In 1966, 12 KU Theatre students left Lawrence and drove to Creede, Colorado, a flailing mining town in the San Juan Mountains, never dreaming that their trip would become one of a lifetime for themselves and the town.
Steve Grossman was a junior at KU when a flier posted on a Murphy Hall bulletin board titled “Operation Summer Theatre” caught his eye. He made the call, took an initial visit to Creede and shook hands to commit to return for the summer with friends in tow.
Upon returning to Lawrence, Grossman, c’67, g’97, recruited 11 fellow theatre students to found the now “legendary” Creede Repertory Theatre. Founding members include: Shari Morey Lacey, ’69; Pat Royse Moynihan,c’67; Steve Reed, c’70, c’70; Kay Lancaster, c’66, g’70; Gary Mitchell, c’66, g’72; David Miller, c’69; B.J. Myers, c’69, g’71; Connie Bohannon-Roberts, d’66; Earl Trussell, c’70; Joe Roach, c’69; Lance Hewett, c’70; and Grossman.
“Creede Repertory Theatre is a shining example of how the arts can invigorate and sustain a community,” said Henry Bial, director of KU School of the Arts. “We are proud of CRT’s KU roots and were honored to participate in the celebration of its Jayhawk founders.”
Lawrence and the University of Kansas are still legendary in Creede, and the Department of Theatre was honored to be a part of the celebration. Mechele Leon, chair and professor of theatre; Kathy Pryor, managing director of University Theatre; and Bial attended the anniversary festivities, which included a KU alumni event, a talk back with the KU founders and a dedication of the Founders Lobby.
The Department of Theatre’s connections to Creede are far from over. Lily Lancaster, a KU theatre student, is finishing up a summer internship, and KU theatre alumni return each year to see and star in productions—not to mention the many alumni who have set up permanent roots and careers in Creede as well.
“It is clear to me that Creede Repertory Theatre and KU Theatre share a legacy founded on a devotion to making great theatre, developing and supporting theatre artists, and celebrating the communities that support us,” Leon said.
—Heather Anderson, marketing & communications coordinator, KU School of the Arts
The KU connection to Creede was chronicled by Jennifer Jackson Sanner in Issue 5, 2005, of Kansas Alumni magazine during the theatre’s fortieth anniversary year. Click here to read the feature from our archives. We hope you enjoy the nostalgic look back at a piece of Jayhawk history!
Above: The twelve founding members and KU theatre alumni the first summer in Creede, Colorado.
Above: Seven of the founding members of the Creede Repertory Theatre at the dedication of the Founders Lobby during the 50th anniversary celebration this summer.
Top photo: Mechele Leon, chair and professor of theatre, in front of the Creede Repertory Theatre.
James “Jay” William Byrnes IV, f’03, founder and creative director of Chicago-based streetwear brand Fourth is King, will host a pop-up shop event from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Vertical Gallery in Chicago.
Streetwear enthusiasts and art lovers alike are invited to celebrate the brand’s new collaboration with Brooklyn-based artist Dan Funderburgh, f’01, and check out the gallery’s latest exhibition, The Great Western, a three-artist show featuring international street-contemporary artists EINE, Sickboy and Word to Mother.
The Fourth is King and Dan Funderburgh artist series collection includes short- and long-sleeve T-shirts and jackets, which range from $40 to $75 and will be available for purchase at the event. Complimentary beverages from Penrose Brewing Company and Solemn Oath Brewery will be provided.
Artist and author Chuck Fischer, famous for his beautifully designed Christmas-themed pop-up books, recently released The White House Pop-Up Book in honor of the most famous residence in the world. The book features eight hand-painted rooms and their treasures, and the format encourages learning and interaction.
Fischer, f’77, will be in Washington, D.C., later this week to sign copies of the new book. On Thursday, July 23, he’ll be at the White House Visitor Center (1450 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and at the Newseum Store (555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) from 2:30-4 p.m.
On Friday, meet Fischer at the Library of Congress Store (101 Independence Ave SE) from 10-11:30 a.m. Later that day, he’ll be at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Store (14th Street and Constitution Ave. NW) from 1-3 p.m.
For someone who has never taken a photography course—let alone used a single-lens reflex camera or a tripod—Rachael Perry has certainly put her stamp on the arts scene in Lawrence. She’s the artist behind hundreds of large-scale, black and white photographs scattered throughout town, collectively known as the Lawrence Inside Out project.
The effort is part of the global Inside Out campaign, which was created by a street artist in France who encouraged people around the world to have their portrait taken to support a common theme. Perry, c’10, who envisioned photographing local artists, supporters of the arts and even children who create, saw the project as a perfect fit for her hometown.
“I wanted to show the world that Lawrence has this beautiful, vibrant art community,” she says.
Perry applied for a grant from the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission and received $1,200 to bring the project to life.
Wasting no time, she got to work and created a website where people could sign up to have their portrait taken. She also established a social media presence for the project.
“I did a lot of online outreach,” she says. “Social media was a really great tool for this project, especially Facebook. It really changed the way I work.”
The interest was almost immediate, and Perry soon found herself hosting portrait sessions to reach more people in one sitting. She devoted about 15 minutes to everyone she photographed and asked questions to understand how art played a role in each person’s life. Their quotes would eventually accompany the portraits to help viewers feel more connected to each individual.
“I learned really quickly how to get people loosened up and comfortable,” Perry says. “I would try to distract most people by talking to them. That’s what I did a lot of times, and I would shoot them while I was doing it.”
Within a year, Perry had 650 photographs in her portfolio. She only had enough money left from the grant to print 40 images but received assistance from the global Inside Out project to print another 200. The rest she printed at no cost with the help of local Lawrence businesses. Two weeks later, the photographs were gracing storefront windows and gallery walls throughout town.
“To see the pieces in place and then immediately see the reactions from passersby was crazy,” she says. “Even now, when I’m walking downtown, I catch people looking at them. Everyone loves to go and find people they know.”
Although the exhibition has gradually starting coming down, portraits can still be found in certain locations around town, including the Lawrence Public Library, where an entire wall is dedicated to housing smaller printouts of all 650 photographs. The portraits also will be collected in a book, created by local designer Deb Stavin, f’84, scheduled for release this summer.
This week, art lovers can catch a slideshow of the portraits on the north wall of Weaver’s Department Store as part of Lawrence’s Free State Festival, a weeklong celebration of music, art and film. The images will be projected from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday through Friday.
In the world of paper engineering and pop-up books, author and artist Chuck Fischer, f’77, has made a big impact. His Christmas-themed pop-up books include A Christmas Carol, Angels: A Pop-Up Book, and Christmas Around the World. But it’s the re-release of his first book, Christmas in New York, that gives Fischer giant exposure in a new world market—literally!
A firm in Hong Kong reached out to Fischer in September for permission to create a marketing campaign for the book. The company created giant pop-up page spreads which went on public display this week. The oversize sculptures introduce new audiences to Fischer’s work and have delighted the crowds. Fischer was on site for the official unveiling of the campaign. “Needless to say, it’s a thrill to be here and see my work in person, to have it come alive in 3D at this scale,” he says.
The original artwork for Christmas in New York, as well as art from six other pop-up books, interior design murals, china, crystal and fabric are now part of the collection at KU’s Spencer Research Library. The works are an important addition to the holdings that include limited-edition artists‘ books, children’s books and 19th-century scientific books, all of which include varieties of pop-up features and are regularly studied by KU book arts and design students.
During a long career as a radio and TV broadcaster, KU associate professor of film studies John C. Tibbetts interviewed dozens of Hollywood film stars, musicians, writers and theatre people. Many interviews were set up by studio publicity departments as part of long press junkets in which performers would do round after round of interviews to promote a new film.
Drawing on his undergraduate education in design, Tibbetts, f’69, g’75, PhD’82, found a way to make himself stand out in this assembly line approach to film promotion: He painted watercolor portraits of the performers and presented them for signing during his interviews. More than 80 of those portraits bearing the autographs and inscriptions of the subjects will be featured in “Stargazing,” an exhibition that opens Dec. 7 and runs through Jan. 31 at the Kansas City Public Library.
“Many of the interviews were arranged through the studios, and they really guard against every Tom, Dick and Harry seeking an autograph,” Tibbetts says. “But I got to know the publicity chiefs and they got to know me and my work, and I had carte blanche and was able to bring in paintings of whoever I wanted to get signed.”
Tibbetts says the paintings “were a wonderful icebreaker.” Performers would sometimes confide their own lover for painting or other private interests they would never otherwise share. Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Julie Andrews, Angela Lansbury and Michael Douglas were some of the many subjects who asked for copies, which Tibbetts was happy to provide.
“I like to think the subjects themselves really enjoyed it,” he says. “Arnold Schwarzenegger–I did five or six with him–when I’d come in to talk to him, he’d say, ‘Well, what did you paint this time.’”
The interviews that came out of these sessions have been archived by the KU Libraries’ Center for Digital Scholarship as “Over the Rainbow: The John Tibbetts Archive of Conversations in the Arts and Humanities.” They can be viewed online through KU ScholarWorks. For more information on the “Stargazing,” visit kclibrary.org.
The Bourbon County Arts Council in Fort Scott recently sponsored a Bad Art by Good People project, and our beloved crimson and blue was represented in a unique way.
Gary Cullor, b’67, e’67, chose to paint “Blue Cat,” inspired by the “Blue Dogs” paintings by George Rodrigue. Of course, Cullor thought it appropriate to make his cat a KU cat to counter the purple cats that populate our state.
24 “non-artists” submitted original acrylic paintings for the project after they were guided by an artist mentor, and the paintings were auctioned at an evening reception to raise funds for the arts council.
The Bourbon County Arts Council was founded by Cullor and his wife Sally, d’68, in 1971.
The 64th annual edition of Rock Chalk Revue opens tonight at the Lied Center. Alumni fondly remember the singing, dancing and the occasional “Rock Chalk romance” that came from months of rehearsing and preparation. This year’s edition features five great shows, including:
“Joke’s on You” by Kappa Delta and Sigma Nu
“Birds of a Feather” by Gamma Phi Beta and Sigma Chi
“The Catcher Gone Awry” by Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Kappa Phi
“Money Talks” by Delta Gamma
“Liberty by Lunchtime” by Kappa Alpha Theta and Beta Theta Pi
Since 1983, Rock Chalk Revue has raised more than $1,000,000 for the United Way, and this year, proceeds support the Rock Chalk Revue Dreammaker fund through KU Endowment and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County.
A few tickets remain for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows through the Lied Center Box Office online or by phone at 785.864.2787. Can’t make the show? Relive your one bright moment from Rock Chalk Revue by reconnecting with your castmates on Facebook, or learn about the history of Rock Chalk Revue here. Meantime, check out the short video below (also available at youtube.com/ku) produced by KU in 2010. Enjoy the show!