November 23, 2017
Clear sky
  • 39.2 °F
  • Clear sky

Fashion Unleashed

Rolling Hills Country Club is going to the dogs — literally.

On June 9, models and canines will take over the Newburgh, Indiana, club for the first annual Divas and Dogs event.

Guests will enjoy appetizers and cocktails as they vote on grumpy cat pictures and in an owner and dog lookalike contest, bid on items including a ring from Brinker’s Jewelers or a detail package from D-Patrick in the silent auction, and be bow-wowed by fabulous fashions as models strut down the catwalk wearing the latest trends from Glitters and Traditions.

Owners will walk their pooches in a dog show as they compete for first, second, and third place trophies.

Admission to the event is $40 at the door or $300 for a table of eight. Advanced tickets are available at Parkdale Animal Hospital and Glitters and Traditions. All contributions are tax deductible and all proceeds from the event go to PAAWS No-Kill Animal Rescue in Newburgh.

Glitters and Traditions’ owner Barbara Dye conceived the event as a way to combine her two favorite things — dogs and fashion — and to give back to the community. PAAWS was chosen as the recipient of the proceeds because of its commitment to dogs.

“PAAWS is a cage-free rescue shelter and is important because it creates happy and healthy homes for the dogs,” says Diane Masterson, the event’s chairwoman. “Anybody who has had a pet knows of that undying love for them.”

For more information about the event, find Divas and Dogs for PAAWS on Facebook.


Out of the Woodwork

USI art professor discusses his love of art and teaching
Millard-Mendez, a native of Lowell, Massachusetts, says he finds inspiration in his friends and in his students at USI.

When Rob Millard-Mendez began his undergraduate studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, in his hometown, it was with the intent to go into medicine. But it would take one year for him to make the leap from potential doctor to artist.

“The scholarship committee was afraid I would starve,” says Millard-Mendez with a smile. “But I said, ‘I’m going to do fine.’”

After 10 years at the University of Southern Indiana, the Department of Art Associate Professor who teaches woodworking has done more than just fine; he has succeeded in his ambition to be a sculptor and artist. Along with his bachelor’s degree in fine arts, Millard-Mendez has a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He has shown his work in more than 400 exhibitions in all 50 states as well as internationally.

Millard-Mendez — who now resides in Evansville — describes his work as an attempt to illustrate ideas he finds interesting.

Every piece he creates starts with a concept that is compelling to him; he then works to produce the most interesting possible visual presentation for his audience.

“I’m thinking about how the object is crafted, what it’s made out of, its scale, its relationship to other art forms and other historical art forms,” he says.

Recently, his work was part of the 44th Mid-States Craft Exhibition at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science. Currently, his solo exhibit, called “Myths, Masks, and Masts,” is on display in the John Streetman Alcove.

“I haven’t had a lot of solo exhibitions around Evansville, so it’s good,” he says of the show which features mask pieces, boats, and a chair. “The museum has been very supportive.”

His solo exhibit will be available to view at the museum until April 24. Millard-Mendez also is working on pieces to be featured in an exhibit at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, Tennessee, from July 1 to Aug. 5.

▲ Rob Millard-Mendez has been an associate professor of art at the University of Southern Indiana for 10 years. During that time he has used his skills in woodworking to create many visual and unique sculptor pieces. Below, Millard-Medez completed the piece “Prospero Chair” in 2014.

What do you enjoy most about your art?
One of my favorite things to do, and a lot of artists will do this, is go to an opening of your work or an opening where your work is and you’ll kind of just lurk and listen to what people say without knowing you’re there, which is really fun. I really enjoy making people think, making them laugh, making them ask questions. I want my work to always be visually interesting but also to offer you something beyond that, like a concept or sometimes even a dumb idea, but at least an idea. I want it to offer something.

What do you find most rewarding about being an art professor at USI?
I would say my students who go on to have nice careers in areas I helped them learn. I have students who are in many different places now; I have students who have gone on to be professors, expert fabricators, curators. Seeing them succeed is probably the best thing about it. I keep up with them on social media and see what they’re doing next.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Talk radio, listening to The Great Courses (college-level courses available on video or audio) on cassette tapes. Talking to friends; a lot of my friends are professors in areas that are very different from what I do. I was just at a party a few nights ago with sociologists, statisticians, and writers; just a wide range of people who talk about the most interesting topics. They really inspire me. Also I think being around students, too; they have a lot of really interesting energy and ways of producing things that I might not normally do.

How do you think your students would describe you?
Maybe energetic. Also I challenge them a lot and ask a lot of them. I always want them to be improving. I think I try to give them insight, I would hope. I also would say I’m pretty supportive of what they do. If they want to do something that’s not the assignment or is close enough to it, I usually let them and I help them. But also, I don’t really like to let people slack. Sometimes I will get a student who will take a course because it’s fun. That’s not going to work. Not that this can’t be fun, but it’s a ton of work. It’s a college course. You’d never expect to take a chemistry class and not expect to do work outside of class time and not be challenged by it.

What advice would you give to those artists who are starting out in the sculptor medium?
I would say learn as many skills as you can with as many different materials as you can. There’s a video I show my students almost every semester about a group of Amish men who are moving a house. They get together, they cut the sill bolts that connect the house to the ground, they get inside, and move the house. The whole house is moving and all you see is these little feet underneath, like 500 tiny feet. They grab the house from the inside and they are moving it. The idea is no one person could move the house alone. But the incremental work, the combined work of all those people, moved the house.

Make your work a habit and learn to love the process. That’s really important. Typically you’re going to hate your work for awhile, then you’re going to love it again, then you might hate it again . . . hopefully at the end you love it. You have to enjoy all those aspects. It’s like a relationship; it’s not going to always be perfectly ducky, but you have to understand there’s going to be low points as well. It’s the same thing with the relationship with your art.

For more information about Rob Millard-Mendez, visit

▲ The piece “Dreamhouseboat Navigating Dicebergs” was made from wood, plastic dice, paper currency, and losing lottery tickets.

Beatle Mania

Liverpool Legends return to Evansville to present “The Complete Beatles Experience!"

 Australian researchers at the University of Queensland claimed to have sent a single photon back in time during an experiment in 2014. While researchers continue working on the theory of time travel, Evansville residents and visitors don’t have to wait for a scientific breakthrough in order to be transported back to the 1960s.
Get ready to climb aboard a yellow submarine and take a trip back to Beatles mania when Grammy-nominated tribute band Liverpool Legends returns to Evansville to present “The Complete Beatles Experience!”
The band is composed of a group of musicians handpicked by George Harrison’s sister Louise Harrison, who will perform on April 15 in the Jerry Hoover Performing Arts Center at North High School to help support the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp.’s music program All-Star Band.
Roughly 1,000 seats were made available for the show, which features costume changes, vintage instruments, special effects, and assistance from EVSC instrumental and vocal students.
Doors open at 6 p.m. with the performance starting at 7 p.m. Ticket options include $25 balcony seats, $30 mezzanine seats, and $35 orchestra seats. Moore Music, the EVSC Alumni and Friends Association, and the EVSC Foundation sponsor the event.
The group’s visit to the River City is sandwiched between a weeklong tour at sea aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise’s “Navigator Of The Seas” and a residency at Barleens Arizona Opry.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit


On the Course

Over the last four years, the United Leasing & Finance Championship has donated more than $630,000 to more than 100 Tri-State ch

Heading into its fifth year, the 2016 United Leasing & Finance Championship at Victoria National Golf Club is anything but par for the course.

The championship takes place this year on Monday, April 25 through Sunday, May 1. It all started in 2012 when United Leasing & Finance CEO Ron Romain and Evansville Sports Corp. brought the PGA Tour to Evansville over a love of the sport and the community. The PGA Tour is known for giving back to the communities in which its events are held, and for the qualifying charities that promote the event, the ticket proceeds are returned to the purchaser’s choice of charity.

Over the last four years, the United Leasing & Finance Championship has donated more than $630,000 to more than 100 Tri-State charities. The championship is held at the Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Indiana, which is ranked the 45th best private golf course in the nation by Golf Digest.

Victoria National Golf Club also is one of the 26 tournament locations on the Tour. The Tour is where a number of all PGA Tour players begin their career, and is broadcast for four days around the world on the Golf Channel. The championship has around 25,000 in attendance. Tickets will go on sale closer to the tournament date.

For more information about the United Leasing & Finance Championship, visit
For ticket information, contact Laureen Cates at 812-430-6737 or


Back In Time

New mural exhibit explains what happened in Evansville’s past
Designers Dana Samples and Matt Wagner, along with Rachel Wambach, created the new mural “What Happened Here."

When the new mural timeline exhibit “What Happened Here” debuted in the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science in January, local designers Matt Wagner, Rachel Wambach, and Dana Samples admit they were both excited and relieved to unveil their final work.

“Anytime you try to undertake something that’s this lengthy of a process and this big, there’s a lot of pressure,” says Wagner. “We all knew that this was going to be something that was going to be a major part of the architecture of this building in a lot of ways.”

Wagner, Wambach, and Samples designed the new mural, which runs 76 feet from the end of The Eykamp Pavilion to the start of the Rivertown, U.S.A. area, as part of a grant awarded to the museum by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana. Museum employees, including curators Tom Lonnberg and Karen Malone and museum intern Leigh Eubanks, researched the history of the Evansville area before 1812, the year of the city’s founding. The timeline of the mural spans 15 billion years, including the eruption of volcanoes and the forming of settlements by European immigrants.

“We thought it would be interesting to tell why or how this spot where Evansville is evolved over the years prior to 1812,” says Lonnberg.

The museum team also relied on help from the University of Southern Indiana’s Department of Geology and Physics and Department of History, Angel Mounds State Historic Site, and other area historians to verify the data for the mural. The design team decided on the geometric-styled illustrated approach, wanting the mural to be bright, colorful, fun, and engaging, says Wagner.

“To see everyone’s faces, all the ones who hadn’t seen any of the process yet, and to see their faces light up when they saw (the mural) and actually realized the size of it … it was a great experience,” adds Samples.

Along with telling the story of Evansville before settlers arrived, the mural also provides an opportunity for visitors to touch and view rocks found in the area, and replicas of the fur and tooth of a mammoth.

“It’s been great to see the number of families who read it together,” says Malone. “I think it’s been very positive, it’s very colorful, and I’ve heard lots of great things.”

For more information about the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science, call 812-425-2406 or visit


It’s a Smash!

Smash Bash gives participants the opportunity to smash and bash a machine with each donation.

It’s been immortalized on screen in movies like “Office Space” and has served as the subject of countless daydreams — taking out frustration on the office printer or the pesky piece of old machinery that seems to be the bane of your workday.

Leave those 9-to-5 blues behind and relieve some stress — or adrenaline — at this year’s Smash Bash. Sponsored by Alpha Laser and Imaging, the April 28 event gives participants the opportunity to smash and bash a machine with each donation.

Money raised from the day of demolition and fun will be donated to three local nonprofit organizations: The Arc of Evansville, 4C of Southern Indiana, and Youth First.

Free food and drinks will keep participants fueled up and hydrated as they take on an evening of smashing and bashing, jumping in the bounce house, or taking aim at the dunk tank.

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke will be on hand to kick off the smashing at 4 p.m. when he takes an excavator to a machine on Alpha Laser and Imaging’s campus at 5815 Metro Center Drive.

Participants will have the chance to use a mini excavator to bash a machine courtesy of Southeastern Equipment.

For more information about Smash Bash, visit the event’s Facebook page. To register for the event, visit


Music City

Memorial alumni band members take influences to Nashville’s Future Thieves
Future Thieves commands the stage at Backstage Bar and Grill last Thanksgiving.

Tri-State musicians move to Nashville, Tennessee, all the time chasing their dreams. Reitz Memorial High School alumni Nick Goss and Austin McCool did just that, but not with country music in their heads. They went to rock.

Goss and McCool grew up like many other Midwestern rock fans listening to a mixture of classic and alternative rock. They played in bands together, trying to find their footing in the local music scene playing school talent shows wherever they could.

“We were like a lot of high school kids, taking lessons. Just about everyone I knew was learning an instrument,” says Goss. “As high school kids we couldn’t just gig anywhere, so like most we played at places like 1123 and Wired Coffee House, and we recorded at the old Guitar Lab off Green River Road.” 

Goss attended his first concert at the now demolished Roberts Municipal Stadium, a place where many dreams of rock and roll started in Evansville.

“It was Styx and REO Speedwagon,” he says. “I remember seeing what was going on and knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

After a brief stint at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, the musicians headed south.

It was in Nashville where the Evansville natives met vocalist Elliot Collett and drummer Gianni Gibson, and the band Future Thieves was born. The group pulls strongly from the southern-tinged sounds of Kings of Leon and My Morning Jacket, with deft melodies, big hooks, and tight arrangements. Their sounds suggest song craft, which certainly is a Nashville influence.

“As we write, we layer on and each of us brings their own point to the song. Elliot finds the melody in there and the words come from there,” Goss says of the band, which came together in the fall of 2013.

“We started after having a lot of experience individually, whether it was in the music industry or for Austin and I, it came after we both were at Purdue, and realized that we didn’t want to do that at all,” says Goss.

Collett came from the hills of Kentucky and a coal-mining family. Gibson grew up in Los Angeles and lived in London, hailing from a music industry family.

“We’re all in our mid-20s, and we have a big drive and we love the music we are playing,” says Goss.

Like most ambitious bands, Future Thieves has traveled around the country performing.

“Life on the road is new for us. We bought a van and a trailer and we sleep in the van to save money on hotels,” says Goss. “We play the teeth-cutting clubs and play mostly in front of people who have not heard of us before. We’ll go across the country to find that one person — you never know who they know.”

For the band, the pay-off is communicating with the different audiences they come across. Goss reflects, “It’s great to see how people respond to our music in different parts of the country.”

Future Thieves is doing something right, for sure. So far they’ve had slots at Bonnaroo and Nashville Live on the Green. This year they will be seen at the much-coveted Forecastle Festival in Louisville.

Future Thieves played in Evansville last Thanksgiving at the Backstage Bar and Grill. With their drive and abilities, odds are each time they come to town, the room could get bigger.

The band anticipates playing another show in the Tri-State in April.

Their 2015 debut LP, entitled “Horizon Line,” is available now on all available digital media.

For more information about Future Thieves, visit


In the Limelight

Greg Gibson challenges Henderson community to embrace the arts
Greg Gibson serves as the executive director f or the Henderson Arts Alliance.

All the best works of art — and people — begin with a story.

It’s a lesson Henderson, Kentucky, native Greg Gibson says was one of the most important that he learned when he began his career as an Imagineer for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Today the 57-year-old works as the executive director for the Henderson Area Arts Alliance, an organization dedicated to creating a vibrant community through providing quality arts experiences.

“You brainstorm and write the story before you even pick up a pen or a pencil, before you start drawing or designing,” says Gibson, who graduated from Henderson County High School and the University of Cincinnati. “That was a good lesson to learn as a young designer.”

His story begins in Henderson with his two brothers, who were active in sports playing football, basketball, and golf. Gibson attended every art course possible, taking classes at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science and at the former Main Street location of Red Spot Paint and Varnish Co. in Evansville.

“I was a kid who was the product of the arts, and if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be sitting here today,” he says.

Gibson’s passion for the arts led him to designing floats during an internship for the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City, interning with Walt Disney World, working for ITEC Productions Entertainment, amusement park and themed entertainment designers located in Orlando, helping to create the $3 million centerpiece for Give Kids the World Village, a nonprofit resort for children with life-threatening illnesses, and theming youth healthcare clinics.

After spending 22 years working in Florida, Gibson returned to his hometown to support and assist his mother in caring for his grandmother. He continued to design healthcare environments for children through Gibson Entertainment Design Associates, a design-consulting firm, such as Playville and the Center for Children at St. Mary’s Medical Center. He also rebranded St. Mary’s Center for Children’s logo. Gibson later became the program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Henderson County.

Two years ago, when a position opened for the director of the Henderson Area Arts Alliance after former director Kyle Arnett Hittner resigned to become executive director of the Henderson County Tourist Commission, Gibson jumped at the opportunity to grow arts in the community.

What are the challenges you face as the executive director of the arts alliance?
I’m a one-man-show. Some of the hats I wear are securing the artists, coordinating food, transportation, hotels, promote and market, selling tickets, and presenting it, and while simultaneously fundraising. We also do art outreach with the schools. The Henderson Area Arts Alliance is totally autonomous from the Fine Arts Center at Henderson Community College. We also support five other art organizations under our umbrella: the Ohio Valley Art League, Henderson Society of Art, W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival, and Bluegrass in the Park and Folklife Festival.

What did you learn from working in entertainment design?
I learned a lot from Henri Landwirth, the founder of Give Kids the World, about marketing, fundraising, and about how to treat people. He was a survivor of the Holocaust and a prisoner in a concentration camp. He was able to be really successful partnering with all these large corporate entities in the Orlando area. His organization is phenomenal. That was a life changer. That led me into designing a lot of healthcare environments for children that were highly themed. It was like an extension of their vacation.

Why is it important to engage youth in the arts?
I know how much it can affect your life in a positive way. There is so much learning that takes place and imagination in giving a child a crayon, a paintbrush, an instrument, and letting them go to town. I feel strongly about that. I know from Gifted and Talented Education teachers how thin they are stretched. They are rotating kids throughout art classes because they don’t have the resources. I really love working with kids. They are inspiring and they will tell you what they think.

What is your overall vision for the arts community?
We have great music festivals. I think we have only tipped the iceberg. I think the Sandy Lee Watkins Songwriters Festival held in Henderson, Kentucky, is just phenomenal. I would love to see partnerships with Evansville like shuttling residents back and forth. There is so much we can do together to secure ourselves as an arts destination. There are so many people born in this zip code that have gifts in art. I would like to incorporate local artists into our annual events and establish an arts endowment to help with our capital.

For more information about the Henderson Area Arts Alliance, call 270-826-5916 or visit


Go Team Go!

Nothing beats a tailgate party — especially one that raises money for a good cause. SWIRCA & More will host its 12th annual auction Feb. 27 from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Ivy Room at SWIRCA & More, 16 W. Virginia St. with a new theme this year — tailgate party.

“In years past, we’ve always done a black tie and gala, but this year we decided to change it to tailgate,” says Rachel Sievers, development coordinator with SWIRCA & More. “We’re trying to get more of our members, employees, and supporters to attend this year.”

The focus of this year’s fundraising is on the activity center. SWIRCA is looking for funds to keep the activity center thriving, allowing members a place to network with others, stay healthy, and have fun.

“We’ve had to do a fee, which is $30 for a (membership to the center),” says Sievers. “We’re just trying to ask our auction participants if they’d be willing to help cover that cost for a senior.”

Those attending the auction are asked to wear a spirited outfit for a chance to win an award. The night’s activities will include a silent auction, stadium food, beer samplings from Turoni’s and Carson’s breweries, and other tailgating activities. Tickets will go on sale Feb. 1 and are $30 per person.

For more information about SWIRCA & More’s auction, call 812-464-7800 or visit


Musical Connection

University of Evansville strives to create sense of community through arts
Director of Bands Dr. Kenneth Steinsultz conducts the University of Evansville Wind Ensemble at the annual Holiday Pops concert.

Then University of Evansville alumna Kaitlin Emmert was completing her practicum as a music therapy major, she worked with a mother and her baby in the neonatal intensive-care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital.

“She was doing skin to skin contact with her baby,” says Emmert, who is a music therapist at the Cleveland Clinic. “We were singing a couple of her favorite lullabies and I was helping her sing them in the right tempo and tone. She wasn’t a very good singer, and I kept reassuring her that it didn’t matter. She made an obvious connection with her child, which is hard to do when they are in the NICU.

“That was a memorable moment for me. I knew right then, I was supposed to be a music therapist.”

The May 2014 graduate is one example of the thousands of music students who have studied in the University of Evansville’s five undergraduate degree programs with more than 100 majors offered.

“The opportunities offered are so varied and meaningful,” says Emmert, who is originally from Ferdinand, Indiana, and returned to Southern Indiana to work for six months before moving to Cleveland. “I felt very much a part of the Evansville community. I really became connected with St. Mary’s and the EVSC. Some people go to college and stay isolated in their college life, but at UE, it wasn’t just college life, but a connection to Evansville as a whole.”

Emmert’s take on the department of music at UE is the vision Chair Dr. Thomas Josenhans and his faculty hope to achieve through all of their students — a deep-rooted connection to the community, and a community that is connected to the university, located on Lincoln Avenue.

This strong relationship forms while students complete internships at area institutions. Music therapy undergraduates intern in various units at St. Mary’s, at the Evansville Psychiatric Children’s Center, and at Easter Seals. Music management students have opportunities with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, the Arts Council of Southwest Indiana, WNIN, and the Guitar Center. Music education pupils work with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. and Warrick County schools.

“They are putting things in practice that they have learned in the classroom and they do this for six semesters,” says Dr. Mary Ellen Wylie, a music therapy professor at UE. “We are appreciated by the places we go to. We are valued in the agencies.”

After cuts to the 2016 city budget, which reduced funding for several local arts organizations such as the Evansville Philharmonic, Evansville Symphonic Band, and the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, Donald Jones, UE Vice President for Marketing & Communications, says it’s important to keep students active in community outreach so they will be more likely to call Evansville home long after graduating.

The music department has a host of successful student examples to pull from including David Smith, the EVSC superintendent, Tad Dickel, president of Mater Dei High School, and Jennifer Nowaki-Pruden, a music therapist at Integrated Music Therapy.

“The concern in our city now is the brain drain — how do we keep young professionals here?” says Jones. “We have to think in bigger and longer terms. We need people in the community to fight for us. The city is about to take off, and UE gets that.”

UE hopes to bring the public to campus through its concert series; more than 90 concerts a year are hosted on campus with the majority free and open to everyone. The public has opportunities to experience the department’s music off campus through Holiday Pops, a free annual holiday concert at The Victory Theatre, Aces Brass, a pep band that performs at basketball games at the Ford Center, and community festivals and ceremonies.

Students also engage with the city’s youth through summer camps, workshops, and clinics.

“Music is part of the quality of life for a community, and music is part of the quality and the experience of life for our students when they come here,” says Josenhans. “Music has a lot to offer those students who are trying to be successful professionals; they get to experience working with professionals in the Evansville area and get to interact with those people. We are trying to expose our students to people who are successful.”

In order to help further the connection to the community, Josenhans says the university is in need of a performance hall. The current recital hall, Wheeler Concert Hall, is designed for soloists or small groups, like quintets.

“As we look at the different cultural districts, UE doesn’t really have a place to bring large numbers to campus,” says Josenhans. “That’s what we would really like to have.

Creating a sense of community not just with the city but the area where there is a place to come to see great art, that’s the vision.”

For more information about the University of Evansville Music Department, call 812-488-2754 or visit