I can hardly believe that it's been four years since the Grand Opening of Inspiration Studios... on a white, snow-covered March 1 of 2014. So many amazing people came out to celebrate the opening and to partake in art-making activities, musical performances, theatre performance and improv.... and FOOD! The generosity of people is sometimes overwhelming!
I was captivated by the fun being created in the basement rehearsal space... by Riverwest artists, Jessica Laub and Renne Bebeau, and by Angie Zimmerman of Sheboygan... as children got their hands (and sometimes faces!) wet with paint and henna tattoes. It was fun!
I recall being moved to tears by the musical talents of Candace Decker and Phil Smith. I remember smiling through the Village Playhouse performance of THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE. Sam McClain played a little Gospel music on our very temporary electronic keyboard. (We received a donated grand piano shortly after!) The Iberian Spanish Dancers provided live flamenco dances that thrilled the audience. Alexis Fielek led the crowd, along with 6 members of the Village Playhouse, in a variety of improv theatre games... which had us in stitches. And Donna Kummer, musical director extraordinaire, closed out our celebration with a 20-piece jazz band, playing amazing music, some of which accompanied vocals by Bill Jackson.
Art teacher, Becky Trochinski, provided the graphics for the announcement of the Grand Opening.
Thom Ertl's exhibition of his assemblage art filled the gallery completely... and was such an inspiration for future artists who now saw the potential that I envisioned for the space.
The physical changes to the venue have been substantial and significant. With the help of so many volunteers, and especially my assistant, Casey (Jones) Paszkiewicz, we've still got some improvements to make to ensure that audiences have the best possible experience when they come view art exhibits, theatre performances, or concerts. But we've come a LONG, LONG way.
At first, I was worried I would have to seek artists to exhibit in the gallery space. Initially, that was the case. I found artists at craft fairs who had never had a gallery exhibit. I sought artists in Milwaukee and Sheboygan....and eventually names were forwarded to me. So I had exhibitors from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia.....and most recently, an artist from Guatemala! Please browse the pages under the ART tab to see all the talent that has exhibited on the gallery walls. And now, the calendar for the next year gets filled by the time the current year has begun! I no longer have to seek artists; they are seeking the intimace of Inspiration Studios as an ideal space for their solo or group exhibits. It warms my heart... but it's a lot to keep up with.
We have painting parties now! And they are SO MUCH FUN! Again, take a look at all the photos under the PHOTO GALLERIES tab.
And the second floor has now become a place to house my personal artwork, as well as writing studios for Christi Craig and Pam Parker and Always-A-Better-You counseling services of Scott Thomas.
And I'm directing my first play with the Village Playhouse next month. THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA opens April 6...and I've got an amazingly talented cast who were so excited about being able to perform a play by a Spanish playwright (in English, of course!) with an ALL-FEMALE cast! I'm beyong pleased with their progress as a cast and the life they are putting into the words of Federico Garcia-Lorca. So many of my former Spanish students are waiting anxiously for this production to open. So am I.
With the many triumphs, there hve been and will continue to be many challenges, but we still strive for the best. And West Allis has been very welcoming, excited to see what we've brought to the city.
Thanks for FOUR great years, everyone. Here's looking forward to many, many MORE!
Whoever said that retirement might not be in my best interest? Whew!