Archive for the ‘artist’ Category

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A tribute to GF Sam Wagner

July 12, 2012

One of b.a.l.m.’s good friends and amazing artists passed away July, 5th, 2012.

We remember GF Sam Wagner. Sam has been involved in b.a.l.m. from the beginning and he will be missed greatly.
Sam was in the b.a.l.m. White Show in Lawrence, KS and San Antonio, TX, Anthropoi, Dry Bones, and the Dannon Art Project.
Sam was a wonderful person and artists. Our condolences, and much love to his wife Shelley and three children.

GF SAM WAGNER

Obituary:
GF Sam Wagner, 38, of Overland Park, KS, passed away Thurs., July 5, 2012. He was born on Jan. 26, 1974, in Springfield, MO, the son of Lynn Catherine (Brimeyer) and Galen F. Wagner. Survivors include his wife, Shelley Wagner, and three children. Other survivors include Gilbert and Leone Brimeyer, Laura and Rick Coelho and their children, and Stephanie and Jeremy Jerguson and their children. He will be missed by many other family members and friends. Sam was a dad, a husband, a son, a brother, a grandson, a cousin, an uncle, a nephew, a son-in-law, a brother-in- law, a neighbor, a friend, a soccer coach, an artist, an architect, a Jayhawk, and a Sporting KC fan. He is now a citizen of heaven. Funeral Services will be held at 10 a.m., Fri., July 13, at Evangel Church, 1414 E. 103rd St., KC, MO 64131. Visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m., Thurs., July 12, at the church. Burial will be held in the Shawnee Mission Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to his children’s education may be made to Learning Quest. Fond memories and condolences for the family may be left at www.johnsoncountychapel.com. (Arr: D.W. Newcomer’s Sons Johnson County Chapel, 11200 Metcalf Ave, Overland Park, KS 66210. (913) 451-1860) http://www.dwnewcomers.com

Link to obituary: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/kansascity/obituary.aspx?n=gf-sam-wagner&pid=158471281#storylink=cpy

Images of a few of GF Sam Wagner’s artwork:

GF Sam Wagner, Swoon (Grace Outake), Acrylic and cut paper, Dec 2011

GF Sam Wagner, Little Things I Should Have Said and Done 1 from The Little Things I Should Have Said and Done Series, 2009

GF Sam Wagner, Sam at b.a.l.m. White Show next to his paintings, “Geese” and “Discover and Enjoy”, 2009

GF Sam Wagner with “Awakening” for b.a.l.m. Dry Bones Exhibition, Oct. 2010 (Collection of Darin and Shannon White)

GF Sam Wagner, At work at b.a.l.m. Dannon Art Project, February, 20th, 2012

A few words about Sam by balm Co Founder Darin White
See more of GF Sam Wagner’s artwork here.

If you would like to help the family in this time by sending a memorial, please write the check to Learning Quest for his children’s education fund.
Please reference GF Sam and Shelley Wagner on checks or in a note sent with checks.
Please send checks to:
LearningQuest c/o Walla Street
4745 West 136th Street
Leawood, KS 66224


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balm is a non profit organization working on 501-3C Status.
If you or an organization or business would like to donate funds, time or
other resources to further art and artists in Lawrence, KS and throughout
the country please send any correspondence to us or donate by clicking the
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Lawrence Final Fridays January 28th, 2011

January 26, 2011

Lawrence, Kansas Final Fridays Events

Fresh Start: Works in Progress
January 28 – March 11.

Opening reception January 28, 5-9pm. In conjunction with Final Fridays

Lawrence Art Center
940 New Hampshire Street 5-9pm

From the organizer:

As the New Year begins with a fresh set of goals and we close the door on a year of triumphs
& troubles,artists are often challenged to carry this anticipation into their studio.  This exhibit
is a chance for the public to get a glimpse into “what’s coming” from Kansas artists and possibly
to learn about each artist’s creative process.It is also an opportunity for the artists to experience
their own unfinished works in a new/different environment. This exhibit speaks to the passion
and drive each artist has to create and will allow the viewer the opportunity to see what’s
informing the artist’s studio.

This exhibit will include works in progress, sketches, mock-ups, and resource materials. Some
of the artists will participate in the Lawrence Arts Center’s Art-in-the-Open project. These artists
will periodically work on their pieces during the run of the exhibit.

Participating Artists:

Molly Murphy, Stephen Johnson, Nicolette Ross, David Loewenstein, Karen Matheis, Louis Copt,
Angie Pickman, Jason Barr, Eric Dobbins, Jack Collins, Leslie Kay, Lisa Grossman, Jeremy Morris,
Shannon White, Darin White, Yuri Zupancic, Jennifer Jarnot, Steven Graber, Juniper Tangpuz,
Kenneth Kupfur, and Alicia Kelly


Oh Baby! (Work in Progress) ©2011 Shannon White

Jason Barrr: I CAN HAS JAIL

The Invisible Hand Gallery
801 1/2 Massachusetts Suite D 6-9pm

From the artist:

Jason Barr aka BARRR is a man of many words. These words are manifested into
pictures, paintings, & podcasts. His first solo show BARRR: I CAN HAS JAIL
reflects the insanity of a man in flux. BARRR shows the conviction & commitment
of the “busiest man in Lawrence!!!” I CAN HAS JAIL is the definitive look inside
the mind of BARRR. A manic collage of bravado, psychedelia, fatherhood, pop
culture, anxiety, religion, insecurity, sex, rock n’ roll, paranoia, hustling & ANGER!
Manic depression has never looked so good.


I CAN HAS JAIL flier image  ©2011 Jason Barrr

Just Like Heaven: New & Used Work by Jimmy Trotter
January 28 — February 19

Opening Reception: (Final) Friday, January 28. 6-10 pm

Wonderfair Gallery / Shop / Studio
803 1/2 Massachusetts St 6-10pm

From the organizer:

©2011 Jimmy Trotter

Exhibition Essay:

As children we hope for endless amounts of things that are less appealing once the
freedom to acquire them is ours. The crunching plunge through frosted corn to
find the prize is replaced by more deviant behavior and luxury wants.

James Trotter has turned the advertisement characters of his American childhood
into a language. His calligraphy of faded toys and pop iconography double as
documentation of his altars of collected collectible junk tucked in every corner of
his studio. Trotter’s psychedelic style showcases racism in commercialized
ethnicity,lascivious cartoons, and the general surrealism of what people choose to
push product.His landscapes are piled high with logos and useless fonts. Slogans
and imagery from his collection of rare funk 45s from the 1960-70’s weave in and
out of his drawings.

Seemingly unhindered by the burden of institutional political dialogue, James
Trotter’s landscapes are upsetting and delightful. His lines and layers are unhinged:
flowering with the fervor childhood sugar highs and flush with second hand desire.

Peregrine Honig 2011



Lawrence Art Party, January 2011

Hobbs Taylor Gallery
718 New Hampshire Street 6-9pm

From the organizer:

Don’t miss the January 28 Lawrence Art Party. We’ll have music by Mike Murphree,
25 AMAZING artists (see list below),and a very fun evening!

Artists showing at the Lawrence Art Party for the first time include two artists whose
work you have probably seen or heard about -Louis Copt and Marty Olson.

And we’ve got work from many other excellent established and emerging artists,
including some very talented KU students. Don’t miss this opportunity to see new
works by these wonderful artists!

Pat Aistrup, Bill Bowerman, Matt Burke’s sculpture students, John Clayton, Louis
Copt, Liz Dickinson, Dan Dishman, Grant Fitch, Barry Fitzgerald, Tim Forcade,
Tanner Hammond, Jim Luhning, Rosemary Marchetta, Baker Medlock, Manuela
Muñoz,Kaylyn Munro, Marty Olson, Chris Ortiz, George Paley, Wayne Propst,
Trae Rickford, Gary Scott, Gary Mark Smith, Addision Stonestreet, Ashley Warner
and Todd Zimmer

The Lawrence Art Party is a Final Friday Lawrence event, presented by the
Downtown Lawrence Arts District.The Lawrence Art party is produced and managed
by George Paley, Eric Kirkendall, and Whirled Art, with art space provided by the
Hobbs Taylor Lofts.

FINAL FRIDAY @ The Pig – ODD SACCADE by Andrew Huffman
The Bourgeois Pig
6 E. 9th St. 5:30-9pm

From the organizer:


©2011 Andrew Huffman

The current work involves an exploratory process reliant on the investigation
of the multiple-confrontation of line, volume, color, space,movement, proximity,
intensity,geometry, pattern, architecture, mirroring, and positive space in balance
with the negative. Although the work coincides with these many formal
relationships, it transcends these surface concepts through a meditative and
intuitive act that at times is a serendi…pitous and meandering process reliant on
investigating, inventing,experimenting, experiencing, hunting material, and
mentally proceeding into another world from the soul (consciously or
subconsciously), free from one’s physical limitation. Color implements provoke a
resonating, exploding, imploding, buzzing, humming, ambient, or distant noise.
The visual orchestrations utilize geometric patterns that induce an impending
and seemingly infinite constellation. Color married with architectural and
mechanical linework plays in a perpetually fluxing environment. Some proximity
relationships of the picture plane may induce a saccade (Ophthalmology. The
series of small,jerky movements of the eyes when changing focus from one point
to another) ; meanwhile, other areas of the picture plane provoke a seemingly airy
and tranquil atmosphere. This notion of pace fluctuation parallels with music,
as when an instrument’s articulation speeds up or slows down. It is my hope that
these subtle visual relationships perpetuate a visual playground free from the
obligation of what is known and concrete; rather these relationships ask if
meanings may come and go as they please, always shifting slightly and evolving.

Italy with Christy Veer
Photography from Italy
Justin Marable “Noco”
Paintings from his book about a little prairie dog named Noco
Heather Smith Jones
Conference Room Show

Signs of Life Gallery
722 Massachusetts Street (Upstairs) Open till 11pm

QuintEssential Art Show
January 28 — February 19

Quintessential Gallery (Q5)
Upper Level of Quinton’s
615 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas
785-842-6560

From the organizer:

Five works of art from artists including: Trina Baker, Dan Dishman, Ben Dory, Paul
Flinders, Leo Hayden, Matt Farley, Rachel Herring, Erok Johanssen, Phil Martinez,
Bobbie Powell, Matt Ridgway and many more

Final Friday art walk: January 28, 4-10 p.m., with “Drink-n-Draw,” food,
and music; an atmosphere of collaboration and relaxation before, during, after
Final Friday gallery crawl


Celebrate People’s History! Posters of Resistance and Revolution
January 15 — February 6

Lawrence Percolator
913 Rhode Island Street
(Under the green awnings in the alley behind Lawrence Arts Center)
Lawrence, Kansas
785-840-5508
Saturday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m. and by appointment, and Final Friday hours 5-8pm

From the organizer:
Percolator Gallery Celebrate Peoples History
©2011 Images Lawrence Percolator and Authors/Artists

An exhibition of more than 50 posters from Celebrate People’s History! a new book
by the Just Seeds Artists’ Cooperative that pays tribute to revolution, racial justice,
women’s rights, queer liberation, labor struggles,and creative activism and
organizing

Final Friday book release party: January 28, 5-8 p.m.

Art From the Heart and the Robert Ault Retrospective

1109 Gallery
1109 Massachusetts 5-9pm

From the organizer:

Robert Ault received his MFA in art from Wichita State University in 1960, then
joined the staff at Menningers in Topeka where he practiced art therapy for 32
years. A talented artist, he opened Ault’s Academy of Art in 1973, and also
helped start the Art Therapy Association of America. This retrospective
features work by the art therapy pioneer.

Lawrence Kansas Final Fridays

These are a few of the locations that we are aware of, various other
exhibitions will be taking place at other venues. Just look for the yellow
flags or via the web go to lawrence.com/finalfridays for soon to be posted
listing of many events and a map and also you can view
Final Fridays Lawrence on Facebook
or FFLawrence on Twitter.
Our website beautyartandlifemovement.org will also
to continue to have listings.

The Final Friday events continue to grow as the word spreads. We hope
that this will continue to be a fun and educational way for Lawrence to
see and interact with art and artists. We also hope that Lawrence will
help sustain this event by supporting the artists, the venues and the
organizations involved.

In addition to sustaining art in Lawrence please contact your local
representative with your support of continued funding for the arts in
Kansas. Go to http://www.arts.ks.gov to read a very important
announcement about proposed loss of major funding of the arts
in Kansas. We need your help to save the Arts from the proposed
cuts!

Loss of funding for the arts doesn’t just effect artists, it effects culture at
large, creative thinking and living in far reaching ways that may never be
fully understood.

—–
b.a.l.m.
http://beautyartandlifemovement.org
balm email

785.764.2216

balm is a non profit organization working on 501-3C Status.
If you or an organization or business would like to donate funds, time or other resources
to further art and artists in Lawrence, KS and throughout the country please
send any correspondence to the addresses in the signature or donate by
clicking the link below.

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Call for Entries for the Juried “WHITE SHOW” 7/17/09

July 17, 2009

° UPDATE 9/19/09 – Because of extending the deadline one week and the overwhelming overall response of submission the jury is still out on the final decisions of artists chosen for the WHITE SHOW.  We will have the artists names and which piece(s) that are accepted posted on this website by Wed., Sept. 23nd, 2009 at 12pm CST.  This will still allow adequate time for the artist to get the work ready and shipped.  In the meantime you can  email us here with any questions you may have.  Thank you for all of your submissions, the show is going to be amazing.

° UPDATE 9/3/09 – Deadline for WHITE SHOW has been extended one week to Saturday, Sept. 12th, 2009 or postmarked by Sept. 9th, 2009.
The PDF Application file is corrected, and the PayPal account is set up to check out see the bottom of this page.  To answer some common questions – Filling out the form online constitutes your hand signed signature.  If you email your images and application and mail in a check please include a copy of your application in the mail as well.  If payment is not here before the juror looks at the work, your work will not be considered, so we recommend priority/ expedited mail or PayPal if you are running late submitting your entry fee.  Payment can be made via PayPal or Check payable to balm.  Applications can be submitted by (scroll over link to see info) mail, fax or email or hand delivered.  If work is accepted delivery of the work will be allowed from Friday Oct. 9th, 2009- Tuesday Oct. 13th, 2009.

CALENDAR

Entries Due: 11:59 p.m., Sept. 12th, 2009

Notification: See web site Saturday Sept. 19th, 2009:
http://beautyartandlifemovement.org
No phone calls will be made

Hand Delivery or Shipment to gallery: Friday, October 9th – Tuesday
Sept. 13th 2009 during gallery hours (see address under hand delivered above)

Show Dates: October 23rd, 2009 – January 18th, 2010

Opening: Friday, October 23rd, 2009 – 7:00 p.m.

Pick Up Date: Tues. January 19th-Sat. January 23rd,
2010, 12:00pm – 4:00 p.m.

b.a.l.m. announces the “WHITE SHOW” call for entries, a juried art show.

balm WHITE SHOW at Signs of Life Gallery

On October 23rd, 2009 b.a.l.m. will open its art show at Signs of Life Gallery in downtown Lawrence, Kansas and will run till January 18th, 2010.
The show is open to all artists 18 years and older, and the entries are due °September 4th, 2009 before 11:59pm. There will be a minimum of 3 cash awards given at the judgment of the jury and committee.  Awards and totals TBA at a later date.  If you are interested in helping sponsor this event please
contact Darin.

We are happy to announce that Samuel W. Kho has agreed to guest jury the show.
___________________

About Samuel W. Kho

Samuel W. Kho enjoys a diversity of roles in many an art world— most importantly, in organizing exhibitions with artists.
Kho currently serves as Curator at All Things Project, a gallery located in Greenwich Village, New York City.
Previously, Kho was co-director of Hayworth Gallery in Los Angeles and had his graduate studies in the Art Market (FIT-SUNY).
To Samuel Kho, art, like life, is like a cactus: it ought to be thorny just as it could be beautiful. His constant mission is to gather and
empower a dangerously prickly assortment of people, classes, and beliefs.
__________________________________

All work should be a majority of white in color.
There is no size or material requirements, however the gallery ceilings are 11′ and 12′.
The jury and committee is open to all 2-D and 3-D mediums.

The jury committee has put together an inspiration that will encourage artists with some glimpses of the concept.

What-is-white-

If you are interested in submitting work please see the files below, read them carefully and follow the instructions.

If you have any questions contact us here.

WHITE SHOW INFORMATION PG 1

WHITE SHOW INFORMATION PG 1

White Show Application

WHITE SHOW APPLICATION PG 2

WHITE SHOW Art Entries – $7 each not more than 6 entries & $35
Sub1 $7.00
Sub2 $14.00
Sub3 $21.00
Sub4 $28.00
Sub5 and Sub6 $35.00

PayPal add to cart

we reserve the right to change this information at any time
-all rights reserved and copyrighted b.a.l.m. 2009

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a life to remember

February 2, 2009

How do you remember the times that you laugh and cry, the times that you argue, complain, fear, believe, hope, dream, love, and all of those
other aspects of life?  It is a moment, a simple memory, a fleeting thought, or a long pause?

We have been forced into the reality of life…a life to remember.  our son who has been battling neuroblastoma cancer, was freed from the 
battle on January 9th, 2009.  

Through this struggle we have appreciated having art as a language to express our feelings, thoughts, prayers; understood or not.
Below are poems in response to his life.
____________________________

why did you go?

i know you were strong and brave

our missing you is beyond pain and yet

you are so full of joy —

more than you even left with us,

which is hard to fathom,

excruciating to believe.

faith is unseen but true;

in weakness there is strength.

most don’t understand what you gave,

like the ONE…

your life LIVED not in vain,

but in such love, gifted gain,

welcomed pleasure

building life, home and eternity

with lions, a melting smile and more talent than

can be imagined.

Darin M. White

Copyright 1.22.09

CedarHeartInsideCopperHeartDW by you. WillYouSetHimFreeDEC2007SW by you. 
FoundationPurityIIKeyDW by you.
Sculptures by Darin White and Drawing by Shannon White, copyright 2009
____________

 

We love you, Caden, One of Joy, our Little Warrior.

Capture the heart of the King.

“Drink the wind”,

Ride the baby lion!

Shine your light;

Twinkle bright so we can See you at night.

Fish, Build, Play, Run fast. 

Fly into the sunrise. 

Live your Dreams now and Forever.

We won’t forget the Treasure you are

Precious little guy who brought us such joy,

A gift we can never replace.

Go with God!

Be at peace with no more pain.

Be Free! 

Be one with the Savior.

Love forever in His open arms.

Eat from the Tree of Life

Fruit of Forgiveness.

Days without end…

 

Shannon N. White  
Copyright 2009

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b.a.l.m ANNOUNCES ~ A RESONATE PICTURES PRODUCTION on NOVEMBER 12th, 2007

November 7, 2007

b.a.l.m

ANNOUNCES ~

A  RESONATE PICTURES PRODUCTION
MAIN IMAGE

NOVEMBER 12th, 2007

THE ELDRIDGE EXTENDED

8th & VERMONT ~ LAWRENCE, KANSAS

TWO INDEPENDENT FILM SCREENINGS 7PM~8PM
____________________________________
“I have a slight update for the screening this coming Monday.  
There is not going to be food served before hand
(which is a good thing because it didn’t sound like it was
going to be very delicious) and the cost is now $5 which
includes popcorn and soda with a cash bar (but don’t go
crazy, cause we’ll head over to Free State afterwards for
buck seventy-five pints).
The doors will open at 6:30 so
get ready to scope out your seat (there will only be so
many of those big brown leather comfy chairs).  
Screening starts at 7 with my short playing first and its
only 8 minutes long – so don’t miss.  
The other ‘”film” is the mockumentary and it runs about
40 minutes.  Its pretty funny.  I think you’ll like it.  
But if you’re the type that likes a good plot in your shows,
then feel free to slip over to Free State a bit early.
Again,
the event is open to the public so feel free to
pass this along to anyone who likes to say they like
independent film.  See you there.  The Eldridge Extended.  
Corner of 8th and Vermont.  Not the main hotel, but
the new addition a block away.  5 bucks.  Popcorn with
refills.  A filmmaker happy to see all your faces.  
1.75 pints afterwards.”

Marc Havener
Principal
Resonate Pictures

www.resonatepictures.com
 

Legacy Still 3Legacy Director PhotoLegacy Still 2
____________________________________

Please come out to support Marc and RESONATE PICTURES.
If you have any questions let us know.

b.a.l.m

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New Gathering?

September 28, 2007

We need your assistance.  We are looking for suggestions for a new Gathering in October.

GOT IDEAS?

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balm

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Backstory Biography and All That KC Jazz

September 16, 2007

                                               by Shannon White                 

                  

                 Shannon revisiting her familial jazz roots at the KC Museum of 
                 Jazz – Sept 2007

                  IMG_8421
                  IMG_8417IMG_8416IMG_8413
                  
                   KC Jazz sculpture outside of museum 18th & Vine

    

     High school year book entry for Ralph C Wentz, 
     Shannon’s Grandfather & Jazz Pianist

Two sides of the room sang bebop rhythms back and forth, repeated, then overlapping each other.  The groups waited while vocal and instrumental solos gave their spontaneous variations, then let the chorus respond.  We sang and listened through several sets, awaiting our turn to scat or hear to another soloist.  I reconnnected with my slightly unfamiliar familial jazz roots last June 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at a an Artists Gathering called Via Affirmativa.  Dr. Kyle Gregory, a family man who works as a professional jazz musician in Italy — an amazing jazz musician, teacher and person — gave the multi-disciplinary group of artists brief history of jazz with improvisational performances,  an education on jazz scale construction, rhythm emphasis, and best of all scatting bebop group improvs with instrumental solos.  We were all involved no matter what our artistic background.  It was interactive and exciting, and made me want to try jazz piano or flute for the first time since I started learning in grade school through high school and beyond — I said “try”.  I was also inspired to sketch the trumpeter with the energetic marks traveling up his arched spine, through the bell of his horn, then activating the space around him as I have seen so many other artists do, not to mimic, but because that was simply what I envisioned.  The creative experience in Minneapolis also made me want to discover more about this personal and local history with jazz than I had for my eighth grade speech class on my grandfather and his jazz career years ago. I began to wonder why he chose jazz, what it was like to have his career during his lifetime and later carry it on with a family, how his piano playing was integrated into the American jazz scene altogether and the regional KC scene as well.  This quest involved online research, interviewing my father and thinking about what made jazz spread from America throughout the world as a truly American art form.

               

           Bix Beiderbecke and his gang, which often changed players

Apparently, jazz began in New Orleans at the turn of the twentieth century, as a culmination of African, Spanish, Italian, South American and French cultures.  The blues and marching band style combination with spontaneous music with syncopated “rag time” rhythms traveled up from the seaport town.  The Mississippi River carried African American and Caucasian musicians looking for better futures in Chicago, Illinois, making it the new center for jazz by 1920.   Jazz had always been in my grandfather’s blood.  My grandfather, Ralph C Wentz was born in Ottawa, Illinois, not too far from Chicago in July 7,1909.  He took piano lessons as a child paid for by his grandmother, and took his first piano job playing for silent movies in his father’s silent movie house in Geneseo, Illinois, which is where he grew up.  He then played ragtime in the band his father, Ralph Sr. and Uncle Harry Wentz formed and played in the area.  He studied piano at the Sheridan Institute of Music in Chicago in the early 1930s and then was hired by a piano company in Chicago.  America was in a great period of prosperity at this time, and the country was celebrating with jazz.  No doubt my grandfather was caught up in this progressive American sound and couldn’t resist the proximity or the excitement.  His Uncle Harry was the a pianist for one of the first caucasian jazz bands, Bix Biederbecke , in the quad cities on bordering Illinois and Iowa.  My grandfather ended up filling in for Uncle Harry occasionally at the stool, and ended up playing for Al Capone and at a nunnery, inadvertantly, at one point.  When he realized Capone was actually hiring him, he politely bowed out of these assignments.  I believe an ailing grandmother was mentioned.

                         

                           Where Wentz performed and met his bride-to-be

Chicago hosted the World Fair 1933-34 to showcase an age of progress and technical achievement, while it drew from the past achievements as well.  One of the exhibits at this fair was a jazz pianist playing his newest spontaneous styles of American jazz on a crystal piano turning on a pedestal.  My grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Alleman, visited the world’s fair and began to fall in love with the man playing the piano at the time.  He was to become my grandfather when they would meet again eleven years later in Junction City, KS, where she taught and he was stationed for the war.  He played with many bands during the “big band” or “swing” era in the USO, country clubs and VFW around World War ll, bands like Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, and Les Brown’s Band of Renown in the 1940s.  These bands made records, named after the famous trumpet, clarinet or vocal soloist they featured.    My grandfather moved close to Kansas City along with the jazz migration with a severe stomach ulcer from dealing with snipers and leading raids in the war.  He was sent to a Colorado hospital and then home to Lansing to die with his wife and children, when his ulcer perforated, speeding up the process.  Fortunately, a young country doctor stopped the bleeding with a new procedure and saved his life.  He already had one child by 1949, when my father came along and made two, and there would be two more. 

         

   Tommy Dorsey’s big band, whom my grandfather played with occasionally

KC it was the next big town to be known for “swing” and then “bebop”.  In 1948, my grandfather had his own band in KC and played with other bands as well.  The war draft caused the “big bands” to form these more intimate bebop groups featuring group improvisations, as band members were sent overseas.  He played in the Charlie “Bird” Parker band a little, although my grandfather preferred the rhythm driven and amplified “big band” or “swing” sound to the bebop style.  The music style would travel to New York, but my grandfather moved his family to Leavenworth and stayed in the Midwest.  This was where he remained for the duration of his life.

                                   

                   He played with Charlie “Bird” Parker a few times

My father, a part-time clarinetist, teacher and musician, remembers hearing his father practicing hours into the night after his latest gig.  My grandmother played piano, cello and coronet, and was musical as well.  I remember hearing my grandfather practice or play at dining establishments long after his career was largely over due to failing health.  Around 1948 he had started a piano tuning business, becoming the Piano Tuners’ Guild President in Kansas City in 1952.  During this year, my grandmother was sick with what was initially thought to be leukemia, and grandfather prayed at the chapel each day for her to recover, which she did.  He also appraised property in his small business and continued learning piano at the KC Conservatory of Music, where he shared some classes with Jay McShann. 

My grandmother would “deedle-dee-dee” around their historic house and dance with her finger to jazz on the radio, smiling at bygone memories and enjoying the moment, as she swept the floor after the hungry relatives, dog, two cats.  I was one of the silent grandkids who looked on amusedly, knowing that my grandmother did not like to clean.  After all those years, she still found joy in reliving those moments she spent with my grandfather while participating in the jazz culture firsthand.  She was always a progressive and people-oriented person herself.  Grandpa managed to live as a stable, loving husband and family man, father of four children, and maintain his jazz career through most of his life.  My grandmother always loved him and adored his music while she continued her teaching.

There was one other time I felt especially close to my grandfather after he was gone. As I sat in KC’s famous Jardine’s during a live jazz set with my husband and some friends, I turned my head towards the piano player almost expecting to see Grandpa Wentz sitting at the bench but seeing Joe Cartwright, instead.  His piano playing sounded just like my grandfather’s as I remembered hearing it.  His “bossa nova” La Luna Negra CD is my closest memento to a recording of my grandfather.  I found from my father that my grandfather tutored and mentored Joe Cartwright, a contemporary KC jazz legend, when he was young in a time when many parents discouraged their children from learning the jazz style over the classical styles.  At least one of my grandfather’s later students worked in lessons with my grandfather against the better judgement of their parents.  Maybe the newness, ethnic diversity, and working class roots of the music instilled fear in some people, as many creative, progressive movements do, that it would somehow make them less respectable or taint their morals merely by association.  Another student of my grandfather’s who is still playing the jazz circuit successfully all over the world is Gary Foster, who my grandfather introduced to his Leavenworth jazz trio, after gaining permission from his Gary’s parents to include him.  Gary Foster played at the Topeka Jazz Workshop Sunday, September 16th, and I would have liked to attend.  People say the Grandpa Wentz also sounds a lot like Oscar Peterson, one of his contemporaries in Canada.  I will have to give him a listen, now that I am on the jazz trail.

That innovation and collaborative combination of backgrounds which formed jazz are what make it so exciting to perform and listen to still, and are possibly the reason the rest of the world still listens to it, today.  Besides, Thomas More might say that a county’s character is defined by its everyday “rustics”, as they perform tasks, and as they celebrate life.  Jazz may have seen infamous moments, but it inspires me to collaborate with other artists, be a part in the fabric of life in my local community,  to let my art be an extension of my life experiences and past and present surroundings,  to be bold in my creativity,  to celebrate life expressively, to teach my children to always be innovative, to encourage others in their artistic pursuits, to spend more time enjoying the still organic KC jazz scene, to sing while I clean and to share this wonderful short classic cartoon called I LOVE TO SINGA produced by WB Merrie Melodies in 1936.  The film captures the tension between jazz and classical music in its emergence, resistance to new underground styles and a little human nature.  I love the happy ending.

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