. DeVonna “Dee Dee” Lawrence, sister to Philip Lawrence, will perform at the 2014 event supporting MEO. Dee Dee grew up in Evansville and is a graduate of Reitz Memorial High School. The Lawrences grew up singing gospel music at their church. When Dee Dee’s brother, Philip Lawrence became successful in the music industry, he moved his entire family from Evansville to Los Angeles. Philip Lawrence has enjoyed remarkable success writing, singing, and recording hit songs with pop phenom Bruno Mars.

“I believe this idea is genius,” says Dee Dee. “Who could go wrong with singing and competing all while helping many deserving students all in the same night.”

MEO is structured as a funding agency that enables Evansville diocesan schools to provide development experiences for their teachers and to provide additional special education programming for students with unique needs.

For more information on the Marian Educational Outreach Tri-State IDOL Gala, see our Guide.


Notable Homes

550 Hwy. 662 Newburgh, Ind.

Visitors to the 16th Evansville Philharmonic Guild Homes of Note Tour will have the unique opportunity to view one of the newly renovated Lockmaster Cottages overlooking Old Lock and Dam Park and the Ohio River in Newburgh, Ind. The cottage, pictured above, is one of five Newburgh homes included on the tour set for Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The cottages were built in 1928 to house the lockmaster and assistant lockmaster at Lock & Dam #47, which operated until the Newburgh Locks and Dam were completed in 1975. Last year, the Newburgh Town Council and Parks Board renovated the cottages. They now are available for overnight stays.

Other homes on the tour include 214 W. Water St., 200 E. Jennings, 409 E. Jennings, and 212 W. Main St.

Diane Wessel has been the Homes of Note co-chairwoman for the last four years and a Guild supporter since 2001, and she expects about 500 people will view the homes.

“We are especially excited to feature a unique, classic car, courtesy of Newburgh resident Jim Moore, in the driveway of each of the homes,” Wessel says. “It will really draw in the men who are touring with us.”

Free parking is available at Newburgh Elementary School, where a shuttle service will transport guests to the homes. Ticket holders may also drive to each home.

Tickets for the tour are available for $15 at the Evansville Philharmonic office (located in the Walker Building at 401 S.E. 6th St.) area Schnucks stores, Wildflower Boutique, Paul’s Menswear, House of White Bridal Boutique, and each home the day of the tour for $20.

For more information on the Homes of Note Tour, see our Guide.


A Creative Calling

Evansville ceramic artist is influenced by the natural elements in life
Much of Lisa Heichelbech’s work is inspired by natural elements, but she strives to marry the natural with the mechanical.

As children, we were told not to play in the mud. For artist Lisa Heichelbech, digging up clay on the horse farm she grew up on was the creative inspiration that has led her to a successful career as a ceramic artist. The 44-year-old Evansville resident and graduate of North High School was mentored and influenced by Jon Siau, her high school art teacher. “With his encouragement, I chose to focus more on my art and he even gave up his planning time to create more advanced art courses for me during my senior year,” Heichelbech says. She continued on to receive her bachelor of science in art therapy from the University of Evansville with a studio focus in ceramics, and her art has since then continued to impact the community.

Her elegant vessels often juxtapose smooth, thrown elements with heavy texture. She has work for sale in galleries and studios in Evansville, Newburgh, Ind., Owensboro, Ky., and Henderson, Ky., as well as at The Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana and the New Harmony (Ind.) Gallery of Contemporary Art. Her most recent commissions are for Owensboro Health Regional Hospital and Solabron, a retirement community on Evansville’s West Side. Heichelbech currently teaches workshop style classes at Studio 4905 in Henderson, and will continue to expand her classes as the demand grows.

How did you first become interested in art?
My mother (Elizabeth Davis) is an artist — a painter — and we had a studio attached to our house. We had a printing press, painting materials, and even a darkroom. This space was always a mess of projects that my mother or I had started. But my interest was in clay. As a child, I recall digging the orange clay out of the pond behind my house. I felt compelled to push, pound, smooth, and transform the formless earth into a structured shape. I remember making ducks and little creatures that I would set in the sun to dry — when it rained, they would be washed away.

What was your favorite part about growing up on the horse farm?
Growing up on a horse farm in the middle of a cornfield allowed much solitary time to entertain oneself. That was not my ideal place but it did have its benefits. We had only a couple of TV channels, and I had no interest in the computer that we finally received ... I read, went for walks in the woods, had chores I had no interest in horses after mucking the stalls far too many times, and I had time to create.

What inspires your artwork?
The majority of my work is inspired by natural elements. I attempt to capture the grace with which leaves turn and grow towards sunshine or flowers open. The contemporary elements I refer to in my artist’s statement are the wheel-thrown portion or the atypical glaze colors I use. I have also enjoyed playing with more structured elements as seen in a grid vase. Having been able to help my grandfather in his workshop is likely the influence for these. I even have a tool I use where the impression reminds me of bolts.

Are there certain pieces you sculpt more frequently?
My most recognizable or “signature pieces” are the Hosta Vessels. They start as wheel-thrown bases and the leaf parts are slab rolled and carved. I have used this idea to create several different types of vessels. Some are vase-like, others more bowl-like. While I don’t think of them for food service, I have had that request and have curved the leaves to form handles for easier lifting. I often get requests for specific needs and do commission work to meet demand.

Is there a certain theme you tend to use for your work?
A single moment in the growth process is suggested in my botanical-themed pieces and with a hint of contemporary design, I forge a bridge between the natural and mechanical. Much of my current work consists of combining wheel-thrown pieces with hand-built and hand-carved elements. It is important to me to have the human touch observable through the graceful lines and flowing edges within my work. Patterns, texture, and negative space are key factors to my pottery. Brushing my glazes allows me to use many different colors on each piece and overlapping them increases my palette. I strive to find a balance between form and function eliciting energy, peace, and harmony.

Tell me about your functional wrap mug pieces.
The “wrap mugs” grew from observing my grandparents’ arthritis in their hands, making it difficult to hold a teacup. After many variations, I came up with the finger holes and palm supportive wrap. These mugs are tedious to make but feel so good (to me) that I continue to make them.

What types of classes have you taught in the past?
I have taught individual classes and group classes, to adults and children. I have taught an after-school clay class at McGary Middle School in Evansville and a one-day workshop for the Ohio Valley Art League in Henderson. I have even agreed to do “girls night out” type workshops for parties. I have worked with those with mental illnesses, physical limitations, as well as gifted and talented. Creativity for all — they just need the courage, materials, and some guidance.

What’s the trick to conveying emotion through your pieces of art?
I tend to make pieces that are pleasing to the eye. I like to honor things that I admire rather than focus on social issues that disturb me. I imagine that my pieces bring more of a calming effect to the viewer or perhaps a curiosity. (I have a friend who describes some of my work as “gravity defying,” which I find flattering.) I do like to add elements that need a closer look to be observed or a surprise.

For more information on Lisa’s works, visit Studio 4905 at 4905 Timberlane Drive in Henderson, Ky., or email her at lheichelbech@wowway.com.


Back In Time

In an evening inspired by the international hit PBS series “Masterpiece Theatre Downton Abbey,” WNIN Tri-State Public Media invites guests to go back in time to the era of the Titanic and the onset of the Roaring 20s.

“Downton Abbey,” the most popular drama in the history of PBS, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era.

Guests will enjoy fine hors d’oeuvres, desserts, spirited cocktails, and lively music. The WNIN Annual Gala will evoke the opulent atmosphere of your favorite English manor, Downton. Period dress from the Edwardian Era during World War I and the Roaring 20s is encouraged. Black tie is optional.
The event, which is a benefit for WNIN, will be at 6 p.m. on Jan. 25 at the Evansville Country Club, 3810 Stringtown Road.

Tickets are $100 and may be purchased by calling the WNIN office at 812-423-2973, ext. 136, or by emailing events@wnin.org.

The Annual Gala’s theme also serves as a promotion for the upcoming weekly live half hour call-in or text-in WNIN show “Abbey Chat,” which will immediately follow each new episode of “Downton Abbey” aired locally at 8 p.m. Sunday evenings on channel 9.1 on WNIN PBS.

The fourth season of “Downton Abbey” premieres at 8 p.m. on Jan. 5, followed by the premiere of “Abbey Chat” at 10 p.m. Additional episodes will air each Sunday following the current episodes of the TV show. Both shows will also repeat Thursdays starting at 7:30 p.m.
Audience members also can interact through Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag WNINAC.

“Abbey Chat” features energetic and entertaining hosts and “Downton Abbey” fans Megan Mortis, Rachel Nadeau, Jack Schriber, and Matt Rowe, and includes discussions, games, behind-the-scenes video clips of “Downton Abbey,” and person-on-the-street interviews.

“America loves ‘Downton Abbey,’” says Brad Kimmel, WNIN President and CEO. “We are excited to be providing this new local content and encourage feedback from members of our community.”