Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Practical Citizen Response to Air Safety

What can the flying public do to protect themselves from terrorists aside from making sure that their flight carries at least one Dutchman? Given what I can read about the personality profiles of potential bombers, it would appear that a good suggestion would be for all passenger to make decided efforts to converse with others in the departure lounge and especially all seatmates as you are settling in for your flight. Folks who appear to be traveling alone and do not respond openly with pleasantries, names, family details, destinations, or at least a smile and a vigorous head nod should be reported to the cabin crew as borderline suspicious and candidates for further checking on whether they are they coming from Yemen with a one way ticket purchased with cash or traveling on a two year visa but checking no luggage. Granted some perfectly innocent folks (like the fellow who really was sick in the bathroom) might be wrongly flagged, but on balance more simple greasing of the social contract with fellow travelers could be a reasonable and practical citizen response to an increasingly intolerable situation even if it doesn't catch terrorists. At the least you have tried to be pleasant within the trying confines of today's air travel. In the best case you might expose the nervousness of someone who has every reason to be hostile, uncommunicative, uncomfortable, or ill. In the end it is an immediately proactive strategy and is probably more efficacious than expecting congress or the government to solve the problem.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas Friends

Christmas 2009

It is always surprising to re-discover each December just how much the delivery process of these letters has changed over the years. We have moved from the mimeograph, to the ditto, to the old dot matrix printer, and now to ink jets with color pictures. It occurs to me that with blogging, facebooking (Yes, you can find me on Facebook), and twittering, you can now receive a continuous updated Christmas Newsletter on a daily basis. Whoopee! Through the wonder of modern technology the occasional seasonal bore can now be with you non-stop. If that’s not progress what is?

Now on to important things. Aren’t you glad that all those corporations, banks, and stores have reduced their costly paperwork expenses by passing them on to you? Have you ever wondered if there is ever a day when mattresses are not on sale? And a special one for my son and my sister Nancy, how come there isn’t a mouse flavored cat food?

We have had a crazy sort of year. It began with a glorious Elderhostel cruise that took us down the west coast of Costa Rica and through the Panama Canal. For a rundown with pictures, visit the January and February blog entries. Other trips in the winter and early spring took us to visit my sister and her husband and the Kents in South Carolina and my cousin Lin and her husband in Tucson. Summer saw us in Minneapolis to visit my son David, my cousin again, our old friends the Barkses, and some former students. On the way back from the Twin Cities we also stopped to see former Monmouth colleagues George and Cindy Waltershausen, who have retired to a farm in Wisconsin.

Later in the summer the trips got shorter. We took daughter Amy and the grandchildren to Chicago and went to watch grandson TJ play baseball. The biggest event of the latter part of the year was travel to Beloit College where Jan and I celebrated our 50th class reunion. We proudly received our golden hoods, renewed old friendships, and even made some new ones. Fifty years on we still feel thankful for the education we got at Beloit College. Below Jim gets his hood and Jan chats with a member of the class
of 1939 who was a classmate of my uncle John De Young.

The downer of the year came in the last few weeks. Jan had a heart irregularity over Thanksgiving that put her in the hospital for two days. Luckily a cardiac catheterization showed no major blockages and she was sent home to rest and recuperate without a stent or any major surgery. We have resolved to pass on Thanksgiving from now on as my own heart attack and bypass occurred over Thanksgiving in 1995. Jan’s health blip has put on hold some of our more ambitious plans to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary on December 19th, but we have received the best of all anniversary presents in the doctor’s diagnosis.

The rest of the family continues to move on in spite of the lingering recession doldrums. David remains in Minneapolis in the Honeywell IT department. They have had some furlough days, but things seem steady. Amy and Todd are still in Cedar Rapids. Amy has a 2nd grade class this year and Todd continues to work in landscaping (and right now snow plowing) while waiting for the construction industry to move back into gear. Grandson #2 (Mikel) is all boy all energy all of the time. He reminds us a bit of his mother at that age. Grandson #1 (TJ) is now almost 14 and seems to grow another foot taller every time we see him. He has been getting a lot of rebounds lately as you might be able to tell in the picture below. Below that is the happy couple going through the Panama Canal.

So here we are once more wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We’ll close with a holiday eating tip from our good friend Carol Reese. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. If you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

With hope for a Greener and more Peaceful planet in 2010, we are still

Jim and Jan De Young or

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Healthy Mistrust Still the Best Protection

In a world fueled with righteous and self righteous anger the art of assassination by internet bullet has reached epidemic proportions. Few days go by when my e-mail box does not contain some kind of vituerative comment for or against something or somebody. The other day I received a typical one that claimed that President Obama has proposed a bill that would force veterans to buy private insurance in order to be treated for their war injuries.

Obama was quoted with no attribution as saying, "Look, it's an all volunteer force, ... Nobody made these guys go to war. They had to have known and accepted the risks. Now they whine about bearing the costs of their choice? It doesn't compute. I thought these were people who were proud to sacrifice for their country, I wasn't asking for blood, just money. With the country facing the worst financial crisis in its history, I'd have thought that the patriotic thing to do would be to try to help reduce the nation's deficit. I guess I underestimated the selfishness of some of my fellow Americans."

Does this sound like something any politician of any stripe would say about veterans who will some day come to the polls with a vote? Even Obama is not that far out of touch. Does this sound like Obama's tone and language even if you ignore the content? We won't even go into the irony factor that Obama ,whose health care plans have been attacked by the charge that they would destroy private insurance and substitute government insurance, would probably not want to sponsor a law to force people into private plans.

Uhg! Enter the academic who has spent forty years teaching Communications and feels he is still fighting a losing battle with media responsibility and attribution . Luckily the web does offer some self correction modules. If you put some phrases from the original e-mail into Google, it will lead you to a site called Fact You can do this yourself. At you will find a step by step account of how this story developed. It is an all too common pattern. Someone’s satirical comments, that were clear in the original context, begin to morph through continuously less accurate repetitions into blatant falsehoods. It’s the old rumor game we all used to play at parties, but magnified by millions of unchallenged forwarded internet messages.

This is not new just as electronic junk mail advertising (SPAM) is not new. The solution is not new either. “Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers and magazines” and especially don’t believe everything you see on a television or computer screen. Use some caution. Evaluate the source if one is apparent and if there is no attribution, be extremely suspcious of any charges or conclusions.

Thanks for listening this morning.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November Arts Advocacy Bulletin

I participated in a conference call for arts advocates on behalf of the Illinois Theatre Association on October 22, 2009. It was set up by Arts Alliance Illinois and featured input from legislators, lobbyists, and Mr. Terry Scrogum, Executive Director of the Illinois Arts Council. Mostly it was bad news. Illinois arts funding has declined by an average of 49% this year and next year may be even grimmer. At a total of 7.8 million dollars this is the lowest Illinois dollar amount investment in the arts since 1988.

Our state legislators have now left Springfield until after the February primary elections effectively putting off dealing with any of the state’s many budget problems (including the arts) for another three months. This is not good, but it does mean that your state representatives may be more accessible in and around their home districts. If you will go to the web site below and enter your zip code, you can get contact information for your specific state legislators. I would ask you phone their office or send a letter to them. Tell them that you are a constituent, mention any local arts affiliations you have, and mention that you are a member of the Illinois Theatre Association. Ask them to support some restoration of funding for the Arts Council and to support coherent tax reform for the state of Illinois.

Here is another way to stand up and be counted. If you represent an Illinois arts organization, participate in the Cultural Data Project. “If you can’t count it, it doesn’t count” is a common watchword in Springfield. Visit for more information on the Cultural Data Project.

Do you live in the Peoria area? Rocco Landesman, the new chairman of the NEA will be visiting Peoria in November as a part of his “Art Works Tour of America.” He did not start his tenure too well when he wondered after his appointment whether there was any theatre in Peoria, but he has since recovered from his gaffe and is now scheduled to see Eastlight Theatre's production of "Rent." while in town. I would love to hear how his visit went. This would be a good use of our new ITA Facebook group.

Are you looking to volunteer for the arts or to find a volunteer project for your arts group to participate in? Try this site and plug in your state, area, city, or zip code. Wow! You may even stumble on something that pays.

There is at least some good news on the national arts scene. The U.S. Congress Approved 12.5 million dollars in budget Increases for the Arts and Humanities Endowments on October 29th. The final budget was decided in conference week and passed by a vote of 247–178 in the House and 72–28 in the Senate. To find out if your congressman supported the bill and to send an e-mail either congratulating or chastizing go to:

Wherever you might live I challenge you to consider that if you don’t give voice to the arts who will? And if you don’t act now, when will you start? A full recap of Advocacy Resources on the Illinois Arts Funding crisis is at this web site. I hope that you will use some of them.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

OFTA Features Prairie Plant Watercolorist George Olson

Above: Olson autographing a copy of his book in 2007

Join OFTA(Old Friends Talk Arts) on Wednesday, November 11th at 10:00 AM at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in downtown Monmouth, IL for a presentation on “Drawing the Plants of the Prairie” by George Olson, a well known watercolorist.

Professor Olson was on the faculty of the College of Wooster in Ohio, where he taught art from 1963 to 2000. His prairie plant studies have been exhibited widely in the U.S. and England, including more than thirty one-person exhibitions at such venues as the British Museum of Natural History, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Royal Horticultural Society. He and his wife Pat now live outside of Woodhull, IL

In his 2005 book with essayist John Madson, The Elemental Prairie: Sixty Tallgrass Plants, Olson revealed his love for the mid-western prairie and his devotion to the rendering of its astoundingly diverse plant life. One reviewer, Robert McCracken Peck of the Academy of Natural Sciences, commented “George Olson and John Madson are the artist laureate and poet laureate of the prairie. They capture its beauty, complexity, and magic in ways that allow us to really see and feel and understand this uniquely American habitat and all that it represents. The Elemental Prairie’s compelling mix of illustration and text make it one of the best natural history publications I have seen in a very long time.”

OFTA programs are available to every member of the community free of charge and come with complimentary coffee and cookies. If you have an arts related topic you would like addressed or have an arts related program you would like to present in 2010, please contact Jim De Young, the OFTA coordinator, at 734-5529 or

Monday, October 26, 2009

Consider Ten Chimneys For Your Next Short Trip

If you live in Northern Illinois or Southern Wisconsin and have an interest in the theatre, I have just the place for you. Ten Chimneys, is the Genesee Depot, WI country estate of the great actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. It is just 30 miles from Milwaukee and 90 miles from Chicago and it would make a nice late fall drive on any Tues-Sat until Nov. 14, when it closes for the winter. Tour reservations are suggested. Check out or call 262-968-4110

Visitor center exterior

Tour group heading to the Lunt/Fontanne home

Interior of visitor center

One of the displays in the museum is a mock up of a famous scene design from Amphitryon 38

Other displays feature colorful little moving versions of Toy theatres.

You will find a remarkably well appointed visitor center complete with several museum exhibits plus several homes and hideaways, and beautiful grounds and walking paths. Photography is not allowed inside the homes, but you will be able to see all the rooms and the furniture and theatrical mementoes just as they existed when Lynn and Alfred were in residence and were entertaining the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier, and Noel Coward. My wife and I loved the tour and the docents were first class. Ten Chimneys is a National Historic Landmark. Take a trip!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October Arts Advocacy Bulletin

In the face of cuts in arts budgets all around the country, it seems clear that partnerships and coalitions on local, statewide, and national levels are becoming more important.
The Illinois Theatre Association is doing its part.

Our recent convention had a fine presentation on Advocacy by Ra Joy, Executive Director, and Scarlett Swerdlow, Advocacy Director, of Arts Alliance Illinois. An abridged version of the Alliance presentation, with some of their slides, is posted on: Their handouts are online at: If you are interested in hosting an advocacy training for your board, staff, volunteers, or school contact Scarlett Swertlow at:

On the national level you can help in the celebration of October as National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM) This coast-to-coast celebration of culture in America is held every October and coordinated by Americans for the Arts. This year is special because it is the first time that National Arts and Humanities Month has been recognized by an official Presidential Proclamation. By issuing this historic public statement in his first year in office, President Obama has taken this opportunity to recognize the contributions that our cultural assets make to America's diversity, humanity, and economic health.

On the local level you can add your programs, events, and celebrations to the National Arts events map at You can also submit photos and videos via the NAHM groups on YouTube and Flickr or on Facebook. Get help with your planning by visiting the NAHM website where arts organizations can find planning and advocacy tool kits, as well as free downloads of the NAHM logo and web stickers that can easily be placed on websites, blogs, and social network user profiles. For more information about National Arts and Humanities Month, send an e-mail to

Do you think your school has a great theatre program? The Kennedy Center Alliance/School Boards Assocation is now seeking nominations for a a $10,000 cash prize to help strengthen a school’s arts education programming. Only one nomination per state will be considered by the award review panel and it must come from the State School Boards Association, State Alliance for Arts Education, or both organizations jointly. Nomination deadlines vary by state. Visit the KCAAEN website for more information. Nominations must be received by December 1, 2009.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Beloit College Class of 1959 Goes Golden

Two members of the Beloit College class of 1959 (Jim and Jan) returned to their alma mater last weekend with over one hundred of their former classmates to celebrate their fiftieth reunion. The two day bash began on Friday with a formal dinner and the awarding of Golden Hoods to each class member.

I clearly enjoyed getting my hood. That's Beloit's new president Scott Bierman smiling behind me.

A convocation of all the reunion classes on Saturday morning revealed that the 59'ers had the highest number of returnees and the highest percentage of total class returning. That meant a couple of trophys and two of our classmates, Harry Worth and Jim Evans, accepted for us.

Fraternity and Sorority membership was a big part of our Beloit experience and the reunion also gave us a chance to chat with our old pledge classes. Below you can see a nice group of Thetas and a handsome crew of Pi Kaps.

Best of all was the unanimous agreement that a Beloit education had served us well over the years. Here's to the Buccaneers, the Turtle Mounds, the Scoville Rats, Chapel Points, and the everlasting bridge games. Here's also to the friendships made and kept and especially a toast to the eleven members of the class who met and married a class member. Not sure how they counted that but Jan and I were among them. We have another golden event to celebrate later this year. A lot more pictures of the weekend can be found on my Flikr page. Go to

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chicago Again

This is getting to be a habit, but an enjoyable one. Amtraked in on Thursday and spend a pleasant afternoon at the Art Institute. Dinner with friends and then off to see a production of Dylan Thomas' UNDER MILKWOOD. When you take a joy in language there is no better place to be than in Thomas country. The Caffeine Theatre's production held me tightly for an hour and a half. The people of Llareggub (who are not so good and not so bad) float in and out on the voices of nine actors, each of whom undertakes several roles and most of whom are quite talented.

On Friday it was off to a day at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. We had a full tour of the building in the morning, a nice lunch with some of the staff, and in the afternoon a Shakespearian Verse Seminar with actor Larry Yando. A special treat for the late afternoon was a chance to watch part of the tech rehearsal for Richard III with director Barbara Gaines at the helm. Friday night saw us at a preview of Richard III.
They still have a week to go before the formal opening, but the show is already looking solid.

Saturday was convention day for the Illinois Theatre Association and an energizing address by the managing director of the Court Theatre, Charles Newell, got us off to a rousing start. After that it was some power networking and lunch. Programs in the afternoon. I was lucky enough to host a theatre advocacy session with Ra Joy and Scarlett Swertlow of the Arts Alliance Illinois.

By 4:30 I met the Frau at the Art Institute and we walked back to Union Station for our date with the Illinois Zephyr back to Galesburg. Sorry no pictures, but I left the camera at home.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Goodbye to "Doc" Kieft

Sometimes there is just nothing to do but grieve. A colleague, golfing buddy, traveling companion, and friend (Dick "Doc" Kieft) has just passed away. He is third from the left in the rear in this photo that was taken as we waited for the airport bus to O'Hare and our flight to London in 1999.
Dick never married and Monmouth College, its teachers, its administrators, and especially its students became his family. They turned out in force for his funeral service last Saturday and many of us gathered later at Cerars' Barnstormer, a restaurant here in town that Dick frequented regularly, to talk about the good times we all spent with him. It was a propitious place to gather as Dick loved a good meal. His eulogist had brought some smiles to several faces when he noted during the service that "Doc" never met a menu he didn't like.
Goodbye old friend and thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Prime Beef Festival Parade

When you live on Broadway in Monmouth, you never miss the Prime Beef Festival Parade. All you need to do is get out your chairs, sweep the porch, and pop a cold one. The parade will come to you in due time. For us the Monmouth College Pipe Band and the new marching band are highlights, but each and every entry from the organizational floats to the tiny firefighter and antique tractors seem to embody the essence of small town mid-west life.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

64 Arts Exhibition Reviewed at OFTA

OFTA (Old Friends Talk Arts) will hold its next meeting at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, September 9th at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in downtown Monmouth. The program will be a review of the 64 Arts Exhibition. A panel of local artists will participate with Monmouth College Emeritus Professor of Art Harlow Blum serving as discussion leader. Others who will be commenting are John Vellenga, Jane Youngquist, Linda Sickmon, Susan Twomey, and John Van Kirk.

In picture above Harlow and Lila Blum listen as Judge Preston Jackson comments during the opening. To see a photo display of the prize winners for 64 Arts go to

There is no question about the public success of the Arts 64 show with over 200 people attending its gala opening on August 21st. The OFTA panel will go more deeply into the content of the exhibition and some of the pieces that were selected as prize winners by Preston Jackson. the nationally known artist and teacher at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute. The panel will also talk about how a juried exhibition is organized, how it differs from an open entry show, and how it represents a step up in terms of the reputation of an art gallery. The 64 Arts show runs through September 19th.

OFTA holds regular programs on the second Wednesday of each month and all members of the public are welcome. There is no admission charge and complimentary refreshments are always available. Further information about the Buchanan Center can be found at If you would like to do a program or would like to suggest a program topic for the 2010 OFTA year, please contact Jim De Young at

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Wallace Challenge Ends in Defeat for Team Monmouth

Team Monmouth (Bill Wallace and Jim De Young) traveled to St. Louis last weekend to engage in the internationally renown Wallace Challenge. Their opponents were Mike Flood and John Holtschlag of Team St. Louis.

Team Mommouth arrived at the Flood Motel (pictured below) on Friday afternoon.

The pool was a bit shy of Olympic dimensions, but the dip was refreshing after a long hot drive.

Dinner was headlined by grilled rib eyes and corn on the cob cooked to perfection by Mr. Flood. The boys from Monmouth then retired early to train for Saturday's opening round.

The morning dawned sunny and cool. The challengers were made to feel right at home in the breakfast room..

Out at the course Team St. Louis looked confident. (And with good reason.)

Team Monmouth also looked confident, but unfortunately Wallace's thumb was a bit too optimistic.

The Monmouthians started out strong and even took a point on Saturday, but fell behind in the individual score matches on Sunday. And thus the treasured WC (Wallace Challenge) cup remained in the hands of the dynamic Missouri duo until next spring's re-match.

That contest will be played on the challenger's home turf in Monmouth and De Young predicted a stunning re-capture of the coveted WC cup at that time. As he said when interviewed on the Golf Channel last night, "We can take it because we can cheat better at Gibson Woods where the trees offer more cover."

To turn serious for a moment. It was a glorious weekend. Mr. Mike Flood was the host with the most. We were put up in style and fed like kings. Mike is also a treasure chest of St. Louis history. He loves his home town and is a remarkable salesmen for it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Health Care Minute

Did you know that around 80 million Americans are already participating in government run health care? That is the approximate total of people on Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Plans, and Government employee plans. And most of them are satisfied with their care.

That means that there are more Americans on Socialized Medicine than there are people living in Canada. The only problem is that within that number every Canadian is covered and we are 47 million short of covering every American.

Is there something wrong with Canada or with us?

Did you know that if you have private health insurance 20% of your premiums are going to hire employees whose primary job is to find reasons to delay or deny paying claims?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lion of the Senate and the Lab

I woke today to hear the news of the passing of Teddy Kennedy. He was an icon on a world stage that is larger but no more important than the stage closer to home. A dear friend and colleague of mine for many years-- Dick Kieft-- is gravely ill and fighting a similar battle. So for Teddy and Dick

On the Morning’s Minions and Mourning

Oh son, brother, colleague, friend
There is no message I can send.
Into the air or inner heart
That will relieve the smart
Of pain. When the journey ends,
It is only the ether that bends
Dispersing fine and gone
Left a stone that seems too cold.

With humble apologies to Gerard Manley Hopkins whose far more skilled words in “Windhover” tumbled about in my mind as well.

and more love even within our conflicts please.


Monday, August 24, 2009

64 Arts Opens With a Bang

Over 200 people attended the opening of the Buchanan Center's first professional juried art competition called 64 Arts and one of the first works you saw upon entering the gallery was this fanciful sculpture of a tank. It didn't win a prize, but it was one of the most colorful entries.

Art works were submitted by 139 artists from 28 states . The judge, Mr. Preston Jackson, a professor of sculpture at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and owner of the Raven Gallery in Peoria, selected the pieces that were included in the show from slides or digital prints. He traveled to Monmouth to see the actual works and make his final prize awards.

Just below Jackson announces his mixed media award to Mr. Harlow Blum.

The drawing award went to Mr. George Olson and Ralph Whiteman, a Buchanan board member, is shown examining it closely below.

The ceramics prize was captured by this striking arrangement of eleven delicate jars or bowls.

Guests and the judge also enjoyed an eye appealing buffet and liquid refreshments.

All of the works will be on display at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth , IL through September 19th. For more details check

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The American Plan for Health Care

President Obama outlined for the country what George Lakoff has labeled the truely American Plan for Health Care in his NYT op ed today. No plan this complex can be perfect, but this plan will begin to fix some of the obvious flaws in the current system. One could also wish that this plan could be reduced to sound bites, but the problem is also multi dimensioned and the citizen who defines his opinion on the bill solely in terms of a single potential provision is closing off considerable potential good in many other areas. Legislation that produces a maximum amount of improvement for the maximal number of citizens should be supported for the public good. Providing a better way for 47 million uninsured, providing portability from job to job if you have insurance, providing protection against insurance rejection because of pre-existing conditions, and insisting that all insurance plans cover preventive care are significant positive improvements. When the final bill is up for vote, I hope that legislators will balance what can be achieved now and what still remains to be achieved tomorrow. That means a vote that will achieve some of the above improvements within some fiscal balance.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Theatre Arts Advocacy for August and Beyond

Will these young people still be filing into theatres across the country next year? Will the proven benefits of fine arts exposure and fine arts participation for our children be constricted once again? The future does seem gloomy.

Wrestling with reduced budgets is my advocacy issue of the month. Stories of arts woes seem to appear in the papers and on the web sites I monitor with increasing frequency. The Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth (on whose board I sit) joined the chorus last week as it contemplated the impact of a 46% decrease in Illinois Arts Council funding. Other agencies in your home communities are no doubt dealing with similar crises. And the Illinois Theatre Association (on whose board I also sit) is an Arts Council recipient and will be looking at funding cuts too. So, if you live in Illinois, I ask you again to communicate with your legislators and our governor. For background look at the Illinois Arts Alliance’s summary that deals with the impact of FY09 arts cuts. It gives you all the ammunition you need to compose a letter or e-mail.

If you live outside of Illinois I encourage you to support the arts by writing to your legislators and by calling your national representaitves. State arts councils receive support from the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and budget support on that level is also desirable.

In spite of difficulties the arts do continue to function. First Lady Michelle Obama has been traveling the country promoting arts education early and often. See the full article here:

From the Illinois Humanities Council comes the affirmation that Studs Terkel lives on. "The Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award is a biennial honor bestowed on individuals who carry the torch of the humanities. These humanities heroes are nominated by Illinois mayors and Nomination forms are due September 15, 2009. If you have someone in mind who has made a major contribution to the arts or the theatre in your community, get more information at The application form is available at "

Americans for the Arts has reminded me that October is National Arts and Humanities Month.
"Be one of the 10,000 communities and millions of people who celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month every October. Start your planning today by visiting the NAHM website, where you can find planning and advocacy toolkits, as well as free downloads of the NAHM logo and web stickers that can easily be placed on websites, blogs, and social network user profiles. Follow us on Twitter at or friend us on Facebook. The NAHM national arts events map is launching in August and we want to include your October calendars, program information, and volunteer opportunities. For more information, contact Americans for the Arts at"

As noted by Americans for the Arts and supported by outside research, we should continue to remember that participants in arts programs are more likely to have higher test scores than non-participants. Studies continue to show that arts programs help keep students from dropping out of school. Working in the arts encourages the development of creativity, problem solving, and teamwork among students. Young people in arts programs become more self confident and tolerant. If you would like a checklist titled: “Ten ways for parents to help promote the arts for their children.” Check out:

Monday, August 03, 2009

OFTA Tackles Aesthetics on August 12th


On Wed. August 12th at 10:00 am in the gallery at the Buchanan Center, OFTA will join Vickie Young-Briscoe in exploring the world of aesthetics.

Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of artistic experience. i.e. it asks questions like “What is beauty?” or “What kinds of principles define how or why we appreciate art?”

Vickie Young-Briscoe will address these questions by talking about the principles put forward by Francis Slattery in a book titled Hazard, Form, and Value. You might not have time to read the book, but as a bit of homework may I suggest looking at an article in today’s New York Times At Louvre, Many Stop to Snap but Few Stay to Focus. Just click on the title or copy the following URL and paste it into your internet browser.

The article focuses your attention on how folks tend to view art today (if they do at all) and leads you to think about what you are looking for when you look at art.

This all takes place at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in downtown Monmouth IL from 10 to 11 am on Wednesday, August 12th, 2009. OFTA stands for Old Friends Talk Arts and it has been organizing arts programming for over six years. Admission to our programs is always free and refreshments are provided.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chicago is Enticing

Take your camera to Chicago in the good old summertime and you will be rewarded with a shot around every corner or bend in the river. We will be heading in for another trip next week so I felt some pressure to get the last round of shots culled and stored. A short gallery follows, but if you need more, you can see all the pictures from the Chicago Architecture Foundation's river tour, the new Modern Wing at the Art Institute, a trip to Wrigley, a party at the Greek Islands, and some skyline and lakefront pyrotechnics at my Flikr site.

Jim and Jan arrive from rural Monmouth to marvel at the sights.

The new Trump Tower is pretty impressive.

The Cubs lost but the beerman batted a thousand.

Obama gazes down at the children playing in the fountains at Millennium Park

As the day slipped into twilight, we sipped martinis and feasted on the view at Carolyn and Gordon's condo.

Friday, July 17, 2009

De Young's Panama City Photo Wins At Security Savings Photo Show

The best of category in the Landscape Division at the Security Savings Photo Show was won by yours truly, Jim De Young, this year. All the entrants are currently on display at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in downtown Monmouth thru August 15th. The photo, which you can see below, was taken on a foggy morning in January 2009 as we approached Panama City, Panama on our way to enter the Panama Canal. It was an eerie signt as the skyscrapers began to grow taller and taller out on the horizon. They did not look real, but they were. It seemed like a kind of magic cityscape.

The skyline looked a bit more prosaic in the sunny land based shot below. Part of the surprise I guess was that we had been cruising down the Costa Rican and Panamanian coast for several days and experienced little but jungle greenery. Then all of a sudden there were these gleaming white Wizard of Oz towers.

Clearly the positioning of the ships added to the ambiance of the winner, but I had another option for the contest and it is equally compelling and mysterious. Some folks thought this one was even better.

You choose.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Area Photographer to Speak at OFTA

Kent Kriegshauser, currently a staff photographer for the Galesburg Register Mail, will address OFTA (Old Friends Talk Arts) on Wednesday morning July 8th at 10:00 a.m. at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth, IL.

He is a well known area photo-journalist and has worked for the Macomb Daily Journal and a number of Chicago area papers. His photographic work has received awards at the Galesburg Civic Art Center, the Buchanan Center, the Illinois Press Association, and the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association.

Kriegshauser’s topic on July 8th will be “What Makes a Prize Winning Photo?” and he will also be answering questions on the life of a news photographer. His visit coincides with his appointment as the judge for The annual “Security Savings Amateur Photography Show” opening on Friday, July 10th at the Buchanan Center.

OFTA (Old Friends talk Arts) has presented arts related programming to the residents of Warren, Knox, and Henderson Counties for over six years. Its service focus is primarily on seniors, but it is free for all citizens who have time during the day. OFTA meets regularly at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth, IL at 10:00 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. You can be placed on their e-mail notification list by sending a request to

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Martha Giles Enchants the OFTA Audience

Almost seventy people turned up at the Buchanan Center for the Arts on Wed. June 10th for monthly OFTA(Old Friends Talk Art) program. Martha Giles, a talented performer on the Hammered Dulcimer, captivated young and old alike with her music and historical comment. She was able to get the audience to accompany some of her numbers by passing out various rhythm instruments. She was also adept at demonstrating how different sound textures could be produced by using varying kinds of sticks or mallets.

Even the very young had a chance to try out their technique.

Since Ms. Giles grew up in Monmouth and graduated from Monmouth College in 1977, there were many old friends in the audience. Among her former teachers present was her first music teacher Mrs. Harold Pedigo--some ninety years young and still going strong.

For more background on the artist including information on how to order one of her CD's go to her web site: