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Jan Biles

Stories by Jan

Artists cultivate barn show

By Jan Biles Amy Carlson's rural Lawrence barn will become an art gallery on Saturday. A group of 10 artists will display and sell their works in an event known as Art Sale in the Barn from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the upper level of the farm structure southwest of Lawrence.

Longtime KU band director to step off the field, will remain teaching

By Jan Biles Robert Foster may be stepping down as director of bands at Kansas University, but he is not putting his baton to rest. He will continue to conduct and teach.

Group brings 'Little' show to new, larger theater

By Jan Biles The Seem-To-Be Players is bringing its show about a little mouse to the biggest theater it has ever called home. "Stuart Little" will be staged Saturday and April 21 in the 300-seat theater at the new Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.

Alumni to pay musical tribute to Foster

By Jan Biles A number of Kansas University band alumni are returning to Lawrence to pay tribute to Robert Foster, who is stepping down as KU's director of bands at the end of this semester.

Modern adaptation gives epic new vibrancy

By Jan Biles Kansas University professor Stanley Lombardo's translation of Homer's epic war poem, "The Iliad," was given new life by the Aquila Theatre Sunday afternoon at the Lied Center.

LHS to receive Duke Ellington charts

By Jan Biles Lawrence High School is one of nine U.S. schools and universities that will premiere the music of jazz legend Duke Ellington before it is put in mainstream educational distribution.

Bloch on Bloch

Grandson making documentary about artist-grandfather

By Jan Biles When he was growing up in California, Scott Bloch didn't hear or know much about his grandfather. It wasn't until he moved to Lawrence in 1976 that he discovered the art and writings of Albert Bloch and their significance.

Actresses prepare for murderous roles

By Jan Biles Jane Malin and Thelma Taylor don't look like murderers. But put on a little theatrical makeup, prepare a pitcher of elderberry wine and give them copies of Joseph Kesselring's play "Arsenic and Old Lace," and they will convince you.

'Desdemona' gives 'Othello' a fresh spin

By Jan Biles "Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief" is based on Shakespeare's "Othello," but playwright Paula Vogel has veered far from the path of the Bard. She takes the road less traveled the road of dark comedy, cinematic scenes and funny sound effects, where imagination is stretched and wit is massaged.

At the Center of it all

Architects, center's staff look forward to opening day

By Jan Biles Architects Dale Glenn and Jody Brown can look out the windows of their office and see the construction crews busy at work on their newest project. The $7.25 million Lawrence Arts Center is a half-block north of Glenn Livingood Penzler Miller Architects, 1001 N.H., the firm hired to design the new building.

Artists' creations give building a personal touch

By Jan Biles David Vance works as a job captain for Glenn Livingood Penzler Miller Architects, the design firm for the new Lawrence Arts Center. But he also is an artist. So when arts center officials made it known they wanted to incorporate the works of area artists into the new building's design, Vance created a proposal for a sign that would stand sentinel at the new building.

Thinking inside the box

Sculptures in international ceramics show designed to fit inside small containers

By Jan Biles Artist Wilfredo Torres looks over the more than 650 small ceramic pieces entered in this year's Orton International Cone Box Show at Baker University. He knows his job as one of the show's three jurors will not be easy.

Squonk is a mixed bag

By Jan Biles The shows put on by Squonk Opera are not easily defined. Fantasy-based performance art? Multimedia mish-mosh? A New Agey twist on traditional theater? Surrealistic comedy? Squonk Opera takes a risk each time it takes the stage.

'Rigoletto' emotional, enlightening show

By Jan Biles Leave it to Giuseppe Verdi to take Victor Hugo's tale of a cursed hunchback and turn it into a 2 1/2-hour opera with beautiful arias, an orchestrated storm and hapless murder. Leave it to Teatro Lirico D'Europa to fill the roles with singers that elevate Verdi's music and cause the audience to leap to its feet.

Showcase celebrates a decade of dance

By Jan Biles The Choreographer's Showcase marked its decade-long anniversary Friday and Saturday nights with concerts that embraced performance art, ballroom, ballet, belly dancing, jazz and modern dance.

Actress superb in 'Wit' performance

By Jan Biles It's rare that a community this size has an actor who can carry an uninterrupted, two-hour show. But Lawrence Community Theatre and director Penny Weiner have discovered such a talent in Sandra Gray.

'Othello' actor overcomes misperceptions about play

By Jan Biles Actor Walter Coppage for years refused to read William Shakespeare's "Othello." Until the 1970s and 1980s, the role of Othello the Moor was often played by white men wearing black makeup. To Coppage, it was a reminder of minstrel shows, which featured singers like Al Jolson in blackface.

Artistic explosion

Workshop connects Lawrence students with their dreams

By Jan Biles Walter Morris' dream was not deferred thanks to New York City artist Tim Rollins and his K.O.S. (Kids of Survival) project. Walter, a 10-year-old student at Centennial School, and 23 other Lawrence students recently had their watercolors displayed at the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University.

St. Martin ensemble richly deserves reputation for greatness

By Jan Biles The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble creates music that resembles a Brandy Alexander: smooth, satisfying and totally intoxicating.

The body beautiful or not

Play explores society's definitions of female attractiveness

By Jan Biles In Lisa Loomer's provocative play "The Waiting Room," three women meet in a doctor's office. While they are of different time periods and from different regions of the world, each of them has taken extraordinary measures to attain beauty and they are all paying the price.

'Stomp' drums up a hit for its sold-out crowds

By Jan Biles The power of "Stomp" cannot be denied. The troupe of eight dancer-percussionists has made its third visit to Lawrence in five years. And so far, the Lawrence community has not tired of its clanging and banging. Already the troupe has performed three sold-out shows this weekend at the Lied Center, and today's matinee promises to be packed to the rafters, too.

Play probes friendship

By Jan Biles At first glance, "The Tomato Plant Girl" seems like a simple story about the difference between bullying and friendships: Bossy Best Friend gives orders to Little Girl, who follows them so she will fit in and not have to play alone. Little Girl eventually realizes that friendships need respect and acceptance to grow, just like tomato plants need water and sunshine.

Library prepares for Read Across Lawrence, group discussions of Hughes' work

By Jan Biles Copies of Langston Hughes' "Not Without Laughter" are hard to keep on the shelves at the Lawrence Public Library. The library has 50 copies of the book available for a limited loan of five days.

Images and words

Artists create works inspired by Hughes' poetry, stories

By Jan Biles Langston Hughes' poems and short stories have inspired a group of Douglas County artists to create an exhibition of paintings, collages, prints and sculptures. "Dream Variations: Art Inspired by the Work of Langston Hughes" opened Friday and will continue through March 10 at the Lawrence Arts Center, 200 W. Ninth St.

Pulitzer Prize winner pays homage to Hughes

By Jan Biles Author Alice Walker credits two of her brothers for helping her develop her creative writing process not because they were encouraging, but because they would not allow her to keep the pieces she had written.

Santos to present 'Hot Tropics'

By Jan Biles From the beginning, Eluza Santos was out of step with ballet. She didn't like the strict code that came with the dance form, preferring more freedom and spontaneity with her movements. Plus, Santos had the wrong body type for tutus and toe-shoes she stands under 5 feet and doesn't have the lean, long limbs of most ballerinas.

KU student followed activist beliefs to his death in European battlefield

By Jan Biles The devastation of the Spanish Civil War hit home for the family of a Kansas University student. Don Henry, who had been active in the Methodist Church, Boy Scouts and the high school debating team, enrolled in 1935 at KU.

Corporate donation leads to exhibition of Southwest art

By Jan Biles A donation of Southwest art that bolstered the holdings of Kansas University's Museum of Anthropology is on display through mid-August at the museum. "From Reservation to Corporate Office: A Donation of Southwest Art" contains more than 25 objects given to the museum by the Topeka-based Security Benefit Group of Companies.

Gallery specializes in finding first-class art for corporations

By Jan Biles An art gallery that started on the Internet is jumping off the computer screen and into the community. Iveth Jalinsky has opened The Museum Gallery in suite 114 in the I-70 Business Center on North Third Street.

In Langston's light

Writing contest winners have penned hundreds of works

By Jan Biles Alice Ann White remembers the day she started writing poetry. She was in fourth grade at Trailwood Elementary School in Overland Park. The teacher told the students they had to start keeping a daily journal. The teacher would give them ideas to write about Monday through Thursday, but on Friday they could write whatever they wanted.

French-Canadian group mixes traditional, modern

By Jan Biles When the sibling singers of Hart Rouge opened their concert Friday night at the Lied Center, the foundation of their music was clear: beautiful, bending harmonies and arrangements that blended traditional and contemporary styles.

Posters share voices of Spanish Civil War

By Jan Biles The posters in a new exhibition at the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art can be appreciated on two levels: as historic political statements and as early modernist art styles.

Bassoonists expand definition of quartet

By Jan Biles When you think of chamber music, a bassoon isn't the first instrument that comes to mind. A violin, yes. A cello, yes. But a bassoon?

Robert Burns fans to pay tribute to the haggis

By Jan Biles Larry Carter is getting ready to throw a birthday party for a Scottish poet who died 206 years ago. Robert Burns Night will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Lawrence Arts Center.

KU professor wants to spread the word about black authors

By Jan Biles As a youngster growing up in Independence, Kan., John Edgar Tidwell studied Kansas history and read books by America's great writers.

Lawrence artists help Souper Bowl Saturday head toward goal line

By Jan Biles The Lawrence Arts Center is hoping to score a big win for its ceramics department with its annual Souper Bowl Saturday.

Painter taps imagination, pop art for inspiration

By Jan Biles Lawrence artist John Geery began painting slightly more than 10 years ago, and already he is showing his acrylic works in San Francisco, Chicago and New York City.

Play produces tangle of entertaining lies

By Jan Biles Remember that old saying that goes something like, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when at first we practice to deceive." In the case of Marc Camoletti's play "Don't Dress For Dinner," the web of lies is one audience members don't mind getting caught up in.

'Sunflower Journeys' celebrates 15th year with Liberty Hall concert

By Jan Biles "Sunflower Journeys," a public television series produced by KTWU in Topeka, is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a Lawrence concert featuring some of the artists who have appeared on the series over the years.

Director: 'Pirates of Penzance' likely to draw large audiences

By Jan Biles When it comes to the growing popularity of opera, the proof is in the numbers. "More tickets are sold in opera than at sporting events," said Mark Ferrell, associate professor of music at Kansas University, citing a recent national study.

Last Night's Fun looking to record this year

By Jan Biles A Lawrence band that likes to play close to home is reaching out to other nations to find inspiration for its music-making. Last Night's Fun primarily performs Celtic and traditional American music but also looks to Middle Eastern, Central European, North African and Finnish tunes for inspiration.

A delicate balance

Lawrence artist blends calligraphy, surrealism and the whimsy of cartoons

By Jan Biles Wherever Bill Bowerman goes, he carries a pocketful of 3-inch-by-5-inch blank notecards and a ballpoint pen. The cards become miniature pieces of canvas where quick sketches of human figures or still lifes can be recorded for use later in larger pastel or acrylic paintings.

Business complex aligns itself with arts interests

By Jan Biles A new business complex in northwest Lawrence is aligning itself with the city's reputation as an arts community, and hoping the connection will bring more residents into its buildings. On Saturday, the owners of Art Executive Office Park, Peterson Road and Kasold Drive, will have an art exhibition and sale to promote the arts-based theme of the complex and their interest in original art.

Choir leader hears song of home

Civic, church vocal music director to return to his native Minnesota

By Jan Biles He's leaving. Rob Reid, director of the Lawrence Civic Choir and music and choir director at the First United Methodist Church the past 8 1/2 years, finished packing Thursday morning at his church office.

Exhibit reveals details of Northwest Coast life

By Jan Biles The artifacts a culture leaves behind tell those who follow about their lives, relationships and beliefs. A new exhibit at Kansas University's Museum of Anthropology takes a look at the American Indians from the Northwest Coast through their tools, modes of transportation, baskets, ceremonial masks and other items.

Costume, scene design steal the show in KU production of Chekhov

By Jan Biles The comedy is subtle in Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard." The Russian playwright's comedy comes from creating characters who are fallible and sympathetic a formerly rich landowner cannot curb her spending, a peasant-turned-merchant loses the woman he loves because he can't tell her how he feels.

'Cherry Orchard': the fruit of Chekhov's labor

By Jan Biles Kansas University theater professor John Staniunas has issued a challenge: If you think Anton Chekhov's plays are boring, slow-moving or too serious, then get in line to see University Theatre's upcoming production of the Russian playwright's "The Cherry Orchard."

'Sound of Music' a classic treat at LCT

By Jan Biles In its 25-year history, Lawrence Community Theatre had never staged "The Sound of Music." That's understandable considering the size of the musical's cast and the limitations of the performance space.

One-act operas highlight talent of KU program

'Period pieces' use song to explore unrealized expectations of characters

By Jan Biles The new Black Box Theatre in Murphy Hall was broken in right Friday night with two one-act operas that turn a critical eye on society while showing off the growing talent of the Kansas University opera program.

Dancing does justice to 'Power'

By Jan Biles The University Dance Company debuted Karole Armitage's "Power Surge" Thursday night at the Lied Center and did justice to the Lawrence-grown choreographer's inventiveness.