May 20, 2019
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Evansville in Bloom

April showers bring May flowers; and May flowers bring a weekend of leisurely fun in June. The Southwest Indiana Master Gardener Association (SWIMGA) will host the 2017 Tour de Fleur Garden Walk June 24 and 25.

Fourteen crafted gardens in Evansville, Newburgh, and Chandler, Indiana, will be available for viewing, along with the Master Gardener Display Garden along Lloyd Expressway near the State Hospital, which will be adorned in summer finery welcoming visitors.

Gardens will be open 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. both days. Featured gardens range from an acre in the city, designed with stone paths, water features, and garden rooms, to wooded landscape complete with outdoor fireplace and resting area under a long-living Gingko tree.

Advance tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Schnucks, Judy Schneider Kron Greenhouse, Wild Birds Unlimited, Colonial Classics, Robin’s Nest (Boonville, Indiana), and the Purdue Extension Office, or by calling 812-853-0251. Day-of tickets will cost $20. Children 12 and under enter free.
Proceeds will fund horticulture scholarships and SWIMGA’s educational programs in Southwestern Indiana.

For more information, call Karen Flittner at 812-853-0251, Sandy Mehling at 812-853-6672, or visit swimga.org.

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Artist in Residence

Tony Treadway comes back to New Harmony to share his art
Treadway first became acquainted with the artistic community of New Harmony during his days as a ceramics student.

Tony Treadway keeps an old theory on clay in his mind as he works — hand-thrown pottery pieces should be affordable to everyone.

“I’ve always taken that to heart,” says the New Harmony, Indiana, resident.

Treadway started throwing clay in 1979, after a football injury in high school damaged his hand. After 18 weeks in a cast, his doctor told him he had two choices — learn to throw pots or play the piano.

“I looked at him and said, ‘There’s no way I’m playing a piano,’ and he said, ‘Well, I’ll introduce you to a potter,’” says Treadway with a laugh.

From there, his passion for pottery and the arts flourished. The Robinson, Illinois, native would attend and graduate from the University of Evansville with a bachelor’s degree in ceramics and a minor in printmaking, and from Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois, with a master’s in ceramics and sculpture.

Through his undergraduate years at UE, he became familiar with New Harmony and its artistic culture — first in 1984 working on a photography project then again in 1985 and ‘86 as a ceramics student intern at the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Potter’s House studio.

After being away from the small arts community for 30 years, the Illinois native and his wife Christy moved to New Harmony in 2015 to essentially pick up where he left off.

“For me, coming back here is repaying the kindness that Mrs. Jane Blaffer Owens showed me in those days when I was here as a student from UE,” says Treadway.

Today, along with his thriving ceramic art, which he displays and sells under the name Treadway Clay, Tony throws clay in his backyard studio; runs the 609 Gallery; serves on the Arts in Harmonie and Christmas in Harmonie boards; is vice president of the business association; and lives as most artists in New Harmony do — sharing his craft and prompting the creative minds of the small town.

Where do you draw inspiration?

Inspiration, for me, goes back to the river. Everything goes back to the Wabash River for me. My family tradition runs back four generations on the river. There’s an association to this kind of river community lifestyle for me that works.

Is there a specific type of piece that you enjoy making the most?

I enjoy doing platters. One of the reasons is it gives you a surface to really be expressive on. The jar forms are always fun and I love making teapots, but I don’t do it as often as I used to.

Teapots are unique; they are multiple pieces that are assembled together. It’s always fun, and it’s always a challenge. Platters are not what I consider a challenge, but the use of the surface of the platter is where the fun comes from. The same thing goes for the low, shallow bowl forms. I can really play with those — you can carve, you can paint, there’s all types of things. Then you can just let the glaze do some wonderful things as well.

How do you sign your pieces?

Well, I have an arched T, which is homage to my mother. (Treadway’s mother was one of the first women to graduate from University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois, with a degree in mathematics.) The arched T is very much like the Pi symbol for mathematics.

For dating, mine always has a month and a year on it and, since I’ve moved here, every one of them has New Harmony on the bottom of it — either NH with Indiana, or New Harmony, Indiana, completely written on the bottom. Part of that is because I’ve worked in three different cities that are within 150 miles of each other.

So by looking at the bottom, I know what series a piece is coming from and where it was developed.

Have you worked with any other mediums?

Yeah, I paint, I draw. I spend a lot of time on design theory. But the potter’s wheel always just was the one thing I felt most comfortable with. And part of it is because I think it is the history buff in me. For me, the work is all a connection to history.

When you think about it, as I sit down and throw clay, outside of the electricity running the wheel, this is the same way they were doing this 8,000 years ago. This is basically, outside of beating two rocks together, one of the oldest art forms there is.

What brought you back to New Harmony, Indiana?

It’s a funny story. My wife Christy and I brought work down to the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art in 2015 — we were living in Shelbyville, Illinois, at the time, and she worked as an advocate coordinator in the state attorney’s office. She had never visited here before.

Christy really got hooked on the community. We came back for a second trip and she said she felt so at home here. But I recognized that some of the vitality was gone and I really started to think about what it would be like to be back here.

After a weekend trip down here, she called me from work on a Tuesday in June and said, “Call a Realtor and have them start looking for a house down there. We’re moving to New Harmony.” On Oct. 15, we moved into this house.

I’m a devoted disciple of the Jane Blaffer Owen school of thought. She had a strong belief that the arts were a part of this community, — they are. The history, the archeology, and there’s all these things here that I truly love.

For more information on Tony Treadway, visit theartisansgalleria.com.

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Farewell Act

Ron Glass is honored by UE and AAM

Inside the Evansville African American Museum sits a unique display honoring the life and work of an Evansville native who had a successful career in Hollywood.

Ron Glass, who graduated from the University of Evansville, passed away Nov. 26, 2016, in Los Angeles at the age of 71.  An exhibit created in 2007 to illuminate Glass’s distinguished career now stands in his memory at AAM and was the centerpiece during a recent ceremony honoring his life. 

On Feb. 25, UE and the AAM recognized Glass with a presentation titled “A Celebration of Life Honoring Ron Glass” at Shanklin Theatre on UE’s campus. The service included words from AAM Executive Director Lu Porter, UE theater professor John David Lutz, UE President Dr. Thomas Kazee, and Glass’s friend, retired Marion Superior Court Judge David Shaheed, as well as a video montage of Glass’s work. There was a moment of silence to honor his life before guests were invited to visit the museum.

“Ron always was connected to the museum and the community of Evansville,” says Porter. “He encouraged students to think globally and expand their knowledge.”

Among the items on display at the museum are Glass’s detective badge and various cast photos from the show “Barney Miller,” a Distinguished Alumnus Award from UE where he studied drama and literature, an image from his days as a history teacher in NBC’s prep school comedy “Mr. Rhodes,” and his 1982 key to the city of Evansville.

Glass remained in touch with the community of Evansville throughout his television and film career. Scholarships in his name are offered through the Evansville African American Museum and the University of Evansville. Lutz remembers first meeting Glass in 1965; Glass’s sophomore year at the university and Lutz’s first year as a faculty member.

“Ron was very intelligent and had great work ethic during his acting career; always go, go, go, driven onto the current project,” he says.

Lutz directed him in numerous productions. He also shared the stage with Glass during a production of Hamlet, playing the lead role and Glass portraying Horatio. They stayed in touch for the next 52 years. During Glass’s film and television career in California, Lutz visited and remembered a lot of laughter between them.

“He was outgoing and an inspiration to students,” says Lutz.

For more information about the Ron Glass display, call 812-423-5188.

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The Big Three-Oh

Still turning heads on the runway after 30 years, the annual Vanderburgh Medical Alliance Style Show will bring its glitz and glam to the new DoubleTree by Hilton in Downtown Evansville on April 7.

Each year, the VMA puts on the Style Show to raise funds for health-related charities within Vanderburgh County, such as ECHO Community Health Clinic, EVSC Medical Professional Academy, Meals on Wheels, YWCA, and more. Throughout the past 29 years, the fundraiser has raised and distributed more than $300,000 along with two scholarships awarded to first and second year Indiana University School of Medicine, Evansville Campus students.

For more information about the VMA Style Show, visit vanderburghmedicalalliance.org.

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Dreams Coming to Life

Put on your glass slippers, crystal tiaras, and billowing gowns—it is time for the Magical Fairy Tale Ball once again. Cold Stone Creamery hosts the fifth annual fundraiser April 15 at the Evansville Country Club in support of Ark Crisis Child Care Center.

Enjoy horse and carriage rides starting at 3:30 p.m. before the main event that runs 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dinner, dancing, crafts, and story time will all be included in the activities. Children will have a chance to meet their favorite princesses and storybook characters. Pictures can be taken with Cinderella, Elsa and Anna, Snow White, Rapunzel, Belle, Prince Charming, Finn and Rey from Star Wars, and more.

For more information, visit arkcrisis.org.

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Sweet Soirée

Go ahead and eat dessert first. And second. And last.

At the 20th Annual Lampion Center’s A Chocolate Affair from 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 4 at St. Mary’s Manor, 3700 Washington Ave., guests are treated to the finest chocolates served by 10 local businesses. The evening also includes live music featuring Team Skelton’s Montourauge and a silent auction that benefits Lampion Center’s work. Tickets are $75 for guests 21 and over.

Proceeds from A Chocolate Affair go toward the life-changing services provided by the Lampion Center, including counseling and community outreach.

For more information, call 812-471-1776, visit lampioncenter.com, or email jchildress@lampioncenter.com.

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Paws for a Cause

Take pause for this cause, as Another Chance for Animals hosts its third annual Paws for a Cause Big Show Extravaganza from 6 to 9 p.m. March 11 at Tropicana Evansville, 421 N.W. Riverside Drive.

This year, the event is set to showcase Haute Dogs and Kitty Couture Fashion Show, dinner, an auction, and live music provided by Allen Tate & Chuck Gee, Rapture, and Tony Henning. Proceeds from the casual evening benefit Another Chance for Animals, dedicated to the rescue, care, and placement of homeless animals in the area.

For more information, email acapawsforacause@gmail.com.

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Dance of Defiance

Shen Yun’s dramatic presentation of Chinese culture amazes crowds
Shen Yun dancers perform Elegance in the Rain, one of 20 segments of the troupe’s show to be performed in Evansville.

When Shen Yun dancers take the stage, their acrobatics defy more than just gravity. They also defy a Communist government that bans Shen Yun’s very performance.

Shen Yun returns Feb. 25 and 26 to Aiken Theater in the Old National Events Plaza, 715 Locust St., with an all-new, visually charged performance. Shen Yun last performed in Evansville in 2014.

While artists travel the world wowing audiences with music, dance, and colorful costumes, Shen Yun cannot be performed in China. According to a Shen Yun press release, China’s Communist Party has taken aim at destroying traditional cultures. In 2006, a group of ethnic Chinese artists came together in New York City to revive genuine traditional culture, and from it, Shen Yun Performing Arts was born. The music and dance company received praise and eventually began performing to sold-out shows.

More than 10 years later, Shen Yun now has five troupes of nearly 100 performers — including dancers, vocalists, and orchestral members — who perform more than 400 shows per year in cities across the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

“China has many talented dancers, but the choreographers aren’t allowed to choreograph any traditional pieces for them to perform,” says principal dancer and choreographer Yungchia Chen.

Hao Feng is a Shen Yun presenter who travels throughout the Midwest to educate host communities about the art and stories behind the dance production.

“Shen Yun has put 10 years of effort to revive Chinese traditional culture which had been destroyed by the Communist Party,” says Feng, who says he has hopes Shen Yun soon will be allowed in his native country. “China is changing.”

Shen Yun means “the beauty of divine beings dancing.” Segments of the show are five to eight minutes long, each offering a glimpse into 20 subsections of Chinese history, legend, or culture. Digital screens behind performers change with each scene; costumes also change to reflect each story and dynasty portrayed.

Feng says the performances bring people together in an age when current events and turmoil in the world tend to cause divides.

“It touches people’s hearts. It moves them to tears,” says Feng, whose son Steven Wang is a principal dancer in one of the Shen Yun dance troupes. “It’s very pure. It is more of what the world needs.”

He says Shen Yun shows offer something for all ages, making it a family-friendly show.

“Kids like this. It’s very entertaining, very educational,” says Feng, who adds the vivid colors and impressive acrobatics are unique to Shen Yun. “It’s like opening a door to a new world. That’s why people like it.”

For more information about Shen Yun, visit shenyunperformingarts.org or oldnationaleventsplaza.com.

▲ Performers portray the elegant imperial princesses and the daughters of the Manchurian aristocracy from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
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Barre None

Children’s Center for Dance Education founder Deena Laska-Lewis believes all children should dance
Deena Laska-Lewis stands on pointe as her “queens” members of pre-company at Children’s Center for Dance Education.

Like most Mondays after class dismisses, Deena Laska-Lewis steps onto the dimly lit stage in the gymnasium of Caze Elementary School amid a gaggle of giggly girls to lead Pirouette Project, a program she started to give underprivileged girls the chance to dance.

Donning velvety pink leotards, pink tights, pink ballet slippers, and eager smiles, the girls prance around the stage and “Ms. Deena.” It is obvious she has danced her way into the girls’ hearts — and they into hers. As they spin and leap in front of their instructor, the girls look her way for a smile and affirmation of their beauty, grace, and worthiness. She gladly takes the invitation, showering the girls with praise, words of encouragement, and hugs.

“This is real life — not sitting in a theater and rehearsing for a week before opening night,” she says.

Although she has Midwestern roots — she was born in Champagne, Illinois, once lived in Terre Haute, Indiana, and earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana — her dance shoes have taken her many places. From age 7 until she was 17, she studied at North Carolina School of Arts in Winston-Salem. She also has danced at the Juilliard School in New York City, various companies throughout the country, and even the Israel Ballet Company in Tel Aviv.

“When you have dance, you can go anywhere with it,” she says.

In 1991, she was recruited as artistic director of the now-closed Evansville Dance Theatre, which she left in 1995 to found what is now known as Children’s Center for Dance Education (CCDE). She could have gone anywhere in the world to dance and teach — and at one time considered an offer to teach at the Boston Ballet School — but her calling is in Evansville.

Why did you choose to work in Evansville?
While at Evansville Dance Theatre, I realized this city wouldn’t have a successful dance organization unless the school came first. That is my focal point — creating a school where every child can dance, and that’s what I’ve done. At Boston Ballet School, that would have been a really cool job, but there are a lot of “me’s” in Boston. There’s no one who does this outreach and arts development here. It’s pretty good to be one of a kind, but then to teach others to do that, too.

What prompted you to bring dance into the schools?
In the Tri-State, working parents are the reality. Very often they’re not two-parent households. When you have a mom who works until 5 p.m., what do you do for her kid? She can’t get her children here, so we go to them. You can’t, if you’re a real teacher, just teach dance steps. You’ve got to teach a whole child, and you’ve got to teach them what they need. That’s what makes a true artist.

What challenges do you face?
Economics. No one sees the need for the arts. So arts are suddenly going back to what they used to be, only for the elite. Everybody deserves the arts. Who am I to say that a man not as financially stable has less of a right to see something of beauty? So that’s what I do, I make things of beauty. I can make small pieces of beauty.

What would your students say about you?
I’ve taught my students that if you do not hear your name yelled out at least once per class, then you’re being ignored. I hear them say, “She yelled at me twice.” They know I care. They speak more of what I do than anything I can of myself. They are the representation of me. It doesn’t matter if they’re not the greatest dancers; they know how to take a class, they know how to say “thank you.” They are respectful, and in the end, that’s what you want your kid to be. Ballet class is learning how to dot i’s and cross t’s, tuck in your toe shoe ribbons. They also learn to work with each other even if they don’t like each other. Not everything is going to be perfect, but you need to work together to make something magnificent. You do not have to like the girl standing in line in front of you, but you need to be in line with her.

How is CCDE different from other studios?
We are like studios of larger cities — a nice strong core, with an outreach so everyone can dance. With music, you learn your alphabet, you learn your right and left, you learn oppositional motor skills; it’s called skipping. These are the things children have to go into kindergarten with. I can teach it. Let me have these children at an early developmental stage. It should be part of their curriculum. That’s what I do and that’s what I will continue to advocate for — children in the arts.

What made you decide to use dance to advocate for the community?
Because the only thing you need for dance is a room, a CD, a boom box, and a teacher willing to share. It takes almost nothing. Every culture in the world has their form of dance, so we need to dance. And skipping with friends makes everybody giggle. So that’s the good part.

For more information about Deena Laska-Lewis and the Children’s Center for Dance Education, visit childdance.org or call 812-421-8066.

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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