On Saturday, June 27, 2015, Rob Dwyer Passed away. Sad and shocking news. Many of us saw him just the night before, at the MAF/Blues in the District event. Little did we know it would be the last time we’d see him.
He was my predecessor, and when I first arrived here in town to take over Quincy Community Theatre, Rob called me up, introduced himself, gave me the “skinny” and made me feel welcome! He found funds so I could go to a “One State Convention” and we had drinks, and I got to know the man a little better. When I took over the ED position here 18 months ago, Rob made himself available to answer any questions I had about the organization, smoothing over the transition.
While he spent 30 years or so as Executive Director of Quincy Society of Fine Arts, he made major changes and improvements to the organization, expanding partner organizations from 17 to over 60, increasing the budget, making deals, getting squeals-everything but training seals. You may think this blog entry is a bit too flip for the occasion, but my experiences with Rob were that he loved the odd and absurd, and he would like nothing better than for us to remember the bizarre side of him, the creative side, that wonderful, goofy, and sometimes over-the-line side of the man.
So, instead of singing his praises to all that will listen, I will include a few photos here, pictures I took from recent postings on his Facebook page, and will include for your entertainment. This is how I want to remember him. Funny, irreverent and just a touch colic.
Rob, you will be missed!
Now Rob, go make some art on the other side!
What to do, what to do, there are so many choices for this Midsummer Arts Faire Weekend!
Artists from all kinds of media, exhibits of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work in the new Museum on the Square, Blues in the District Friday night, a wonderful revival of a great play The Heiress at Bluff City Theatre in Hannibal, Quincy Preserves Garden Tour on Saturday, Gallery talks and Dick Brothers History video at Gallery Solaro, wonderful photo exhibit of Toni Taylor’s work at Quincy Museum….
Food, art, entertainment, friends….in my opinion, this is what makes an All-America City.
If you know someone who ever says “I’m bored,” then they aren’t familiar with Arts Quincy. If you want to volunteer to help with these events, call us and we’ll get you hooked up!
If you want more information on these and other events, go to our website’s Events page and get some details.
Now get out there and make some art!
Arts Quincy was honored this past weekend by Chaddock Children’s Foundation with the 2015 Harry and Carlene Geisler Friend of Children Award. This was in recognition of all that we do for children in our community. In reality, it is all that we and our 58 Partner Organizations and area artists do for our children. It was an honor to be the person that was the recipient of this award.
Yes, Arts Quincy provides the grants to schools to bring a teaching artist into the classroom or attend a performance or workshop. Yes, Arts Quincy provides matching grants to arts organizations to bring students into their programs. But the grants would do nothing if there were no programming to fulfill and the classroom teachers couldn’t provide a workshop if there were no area artists to execute it.
As I said, I felt honored to up there receiving this award, but without my
predecessors, without all the current and previous staffers, without all of the board members throughout the years of both Arts Quincy and our partners, none of this would be possible.
So as I look at the beautiful award given to us and place it on our wall in our office, I think of all of those who have gone before me and put up the good fight. Those who wrote the programs, and raised and provided funds, and wrote a grant for the funds, and created a workshop for students utilizing the funds…. I think of you, and I salute you. This is your award!
Last Sunday, my wife, three other singers and an accompanist performed for the Sunday Music Series at the Unitarian Church. It was titled “An Afternoon with Sondheim.” What a wonderful afternoon full of pathos, humor, great singing and wonderful music in a delightfully intimate space (with standing room only!!)
This was a concert-style performance meaning they had their music in front of them for easy reference. So some of you who may be casual patrons may ask, “that must be pretty easy to pull off…just read the music- a few rehearsals-boom, done.”
The interesting thing is there are gads of steps to get to that place. First, select the theme and musicians you want to work with, and know their singing abilities. Also making (LB W/ Jillian Wagner Miller)
sure those musicians are all available, not only for performances, but for rehearsals as well. Next, select the music for the event. Doing Sondheim, you need to have very strong musicians. Hopefully, they are self-starters and are working on their material prior to the first rehearsal, and throughout the rehearsal period. Then you have the actual rehearsals, followed by the performance.
Since my wife was the organizer for this particular event, I have access to the actual hours she put in to carry off this “simple performance.”
Over 40 hours of putting it together-researching the artists, culling through the music, typing up the program, marketing, etc.
Over 40 hours of self-rehearsals, working on stuff at home for about an hour a day for over 6 weeks.
At least 8 rehearsals total: 6 with the full group, and each singer did at least two other rehearsals with one or two others.
Remember, the final ones are long rehearsals, as they work out all the tiny details such as who stands when and who starts what (including getting your husband to come and tighten the music stands so they stop sliding down).
And then Voila- A performance! According to Tricia, after the one performance she states “a feeling of satisfaction of a job well done, but a desire to do the same piece again.” That’s how it always is. Thanks Tricia Bart, Larry Finley, Jillian Wagner Miller, Kevin Jobe and Hedy Rothfuss –And Stephen Sondheim-for a wonderful afternoon of music!
So, one of my theatre friends back on the East Coast just sent me a text about Leo Zanger, and his 100 grandchildren. Our own Quincy made the national news with that little story… Small World!
But that’s not the start or end of it, see. I’ve had this type of thing- people somehow knowing about Quincy, or being from there- happen to me often, and I’ve heard others say the same thing.
Before moving here, upon advancing in a search for a new director for Quincy Community Theatre, I was directing a show at Surflight Theatre, a professional theatre on the Jersey Shore, and one of the cast members, I recalled, was from Quincy. So we talked… Small World!
Last year, my wife and I were on a cruise in the Bahamas, and on a small side trip to St. John’s, one of the sailors casually asked “where we were from?” We replied “Quincy!” He said, “My father’s from there! I’ve been there many times!”… Small World!
Now what does any of this have to do with the arts, you might ask? Well, the city is doing something that may make it even smaller. We’ve been selected as a finalist for the prestigious All-America City. If we win, it will be our third time. A great privilege and honor, where the committee will be celebrated and feasted at the Lighting of the Bridge ceremony on August 22.
But in order to win, we have to make a presentation to the judges. That’s where the arts come in. We had Lynn Snyder and Reg Ankrom from the Historical Society help us research the script. Lois Hendricks from the Quinissippi Needle workers provide a quilt square for a community quilt, and I’ve been directing the piece, with major players involved, including our Mayor Kyle Moore, a previous Mayor, David Nuessen, Whig’s Thomas Van Ness, WGEM’s Carlos Fernandez and student representation from Chaddock (Christian Peters), Teen Reach (Brad Easton), and United Way (Abby Biswell). There are major business, medical, and education representatives from the community as well, all working to bring home the prize. And when we do, many more people will be familiar with Quincy, IL… Small World!
Yeah, I felt a little bit like Hamlet last week. See, we’re reaching out to over 3,500 people who either receive the AQ Magazine and are not a member, or people that, for whatever reason, have not renewed their membership in the past few years. All of the fundraising workshops I’ve attended and all the papers I’ve read all state that we should “reach out” to our patrons and supporters often, and in a variety of manners, and that an original signature is better than an electronic one. So I vacillated…
“an ‘E’ one looks good-
but it isn’t original.
Most people can’t even tell-
but many can, including myself!
Yeah, but just think how long it will take to write that out? Don’t you have more important things to do?
Well, I have many important things to do, but making a personal connection with our members is perhaps one of the most important things I can do!!
So, whenever I’ve had a few free minutes, I’ve been using my blue pen to work on my original signature, including during Chicago’s loss to Anaheim, but I did finish my weekend pile prior to the Mad Men finale.
Now if I could just work on my penmanship.
Get out there and make some ART!!
So, being an actor, and running theatre companies, I’ve often been in the spotlight. You know, interview shows, occasionally being spotted on the street, other actors familiar with your work.
Then I moved to Quincy. As Managing Artistic Director of QCT, I had a very public profile, and I would be more readily recognized by someone on the street, or a stranger would comment on my garden, and I’d think to myself “that person knows where I live!”
But as they say in Quincy, we know where you park your car at night.
So, it was flattering and embarrassing at the same time, when while volunteering at the box office for Mama Won’t Fly at QCT, a patron came to the window and was flabbergasted to meet me in person! He referred to my goofy segment on KHQA on Thursdays, and stated how much he enjoyed it. We shook hands multiple times, asked if I’d sign his cap and kept saying “I can’t believe it!” He loved the silly things I did for the intro segment. His wife had to remind him a couple of times, “that there were people in line behind him waiting for tickets.” As I said, I was embarrassed, but it was also pretty cool.
I’ve asked myself (and my wife) many times if I should continue that goofy practice in the intro to my segment on KHQA…after speaking with my new pal, Ralph Custar, I know that I will.
No get out there and make some ART!!
For the past 18 months, our team has been working on expanding our social media presence. We were able to grow our Facebook likes from 500 to about 1,500, a great increase.
Then, I saw that Quincy Area Visitors and Convention Bureau was doing a campaign: to get 2015 “Likes” in 2015. We decided to challenge them, to see who could get there first! The loser would get a pie in the face from Mike’s Place. The winning Executive Director would be able to smear it into the other’s kisser!
Yes, this was a great gimmick to increase our “Likes” but it became a really great opportunity for us to do good in the community as well. QAVCB was also going to give 2,015 nails to Habitat for Humanity but what do we do?
I then was inspired by Jennifer Bock-Nelson, who last year, while teaching an art workshop, noticed that not everyone had crayons, so she fund-raised to get money for crayons.
The staff at Arts Quincy decided upon buying a box of crayons for every first-grader in Adams County-public and parochial-whether we won or lost. But over the weekend, we won! We have exceeded 2,015 likes and beyond! So, we now have begun a crowdsourcing campaign on IndieGoGo in order to raise the money needed to provide this important service to area first-graders. If you’d like to help, simply click the link and donate. Click Here
I can’t tell you how excited I am to smear Holly’s pretty face with a messy pie. I also can’t wait to see a new house go up with the nails from QAVCB, or to see what incredible drawings these students will come up with using their new crayons ( we hope they will send us some of their artwork!!).
Yeah, I really love my job…now go out there and make some ART!
Well, Dogwood is here for another year, and again, I have a slight dilemma: I love the fact that the parade goes right past my house, but I always feel I should participate!
This year, I tried to see if we could get a majority of arts groups to be represented under the banner of Arts Quincy, and I was not successful, so I will try again next year.
That doesn’t mean I can lollygag around watching it from the comfort of my front porch. I am also on the Quincy #175 Committee, and there is always another person needed, so off I will go, handing candy out to the crowd. Another dilemma: The wife is out of town, so what to do with the dog?
We have an adorable Cocker Spaniel, and she just loves it when the whole town gets together to celebrate her cuteness, so I will be leading her towards Washington Park near the beginning of the parade and she can glow in the adoration thrown her way.
Unfortunately, I’ll have to ditch her in the afternoon so I can be on “Garbage Patrol”…yes, it is a glamorous life I lead. I do have an “All Access Pass,” but who will want to hug me “hello” after lifting 39 smelly containers? Another Dilemma: Will I lift more garbage cans or beer cans?
Hope to see you all out there for fun and festivities: Music, Home tours, Comedies-check out our events page for details.
What is art? Well, greater minds than I have wrestled with this burning question, but I have a specific area for this inquiry. Is food art? Well, I think it can be. I know many people quote “art is in the eye of the beholder,” but I can tell you a fry burger at a fast-food joint is not art. But in my opinion, an incredible ground sirloin grilled to perfection with Applewood smoked bacon, killer cheddar, crisp dill and a fresh-baked roll can be.
On Sunday, I attended one of Thyme Square’s farmers dinner with my wife, mother-in-law and our friends, the Dr. Robert & Jen Gervasi, and I totally experienced art.
Cream of Asparagus soup, Cured Salmon with a smear of goat cheese with fresh dill, duck confit salad with an egg poached to perfection followed off by one of the tastiest pork bellies I’ve ever tasted, served on a bed of creamy polenta with grilled asparagus. Topped of with a Cherry and almond tart. MMMMmmmmmmmm...
Another group of friends, Mark Drummond and Carol Sowers were there, and, for those who know the judge, with an incredible wine selection paired with the different courses. Being shy like I am, I groveled for a few sips of their Nectar, and was rewarded with a dram of each, which I promptly shared with my friends, and Voila! Culinary Magic. Hats off the Chef Shupp and to Bacchus, God of Wine.
Good food, good wine and great friends...now, if that’s not art, what is?