ArtFarm19, a festival of creativity hosted at Scattergood from July 4 – August 3

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I’m thrilled to share this information from my friends at ArtFarm19! I will be there with bells on. Bells and heaven knows what else. Anything is possible.

Dear creative friends and collaborators,

I wanted to let you know about ArtFarm19, a festival of creativity happening near Iowa City this July. ArtFarm19 brings together artists, educators, entrepreneurs, healers, and movement builders, to share creative practices, find renewal and restoration on Scattergood’s rural campus, and participate in the launch of new regional arts programming. The mission of ArtFarm19 is to connect people across differences and harness the power of the arts to build a more JEDI (just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive) world.

Throughout the month, ArtFarm19 will gather together creative folks to participate in a variety of creative activities. Check out the opportunities below and RSVP for one or all of them:

  • July 4 (RSVP here)– opening potluck to greet the Swarm Artist Residency hive queens who will be curating 75 artists in residence this summer at Scattergood.

  • July 9 (RSVP) – Art Bazaar to meet the Swarm artists in residence.

  • July 14 (RSVP) – join The Great Parade in the Muscatine County Fair Parade in West Liberty – we will give you costumes, musical instruments, and puppets to play with as we make a spectacle and recruit more people to the creative force

  • July 15-17 – join us as we Build-a-Show in three days. The first day will be for designers who want to get inside the making of the show. The second day will be for people who want to be in the show. The third day will be for people who want to see the show we made. RSVP to join us for Day One-Designers, Day Two-Performers, or Day Three-Final Performance!

Attached is a flyer you can share with your networks. Please follow our social media platforms (linked below!) to keep up on all the events as they unfold. You can also fill out our contact form to be added into our events email.

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#ArtFarm19Iowa

Hot Tamale Louie at Coe College 3/23

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John Rapson is that rare professor whose teaching leaves such an imprint on your mind and heart that you remain indebted forever. For this reason, I agreed to be part of this project well before I fully understood what it was.

Then I read Kathryn Schulz’s June 2016 New Yorker article that inspired John and Nielo Gaglione‘s creation of this multimedia piece now known as Hot Tamale Louie and it was these words that cemented my devotion:

“The history of immigrants is, to a huge extent, the history of this nation, though so is the pernicious practice of determining that some among us do not deserve full humanity, and full citizenship. Zarif Khan was deemed insufficiently American on the basis of skin color; ninety years later, when the presence of Muslims among us had come to seem like a crisis, his descendants were deemed insufficiently American on the basis of faith.

Over and over, we forget what being American means. The radical premise of our nation is that one people can be made from many, yet in each new generation we find reasons to limit who those “many” can be—to wall off access to America, literally or figuratively. That impulse usually finds its roots in claims about who we used to be, but nativist nostalgia is a fantasy. We have always been a pluralist nation, with a past far richer and stranger than we choose to recall.”

We leave in just under three weeks to bring this story back to Wyoming where it originated and we invite our community to send us off with your love and support by joining us for a free performance at Coe College on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 pm.

Thank you and please spread the word!

Film Release

Copy of Cinema.jpgOur 11 year old son Atticus has been very busy. He decided some months ago that he wanted to create a live action version of one of his favorite fairy tales. When he decides something, so mote it be.

Atticus is the star of this new film version of Jack & the Beanstalk. He is also the scriptwriter/editor, the director, the cinematographer, the costumer, the prop master, the film editor, and the composer/performer of the musical score. His beloved accordion teacher Jill VanDorpe worked closely with him as a coach on this project and she does a beautiful job of playing Jack’s Mother.

Atticus expertly cast his father as the Giant (don’t miss his impeccable death scene!), his brother Liam as The Creepy Old Man (wearing my favorite costume in the film), and me as the Cow (who looks uncannily like a panda) and also as the Giant’s Wife.

Atticus has created a website that links directly to his YouTube channel to make viewing the film as easy and accessible as possible.

Please consider taking ten minutes from your day to view his film and to leave him some encouragement. You will be glad that you did. We are very grateful for your support of our young artist.

Fun Home at UI Theatre

There are some professional opportunities that only present themselves every once in a blue moon. I find myself in the midst of one right now as we wrap up what has been a pretty terrible year overall.

Please don’t misunderstand. Personally, all is well. My family is delightful. My work is diverse and fulfilling. I have a wonderful set of students who I am fortunate enough to spend time with every week. Taking a broader view though, our nation has voted itself into the idiomatic handbasket. We are in peril.

Living with anxiety offers valuable lessons and tools to me every day. One of the most essential tools has been adopting a terrier-like commitment to releasing all that which I cannot control, which is to say, nearly everything.

From where I’m sitting, art is the only satisfactory channel for processing my human experience.

Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron (based on Alison Bechdel‘s award-winning graphic novel) is one of the most powerfully honest and beautiful musicals ever created. From my perch in the onstage six-piece band, I get to experience it repeatedly with new lessons revealing themselves every time.

I took on this project because of how much I have loved my previous work with director John Cameron and musical director Janelle Lauer but I wasn’t overly familiar with Alison Bechdel when I came on board other than as the inspiration for the Bechdel test. This is actually my favorite way to approach a project; total immersion from a previous place of ignorance. There is so much potential for growth when one has so much yet to understand.

There are still four more opportunities to see Fun Home at the UI Theatre Building. The cast and crew are so talented, so consistent in their portrayal of this beautiful and heartbreaking story, and such kind and invested people. And the band? Well, I don’t mind telling you that the band rocks. No other possibility exists under the music direction of the inimitable Janelle Lauer.

I know this production will change you. What other reason do we have to be here?

I have a very smart and compassionate friend who shared with me this mini-comic that Alison wrote as a coda to Fun Home opening on Broadway. I really hope you click through to Vulture to read the whole thing.

FunHomeVultureSlide 1 of 9. View the rest of the mini-comic over at Vulture.

 

ACLU Update

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Art Roche, Mary Denmead, William Dutcher, Zach Twardowski and Atticus Dutcher in Richard III. Photo by Andrea Wilson.

I am not the only American to have spent the past week alternately devastated and enraged but I am so grateful to have also experienced flashes of true hope and deep love for how my community has responded.

Between our event on Friday which raised $833.25, Writers Resist! last Sunday, and The Last Night in America organized by Megan Gogerty on Thursday, eastern Iowa artists have raised upwards of $3700 for the Iowa ACLU this week. Many people do not realize that the ACLU is a non-partisan organization that prides itself in upholding everyone’s civil liberties, no matter who they are or what they believe.

We are going to take care of each other. We are going to resist injustice. We are going to pay attention and participate in the democratic process. We are going to use our art to magnify what is going on around us because, as my friend and mentor Ron Clark said recently in a Press-Citizen interview: “It’s our artistic community that most effectively holds out a mirror and says, ‘Look at what we have become.'”

There are many petitions circling. I’d like to direct your attention to this one in particular asking that we preserve the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. When I signed it, it still needed almost 100,000 more signatures to get a response from the White House. This is quite literally the least you can do but is still so important.

Together we rise.

 

RIII gratitude

We had our final rehearsal last night for our pop-up activist abridged reading of Shakespeare’s Richard III coming up on Friday and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

For Ron Clark, for bringing his lifetime of experience and leading us with his characteristic vision and deep compassion, all the while giving us hours upon hours of his time.

For Jody Hovland, who joined us in our final rehearsal to share her amazing talent and mentorship.

For Keith Reins, who will be with us on Friday, guitar in hand, for our musical partnership and for always having my back.

For Nick Westergaard and Meghann Foster who are not only incredibly gifted actors but also run Brand Driven Digital and are sharing their marketing expertise with us.

For Bethany Horning, costumer extraordinaire, and her support team of Jeremy and Chase, for her creativity, cheerful encouragement, and texts that make me snort coffee out of my nose.

For Chris Okiishi, easily one of the most generous and supportive people any of us will ever know, for lending his time to get the script in our actors’ hands.

For my beloved family Carmel and Rayburn Vrabel and Jon and Susie Dutcher who have spread their pride in this project far and wide which included, in some cases, defending us against the criticism of political disagreement among their own Facebook community.

For my friends who have pressed money into my hands earmarked for the ACLU.

Finally, for these beautiful actors who are sharing their time and talent with all of us: including Ron, Meghann, and Nick mentioned above and also Larry Baker, John Clarence Cameron, Aprille Clarke, Mary Denmead, Carrie Houchins-Witt, Art Roche, Katie Roche, Zach Twardowski and my very patient and wonderful men Joe, Liam and Atticus Dutcher.

You all give me hope and that is the most beautiful gift we can share with one another.