smor.gas.bord / 32 Danny Glover joins Lawrence director’s film
people / 36
Kevin Willmott: “Work on things that matter.”
places / 44
The wildlife routes that flow through the city
trees deep-rooted skyscrapers
$7 / sunflowerpub.com / summer 2017
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lawrence magazine SU 17
DESIGNER/ ART DIRECTOR
Nathan Pettengill Shelly Bryant
ADVERTISING Joanne Morgan REPRESENTATIVE (888) 497-8668
Lorraine Cannistra Mary R. Gage Lee Gerhard Thaddeus Haverkamp Katy Ibsen Susan Kraus Eric Melin Kristin Morland Paula Naughtin Cheryl Nelsen Nick Spacek Julie Tollefson Liz Weslander Darin M. White
CONTRIBUTING Fally Afani PHOTOGRAPHERS Jason Dailey Ann Dean Racheal Major Michael C. Snell Doug Stremel Mike Yoder
CONTRIBUTING Lana Grove ARTISTS Torren Thomas
SUNFLOWER Shelly Bryant PUBLISHING PRODUCTION MANAGER
I’VE ALWAYS THOUGHT THERE WAS A PECULIAR THING ABOUT THE FIRST SEAL OF THE TERRITORY OF KANSAS. As far as 19th-century seals go, most of it is fairly standard—you know, the type of state seal where a comely Roman goddess is standing around shooting the breeze with a rifle-bearing and cleanly shaven Daniel Boone type. There has obviously been a significant pause in their banter. She turns and looks to the West, he gazes East as they lean back toward one another on a shield crest that just happens to be planted in the middle of a field. Their elbows brace their stance, but seem destined to slowly slip across the top of the well-polished shield and casually bump into one another, leading to the discovery of romantic electricity and the ensuing decades-long saga of a boymeets-virgin-prairie Manifest Destiny rom-com. That’s just how it was on the barren plains of Kansas; nothing out of the ordinary here. What is strange, however, is the tree. Or what was the tree. Daniel Boone has apparently taken an axe to the tree and cut it down, leaving it lying about the ground like a lonely Lincoln log. It isn’t as if he has other logs to cut down and use to build a cabin. And our Boone wannabe doesn’t seem to be starting a fire. He just cut the tree because it was there. He cleared the land to provide for his family and to impress goddesses out for a stroll. That’s what a transplanted Pennsylvania boy would do, I suppose. Because that’s what he probably was, a Pennsylvania boy thought up by the Pennsylvanianborn Kansas Territorial governor who designed the seal. Maybe he was from some other Eastern state rich in floodplain forests. What he wasn’t, in any case, was a Kansan. Not yet, at least. A Kansan would know that there were no trees or rest stops for the next few hundred miles ahead, and thus think twice about cutting a tree down. And if a Kansan were to cut the tree down, he’d make quick work in using it for something. By the time Kansas was admitted into the union, its next seal was still in the conquer-the-prairie school of thought, except this time Daniel Boone was a farmer, and he was plowing his fields. And when it came time to modify the seal for the federal bank note, a line of trees was added—essential windbreaks and shelter from the sun—still in place. Trees in this region have gone on to delineate a geographic, historical and somewhat cultural divide. For the Euro-American (and particularly Bostonian) settlers who came here, trees might well have represented the climatic (and more importantly cultural) motherland of Massachusetts. And as the city grew, the transplants planted trees to grow with it. Those first trees then rose up in the earliest areas of town, literally marking the height of development—the original prairie posh. Generations later, we still plant them with an eye on status, practicality and ecological urgency. Because trees are so integrated into the very definition of our landscape, we can easily take them for granted and forget their fragility and strength. Here then, in this issue, we explore the legacy of Lawrence trees in a cover story by Julie Tollefson with Doug Stremel and Michael Snell providing photography. I hope you enjoy it, as well as the other stories about nature, wildlife, people and places in Lawrence.
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Lawrence Magazine is a publication of Sunflower Publishing, a division of Ogden Publications, Inc.
JASON DAILEY LM BOOKMARKS Having won multiple photography awards for Lawrence Magazine as the publication’s former chief photographer, Jason Dailey is now an independent Lawrence- and Kansas City-based photographer. You can see more of his work at daileyimages.com.
LANA GROVE LM SCREEN, PLACES, WEDDINGS A transplant to the Midwest from the California Bay Area, Lana Grove creates digital illustrations, drawings, paintings and jewelry from her Lawrence studio while listening to the Violent Femmes or Prince.
DOUG STREMEL FEATURES Doug’s first camera was a plastic Mickey Mouse model from the local five-and-dime. After a career in broadcast journalism, he wandered into advertising, raised three boys and finally found his way back to photography. See more of his work at dougstremel.com.
TORREN THOMAS HOMETOWN HEROES A graduate of the University of Kansas, Torren Thomas’ illustration career has led to painting album covers, magazine illustrations and video game avatars for clients such as Staples, Pepsi Co, PBS, the New York Observer and various gaming companies.
JULIE TOLLEFSON FEATURES Julie Tollefson is an award-winning contributor to Lawrence Magazine, and her short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Flash and Bang: The Short Mystery Fiction Society Anthology.
PLACES A photojournalist for 32 years at the Lawrence Journal-World, Mike Yoder received national and state awards, and his photographs have been published in several books including the self-published The Vinland Fair. Yoder also plays guitar with the Alferd Packer Memorial String Band. See more of his work at mikeyoderphoto.com.
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LAWRENCE’S GREAT SKYSCRAPERS
Trees define the city’s landscape, but for the city and for landscapers, it can be difficult—and even vital—to define what trees Lawrence needs
Frank Lloyd Wright had a vision to revolutionize American homes, but it took one able Jayhawk architect to adapt the idea for Kansas heat and humidity
The Memorial Campanile is perhaps Lawrence’s best-known landmark, but the city’s population of dense, historic trees also defines the community’s landscape. Photograph by Doug Stremel.
16 | LM Fashion & Style SUMMER STYLE ACROSS THE BOARD
36 | People HOMETOWN HEROES
A new fashion launch … this time on paddleboards
Everyone needs one, and fortunately Lawrence has an abundance of them
20 | LM Sounds METAL AND BOOKS
40 | People LM FLOCKS
A black metal band lays the soundtrack for a troubled past while the library builds community around tunes
They’re not necessarily your friends—and not often your family. But they share your interests and dreams. They’re your flock.
25 | LM Bookmarks New books from the Ball duo, Lisa McLendon, and Patricia Lockwood
28 | LM Gallery TECH-ENHANCED ART
44 | Places THE WILD ROUTES Some of the city’s busiest and most essential roads are not on the maps and run without any roundabouts or traffic signs
Sometimes, a scanner or a drone can be used to highlight the fundamentals of art—Bill Bowerman and Brian Timmer show us how
46 | Places A STORY IN STONE A historic 1860s home lured a
32 | LM Screen HIDING IN THE MUNDANE For one Lawrence native,
50 | Places THE AIRBNB OPTION Our travel writer’s guide to
encouragement from a KU mentor eventually leads to a major film project addressing the big questions of life
professional couple to relocate across town
getting the best of the popular home-rental vacation service
54 | Weddings THE ART OF A KANSAS WEDDING Whether in a rustic barn or a magical setting, a Kansas wedding can provide a lifetime of wonderful memories
smor.gas.bord / 32 Danny Glover joins Lawrence director’s film
people / 36
Kevin Willmott: “Work on things that matter.”
places / 44
The wildlife routes that flow through the city
trees deep-rooted skyscrapers
$7 / sunflowerpub.com / summer 2017
ON THE COVER A lone Lawrence tree stands on a hill. Photograph by Michael C. Snell.
58 | Weddings Q&A WITH HALLIE SIGWING A photographer’s take on great weddings
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16 | LM Fashion & Style Daughter and father writing team Sian and Timothy Ball emerge from the bushes of Centennial Park. Photograph by Jason Dailey.
20 | LM Sounds 25 | LM Bookmarks 28 | LM Gallery 32 | LM Screen
fashion & style STORY, STYLING & MODELING BY Kristin Morland PHOTOGRAPHY BY Ann Dean
Summer Style across the Board
A new fashion launch … this time on paddleboards
I HAVE OFTEN HEARD PADDLEBOARDING DESCRIBED AS A SERENE GETAWAY, AS THE PERFECT WAY TO PRACTICE BALANCE AND TONE THE ARMS AND ABS. And if you’ve been on a paddleboard, you know it can also be loads of fun, particularly when you head out with a group of three amazing, creative women. Our group set out with our paddleboards for Clinton Lake to mix activewear with classic sportswear, earthy with otherworldly, and a dash of our own personal style with the necessities of this spectacular sport. THE POWER OF SPORTSWEAR AND ACTIVEWEAR There will always be a few people who will roll their eyes at the idea of fashion and sports, at the concept of accessorizing an athletic pursuit. That’s understandable in an age when the idea of sportswear has become so broad to seemingly encompass anything in the range of a Speedo to a casual tuxedo. But the concepts of fashion and athletics are more than a whim of the closet. In fact, the development of sportswear was an integral part of women’s liberation. When the term “sportswear” was coined and popularized in the early 20th century, it referred simply to casual clothing. It had less to do with competitive sports and more to do with the idea of allowing a person’s body greater mobility. For women, this type of dress was connected to the idea that women deserve to be free from restrictive (and sometimes harmful) garments and, to some extent, free from traditional limitations placed on women’s choices of dress. Granted, women weren’t immediately free from all societal restraints, but the freedom to choose more casual clothing (sportswear) was a start. The concept of “activewear” is now often regarded as clothing one tends to wear when participating in sports or physical activity. The intent of these garments is to support the athlete, dancer, or swimmer with fabrics that breathe, hug or protect. The focus of these designs is flexibility and function. But somewhere along the way, activewear has become the new sportswear. Let’s face it, for better or worse in contemporary dress, one does not have to be active to wear activewear. And, just as sportswear for women met resistance, so to does the choice of activewear for casual dress—particularly for woman. (Case in point, the incident this spring when a major airline allowed a man to board a plane wearing shorts, but barred two young girls wearing leggings.) For some time now, yoga pants or black leggings have been the bottoms of choice for many women and the standard way of dressing for going to the grocery store or walking the dog. Many years ago, sweatpants and sweatshirts were the way of adding a bit of comfort to the daily tasks or feeling cozy at the of the day. But now, soft, stretchy fabrics and moisture-wicking weaves carry us comfortably from one activity to another.
MODELS Tiffany Francis (straw hat, earth-tone tank and beaded accessories), Kristin Morland (satin boxing shorts with embroidered knitwork), Paige Comparato (knitted pistachio green poncho and sequin printed leggings) and Molly Krause (woven fringe top with balletic leggings).
GRAB ’EM BY THE GARMENT (OH, JUST YOU TRY) So fashion, even when you’re out playing a sport, has become a way to make a personal statement, support a sports teams, exercise free speech … or all of those all at the same time. Sometimes, there is a perfect garment that says everything you are thinking without saying a word. So, yes, paddleboarding fashion is unapologetically whatever you want it to be, as long as it brings you comfort and pleasure without getting in the way of your paddle arm or your enjoyment of the water. While black yoga pants are comfortable and perfect for the stretches required to balance on a paddleboard, you can also follow the exploding trend of leggings with many more color and pattern options. Stand out on the lake with printed leggings, leggings with cutouts, and even denim-type leggings known as “jeggings” in every hue imaginable. These bottoms have a comfortable spandex blend that will feel like a second skin. In paddleboarding, you can also mix business and pleasure (think of the trend of pairing trainers with a suit). Go semi-professional on the top and casual at the bottom, or vice-versa. Knits and beaded accessories? Of course, why not? This is a water sport, but you are not necessarily in the water—and if you do plan on getting wet, then you can layer down to clothes that can go into the lake. Wearing shorts? Think of stand-out combinations such as a classic-silk motif with embroidered patterns. It’s as if Mr. T took fashion pointers from Rhianna—and then took his act to the waters. So, paddle away this summer. And do so wearing whatever combination of clothing brings you joy. Your paddleboard won’t mind what you’re wearing, but you’ll enjoy being comfortable in something that allows you to move easily and reflects your personality.
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sounds / Metal and Books STORY BY Nick Spacek PHOTOGRAPHY BY Fally Afani
A black metal band lays the soundtrack for a troubled past while the library builds community around tunes
MARSH OF SWANS Black metal music is not without its problematic elements. For many, it is defined by the infamous history of the genre’s early days titled Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind. This book documents a series of crimes (including church burnings) by musicians with names like “Death,” “Euronymous,” and “Lord Grishnackh.” Unsurprisingly, these outrages tended to overshadow any work that was being created by serious musicians and continues to color most listeners’ perceptions of the music. In recent years, however, black metal has transformed as it undergoes a third wave of popularity. It still focuses on fast guitars and an aggressive, somewhat ominous tone, but the genre has taken on atmospheric elements and has been shaped by the diverse people now performing it. In the case of Lawrence duo Marsh of Swans, Connor Janzen and Ben Chipman have taken inspiration from the history of Bloody Kansas. “So many of the bands in the genre base themselves on some kind of historic event, local history to them, such as Norwegian mythology and things like that,” Chipman says. He and Janzen did the same, except their local lore consisted of events such as the Marais des Cygnes massacre, where pro-slavery border raiders attacked and killed five free-state men in May of 1858. It was from there that the band took its name (Marsh of Swans is the English translation of Marais des Cygnes). “If you’re a Kansas native, you get exposed to a little Kansas history in middle school,” Janzen says. “But I never heard about this place before or why it was significant. I just thought it was a really interesting story to have never heard before, considering how tragic it was and how the events unfolded.” Janzen and Chipman met when Chipman’s other band, Existem, played a show, which led to Janzen hosting Existem on “Malicious Intent,” his long-running metal show on KJHK 90.7FM. Becoming acquaintances online led to a budding friendship, then a chance to collaborate when Janzen posted a demo online. Now, Janzen and Chipman share equal responsibilities in their band, including songwriting duties. Janzen is primarily responsible for guitars and programming drums, and Chipman more frequently plays bass and occasional guitars. Vocals are handled on an as-needed basis. The Marsh of Swans EP was recorded at Shipman’s home studio and will release this fall. “Neither of us are accountable to anyone other than each other,” Chipman says. “We want a final product we’re happy with, that really represents us, and I think we’re willing to put in the work to make sure it’s representative and sounds cool.”
OPPOSITE Ben Chipman and Connor Janzen have paired up to create the black metal sounds of Marsh of Swans.
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780 SERIES This summer, the Lawrence Public Library will host its third 780 Series, a headline event featuring an interview with a prominent musician and perhaps—but not necessarily—some music on the side. In its first two years, the Lawrence Public Library’s 780 Series (the name comes from the Dewey Decimal classification for music) has brought famed organist Booker T. Jones, the man behind the classic instrumental “Green Onions,” and Sonic Youth co-founder and author Kim Gordon to Lawrence. It’s an unusual program—part talk and part musical performance—and was exactly what library director Brad Allen wanted when he was inspired by a documentary about Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bill Withers. “I thought, ‘You know, what would just be great? To have Bill Withers on stage, maybe playing a song or two, and just having a conversation with him about his life in music and what his history was.’ That was the genesis,” says Allen. From that original idea, the library formed a committee from the local music community and began brainstorming ideas for potential guests. The committee is sort of a Who’s Who of notables: the Lied Center’s Derek Kwan, Eleven Production’s Jacki Becker, and longtime music journalist Anne Tangeman, among others. Of course, even with all that brainpower and knowledge, there are challenges. It has to be a musician. It has to be a fairly well-known musician who can attract a crowd of up to 600 people. It has to be a musician who can speak well to a crowd and would welcome the format of reflecting on themes and issues beyond their own music. And it has to be a musician that the community can afford. Putting together this diverse lineup with broad appeal isn’t particularly easy, but Allen says it’s been fun, so far, thanks to community input and a dynamite library staff with great ideas. “I think our staff has been very good at thinking in a diverse way and pushing themselves, as well as pushing our community,” says Allen. Allen is also keen to thank Beth Harrison and the Harrison Family Fund of the Douglas County Community Foundation, who have provided the funds to make the 780 Series possible. This summer, the series prepares to host its third guest, and Allen thinks the program will continue to flourish because it resonates with a core part of Lawrence. “To me, music is something that’s always been important,” continues the director. “Music is important to this community. It’s a music town.”
Musician Booker T. Jones talks with Lawrence Public Library director Brad Allen at the first 780 Series.
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short takes: THEY CALL HER … MADAM GRAMMAR You can learn more about Lisa McLendon’s approach to grammar by following her alter-ego on Twitter @ MadamGrammar. Here, Madam Grammar chimes in on grammar themes and, for the intrepid, hosts regular sentencediagramming challenges. RAVEN READINGS Readings of original works by local authors continue all summer at the Raven Bookstore. The series begins on June 1 as Jean Grant presents her new novel about an expat family engulfed in the Lebanese civil war. Other programs include award-winning sci-fi author Kij Johnson. For a full schedule, go online at ravenbookstore.com.
WEEKEND ACTION HEROES After Timothy Ball published his first bookmarks book, Verisimilitude’s Twin, he proudly showed it to his daughter, Sian, who responded with the STORY BY Nathan Pettengill frank wisdom of her 10 years. PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jason Dailey “Why did you wait so long?” Not finding a good answer, Timothy and Sian decided they wouldn’t wait as long for Sian’s first book. They began by writing a short story about a clown who drove test cars in a dystopian future. Then, they used a set of index cards to create more characters, such as a mysterious, fiddle-playing captain who guided her boat to Earth’s inner world, and a story around each of them. Sian—who lives in Topeka with her mother—would develop the stories during the weekdays, exchange emails with her father, and then direct the emerging plots when she stayed with her father during weekends. “My dad would be making dinner, and I would be on the computer making the story,” says Sian. “He would print out the stories, then he would be reading it and I would tell him, ‘That shouldn’t be that.’ Or, ‘You have too many spaces here.’” They published their final work as This Hero’s Song: Avatars of the Gods (CreateSpace, 2016), a tale of nine heroes, nine keys, nine goddesses and one rather bumbling Zeus with wild, Brezhnevstyle eyebrows, meaty hands, a childish fondness for disguises and a divine knack for exasperating his celestial daughters. The storyline is also studded with dance scenes, a deliberate choice by the author who dances with Ballet Midwest. “Most of my days are spent on dancing, or writing or something else I love to do. I didn’t want to leave something out that was important in my life,” says Sian, who turns 12 this summer. “If I went back to the book, it would probably be all about dancing.”
WILLOW AT THE LIBRARY The Lawrence Public Library has begun hosting staff and volunteers from the Willow Domestic Violence Center on Monday mornings from 9 a.m.noon. The trained advocates are available for informal talks or confidential sessions.
New books from the Ball duo, Lisa McLendon, and Patricia Lockwood
Although, Sian notes, her current project is actually something quite different. It began with a school assignment that she and a friend turned into a short story, and then into the first chapter of an adventure. Sian thinks they might have a new book on their hands. “That’s news to me,” Timothy says with a proud smile. “That’s exciting.” GOOD-FOR-YOU GRAMMAR Lisa McLendon’s The Perfect English Grammar Workbook (Zephyros Press, 2017) releases during heady times for the wordnerd crowd. Just weeks after her book went on sale, two of the nation’s most influential style guides (The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style) approved use of a somewhat controversial “singular they” pronoun. At the same time, a multimillion dollar court hearing hinged on a grammar rule known as the “serial” or the “Oxford” comma; a presidential Twitter
account regularly upended standard speech; and social-media-savvy teens across the world continued to cycle through buzzwords, bend punctuation rules, and reinvent common phrasings. These rapid changes fascinate McLendon, who heads the University of Kansas drop-in writing center for journalism students. A Russian linguistics scholar and former newspaper editor, she describes herself as a “bit of a descriptionist”—someone who believes that rules for language should generally follow how that language is spoken and used in everyday situations. But McLendon also believes in adhering to standards, particularly for professional career work. “When you are writing professional prose, you really still do need to follow current standards of capitalization and punctuation,” says McLendon. “You do need to put apostrophes in the right place,
you do need those in there because— whether it is fair or not, whether it is right or not—people do judge you on your language. And if all they see of you is your written language, then they will judge you on your written language, on your writing. A lot of times you make that first impression in writing, and you don’t want to blow it.” McLendon’s book can be read alone or as a companion to Perfect English Grammar by Grant Barrett (host of public radio’s A Way with Words). Each chapter introduces a grammar concept, discusses its importance, provides examples, and then takes the reader through practice exercises. McLendon acknowledges most people won’t think of her book as guilty-pleasure reading, but she hopes adult professionals will find it engaging and useful. “I realize, okay, you might not think grammar is going to be fun,” McLendon says. “But at least don’t think it is out to get
you. Because grammar is not out to get you. Grammar is there to help you, to provide the framework for good, solid writing. And that was my goal.” LOCKWOOD LORE There is a certain biographical litany that seems to accompany any mention of Patricia Lockwood. She was never contaminated by a college education, but rather locked herself away with books and then pawed her way into print as a feral free-range poet. She won national attention and a Pushcart Prize with her beautiful and disturbing poem “Rape Joke.” She trolled Paris Review, in a good way. She turned sexual tweets into a literary art. She was crowned by the New York Times as “the smutty-metaphor queen of Lawrence, Kansas.” She holds no martini prisoner.
sometimes in underwear, sometimes covered in dish soap, sometimes holding a guitar, sometimes holding a gun. The result is equally devastating. As with Lockwood’s poetry, even when the writing in this book seems to careen toward snickering mockery, it is simply too original, too unexpected, too insightful to ever itself be dismissed as puerile. For example, after dismantling priestly fascinations with birettas and mammary glands, Lockwood eloquently compares the shortcomings of the priests around her to her own foibles. There is a love for structure in them that I recognize, and a desire to worship correctness that I know I share. When I look at them, I think: To prize traditionalism above all else in a church that began in revolution is to do a great violence to it. But I feel that
“… too original, too unexpected, too insightful to ever itself be dismissed as puerile.”
She loves cats. Right this minute, she’s probably about to write something on cats that will make you uncomfortable—or strike you as totally brilliant. Or both. And, at only 35, she has just released a memoir. Priestdaddy (Riverhead Books, 2017) takes its name from another key point of Lockwood lore—that she was raised on a former convent in a family headed by a former submarine seaman turned Catholic priest. And although Lockwood leaves home at the end of the first chapter, the first part of her memoir continues to slowly revolve around her father’s presence, the church’s imprint on her life and her response to it. Rather than smash the patriarchy, Lockwood adroitly personalizes it, winds it up and sets it parading through the pages with a physiognomy that she describes as “half cherubic, half satyric,”
same ache for the past in myself: to uphold the columns of literature, of grammar, of the Western tradition. And somewhere in the second half of the book, Lockwood’s story transfigures. It does so gradually, and then conclusively with vignettes from road trips with her mother. By this point, even when Lockwood narrates incidents from her past, even when she encounters the same situations that buffeted her early life, the balance has shifted in her telling—it is now being led by her voice, with her wit as guide. It ends as a loving outreach, on her terms. Lockwood, who has moved from Lawrence since the book’s release, would probably have something to say to deflate this rosy interpretation of her memoir. And her rejoinder quite possibly would be raunchy. Or inspired. Or more likely both.
lm gallery /
Tech-Enhanced Art STORY BY Darin M. White
Sometimes, a scanner or a drone can be used to highlight the fundamentals of artâ€”Bill Bowerman and Brian Timmer show us how
early two hundred years after photography was invented, some purists still rate it as a secondary art because it is not produced by hand. That debate continues now, though mostly about different technologies and at a faster pace as 3-D printing, digital drawing, 3-D drawing, digitally manipulated images, film, mapped projections, programmed lighting, robotic and computer controlled automation (to name a few) expand the capabilities of an artist working through technology. As an artist who works extensively with light installations and heavy machinery, I tend to see technology as a positive tool for art— if it is guided by talented and creative artists. Here are two Lawrence artists who represent some of the best examples of applying technology to the creation of art.
BILL BOWERMAN Any discussion of digital art in Lawrence should eventually bring up the name of Bill Bowerman. His interest in art started around the age of eight years old when he visited his grandmother in New Jersey and explored her home filled with ceramics, a loom and many weavings and various other forms of art. He remembers going to New York and seeing Pablo Picasso’s enormous, legendary mural Guernica on loan at MOMA, encountering his first works of surrealism, and seeing other amazing works of art. Bowerman took a few art classes in college, but he kept his practice to drawing during his spare time. He showed his work for the first time at Art in the Park in Lawrence in the 1980s. Seeing people enjoy his drawings encouraged Bowerman to continue creating art. In his professional life, Bowerman worked in fields of electromagnetics, social psychology and software design, among others. His professional work with computers allowed him to explore new technologies. In 2001, he decided to scan a ginkgo leaf and was amazed by the detail that the scan captured. That first scan inspired a series of works and, indeed a genre that would become known as “scanography,” or the art of arranging found objects on the scanner bed and creating a digital image. Bowerman’s goal—to create an image that is simple but striking—depends on selecting the right objects and “combining conscious thought with editing.”
“to create an image that is simple but striking” That editing begins from the moment he gathers an object. If he sees something on a walk, he will look around the area for other objects that might also work well together. Though he tends to favor natural objects such as leaves, Bowerman has also experimented widely with man-made objects such as his red coffee mug. That mug became the study for one of his more successful images in a process that Bowerman calls “action scanning,” where he moves an object during the scan to create odd, broken, faceted abstract forms. Bowerman sees a fine balance in the work between the natural representation of the objects and their potentially abstract arrangement. The main limitation is that that an item must fit on his standard-sized 8.5x11-inch scanning bed. But within that small frame, Bowerman continues to bring refreshing insights into ordinary objects. “I have been using scanography for sixteen years,” says Bowerman, “and it continues to capture my enthusiasm for the art and technology.”
OPPOSITE Red Mug, a digital scan, is an example of Bill Bowerman’s search for ordinary objects with strong presence. ABOVE Red Mug in Motion is a digital scan that shows how Bowerman slightly changes the positioning of an ordinary object for dramatic effect.
BRIAN TIMMER Known in Lawrence for his large landscape paintings on display at his Timmer Gallery inside the Phoenix Underground Gallery, Brian Timmer almost did not become an artist. Though he always has had an interest in art and even won contests at an early age, Timmer took an approximately eight-year break from art to earn his divinity degree and to start a family. After this hiatus, he still had a desire to paint, so he began to accept commissions for paintings, particularly landscapes. To prepare to create these large paintings, Timmer needed an efficient way to take photographs of the landscape. Instead of taking these images from aboard a plane or helicopter, Timmer pioneered drone technology to take pictures for his landscapes. This approach allows him to study the land from multiple viewpoints without large costs. Somewhat ironically, by being able to tap his drone images for the exact details for the land below, Timmer is free to fully unleash creative skills on his renderings of the sky. His strong, bluetoned skyscapes, in particular, are exhilarating. Perhaps this is an example of what Timmer describes as art finding a way of shifting our attention back to the essentials. “Art has the capacity to draw us into the beauty and wonder of life, much like good food; it helps us slow down and focus on what matters most,” he says. Throughout Timmer’s works, what seems to matter most is not necessarily the particular scene—though those are rendered beautifully—but rather his characteristic and expressive, loose brush strokes and his mastery of vibrant, rich colors. Capturing life, energy, movement and texture is important to Timmer, and when viewed close-up, his landscapes have an abstract and sometimes chaotic element to them. When viewed from a distance the elements of his painting blend, which in some ways show his inspiration from Cezanne and post-impressionistic painters. For this painter with a divinity degree, new technologies provide exciting possibilities but ultimately are simply another way to return to eternal questions in art such as “Why do humans have a capacity to enjoy?” or “Why is a sunset or sunrise beautiful?” Whatever work Timmer creates, whatever technology he uses, he is exploring the beauty of the world and sharing it with us.
ABOVE Kansas Rain, acrylic on canvas, is based on a landscape in north-central Kansas. OPPOSITE TOP Flint Hills IV, oil on canvas. OPPOSITE CENTER The artist standing by his acrylic painting Scotsdale, a work that demonstrates Timmer’s preference for large-scale works. OPPOSITE BOTTOM KU, acrylic on canvas.
lin c Me i r E / with n e e scr elin rove Eric M G Y BY Lana STOR ONS BY I TRAT ILLUS
Hiding in the Mundane For one Lawrence native, encouragement from a KU mentor eventually leads to a major film project addressing the big questions of life
FROM LEFT Paul Shoulberg and Eric Melin
LAWRENCE NATIVE AND UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS GRADUATE PAUL SHOULBERG learned a valuable lesson about working with “name” actors on the set of The Good Catholic, his debut feature film as both writer and director. “Don’t yell ‘cut’ when the scene’s over. Yell ‘cut’ when they stop acting,” he says. “Sometimes the actor isn’t quite out of character yet, and you never know what you’ll need later in editing.” With Danny Glover and John C. McGinley in supporting roles, The Good Catholic is a big step forward in Shoulberg’s transition from unproduced screenwriter to working writer-director. It’s been a long journey—one with lots of false starts and detours—but with the movie coming out this fall and a theatrical victory lap for it in Lawrence, that transition will be complete. Shoulberg was born in Lawrence and graduated from Lawrence High School in 1995. After that, he moved around a lot, attending as many schools as he thought he had possible career choices—such as lawyer or guitarist. While sauntering into and dropping out of various 100-level classes, however, he also was watching at least two movies a day. As his love for film grew, he hand-wrote a screenplay in a loose-leaf notebook, eventually showing it to some friends, who liked it. Moving to Arizona and enrolling in the Film School at Scottsdale Community College was a big step. It gave Paul hands-on experience and access to a pool of eager talent. He conned his classmates and new friends into helping him make his ill-fated first film. “It was the worst movie ever,” Shoulberg laughs. “We shot it over four months each weekend, and I was writing 10 pages ahead of production—a really terrible way to make a movie, by the way.” The film was completely abandoned in the editing room, but Paul’s thirst wasn’t. By 2001, he ended up back in Lawrence, standing with a host of other students outside the office of KU professor of film and media studies Kevin Willmott. Before Shoulberg had even enrolled in a film class, he gave Willmott (writer of Spike Lee’s Chi-raq and six-time feature director) a new script.
To Shoulberg’s surprise, Willmott read it, liked it, and encouraged him to continue. Willmott became the novice screenwriter’s mentor and set up an independent study routine that would change Shoulberg’s life and set him on a clear path. “I got my education forcing my way into his office every other week for a few years,” Shoulberg says. “He told me I was good enough to do this. Without that, I definitely would have given up.” After graduating from KU in 2004, and on the strength of the screenplay he worked on in Lawrence, Shoulberg was accepted into an intensive 3-year MFA writing program at Indiana University. It concentrated on playwriting more than screenwriting, so he began producing plays in Bloomington and fell in love with writing dialogue and working onstage with actors. He spent four years as a struggling playwright in New York before the film world came calling again. “Somebody talked me into writing a short script based off a short story that I wrote,” recalls Shoulberg. “The short film was Walter, and the feature came after that, and since then it’s been full-steam ahead as a screenwriter and a filmmaker.” In a trend that Shoulberg is only now noticing, Walter is similar to his other works in that it’s about a character who is searching openly for meaning in life. The feature is a dark comedy about coping with grief, and its namesake is a ticket-taker at a movie theater who believes he’s the Son of God and must judge whether people get into Heaven or Hell for his Father. On the basis of Shoulberg’s script, a powerful casting director signed on, and soon Virginia Madsen, William H. Macy, and Jim Gaffigan were involved. Being on the set in his capacity as a writer was invaluable. In addition to changing a line on the spot now and then, it helped Paul understand how the machinery of filmmaking truly works. But it was still tough watching the choices that strayed away from his idea of how the film should be realized. Though Shoulberg is quick to credit Walter director Anna Mastro for doing “a great job,” he also acknowledges that initially it was tough for him that the film would not be his vision. “Then, I realized if I’m thinking like that, I’m not going to be happy as a screenwriter. When
you write something, you envision a specific thing. But it’s the director’s movie the minute you hand it to them. You’ve written a blueprint, but it’s their movie— as it should be.” The original plan for The Good Catholic was to shoot in Lawrence, but after actor/ producer Zach Spicer acquired a casting director through mutual friends, the scope and budget of the film grew. The script’s college-town setting was easy to transfer to Bloomington, and since Shoulberg, Spicer, and the film’s other two producers all met at school at IU, they could call in all kinds of local favors to get it made. Every shot was meticulously planned based on what Shoulberg remembered for the locations. On set with the actors, of course, everything changed. The locations weren’t exactly like he remembered them, and Spicer, Glover, McGinley and the rest of the cast were growing in their roles and trying different things. But all the planning was worth it, Shoulberg says, because it allowed him to make split-second decisions on the fly—with the big picture always in mind. But make no mistake, it was still difficult. “It was way different from just being the writer,” he says. “As a director, I lost 10 pounds of ‘stress’ weight. It feels like, at the end of every day, you can feel like your stomach muscles relax and you realize— ‘Oh they’ve been clenched the entire day!’” The Good Catholic, a story about an earnest young priest’s (Spicer) crisis of faith, won the Independent Cinema Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and already has a distributor who is eyeing a fall release as it continues to screen showings at various cities. Shoulberg is now moving to Los Angeles to get representation and to pursue his career as a filmmaker full-time. He wants to bring the movie back to Lawrence this fall to pay tribute to his hometown and to the mentor who helped put him in the director’s chair. In the meantime, Shoulberg is continuing to do what he’s passionate about: writing new projects that not only serve brisk entertainment but also ask complicated questions about life. “Why does any of this matter? What do I need to do to be happy?” he asks, channeling his characters. “I like to hide in comedic, mundane stuff so I can get at the big, philosophical questions.“
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Oh, the curse of the sequel. In 2014, writer-director James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy re-invigorated the Marvel universe with its sarcastic sense of humor, candy-colored art direction, and anachronistic ’70s pop soundtrack that became an unlikely hit album in the real world. Three years later, all of those elements are back in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2—they just don’t feel as fresh anymore. The first film was about a bunch of outer-space outsiders who come together as a team and form the first real family any of them have had. It’s natural then, that the screenplay for Vol. 2 should test the strength of that family, and it does. Only this time, the emotional story beats are overwritten, forcing corny dialogue into the actors’ mouths and lingering too on long on those moments. More than its predecessor, Vol. 2 is designed to leave no audience member behind, to its detriment. Wisecracking half-human Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has daddy issues. Green-skinned alien Gamora (Zoe Saldana) has sister issues. Rocket, the talking raccoon (a very convincing CGI character voiced by Bradley Cooper), has trust issues. In the first film, these concerns were seamlessly baked into the plot and theme, in concert with Gunn’s smart-aleck, B-movie, space-opera aesthetic. This time out, these issues struggle for screen time with an enormous amount of exposition, and they come off unbalanced and pretty unconvincing. There’s still a lot of fun to be had, however, and franchise stalwarts might want to consider seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in 3D. Two or three action scenes in particular have a distinctly impressive visual flair and seem to be designed with that viewing experience top of mind rather than as an afterthought. That’s a welcome break from the approach of most bigbudget fantasies these days. Gunn’s exceptional vision and the movie’s disarming humor (with some themes and jokes sprinkled in for adults only) make this a universe worth returning to. But just like Fats Domino’s “Let’s Twist Again,” Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 can’t play the same familiar chords with lesser lyrics and expect the same results. It isn’t quite the revved-up rallying call for outcasts that the first one was, so this sequel is best approached with lower expectations.
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Colossal—a movie that borrows from several genres to make something that’s thrillingly original— has a lot more on its mind than its ultra-silly premise. In fact, Colossal is one of those movies that is decidedly not for the kind of viewer who enjoys poking holes in cinematic logic. It demands that viewers accept that writer-director Nacho Vigalondo (in his English-language debut) is painting with very broad strokes and using our expectations of Hollywood formulas against us. And even then, Colossal is not meant to sit comfortably with anybody. Ostensibly, the film is about a woman (Anne Hathaway) with a drinking problem who is kicked out of her boyfriend’s Manhattan apartment and goes back to her hometown in upstate New York to figure things out. She runs into an old friend (Jason Sudeikis) who owns a bar and, after a long night of after-hours drinking, comes to believe that her exact movements are controlling a giant kaiju-like monster that’s currently rampaging off the coast of Seoul, South Korea. The movie is actually all about control, and the monster that’s duplicating her actions halfway around the globe makes her personal destruction very literal. It’s an odd (and audacious) metaphor, and it’s also one that begins to change in the most unexpected ways, as Colossal slowly shifts from being an absurd romantic comedy to a drama that demands to be taken seriously. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work just the way it was designed—but not expected—to. Much like the twist in 2014’s superb sci-fi fable Ex Machina, Colossal suckers you into thinking that even with all the wild window dressing, the movie is still going to conform to a standard Hollywood plot. But then it asks you to look to the fringes of the supernatural rom-com to see what’s really happening. If this were a movie directed by someone like Christopher Nolan, then it might have all of its bases covered in the story department to Stream fre connect the faux-science dots, e p Ski but the Vigalondo movie isn’t interested in that. The director seems to know his premise is ridiculous, so while he challenges audiences to take it at face value, he also asks them to consider the real issues and perspective that lie beneath what’s actually happening onscreen. Doing that deepens the experience and makes Colossal a sneakily subversive film that demands to be considered seriously.
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Vigalondo’s sneakily subversive, serious monster movie
heroes STORY BY Lorraine Cannistra
ILLUSTRATIONS BY Torren Thomas
KEVIN WILLMOTT Kevin Willmott grew up in Junction City, where his weekend entertainment meant watching double-feature movies. His favorites, the exploitation-genre films of the ’70s, had such a big impact on him that he decided to write scripts of his own. He began with theater, earning a BA in drama from Marymount College in Salina, but—after a period as a community organizer—returned to films (Willmott would later earn an MFA in dramatic writing from NYU). By 1999, Willmott wrote and produced his first film, Ninth Street, a story of a down-and-out region of Junction City that featured Isaac Hayes and Martin Sheen. By this time, Willmott already had developed key themes he would return to in later works. “My inspiration has a lot to do with history, with injustice. Those are the things that drive me. I like to take on difficult subject matter and try to make it entertaining. Sometimes using satire and sometimes drama, I am not afraid of controversy,” says Willmott. “You have to be willing to get into the issues that involve those things and find a way to have the audience take on that history and be aware of the issues.” And Willmott began taking on the biggest issues. After a string of successful films, he won widespread acclaim in 2004 for CSA: Confederate States of America. Presented by Spike Lee, and with cameos from several Lawrence actors, this film showed an alternate history in which the South won the Civil War and explored racist overtones that were imprinted on the nation from slavery and continued to appear in advertisements, television programs and politics of modern times. “The history and legacy of slavery kind of own us. That stuff is still very much alive today in various ways,” says Willmott. “Film can make people feel history. It can make people feel realities that are not theirs. When you feel history, you have a better appreciation for the legacy of it. In the end, it makes you respect others more, it makes you respect people who have gone through difficulties, and that gives you a bigger world.” A string of engaging films followed CSA before Willmott and Lee would work together again in 2015 on Chi-raq, a script that dashed between farce and tragedy as it chronicled one woman’s audacious attempt to shut down gun violence in Chicago and help wake up the nation. It featured a powerful cast of Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Dave Chappelle, John Cusack and strong leads from Nick Cannon and Teyonah Parris, along with a quick cameo from Junction City’s (now Lawrence’s) very own star director. Currently, Willmott and Lee are exploring other projects as Willmott plans to do a television show about the legacy of jazz, black hospitals, and Negro League baseball. When not writing screenplays, Willmott teaches in the film department at KU, where he has been on the faculty since 2000. He calls teaching an intimate part of his life and encourages his students to “try to work on things that matter. If you want to be involved in the arts, you have to find a way to keep doing it even when it gets difficult.” In the two decades he has mentored in Lawrence, Willmott has seen a change in the culture and level of regional film. “Young people are staying in Lawrence and making film,” he says. “It’s a great thing for the community.”
LYNNE GREEN “Art is in my blood,” says Lynne Green, who grew up in Topeka, in a home where “paintings adorned all our walls.” Attending college at the University of Kansas, Green initially majored in theater arts, but ultimately graduated in the school of social welfare and went on to work in special education and with at-risk populations. But she kept in touch with art, in her home and integrating it into her work. In 1997, with a $2,000 grant from the Kansas Arts Commission and a van borrowed from the school district, Green loaded up a bunch of student artists to create a mural at East Heights elementary school. This was the beginning of Van Go, a nonprofit arts education organization that has won numerous awards and recognition for its work in Lawrence. Now located at 715 New Jersey, Van Go works each year with about 100 at-risk youths, ages 14–24. According to Green, who serves as executive director, 70 percent of these youth live in poverty and many deal with bullying or academic issues. To help serve this population, Van Go hires the students to create art projects, including gift items sold through Van Go and the popular Van Go benches seen around town. “When we pay kids to work, that does so much for their self-esteem,” says Green. “It also gives kids badly needed resources. Some of the kids help to pay the family’s rent or assist with buying food.” The Van Go work experience is also designed to help young artists transition into community jobs. The older students, the 18–24 age group, work every day from 9 a.m. to noon and consult with both a KU graduate student and a full-time social worker to figure out what they might be interested in doing for a career, and how they can achieve it. “Then it is our job to get them out in the community because the youth are not here for long-term placement,” Green says. “We are here as a transition to help our kids find whatever the next step is.” Van Go graduate Sarah Humbert describes Van Go as a transformative event in her life. “When I started in the program, I had been to college for a couple of years but dropped out. I was struggling with depression and trying to find a purpose in my life,” says Humbert. “The staff at Van Go made me understand that having a job, and somewhere to go, was a purpose. I eventually went back and finished my degree. I don’t think I would have had the courage to do those things if I did not participate in the program.” Humbert now works at KU Endowment at the University of Kansas. And while Green can point to the organization’s quantifiable success in terms of attendance, graduation, test scores and graduate performance evaluations, she says personal success stories like Humbert’s are at the core of Van Go’s mission. “Success is not always something you can chart. It is not always numbers. It is about judgment and self-esteem,” says Green. “My hope is that the generous community that has supported us for the last 20 years will do so for the next 20 and the next 20. I want this program to continue to be embraced and keep going because these kids need us.”
flocks They’re not necessarily your friends—and not often your family. But they share your interests and dreams. They’re your flock.
STORY BY Toni Dixon
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Racheal Major
PBR COMIC-BOOK CLUB “Comic book,” “cartoon,” or “graphic novel” … no matter by what name you know the illustrated, visual story-telling medium, it has become a popular form of literature. From traditional Marvel and DC franchises to more literary titles such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis or Daniel Clowes’ Wilson, these works appeal to a wide variety of readers. And, of course, where there is more than one connoisseur of any printed medium, there is eventually a book club to go with it. That’s where PBR ComicBook Book Club comes in. The club is an offshoot of the traditional-literature PBR Book Club, an open, revolving group that meets, mostly, at the 8th Street Taproom to discuss good reads over good drinks. Founder Allison Stone recalls that the comic club grew naturally out of the regular book club when “several of us would sit around and talk about comics and Star Wars and all kinds of other geeky stuff.” It was then that Stone decided, “Hey, why don’t we make our own book club and talk about comics?” Like any book club, this one gives the members an opportunity both to read titles they enjoy and to discover new books they may not have found otherwise. “We may read something terrible and we all hate it,” Stone notes, “but at least we got out of our ruts and tried something new.” Group member Abby Olcese says she likes that the group “looks at a diverse array of graphic novels and comics, and not just super-hero, mainstream stuff.” Marciana Vequist is new to the club and never read a graphic novel before joining but thought, “this would push me outside of my comfort zone and what I’m used to reading. And I’ve loved it. It’s been great.” The club meets once a month, depending on Stone’s KU class schedule. It’s made up of a core group of regulars but is open to anyone who wants to join. You can find its meeting schedule on the group’s Twitter account (@pbrcomic). “We just like to get together and be nerdy and have fun,” says Stone. The only requirement, her husband, Will, adds is “No snobbery allowed.”
See more photographs of members of these flocks on the Lawrence Magazine Facebook page!
DADS OF DOUGLAS COUNTY Charlie Bryan was still a rookie dad—his daughter was only nine months old—in 2010 when he saw a flyer advertising “Training for New Dads: Zero to 12 months.” “I thought, OK, I’ll go learn something new,” Bryan recalls. What he found was more than a primer on changing diapers and burping a baby—though that was there as well—but also, as Bryan says, an entire philosophy of “thinking about your role as a dad.” The host of that course was a group called Dads of Douglas County. At the time, it was a young organization, barely a year old, not much older than Bryan’s little girl. Seven years later, the group has continued to grow and expand as an organization that promotes the involvement of men in the lives of their children. It offers classes and community groups for fathers, such as its “Bootcamp for New Dads.” The training is held at Lawrence Memorial Hospital where expectant fathers are paired with men who already have children, or the “veteran dads,” to learn the basics of raising a child. Bryan notes that, other than the hands-on training, the class is also intended to, “help facilitate a dialogue about what we think are the key issues for dads to be thoughtful of as they are becoming dads.” The organization also hosts a group called “Quenching the Father’s Thirst,” coordinated by Jerry Marquez. This class is offered to fathers who are in the Douglas County Jail or the Lawrence Community Shelter. There are 13 meetings over seven weeks: they are offered at the county jail, the shelter and in the community for those who have not yet completed the course but have left the facilities. In addition to the class, the Dads of Douglas County hosts play groups and other gatherings, as well as an online forum on its Facebook page. Bryan, who now has two daughters and chairs the group’s board of directors, feels it is important for men not only to interact but also to “see each other as fathers” in order for wisdom, knowledge and support to be passed on in a community. If you are, or know, a Douglas County dad, you can learn more about the group’s schedule and upcoming classes on their website: dadsofdouglascounty.org
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wild routes Some of the city’s busiest and most essential roads are not on the maps and run without any roundabouts or traffic signs
here’s a highway that used to run just back of my house. It got pretty busy with noise in good weather, but it went pretty quiet at night. And it ran right through the 14th fairway of the Alvamar golf course. I first noticed this route during a summer morning more than twenty years ago as I was walking near the Alvamar pond and some honey bees buzzed by my ear, as they flew southeast. Then, some more bees rocketed by, but headed northwest. Backtracking the bees, I discovered a hollow in a mammoth double-trunked silver maple tree. There, the bees gathered and created an honest-to-gosh honey tree. Right here in the city. And to make it, they pioneered an aerial highway from two of my neighbors’ particularly lush and colorful gardens to the hollow maple where they manufactured their honey, adding side streets to flowers that bloomed in other gardens near the golf course. I often quietly stood by the hive tree, watching and listening. There was always a low-pitched hum of thousands of wings beating. Mostly the bees ignored my presence and focused on their work of transporting nectar to their honey factory in a concentrated but seemingly coordinated flow. If I moved suddenly, several bees would veer over to inspect me, making sure I did not pose a threat. Though they scrambled, they never suffered a mid-air collision. Even their emergency routes were well regulated. Two summers ago, a storm took down that tree, the bees and their honey. The fallen tree was hauled off for firewood, and now only a flat stump and some sawdust remain to remind me how much I enjoyed watching its resident colony prosper. I never told anyone it was there. The bee “highway” is no longer in use. I only hope my industrious, commuting gardeners relocated somewhere nearby so that my flowers continue to bloom and reproduce. After all, the bees had to go somewhere, and there must be other hollow trees with vacancies. In Lawrence, we humans understand the impact of new transportation routes. Many of the recent changes in our community have been about new roads, revised street plans, and lane changes, all designed to make our movements safer, easier or faster. What is often overlooked in cities, however, is the impact of these human thoroughfares on wildlife routes. I think Lawrence has an outstanding, if unplanned and naturally emerging, system of wildlife highways that support abundant non-flying critters, including raccoons, deer, turtles,
snakes, coyotes, muskrats, opossums, bobcats, foxes and the occasional cougar. These highways connect oases of food sources and water access. Of course, sometimes these routes enable the wild creatures to make a pit stop for a pet-snack. Coyotes are the most egregious offenders of this lot. They have acclimatized to urban settings, aided by unsuspecting folks who think they help wildlife by providing food scraps for them. When coyotes move in, there are fewer stray cats, and sometimes small dogs disappear from their yards. Many of the Lawrence animal highways trend north and south, from the higher country toward 6th Street, down to the Wakarusa River. Our golf courses, the Hidden Valley Girl Scout Camp, and the University of Kansas West Campus are wildlife refuges transected by the highways. Of course, no matter how extensive, the highways can support only a certain number of creatures, and only certain types. My guess is that mountain lions are probably no longer traveling through Lawrence as there have been no local sightings for several years. However, they do traverse the region. My outdoor colleagues have seen one south of here in the last year or so, and I saw a trail camera image of a nicely posed lion from the same area and date. The sighting of mountain lions in Kansas might surprise some, but the proliferation of whitetail deer through the region lures them in. Cougars, too, made an appearance, but I think they were passersby following their food source. Finding some deer, but apparently too many people, they made their way downstream to Missouri. The richness and diversity of Lawrence’s wildlife amazes me. Only one year have I seen a Baltimore oriole, and only once was I surrounded by cedar waxwings on their migration. There are fewer ducks than I’d prefer, but we are inundated with Canada geese. Monarch butterflies have appeared in clusters several times. Snapping turtles migrate each spring between waterways and ponds, daring anyone to interrupt their trundling trail to new mates and waterways. Early in the mornings, raccoons duck back into storm sewers, having feasted on both wild food and food left out by residents, ostensibly to feed pets. As our towns become increasingly developed, we risk losing contact with nature. For that reason alone, I think Lawrence should celebrate its heritage of urban wildlife, and of the pathways that provide it life. These pathways are physical reminders of the fragile relationship between people, resources and the land. Long may they flow.
LM STORY BY Lee Gerhard
ILLUSTRATION BY Lana Grove
story in stone A historic 1860s home lured a professional couple to relocate across town
STORY BY Mary R. Gage
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Mike Yoder
n the early days of Lawrence, near the end of the 1860s, a proud mason by the name of Worthy Bailey hand-cut blocks of sandstone to build his dream home. The historically significant property is described in East Lawrence Neighborhood Association records as being “built of random ashlar sandstone walls in 1869 for $2,000” and having “one of the city’s oldest kitchen additions, which was built before 1873 of rubble limestone.” For decades, Bailey’s foundation provided sturdy shelter from the elements for railroad workers and tradesmen. But after one hundred years, the home fell into periods of disrepair, neglect and abandonment that nearly led to the once-august property coming under the wrecking ball; not once, but twice, in the 1970s and 1980s.
“If we hadn’t seen this house or one just like it, we wouldn’t have moved.” –Diane Fry
In the mid-80s, the house was rescued from the brink of destruction by the late Lance Burr, an attorney and property owner with an interest in preserving historic structures. After he invested in repairs, the house found new life again as a rental for 25 years. And so it might have remained had Kent and Diane Fry not walked through the front door and started writing an exciting new chapter for the old stone house. Prior to buying the house, the Frys were happily ensconced in a five-bedroom home near Quail Run grade school where they had raised their children. The couple weren’t planning to move, but they often toyed with the idea of being closer to downtown and had a real fondness for masonry structures, two elements that the New York Street home had in spades. “If we hadn’t seen this house or one just like it, we wouldn’t have moved,” says Diane. “I loved our house on the cul-de-sac, but the kids were all grown, and we thought, this makes sense to downsize a little bit and we love being downtown. It was everything we wanted.” Work on the house began in early 2015, and the plan was to reuse as much of the original material as possible. In the case of the stone itself, it stands structurally intact with repairs and fresh tuck-pointing. Stones for the new fireplace mantle were once a part of the original sidewalk outside the front door, and some of the wood used on the kitchen cabinets and the stairway came from the old floor joists. The plan to reuse the floorboards, however, had to be scrapped after they were found to be rotten. New, unvarnished yellow pine flooring was laid instead. Other elements had to be significantly repaired.
The Frys renovated their 1860s home that had extensive damage but a good structure of original limestone.
Diane Fry says her goal was to create “a place that’s warm and a fun place to cook.”
Kent, a longtime Lawrence resident with a background in real estate, construction and banking, recalls something of what he knows of the property, “This home for years didn’t have a roof on it, and there’s no original woodwork to speak of. It was just in the weather for years and years.” “The stone had about two inches of plaster on it and it was hideous,” says Diane, a mortgage loan officer and Lawrence resident since 1996. “We removed it all ourselves, inch by inch. We had to wear masks and goggles and cover-ups. It was terrible,” she recalls with a laugh. The overriding theme was to highlight the beautiful, venerable stone and to keep the integrity of the house intact while opening it up and making it warm and welcoming. In that vein, several interior walls were removed and a fifteen-by-twelvefoot addition created a large open living room and bar area on the main floor. Above the bar hangs a spectacular, eye-catching light fixture made from repurposed Bordeaux bottles by Jim Ligon, owner of Vintage Edison and a Kansas City craftsman who typically works only on commercial projects. He made an exception, Diane says, when he saw this house. “All the people that worked on this house made a huge difference,” says Kent. “Bob Hughes is a great mason and Andy Ball Construction—they really put their mark on this, and they took it to heart. Look at some of the window trim and what they did between the stone,” he says pointing out the irregular, wavy lines on the window sills and lintels. “It’s just incredible.” The entire upstairs was converted to a spacious master bedroom and bath suite. The ceiling was vaulted, and the bedroom wall now incorporates as a window the limestone halfoculus accenting the front gable. Just below it on the exterior of the house is a highly prized date stone carved with “Er. 1869.” Originally on the back gable, this stone was hard to see and generally went unnoticed. “During the construction, their stone mason carefully removed it from the back and gingerly hoisted it up to the front, replacing, repairing and fitting in new stone along the way. You can’t not have it out here in front,” Diane says. Downstairs, a large dining table, seating as many as twenty guests, greets visitors as they come in the front door. The unique table, crafted by carpenter and neighbor Adam Hess, was built of local wood harvested near 11th and Pennsylvania. It is earmarked with the exact coordinates of its origin by a small plaque at one end. A charming patio and outdoor living space off the back is covered by a breezeway that connects the main house to a two bedroom/garage addition. It is here that their grown children and grandchildren eagerly come to visit and experience staying in a different part of Lawrence while enjoying their parents’ lovingly crafted modern incarnation of a gracious old stone house. “Our kids love us being here,” says Diane. “They love coming over and walking downtown. They bring their friends from out of town and stay out in the apartment. I think the focal point of this house is entertaining and having our family here and our friends here and making sure that it’s a place that’s warm and a fun place to cook. We love the neighborhood and we can walk downtown and have dinner every night. It’s perfectly suited for us.”
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Our travel writerâ€™s guide to getting the best of the popular home-rental vacation service
STORY BY Susan Kraus
he pictures looked too good to be true: a lush walled Caribbean garden, a private pool, a gazebo and table where I could write, a private room with an en suite bath, mini-frig and microwave, all in a separate wing of an expansive, upscale home. And only $60 a night. I was suspicious. The posted reviews were good, but could I trust online reviews? The owner’s uncle could be writing them. Airbnb—the company that has emerged as the leading private-home vacation rental service—asks that you do trust them. In fact, their entire system relies on trust. But it is informed trust, not blind trust. Trust that is supported by a complex system of checks-and-balances. Renting a cottage or room used to require a leap of faith, sending a deposit to a P.O. box and hoping that it was not a scam, or logging onto an online service with a limited scope of rentals. But Airbnb has transformed person-to-person rentals by providing protections, especially if you follow their “best practices” guidelines. There is a lot of screening with Airbnb. With recent updates, anyone applying to be a host is screened, their personal history run through a variety of data bases from felonies to sex offenders, etc. Guests are also screened. Their IDs (passports, driver’s licenses, etc) are cross-referenced with on-line identification such as Facebook or LinkedIn to create a Verified ID. Transparency is a key element to Airbnb success.
TIPS FOR BOOKING
1) Read the reviews. Airbnb reviews can only be written by guests after they leave. They cover the accuracy of the description and pictures, cleanliness, check-in communication, location and value. That’s how Airbnb determines their number of stars in a listing’s ratings. After you leave, write a review and be aware that your host may also be reviewing you as a guest, for a database available to all hosts who want to vet their guests. 2) Read everything the host provides. This will include details of house rules, amenities, cancellation policy, security deposit and cleaning fee. Most properties do not allow last-minute cancellations without penalties. Talk to the host in advance if you have concerns. 3) Never go outside the platform to pay (and report if you are offered a better rate to do so). Airbnb only releases your payment to the host 24 hours after you check in. A complaint will stop that process. 4) Be up-front about your goals and special needs. I was clear before booking that I needed a desk/work space and reliable wi-fi. (Sure, I was seduced by the pool and garden, but the wi-fi wasessential for work.) 5) If you are new to Airbnb, play safe by choosing only from places with ample reviews or “super hosts” ratings, a status given to hosts who have consistently generated high reviews and are known for their service and support. 6) Make use of the many filters available when booking. They will narrow choices and allow you to ensure the amenities (or necessities) you want (i.e., if you travel with a dog or cat, filter for “Pets Allowed”). 7) Respond to hosts. They are taking the greater risk of opening their home or property to strangers. Sometimes they will have questions for you about your needs and schedule during your planned stay.
Airbnb fosters direct communication between host and guest. You can ask questions, share needs, request guidance. If a host is unresponsive, you’re advised to not book and report them to Airbnb. If problems arise, there are 24/7 supports through their “Trust and Safety” team. If the property is not as advertised, Airbnb will find you alternate housing or refund your deposit. If you’re hesitant to book internationally, first experiment closer to home. Take the kids to a working ranch bunkhouse (3 BR, 2 BA, sleeps 8) outside Topeka. Or try a darling limestone cabin by Ellsworth with a fireplace for romance and solitude. Look at the many Kansas City options. Put the in-laws up right here in Lawrence when they visit. My experience booking with Airbnb has been that the pictures are good, but still true. On that last trip at the home with the Caribbean garden, I spent a week writing and enjoying everything—and at the price—that the posting had promised. Sometimes a journey turns out to be as good as you had hoped.
Airbnb is by far the leading home rental service in the United States. Locally, it lists more than 100 properties in Lawrence and the surrounding area. But there are several other services, some with overlapping listings and others with unique property lists. 1) VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner): VRBO was founded in 1995 and became a subsidiary of HomeAway in 2006. It more closely resembles a regulated on-line classifieds to connect property owners and prospective guests. HomeAway operates in 190 countries, 22 languages, and has over a million listings, so VRBO is just a small part of their big picture. And since Expedia just bought HomeAway for $3.9 billion, who knows what changes are coming. Number of Lawrence properties listed: 12. 2) FlipKey and Housetrip: Both owned by Trip Advisor with extensive offering of international and U.S. locations. Number of Lawrence properties listed: 3 3) Roomorama: For vacations, but also seems to focus on a higher-end professional extended stay market. Number of Lawrence properties listed: 0 4) OneFineStay: Luxury accommodations in limited number of select international cities. Number of Lawrence properties listed: 0
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artof a kansas wedding Whether in a rustic barn or a magical setting, a Kansas wedding can provide a lifetime of wonderful memories
STORY BY Paula Naughtin ILLUSTRATIONS BY Lana Grove
EDITORâ€™S NOTE The following is adapted from the 2017 publication Kansas Weddings magazine, released by our parent company, Sunflower Publishing. The 2018 issue releases on November 7.
t’s a beautiful May night in Kansas. Family and friends gather in the twilight to celebrate the marriage of two lovely people. Everything is set up in a barn owned by the 95-year-old neighbor of the bride. It’s rustic, yes, but magical as well, lit with candles in jars and fairy lights, and decorated with simple flowers. The stars shine down as the evening wears on and the sound of katydids and sounds chime in during the lulls in the music. One of the highlights of the reception comes when the groom serenades the bride. I was born in Kansas, I was bred in Kansas and when I get married, I’ll be wed in Kansas. There’s a true blue gal who promised she would wait, she’s a sunflower from the Sunflower State. Skies are fair in Kansas, clouds are rare in Kansas, never saw a place that could compare with Kansas. So I’m goin’ home to keep a weddin’ date with a sunflower from the Sunflower State.* There are still some who think that marrying in Kansas requires a compromise between marrying in the state you call home and having a beautiful ceremony. But there are many weddings that have already disproved that, like the wedding described above. And there are many future weddings that can take advantage of all that Kansas can offer. Want to be out under that glorious, wide Kansas sky? There are fields upon fields, sunflower-covered or not. Opt for a scaled-up picnic featuring one long span of tables with more than 80 chairs. A friend planning her daughter’s wedding collected wooden chairs in many styles from second-hand stores and painted them all the same hue to unify them. You can make it personal—even non-traditional— according to your own story as a couple. I attended a lovely wedding on a ballfield owned by the bride’s family in Kansas City, Kansas. The couple’s reception was held in a Catholic cathedral, just a short way from the ballfield. Pans of enchiladas, spaghetti and chicken were contributed by friends and family. The day illustrated everything that was valued by the couple and echoed both of their cultures: friends, family, baseball, tradition and food prepared with love. I’ve seen the same approach, modified to Lawrence: dodgeball field weddings and family gatherings at South Park.
Speaking of South Park, it boasts one of the loveliest wedding venues around—a gazebo. There are the park gazebos in almost every town in Kansas, perfect for open-air ceremonies, and with a roof to protect the couple from the always-changing Kansas weather. Gazebos are also inherently decorative, with ornate tracery in wood or metal, and they are almost always set in the midst of beautiful flowerbeds—lots of blooms at no added floral cost. And there are castles in Kansas, or close facsimiles, for fairytale weddings, such as the Castle Tea Room in Lawrence. Quirky venues work well, too, I know I’m still waiting to attend a ceremony in front of the massive diorama at the KU Natural History Museum. After all, the tableau of the arctic has lots of white. (Yes, there is also a looming polar bear, but that just makes for better photo ops.) Another benefit to planning a Kansas wedding? Kansans. People are incredibly kind and helpful here. That means the young woman who pulls a wedding dress off the rack—one you would never had even thought to try—not only has an eagle eye for what suits you but also will be charming, friendly and funny during a lengthy, sometimes taxing, process of dress shopping. She’s someone you want as your style consultant, yes, but she’s also someone who could easily join your circle of friends. But for all of the beautiful, quirky, elegant venues, it’s important to plan a wedding that is authentic—that truly reflects your everyday life and values—so you can start a marriage that will be authentic as well. A Kansas wedding can be homey, hip, elegant, or informal. Here you can create the scene of your dreams, down to the food, flowers, guest list, venue and attire, while still establishing that Kansas sense of place and belonging. This fall, two very loved people in my family celebrated their wedding. They’ve picked a renovated cider mill, full of old stone and brick. They were surrounded with family, friends and music. Some guests from the East Coast asked early on, “Why are you getting married in Kansas?” Of course, that question was answered once they sampled the hospitality and beauty, but more than anything, once they saw that the wedding reflected the couple and foreshadowed the marriage to be. Honest, forthright, friendly, and unique, true to the couple. *Sunflower, by Mack Davis, Published by Famous Music Corp., NY, NY 1948
hallie A photographer’s take on great weddings
awrence-based wedding photographer Hallie Sigwing was born and raised in a tiny farm town outside of Wichita. As she tells it, when she began her career with her mother’s old film camera at the age of 15, she had no idea what she was doing. “I would literally just tell people to buy some Kodak 400 at Walgreens and meet me in random wheat fields around my hometown,” she says. “I was shooting film when it wasn’t cool!” Only a year after that, a family friend insisted that she shoot their wedding. “I was totally hesitant, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer.” So began Hallie’s career in wedding photography.
all day long, from the moment you wake up. I always want my couples to feel like our portrait time is a time for them to take a deep breath, soak in the day’s events, and remind each other of why they are there. I ask a lot of questions and have them talk to each other. I also make it a point to meet with my couples several times for drinks or dinner before their wedding day. The secret is getting the guys to feel comfortable around you—and make them feel confident that you aren’t going to make them look silly or cheesy. Once you get the grooms to feel comfortable around your camera, everything else is a breeze.
WHAT MAKES PHOTOGRAPHING KANSAS WEDDINGS UNIQUE? Kansas weddings are wonderful because there is so much room for versatility. If you’re shooting in a big city, you’re very limited with the sort of settings you can place your couples in. You’re dealing with a lot of people, and shadows, and cars. It’s very hard to get a broad range of images when you’re working with such a limited environment. In Kansas, even in the heart of the cities, you’re never farther than twenty minutes from some beautiful scenery.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR COUPLES SEEKING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER? Find someone that you feel like you could be friends with. You’re going to spend so many hours with this person. My brides are around me more than anyone else on their wedding day, usually. I think for most of my couples, I really am a big part of how they experience their day. I think not connecting emotionally with your photographer translates into the images.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LIGHT TO SHOOT IN? Sunrise! Hands down. If only I could get more of my couples to wake up that early for me. I’ve thought about doing a discount for sunrise engagement sessions because I love them so much. WHAT’S YOUR SECRET FOR GETTING A COUPLE TO RELAX? It always astonishes me how little time people get to spend alone on their wedding day. Like, you’re surrounded by people
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM DESTINATION, IN KANSAS, TO SHOOT NEWLYWEDS? I’ve been seeing a lot of people shooting at the Monument Rocks in western Kansas, lately. I would love to shoot there. I think my dream scenario will always be on a farm, at sunrise. I always feel so inspired by family farms and I never tire of photographing them.
LM Photographs courtesy Hallie Sigwing
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62 LAWRENCE’S GREAT SKYSCRAPERS Trees define the city’s landscape, but for the city and for landscapers, it can be difficult—and even vital—to define what trees Lawrence needs
75 OREAD USONIAN Frank Lloyd Wright had a vision to revolutionize American homes, but it took one able Jayhawk architect to adapt the idea for Kansas heat and humidity
L A W R E N C E ’ S
G R E A T
S K Y S C R A P E R S
Trees define the city’s landscape, but for the city and for landscapers, it can be difficult—and even vital—to define what trees Lawrence needs
J u l i e
To l l e f s o n
S tre m e l
Shady parks. Bursts of spring blossoms. Bright fall foliage. Maybe we take our trees for granted, just a little, particularly since it hasn’t been that long since settlers first arrived on this mostly treeless prairie and began re-creating the landscape, a process that continues today. We can even trace Lawrence’s development in the size of trees, from the stately and grand in the city’s oldest neighborhoods—East Lawrence, Old West Lawrence and North Lawrence—to progressively smaller growth in the western suburbs. “When you go into nice neighborhoods, you’ll see that people planned for trees,” says Glen Westervelt, president and CEO of Lawrence Landscape and its subsidiary, LLI Tree Farm. “If you look at any old picture of Lawrence, it just looks barren because there’s no trees.” Quite the contrast to our modern landscape. Today, when builders develop new subdivisions and business centers, trees are as much a part of construction plans as sheetrock and nails. And that’s by design. Crystal Miles, horticulture and forestry manager with Lawrence’s Parks and Recreation Department, leads the city’s tree efforts. “Planting trees is about planning for the future,” Miles says. She and her team are responsible for 35,000–40,000 trees in public spaces and rights of way. They plant 400 trees a year as part of the city’s Master Street Tree Plan regulations.
Jon Standing, arborist
That’s the code that ensures trees are included in every new subdivision—one tree every 40 feet. The code also applies to commercial properties, which is why trees grace so many Lawrence parking lots. “Other small cities in Kansas don’t have the tree ordinances we have,” Miles says. Lawrence’s tree care regulations are one reason the city has achieved a Tree City USA designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation for 38 years running. Other standards required for the designation are having a tree department, a comprehensive forestry program, and an Arbor Day observance. The regulations spell out everything from when trees should be planted (after utilities have been installed) to the minimum diameter of a new tree’s trunk (2 inches in most cases) to the minimum number of different species (one to six depending on the size of the development). DIVERSITY AND DISASTER That last point—diversity of species—is a hot topic for anyone connected with the tree business, for good reason. Too many of any one species of tree increases the potential for total collapse of the population in the event of disease or pest infestation. It’s a harsh lesson when it happens, as Tim McDonnell, community forestry coordinator with the Kansas Forest Service, well knows. “We thought we learned it with Dutch elm disease,” he says, referring to the fungus that wiped out elm populations several decades ago and destroyed the canopies of elm branches interwoven over the streets in some of the city’s most established neighborhoods. “Then we went back in and planted ash,” McDonnell continues. “Now we’re dealing with emerald ash borer. Hopefully, the third time we learn to go back with more diversity.” The emerald ash borer, a little green beetle devastating ash populations across the country, has been found in at least 27 states to date. It’s a slow-moving threat local tree experts have been expecting. Miles has known about the emerald ash borer since 2002, and her team stopped planting ash about eight years ago. Now, they’re taking a multiphase approach to combating the beetles. “We’re treating 700 trees that are in good to fair condition,” she says. “We’re removing trees, and we’re replanting.” At the same time, Miles and her team remain vigilant for other dangers to the trees in their care, such as a drought that has hit the city since 2012. The years of drought have taken a toll on Lawrence trees, hitting elms, maples, hackberries and walnuts hard. The effects might not be visible quickly, but they are there. “It takes a long time for a tree to die,” says Miles.
NATIVE OR EXOTIC? The challenges of growing trees—disease, pests, drought— raise a question: Wouldn’t native trees, those that evolved to thrive in the extremes of Kansas weather, be the ideal choice for most local landscapes? Sometimes, yes. But often, our expanses of concrete and asphalt create a hostile home for trees that prefer stream banks and hillsides. “They’re not going to grow there,” Miles says. “It’s not a native environment for them. You’ve got to find trees that are adaptable for that environment.” Another strike: Many native trees are, frankly, understated when it comes to the fall color and spring flowers that homeowners desire. And then there’s the issue of diversity, again. “We will push natives, but our biggest problem in community forestry is getting that true diversity of species,” says McDonnell. “I really cannot do that just with native trees.” LAWRENCE’S CLAIM TO TREE FAME When it comes to Lawrence trees, Jon Standing probably knows as much as anyone. He’s always on the lookout for rare and unusual species, and he leads classes through Parks and Rec for those who want to learn more. For the past dozen years, Standing has helped with the Kansas Forest Service’s Kansas
Champion Tree Program—identifying, nominating, and measuring some of the biggest trees in the state. “I tell people it keeps me on the street, rather than off the street,” he says. “It’s fun to find the big ones.” A tree is designated a state champion, by definition the largest tree of its species in the state, using a formula that takes into account the tree’s circumference, height, and canopy spread to arrive at a point total that can be compared from tree to tree. “What I tell people is that a 200-point tree is a big tree, between 300 and 399 is very big, 400 to 499 is a very, very big tree, and anything over 500 is awesome,” Standing says. A quick check of the champion tree list on the forest service website shows 10 state champion trees in Lawrence and another four in Douglas County outside city limits. Three of the Lawrence champions fall into Standing’s very big category—a pin oak (point total 304) on the University of Kansas campus, a Siberian elm (306) in North Lawrence, and an osage orange (312) at KU’s Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. For the record, the biggest tree in the state, according to the list, is an eastern cottonwood at Studley in Sheridan County with a whopping 558 points. No other tree even comes close. Three Kansas trees also appear on the American Forests’ Champion Trees National Register, including a white mulberry
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(point total 367) that grows on a hill near Baldwin. It’s one of Standing’s favorites. He speculates based on size and probable age of the tree that it once served as a landmark and rest stop for pioneers traveling the historic Santa Fe Trail nearby. Unfortunately, Standing says, damage from a recent windstorm threatens the mulberry’s place on the national list. McDonnell, with the state forestry service, carries a copy of the state champions list with him on official travels across the state. “It creates a lot of interest in trees,” he says. “People are always asking about this list and may even suggest that they have a large tree that might be the champ, until I take the list out and show them how big the current champ is.”
THE ELUSIVE SEARCH for the Ideal Lawrence Tree Variety When it comes to love of trees, people fall hard for beautiful form and brilliant color. Ornamental pears, like the ubiquitous Bradford and its relations, certainly live up to expectations. “They’ve got everything you want,” says Glen Westervelt of Lawrence Landscape and LLI Tree Farm. “They have a shiny leaf, they have a leaf that turns red in the fall, and they have nice white flowers in the spring.” But they may have too much of a good thing. Ornamental pears are among the last trees to drop their leaves in the fall, making them susceptible to serious damage when snow or freezing rain accumulates on the foliage and gusty Kansas winds snap ice-laden limbs to pieces. So what qualities do the ideal trees have? “They’ve got to be somewhat drought resistant and be able to handle the 100 degree days for a week or two in the summer and then the low temperatures in the winter,” says Westervelt. Around here, they also have to thrive in heavy Lawrence soils. But they also have to meet the beauty standards we’ve come to expect in our trees. Westervelt founded the Tree Farm, in part, to ensure his landscaping business always had a ready supply of quality trees suited to this area. Now, 7,000 trees in various stages of maturity grow on the 30-acre farm on the south side of Lawrence. As far as trends go, he says he’s seeing a big move away from planting ash trees, understandable in light of the threat from the emerald ash borer. “The trick is what’s going to replace it,” he says. The answer may come from unexpected quarters. “We’re seeing more of a trend toward elms. If you’d told me 20 years ago that I’d be growing elms, I wouldn’t have believed it. But there are a lot of hybrid elms that we’re growing now because there’s a demand for them.” In the city’s horticulture and forestry division, Crystal Miles compiles a list of trees for the Master Street Tree Program with an eye toward diversity of species, appropriate size for today’s smaller lots, and adaptability to local environment. She, too, plants a lot of elm now, as well as oak, maple, blackgum, redbuds, and more.
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STORY BY Liz Weslander
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Doug Stremel
Frank Lloyd Wright had a vision to revolutionize American homes, but it took one able Jayhawk architect to adapt the idea for Kansas heat and humidity
It’s easy to recognize the Lawrence legacy of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright—if you know where to look for it. Perhaps the best place to start is the yard of John Charlton in the University Place neighborhood on the southern slope of Mount Oread. If you stand at the edge of Charlton’s property and allow your eye to follow the ground’s slow rise, you see a modest, redwood-clad home with a low roofline, dramatic lines, and an L-shaped layout—all distinct characteristics of Wright’s celebrated style. But there’s more to this home than the imprint of one architectural legend. And that second layer of thought and design reflects the influence of this specific plot of land and the distinct vision of a brilliant Jayhawk architect. The story of these two influences is narrated in Charlton’s recently approved application to list the home on the National Register of Historic Places. With assistance from Lawrence Modern (an architectureappreciation group organized by Dennis Domer, Tom Harper and Bill Steele), Charlton spent many days searching through the special collections of the University of Kansas Spencer Research Library and sifting through photos, house plans and correspondence between Wright and the home’s designer, George Beal.
“There was all this stuff that I could mine, and on such a rich topic,” says Charlton. “I would go up to Spencer with Tom Harper and spend hours going through boxes and boxes of archives and copying materials that were relevant.” What emerged was a chronicle of a magical synergy between Beal and Wright. A professor at KU School of Architecture from 1928 to 1970, Beal is credited with helping shift the school’s emphasis from classic to modern architecture. Beal, in turn, was influenced by Wright and by the new type of architecture known as “Usonian” that Wright championed. When Beal completed the “Wright would use home for himself and his wife in light aesthetically and 1950, it was clearly philosophically with in the Usonian his organic architecture mold. That fact alone made it a principles, but what Beal rarity. Charlton says did with this house is the home is one of only some 60 actually an advancement true Usonian-style of Wright’s Usonian houses in existence. design.” More importantly— –JOHN CHARLTON the house is the only Usonian structure with Beal’s site-specific, energy-efficient design. “I could describe the house as a Usonian house in the nomination, but to make it significant, I had to say how Beal made it unique,” explains Charlton. “In the application I described point-by-point why it was a Usonian house, and then emphasized all of Beal’s input into this specific site. And I think that’s what made the nomination go through.”
Beal’s primary innovation in the construction process was to customize a new type of heliodon, an instrument that measures the angles of sunlight on a structure. Beal’s variation allowed him to measure the sunlight’s exposure into the interior of the home and calculate where the house should stand and what the slope of the roof should be in order to gain the most solar heating and cooling benefits. “I think Beal impressed Wright with his ideas about solar energy,” says Charlton. “Wright would use light aesthetically and philosophically with his organic architecture principles, but what Beal did with this house is actually an advancement of Wright’s Usonian design. They spoke the same language and had the same concepts. That’s why there was a relationship between the two.” Those heating and cooling concepts are still effective. In the winter, the home’s south-facing windows allow sunlight to pour into the home and warm up a massive brick hearth at the center of the structure. In the summer, the large overhangs of the home’s roof shade the structure. Although an air-conditioning unit has been added to the home since its construction, the house can remain cool on non-humid days simply by turning on a chimney exhaust fan that pulls refreshing breezes through the home’s windows and French doors.
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For the past decades, the house has been defined by both Wright’s vision for an authentic, vernacular architecture and Beal’s ability to adapt a project to the specifics of a climate and locale. But Charlton suggests the home would perhaps not be standing in such a good condition if it were not for a third force, the stewardship of his mother, Betty Jo Charlton. One of the first females to enter the KU School of Engineering, Charlton bought the house in 1971, lived there when she served as Lawrence’s first female representatives to the Kansas House from 1979–1994 and continued to reside in it and take care of it until her death in 2014. “My mother appreciated the house because she knew Beal, and she appreciated the house well enough to not change it,” Charlton says. “The National Register of Historic Places designation is really about conservation and preservation. You become the curator of the house.”
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calendar / summer 2017 City Band Concerts
May 31–July 19 A beloved bit of Americana in the heart of Lawrence is repeated each Wednesday night at 8 p.m. as the city band provides a free concert from the South Park gazebo (or at Murphy Hall in the University of Kansas in the event of bad weather).
June 9 The performance troupe of Quixotic Cirque Nouveau presents the classic Stravinsky ballet adapted to music by Radiohead. Igor Fyodorovich would most definitely approve. For ticket reservations and more information, go online at lied.ku.edu.
Game of Gnomes June 1–July 28 Take the grandkids or your favorite garden-gnome connoisseur on a trip across Lawrence’s city parks to discover gnome sculptures hidden by the city’s librarians. Because that is what librarians do, and this is your quest. More information and quest guide available are at the front desk of Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.
The Music Man June 9–25 Theatre Lawrence closes out its 2016–2017 season with multiple showings of this favorite musical. For ticket information and performance schedule, go online at theatrelawrence.com.
Photograph courtesy Quixotic Cirque Nouveau
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Douglas County Fair
June 24 Lawrence’s community-wide karaoke battle to benefit the Willow Domestic Violence Center. Whitney Houston recorded “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” so that you, on this day, in this city, could revive it on this stage. For more information and ticket reservations, go online at libertyhall.net.
July 15–29 Two weeks of pie-baking, llamajudging and sheep-showing culminate in a weekend of demolition derby, concerts and carnival rides. For a full schedule, go online at dgcountyfair.com.
Free State Festival
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June 27–July 2 The Free State Festival is emerging as one of the Midwest’s premier cultural events, and this year’s lineup hosted by the Lawrence Arts Center includes the return of Barry Crimmins, a concert by Chicano Batman, and a lineup of films such as Rumble: The Indians who Rocked the World. For a full schedule and ticket information, go online at freestatefestival.org.
Final Friday June 30 (and final Friday of each month, April–November) Lawrence galleries, studios and businesses open their doors for an evening of new art showings and artist-hosted events throughout the city’s Downtown and central Arts District. For a full lineup of shows, go online at unmistakablylawrence.com.
Piano Competition Finals July 2–3 Enjoy the semifinals and finalround competition concerts at the International Institute for Young Musicians annual academy and piano concert. These are some of the nation’s best emerging pianists, and the competition concerts are free to the public. For more information, go online at iiym.com.
Kaw Valley River Fest
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July 4 Annual community Fourth of July food and fireworks celebration throughout the day at Burcham Park. For a schedule and more information, go online at kawvalleyriverfest.com.
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Downtown Lawrence Sidewalk Sale July 20 The 58th annual shopping extravaganza as Lawrence’s downtown merchants bring their bargains onto the sidewalks for an entire day of discounted shopping bliss. Drink plenty of water, stop for lunch and bring your gift list. For more information, go online at downtownlawrence.com.
USA Track & Field Junior Olympics July 24–30 Rock Chalk Park hosts the nation’s premier event for youth amateur track and field athletes. For a full schedule, go online at usatf.org or follow links from unmistakablylawrence.com.
L yle Lovett and His Large Band July 27 One of the most successful country-folk songwriters returns to Lawrence for a concert. For ticket reservations and more information, go online at lied.ku.edu.
Josh Gracin Concert August 26 A country music concert at the The Oread that includes a dinner option and a tribute to the nation’s armed forces. For tickets and more information, go online at theoread.com.
Penny Jones Golf Tournament September 8 The 36th-annual tournament features sport and networking to support the endowment of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. For registration and more information, go online at lmhendowment.org/ pennyjones.
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Published on Jun 8, 2017
Trees define our city's geographic and cultural heritage, but it takes years of planning and cultivation to protect Lawrence's tree diversit...