Friday, April 24, 2009

Help for Financially Stressed Arts groups

Serendipity--the making of a fortunate discovery by accident--was alive and well as I put my April column together for the Illinois Theatre Association's Followspot. In the March, 2009 issue of Stage Directions magazine an article titled “Rainmakers in the Middle of a Tempest” by Tim Cusack caught my eye. It was about raising money for the arts in the middle of an economic downturn. The article mentioned the Foundation Center in New York City as an invaluable fund raising resource for non-profits. Google took me to The Foundation Center’s home web site ( and this led to discovering that the Foundation had non-profit fund raising resource centers in libraries around the country. If you click on (, you will find a list of libraries in Illinois (and other states) where you can access materials on fund raising, grant opportunities, donors, and sample proposals. According to the original article there is also access to the Foundation’s own powerful database at these cooperating libraries. I recommend taking a look at the Center’s home web site and if you are lucky enough to be within reach of one of the cooperating libraries, making an on-site visit.

In the same vein the Kennedy Center in Washington DC has started a free consulting service for non-profit 501(c)(3) performing arts organizations. You may be able to get counsel from the center’s executive staff in the areas of fundraising, board development, budgeting, marketing and technology. Go to and fill out the request form if you or your organization is interested.

Advocacy also involves developing your own capabilities and sharing your talents with others. May 15th is the deadline for applying to the Illinois Arts Council 2009-2011 Arts-In-Education Program Artists Roster and the 2009-2011 Artstour Program Artists Roster. If you are an arts educator or a performing artist you may be eligible to participate in these important statewide catalogs. Teaching artists can go to: ( Performing artists can check out: ( You may apply for inclusion on both rosters if you qualify.

One last note. The registration details for the One State Arts Conference on June 1-2, 2009 are now available at the Illinois Arts Alliance’s web site. Go to: I’ll be there and I hope to see some of you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Bill Shakespeare

William Shakespeare born April 23, 1564

We spent yesterday afternoon on Navy Pier in Chicago watching the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's gloriously damp production of Twelfth Night . You have to see it to appreciate just how wet a show can be. Let's just say that the pool is deep enough to do front flips into.

But today is the bard's birthday and to celebrate you can check out the national talk like Shakespeare movement


get yourself a Globe theatre of your very own

DramaJim says "But that's all one, our play is done.

And we'll strive to please you every day." Feste Act V Twelfth Night

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monmouth College Professor Stephanie Baugh Visits OFTA

At the Wednesday, April 8th gathering of OFTA (Old Farts Talk Arts) Monmouth College Art Professor Stephanie Baugh gave a stimulating illustrated talk on the relationship between the visual arts and modern dance. Baugh is a painter, but also a dancer and choreographer and she put her knowledge of both fields to use in developing ideas that were quite new to the audience. Twenty-five people were in attendance.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sky City Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico

Our final stop before heading back to the midwest was at the Sky City Acoma Pueblo a few miles off Interstate 40 in New Mexico. It is advertised as "the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America and we probably would have driven right by without some encouragement from a Native American worker at the New Mexico Welcome Center. You leave I 40 and drive on good two lane roads for several miles through a typical dry landscape until you reach a an overlook that gives you a view of an immense flat valley punctuated by scattered mesa outcrops and one ribbon of a road. You take a couple of long switchbacks into that valley and after a few more miles you arrive at a Cultural Center, which is located at the base of the Acoma Pueblo mesa. This is a well appointed and modern building (no doubt financed by the lucrative Sky City casino and hotel situated back at the I 40 intersection) and it offers a lovely little museum, clean rest rooms, a snack bar serving Native American dishes, and of course the ubiquitous gift shop. In the outer courtyard there are also stalls where native pottery is available for folks who don't have the time to make the trip to the pueblo.

If you do have another hour or so you can book a tour up to the top of the mesa to a pueblo which has been inhabited from around 1100 AD and was a thriving city when Coronado came through in the 17th century. The Mission Church of San Esteban del Rey, completed in 1640, still dominates the plateau.

Your conducted tour takes you through the streets of the village and allows time to view and purchase the lovely and quite reasonably priced thin wall pottery.

There are over 300 adobe houses on the mesa top and they are owned by Acoma females, who pass them on to their youngest daughters.

Views from the town are magnificent in all directions,

but those looking toward the massive Mount Taylor volcanic cone are particularly fine.

If you want to have time for the tour, a snack, and a chance to view the museum allow yourself at least three hours at the pueblo. For lots more pictures of our Arizona trip go to

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Garden Tucson AZ

Taliesin was a treat, but Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Garden in Tucson was a revelation. His blown glass forms are dispersed throughout this already magnificent desert garden and around each corner on the twisting paths a feast of color greets you. The forms are at once fantastical and organic. They can't be real yet they seem to be growing there amonst the cacti. I love my photos yet they do not come close to doing this creative display any semblance of justice. Having viewed single pieces of his work in interior spaces from Minneapolis to London's Victoria and Albert Museum, the opportunity to now now see this many works in one location and to see them so successfully implanted in a natural external environment is just plain exhilerating.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taliesin West--On the Road with Frank Lloyd Wright

We have seen a fair share of the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings throughout the Midwest, but in several recent trips to Arizona we have never quite managed to schedule a visit to Taliesin West in Scottsdale. This was to be the year and we planned our departure from Tucson to include a day in the Phoenix area. Other than that horrid power line that suddenly sprouted one summer to obscure Wright's treasured view, the Taliesin West complex is every bit as exciting and architecturally integrated as the Spring Green one. From the rolling hills of Wisconsin (below)
to the rust colored desert.

Here, the native stones, encased in concrete, were raised into thick heat resistant walls literally without the assistance of modern machinery.

I found the night club intriguing because it manages to seem simultaneously subterraenean and airy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tohono Chul Park in Tucson

I think this was our 3rd or 4th visit to this outstanding jewel of a park in Tucson. It features nicely labeled displays of desert flora laid out on easy paths. Birds and other wildlife abound. For the tourist or the hometowner who doesn't have the time or the physical capabilities to traverse longer hikes, this is an ideal spot to get a reasonable taste of the desert experience without driving out of the city.

The entrance fee is reasonable; the giftshop is pleasant; the live plant greenhouse is a special treat; and the tea house restaurant offers tasty south-western dishes in lovely surroundings.

Check it out. The mighty Saguaro awaits.

Glimpses of wildlife can be counted on. Some stand out,

But some take a keen eye to see.

And some take a bit of patience to catch like this hummingbird on her nest.

Colorful blooms augment the green or sometimes just add lively color to the environment.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On to Arizona in March

I am slowly working my way to the present and this rainy Monday in April provides a good opportunity to begin coverage of our final attempt to avoid some of Monmouth's nasty winter by heading for Arizona.

When we initially contemplated this trip toward the end of 2008, air fares were not being kind, so we decided to drive. Tucson is over 1700 miles from here and the scenery along the way is not overpowering. But thanks to the interstate highway system you can make 600 miles a day without too much strain and so after three days of rolling along, we pulled in to my dear cousin's home in the sunny suburbs of Tucson.

Above is a shot from a wind swept rest area in Texas that epitomizes the terrain for about 1000 of the 1700 miles. But after we cross New Mexico the wild and lovely Salt River Canyon provides a welcome respite from the seemingly endless rangeland.
To reach the river you take a series of breathtaking switchbacks. You can see five levels in this shot alone.

The moisture rewards at the bottom of the canyon.

With an entire childhood, education, and work-life spent in the mid-west our recent trips to the south-west have been energizing even if the driving has been a bit enervating. The desert remains new and fascinating to us and we have enjoyed even more our introductions to Native American cultures and arts. We have enjoyed our time with my cousin and her husband for over fifty years and their generosity in opening their homes (both in Minnesota and Arizona) to us is something that we deeply appreciate.

More on what we did while we were there and what we did on the way home to come in the next two episodes of "Stirring the Pudding" of life.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

February was for the Carolinas

January was for the tropics (Costa Rica, Panama, and the Canal) and February was for a short trip to the Carolinas. The initial stop was in Waxlaw NC for a visit to my sister and her husband. While there we also had a pleasant time with their son and his family. Though chilly (that is a considerable understatement), we even got in a round of golf. No pictures because the camera was frozen. Below is the happy extended family enjoying dinner.

The public library in downtown Charlotte has a gorgeous building and includes a thriving theatre company for children.

On the way back to Monmouth, we stopped in Greer, SC for a couple of days to visit an old friend Tom Kent and his wife. The Greer/Greenville area was new to us and we enjoyed visiting Tom's lovely church and seeing some of the sights in the area.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Panama City: A Mirage on the Water

Like that first sight of the snow capped Rocky Mountains as you drive west, Panama City rises out of the ocean like some kind of a gleaming mirage.

We also had a chance to take a closeup look at the canal in the daytime when we stopped at the Visitors Center along side of the Miraflores locks.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Returning to the Trip

Lord love a duck. Where has the time gone. It is more than easy to see how well intentioned bloggers fall behind. The world goes on and thank heavens the few souls who stumble on this offering have not risen up in fury at being left stranded in the middle of a small Pacific island. But onward we now go to the Panama Canal.

Our pilot arrives.

The Bridge of the Americas is the official entrance to the canal.

As evening fell we approached the first lock.