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editor Nathan Pettengill Designer/art director Shelly Bryant Chief Photographer Jason Dailey advertising representative John W. Kramer (785) 865-4091 ad designer Jenni Leiste copy editor Deron Lee contributing writers Mick Braa Becky Bridson Katherine Dinsdale Mary R. Gage Susan Kraus Maggie Lawrence Paula Naughtin Cheryl Nelsen Katy Seibel Nick Spacek Julie Tollefson Sureva Towler Barbara Waterman-Peters Liz Weslander CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS Jason Barr Lana Grove Ursula Minor general manager Bert Hull
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In 2004—seven years after the death of William S. Burroughs—
the city of Lawrence agreed to name a small, often overlooked creek on the east side of town in honor of the famous writer who adopted the city for the last years of his life. As far as monuments go, it wasn’t very monumental. As far as compromises go, it was—in retrospect—a rather grand achievement. Though William S. Burroughs was arguably the city’s most globally known resident, the writer was either way ahead of American culture or way beyond it. Either way, his legacy proved too difficult to embrace at a civic level during his life. Now, 100 years after his birth, Burroughs’ novels and his life continue to elicit strong and divided opinions. But a century is also enough time to look at Burroughs from new angles. In this issue of Lawrence Magazine, writer Julie Tollefson and photographer Jason Dailey consider Burroughs’ legacy neither from the salacious details of his personal life nor from his groundbreaking writing, but from the memories he left with a younger generation in Lawrence. True, Burroughs’ influence on Lawrencians such as artist Wayne Propst (pictured on this page) did not have the same global impact as the release of his novel Naked Lunch. But from a human, personal perspective, it had immeasurable worth. This is a consideration of William S. Burroughs as an individual, as a dinner guest, as a mentor, as a rescuer of stray cats and a dispenser of avuncular advice. Like Burroughs Creek, this legacy isn’t necessarily glamorous, but alive and far-reaching.
Lawrence Magazine is a publication of Sunflower Publishing, a division of The World Company.
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features alternate covers
Katy Seibel is a brave woman. Our fashion writer/stylist/model
had to have known that no matter how photogenic an outfit she created, her photo-shoot limelight would still run the risk of being stolen by her Lawrence bow-tie-wearing pug, magazine Igby. We wouldn’t dare say who we thought was the more stylish of the pair, but art director Shelly Bryant did tap both of them for alternate covers in this issue. See what you think, and look over our online version of the magazine for more alternate cover images.
72 | From Kitchen Zero to Beer-Bacon Hero
Jennifer Harris’ transformation to a cooking ninja didn’t require much—only a remote, mountainous country and a lot of determination.
78 | Beat-King Bill’s Lawrence Legacy
Controversial and iconoclastic throughout most his life, William S. Burroughs spent his last years quietly in Lawrence, where he is recalled as an inspiring mentor.
on the cover Lawrence Magazine commissioned artist Ursula Minor (profiled in this issue) to create this customized cover image with the beads, shells and material that she regularly uses in her artwork. We were delighted with the final image, which is even more striking in real life because of the depth and texture of the beads. See for yourself— Minor has agreed to display this work from March through May at our front office, 645 New Hampshire St.
living 14 | Bright Seasonal Garden A Mass Street cottage home shares colorful blooms each spring.
18 | Crowder Days A young schoolteacher’s first year brought her into contact with a now-lost tradition—the one-room schoolhouse.
22 | Aunt Maggie’s Hard-Nosed Advice for the Good Life in Lawrence What do you do when untimely wheat-waving strikes a marriage? Fortunately, Aunt Maggie knows just how to handle the situation.
community 24 | LM Fashion & Style Our fashion correspondent provides a full basket of ideas for a stylish spring.
26 | Contra Time The Lawrence Barn Dance Association has been hosting events for 30 years, which means it’s high time for even dance-averse writer Katherine Dinsdale to give it a twirl.
30 | LM Gallery
Three Lawrence artists transpose the wonder of natural light, color and space onto the canvas.
36 | LM Bookmarks
A sexy spy goes back in time and an ordinary man documents extraordinary times in new works by two Lawrence authors.
39 | LM Sounds Cassette revivals, choral contests and youthful hip-hop all form the mix in this season’s upcoming musical beats.
identity 43 | Hometown Heroes We all need one, and fortunately Lawrence has an abundance of them.
48 | Minor Miracles Still following her father’s choice for a career, Ursula Minor rounds out her life with art.
52 | Origin Stories Artist Judi Geer Kellas depicts the lives of pioneering women aviators, even as she breaks new ground in the art world.
56 | On the Job Lawrence lunch ladies rewrite the recipe for a much-maligned profession.
wellness 63 | LM Fit The Sporting Age For some athletes, a sport begins at mid-life.
journey 66 | The Spiritual Sister City With a little meditation in the heartland, a rural town in southeast Iowa transforms into a cultural and educational center.
in every issue in every issue
86 | Spring 2014 Event
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Not too long ago, Lawrence promoted itself as a “City of the Arts.” That tagline seems to have been dropped from the current buzz phrases, but it was never necessarily wrong … it just wasn’t the full story. The arts are not a railroad line or high-speed Google cable project that could providentially plot through a burg, bringing spending and prosperity in its wake. The arts were in Lawrence because artists were in Lawrence. As our visual-arts correspondent Mick Braa has noted, Lawrence could call itself a “City of the Arts” because it was, before that, a “City of Artists.” Each issue of Lawrence Magazine profiles several of the city’s resident artists in our “LM Gallery” section, but in this spring issue we’ve gone a bit deeper with profiles of Ursula Minor and Judi Geer Kellas. We are also introducing a new music section focusing on audio artists. The arts community is not the only important sector in Lawrence—but it is a vital force. We’re delighted to explore how it continues to grow. But let’s give credit where credit is due: “Lawrence, Kansas: City of Artists.”
14 18 22
Bright Seasonal Garden Crowder Days Aunt Maggie’s Hard-Nosed Advice for the Good Life in Lawrence
24 LM Fashion & Style 26 Contra Time 30 LM Gallery 36 LM Bookmarks 39 LM Sounds 43 Hometown Heroes 48 Minor Miracles 52 Origin Stories 56 On the Job 63 LM Fit 66 The Spiritual Sister City
de p a rt m e nts Ann Trusty’s Angel Trumpets is one of her many floral works inspired by the interaction of light and nature.
Bright Seasonal Garden A Mass Street cottage home shares colorful blooms each spring
story by Liz Weslander
photography by Jason Dailey
all it a cottage garden if you want. Most people do. But Mary and Brian Feltz say the verdant array of flowers that burst from the front yard of their yellow stucco house near the northeast corner of 23rd and Massachusetts Streets is more accurately classified as a “whatever grows” garden. “I think that the overabundance and the roses make people think of a cottage garden,” says Mary. “But if they walk through, they see that, technically, it’s not.” When Mary and Brian moved into their house, which they rent from good friends, 10 years ago, they tried to create a traditional English cottage garden in what was then a nearly bare yard. A lot of the plants, however, were not suited to the Kansas climate and did not survive. The couple then decided to go for what they describe as a “chaos reigns” theme.
“I don’t want it to look planned. I want it to look almost wild.”
“It’s pretty much just whatever grows,” says Mary. “People look out when it’s all in bloom and comment that we have so many colors here, but that’s what I like. I don’t want everything to match. I don’t want it to look planned. I want it to look almost wild.” The Feltzes, who now have two children in elementary school, say that their yard is at its prime in the spring when the peonies, lilacs and roses are in full bloom. The garden hits another stride in midsummer when the coneflowers bloom. Filling the gap between spring and midsummer is the couple’s next goal.
Bruce and Kris Barlow relax outside their home with their dog. Color and style flourish inside and outside the Barlow home.
While some plants in the Feltzes’ yard may not fit the cottage-garden theme, roses—Mary’s favorite flower and a cottage-garden-classic—are well represented by 12 different varieties scattered throughout the lot. “They are a lot of work,” says Mary. “They require pruning and deadheading, and some of them are susceptible to diseases. But I love them, so I don’t care how much work I have to put in to them.” Living at one of the busier intersections in town does mean a decent amount of noise from cars, sirens and motorcycles, but the heavy foot traffic of the location brings a lot of positive feedback on the garden. “I enjoy it when I’m out there working and people stop and tell me the yard looks nice, or ask about a certain flower,” says Mary. “We’ve had a lot of interest from people walking by, and it’s kind of fun.”
The Feltz children run through the walking paths of their home garden. Located on a busy section of Massachusetts Street, the Feltz garden is enjoyed by many passersby each spring.
Aylo Lippe returned this year for the first time to the schoolhouse where she once worked. Here, Lippe looked over photos from her time as a schoolteacher and shared them with Carolyn Micek and Todd Wyant, who live in the schoolhouse that they have renovated as their home.
Crowder Days A young schoolteacherâ€™s first year brought her into contact with a now-lost traditionâ€”the one-room schoolhouse
story by Cheryl Nelsen
photography by Jason Dailey
ixty years have passed since Aylo Lippe opened her first class at Crowder School, a one-room country school northwest of Lawrence. The building still stands at a 90-degree turn to the east on 950 Road, but it has been converted into a home, and schoolyard landmarks such as the merry-go-round have been removed. It takes Lippe’s memory to recall the landscape, with the merry-go-round sitting as a coveted piece of playground equipment where students hitched a ride when they weren’t playing tag or football—or challenging their teacher to a race. “I always played with them. Even though I had some big boys, I could outrun most of them, which made them have respect for “As I me,” Lippe says. think In addition to sprinting across the play- back, I ground, Lippe taught wonder seven different grade levels, kept the school and how I outhouse clean, drove did it.” out from Lawrence early -Aylo in the mornings to start Lippe the wood and coal furnace, monitored the children’s achievements and recited The Lord’s Prayer with them. The devotions, announcements and a few lessons would be done in one large group, but Lippe would break down the class of 12 students by grade level for most lessons. When she was ready to give a lesson to students in third grade, for example, the third-graders would get up out of their seats, which were bolted to the floor behind a desk, and move to the front of the room near the teacher’s desk. When their lesson was finished, another class would move to the front and take their place. “As I think back, I wonder how I did it. We went through all the subjects each day,” Lippe says. As a new teacher, Lippe was provided textbooks and a curriculum, but the only training she had was a three-hour methods
Home for School When Carolyn Micek bought Crowder School in 2003, she also took possession of copperhead snakes who liked the shelf of limestone rock under her property. That’s the only downside to her country life, says Micek, who now wears boots when she goes outside. Only the third owner of the school since it closed in 1956, Micek benefited from the previous owners’ installation of electrical wiring, hardwood floors and cabinets. When she married Todd Wyant in 2010, they took the remodeling to a new level. Needing a bit more space, the couple decided to build an addition. They wanted to maintain the look of the school, so the addition was built on the southwest side of the building. “When we did the addition, we wanted to really minimize anything we did to the old building,” says Wyant. “It’s such a great view as you come up the road and see the school. It still looks like the schoolhouse. We really tried to keep the look on the hill as you come up.” Other alterations included restoring the original ceiling height and removing some interior walls. The original school, built on the site in 1870, was known as Stony Lonesome, a name .Micek has adopted for her home. “It conjures up the feeling of the place,” she says. “My understanding of why they named it Stony Lonesome was because it is set farther back than other schools, and there’s a lot of rock around here.” At nearly 150 years, the building still passed its latest inspection with flying colors. “Nothing was crumbling. Everything was so solid and completely intact. These walls are just so amazing,” Micek says.
Common Memories While interviewing Aylo Lippe, I found her memories of teaching at Crowder School so vivid that I could almost hear the children laughing, a merry-go-round squeaking and a teeter-totter thudding against the ground under the force of a rambunctious rider. But, wait! That teeter-totter sound was from my memory of my grade school years at a one-room country schoolhouse called Fairview in rural Northwest Missouri. Those who have never attended a one-room school might wonder how teachers kept seven or eight grades going at the same time. I remember doing homework at my desk, and if I finished it, I would listen to what was being taught in the other classes. I could look across the aisles and see my three other siblings seated in rows by grade level. Neither Lippe nor I have memories of many discipline problems. Most of us who were in grade school in the 1950s knew if we got into trouble at school, there would be trouble for us when we got home. And home came to the school on special occasions as well. In my first grade Christmas pageant I sang a solo, but I was so shy I’m not sure anyone could hear me mumbling, “I’ve got a pain in my sawdust.” Another of my talents was displayed just as ineffectively the following year when I played a song on the piano for another school program. On our old upright piano at home I could tell where middle C was by the chip in the ivory and by the little chart above the keys, but the piano available for the school program was in better shape, with no chip. I placed my thumbs on what I thought was middle C and started off, amazed at how terrible the song sounded on a newer piano. After stumbling along for awhile, my mother could take it no longer. She walked over to the piano, lifted my hands and placed them in the correct position so I could finish the song. Although I never went on to be a singer or a pianist, and my grade school years were finished elsewhere after Fairview closed in 1958, I still remember fondly that one-room country schoolhouse and my teacher, Lillian Beggs. I’ve even come to forgive Bruce Clements for giving me a bloody nose when he bounced me off the teeter-totter. --Cheryl Nelsen
course she took after her family moved to Lawrence in early August of 1954. She says she “hurried up” to learn how to become a teacher, but she credits her memories as a student at Tabor, a one-room schoolhouse in Clay County, as the foundation for her teaching. That and dedication to her job. “I have always been a pretty hard worker, but I never worked so hard in my life than when I had that one-room country schoolhouse. I worked every night way into the night preparing lessons. It was really a big job,” Lippe says. The biggest concern Lippe remembers having about the schoolchildren was the poverty some of them faced. Two students, for example, had no plumbing at home and relied on a creek for water. This was well past the time when other homes in the area had installed water. “But it didn’t bother their learning at all,” says Lippe.
Cold weather also presented a few problems to Lippe and some students. The furnace in the basement of the school had one floor register for warm air to rise into the schoolroom. That grate was a gathering spot during cold weather for students without boots who walked to school. “They’d come across the field—a big field, maybe a mile—just in their shoes. We’d have to take their shoes off and dry them out, and then they’d sit over the heat vent,” Lippe says. In the winter and summer, the water at the school was hand-pumped from a cistern that collected rainwater or melted snow from the roof of the building. “You could see the water was full of undesirable things to drink. I don’t know why we didn’t all get sick from it,” Lippe says.
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For quality professional service for all your real estate needs After a year at Crowder, she transferred to another district and continued teaching at various locations, including 21 years in Puerto Rico. Lippe, now 81, retired in 2004 from Veritas Christian School in Lawrence. Crowder School continued for only one more year after Lippe left. It was annexed into the Lecompton school district in 1956 and was no longer in use as a school after that time. But Lippe—who returned to the building for this story for the first time since she left it—recalls the schoolhouse as a place full of memories, discoveries and the spirit of the families who lived around it. “The whole community would come out to any event that we had at the schoolhouse. I did a really big Christmas program, and they just sort of expected every month that I was going to have something for entertainment,” she says. “The schoolhouse was the center of the community’s social life.”
Photographs from Lippe’s album include views of the schoolhouse, a portrait of the students in her 1954-1955 class, and a photograph of two students on the school’s home-crafted teeter-totter.
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Aunt Maggie’s Hard-Nosed Advice for the Good Life in Lawrence
What do you do when untimely wheat-waving strikes a marriage? Fortunately, Aunt Maggie knows just how to handle the situation.
Dear Aunt Maggie, My husband has an embarrassing problem and it’s threatening to ruin our marriage. We are loyal Jayhawk basketball fans and enjoy hosting watch parties in our Rock Chalk rumpus room several times a season. (Everyone loves our guest bath with the Jayhawk toilet seat. It says “Go Team” when you lift the lid!) Our gatherings can include up to two dozen people and my spouse is always the perfect host … in the beginning. As the game goes on and more beer is consumed, he yells, jumps up and down, and high-fives anyone near him. But, that’s not the embarrassing part. Often, when the team is ahead in the second half, my husband will stand up and wave the wheat … even when there are five or more minutes left to go in the game. Sometimes, he’ll even start the Rock Chalk chant! This immediately brings the party to a standstill. Our friends will try to shush him, accusing him of jinxing the team and worse. But, he will not be dissuaded. He just waves on, urging our chagrined friends to their feet. Our parties are getting smaller and smaller, lately, and I’m convinced this is due to my husband’s inappropriate antics. I’m at my wit’s end, Aunt Maggie. Please help! Mortified in Prairie Meadows
story by Maggie Lawrence
illustration by Lana Grove
Dear Mortified in P.M., Don’t be embarrassed. Premature wheat-waving is a common problem, especially in men who have imbibed too much beer. Statistics suggest that 32 percent of Jayhawk men, ages 18-59 have experienced premature wheat-waving, at least once in their lives. That said, it appears your husband has a habitual problem, and it could be a threat to your relationship. A few ideas: Try to ease your husband’s pre-game anxiety as much as possible. Provide distractions during game days to keep his mind occupied on things besides basketball. Keep him busy with chores before tip-off. (Tell him to clean that singing toilet before the guests arrive.) If that doesn’t work, remind him that there are guidelines–much like Dr. James Naismith’s rules of basketball–for waving the wheat and the Rock Chalk Chant. According to Curtis Marsh, director of KU Info, “Waving the wheat should only be done 1) when an opposing player fouls out, and 2) when the game is over. The Rock Chalk Chant is the more subjective tradition. When is the right time to start it? We must be very safely ahead, and it is informal tradition to start no earlier than 1:30 left.” Mr. Marsh adds that, “while alumni and current students don’t always agree, that is the widely accepted standard. It is appropriate to expect watch-party etiquette to follow Fieldhouse etiquette.” Wishing you a timely Rock Chalk, Aunt Maggie
Aunt Maggie, or Maggie Lawrence, is the pen name of a fifth-generation Lawrencian who knows all of the city’s ins and outs, but often prefers the company of her prized herd of goats (themselves descended from caprine survivors of Quantrill’s Raid). She doesn’t tolerate fools, but has a heart in there, somewhere, and is always full of good advice.
Story, Styling and Modeling by Katy Seibel Photography by Jason Dailey
P i ct u r e - P e r fect P i cn i c Our fashion correspondent provides a full basket of ideas for a stylish spring
Ah, springtime! Here comes much-needed sunshine, ideal moderate temperatures and a slew of new styles to try. When warmer weather hits after a long, cold winter, I like to spend as much time as possible outside. What better way to celebrate the season than with a picturesque picnic in South Park with my pug, Igby? For my outdoor outing, I went for sunny yellow separates in clean, retro-inspired silhouettes, comfortable sandals and a fuss-free up-do tamed by a silk scarf. As you’re getting ready to venture out, consider these top trends for spring. Tips for the plein air party Put a new spin on old favorites. Pastels and floral prints are spring mainstays, but fresh interpretations of these favorites are an important part of this season’s fashion scene. Try structured, modern pieces in sweet pastel tones, and opt for dramatic, rather than delicate, floral prints. Make it pop. If subtlety is not your cup of tea, pile on bold primary colors and painterly prints for a museum-worthy look. You’ll be a walking work of art! Be the cream of the crop. Croptops are back in a big way, but if the thought of a bare midriff
gives you shivers, pair yours with a high-waisted skirt or trousers for minimal skin exposure and maximum style. A cropped jacket is a trendy transitional piece that’s perfect to have on hand for brisk breezes. Go global. Spice up your style with eclectic international influences. Try a tribal print scarf or a fun fringed accessory for a bohemian feel. Get down to business. Variations on that old office favorite, the collared shirt, popped up all over the spring runways. From contrast collars to blousey silhouettes, there’s something for everyone. Find your favorite,
and pair it with jeans for a casual weekend look. For extra fashion cred, button it up all the way.
looking feminine without feeling fussy.
Be a good sport. Score style points with athletic-inspired items. Dress up your sweatpants with a blouse and jewels, select sneakers over stilettos, or try fashion-forward pieces in sporty fabrics.
Complete the look. If you’re packing for your own spring picnic, don’t forget the most important accessories: a cute and cozy blanket, a charming basket filled with delicious bites, a good book to read and your favorite furry friend.
Take your look to new lengths. Set aside the winter tights and hold off on the short shorts of summer. Midi skirts that hit between the knee and ankle are of-the-moment and perfectly suited to spring’s in-between temperatures. A full, highwaisted midi skirt will have you
If you think keeping up with the latest trends is no picnic, just remember all the possibilities spring has to offer. Whether you favor comfort and simplicity or daring statement pieces, you’re sure to discover that chic springtime style is actually a walk in the park!
Contra Time The Lawrence Barn Dance Association has been hosting events for 30 years, which means itâ€™s high time for even dance-averse writer Katherine Dinsdale to give it a twirl
story by Katherine Dinsdale
photography by Jason Dailey
o one thing every day that scares you.” This advice for the good life, attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, came to mind on a recent Saturday night when I sweet-talked My Most Significant Other, Bob; my BFF from high school, Alice; and her husband, Tony, into joining me for an evening of contra dancing in the gym at New York Elementary School. “It’ll be great: an $8 per-person night on the town with live music and crazy fun dancing. It’s the reel deal,” I crowed (puns are our love language). I may have said something about tripping the light fantastic, too, but that would have been unintended foreshadowing. “It’s accessible, aerobic, joyful and playful. Just come,” a contra-nista friend had lobbied. “You can do it if you know right from left and can count to eight.” “Well,” Bob said, “Alice can do that. And you can, too, with help. Let’s go.”
Three Decades and Still Spinning Members of the Lawrence Barn Dance Association have been doing their thing, do-si-do-ing, twirling and allemande-ing, since 1982, when University of Kansas students—among them current Lawrence Barn Dance board member Brad Levy, as well as former longtime caller and past Lawrence Mayor Mike Rundle—organized a group of students to dance. In addition to the regular Saturday night dances suitable for beginners, the group offers monthly dances—called Bloo Moon Dances—reserved for more advanced dancers. For more information, tutorial videos and entry costs, go online at www.lawrencebarndance.org or call (785) 749-1356.
And so we four filed into the gym. The caller for the evening, Lisa Harris, welcomed us for the free lesson always offered before the Lawrence Barn Dance Association’s third-Saturday contra dances. She gave us a brief introduction to the form, which is descended from the traditions of English and French country dancing. “Contra,” we were told, doesn’t mean disagreeable, as in contrary—which we four could have done really well. “Contra” means “opposite” because couples face each other in lines or squares. The Lawrence events welcome both single dancers and couples to their lines, though couples should lighten up and enjoy a whole line of partners throughout the evening. We started slowly, joining in our lesson with two lines of eight to 10 other newbies practicing turns and promenades, and my personal fave, gypsies: “Just make deep and constant eye contact as you circle your partner,” Harris explained. In case you’ve never gypsied a stranger, it’s a pretty effective icebreaker. The focused eye contact is useful as well, I learned, to stave off nausea when the twirling gets intense. I was happy as the night unfurled to have a series
Contra Calling of partners, relieved that my lack of grace wouldn’t frustrate the same person throughout the night. I needn’t have worried. The welcoming and encouraging twirlers included ages from high school up, a poet, a banker, a real estate agent, an ex-Navy guy and about 60 other diverse townies, gownies and none-of-the-aboves. Lawrence Barn Dance board member Kathy Nace told me about the first time she joined the mix of dancers. That was 17 years ago, when she and husband Mark brought their 2-monthold and 13-year-old daughters to their first dance. From the beginning, the family was hooked, Kathy said, and she and her older daughter, Jessica, found a place to dance nearly every weekend throughout the next year. Those dances were a great place for a self-conscious young girl, Kathy remembered. “One particular gentleman with three sons took a special liking to Jessica,” Kathy said. “He treated her like a little princess and got her out on the dance floor.” Now grown up, Jessica Nace Nicholson serves on the board and helps organize dances for the group. And her mother is still enjoying the dances as well. “Imagine how you‘ll feel when person after person smiles at you,” Kathy said. “And because the steps are all based on walking, it’s easy for those who are not coordinated.” Kathy paused, knowing she had my number, and then went on. “You don’t have to talk. And if you mess up, no one will behead you.” What a relief. It was true. It was all about community and the joy of the good tunes from that night’s band, Spencer and the Rain. We had a blast. And as it turned out, Tony and Alice were dazzling in their dance dexterity. Bob held his own as well, twirling down the line like some Footloose phenom. “A contra dance is like an amusement park ride we make for ourselves,” an unidentified contra dancer said. I count my first evening at New York School as one fine roller coaster, and a small but heartfelt check on my widening spreadsheet of scary things done.
Lisa Harris, a writer and editor at the University of Kansas’ Transportation Center by day, is often a contra dance caller by night. She learned to call soon after she began dancing with the Lawrence group and asked an experienced caller to suggest a dance she might teach in order to instruct novices. As she was calling out the moves to the new dancers, she says she realized, “Oh, shoot. I could just as well be a caller.” A professional calling teacher taught her the basics and now Harris is in demand, calling in communities across the country, whether on business trips or on jaunts she takes with various bands. Her honorariums have been enough to pay her travel costs to Tampa, Honolulu, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Nashville and Birmingham; and with experience she’s learned to manage all the many details of a dance, including various skill levels of the dancers, sound systems good and bad, and music that ranges from Irish folk to old-time Appalachian porch music, rock and roll, techno and even some Dixieland and klezmer tunes. Regardless of the style of music, Harris’ callings are dictated by the dance tunes conforming to 64 beats in four phrases of 16 beats each, for a standard contra sound. Her calls for each evening’s mix are planned carefully and accordingly. Sometimes the unexpected makes her flex. “Once I prepared a draft of a program, and maybe 20 international students showed up. It was obvious they didn’t understand English very well, and I had to rebuild the program with some easily repeatable moves. They had a ball.” Once in a while Harris says she has to talk to an over-exuberant male about twirling small women clear off the floor; but considering how rigorous the dancing gets, she says she encounters very few real troubles or injuries. “People think there is a lot of fancy footwork involved, but it really isn’t too fancy,” explains Harris. “The purpose is to have fun and not take yourself too seriously. Smile a lot and people will help you.” Good call.
“Where my child’s smile is concerned, I want the best. Any father would feel the same.” — Jason, 38
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I Seeing It! Three Lawrence artists transpose the wonder of natural light, color and space onto the canvas
rresistible sensations of reflected colors and light-infused atmosphere combine to pull us through a window, picture frame or a remembered place outside of ourselves. Re-creating this â€œpullâ€? is the goal of the nature, landscape or floral painter. John Hulsey, Ann Trusty and Barbara Solberg are lifelong artists committed to seeing and painting the outdoor environment. They strive to re-create the awe that made them stop and explore how everything reflects and connects within shared light and space. These artists offer illusions of specific places and times that their paintings beg viewers to enter. The Hulsey-Trusty Studios John Hulsey and Ann Trusty have both painted outdoors as long as they can remember. Though they studied at separate times both at the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Kansas, they somehow met, married and have gone on to inspire, collaborate, critique, study, travel and paint together in a successful partnership for more than 40 years. For a long time, their studio along the Hudson River in an old converted train station served as a base for traveling, painting on-site, and art-trekking in New England, Canada and the East Coast. Even-
Detail from After the Rain by John Hulsey
lawrence magazine gallery
story by Mick Braa
tually the pair realized that a permanent return to the Midwest offered the personal space they needed. In 1990, they settled in a hilly wooded acreage just east of Lawrence, where they designed the main floor of their studio-home as connected workspaces with lots of natural light, high ceilings and areas to discuss their works in progress. Their current works simultaneously complement and contrast each other. Ann’s more intimate floraland-foliage compositions seem as if they could have been abstracted from some corner of John’s often airy, expansive landscapes. Their close senses of natural order, atmospheric depth and attention to subtle detail have also led to commissions as landscape designers for patrons who would like a bit of awe and invisible order in their own backyards. “For me, lately, it’s been mostly about our own place and building our garden here and now, and the flowers and what we see around here,” Ann says as she looks up at a new canvas where leafy shapes emerge out of a shadowy background. “And noticing the light and what it’s doing is a normal topic of discussion around here.” Ann, who has a degree in fiber design, started her professional career in textiles as a pioneering quilt artist, even though her mother and grandmother
were painters. She grew up painting outdoors and sees a definite evolution back towards mostly painting. “I edged away from sort of being restricted by the ‘grid’—that’s what weaving forces you into. My quilts are more loose and free in design, with a lot of forms and color from nature, which led me back to painting.” “We talk and write a lot about perception and the process of looking at and really seeing things,” says John. “It’s about capturing the light and color and space—an illusion we don’t want people to think about,” he adds. “If you’re good at what you do they won’t see the composition, design and technical devices that make it work—they’re invisible. But you have to be able to see it all first.”
“Noticing the light and what it’s doing is a normal topic of discussion around here.”
John started his professional career in illustration, and his work has appeared in many publications, including a portrait of Margaret Thatcher on the cover of Time magazine. His paintings are included in many private and corporate collections. John usually does multiple drawings and small studies on-site because he says the eye sees the color, light and depth so much better than a camera. On a commission, he may offer a variety of views from which patrons choose the finished studio works. “I do a lot of preparatory work that isn’t really seen,” says John. “I don’t do much trial and error. I try to get it all worked out before I start painting the finished piece; then I can really focus on the light and color and composition. I need to get it all right at the same time. And in the end, it has to communicate, not so much to myself, but to others.” Barbara Solberg “Why have I done so many moon pieces?” Barbara Solberg stops to ask herself. “We’ve had men on the moon and know it’s just a big hunk of rock, but there’s something more that affects us.” Barbara Solberg still uses the moon in her landscape works and still studies it as it comes up through the trees surrounding her home and studio. She and her husband, Tom Schmiedeler, have found their place on a wooded hilltop overlooking the Kansas River west of Lecompton. Tom is a geographer and an accomplished photographer who shares Barbara’s need to be closer to nature.
The work of John Hulsey and Ann Trusty includes, from top: Tender Moment II (Hulsey), Peony Bouquet (Trusty) and Peace on the River (Hulsey).
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“It’s a little isolated out here, but there is something different about living in nature, in the woods—there’s so much to see and it’s all been here for ages,” Barbara says. “Growing up in Salina, I’ve always appreciated the Kansas landscape and painted it to keep the Colorado mountains at bay.” Known mostly for landscape works in pastels, Barbara decided to pursue academics by completing her art degree at KU in her late 40s. She has been drawing, painting and teaching art ever since. Her life-drawing and mixed-media courses as a student provided both a foundation in traditional painting skills and the courage to frequently get out of the box and loosen up her style, in which the strokes, smears and color sensations upstage the actual landscape subjects. Her mixed-media works are often collaged, stitched, abstracted and adorned with found objects to force a closer look at the colors and textures of nature in a less pictorial form. “I always loved art history and life-drawing, though I don’t use them too much. They’re still there, and I do some self-portraits and still-life. So, I keep learning and struggling. I mostly work with pastels, but sometimes I really miss handling a brush and paint.” Discovering up close how Cézanne painted was a big influence on Barbara. She lived for a time in England and visited the Courtauld Gallery in London to study the postimpressionist master’s paintings. “Oh man, it was a turning point! And then, years later, a French friend at KU said we had to go see where Cézanne lived. So off we went to Provence, France. We went to see the house-studio, but it wasn’t open yet, so she took me out to ‘artist’s point’ for our picnic lunch on some big flat rocks over through the trees. When I looked up…. Wow! I was where Cézanne painted Mont Sainte-Victoire—I did several quick sketches and asked myself if I had the courage to paint it myself.” Barbara is also a follower of Robert Henri, whose book The Art Spirit serves as her dog-eared nuts-and-bolts guidebook to the spirit and discipline needed by all artists. Her other constant companions are a hand-covered sketchbook filled with her drawings and notes, as well as the book that she happens to be reading. “I’m a voracious reader of novels and lots of art books,” says Barbara. “They expose you to the way other people think, see and describe and remember things in different ways than you do—like their own perspective on where they are. When I teach, I’m really trying to get the student to slow down and see for themselves.”
Barbara Solberg’s work includes, clockwise from left: Detail from Late Summer Evening (pastel), Quiet Season (mixed media), Standing Pears (pastel) and Cezanne’s Mountain (pastel).
Pam Eglinski Time is running out for Pam Eglinski’s sexy, knifewielding, high-heeled spy. Eglinski introduced heroine Catalina Syrah, a former CIA agent turned sleuth, in her 2012 novel Return of the French Blue, as Syrah pursued missing ancestral diamonds on the sun-drenched coast of the French Riviera. “I wanted a novel that had spies, lovers, diamonds and real villains,” Eglinski says of that debut novel. In the follow-up, She Rides with Genghis Khan (2013), Syrah rode through the colorful history of Mongolia as she crossed the ancient Silk Road in search of another famous lost jewel. Integrating exotic settings into the writing process is part of the lure of travel for Eglinski. “I wanted to place the first novel in Paris and Nice, where we’ve traveled quite a bit,” she says of the locations she scouted with her husband. “I pull a lot of things into the novel that would tantalize readers and make them think ‘Oh, I want to go there.’” A trip to Mongolia to visit her brother and his wife, a Mongolian politician, enriched the details and setting for the second book. Most recently, a three-week excursion to China consolidated the story for the third book in the series, When the Eunuchs Ruled, a time-traveling adventure set at the height of the Ming dynasty. Look for it late in 2014. When Eglinski isn’t putting her main character in harm’s way, she’s often working on more personal themes. Eglinski’s Mother’s Red Fingernail Polish (2012) and Father’s Fried Egg Sandwiches (2013) are collections of biographical short stories and essays. To keep up this rigorous schedule, she relies on CreateSpace, a digital publishing arm of Amazon, and the Write Brain Trust, her writing group. “Since we founded our writing group in February of 2012, we’ve helped each other publish almost 30 books,” Eglinski says. “A lot of them were just waiting. They needed critiquing, editing and uploading. It was really
story by Mary R. Gage
A sexy spy goes back in time and an ordinary man documents extraordinary times in new works by two Lawrence authors
everyone in the group helping everyone else.” Her published works are available online and at The Raven and Hastings in Lawrence. Chad Lawhorn In June of 2013, Lawrence Journal-World writer Chad Lawhorn was notified that there was someone to see him at the front desk. “In my business,” says Lawhorn, “that’s not always good news. Sometimes it means someone who wants to yell at you about a story you wrote.” In this instance, it was someone who had a story of her own—a story that led to a book Lawhorn published just a few months later. The visitor was Carol Graham, longtime volunteer at the Watkins Museum of History. In 1997, Graham and fellow volunteers compiled the correspondence of one of Lawrence’s earliest settlers, Edward Fitch. Sent mostly to his parents back in Massachusetts, the letters provide a firsthand account of the hardscrabble life on the frontier, made more precarious by the violence and uncertainty of living in a settlement that was on the front lines of border unrest and ultimately, civil war.
Graham was concerned because the small book had long been out of print, and she thought it was important to reintroduce it to Lawrence for the sesquicentennial of Quantrill’s raid in August of 2013. Lawhorn was intrigued. He read the letters and agreed they were not only interesting, but relevant to the community. “The letters give us a very authentic picture of life in Lawrence in its very early days and an idea of the struggle that folks had,” says Lawhorn. “This town really was founded on a conviction that slavery should be abolished and there really were people like Edward who were just ordinary people who came and did extraordinary things in the name of that cause.” Fortunately, volunteers at Watkins had painstakingly transcribed the letters into digital form, so Lawhorn was able to edit the material and create a new publication from the Finch letters. Postmarked: Bleeding Kansas was published in September 2013 and is available at Watkins Museum of History, The Raven, Hastings, Lawrence Memorial Hospital Gift Shop and online.
SHORT TAKES The Lawrence Public Library is shuffling the community read-along calendar this year. Read Across Lawrence moves from fall to early spring, and Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping is the book to read. The program runs to March 6, when Robinson makes an appearance at Plymouth Congregational Church. The Lawrence Arts Center is commemorating the centennial of writer William S. Burroughs with an exhibit of his work running until March 2. A literary icon by the time he settled in Lawrence in 1982, Burroughs spent his final years creating visual art. Films, lectures and performances at the Arts Center will accompany the exhibit. The Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas winds up its annual free public lecture series with April 24 and 25 talks by writer Jeffrey Toobin. The New Yorker staff writer and television news legal analyst has penned books covering modern legal stories such as the O.J. Simpson trial and President Barack Obama’s relationship with the U.S. Supreme Court.
photography by Jason Dailey
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Cassette revivals, choral contests and youthful hiphop all form the mix in this season’s upcoming musical beats
They call them— “cassettes” While the vinyl revival has been going strong and receiving an astonishing amount of press, it seems that the cassette-tape revival still lurks underground. But in Lawrence alone, there are two tape labels: Whatever Forever and the newer kid on the block, 808 New York Tapes. “The original idea was just to do bands in or related to Lawrence for people in Lawrence to listen to at cheap prices,” says Franklin Fantini, who founded 808 New York Tapes in early 2012. “My first release was the Shamans’ Carbon Dating tape. My buddies Braden Young, Jim Piller, and Chris Demby were in this awesome band a while ago that I loved, and they never really got any exposure. I created the label to specifically release this tape.” Now with recordings by local luminaries such as Monzie Leo and Y(our) Fri(end), Fantini is receiving requests from as far as Sweden. Also on the docket is a compilation of two-minute-or-less songs entitled The Sweetest Syrup Draws the Nastiest Flies, all sourced from Reddit’s /r/cassetteculture forum. The online cassette community has been Fantini’s strongest supporter. “I tend to sell more on the Internet, which is the new scene for any sort of underground music. And I’m willing to spread it however it spreads,” he says. “The cassette community is huge and spread out. It’s everywhere.”
story by Nick Spacek
photography by Jason Dailey
Encore leads to Showtime! … The annual spring high school pops concert in Lawrence has undergone quite a few changes since it debuted 40 years ago as Pop Hop. Somewhere in the mid-’80s, it became Showtime! Along the way, it birthed a sister production across town at Free State High, aptly named Encore. In a delightful bit of synchronicity, Free State choral director Hilary Morton is a graduate of Lawrence High, and participated in Showtime! as a student. Across town, Lawrence High’s choral director, Dwayne Dunn, is preparing for his second year of leading the LHS side of the show. No matter the school, it seems the students power this machine. “They pick their music, pick their groups, figure out harmonies, choreography, costumes, etc.” says Morton. Dunn sees the same commitment. “Some of these kids have a particular act in mind, and they’ll work 2-3 years,” he adds. While Encore doesn’t take place until the end of March, and Showtime! until the end of April, auditions happen shortly after winter break, and then preparation begins in earnest amid the backdrop of a full school year. “Just the way the calendar falls, the Saturday of our run is always [the] state solo and ensemble [festival] down in Emporia,” says Dunn. “That’s just the sort of thing that goes on simultaneously, and it’s quite a challenge for the kids.” Some students have to make the choice as to whether they’re willing to have two long nights of performance, get up at 5:00 a.m., and make the trek south to Emporia, knowing there’s one more night of Showtime! But the long nights and hard work aren’t without reward. Families, friends and community turn out in a big way. Morton relates a story about the Friday performance during last spring’s Encore that encapsulates the response to these shows: “At the exact time KU played Michigan, we [had] an almost full house. KU went into overtime the same time we hit intermission. Everyone poured into the commons, gathered around a small screen, watched KU lose, then went back into the auditorium, yelling and screaming for the start of the second act. There will always be an audience for these shows, and for that, we are truly grateful.”
Hip-Hop age barriers drop In a college town like Lawrence, live music is a constant presence. However, for those wanting to see live music, but too young to go to bars, catching talent–especially hip-hop–is difficult. Bars want to capture the drinking dollars, and the willingness to open up venues to a crowd of which the majority will be sporting X’d up hands isn’t always there. Martinez Hillard is looking to change all of that with special all-age events called “lowercase KANSAS.” “In Lawrence and a number of surrounding cities there is a really active base of young people, both fans and artists alike, who are more enthusiastic than ever about rap music and hip-hop culture,” says Hillard, who performs hip-hop as Ebony Tusks, and is part of Lawrence indie quartet Cowboy Indian Bear. With shows approximately every six weeks at The Bottleneck, and regular appearances by local and regional performers, lowercase KANSAS aims to establish direct connections between local performers with young audiences. Rob Schulte, booking coordinator and manager at The Bottleneck, feels the club has a lot to gain from the partnership. “Ultimately, you want your business to still appeal to music lovers, and one day they will be 21. I’d say that, really, the incentive is to keep live music alive.” “It’s always fun to have a conversation with an artist that you admire; it’s equally fulfilling to get kudos from someone who enjoys your art,” says Hillard. “The closer you get to someone, the more you begin to see yourself reflected in them. We’re making an investment in ourselves as much as the person opposite us. That’s the heart of community.”
lowercase KANSAS event organizers: Martinez Hillard, Rob Schulte and Daniel Smith
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Hometown Heroes We all need one, and fortunately Lawrence has an abundance of them
story by Liz Weslander
photography by Jason Dailey
Big Green Family The Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a community tradition known for its generous support of children’s organizations. It is also a 15-year tradition for Kevin and Sarah Kelly’s family, going back to Kevin riding the Johnny’s Tavern float in the 1988 inaugural parade. In 2004, Sarah helped manage the parade line via golf cart while nine-months pregnant. Now they are joined by 9-year-old Kaden and 2-year-old Katelyn. Sarah Kelly talks about what the parade means to them. It’s all about giving back to Lawrence families. Kevin says he does the parade committee because he can make a difference in our community—and the meetings are held at bars, so he can help out and drink beer. For the 2012 parade, Katelyn was on the trailer sitting in her high chair, which was decorated like an Irish Princess throne. At the end of the parade, we had cupcakes and found out she won first place in the family category! Our 2013 theme was “Katelyn Caught a Leprechaun.” We decorated the trailer with balloons, rainbows, a big pot of gold, and a wire cage with a leprechaun inside. Kaden was dressed as the leprechaun with a red beard, tall green hat, shamrock gloves and a little green tuxedo. He played the role well and held on to the sides of the cage, looking determined to escape. Katelyn was born on St. Patrick’s Day in 2011, and we are planning on having Katelyn’s birthday party during the parade again in 2014. I’m pretty sure Katelyn believes the St. Patty’s Day Parade is all for her. She likes Minnie Mouse, so I thought that it would be fun to have a Mickey/Minniethemed parade float. Look for ears!
Ms. Rock Chalk Dedicated KU basketball fans are a dime a dozen around here–if you’re talking about the men’s team. Fans of the KU women’s basketball team, on the other hand, are a more uncommon, some might say more dedicated, bunch. Catherine Grosdidier, an eighth-grader at Eudora Middle School, has been cheering for the Lady Jayhawk squad since she attended her first game in Allen Fieldhouse at age 6. She continues to attend every home game that her busy schedule—one that includes playing basketball and volleyball for her school team, serving as student-council president, and staying active in her church—will allow. She tells why she’s sticking with this year’s squad to the end. The women’s games are more laidback than men’s games–which are crazy. Even though there’s not that big of a crowd at the women’s games, you still get the energy from the players, and the crowd gets energy from watching them. I like the team’s style and how they run the ball. And it’s fun seeing how they’ve changed over the years. My all-time favorite player is Angel Goodrich. She came back after an injury. She did many great things for KU, and will continue to do great things in the WNBA. I would tell people who are considering going to a game that the team will surprise you. It will be a game of defense, and it will be an exciting game to watch. I would also tell them to not stop believing: Every team has their downfalls, but that doesn’t mean they should stop believing in them.
Book Friend Lawrence book-lovers know that the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library biannual book sale is the local event for stocking up on reading material. The nonprofit uses the money raised at its book sales to promote literacy by providing funds for library programs such as Read Across Lawrence, the summer reading program, author visits, and Book Club in a Bag. As booksale coordinator, Ruth DeWitt works diligently with volunteers to promote a love of reading in the community. Here, she talks about why she volunteers and what she hopes to achieveâ€” and how she hopes to get the program back on track after a bedbug contamination closed down the fall event. We have been working hard to revise our donations guidelines, to train volunteers to visually inspect our books, and to develop a system of containment. I think the Lawrence Public Library is a terrific place. When we first moved to Lawrence, I brought my youngest son here for story times and just fell in love with all the library had to offer. As for the Friends specifically, I have been so fortunate to meet and work with many terrific, inspiring, kind, funny, intelligent and of course, well-read volunteers. Itâ€™s a flexible place to volunteer, and it is my hope that every volunteer with FLPL feels appreciated for all they give to the organization. Most volunteers start out with us because they love books, but it turns into a lot more. One thing unites us all: We are all here to support the library and make it as strong as possible. (Interviews condensed and edited for space. )
â€œI was always asking my parents for latch-hook rug kits, string-art kits, wood-burning sets. They always made sure I had the supplies I needed.â€?
Minor Miracles Still following her father’s choice for a career, Ursula Minor rounds out her life with art
StarPower Name Wherever she goes, Ursula Minor is accustomed to people chuckling about the “star power” her name commands. “Once at a gallery where I had some work on display, I overheard some women saying, ‘Well, I understand she wanted to be a star, but surely she could have done better than that in picking a name.’” Ursa minor, literally “smaller bear” in Latin, is the constellation known as the Little Dipper. Ursula says it was nothing more than coincidence that she fell in love with James Minor and traded her maiden name, Barnes, for Minor. “It has worked out really perfectly,” she says. On multiple levels, we can presume.
ead by bead, Ursula Minor’s art comes together. In a rainbow of colors, shade and swirl, the layer of beads adds humor, depth and crazy serendipity to a variety of forms: a hobbyhorse, a shoe or a ukulele. The items are often recycled or reclaimed and become, with Ursula’s creative touch, objects of interest and beauty with their own voice. “Stop and see what I have to say,” says Shelly, a mannequin head plastered in a dense finery made of beads and shells. “I have a story to tell, of places I’ve been, shores I’ve known. Come on, hurrying fool. Stop. And see.” What a treat to heed this call to notice, to rejoice for an hour in a neat and tidy studio of beads, well-shaped odds and ends, and art in the making. “I like to work on my projects at least 12 hours a week. I like to have my hands busy while watching TV or whatever,” Minor says. Her art helps her unwind after day’s work at Honeywell in Olathe, where the emphasis is on precise placement rather than whimsy and creative juxtapositions. A day at Honeywell ends when Minor literally unplugs her lab coat from the grounding lines that protect the products from excessive static electricity. Minor assembles anti-collision devices for aircraft—a job that airline travelers might thank her for doing well. Her work at Honeywell began 37 years ago, a week after her father, James Barnes, warned his middle child, a daughter wedged between three brothers and three sisters, that she had two choices now that she’d graduated from high school: Go to college or get a job. story by Katherine Dinsdale
Minor says that when she demonstrated to her father an unacceptable third choice—sleeping in, day after day, for a full and unproductive week after graduation—he woke her early one morning, put her in the family car, and announced that this was the day she would find a job. Honeywell, which was then King Radio, fit Dad’s bill as gainful employment, and the company has written Minor’s paychecks, and later those of her husband, James Minor, ever since. But she’s continued with her art. After all, Ursula Minor is a crafty woman grown from a crafty child. “I was always asking my parents for latch-hook rug kits, string-art kits, wood-burning sets,” she says. “They always made sure I had the supplies I needed.” Now Minor gets encouragement from the creative camaraderie she finds with artist groups sponsored by Lawrence Creates Makerspace. “For about $20 a month, I get a key to the building and access to studio space anytime—morning, noon or night. I got involved about two years ago, and the creative atmosphere has really helped me take off as an artist.” One benefit of Minor’s involvement has been opportunities to show her work in the regular Downtown Lawrence Final Friday Art Parties. Minor had a future Final Friday arts competition in mind as she planned to festively festoon a vintage (but spring-less and, thus, no longer rocking) Wonder Horse she purchased for $14 at a Goodwill store. A variety of old jewelry chains fashioned a convincingly flowing mane and tail. Minor beaded hooves, nostrils and eyes in glossy black. The rest of the equine will sport “a range
photography by Jason Dailey
of colorful non-horse” tones, as well as some gold, she says. “I want the colors dripping like candle wax,” she says. When one large retail store closed in Lawrence, a fleet of plastic feet forms were destined for the trash. Minor claimed one of the sock modelers to create Foot Fetish, with a beaded jester stripe and colorful polka dots. She applies the beads in sections, smoothing and patting out small spheres, pushing them together one small section at a time until each of the tiny onesixteenth-inch beads lies flat. “The circles are tedious,” she says. It doesn’t bother Minor when children and adults surrender to their urge to touch her works of art. “‘Go ahead and touch it,’ I tell kids and adults. We all need to touch it. I get that,” she says. “And besides, it’s all really securely puttogether with $1 worth of nontoxic tacky glue.” Finding the right eyes for a new piece of art is the first step Minor takes with a new seed bead project. Her Brown-Eyed Girl is named for the brown glass eyes she found for sale online. An heirloom bracelet cut in half provides perfectly shaped lips for the copper and black diva. Her
works sell for anywhere from $35 to $800, Minor says. “My daughter tells me I need to charge more for my art, but it kills me. People enjoy seeing my work, and I love talking to the people about it. It’s the most fun I have.” For Minor, art is also closely connected to her life in Lawrence. She is a board member of the Lawrence Public Library and is president of the local chapter of the NAACP. Her mother and father were raised in Lawrence, and much of her extended family has called Lawrence home since the early 1900s. “The only way to make a community better is to work to make it better. Even when my kids were little, I would drag them to help with whatever I was doing. We painted the Drop-In Center. We served at LINK.” She regularly brings in beads and craft projects at elementary schools and donates as many of her pieces as she can to auctions to raise money for nonprofits. “I am in this community,” she says. “This is where I live. It may sound hokey, but kids are our future. You never know what will happen if I can inspire a child with an art project.”
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Family Legacy Like his daughter, Ursula Minor’s father James Barnes is an artist, too—that is, if you believe that one who is once an artist is always an artist. Born in Lawrence in 1933, Barnes liked to draw, make jewelry and work with clay and wood during junior high and high school. Then, life interrupted, fast and furious. Barnes quit high school, got married, got a job and soon found himself patriarch to a family with seven children. Barnes found time to go back to high school and get his diploma, even though he’d already earned his GED while in the Army. “I knew I’d made a mistake when I quit school. I always wanted a diploma,” he says. The achievement took two years of night school. Barnes drove 25 miles from work to school and then back to work during 4 p.m.-to-midnight shifts at the DuPont cellophane plant near Topeka, where he worked for 30 years. Today, Barnes holds court in an overstuffed armchair in a parlor full
of family memorabilia and photos, a patient grandfather clock tick-tocking in the background. He’s lived in his home on Michigan Street since 1964. His grandparents and great grandparents, as well as those of his wife, Jane Barnes, who passed away early last year, lived in Lawrence. Some of the Barnes’ family stories were collected during the Lawrence Douglas County African American Oral History project, a community-wide effort archived online. “My great-great-grandmother was born a slave,” Barnes says. “I was about 12 years old when she died in Topeka at more than 100 years of age.” Barnes could tell many more stories about how hard it used to be to be black in Lawrence. He attended an all-black grade school at a time when he could buy takeout meals at many restaurants but had
to go elsewhere to eat. Because of his black skin, he could not shop in Weaver’s. He could sit in the balcony at the Varsity Theater downtown, but couldn’t enter the Granada. Jobs were plentiful, he says, but the sports teams he was allowed to join in high school were limited by his race. Through this, James Barnes kept busy in life, refocusing his art in a different form over the years. After all, seven children, wellraised, makes for an impressive legacy. Each of Barnes’ children lives in the area; only one lives outside of Lawrence, in Topeka. Each has worked 30 years or more with the same business, including stints at Hallmark, Honeywell and the City of Lawrence. Every Sunday, many of them gather at their dad’s house for lunch. Barnes cooks the main dish and relies on his daughter, Ursula, to bring dessert, “because I don’t mess with desserts,” he says.
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Origin Stories Artist Judi Geer Kellas depicts the lives of pioneering women aviators, even as she breaks new ground in the art world
Geer Kellas’ portraits are based on hours of research, corret’s about inspiring people—particularly young women and girls—to look back in history not only spondence and meetings with the legends or their living relatives. at what their fathers did, but what their mothers One of these came from a sit-down with the daughter of Louise did as well,” is one way that artist Judi Geer Kellas McPhetridge Thaden, a famous 1930s derby pilot; she related a describes the dozens of paintings, silverpoints and revealing encounter between her mother and Beech. “She remembered flying into Wichita with her mother, other works in her signature series, “Women in Aviation.” Geer Kellas’ enthusiasm and dedication to this work are infec- and Mrs. Beech wanted to know if Louise was going to fly in an tious, as she relates the history and adventures of women deter- upcoming competition open to women. Thaden said, ‘I don’t have a plane,’ and Beech answered: mined to be successful in the field. ‘Now you do.’” Strength, courage and a dream Geer Kellas’ portrait of Beech were basic requirements for any “It’s about inspiring reflects a caring but businesspilot, especially in the early days. people, particularly savvy woman who emerged from “Pilots flew in open cockpits, stories, anecdotes and the historiexposed to the elements,” Geer young women and girls…” cal record. Kellas says. “They had a com-Judi Geer Kellas “Beech was just awesome,” pass and a speedometer, but no says Geer Kellas. “She ran a comfuel gauge.” pany [that] employed thousands of But there were other obstacles for the women portrayed in Geer Kellas’ series. Bessie Cole- people and earned millions of dollars. Her friends called her Ann, man, for example, had to go to France to get her training and not Olive Ann, but people who worked for her called her Mrs. license (then called a “ticket”) because she was black. Raymonde Beech. And that gives you an idea, almost, of the struggle she had, de Laroche dubbed herself a “baroness” and left certain ambigui- because she had to insist on a certain amount of respect. She was a ties about her age in order to smooth her path to the runway. Oth- very powerful woman in a very tiny body.” Other heroines in the series include modern pilots such as ers such as Olive Ann Beech, who ran Beech Aircraft for 30 years after her husband’s death in 1950, are admired for having broken Patty Wagstaff, who owns an air-show company and is famous for her aerobatic skills such as flying “straight up.” Geer Kellas says barriers in the wider industry. Judi Geer Kellas, with boxer Cami at her side, left, works from her studio in Lawrence. Geer Kellas’ work includes this triptych of Amelia Earhart, above left, and this silverpoint portrait of Olive Ann Beech, above right.
story by Barbara Waterman-Peters
photography by Jason Dailey
modern legends such as Wagstaff share the same gritty determination that allowed women aviation pioneers to first take to the skies, a determination that underlines all her own work. “That is, to me, what makes a champion—doing the best you can,” says Geer Kellas. “It’s not thinking, ‘Oh, this is going to be tough,’ but doing what you perceive is the very best you can do.” As important as Geer Kellas’ work on aviation has been, this series is only part of a larger theme that she returns to in many different ways: “origins.” Just as her portraits of women fliers preview themes of women’s liberation that would follow decades later—autonomy, independence, self-sufficiency, bravery and stylish derring-do—Geer Kellas’ other works seek to discover the core essence of those themes. Her ocean paintings, for example, convey the force and movement of the water itself rather than an idyllic portrayal of the resulting waves on a beach. Similarly, her current series, Waterflowers, recently shown in a solo exhibition in Topeka, beautifully expresses a root fascination with lotuses and water lilies and their habitat. By deliberately working to “avoid the picturesque,” says Geer Kellas, she hopes to reflect the flowers’ heritage. In Geer Kellas’ interpretation, the lotus imparts its heritage from some Eastern cultures as a symbol for the multidimensional nature of the mind. while also becoming a powerful motif with its marshy habitat as a symbol for the earth.
‘You Have to Find the Discipline in Yourself’ The education of Judi Geer Kellas
In 1971, art historian and writer Linda Nochlin asked a pivotal question: “Why have there been no great women artists?” It became a call to action for contemporary women artists everywhere. In the Kansas City region, the women’s art movement emerged in part with an informal group of artists: Colette Bangert, Philomene Bennett, Margo Kren, the late Joan Foth, Barbara Frets, Barbara Mueller, Barbara Roberts, Shirley Schnell and Judi Geer Kellas. “We did one show together and had known each other as colleagues, but not as friends. So we began informal meetings and got to know one another better. We rarely talked about art. We talked about cooking, we talked about gardening—the things friends talk about,” recalls Geer Kellas. But back in their studios, they were each creating individual pieces that would help to establish the importance of women as artists and to reverse the tradition of total disregard of their work. Geer Kellas didn’t reject traditional studies to make her name in art circles. Rather, she studied the canon and was inspired by great artists along the way. She studied art at Birmingham-Southern College and received her M.A. in painting from the University of Alabama. Early influences included Franz Kline, Hans Hofmann and Josef Albers; she also loved classical sculpture, especially that of Michelangelo. But she felt a profound debt of gratitude to two other men. Her father, an engineer and talented amateur painter, had encouraged her to study art if she “had the tenacity.” A professor, Richard “Z” Zoellner, with whom she studied printmaking, spurred her on to better and better work. “He was one of the toughest teachers I ever had,” says Geer Kellas. “When I complained about him pushing me too hard, he would just smile. One time he told me: ‘It’s one thing to teach a class, but something else to get the best out of a student that you can.’ He pushed me very hard and I loved him for it, but maybe not at the time.”
In its exploration of origins, Geer Kellas’ work is characterized by surprising juxtapositions of images and exquisite surface treatments. Believing that perception is made up of fragments, she creates many works in fragments where the viewer doesn’t see everything at once. In addition, light in a Geer Kellas image is not based on natural light, but on perceived light that emanates from the surface itself rather than being an illusion of natural lighting situations. For example, she applies gold, silver and copper metallic leafs to generate light on the pieces. Through these gradual revelations, Geer Kellas says, she tries to “tell a story, connecting, directing the viewer’s eye around the image.” Again examining origins (her own this time), Geer Kellas hoped to help her viewers “understand their own families and themselves a little better” through another series of portraits—her “Family Album” series. Most impressive, though, is that Judi Geer Kellas herself broke new ground in the women’s art movement. She describes herself as a “rock in the middle of a river,” exposed to opportunities that flow by. But they don’t flow by untouched by this incredible artist.
Maroon Fury Triptych by Judi Geer Kellas
Geer Kellas married and moved to Kansas City, where she began teaching at Johnson County Community College and Park College before moving on to the University of Kansas. But she kept in touch with her mentor; his name was a key introduction to Jim and Myra Morgan, who ran the prestigious Morgan Gallery in Kansas City. The Morgans provided advice to Geer Kellas when she left KU in 1972 to open the 7E7 Gallery in Lawrence. Geer Kellas ran this gallery until 1983, when she returned to her art work. But it was now a different world for art. Thanks to her own work, and the work of so many pioneering female artists in the region, a woman artist was no longer a novelty. She was an artist, judged not by her sex but by her own standards and her own vision. “One of the things I learned about being an artist: Nobody really cares whether you never do another piece of art, so you have to find the discipline in yourself to do it,” says Geer Kellas. “You don’t do it because someone tells you that you have to come into work at 8 o’clock; you have to do it on your own.”
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On the Job Lawrence lunch ladies rewrite the recipe for a much-maligned profession
“I love watching these kids grow” Glenda Easum has spent half of her 60 years wearing a hairnet, serving as a lunch lady in every Lawrence public school except Cordley, New York and East Heights. When she joined USD 497 in 1982, lunch ladies were typically stay-at-home moms who welcomed the part-time $3.50-an-hour pay. School secretaries worked as cashiers, dishes were washed by hand in three sinks, cafeteria staff wore starchy white uniforms and learned computer skills by playing solitaire. These days, Easum sports a navy blue T-shirt, urging youngsters to “Eat to Learn—Learn to Eat,” and wears out two pairs of shoes each year supervising daily planning, preparation and service of 300 lunches, 125 breakfasts and 130 snacks for Schwegler Elementary School’s 407 students. Their favorites? Chicken nuggets, pizza and PB&J sandwiches, although lasagna is rapidly gaining popularity. “School lunch is frequently billed as the lunch you love to hate,” Easum says. “But I remember the good old days when homemade chili, cinnamon rolls and chocolate cake topped cafeteria menus. I have seen a lot of initiatives come and go. Like fashion, they evolve. But lunch ladies are not food police. Kids can always bring goodies from home.”
Glenda Easum, opposite, works on presenting healthful options for students in the Lawrence public school system.
story by Sureva Towler
Easum’s day begins at 6 in the morning and ends around 1:30 in the afternoon. Assisted by Sherry Hoch, full-time main-dish cook, and Howard Plenert, part-time helper and maestro of the salad bar, she cashiers, orders, inventories, evaluates, and prepares meals and after-school snacks for the Boys & Girls Club. “I love to cook. What’s hard is ordering,” she says. “Planning and preparation are really a balancing act because requirements get more refined, complicated and demanding every year. But that’s what keeps me interested—learning how to prioritize. It’s easy to stay nose-to-the-grindstone when you see children who are hungry. I love the little ones the most because I can make them smile and, frankly, I have more of an opportunity to impact their eating and health habits. I love watching these kids grow. They are the ones who will have to feed the future.” Schwegler hosts a diverse student body. Fifty-four percent of its students receive free or reduced lunches, significantly more than the 48-percent state average. Easum describes the atmosphere as “family-like” and says she particularly enjoys after-school yoga lessons from one of the school’s paras. Easum’s children are fourth-generation Lawrencians. Her daughter, Stephanie, works with children at New York School. Son Ryan is a self-employed handyman in Kansas City, Missouri. Now photography by Jason Dailey
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widowed, Easum lives in North Lawrence, just blocks from the home where her grandmother, Pearl Smith, held court as “The Cake Lady.” Easum’s parents, Glen and Margie Wiseman, ran Glen’s Garage, a garage, wrecker and salvage service at the corner of 13th and Prairie in East Lawrence before moving to Second Street in North Lawrence. A 2010 grant from LiveWell Lawrence enabled Easum to pioneer participation in Lawrence’s Farm to School Program, part of a nationwide effort to locate and purchase produce from local farmers. Two Sisters and Jirak Farms continue to supply veggies under contacts and contracts she initiated with a goal to incorporate homegrown produce into school lunches. “That’s what I’m going to do full-time, double-time if I ever retire,” says Easum. No desserts. No apologies. Lindsey Morgan, Lawrence School District 497 food-service supervisor, and the district’s only registered dietician, takes obvious pride in the fact that every one of Lawrence’s 20 public schools has a salad bar but no desserts on the menu. For the past six years, Morgan has supervised 90 employees who every day prepare and serve breakfast, lunch and snacks to 9,000 Lawrence public-school students from 12 full-production and six satellite kitchens. She monitors a self-sustaining $5.5 million annual budget requiring no tax dollars, and plots daily and weekly dietary specifications for elementary, secondary and high school groups, which are sometimes inclined to view ketchup as a basic food group.
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“We work hard to provide the healthiest possible meals,” she says. “We make sure we exceed what this community, our principals and the U.S. Department of Agriculture expect, so we seldom have problems meeting state and national rules and regulations.” And there are plenty of those. There are annual reviews of grade-related caloric ranges, sanitation practices, and nutrition targets for fruits, veggies, grains and meat. Requirements for safe food preparation and training for cooks and servers were updated by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010. USDA regulations for vending machines are
coming next year, although Lawrence Public Schools established its own guidelines for vending in 2006. “Food Services provides only healthy choices,” Morgan says unapologetically, perched behind an orderly desk in a sunny office in the Educational Support and Distribution Center at 110 McDonald Drive. Morgan grew up on a dairy farm outside of Butler, Missouri, and obtained her B.S. in dietetics from Missouri State in 2005. After an internship at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and two years working for a hospital, she came to USD 497, where she reports to Paula Murrish, longtime director of food services and purchasing.
In Numbers … the World of a Lawrence Lunch Lady Charges for Meals Breakfast Lunch Elementary $1.40 Elementary Secondary $1.55 Secondary Reduced Price $0.30 Reduced Price Adult $2.05 Adult
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$2.35 $2.60 $0.40 $3.40
annual Budget Revenues Expenses Federal Reimbursement $2.7 m Food $2.4 m Student/Adult Receipts $2.4 m Salaries/Benefits $2.2 m State Reimbursement $51,200 Supplies $230,000 Equipment $150,000 Repairs/Service $100,000
Free and Reduced Meals USD 497 Kansas Free 29% Free Reduced 7% Reduced Paid 64% Paid
Annual Number of Meals Served USD 497 Kansas Breakfasts 297,200 Breakfasts Lunches 1 m Lunches Snacks 186,418 Snacks
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Sources: USD 497 and Kansas State Department of Education
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For some athletes, a sport begins at mid-life
story by Becky Bridson
LM FIT The Sporting Age
Mark Hodges archery Whether the inspiration comes from family, a coach or yourself, it’s easier than you might think to take up a new sport at any age. Mark Hodges is proof of that. Windsurfing. Tennis. Swimming. Diving. Running. Cycling. Triathlons. Ball sports and badminton. He’s done it all. One could accurately assert that Mark Hodges is a Renaissance man when it comes to all things sports. “My favorite is whatever I happen to feel at the time,” says Hodges, who currently teaches P.E. at Sunflower Elementary and officially took a shot at his latest favorite, archery, when he was 58. “It’s the first sport that I think I have a natural proclivity for,” he says. “I think the best thing about it for me is I can do it by myself.” Hodges, now 60, bought a bow and six arrows online for $100. He then created his own makeshift target with an old coffee-bean bag stuffed with plastic shopping bags. He wound up competing in several variations of archery, including three-dimensional, or 3D archery, which involves shooting rubber animal-shaped targets as small as a rat and as large as a moose. Hodges practices about three times a week an hour or so at a time to prepare. “Once you learn, you have a desire to keep on practicing” he says. “I couldn’t wait to get out here on a 60-degree day.” Without a coach or any formal instruction, Hodges became a national champion for two separate senior categories, in one of them by posting the highest scores on record. He is set to return to national competitions this summer. Traveling the country from March to September, Hodges describes his type of archery as esoteric and completely instinctual. “It’s like a baseball pitcher pitches,” says Hodges. “They don’t aim. They just sort of do it.” His advice to someone interested in a new sport is to just try it. “The best thing about Lawrence—and this is from somebody who has been to a lot of places—if you have an inclination to do something, Lawrence has unbelievable resources,” says Hodges. “Regardless of what you want to try, there’s an organization in Lawrence that’s welcoming and easily accessible.”
Karen Evans tennis After retiring from what she refers to as her 20s sport—triathlons—Karen Evans, family practitioner at Mt. Oread Family Practice, decided it was time “to find a new sport.” Active throughout her life, Evans, 39, had never tried tennis, which she now plays three times a week. “I like to sweat,” says Evans. “It keeps your heart rate up.” She still runs, and splits her fitness time evenly between the two sports. “Tennis makes you think,” says Evans. “Physically, it’s made me a better runner. I’m faster. I’m better at hills. I have new baby muscles that never appeared before. They’re cute little things like the one in the middle of your forearm—that little guy.” Kyle Markham, general manager and director of tennis at Jayhawk Tennis Center, has been an integral part of Evans’ development both mentally and physically. Evans describes Markham as being patient throughout their three years together. “As a 30-something-year-old, I felt a little bit stupid learning to hold the racket for the first time, but it was fun,” says Evans. “I was glad I tried something new, and now we’re all the way to learning very specific techniques that are going to make me more competitive. “I always encourage people to try something new because you never know what you might like.”
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Beth Ennis Running Beth Ennis, a systems administrator for the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, says she was propelled by her family, specifically her daughter and sister, to take up running. When her daughter competed in a halfmarathon in New York City, Ennis decided—at age 52—to become a runner. Ennis had served as a sergeant in the Marine Corps for six years, so running was not an unfamiliar activity, but she had never formally trained and competed in races. She began training on a treadmill, but shortly thereafter, joint pain ensued. Then, her daughter visited for Thanksgiving. “She got me running on my toes instead of heel first,” says Ennis. “Once I started doing that, there was no pain in my knee, and I began running three miles at a time without any pain.” Ennis has lost 35 pounds and continues to keep it off by walking over her lunch hour, running three times a week and incorporating resistance training into her routine. She enjoys training for the races, but notes that it’s ultimately less about the race and more about how it makes her feel. “Running gives me energy and lifts my mood,” she says. In November 2013, Ennis raced her first half-marathon with her sister in Las Vegas. At the age of 55, she went all in, achieving her goal of finishing in less than three hours. She’s not stopping there; she plans to compete in the Kansas City half-marathon in April and a future Army 10-miler in Washington, D.C.
Spiritual Sister City With a little meditation in the heartland, a rural town in southeast Iowa transforms into a cultural and educational center
story by Susan Kraus
t’s the First Friday Art Walk in Fairfield, Iowa, and the town square is hopping. There are approximately 10,000 people in Fairfield, and it seems a good portion of them are gathered around this quintessential Norman Rockwell town square, with old trees, a grassy park and a central gazebo. A blues band plays, and a few local groups sing. Food vendors are set up along the sidewalks. We get in a line for barbecue and sit on a park bench to eat and listen. A couple begin to dance in the grass, oblivious to the passing crowd. After a few minutes, we watch as a halfdozen children join the dancing. Later, we’re told that there are often upwards of 2,000 people at Fairfield’s First Fridays. Even taking into consideration that there are out-of-towners, like us, who have come in for the event, that’s a pretty decent showing. Fairfield, like Lawrence, is a university town. And there are many ways in which it is similar. Fairfield has 20-plus galleries and was a Smithsonian choice for “20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013.” Fairfield claims to have more restaurants per capita than
San Francisco (but that’s where the per capita comes in). Still, one does not necessarily expect to find Thai, Indian, Ayurvedic Indian, Turkish, Mediterranean, sushi, and Mexican—all with a big emphasis on vegetarian—in rural Iowa. Nor does one expect to encounter a plethora of gay couples, many older, holding hands as they stroll the galleries. But then, Fairfield is no ordinary Iowa town—nor is its university ordinary either. Not since the Maharishi and his followers arrived. His Holiness Maharishi (pronounced “Ma-har-shi,” not “Ma-ha-ree-shi”) Mahesh Yogi, who died in 2008, was known as the founder of Transcendental Meditation, or TM. The Maharishi University of Management was founded in 1971 in California, but soon relocated to Fairfield when a campus became available after an older college closed its doors. For the past 40 years, the Maharishi University of Management has expanded its programs to include undergraduate and graduate degrees, all accredited, in sciences, arts, humanities and management. At the core of each academic sequence and program is a commitment to consciousness-based education: All learning starts within the student—within the individual’s unique ability to seek knowledge and understanding. It’s a very diverse campus, with students from all over the world. The campus is entirely smoke-free and carbon-neutral, and all menus are vegetarian and organic. There are no pesticides, no toxic fertilizers, and the dining hall grows much of its own food. Students almost all exercise daily. With little drinking, and minimal obsessions with video games and TV, it tends to be quiet at night. More tea … fewer bars. Though it is voluntary, almost everyone at the university practices Transcendental Meditation, a twice-daily ritual that, staff quietly explained, fosters focus, energy and creativity. It’s not a religion or philosophy. TM can be integrated into one’s religion or spirituality, whether Christian, Hindu, etc. But followers
The campus of Maharishi University of Management, opposite, offers traditional degrees along with studies in Maharishi Vedic Science. Students and staff work in gardens at the university, top left. Visitors to Fairfield can enjoy the city’s lively art walks and farmers’ markets, top center and top right. Photos courtesy Maharishi University of Management Media and Fairfield, Iowa, Convention & Visitors Bureau.
believe that the consistent individual practice of TM will alter one’s brain, and can expand one’s ability to focus, learn and be creative. They say it can reduce stress, anxiety, disease and addictions, while improving memory, maturity, selfworth, emotional stability—and one’s GPA. More significantly (and this is where some might say it gets woo-woo), they also contend that the collective practice of TM can impact the world, reducing negativity (violence, accidents, unemployment, inflation, etc.) and promoting all the variables that we seek for improved quality of life. In 1980, the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge was built on campus as a massive palace for group TM practice. Since genders are separated during meditation, a parallel dome for women soon followed. I was allowed entrance, not during meditation time but in a break in the middle
of the day. Visualize a huge space, with an arching wooden beamed ceiling rising to a central glass tower. The floor is covered with foam mattresses, pillows and blankets—whatever it takes to be comfortable. Here, hundreds come twice daily to leave behind all the chores and distractions of ordinary life and to focus on something intangible, internal and yet cosmic. TM may not be a religion, but practitioners can be fervent. I briefly listened in at a conference for educators on learning to integrate meditation into school curricula, or “consciousness based education.” The research findings were compelling: Kids who learn to meditate experience lower stress, and are more focused, less distracted and more optimistic. And that’s just the start. So, I wondered, what is the big block to school districts all over the country making use of an easily accessible, no-cost and easily mastered tool? Maybe it’s the picture of the Maharishi … and then trying to explain to all the parents what’s going on in the classroom. Sometimes a journey provides answers, and sometimes it just stirs up a lot more questions. This trip was the latter. There is a different energy in Fairfield. It isn’t a Pleasantville, no tinge of Stepford. We overheard spirited arguments in coffee-houses (but about sustainability issues). We attended a fine play in a theater tucked above a restaurant. If we’d stayed longer, the salsa lessons and pottery classes looked appealing. Life there has the same challenges and struggles as life everywhere. And yet, it’s hard to meet so many happy people, people who appear content and satisfied, and not wonder if they may have something. I was intrigued. Definitely skeptical, especially when it comes to their big picture, but intrigued. I sensed a similar attitude from Fairfield residents who weren’t part of the TM crowd. You would think that the exotic nature of the school might increase the normal town-gown tension that is part of any university town … but I didn’t see it. It’s been approximately 40 years since Fairfield has been charting a unique course. “There are the ‘meditators’ and then those of us who were here before,” one local explained. “New folks move here for the lifestyle. But it’s been good for Fairfield.” One final image: It is reported that hundreds of Indian monks, living on farmland outside Fairfield, spend all day meditating and directing their collective energy towards peace. I’m a perennial “doubting Thomas,” and nobody would confirm this legend. But as legends go, it’s a nice one. And the thought of all that focus—allegorical or real—being directed towards a goal I embrace gave me a tiny, delicate, sliver of hope. And I haven’t felt hope in a long time.
Playing Tourist? Time your Fairfield visit for a First Friday Art Walk. More than just a gallery stroll, although there are about 25 galleries and artsy-shops, it’s a town festival with live entertainment and a theme that changes by the month. FYI: The $1-a-minute shoulder-and-back-rub at the massage booth is well worth every penny. To get a feel for the Maharishi University of Management, swing by the Argiro Student Center to collect brochures and visit the bookstore. Be sure to lunch in the student cafeteria and feast on the “all you can eat” salad bar, sandwich bar and vegetarian/Indian hot dishes. What I found most intriguing about the dining hall was that I didn’t see a single person wearing headphones or playing with a screen of any sort. Everyone was engaged and talking. With each other. Face-to-face. Visit the Vedic Observatory, featuring a variety of large concrete and marble astronomical instruments that perfectly reflect the movement of planets and stars. Do the Saturday morning Farmers Market in season, in a park by the courthouse. I found some lovely earrings (only $5), as the market features craft vendors as well as produce. Maharishi Vedic City is a small ‘burb’ of Fairfield built on the Maharishi Sthapatya Veda architecture, which, I was assured, fosters peace, prosperity and happiness. It does look different from traditional neighborhoods, as all homes face east (not each other) to receive the life-supporting rays of the rising sun, and they share other design features as well. Check out the Abundance Ecovillage, a grouping of about 20 homes that function entirely off the grid, exemplifying the potential for selfsustainability as well as Vedic principles of architecture. Fairfield’s Carnegie Library holds the distinction of being the first Carnegie Library in the U.S. built outside of Pennsylvania, one of the original prototypes for the thousands that followed. The courthouse is a very showy example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, with bas-relief sculptures on the walls. Thirty minutes away in Eldon, artist Grant Wood made famous what is now called the American Gothic House, and tourists go to strike a pose. Tour the Cedar Valley Winery in Batavia, about 10 miles west, and the Maasdam Barns, a reclaimed draft horse-breeding farm. A 16-mile trail loops around the town and links parks and nature preserves. The Raj is a very upscale (think Oprah-esque) Ayurvedic health spa, with the whole works as far as services, including massages and body cleansing. But the best part of Fairfield is the people, so plan to relax, sit outside coffee houses and chat with whomever is at the next table. You’re sure to learn something new.
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Some things come along, so obviously simple and brilliant, you are amazed that you have never heard of them before. Beer candied bacon. OK, maybe you’ve known about this treat for a long, long time. But even if that’s the case, it still must have struck you the first time you learned about this powerhouse combo—bacon and beer (Free State Brewery beer at that). It did me. I don’t even eat bacon, but when I first heard about this dish, I still had to pause and bow before the genius who created it. So this issue’s feature sections include our homage to a sensational beer-bacon appetizer, wrapped in a wonderful story about a chef who earned her cooking chops amid the mountains of Central Asia. That’s so Lawrence. Combine that with our other feature story on William S. Burroughs’ legacy, and you have a Beer-Bacon Naked-Lunch extravaganza. Enjoy!
From Kitchen Zero to Beer-Bacon Hero
Beat-King Bill’s Lawrence Legacy
fe a t ures Jennifer Harris presents one of the world’s greatest appetizers at her home kitchen in Lawrence.
h c t e i n K Z m e r o o r F 2
Beer-Bacon Hero Jennifer Harris’ transformation to a cooking ninja didn’t require much— only a remote, mountainous country and a lot of determination
Story by Paula Naughtin
Photography by Jason Dailey
ennifer Harris says her metamorphosis from a kitchen novice—“the only thing I could make when I got married was chocolate chip cookies”—to an accomplished cook did not take place in Kansas. Nor did it happen in Iowa, where she grew up and went to college. Not in Washington D.C., nor in Chicago, where she lived and worked after she graduated from Iowa State with a degree in landscape architecture. Jennifer learned to cook and entertain in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Why was Jennifer in Kyrgyzstan? Her husband, Quintin, was posted to Central Asia through the Peace Corps. During his two-year posting, Jennifer also began working for the State Department as an assistant for the deputy ambassador, sometimes serving tea in addition to her office duties. But it was her home meals that were the adventure.
In the beginning, it was simply a necessity. There were few prepared foods, certainly not those she and other expats were familiar with, and restaurants were almost nonexistent. Only one kind of bread was available from the corner bakery. It was made daily, but it “had to be eaten fresh because it would turn to a rock after a couple of hours,” Jennifer says. So Jennifer, armed with only one cookbook, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (a perfect title for her situation), taught herself to cook. Buying local was the only option, unless she wanted to visit the small store that carried imported canned items at a high price. Jennifer went to the open markets, purchased raw ingredients, and went home and began to work through that one cookbook. She says her meals, by default, were “all seasonal… probably
the way it’s supposed to be; you have to think about it, you have to plan.” Gathering ingredients wasn’t the only challenge. “Cooking was a process; you even had to use special water to wash vegetables,” Jennifer says. Even basic ingredients were a challenge because she had to learn to convert ingredients and amounts. She could begin baking bread only after adapting her recipes for flour and sugar with a coarser texture. But at the end of all these kitchen struggles were meals shared with a fabulous community of expats who regularly met and dined together—and helped one another find ingredients by bringing back cheeses from Kazakhstan or by sharing their knowledge of which market vendor had the best fowl. Jennifer lost this community when she moved away, but cooking
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“You have to think about it, you have to plan.” – Jennifer Harris on cooking in Kyrgyzstan
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suddenly became easier when she and Quintin returned to the states, where they reconnected with their families while living in Iowa, then moved to Ohio, and, finally, to Lawrence, where Quintin works in investment banking. Now, Jennifer and Quintin share their home with three sons. Keegan, 10 years old, and Jack and Finn, who are six, are Jennifer’s more-than-willing testers. The recipe included in this article is one of their favorites: beer-candied bacon. Sweet, salty, crisp, porky, bathed in beer and brown sugar, this bacon dish appeals to children and adults. “All the neighbors keep requesting it.” Jennifer says. And no matter how much she makes, all of it is consumed in a flash. Jennifer’s version of beer-candied bacon was inspired by a recipe in the Tide and Thyme blog. She first made it for a 2013 Super Bowl party and has been adapting and experimenting with it ever since, even trying it as a topping for cupcakes. Jennifer says the bacon strips are served best in a pint glass as “a kind of a bacon bouquet.” But, she advises, easy does it. “I don’t make it very often; it’s a special treat,” she says. “I explain to people this is really easy, and their eyes glaze over and they say: ‘You just make it?’ It does make your whole house reek of bacon.” One occasion that definitely demands beer-candied bacon is St. Patrick’s Day. Last year’s holiday also coincided with Quintin’s 40th birthday, so Jennifer brought out the bacon and the bagpipers. She arranged for a group of the musicians to serenade Quintin and his bacon-fueled party guests. (Jennifer highly recommends having the musicians play outside. Evidently a group of bagpipers in a house is a little overwhelming.) Now the master of several recipes and hosting tips, Jennifer continues to gather new ideas from blogs and Pinterest. “I love to try different foods and introduce new things,” she says. And her willing tastetesters at home also influence her fare. Ultimately, she says, “I always come back to that comfort food that I grew up on, even though I love to try exotic things.” So there you are. A Midwestern-born woman who learned to cook in Central Asia. An Iowan-turned-Kansan who learned the value of community in Kyrgyzstan. A creative and generous hostess who learned that a circle of friends—like a good recipe—can be created in any place at any time.
Beer-Candied Bacon Preparation time: 45 minutes Serves: approximately 10 (or one hard-core bacon lover) Ingredients: 1 pound of high-quality thin-sliced bacon (Jennifer uses hardwood smoked variety)
Glaze Ingredients: 2/3 cup of dark brown sugar 1/3 cup of full-bodied beer (Jennifer prefers Free State Oatmeal Stout) A pinch of cayenne pepper for an added kick (optional)
Instructions: • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. • Whisk brown sugar, beer and cayenne in a small bowl; set aside. • Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a cooling rack on the baking sheet. Lay the bacon flat on the rack (it’s OK if the bacon touches or slightly overlaps). Put bacon in the oven for 10 minutes while drinking the remaining beer! • Remove the bacon and liberally apply glaze to both sides with a pastry brush while flipping the bacon carefully with tongs or your fingers. Put back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat this process until the bacon is a rich dark brown and you have used most of your glaze (typically around 40 minutes). • Cool bacon on the rack for at least one hour. Carefully move the bacon slightly during this time so it does not stick to your rack. Display your candied bacon strips in a pint glass at a gathering (they won’t last long), use them for dessert toppings or dip them in melted chocolate and sprinkle chopped pistachios or almonds on top. Put leftover bacon (but why would there be any?) in a sealed container. It should keep for about a week (though this is theoretical—Jennifer has never had any leftovers).
lawrence legacy Controversial and iconoclastic throughout most his life, William S. Burroughs spent his last years quietly in Lawrence, where he is recalled as an inspiring mentor.
Story by Julie Tollefson Photography by Jason Dailey illustration by Jason Barr
William S. Burroughs, the legendary Beat Generation author who called Lawrence home for almost two decades until his death in 1997, would have been 100 years old on February 5. Burroughs’ books—Junky, Queer, and Naked Lunch, among others—were ground-breaking and, to many, shocking in both writing style and subject matter. Even beyond literary circles, Burroughs is perhaps the only Lawrence celebrity whose pop-culture fame is greater than anyone who played for or coached the Jayhawk men’s basketball team. He was on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album; he starred in a commercial for Nike shoes; his work has inspired movies, books, songs and countless road trips. Burroughs didn’t keep secret the locations of his Lawrence homes—first at a farmhouse south of town and then on a quiet section of Learnard Avenue. Yet for many, Burroughs’ presence in Lawrence went unnoticed. “For about 95 percent of the people in Lawrence, it meant nothing. They didn’t even know,”
says David Ohle, a Lawrence-based writer and friend of Burroughs. For those who knew him— his acquaintances, the guy who cut his hair, the woman who cleaned his house—Burroughs’ life in Lawrence was remarkably ordinary. He had his daily routine. He took care of his cats. He poured his first vodka and Coca-Cola by late afternoon, ate dinner with friends, retired early. “Maybe if there was some weird show on TV about the deadliest animal in the ocean, he would watch that. He was obsessed with venomous creatures,” says poet Jim McCrary, another longtime friend. This image of a quiet, endearingly eccentric elderly man was at odds with the legacy of the younger Burroughs, whose past was shadowed by heroin use, obscenity charges against his work, and the accidental shooting death of his common-law wife in Mexico. Such controversies explain, in part, (continued on p.81)
James Grauerholz, writer and editor
Recent work: Grauerholz is working with Grove Press and Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris to edit and reissue the complete works of William Burroughs. Favorite Burroughs work: “I can’t settle, Junky is a wonderful book” but Naked Lunch, a powerful influence when he first read it at age 14, remains a top pick. James Grauerholz, William Burroughs’ longtime companion and assistant/secretary, is literary executor and trustee of the William S. Burroughs Trust. “His work is my work. Literally. And that’s not me puffed up with pride of authorship,” he says. “I’m proud, but it’s a humble kind of pride because I’m astonished that I’ve been entrusted to safeguard, care for, preserve, propagate and explicate this enormous cultural legacy. I feel a strong sense of duty to do it well.” Grauerholz played a pivotal role in Burroughs’ choice to live his last years in Lawrence. In part, he wanted to protect Burroughs from the recurring temptation of heroin in New York. As it turned out, Burroughs’ “retirement” in Lawrence marked another prolific phase in his creative life. “He did a lot of his important writing and most of his important art creating while living here in Lawrence,” Grauerholz says.
Wayne Propst, artist and writer
Recent work: Experiments with art and a sledgehammer. Favorite Burroughs work: Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader. Wayne Propst uses words like “teacher” and “master”—in the sense of master writer and artist—when talking about his friendship with Burroughs. One of the master’s most memorable lessons—to question rules and rulemakers—remains relevant today, Propst says. “We live in a very conforming society,” he says. “It takes so little to get people in a dither.” The concept of questioning the status quo is evident in Propst’s artwork, which covers a range of sculpture, painting, writing and performance pieces. Recently, he’s designed a performance project that culminates with eight people wielding sledgehammers to produce a painting in five seconds or less. Burroughs’ work frequently challenged conventions and drew condemnation and criticism from society as a result. “There’s a huge disconnect with a culture that one moment thinks it’s open-minded and yet it’s very, very tight,” Propst says. When his work came under fire for being “obscene,” Burroughs often countered with comparisons to what he considered the obscenities of military operations. “Bill Burroughs made lots of observations about this sort of thing,” Propst says. “These are not red herrings. These are realistic comparisons.”
former poet laureate of Kansas Recent work: Mélange Block, which Low describes as “poetic forms based on geologic processes,” is due out from Red Mountain Press in 2015. Favorite Burroughs work: The Western Lands. Denise Low counts three men named “William” among her literary influences: William Burroughs, poet William Stafford and William Dotson, her father. All were born about the same time, all Midwestern. “There is that starchiness in a Midwestern person,” she says. “We’re all a bunch of fanatics.” Low, who met Burroughs on several occasions, says that although her work may not directly reflect his influence, she benefits from the way his writing opened new avenues to literary expression. “We all owe him for helping to break down the censorship strictures of Puritanism, and for his inventiveness,” she says. Since retiring from her full-time job as an instructor at Haskell Indian Nations University, Low says she has realized a deeper love of poetry. “It’s been something I’ve done all these years, cramming it into spaces when I had time. Now I have had leisure to spend time with it, and it’s just wonderful,” she says. “I realize how much language holds wisdom and history and the future. It’s like water that keeps changing as it moves through time.”
why Lawrence officialdom has continued to remain cautious in claiming a connection to Burroughs’ global fame. On one hand, Lawrence did embrace Burroughs with two large literary events, including a Lied Center gala during his last years. And American culture in general has become more appreciative of the themes in Burroughs’ works. For example, the story of randy, garroting pirates in Burroughs’ Cities of the Red Night is now more likely to be judged on literary merit rather than met with shocked outrage. But Burroughs’ legacy—even a century after his birth—is still a bit too ballistic to handle. After all, savvy community leaders don’t name an elementary school in honor of the man who wrote openly about hard-drug use as a way of life. That very reluctance to claim Burroughs as a hometown attraction seemed to suit the aging social renegade. “Burroughs adopted Lawrence a lot sooner than Lawrence adopted Burroughs,” says James Grauerholz, Burroughs’ longtime companion and trustee of the William S. Burroughs Trust. In the last decades of his life, Burroughs chose to remain in Lawrence, in part, because people left him alone, adds McCrary. And those who had contact with him largely revered him as an artist and person. “People had a lot of respect for him,” McCrary says of Burroughs’ reception in Lawrence. “What they remember of William is that he was a nice guy and that he was interesting and funny.” McCrary tells of a trip in which he accompanied Burroughs to New York to see writer Paul Bowles. “I thought, this is going to be great. Two of the greatest writers of modern literature, and I get to see them,” McCrary says. The number of followers increased along the way, all hoping, (continued on p.84)
82 Recent work: Ohle’s sixth novel, which he describes as steampunk or speculative fiction, takes place in a future in which people have forgotten the past. The Old Reactor is due out in February from Dzanc Books. Favorite Burroughs work: Junky. David Ohle, who teaches screenwriting at the University of Kansas, met Burroughs at a bookreading in Austin, Texas, in the early 1980s. Later, after both moved to Lawrence, Ohle often took Burroughs fishing—“except I would do the fishing and he would just shoot his gun at targets out in the country,” clarifies Ohle—and he cooked dinner for Burroughs once a week in what became a kind of literary salon. “I don’t think he influenced my writing directly,” Ohle says. “He influenced the way I think about things. He was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. He had the ability to see through to the heart of the matter, whether it was politics, religion, sex, drugs or the police state. His outlook was always prescient.”
David Ohle, writer
Among the nonfiction publications Ohle edited is Cursed from Birth, a compilation of hundreds of letters and other writing by William Burroughs’ son, Billy. The book chronicles the younger Burroughs’ struggles, including a liver transplant, leading to his death at a young age.
83 Recent work: A series of essays on working for William Burroughs. Favorite Burroughs work: Junky. As an employee of William Burroughs Communications in the 1990s, Jim McCrary saw Burroughs nearly every day. “We talked a lot, but we never really talked about writing,” says McCrary. “I think when I got to know him and reread some of his stuff, I realized how funny he was as a writer. Sarcastic. Cynical. Free to say what you mean.” In his current project, McCrary sketches his memories of his friendship with Burroughs and the people like Hunter S. Thompson and novelist Kathy Acker who came to Lawrence to visit the writer. Along with Megan Kaminski, McCrary also runs the Taproom Poetry Series in the Eighth Street Taproom in downtown Lawrence. About once a month, the series presents readings by several poets, most of whom are from out of town. “We both wanted to organize a series that wasn’t just local,” McCrary says. “We also wanted to have an open mic for anyone to get up and read a poem or two.” Regarding his friendship with Burroughs, McCrary says, “I’m really just so lucky. He was like a crazy uncle. He was that odd, eccentric uncle that you wished was around and you could go see.”
poet and essayist
perhaps, to gain insight into the thinking of two legendary writers. Instead, Burroughs and Bowles did what all old friends do when they see each other again after a long separation. They caught up on each other’s lives and swapped stories about their health. “They were just two old guys,” McCrary says, laughing. Poet Denise Low was among those who met Burroughs on a few occasions and recalls him as curious and exceptionally observant—as well as strikingly courteous. “The first thing that stands out is what a gentleman he was,” she says. But he could also be outrageous. At one dinner Low attended with Burroughs, they were presented with an “awful, sticky, gooey” Easter egg dessert. “He pulls out his knife”—which was strapped to his leg—“to slice them in half. There’s something about the egg getting cut in half by the knife blade that’s kind of primal, slightly obscene,” Low says. Burroughs’ favorite magazines—Scientific American, Guns & Ammo, and the UFO- and alien-filled pages of Weekly World News—exemplified the variety of topics that caught his attention, McCrary says. Burroughs’ curiosity may be the force that gives his work longevity. “He was a brilliant man, with lots of interests, and all of these are synthesized and manifest in his work,” Low says. “Through the years, people will be mining his work for different angles.” And Lawrence’s relationship with Burroughs will also most likely continue to evolve as visitors from around the world pilgrimage into East Lawrence to see where one of the legends of the Beat Generation lived and worked. “He has not been forgotten by the cultural capitals and centers of this world. Quite the opposite. He only grows in significance,” Grauerholz says. “After all of these great capitals of culture throughout the world, Lawrence gets the last word.”
“He was a brilliant man, with lots of interests, and all of these are synthesized and manifest in his work.” – Denise Low
on William S. Burroughs
This spring, Lawrence Public Library and Lawrence Magazine bring you an evening of Coffee101. Join us to hear presentations on the chemistry, ecology and science behind a good cup of coffee. It’s culture, conversation … and did we mention the free samples? April 29, 7 p.m. at the Carnegie Building, 200 W. Ninth Street. Entrance is limited to the first 50 attendees.
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Spring 2014 We’ll have more information on the time and location posted at the library and through our online sites: www.lawrence.lib.ks.us and www.facebook.com/lawrencemag