Posts Tagged With: Kentucky

Berea artist brings diversity and color to Frankfort classrooms and hallways

Walking through the halls of Frankfort High School (FHS) these days, you might notice things look a little different. That’s because, with the help of teaching artist Alfredo Escobar, students in Spanish and art classes at FHS recently designed and painted a tradition-inspired mural on the once drab walls outside the school’s cafeteria.

The mural, completed in early February, was the culminating project of a two-week artist residency with Berea graphic and fine artist, Alfredo Escobar, a teaching artist in the Kentucky Arts Council’s Teaching Artists Directory. FHS and Escobar partnered to create the mural through a 2013 Teaching Art Together grant from the arts council. The painting is made up of images that uniquely represent the school and the community of students’ within it. The mural was inspired by Escobar’s work “Mi Vida,” an acrylic piece that depicts the artist’s life from childhood to adulthood. Escobar worked with multiple classes over the two-week period to brainstorm concepts and incorporate those ideas into the mural design.

“I never tell the students exactly what they should paint; I lead them into their own decision-making process through which they choose their own content, spatial organization and color scheme,” said Escobar. “The emphasis of this project is not on the realism of the final product; rather, it is on the students’ expression of themselves and what is relevant to their lives.”

The full-time artist completes residencies much like the one at FHS with students and schools across the state. Using his own career and creative process as an example, Escobar strives to teach students how to creatively express themselves, whether through art, writing or other career paths. Parents, teachers and fellow students were invited to view the finished product.

The Teaching Art Together grant allows teachers to collaborate with practicing, professional artists on the design and implementation of residencies like Escobar’s. Ranging from one to four weeks, the residencies provide teachers with the tools to continue to incorporate the arts into the curriculum long after the artist is gone. In Frankfort High’s case, Escobar’s residency has allowed teachers to incorporate more art concepts into Spanish classes because the students have a better understanding of the steps and processes involved.

“The mural project was a great way to bring our student body together and give them something to be proud of,” said Tabatha Doyle, one of the teachers involved in bringing Escobar to the school. “The students take great pride in their work and our mural has motivated them to continue art projects throughout the entire school.”

Schools and teachers may apply for the next round of Teaching Art Together grants until April 15.

Alex Newby, program assistant

Categories: Arts Education | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Students shine at Poetry Out Loud Finals

After months of preparation, the Poetry Out Loud state championship took place March 13 in Frankfort at the Capital Plaza Hotel. The winner, Taryn Syck, of Pike County Central High School, will travel April 28-30 to Washington, D.C., for the National Poetry Out Loud Championship to represent Kentucky. While she was a tough competitor through the first two rounds, it was Syck’s third poem, “The Great Blue Heron,” by Carolyn Kizer, that put her on top.

I love the moment when everything comes together: The words, the delivery and the passion. Before I became the arts education director for the Kentucky Arts Council, I was not overly impressed with the Poetry Out Loud program. I did not appreciate the value of reciting poetry written by other people. I have seen some very powerful performances at high school poetry slams. So I believed having students perform their own poetry would be much more effective.

Today, I understand the value of this kind of poetry recitation. All 14 school champions were impressive. I am so glad I was not a judge. Each student in the program had been coached by one of the arts council’s teaching artists. They won their school competitions to advance to the state finals. All competitors recited two poems and then five finalists made it to the final round.

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Mary Hamilton, one of the teaching artists that worked with the champions, attended Thursday’s championship and later shared some of her thoughts about the day with me.

“There were three specific performances today that, if they would be available for Kentucky Poetry Out Loud programs to view, would provide excellent examples of very specific performance successes,” she said.

“Beautiful Wreckage” — recited by Titus Carter — “That recitation was stunning, absolutely stunning. He so captured the emotion of that poem. A video of that performance would provide a wonderful demonstration of how thrilling and amazing a recitation can be when the student allows their emotional connection to the poem to come charging through.  So many young men tend to be exceedingly reluctant to allow feelings to show. I think providing his recitation of ‘Beautiful Wreckage’ as an example of an emotional connection to a poem would especially encourage young men to give themselves the permission he clearly gave himself for that recitation.”

“I Remember, I Remember”  recited by Gabrielle Thompson  “That recitation provides a fantastic example of how pauses are not empty, but full. The spaces between the two ‘I Remembers’ at the beginning of each section were handled superbly. Sitting in the audience we could feel strongly that all memories are not remembered the same way. Her face, voice, and especially her communication during pauses, were wonderful to behold.”

“Famous”  recited by Haley Reed  “This is a lighter poem, and Haley did a marvelous job of clearly conveying the lighthearted nature and even the humor within the poem. There was also a clear change from when she was talking in third person and in first person. I considered it a wonderful example  well worth providing for future Poetry Out Loud students.”

Each of these performances, as well as Taryn Syck’s recitation of the “Great Blue Heron,” will soon be available on the arts council’s website. I invite you to visit our website to view these amazing performances by high school youth. And, next year, I hope other teachers and schools across the state will give their high school students the opportunity to participate in the Poetry Out Loud program.

Jean St. John, arts education director

Categories: Literary Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kentucky Stage at Kentucky Crafted: The Market

Two-day music festival at Lexington Convention Center: one-day pass, $10; two-day pass, $15

There is absolutely nothing like sitting, standing, jumping or dancing in a venue with music being performed live on stage. Your blood is pumping, your toes are tapping, you can’t sit still and maybe you’re even singing along. Sound like fun? Well, then you need to be at the Kentucky Stage during Kentucky Crafted: The Market, March 8-9, at the Lexington Convention Center.

Featuring some of the best Kentucky musicians around, the Kentucky Stage is a destination all to itself, but for that low ticket price you also get the entire Market to explore—SCORE! Heavens, you are running on all cylinders today and I am in awe of your prowess.

In the mood for a little southern folk/rock a la the Allman Brothers, but original and with a Kentucky twang? Then you’re looking for The Mark Whitley Band.

Or maybe you want some precision percussion with an authentic African influence. Check out River City Drum Corps.

Why not settle into some rousing country tunes? Well that’ll be Dale Pyatt with his Chickengrease Band.

How about a combo deal including a hefty portion of bopping popular music and a side of contemporary African-American gospel? John Edmonds is your man.

Let’s relax with a little cool jazz by the Jay Flippin/Gordon Towell Jazz Duo.

Yearning for some of the best Americana around? Look for TDH4.

Or wrap up your weekend with one of the state’s best string bands, Kentucky Wild Horse.

These are just a handful of the 17 individual musicians and bands that you’ll see on the Kentucky Stage. And since you’ll want to keep listening to the music once the weekend’s over, stop by the Marketplace directly across the lobby from the Kentucky Stage, to pick up CDs by these and other performers who’ve been selected for inclusion in the arts council’s Performing Arts Directory. That’s where I’ll be enjoying the best seat in the house. Stop in and say hello.

The Kentucky Stage
Schedule of Performances
(all times Eastern)

Saturday, March 8
9 a.m.              Bob & Susie Hutchison, Celtic
10 a.m.            The Wulfe Bros., Popular/Patriotic
11 a.m.            River City Drum Corps, Drumline
12 p.m.            Sue Massek with Erin Fitzgerald, Folk
1 p.m.              Roger Cooper with Michael Garvin and Scott Miller, Appalachian
2 p.m.              Carla Gover with Jeri Katherine Howell, Appalachian
3 p.m.              John Edmonds with Devon Satterfield, Gospel/Pop
4 p.m.              A Girl Named Earl, Folkabilly
5 p.m.              Art Mize, Americana/Jazz
6 p.m.              The Mark Whitley Band, Americana

Sunday, March 9
10 a.m.            Marcus Wilkerson, Singer/Songwriter
11 a.m.            Dale Pyatt, Americana
12 p.m.            TDH4, Americana/Jazz
1 p.m.              Hong Shao with Yuyao Ding, Chinese Pipa
2 p.m.              Joe Hudson and Steve Rector, Thumbpicking Guitar
3 p.m.              Jay Flippin/Gordon Towell Jazz Duo with Elise Melrood, Jazz
4 p.m.              Kentucky Wild Horse, Stringband

Tamara Coffey. individual artist program director

Categories: Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scarecrows have invaded downtown Scottsville, Ky.

They have taken over the square. Big scarecrows, little scarecrows, hug-ably soft scarecrows and pointy-toothed scary scarecrows are all frozen in their own autumnal tableaux.

This annual assemblage is a great example of a living folk art tradition. Individuals, organizations and businesses join in the fun and express their aesthetics right in the heart of the city.

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Learn more about the Scottsville Scarecrow Invasion here.

How does your community celebrate this time of year? Share comments below.

Thanks, Scottsvillians, for this wondrous display. Also, congratulations to your newly-certified Kentucky Community Scholars who are working to identify and celebrate more folk art forms and heritage in the area.

Mark Brown, folk and traditional arts program diector

Categories: Folk and Traditional Arts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Actors Theatre

As a lifelong theater participant and fan, it was exciting to have the opportunity to visit Actors Theatre of Louisville and talk one-on-one with Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein. If you’re not especially familiar with the theater world, let me just say Actors Theatre is the gold standard in the world of regional theater.

As a former theater student, I can say with certainty the majority of young people who want to work professionally in theater rank Actors Theatre high on their lists of places they hope to someday work. One of the things I think is really superb is that the theater has a well-respected intern and apprentice company that helps train the next generation of theater professionals. And, of course, I have to give a shoutout to ATL for employing graduates of my former theater program at Morehead State University. It’s worth recognizing when regional theaters with presence on the national scene employ people from their own states. Kudos to ATL for recognizing quality talent in the Commonwealth.

This year marks ATL’s 50th anniversary of producing professional theater in Kentucky. While the theater has changed through the years, and continues to evolve, it remains one of the top theaters in the nation and is dedicated to keeping the spotlight on the Commonwealth for years to come. Congratulations to Actors Theatre of Louisville, the 2013 National Award recipient in the Governor’s Awards in the Arts.

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Give me the rundown of the work and programming produced by Actors Theatre each year.

We have multiple streams of programming. We want to, and feel we have a responsibility, to serve a broad range of people in this community. We have our main stage series which is sponsored by Brown Forman. That is a range of plays that are comedies, dramas, sometimes musicals, sometimes classics, sometimes contemporary. We also have some annual shows which are great holiday traditions for people. They bring their friends and families and they come year after year. We do Dracula, which is unusual in regional theater. This is our 19th year of running Dracula. People love it. We do A Christmas Carol and this will be our 38th season of producing A Christmas Carol. That’s a great entry point, often for children, whose families bring them. We see and have heard many stories from people who remember coming here as a kid and now they’re bringing their own children.

We do the Humana Festival, and that’s how we’re known nationally and internationally. The Humana Festival is like the Sundance of new plays. We produce six to 10 new plays each year during the Humana Festival. It takes place in March and people come from all over the country and all around the world to see it. This past year we had visitors from almost 10 different countries and from more than 30 different states.

How long have you produced the Humana Festival?

In 2014, our current season, we’ll present our 38th Humana Festival. One of the reasons we are so honored to receive the National Award in the Governor’s Awards in the Arts is, over our long history of 50 years, we’ve really been a pioneer. We continue to be a leader in our national field of theater. The Humana Festival was the first new play festival that existed amongst regional theaters in this country. Actors Theatre made a bold commitment and has really stood by that commitment and continued to invest in new play development. And that is to impact the canon of American theater that exists, to continue to feed new work into the American theater. We were a pioneer in creating the business models that exist today for theaters and for many arts organizations, the subscription model that really helps to sustain what we do because people commit to a full season and it allows us to produce a range of programming. Whereas, if we were to sell single tickets to each show, it would be a much bigger and challenging marketing investment.

How has the theater been a leader on the national scene among regional theaters?

Actors Theatre has been a leader over our history and today amongst regional theaters in new play development. We have hundreds and hundreds of theaters and individuals who come to the Humana Festival each year to see the work we are premiering and to either commit to produce it at their organization, to sign on as an agent for one of the playwrights, or to publish the work. We have produced more than 450 new plays for the American theater. One of our big goals each year is to insure they receive subsequent productions. Our current statistic on that is about 80 percent of them go on to subsequent productions. We think that is very strong.

We were actually early in terms of giving access to patrons and donors to our artistic process. We have an open rehearsal process. People can come in and watch rehearsals, whereas many theaters protect that and don’t allow people into the room. We give them access to reading scripts early on in the process.

I would say today we are doing some innovative things in terms of technology. One of the things I’m really excited about we started this past year is a series called The Balcony. For people who are really attached to their phones and need to be on Facebook and Twitter, we have opened it up on certain nights where any seat in the balcony you can Tweet and post to Facebook and interact during the whole show. One of the things I thought was so fascinating and delightful about it is that people who have come there to be on social media and interact with the show have said after intermission, “I want to put my phone away because I just want to watch the show.” We’re really willing to test new media, new technology, in terms of what we do.

Les Waters, who is our current artistic director, is renowned in the world of theater and is a hugely sought after director, one of the top directors working in the states right now. We’re really excited he is here and working with us.

How has Actors Theatre’s location kept Kentucky in the national spotlight over the years and why has that been important to the state?

We are thrilled that we are located in Louisville and in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We get tremendous support in terms of people valuing what we bring to the quality of life and in terms of economic impact to this region. Through the Humana Festival, especially, but through other work, too. We bring great positive attention to the state of Kentucky in terms of truly being one of the best in the country and a leader in the arts in the nation. We also are bringing in the 150 artists we work with each year and employing them in the state. I think they learn a lot about Louisville and Kentucky, and they become ambassadors for this area when they return to their homes.

I’m a big believer that if any of the arts organizations thrive, it helps to elevate the entire sector. I do think because of the great support of this community and the state of Kentucky, Actors Theatre has been able to thrive and to remain strong. That helps the entire arts ecology in the state. We do have strong organizations and artists throughout the state. If we all can remain strong it helps the others as well.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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