“The Addams Family” to be featured at Feb. 23 Hearts in the Arts Theatre Gala

Reservations are open for the 21st Annual Hearts in the Arts Gala sponsored by the McLennan Community College Foundation. This year’s gala on Feb. 23 features a McLennan Theatre performance of “The Addams Family-A New Musical” at the MCC Ball Performing Arts Center. 

Tickets are $100 each and include drinks and dining at 6 p.m. and the performance at 7:30 p.m. Dessert will be served at intermission. Tables for eight are $800 and include preferred dinner seating.

Guests will be transported to the Addams’ ethereal Central Park mansion for an evening hosted by the most macabre family in the neighborhood. Wednesday Addams, daughter to the delightfully spooky Gomez and Morticia, has invited her new boyfriend, Lucas, and his parents over for dinner. There is only one catch: Lucas is a well-mannered suitor from Ohio who does not have a ghoulish bone in his body. Musical comedy carnage ensues as Gomez and Morticia try to persuade the family to act “normal” for Wednesday’s sake. Also appearing are familiar Uncle Fester, devious brother Pugsley, stoic butler Lurch, and the ever-helpful Thing. 

The McLennan production will be directed by Kelly Parker and choreographed by Joe Taylor and will feature elaborate costuming and sets to immerse the audience in the Addams Family vibe. Honorary Hearts in the Arts Chair Nell Hawkins will host the evening as the elegant Morticia Addams.

Hearts in the Arts is an affinity group of the MCC Foundation that supports the arts at McLennan. All proceeds from the gala benefit McLennan scholarships and special projects benefitting visual and performing arts students and faculty.

Gala reservations are due by Feb. 16. For more information, visit www.mclennan.edu/foundation/hearts. To make reservations, contact the McLennan Community College Foundation at 254-299-8604 or [email protected]

McLennan Steinway Series to present Yoon & Terry in concert

The McLennan Steinway Series presents Drs. Angela Yoon, soprano, and Jason Terry, pianist, in concert at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at Ball Performing Arts Center on the McLennan Community College campus.

The concert titled, “Broken Harmony: Reconstructing Art – A Musical Journey through World War I,” will be a multimedia production outlining the effects of WWII on the arts and society. The concert will include MCC professors Kelly Parker as narrator and Jon Conrad as trumpeter.

Tickets are $5 and may be purchased through the MCC Box Office at 254-299-8200 or [email protected].

Art Center Waco to feature area artists in exhibition

Art Center Waco is hosting an exhibition by Professional Artists of Central Texas Jan. 19-March 11. The “collective exhibition” will boast artworks from 17 artists are exhibited in one place.

PACT promotes the arts in Central Texas. Founded in 2016, the juried membership of artists also work as individuals: creating, selling, and showing their art. The collaborative group aims to “strengthen, improve, and promote the artistic, professional, and economic success of its artists,” an ACW release said.

The 17 artists are from Waco and surrounding area. The artists are: Joanna Burch, Karen Cruce, Joel R. Edwards, Linda Williams Filgo, Carol Fox Henrichs, Hailey Herrera, Cory Lind, Kevin Malone, Kimberly Merck-Moore, Kay Reinke, Judi Simon, Susan Sistrunk, Susan Sterle, Chesley Smith, Melanie Stokes, Charles Wallis, and LaJuana Westerfield.

ARTá la Carte!, the name of the group show, showcases a variety of styles, as varied as the 17 personalities of the artists.

The community is invited to an Opening Reception 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19. The show will be accessible during regular Art Center hours Jan. 19-March 11 when several free demonstrations, gallery talks, docent-led tours and family-friendly activities for viewing art will be available from the PACT artists. The gallery will feature hands-on Creation Stations for children 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 11 as the show closes at the end of spring break.

Contact Art Center Waco, 701 S. Eighth St., or Professional Artists of Central Texas on social media for a calendar of events and activities taking place Jan. 19-March 11.

Mayborn becomes first Smithsonian affiliate in Central Texas

The Mayborn Museum announces its new status as a Smithsonian Affiliate. The museum joins a network of more than 200 Smithsonian Affiliates in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Panama. The Mayborn will now be the Central Texas connection to the Smithsonian and its many resources. This recognition makes The Mayborn Museum one of 13 Smithsonian Affiliates in Texas and the only one in Central Texas.

“Smithsonian Affiliates are collaborators on many Smithsonian strategic priorities, adding local content, context, and expertise to help tell a fuller story,” said Myriam Springuel, director of Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Smithsonian Affiliations. “Including the Mayborn in our Affiliate network provides greater access to the rich history and culture of Central Texas and we look forward to creating experiences that align those stories with national initiatives at the Smithsonian.” 

Smithsonian Affiliates represent the diversity of America’s museum community and serve all audiences. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the Mayborn will have the opportunity to collaborate on unique, public programs and workshops, professional development opportunities, co-develop youth programs, host traveling exhibitions, borrow artifacts, and co-host public lectures by Smithsonian scholars. 

As part of the first phase of collaboration, the Mayborn is bringing the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Youth Action and Leadership Program to Waco. The initiative works with local schools to empower young people to act on environmental issues. With support from the Smithsonian, the Mayborn will develop young people’s leadership skills with the goal of inspiring climate-literate leaders in Central Texas. Earth Optimism Youth Action and Leadership for Sustainable Communities is funded in part by a Jeff Bezos gift to the National Air and Space Museum.

“Our partnership with the Smithsonian will facilitate new exhibits and programs for our visitors that will inspire a deeper understanding of our world and how it can be changed for the better,” said Charlie Walter, executive director of the Mayborn.

Wild Imaginings to host award-winning writer Amy Tofte for world premier

By Chris Qualls

Wild Imaginings, Waco’s only professional theater company, will host the 2022 Epiphanies New Works Festival debuting the world premiere of an award-winning writer’s never-before-seen play. It’s Oct. 13-16 at Cultivate 7Twelve, 712 Austin Ave.

Amy Tofte’s new play, “Cardboard Castles Hung on Walls,” stood out from hundreds of entries in a Waco-based competition for unseen works. Tofte’s work will be performed for the first time ever right here in downtown Waco. 

Tofte, who was previously recognized as one of Samuel French’s “Top 30” in the “Off Off Broadway” Festival, will be at the premiere. VIP ticket holders to the weekend’s event can expect to receive free drinks, snacks, special seating, and facetime with the playwright among their elevated experience. 

Trent Sutton, founder and artistic director for Wild Imaginings, had this to say:

“There is this idea that Waco isn’t a thriving place for the arts; that to engage with great art, one has to go to Austin, Dallas, or Houston. At Wild Imaginings, we are committed to making Waco a place for diverse artists to live, work, and thrive. We love bringing new perspectives and new voices to the stage, and Epiphanies is just one small part of that.”

Sponsorship opportunities for the special event remain, as do a variety of ticket types. VIP tickets are limited and are going quickly.

Chris Qualls is a board member of Wild Imaginings, as well as the marketing director/homeownership center manager at NeighborWorks Waco.

Jack Bowers & Art Center of Waco help us focus on perspective

By Ferrell Foster

Years ago, Jack Bowers became interested in the impact a viewer’s perspective has on an artistic work. Artwork is not just a static piece of clay or painting on a canvas, the viewer’s perspective affects how the art is perceived, Jack told me the other day.

Jack Bowers describes “Perspectivism”

Walk into the Jack Bowers exhibit, “Perspectivism,” at the Art Center of Waco, and you quickly realize what Jack is talking about. None of his exhibited art is two dimensional; it has three dimensions, and, if you’re like me, you will find yourself walking from side-to-side in front of a wall-hanging piece or moving around a clay sculpture taking in the varied angles presented by the art.

Sorry, but I can’t really describe it. You’ve got to see it. And, thanks to the Art Center, you can. CEO Doug McDurham and his team are doing a great job. They have brought us the first local show of Bowers’s work, and the artist now lives in Waco, having moved here from California. 

The exhibit at the Art Center of Waco, 701 S. 8th St., opened Thursday, Sept. 1. It will be on display through Nov. 5, free to the public, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Since most of you don’t know me, you’re probably thinking something like, “Oh, this Ferrell guy must be one of those artsy types.” I wish. The visual arts often go over my head, but they do, at times, go straight to my heart. 

As a result of my artistic ignorance, my encounters with art forms are more like a Siskel & Ebert movie review — thumbs up or thumbs down. It either connects with me or it doesn’t. And, chances are, I will not be able to tell you why.

I stopped by the Art Center of Waco Thursday and had a chance to visit with Bowers, the exhibit artist.

Jack is a delightful and interesting human being. His eyes reflect an internal spirit that is alive with fascination. He spent some time helping me understand his artform — perspectivism. It’s interesting when an artist starts talking about science — how light is both a wave and a particle. And art, he realized years ago, functioned in two ways, as well — from the perspective of the artist and the perspective of the viewer.

It all connected pretty quickly to my years-ago school art classes when the teacher had us mark two points toward either end of a horizon line near the top of the blank drawing paper and then draw a building in the space below the line. Lines representing the corners of the house went straight up and down; lines depicting the sides of the house all pointed toward one of the two dots at the left and right near the top. 

I still remember being surprised that lines coming closer together on two-dimensional drawing paper give the illusion of the image depth. I had drawn a two-dimensional image that could then be perceived as three dimensional. My personal drawings got a lot better after that — though never good.

Here’s one thing I think I’m learning about art. You don’t necessarily have to personally like a piece to find it interesting. More and more, I find myself looking at art not to decide if I like it but what is being “said” through it and what am I “hearing,” if I may use auditory descriptors to speak about a visual experience.

Thank you, Jack, for helping us see and think about our world and life. Thank you, Doug, for giving us this opportunity to experience Jack’s art.

Ferrell Foster is president of Kortabocker LLC: Communications Built on Caring. He is a former member of the Act Locally Waco Board of Directors and has helped post information to ALW at different times. He is also the former care and communications specialist with Prosper Waco. Contact ALW and Ferrell through [email protected]

Waco may be pursuing greatness in just the right way

By Ferrell Foster

Waco may be on the verge of greatness. This thought came to me this morning as I reflected on two true things — our town seems to be facing the reality of its high poverty rate, and we also seem to be taking the arts seriously.

It may seem odd to tie these two things together, so let me try.

Art gives expression to all that makes a community great.

No city can be great when such a high percentage of its population lives in poverty. There is all kinds of data to prove this point, but you can also drive into certain parts of town and convince the other side of your brain of this truth.

The poor will always be with us, as someone famous once said, but that did not prevent him from caring deeply and working on behalf of the poor. That guy’s name was Jesus, and people are still talking about him, even worshipping him, 2,000 years later.

So, yes, there will always be people who live in poverty, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t work our tails off helping as many as we can. We help them in the short term by dealing with basic needs (food and shelter), but the most important help comes in the form of education and job training — things related to earning a liveable wage. A minimum wage job cannot support anyone adequately unless they are living with someone else.

And, by the way, our very best schools should be in our very poorest neighborhoods. That’s where it is most needed. But, in Texas, we have the opposite. The best schools are usually in wealthier neighborhoods. Education takes money, even though some don’t like to admit it. Those same people often pay more for housing or private schools for that very reason — it takes money to educate children while parents are working elsewhere.

The other side of this coin is promotion of the arts. This is not often understood as intuitively as the other. We are so enmeshed in a capitalist society that we can easily think business and money-making are the most important parts of building a community. Business and money-making are essential, but addressing poverty and promoting the arts is equally important.

Why the arts? This sector is much like the spiritual sector (of which we already have great strength). Both promote a connection to truth and concerns beyond oneself, and when we connect to deeper Realities we generally become more attuned to the people around us, or we should. Sometimes American religion can be very self-centered (as in “my” salvation) and undermine broader concern, but Christianity and other religions lift love of neighbor to equal footing with love of self. Self-esteem is good (you are created in the image of God), but neighbor-esteem is just as important (they are created in that same image).

More than 100 years ago, Evelyn Underhill understood the connection between spirituality and art. Artists, she said, are “aware of a more vivid and more beautiful world” than other people. They are “always driven by their love and enthusiasm” to express before others “those deeper significances of form, sound, rhythm, which they have been able to apprehend.”

Artists can do this because “they taste deeper and deeper truths, make ever closer unions with the Real. For them, the duty of creation is tightly bound up with the gift of love,” Underhill wrote.

This is why we need artists, just as surely as we need preachers. They help us to connect with the broader realities that many of us identify as God, while others identify it in other ways. This makes, or should make us, better neighbors. And better neighbors make better towns.

And, by the way, the creativity of the artistic mindset can be financially profitable, as well. For proof of this look no further than our very own Joanna Gaines. Joanna’s creativity with Chip’s business sense as built something important that is benefiting many.

Almost 30 years ago, the band Jars of Clay recorded a song titled “The Art in Me,” which included these lyrics:

“Sculpting every move 

You compose a symphony 

And you plead to everyone 

See the art in me 

See the art in me 

See the art in me.”

(Songwriters: Charlie Lowell / Dan Haseltine / Matthew Ryan Bronleewe / Stephen Daniel Mason)

May we see the art in each other and work to help each other, both in our struggles and in our art.

Ferrell Foster is senior specialist for care & communication with Prosper Waco. He is also on the Board of Directors of Act Locally Waco and a regular contributor to the blog.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].

Chalk art obstacle courses come to life in Waco parks

Waco-McLennan County Public Health District, Creative Waco, and City of Waco Parks and Recreation collaborated to create the Sidewalk Chart Art Obstacle Course Challenge. The Challenge was a community-wide project that tasked families to get outside and get creative by drawing their best sidewalk chalk obstacle course.

The Health District received multiple submissions from the community, all containing different, creative ways to get through the obstacle course such as: hopping like a bunny rabbit, spinning, doing your best touchdown dance, and jumping through lily pads like a frog.

 “The goal for the challenge was to provide families with a fun way to get outside and get active, while also providing a COVID-safe activity for all to enjoy,” said Emily Green, public health education specialist for the Public Health District. 

Families were asked to submit photos March 23-April 18, and winners were chosen May 3. A panel of judges representing local organizations scored the entries on creativity, obstacles within the course, and the ability for all community members to enjoy.

The winners are the Vaughn and Peebles families, the Sharma family, and the Striezel family.

The obstacle courses are now painted on sidewalks near the playground stations at Bledsoe-Miller Park (300 N. M.L.K. Jr. Blvd.), South Waco Park (2815 Speight Ave.), and Dewey Park (925 N. 9th St.). Tashita Bibles, a talented local artist, stayed true to the spirit of the kids’ original artwork, while bringing some magic of her own.

“How cool that some of the children who participated get to see their artwork come to life in City of Waco parks. It’s a reminder that everyone’s ideas can make a positive difference in our community” said Fiona Bond, executive director of Creative Waco.

Funding made possible through the Texas Healthy Communities, Texas Department of State Health Services grant.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Stars Over Texas Jamboree presenting country legends edition

By Terry Roller

Following a successful first Golden Oldies Edition at the Waco Hippodrome in June, the Stars Over Texas Jamboree will present its first Legends of Country Edition at the historic downtown theatre, 724 Austin Ave. on Tuesday, July 8. Pre-show begins at 6:45 p.m., and showtime is 7 p.m.

Special guests include Danny Ragland as Willie Nelson, Bridgett Huffhines as Patsy Cline, and Jamboree partner Johnnie Bradshaw as Jim Reeves, along with the Jamboree partners, band, and cast. 

Tickets are assigned seating. Seats are $20, $16, $14, and $12 (balcony) plus sales tax and a small processing fee. Tickets are available on the Hippodrome website and at the door on the night of the show, though by that time the remaining seats may most likely be balcony seats. Limited $16 (plus tax and processing) advance tickets will also be available at Lone Star Music, 929 Lake Air Dr. Ample parking is available within a block of the Hippodrome including on and off-street parking.

The Hippodrome location provides visitors the opportunity purchase a selection of adult beverages, water, and soft drinks while watching the show. 

Shows will follow all current CDC and government mandates and Hippodrome policies regarding masking and social distancing at the time of the show. Check the Hippodrome website and Facebook page and the Stars Over Texas Jamboree Facebook page for changes or updates. Should there be another shutdown, this show will be rescheduled at the earliest possible date.

Terry Roller is a retired graphic design professor from Baylor, having taught there for 33 years in addition to 6 years at Eastern Illinois University and 4 years as a teaching assistant at the University of Tennessee where he holds a BFA and MFA in design. He is also a partner in the Stars Over Texas Jamboree. He acts as vocalist, designer, roadie, and occasional emcee and comic.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Popular long-running music show relaunches in new home

By Terry Roller

Beginning with a June 10 Golden Oldies Edition, The Stars Over Texas Jamboree will join forces with the historic Waco Hippodrome to begin an exciting reincarnation of Waco’s only locally produced music variety stage show. In addition to a new venue, the Jamboree will be moving to a new night, the second Thursday of each month instead of the first. The curtain will open at the Hippodrome at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 10, with a pre-show at 6:45 p.m.

The Hippodrome location will allow fans to enjoy a selection of adult beverages, soft drinks, popcorn, and snacks while enjoying the show. Once the Hippodrome-affiliated restaurants are back in operation, audiences will be able to order food during the show. Patrons will also have the convenience of purchasing tickets online from the Hippodrome website. Ticketing will be for assigned seating with varying prices depending on location in the theatre.

The Jamboree was launched in September 2010 by then partners Johnnie Bradshaw, Jim Guest, Terry Roller, and Andy Schlesser (Andy Thomas) who later withdrew. Local music favorite Ralph Sparks, the Jamboree keyboard player, became the fourth partner. Jim, Lead guitarist, toured with Reba McEntire and lived for a time in Branson, playing in various shows in that popular music-centric tourist destination. Johnnie is a long-time fixture in the Waco music scene, having started numerous bands over the years going back as far as his father’s band, the Bradshaw Gang and the Starlites with Phil Duckett. He also served as a DJ on local radio. Terry, a graphic design professor at Baylor, came on board as a vocalist and promotional designer. Johnnie and Terry share emcee duties, as well. 

Monthly shows rotate between oldies, country, and gospel, providing an entertainment event similar to those in Branson. The show has been very popular, with many loyal audience members having missed very few of the 115 shows in those nine-plus years. That is a long run in Waco. In that time, the Jamboree has presented the best in Central Texas music talent including our band, cast, and over 200 different guest performers. 

As the partners began thinking about reopening, they learned that the relationship with The Lee Lockwood facility would not continue. Searching for a new home, they found the management of the Waco Hippodrome eager to come aboard. The Jamboree appreciates the nine years of support from Lee Lockwood at great cost to them. The partnership looks forward to being at the Hippodrome and the new possibilities it brings while realizing there will be challenges.

We are still in the planning stages. Watch for further details as the concert date nears. Check our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheStarsOverTexasJamboree, or the Hippodrome website: https://wacohippodrometheatre.com/ or their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wacohippodrome/ for updates. Email  [email protected] or [email protected] for more information or phone 254-755-7257.

Shows will follow all CDC and government mandates and Hippodrome policies regarding masking and social distancing at the time of the show. Should there be another shutdown, this show will be rescheduled at the earliest possible date.

Terry Roller is a retired graphic design professor from Baylor, having taught there for 33 years in addition to 6 years at Eastern Illinois University and 4 years as a teaching assistant at the University of Tennessee where he holds a BFA and MFA in design. He is also a partner in the Stars Over Texas Jamboree. He began singing at the age of 50 after having taken a continuing education group vocal class at Baylor with his then 11-year-old daughter. Soon after, he began singing around central Texas and as a regular with the Texas All Star Review at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. With three partners he met through the Music Association of Central Texas, he helped found The Stars Over Texas Jamboree that kicked off its very first show September 2010. He acts as vocalist, designer, roadie, and occasional emcee and comic.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].