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March 21, 2010

Spring Resolution: See More Live Art!

Spring Resolution: See More Live Art!

By Kathy Sweeney

Blog Kelly Strayhorn Pic324  If you didn't read yesterday's blog by Storyteller Mary, you should.  On the heels of that great news, we went to see Squonk Opera last night in an old theater that is being brought back to life.

It was amazing.  The theme of the show, Mahem and Majesty, which made its world debut here in Pittsburgh, was how music can stimulate all the senses. Autumn Ayers, a young woman we met when she was a waitress/struggling singer/songwriter, is the vocal lead.  Her voice is astounding.  She could be on any stage in the world.  We got to see her in a small theater for less than $10.  

Local theater and local arts programs are in trouble.  As you may already know, funding for the arts, especially in schools, has been plummeting for years, and this year's federal and state budgets are even worse. 

That means it is up to us to keep things going.  Why us?  Because we, everyone of us who reads this blog, are patrons of the arts.  We buy books.  We buy music. We tell - or at least share - stories.  You don't have to be a de Medici to support the arts.  Good thing, too - there aren't many de Medici's left.  No offense to the Mona Lisa, whomever she might have been.

You don't have to be rich, or write big checks - or in many cases - spend any money at all.  There are still free concerts and art shows and galleries and poetry readings - all kinds of ways to see the performing and fine arts - but if people don't show up, they will cease as well.

Several years ago, I made it my New Year's Resolution to see something 'live' at least once a month.  At the time, I was in a major country music phase (watch it - I still love country) and went to a bunch of concerts at a roadhouse owned by a friend's family.  I would fill in as a waitress if they needed help.  Got to meet a ton of artists, from Trace Adkins to Kenny Rogers  (yes, the first really is that tall and the second really did have some bad surgery) both of whom put on terrific shows.  I also got to see Phil Vasser, who got his start playing at IUP and is now a big deal - still a great guy.

Since our daughter became a visual arts major in high school, our live art visits have expanded to shows with pottery, paintings, sculpture and fabrics.  Give them a shot as well - the creativity of the human mind will give you faith in the species.

Blog Autumn  If you get a chance to see Squonk Opera, you can't miss our friend Autumn - she looks like a goddess. She has a range from the sweet lilt of the Celtic Women to the gut-check power of Stevie Nicks.  No kidding.  No big production mixes - no back up singers - just a pure and magnificent voice.  If you can't see the show in person, watch for the CD/DVD - they filmed part of it last night.  

So - let's get out there.  What have you seen lately?  What can you recommend for the rest of us?

Happy Spring!


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Battered hat. Sunglasses. Unlit cigarette in corner of mouth. Guitar.

(Guitar Chords)

Woke up this morning.
(Duh duh da DUH)
And checked out The Blog
(Duh duh da DUH)
Wondered about Country
(Duh duh da DUH)
Cuz The Blues is the DAWG.
(insert Son Seals guitar riffs)
Read it every day
(Duh duh da DUH)
Some come to read, some come to play
(Duh duh da DUH)
No matter why you come here
(Duh duh da DUH)
Everyone wants to hear what you say
(insert B.B. King chords, big finish)
I gots The Lipstick Chronicles Bluuuuuuuuuuuues!!!!!!

Not my best work, but not bad for this hour....

Ladies and Gentlemen, William Simon! [[wild applause]]

Wowza, William! Your depth of talent continues to astonish, dude.

A friend gets season symphony tickets and often invites me. I love opera and ballet, but no longer have anyone to go with, and since my middle daughter went to college I no longer get season tickets to the Playhouse. That was fun to share with her, since she had a passion for theater, and went to the Playhouse summer acting camp for six years.

My husband does not enjoy live art the way I do, so i depend on girlfriends to hang out with me when there's something I really want to see. We got tickets a couple years ago to a Willie Nelson/John Mellenkamp concert, and I took my friend Margi. We rocked the night away, it was a superb show. Can you imagine she didn't even know who Willie Nelson was? His sister played piano for him.

The most recent arty activity was the Gold show at the Cincinnati Museum Center, situated in an incredible art deco train station that was rescued from destruction about 25 years ago by the Museum moving in. The Gold show included--under heavy security--exquisite jewelry and other relics showcasing gold's unique qualities. Did you know that the visors on astronauts' helmets are coated in a thin gold film? Or that all the gold ever mined in the world would fit into one solid cube of only 62 feet on a side. And all the gold ever mined still exists; it's indestructible.

Her, Margie would have loved the gold penis shield from Peru, ca. 500-1500 AD. We cracked up at it, since it looked like the bottom of an ice cream cone. There is also a 12x12x8 room in which the walls are covered with flattened sheets of gold. It took only 3 oz. of gold to completely cover the ceiling and walls. Naturally, it invited touching. Naturally, it was heavily alarmed.

For me I’m looking forward to the next “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. This appeared in the “Sunday Times” (London) this morning.

Me real beauties: Cap’n Jack bans false breasts

In a request to casting directors circulated around Los Angeles last week, the film-makers say they are seeking “beautiful female fit models. Must be 5ft 7in-5ft 8in, size 4 or 6, no bigger or smaller. Age 18-25. Must have a lean dancer body. Must have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants.”

The film-makers warn that there will be a “show and tell” day with costume designers where potential actresses will be expected to run — a venerable Hollywood test to detect false breasts, which move less freely than the real thing during action sequences.

I understand the LA Coliseum is selling tickets for the “show and tell” session. Sections “C” and “D” are already full. If they need a more “hands on” tester; I would consider it my civic responsibility to volunteer.

Well, we saw a high school pageant yesterday, and a couple of those girls were a piece of work!

We did see Michael Martin Murphy the last two Christmases in a local movie theater which has been renovated to show movies and live shows. It was great. My daughter and I try to go to the local ballet as often as possible. She took dance for years, and loves to see the productions. She even was able to dance in the Nutcracker for two years! I have to get my mind past all the stuck-up dance moms we had to deal with. I helped with wardrobe the first year she danced with them, and if you could have the kids and not the parents, it would have been great!

Does going to Boston to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert count? I know it's not local but it is live. We are going April 1 and hoping that the SNOW!#@! (about 4 inches to be exact) we had in Dallas last night do not follow us to Boston. Precious and I sat for years on the Board of Directors of a local equity theatre. Let me tell you how hard it is to keep these theaters open and operating. Money is always a scramble but audiences not so much. People here in Dallas love our local theater with many to choose from. So buy the tickets but made a donation to the theater company as well.

make that does not follow us.

The Scrambled Egg Blues..

Arose from my bed this mornin'
Got a child in the house to feed..
Hopin' it would be easy
Please no orange slices to squeeae.
Ended up making bacon
Got splattered in the face
Grandson got alaughin'
Lots of love in the kitchen space.
Got a lesson in eggs and scramblin
And makin the tyke the meal
He thanked me and told me he loved me
And now I can coast through the day.

(With apologies to all songwriters out there!)

Rod, I'm sure there will be a class action suit soon -- implant discrimination. Legal fees to be paid by the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, Southern California chapter.

As for me, I saw a kick-ass production of CAROUSEL last month and was so smitten, I bought tickets for the rest of the season and sent in a contribution, to keep that theatre company (called Reprise!) alive. Because the venerable Pasadena Playhouse closed down and it's partly my fault for not having gone to more live theater.

And then I took myself to see Ed Harris in WRECKS and was again so knocked out, I bought tickets to the rest of the season at the Geffen Playhouse. I have no problem going solo to the theatre. Great seats and a religious experience.

Kathy, you rock. You too, William and Marie. Art rocks, in all its forms.

Harley: Since you live in LA hopefully you can keep us abreast of any titillating new developments on the case action front. I think it is inspiring that Disney would have the courage to lift and separate themselves from all the phonies in Hollywood. However, I can understand how they may feel they are trapped in the headlights when their support begins to sag. It will be interesting to see if this causes a long term cleavage in the movie industry.

Would love to see james Taylor and Carol King but 200 bucks is robbery.

There's a free art show on May 14 at Propel Est in Turtle Creek-----one of a series of art and music charter schools in dead steel towns of W PA. The kids go 11 months so they can all take art and music. Here is a preview from my dauther's young artists:


John McCutcheon was wonderful last night, filled the "room" -- the audience was actually too big for any of their rooms, so they set up chairs in the main part of the library.
Today I'm going to see _Fantastics_ at the Rep. It's a theater weekend after all . . . lessening some of the weight of the real world is one of the beautiful aspects of art . . . shining a light on some of the troubles of the world is one of the meaningful aspects.

Okay I'm on a LIVE theatre soapbox here!
It is my passion and my life. I especially love Musical Theatre. AND dance (former ballerina - think what I did for love)
And am currently in my Mother phase.
Parts include: Mother Time, Mother Bear, Fairy Godmother, Hera Mother of the Gods/Wife of Zeus, Mother Earth, Mother Hubbard and currently in rehearsal for Big Mama in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with the Main Street Players in Miami Lakes.
My ambassador character at the Airport and Miami Children's Hospital is Mama Mia. (Get it? MIA?)I work with a frog puppet. The frog formally known as Prince.
Rod dear. I don't know nothing about implants but I'm certain you could tell them from a superman x-ray vision away. Keep the costumers from using lead based paint however and go easy on the Kriptonite.
Please bloggers...go go go to see live performances. And real book events!
You really have to be able to do a double pirouette before you can even audition for A Chorus Line.
And no matter how many producers you sleep with you will never be cast in a live show. You can't retake, cut and edit like in a movie or TV episode.
Fake boobs or not, you will always see the real thing on a live stage!

A friend and I have season tickets to a theater in Philadelphis - this is our third year. It is America's oldest theater, and boasts the most subscribed theater company in the world, with 56,000 season ticket holders. They put on 5 self-produced plays a year, usually 3 musicals, and 2 non-musicals. They do a fabulous job, and we really enjoy it.

I also hope to see a traveling production of "The Lion King" that's coming through in the next month.

My husband and I go to quite a few country concerts. We saw Tim McGraw a few weeks ago, and have tickets to see Vince Gill and Sugarland before the summer's out. We'll probably get in at least one more. Plus my sisters, my daughter and I are going to NYC in April to see Straight No Chaser in concert. I can't wait.

So I'm trying to do my part! :)

Rod, how punny! Marie, how sweet!! I totally agree with "- the creativity of the human mind will give you faith in the species."

My Rep subscription is currently for one person (and due for renewal). I originally bought two, so I could take my mother -- I continued with two for a few years, with a friend, with an aunt, with no one and inviting different people to share the "extra ticket." If anyone in the St. Louis area would like to join me, let me know. Meanwhile, I also have no problem going alone. . . not supposed to talk during the show anyway. ;-)

Kathy, regarding arts funding, I discovered with dismay this past week that Pennsylvania's Council on the Arts notified grant applicants in December that no grants could be awarded in 2010 in the categories of Individual Artist Fellowship, Arts Commentary, and Folk and Traditional Arts. That essentially decimates funding for individual artists at the state level. (Luckily, some of the partnership programs remain.) As a former (and eternally grateful) Penn. grantee, I was saddened by what had to be a difficult choice. If I were rich, I'd gladly fund the Fellowship program myself.

Back to topic, don't forget "live" literary events like poetry slams and open mic. Lotsa drama potential!

Kathy, we love country music and all kinds of music styles.
We have seen a lot of touring productions of Broadway plays such as Wicked, Mary Poppins and others.
I love music concerts and have seen Sarah Brightman and others including Phil Collins one of my all time favorites.
High School Productions are totally top notch and I am almost astounded at the talent of these young people.
Usually my daughter arranges family outings for us so I am waiting patiently to see what is up next.

In the car on the Mass turnpike-home soon more later..... too hard to type! happy spring

I'm just back from the Virginia Festival of the Book, which was FABULOUS---and not just because I got to see our very own Kerry there! (Hi, Kerry! Get home safe and sound?) We had a great time hanging out, talking to writers, hearing about books from other readers. (The most popular button being worn: "I Read Black Authors." Which I'm thinking we need to adopt here at TLC, because it's a sin the way really talented black writers are forced into small presses and treated like second class citizens.)

Then my husband drove north and went to the Washington DC zoo (now the Smithsonian Zoo) which is FREE. People treat it like a park--strolling around for a few minutes or all day. What a treat to spend some time there with our kids and our wonderful grandson. (He flirts with everyone on the Metro. Even teenage boys cannot fail to smile and play peek-a-boo.) And the weather was gor. geous all weekend. What a relief from snow and ice.

Great blogs this weekend! I'm sorry I'm tuning in so late.

I didn't go to LIVE art last night, but saw some wonderful short films at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, travelling edition, sponsored by a great local outdoor adventure store (Adventure 16)in the auditorium of the junior high near my home. One way or another, ambitious outdoor enthusiasts find ways to make these marvelous and inspiring short films to compete at the Banff festival every fall, then the films go on the road so folks like me can get their annual hit of adrenaline and inspiration. So cool.
Having said that, I add a big 'AMEN' to those advocating local theatre and arts--so very important that we keep these not only alive but inspire our youngsters to participate and appreciate.

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