Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Central School Seeking Memorabilia for Centennial Anniversary!

Lake Charles, LA—Friends of Central School has begun preparing for its anniversary event on April 28 from 10am until 4pm.  The group seeks to collect memorabilia and other photo artifacts from members of the community who either attended Central School or have relatives who attended school at this historic community landmark.  Items collected will be on display through the end of April at 809 Kirby Street and will be returned upon the event’s conclusion. 

Designed and built in 1912 by New Orleans architectural firm Favrot & Livaudais, Historic Central School sits in the historic Charpentier District in Lake Charles and is a comprehensive arts and cultural center.  Upon entering Central School for the anniversary event, visitors will be greeted by docents who will provide a free special tour of the building’s history.  Also featured will be live music, an art exhibit highlighting 100 years of Central School, and other surprises. 

As part of this anniversary event, a limited number of pewter ornaments have been created to commemorate the cultural history of the facility.  Proceeds will go toward the historic preservation of Central School.  For more information, contact the Arts Council at 439-ARTS.  Artifacts are being accepted now at 809 Kirby Street, Suite 202. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Poetry Out Loud Winners Announced!

From left: Erica McCreedy with Arts Council, Keaghan Kane,
Raven Dobbins, Elizabeth Salvador
This past Friday, February 17th, ten high school students representing Sulphur High School, Washington-Marion High School, DeRidder High School, Westlake High School, and home school groups competed for the top three honors at the SWLA Regional Poetry Out Loud Competition at Central School.

Elizabeth Salvador, a home school student, won third place in the competitions with her performances of “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and “The Donkey” by G.K. Chesterton. Raven Dobbins, a freshman at Washington-Marion High School, was awarded second place for her recitations of “Sadie and Maud” by Gwendolyn Brooks and “Alone” by Edgar Allan Poe. Keaghan Kane, a senior level home schooler, was honored with first place for her moving renditions of “Preludes” by T.S. Eliot and “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Keaghan Kane
“I couldn’t be more proud of our students who won this year,” stated Erica McCreedy, project coordinator for the Arts Council. “This program engages the younger generations in the arts to not only create future artists but also future investors in the arts.” Salvador, Dobbins, and Kane will continue on to the State Poetry Out Loud Competition to hopefully follow in the footsteps of the 2011 Louisiana State Champion, David Douglas, who came also from Washington-Marion High School and represented Lake Charles at the National Competition. Over $50,000 in stipends and awards are given at Nationals.

Poetry Out Loud is coordinated in the Southwest Louisiana region by the Arts & Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana, and it was initiated by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts in 2005. The program engages high school students by challenging them to memorize and recite poetry in a competitive setting. Performance poetry helps build confidence and public speaking skills while allowing students to experience the oral history of poetry.

For more information on Poetry Out Loud, contact the Arts Council office at (337) 439-2787 or visit www.artsandhumanitiesswla.org.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Grace & Glorie Hit Lake Charles Little Theatre Stage

The Lake Charles Little Theatre presents Tom Ziegler's play Grace & Glorie February 24th through March 11th. Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Ziegler's play has seen the talents of Estelle Parsons and Lucie Arnaz when they performed the title characters on Broadway.

The play, which is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, centers around Grace, a fiesty 90 year-old cancer patient who has checked herself out of the hospital and returned to her homestead cottage to die alone. The volunteer hospice worker, who appears with the pain medication Grace willfully left behind, is a Harvard MBA recently transplanted to this rural backwater from New York. Glorie is tense, unhappy, and guilt-ridden with her old child having been killed in an auto accident when she was driving. As she attempts to care for and comfort the cantankerous rustic, this sophisticated urbanite gains new perspectives on values and life's highs and lows.

The Little Theatre's production of Grace & Glorie is directed by James Johnson. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students with a valid ID. Visit www.thelclt.com or call 433-7988 to purchase tickets or to find out more information.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Louisiana Crossroads presents Tribute to Little Walter

The Louisiana Crossroads series continues as The City of Lake Charles presents “A Tribute to Louisiana’s Little Walter, Featuring James Cotton with Henry Gray”. The man who invented amplified Blues harmonica, was a French speaking Creole from Marksville, Louisiana. Little Walter Jacobs revolutionized his instrument and changed the musical landscape forever. James Cotton, who began his own recording career at Sun Records in 1953, is Little Walter’s peer in every sense. He replaced Walter on harmonica in Muddy Waters’ Chicago-based band when Walter went out on his own. When they inducted Little Walter to the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, James Cotton got the call to pay tribute, as he will do for us here on Wednesday, March 7 at 7:00 PM. at Central School Arts and Humanities Center Theater, 809 Kirby Street. This show will feature Louisiana pianist and National Heritage Fellow Henry Gray, a major blues artist in his own right, who also played with Little Walter back in the day. Henry will treat us to timeless music and stories that only he can tell. A few special surprises are in store as well. The concert will be broadcast live via 100,000-watt regional National Public Radio affiliate KRVS, simultaneously streaming audio worldwide via krvs.org. Advance tickets are $10 on line at www.louisianacrossroads.org, or at the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana on the second floor of Central School. Tickets at the door are $12.

The Louisiana Crossroads 12th season in the Central School Theatre will wrap up with De Temps Antan, Cedric Watson, Anna Laura Edmiston and David Greely—Exploring Quebecois, Acadian and Cajun/Creole Connections, April 11, 2012.

For more information, please call (337) 491-9147 or visit the department of cultural affairs at www.cityoflakecharles.com.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Live @ the Lakefront 2012!

Are you ready, Lake Charles? The Arts & Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana is partnering with the City of Lake Charles to bring the Lake Area a brand new music festival that will celebrate our downtown identity and the newly renovated Lakefront Promenade. Live @ the Lakefront will be held at the Arcade Amphitheater at the Civic Center on three consecutive Fridays on March 16th, 23rd, and 30th, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Festival-goers can spread a blanket on the amphitheater's grassy hill and listen to great music with the lakeshore scenery and cool weather as the perfect backdrop. Live @ the Lakefront will act as a fundraiser for the Arts Council with the proceeds from all Coke, Budweiser, and Miller sales going towards the Arts Council's efforts to support the arts in Southwest Louisiana.

Bands and musicians from the local music scene and from across the state representing almost every musical genre will take the stage by storm each Friday evening. The line-up includes: Certain Satellites (alternative/new wave), Wendy Colonna (acoustic/soul), and Twangsters Union (Southern rock/country) kicking off the festival on March 16th; Bobcat (indie rock) and Grammy-nominated Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys (Cajun) on March 23rd; and Iberville High Life (blues) and City Heat (jazz/R&B) closing the festival on March 30th.

"We have an exciting opportunity to give the Lake Area a great music festival that will showcase our local and regional music as well as our local art scene," stated Matt Young, Executive Director of the Arts Council. "We are proud to work with the City of Lake Charles and our concert sponsors Isle of Capri Casino, JPMorgan Chase, and Tobacco Free Living to bring our community a music festival that can become our own JazzFest or Festival International."

The festival will be free to the public, and it will also showcase local artists, children's activities, vendors, and Lake Area food booths. Live @ the Lakefront is co-presented by the Arts Council and the City of Lake Charles and is made possible by Deep South Productions and generous sponsorships from Isle of Capri Casino Hotel, JPMorgan Chase, and Tobacco Free Living. Event partners include Townsquare Media, Gator 99.5, Coca-Cola, 107JAMZ, Cajun Radio, KISSFM, 92.9 The Lake, the Porch Coffee House & Cafe, American Press, Lake Charles Convention & Visitors Bureau, Knight Media, Southwest Daily News, the Jambalaya News, Lagniappe, Thrive Magazine, KPLC, Beverage Sales, Southwest Beverage, and Redfish Rental.

For details about Live @ the Lakefront, call the Arts Council office at 439-ARTS or visit www.artsandhumanitiesswla.org.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Friday Reading Series Presents D.B. Grady

The Arts & Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana will present a free fiction reading by Louisiana author D.B. Grady on Friday, March 2nd, 2012, at 7 p.m. at the Porch Coffee House & Café in Lake Charles. The reading is part of the First Friday Reading Series which is co-sponsored by the Council and the Porch, and it offers another reading platform for area writers and poets, both published and unpublished.

D.B. Grady, a former U.S. Army paratrooper and a veteran of Afghanistan, is a freelance writer and novelist. His debut novel, Red Planet Noir, won the 2010 Indie Book Award for Science Fiction, and his newest book The Command: Deep Inside the President’s Secret Army (co-authored by Marc Ambinder), which is now available on eBook and will be released in print in October, examines the role of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command in foreign policy and the war on terror. Grady is a correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for American Thinker, National Journal, and Real Clear World, among other periodicals and journals.

The Porch is located at 4710 Common Street in Lake Charles, and the reading will be followed by live music. For more information on D.B. Grady, visit his website at www.dbgrady.com, and for details on the First Friday Reading Series, call the Arts Council at 439-2787 or visit www.artsandhumanitiesswla.org.

Calcasieu Cinema International Screening

“The Hell of ’63,” a 2009 Dutch film generously provided by the Royal Netherlands Embassy, will be presented free at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in the auditorium of the Central School Arts and Humanities Center.  Calcasieu Cinema International, a branch of the Council for International Concerns, will present the film in partnership with McNeese State University’s Banners Cultural Series and Office of Diversity, Lake Area Psychiatry, The Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana, Common Ground/Culture Fest Louisiana, and CocaCola. 

The film, produced by Klaas and Steven de Jong, centers on the Netherland’s famed skating marathon – the Elfstedentocht – and the historical event in 1963 when unusually severe conditions resulted in unprecedented injuries  and other upsets.  This film explores the race’s impact on the lives of a few of the racers and their loved ones, as well as the after effects.  According to producer/director Steven de Jong, “This is a classic Dutch film, in which a number of things which symbolize our culture come together.”  The agony of the race and the euphoria of the few who finish the course:  “The Hell of ’63” is an action-packed “disaster” movie with a Dutch twist!

Charlotte McCallum will host a discussion afterward, and free drinks and popcorn will be served. For more information, call Corliss Badeaux, secretary of the Council for International Concerns, at 475-5310.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Little Mermaid Comes to Central School Theatre

The Children's Theatre Company presents a one-weekend only production of The Little Mermaid at Central School Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The Children's Theatre Company offers classes and programs for children ages 5-18, and these classes engage the children in all aspects of the theatre experience from costumes and makeup to lighting and scenery. With regular productions held at Central School, the Children's Theatre Company gives children the confidence and experience to pursue opportunities in acting and theatre production later in their lives.

According to the Artistic Director, Kerry A. Onxley, "This season we are thrilled to have CTC alumnus Taylor Simon as our guest director." Simon, a graduate of New York's American Musical and Dramatic Academy, has worked in off-Broadway productions such as "The Revival of Early to Bed." Simon was often seen in lead roles on the CTC stage during his high school years.

In regards to their production of The Little Mermaid, Onxley states, "This is truly a student-generated show. The students are involved in all aspects from set painting to costumes designs to publicity. It is a total learning experience for the children."

To purchase tickets or to find out more information, visit www.childrenstheatre.cc or call (337) 433-7323.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Imogene Dewey Offers Children's Art Classes

Imogene Dewey
Imogene Dewey Fine Arts will begin holding eight week-long children's art classes beginning February 11th, 2012. Classes will be held every Saturday morning from 10 am to 11:30 a.m. at Studio 347 at Central School Arts & Humanities Center. Imogene Dewey is returning to teaching children's art after seeing the need for regular art classes for talented children in the local area. She will be assisted by her daughter, Theresa Dewey. The classes will cover basic drawing techniques, introduction to watercolor painting, composition, and design of art in a fun, active way for children ages 6-12. Cost is $80 plus some material costs.

Dewey will also begin a six week series of adult watercolor classes in February for beginning and intermediate students. The adult classes will cover everything from introduction to materials to the design and execution of several paintings. Two class times will be offered, Tuesday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Adult classes are $60 each six week session.

Class sizes are limited. Call 337-477-0124 for registration information and availability.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Louisiana's Bicentennial Continues

Southwest Louisiana is steeped in folklore, pirate myths, Cajun and Creole cultures, history, and heritage, and the Arts Council and the Imperial Calcasieu Museum are working to preserve this legendary past within the verse of our Louisiana Poet Laureate, Julie Kane, in honor of the state's bicentennial. The Lake Charles Convention & Visitors Bureau is coordinating with the Museum to commission Kane to write a series of poems specifically about our own identity and its relationship to the state's expansive history.

Kane's acclaimed poetry spans across seven collections, and her work has become the voice of Louisiana through its celebratory imagery of both the raw and rapturous, the beautiful and the obscene within Louisiana herself. Her work, which appears in several prominent poetry anthologies, examines the contrast between her childhood spent up north (she was born in Massachusetts) and her later years in the South. Kane's poetry reflects an influence of the Confessional Poets as she was a student of Anne Sexton at Boston University during the time of Sexton's suicide. With her poems existing at the intersection of landscape and identity, Kane's understanding and perspective of the Louisiana heritage resides at the core of her work, and Lake Charles is proud to become the inspiration for this new series of poems.

On Saturday, May 12th, at 4 p.m., Julie Kane will give a reading of her work, including the commissioned poetry series, underneath the arms of the 375 year-old historic Sallier Oak, which was the site of the winter home of Charles Sallier -- the city's namesake. For details, visit www.artsandhumanitiesswla.org or www.visitlakecharles.org.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Poetry Out Loud!

For four years now, the Arts Council has partnered with the Louisiana Division of the Arts to present Poetry Out Loud in Southwest Louisiana. This innovative program began in 2005 when the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation came together to yield a program that has revolutionized the role of poetry in high schools. Poetry Out Loud challenges high school students to study and memorize poetry in a competitive setting while building public speaking skills, confidence, and character. Last year, the Louisiana State Champion, David Douglas, came from Washington-Marion High School in Lake Charles, and he will serve as a special guest judge at Regionals.

On Friday, February 17th, at 6 p.m., high school students representing several schools in the Lake Area will compete at the Central School Theater as part of Poetry Out Loud’s Southwest Louisiana Regional Competition. The students who compete at the Regional level have already made it through the first round of competition at their schools or local library. Poetry Out Loud challenges high school students to memorize and recite poetry on stage in a competitive setting.
From left: Justine Chiappetta of the Poetry Foundation;
David Douglas, State Champion; Dana LaFonta of
Louisiana Division of the Arts
Our judges include: Sherry Perkins, president of the Bayou Writers Group; J. Bruce Fuller, widely published poet; Jason Martinez of IberiaBank; Mindy Schwarzauer of O'Carroll Group; and David Douglas, Poetry Out Loud's 2011 Louisiana State Champion.

During this difficult budgetary time for the arts and education in Louisiana, it is important to continue supporting innovative programs such as Poetry Out Loud that produce concrete and beneficial results for both students and education. Matt Young, Executive Director of the Arts Council, stated, “The Arts Council’s camaraderie with the Louisiana Division of the Arts elevates the goals of education by giving students a solid foundation with regional and state organizations that strive to provide area residents with a strong climate for creative thinking.”

The top three students at the Regional Competition will not only win prizes but will also go on to compete with students from across Louisiana at the State Competition in Baton Rouge, and the state winner will receive a cash prize and a stipend for his or her school for the purchase of poetry books. The National Competition will be held in Washington D.C. and will award over $50,000 in prizes and stipends, including a $20,000 cash prize for the National Champion.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Weekend of Readings

Throughout Louisiana there are pockets of literary communities that act as gravitational forces for poets and writers from across the country -- Grand Coteau, New Orleans, and Lake Charles to name a few. Our literary community isn't anything new; McNeese boasts one of the top fifty creative writing MFA programs in the country which draws great literary talent and has produced a constant stream of skilled poets and writers since 1981.

This past year, Lake Charles became home to at least four reading series all running simultaneously with one another and each covering a specific reading platform. McNeese holds readings year round that invite widely published poets and writers from across the nation to come hold individual conferences with MFA students as well as public readings. Stellar Beans also holds a regular open mic night that incorporates slam and performance poetry into the mix.

Back in January 2011, the Arts Council partnered with the Porch Coffee House & Cafe to co-sponsor a monthly reading series that focuses on both unpublished and published writers in the area, and the First Friday Reading Series has become one of our favorite events to look forward to each month. In the past year we've featured both poetry and fiction readings by MFA students, PhD candidates at ULL, Darrell Bourque, our previous Louisiana Poet Laureate, the Bayou Writers Group, and local writers.

Tonight our First Friday Reading Series continues with a fiction reading by J.D. Hibbitts and Scott Thomason at the Porch. The reading is free and begins at 7 pm. Both Hibbitts and Thomason are in their final semester at McNeese's MFA program. Also this weekend, McNeese is hosting a poetry reading by Arkansas poet Greg Brownderville on Saturday at 7:30 pm in the LaJeunesse Room in the Old Ranch on campus. In order to create a supply of readings, the community must show a demand, so get out this weekend to support your literary scene!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Louisiana's Bicentennial!

Our Louisiana heritage and identity is over 200 years in the making, and 2012 marks our statehood's bicentennial birthday! The Arts Council and the Imperial Calcasieu Museum are working closely with the Lake Charles Convention & Visitors Bureau to give Southwest Louisiana a series of bicentennial events and programs throughout the year. In the next few weeks, you'll see a plethora of events that help promote our bicentennial, and we are coordinating our own to headline our Southwest Louisiana connection. Over the next few days, we'll spotlight each of our bicentennial events as well as our Lake Charles centennial celebrations.
Fred Stark
We're thrilled to announced that downtown Lake Charles will see the addition of a new public art project this spring! On the south side of the locally-operated dessert shop Sweets & Treats, local artist Fred Stark will paint a large scale bicentennial and centennial themed mural that will illustrate our own connection to Louisiana's long history. 

You may have heard that four Lake Charles landmarks will also have a reason to celebrate. After the Great Fire of 1910, which destroyed over a hundred buildings in only four hours, Lake Charles development boomed as residents came together to rebuild many of the structures that were leveled in the fire. Composed in three layers and timelines, Stark's mural will show the visual history of Louisiana from 1812 to 2012 and will include our local ties to our centennial anniversaries of Central School Arts & Humanities Center, the historic Calcasieu Parish Courthouse, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and Margaret Place Historic District.

Stark is the owner of Fred Stark Design & Illustrations, and his work, which is perhaps best known locally through the scenic designs of the Lake Charles Civic Ballet, spans across over sixteen states. The mural is set to be completed during the spring of 2012. For more information, call the Arts Council office at 439-ARTS.