I have been invited to play and sing my songs at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois student art gallery reception for the Open Studio exhibition. It begins at 5 pm and concludes when they ask us to leave or something like that. I hope my friend Rachel Lattimore Hasenyager will give directions to the gallery in a comment following this post.
I have long felt an affinity for visual arts. I wrote a column called Art Seen for Illinois Times, initiated and maintained Central Illinois Visual Artist Galleries, a web site where area artists could share their art offered for sale, and a few years ago, when Jan Sorenson invited me to play and sing at a Sangamon Watercolor Society reception downtown, I wrote two songs about visual art for the occasion. I also sang several other songs I have written and some traditional folk songs. Great fun! Rachel invited me to pose at the Open Studio and then invited me to play at the reception Wednesday night.
A friend of mine, Paul Fouch wrote a terrific biography about his grandfather Dr. Mark Foutch, a Springfield native, eye doctor and talented band leader, whom I knew through aviation interests. The title of the book — The Show Is On the Podium — is based on the good doctor’s wonderful musical work with his band that was a “fixture” at the Illinois State Fair for many years. As I read the book, I realized Mark might have given Paul the title before he died. From Mark Foutch’s perspective, the “show” was where he stood with his baton, leading the band which he had organized, written arrangements for and devoted a lot of his life to. I thought the title was misleading until a realized that when we watch a band or orchestra, where do we look? We look at the leader. It’s natural. The show may have been “on the podium,” but the music came from the musicians. When I play Wednesday night, make no mistake: This show will be on the walls as visitors view what promises to be an array of visual arts creations produced by members of the Open Studio program where students of visual arts paint and draw selected subjects for the fun of it and toward the goal of becoming better artists. The SHOW will be on the walls, perhaps on display stands.
The music will come from Tom Irwin and Job Conger. Tom is a musical “fixture” in this town as visible as the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon at Washington Park and to many ears, easier to dance to. He opened at the Illinois State Fair for Willie Nelson. I will also play and sing. To Tom Irwin’s musical barbecued ribs, I am the musical potato salad.
I will play the visual arts songs introduced at the downtown reception and two new songs I wrote for Wednesday night’s reception. This will be the first time I’ve shared the new songs when accompanied by my guitar, though a few weeks ago I sang them acapella for a few friends at another gathering. I will also sing several other songs, all of which I have written, including one particularly liked by Richard Falzone, and will include a Vachel Lindsay song I wrote, a Vachel Lindsay poem I set to music (“The Dream of All the Springfield Writers”) and a Vachel poem recited (“The Bronco That Would Not be Broken”). The recited poem MERITS a painting by Springfield talent. One of my goals in my small part of the evening will be to inspire someone (or more than one) in the audience to paint that painting. If it happens in the months ahead, I will seek permission to include it, with other illustrations, in my revised second edition of my book Vachel Lindsay: Strange Gold. I will also have copies of my books of poetry for sale Wednesday night, so AFTER you purchase a painting or two that appeals to you, and after you savor the rest of the visual art and Tom’s music, and after I put down my guitar (which is not to say I intend to disparage or kill it), talk to me about books.
A good part of my life has been “possessed” in the last month by activity that will culminate Wednesday evening, but will echo afterward well into the future. I find my destiny in every minute devoted to poetry and music. I hope you will attend the reception and enjoy what you like.
Live long . . . . . and proper.