Saturday, January 31, 2015

Plugging into the Folk Alliance Conference

Composer David Amram playing jazz with a country band at the 2014 conference

By Anne Tangeman

Bluegrass, ragtime, old-time, country, blues, jazz, rock and more will be showcased at this year’s Folk Alliance Conference and the new-this-year Music Fair at Kansas City’s Crown Center Westin and Sheraton hotels Feb. 18-22. Attendees will find multiple music stages and open jams, music camps for adults and kids with lessons from locals to icons like guitarists Redd Volkaert, Andy McKee, Bill Kirchen, and Bela Fleck. There’s also a music related film festival, art gallery and expo hall.  Lawrence will make its presence known with several bands playing the local showcases on Wednesday night at the Westin as well as a full Friday night showcase at the Sheraton.

Much like South By South West, the conference is a gathering of international musicians, agents, festival bookers and fans with seemingly endless stages of music. While you’ll run into what you might think of as traditional ‘folk’ music, you’re just as likely to come across Lawrence native Chuck Mead rocking his Nashville honky tonk in one room and down the hall see 80 year old composer and world music expert David Amram throw down some jazz with a young country band. 

The ‘industry’ side at the Westin Crown Center has a steep SXSW-like entry badge fee of $275-375 which gets you entry to keynote speeches and gets ambitious musicians in front of agents and festival bookers. The new, public Music Fair portion at the Sheraton next door is just $25 per day or evening or $125 for the week and gets you access to six stages of music, the film festival, art gallery, expo hall and music camp.

If you play, bring your instrument (there’s even an ‘instrument check’ if you want to put it away for a while). You’ll find folks playing in the hallways, the alcoves and if you’re lucky enough to have a Conference full-on badge, you’ll find a Winfield-like experience of late night jams into the wee hours in blocks of hotel rooms turned into (really) small venues at the Westin.

Not to be missed:
Wednesday - All local lineup public show at the Westin 
$20 for ten stages of music from funk/soul group the Phantastics to Hembree to Lawrence’s own Carswell and Hope, along with Schwervon, the Latenight Callers, KC’s Rural Grit folks, Betse Ellis and more.

Thursday – Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Billy Strings & Don Julin

Friday – Lawrence KS Live stage (Ashes to Immortality, MAW, Tyler Gregory. Brody Buster, Nicholas St. James, Carswell & Hope and 40 Watt Dreams). At midnight The Hillbenders TOMMY: A Bluegrass Opry (yes, that TOMMY).  Also don’t miss guitar icons Bill Kirchen & Redd Volkaert

Saturday – David Amram, Betse Ellis, Kasey Rausch and more.
Be sure to check out the Art Gallery & Poster Show with works from Daniel Johnston, Tim Kerr and more. 

Chuck Mead and his Grassy Knoll Boys at the 2014 conference

Anne Tangeman is a Lawrence freelance journalist who has written for the Lawrence Journal-World, the Kansas City Star and several zines.

Party Pics: January Downtown Final Friday

Preview Party for Souper Bowl 
Lawrence Arts Center

Lawrence Arts Center

Make Love at The Percolator

 Matt and Susan in in front of Matt's work at The Percolator

Make Love at The Percolator

Lisa with her work at the Phoenix Underground

Elizabeth in front of her work at Phoenix Underground

work by Barry Fitzgerald at Wonder Fair

Taryn playing a dreamy set with CS Luxem at Love Garden

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January Final Friday Picks

Make Love at The Percolator
The Percolator
Alley, 913 Rhode Island

The Percolator is hosting the annual themed exhibition relating to all matters of the heart. 
Matt Williams along with several other Lawrence musicians will provide aural stimulation to tickle your ears and delight your senses: in tune and harmony! 

The Percolator opens at 5:00 and the music starts at 7:30!
See the Facebook Invite Here:

Barry Fitzgerald In Between
Wonder Fair
803 1/2 Massachusetts

Wonder Fair celebrates the Fine Art of Illustration with "In Between," a new series of original drawings by KU professor and industry veteran Barry Fitzgerald. 

"In Between," texture and tone form a soft background to a series of vivid black ink drawings: lines curvaceous and sharp, vividly suggesting parables grown from the artist's imagination...but left tantalizingly open to our interpretation. 
See the Facebook Invite Here:

Art, Music, Romance
Love Garden Sounds
822 Massachusetts

This final friday, January 30th at Love Garden a group of artist will be brought together to offer you quality art for afforable prices to give to your sweetheart.
Not only will the night bring you some beautiful art, but also---Sweet tunes.
Dean Monkey and the Drop Outs will be crooning right in your ear holes while you hold your baby!


There will also be an open mic type set up for dramatic readings of romantic/erotica novels. 
If you have not prepared a reading... novels will be provided...with passages marked and highlighted.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Where is Life Drawing in Lawrence?

Models at a Thieves Guild drawing session

Lucky for us, there are many life drawing opportunities in Lawrence.  Not only are sessions available to anyone, they are affordable.  All have one simple rule: Bring drawing supplies.  Here are three with our description.

Open Drawing at KU
4th Floor of Art and Design
Price: Free
Our description: Traditional academic poses, big drawing easels, and natural lighting characterize Open Drawing. A sink provides water for watercolor or clean-up.  Sessions are good for building a portfolio. Open Drawing, facilitated by KU grad students who sometimes "space off" their shift, is spottty in availability.
Dates: Open drawing is from 11am to 2pm on February 7th, March 7th, April 4th, and May 2nd.

Thieves Guild Open Drawing
Price $5.00
Our Description: The Thieves Guild meets at Fatso's every first Monday night of the month. Drawing sessions have a theme encompassing a decorated stage, costumed models, and music.  A drawing contest is at every event. Photographers are welcome.
The Thieves Guild is an alternative to academic drawing.  Socializing is acceptable.
See The Theives Guild Facebook Page here:

Life Drawing: Lawrence Arts Center
Price: 8 weeks $275-$315
Our description: Want to study with an instructor? Louis Copt and Jeff Ridgeway both teach life drawing classes for many levels at The Arts Center.  The current session has started for these classes, but new ones will be available after spring break.
See the Arts Center adult education classes here:

Winners of the October Thieves Guild Drawing Contest

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Last Days of The Glenwood Arts

The beloved Overland Park independent movie theater Glenwood Arts at The Metcalf South Shopping Center will close its doors for good on January 25th. It will merge with the Leawood Theater to become Glenwood Arts at 95th and Mission Road.

Home to the Kansas International Film Festival, Glenwood Arts shows indie and arts films. Stand-out features of Glenwood include a quality sound system and retro lobby.

We asked film critic Eric Melin, editor in chief of Scene Stealers Movie Reviews, to comment about the closure. Eric told us, "With the recent Oscar nominations, its clear that the indie film world is alive and kicking. There's no shortage of audiences to see the kind of films Glenwood Arts showed, so wherever it goes, the struggle will still not be in competing against blockbusters but rather in trying to get people out of their homes to see movies!"

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pilgrimage to Truckhenge: We're Just Trying to Have Fun Out Here

By Special Correspondent Richard Noggle

People make the pilgrimage to Truckhenge from all over the world.  Well, from all over the world except for the Topeka and Lawrence art scenes.  Those people tend to steer well clear.  Or so claims Ron Lessman.

This is one of the many (no doubt well-rehearsed) complaints you’re likely to hear if you visit Ron’s odd and fascinating art-filled farm in rural Topeka.  You’ll also hear a lot about the evils of the local government and the various corporations who have tried to push him off his land. Make sure he tells the story about driving away city officials by blasting 2 Live Crew on “eight giant speakers.” (He may also show you the speakers and sing you a bit of the particular tune).

On my recent afternoon at Truckhenge, I got the feeling that Ron rather enjoys playing up the crackpot persona (“Best review I ever had,” he tells me, “was a woman from London who said that I was the craziest fuckin’ person she ever met but that my farm was an absolute must-see.”).   Yet after spending an hour with Ron traversing the grounds, I came to think of him not as a raving madman but more as a playful and prolific and often sweet artist who’s genuinely happy to show his work to anyone who seems interested and makes the effort to seek it out.

The whole thing IS a little intimidating, though, at first. With the aid of Google Maps I rolled up on a gravel road to a locked gate and sat in the car while Ron and three friendly (but not friendly-looking) dogs loped up to greet me.  Technically one needs to make an appointment to visit, but I was unannounced and after a brief interview of sorts (perhaps ascertaining if I was city or government-affiliated?) Ron invited me to pull into the drive and offered to give me the grand tour.

The most well-known aspect of the farm is, of course, Truckhenge, where a collection of semi-truck cabs have been planted upright, rooted by massive concrete foundations.  If I followed Ron’s explanation (which is not always easy, as he talks fast and furious), Truckhenge is the result of him being told by the county, somewhere around 2000, that a mighty flood was coming and his old trucks might well float down the river and “wipe out Lawrence like torpedos.”  The county demanded that he must “pick them up.”  So he “picked them up”…and planted them in concrete as a big screw-you.

The story seems to well-illustrate two characteristics of Ron’s art: resistance and playfulness.  “We’re just trying to have some fun out here” was a constant refrain on our journey that afternoon, which covered the following (and more):

Boathenge: similar to Truckhenge, but with boats.

The trees of “lost soles”: trees full of shoes hanging from branches.

Beer Bottle City:  art made with beer bottles, including an effort to recreate the “monolith” from Kubrick’s 2001.

A collection of ancient animal bones housed in (I think) a train car.

His chainsaw carvings, many of which seem to be based on films (Halloween, Nightmare Before Christmas, a random alien that Kirk encounters in one of the Star Trek movies)

And, finally, Ron’s house, where he’s pulled a “reverse Sistine chapel” and painted the floor with a picture of a woman painting a floor: very meta.

By the time I left later that afternoon I had even met Ron’s wife (inside the more “normal” part of the house, a friendly woman, quietly washing dishes) and been given a lucky feather from one of the peacocks that roam the grounds along with the dogs.

Truckhenge is only thirty minutes away but, really, it is worlds removed from a Final Friday art walk in Lawrence, Kansas. And all the better for it.  Ron wants you to visit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Letter Writing is Alive and Well in Lawrence

Letter writers using a typewriter at The Letter Writing Club

The letter writing club proved that the art of letter writing is alive and well in Lawrence, Kansas, when members packed tables at Decade Coffee Shop on Sunday. The crowd came prepared with elaborate writing utensils, admirable stationery, and stamps. Some members typed on typewriters.  

Marie traveled from Lee Summit Missouri for The Letter Writing Club.  She told us "Letter writing gives me an excuse to write letters to people I should, meaning loved ones. It's not the same as an e-mail or a phone call. They will just have to accept my atrocious hand writing. "

Mobile stationary brought by Wonder Fair

First grade cousins Fiona and Dexter had an array of composing equipment spread out including colored pencils and different types of pens. My query about Dexter's attendance elicited an eye roll and the response, "My mom wanted me to come to write Christmas thank you notes."

First graders Fiona and Dexter at The Letter Writing Club

Charlotte busy at a typewriter

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's a Rocket Grant Party

Adam Gnade in front of the Pioneers Press caravan. 
The caravan was purchased with the help of a Rocket Grant

We attended a Rocket Grant information session yesterday at the Spencer Museum of Art.  We walked into a swank reception in the galleries that included wine and a nice buffet.  Artists attended the function to learn about the application process for Rocket Grants.  Rocket Grants are funds given to recipiants for projects and funded by the Warhol foundation for Visual Arts.

Started in 2009, Rocket Grants encourage "innovative, public oriented work in non-traditional spaces." We talked with one Lawrence artists who tells us he would like to create an installation to include an art and music venue in a nature setting. He plans on applying for a Rocket Grant to help purchase building materials.

We were happy to see The Pioneers Press Folks.  They received a Rocket Grant to purchase a traveling caravan to hold zines and books.  Super cool as ever, Pioneers Press has been busy touring the country.  Stops included Boston, Philidelphia, and Portland.  They told us about The Planet X Music Festival, and plan on going to The Los Angeles Zine Festival in February.

Read more about  Pioneers Press from The Pitch article here:

Crowd at the Rocket Grant information session

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lawrence Inside and Out

Rachel Perry Taking Photographs at the Spencer Museum of Art

Rachel Perry has been taking photographs of artists in Lawrence for her huge project Lawrence Inside and Out.  The portraits are usually of faces and filmed in black and white. The project encourages people to share their stories "in celebration of our creative community." Lawrence Inside and Out is part of the global Inside and Out project. 

We are impressed by quality of the black and white photos as well as the large scale of this project. Rachel has really made an effort to reach many people. 

Michelle and Wendell waiting their turn for a portrait

Example of a finsihed portrait taken by Rachel Perry of a viola player

Look for large images of these photographs in April installations throughout Lawrence. 

Upcoming Lawrence Inside Out Portrait-taking Sessions
Thursday, January 22, 5-8 pm in the Lawrence Arts Center Lobby
Friday, January 30, 6-8 pm at the Watkins Museum of History

For more information or to schedule a portrait, visit

We LOVE this picture of Rachel galmouring it up for OUR camera!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Free State Film Festival Proposals

From the Free State Film Festival Site

According to Chad of the Lawrence Journal World, "Lawrence is getting more serious about throwing a party of international proportions...We’re talking about the Free State Festival, an annual art and film festival that largely is regional in nature, but has aspirations to be international in scope by 2016."

The Free State Film Festival has grown into a week long festival that includes feature films, film shorts, music, performances, and panel discussions. Venues are now located in many Lawrence locations and creative use of projection of films include on Downtown building walls. This year, the festival will offer digital opportunities to area youth organizations. 

According to its website, last year's festival attracted 12,000 audience members.  

The Free State Film Festival has posted a call for proposals for its June festival. Project proposals are due March 1. 

See the FSFF website for more information:

Landmark Opening Party Pix

Nice crowd for the opening reception for Lori Norwood and Eliza Bullock at Landmark last night. Landmark is one of our favorite places to view art. 
Here our our party pix. 

Sculpture by Lori Norwood

T.J. Tangpuz

Louis and Phyllis Copt

Steve Anderson and Lori Norwood

Eliza Bullock

Ryan Wedel

Friday, January 16, 2015

Arts Related Events for The Weekend and Poet Laureate

Eliza Bullock
Events this weekend:

Opening At Landmark Friday January 17

Eliza Bullock and Lori Norwood will have new work up at Landmark Bank.
The 0pening reception is Friday, January 16 at 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Landmark is at 4621 W. 6th Street, Lawrence. Read the Facebook post here:

Carey Scott, Stephen Molyneax, and The Overies-eez at Gaslight Gardens Saturday January 17
starting at 9 p.m.
See the Facebook Invite here:

Letter Writing Club Sunday January 18, 2:00
Decade Coffee Shop
The letter writing club is back!  Join the gang for letter writing
More information about this event can be found here:

Rocket Grant Information Session Sunday January 18 3:00-4:30 pm. 
Spencer Museum of Art
The presentation will include talks from former grant recipients and Project Coordinator Julia Cole will be available to answer questions about the grant program. 

A reception will follow the event.
More information about the Rocket Grant session can be found here:

Lawrence Inside and Out January 18 1:00-3:00
Spencer Museum of Art Mark your calendars for the Lawrence Inside Out Porject's next protrait session at The Spencer Museum of Art. 
Lawrence Inside and Out is a community photography project focusing on Lawrence residents and their connection to creating and supporting the arts. Through the use of black and white portraits, this project invites participants to celebrate our creative community.
Participants' images will be printed large-scale, popping up in April 2015 throughout Lawrence.

Read more about the event here;

Poet Laureate of Kansas

We received notice that The Kansas Humanities Council is seeking applications for the Kansas Poet Laureate.
What does a Poet Laureate do?  According the The Kansas Humanities Council website "The Poet Laureate serves as a leader in strengthening citizen engagement with the humanities through poetry."

Sounds cool to us!
Here is the link for more information and application:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Movie Review: Inherent Vice

Photo: Doc and Shasta, looking for weed.

Inherent Vice Movie Review
Submitted by special corespondent Richard Noggle

It’s unfair to level a final verdict on an artist of Paul Thomas Anderson’s caliber after a single viewing of his newest film, so let’s think of this as some initial thoughts on his adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.

I was leery of the first trailers for the film, which suggested a frantic, Lebowski-style farce.  Happily, that’s not at all the tone of Vice, which instead takes on a stoned, languid, mellow 70’s California pace that’s well-suited to the novel’s mood once its detached from Pynchon’s hyperactive prose style.  Yet perhaps PTA veered too far toward the more rigid and formal style of his recent work in There Will Be Blood and The Master.  At times, I wanted him to cut loose into the wild camera-work and sense of playfulness of the Boogie Nights-era.  And there IS a bit of this--watch for a remarkable flashback sequence involving our protagonist private eye Doc and his former flame Shasta that begins as a wild comic romp that involves consulting a Ouija Board to score weed but quickly transitions into a beautiful rain-soaked reverie set to the strains of Neil Young’s “Harvest.”  In these moments, the film comes to vivid life.  But much of the rest seems to exist in a foggy headspace that’s perhaps well-suited to Doc’s worldview but isn’t a particularly enjoyable space for a viewer to inhabit.

Performance-wise, the film is a mixed bag as well.  As much as I’ve loved Joaquin Phoenix’s recent work in PTA’s The Master and Jonze’s HER, he doesn’t strike me as the perfect Doc.  It’s less the actor’s fault than the character, probably, as the perpetually-stoned Doc is only about half-present in his own life. More successful is Josh Brolin, in a very funny scene-stealing turn as a hippie-hating cop named “Bigfoot” Bjornsen.  And Katherine Waterston impresses as Shasta, Doc’s not-so-lost love.  As suggested above, PTA finds the heart of the film in the past. As a melancholy meditation on love and bygone eras of California and American culture, it strikes the occasional chord.   
And a final warning: if you’re in it for plot, get over it, as it’s fairly impenetrable.  In both novel and film, Pynchon and PTA seem largely uninterested in providing the familiar comforts and solutions of the detective genre, which becomes instead a vehicle to unlock deeper human mysteries.
Now, having written all this, I want to see it again, and soon, even though I didn’t particularly enjoy it.