Arts and Culture | WGLT

Arts and Culture

Illinois Wesleyan University

He's worked with Woody Allen, Oliver Stone on 'Nixon,' and Michael Bay on the 'Transformer' movies. Kevin Dunn is a veteran character actor, and an Illinois Wesleyan University graduate who will visit the Bloomington tomorrow. Dunn talks with Charlie Schlenker about the large differences in directors. Dunn says they are all demanding and expect you to know your job, but also all distinct in their approaches and temperaments.

Samba Gadjigo

  The 2016 Illinois Wesleyan University Film Festival highlights the work of one of Africa's most admired filmmakers and authors, Ousmane Sembene.

The first African filmmaker to achieve international success, Sembene is the subject of a new critically-acclaimed  documentary, which is also showing at the festival.  Samba Gadjigo is the co-producer of the documentary, and he noted that Sembene first influenced him when he was still in high school.  When Gadjigo read one of Sembene's novels, he discovered a voice that insisted on telling stories of real Africans.

Tapping Into The Disney Magic

Mar 29, 2016
Candace Lindemann / Flickr via Creative Commons

An Illinois State University alumnus is bringing a little Disney magic to campus.  

Christopher Chapman works as the Global Creativity & Innovation Director for Disney. He's returned to campus this week to be inducted into the College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame and meet with students to discuss his time at Illinois State University as an art major, plus how he forged his career path in art and design for Disney.  

Loyola Press

It's a familiar sight at papal events: Pope Francis departing from his security detail and wading into the crowd to embrace a child or lift a baby in the air.

Children from across the world have been writing to the Pope, and he answers. A new book, "Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the World" compiles some of those letters and the Pope's responses. The letters were collected from parishes and social service agencies and compiled by Loyola Press in Chicago, a publishing arm of the pope's own Jesuit religious order.

Ebertfest Line Up Finalized

Mar 24, 2016
Jeff Bossert / WILL

The final slate of six films announced for next month’s Ebertfest in Champaign adds a second silent film to the schedule, and two 2015 movies honored for their performances.

Festival Of Colors Celebrates Spring

Mar 24, 2016
Steven Gerner / Flickr via Creative Commons

A classic and popular festival from India is being held in the Twin Cities this weekend for the very first time. Laura Kennedy has more on the festival where colors fly and the music never stops.

*Vinod Nambiar and Leyons Philip are the organizers of the first-ever Festival of Colors in the Twin Cities.

*It's meant to celebrate spring, featuring the colors of the flowers that are just now beginning to emerge.

Steve Bowbrick / Wikimedia Commons

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra is going to the Proms. This has nothing to do with fancy dresses, corsages, and the annual high school ritual.

Drag Show Welcomes Royalty

Mar 18, 2016
Sharon ShareAlike

The Illinois State University Charity Drag Show comes of age this year.  The 18th annual show is sponsored by ISU PRIDE and benefits Project Oz.  The organizer and emcee of the show is local drag legend, Sharon ShareAlike, who will share (appropriately) the stage with a variety of drag queens, plus one king, and a member of drag royalty, who was a popular contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race.

BAM! POW! Comic Book Expert Takes Down Foe

Mar 18, 2016
Sam Howitz / Flickr via Creative Commons

A nationally recognized expert on comic books is appearing at Illinois State University to deliver a lecture that exposes the dubious research of a fierce arch enemy of comics.  Wonder Woman fan Laura Kennedy talked with Dr. Carol Tilley, the researcher who has been dubbed The Comic Book Crusader.

*Dr. Tilly examined the research of mid-20th century psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, whose research with young children seemed to indicate that comic books were having a bad influence on kids.

Spotlight Shines On Visionary Video Artist

Mar 15, 2016
Laura Kennedy / WGLT

The very first exclusive survey of the video work by acclaimed artist and Illinois State University graduate Terry Adkins is on view at the University Galleries in Normal. 

Steve Hunt

While GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump was addressing more than 2,000 people at a hangar at the Central Illinois Regional Airport, a small group of Illinois State University faculty and students were watching the Trump rally go viral.

McLean County Museum of History

Abraham Lincoln scholars now have a new critical resource, and casual fans of the 16th President can find out more about him in the words of his law partner. A newly edited volume of letters by Thomas Herndon offers insight into Lincoln's time.

Performance Art Melds With Art Criticism

Mar 11, 2016
Staff / WGLT

Local visual artists have a unique opportunity to circumvent the usual distance between artist and critic in a unique piece of performance art at the University Galleries in Uptown Normal.  Acclaimed art critic Lori Waxman is offering central Illinois artists the chance to have their work reviewed as part of 60 WRD/MIN Art Critic.

Bloomington Brick Streets Disappearing

Mar 9, 2016
Staff / WGLT

Another historic Bloomington brick street will soon be overlaid with asphalt.

Brick streets were once so common in Bloomington it was rumored to be home to the first such driving surfaces in the nation. While that's not true, it illustrates the city's long love affair with paving bricks.

Ralph Weisheit

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said the city will not take over management of the Downtown Bloomington U. S. Cellular Coliseum. Renner said, "that needs to be in private hands."

Carleen Spahn / Eureka College

When a biology major who also has a major in art puts on an exhibit, it looks at the interplay of life and death in graphic beauty. Carleen Spahn of Kenwanee is a senior at Eureka College who's artwork is currently on display in an exhibit entitled, "Vita Et Morte," or "In Life as in Death." Spahn says she finds one piece especially gratifying.

Welcome Home To History

Mar 3, 2016
Laura Kennedy / WGLT

The McLean County Museum of History invites you to make yourself at home in their new permanent exhibition, Making a Home.

*The exhibit is the first new exhibit at the museum in 24 years, and serves as the foundation for its interactive and student programs and public education.

*Making a Home explores the lives and experiences of those who settled in McLean County over several centuries, including Irish, German, Asian and Mexican immigrants, plus Native American tribes.


The Bloomington Public Library faces a number of challenges and opportunities, most of which will wait until a new director is found.

Rediscovering Harold Arlen

Feb 25, 2016
University of Illinois Press

In 1939, the 12th Academy Awards honored a talented young songwriter with an award for Best Original Song. It was Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz.  While history has made that song immortal, the composer's name is hardly known today.  Writer Walter Rimler hopes his new biography  will bring the spotlight back on the deserving and neglected  Harold Arlen.

*Biographer Walter Rimler said that it was because Arlen worked in Hollywood, rather than on Broadway that he's not as well known today as his contemporaries.

Sound Of Illinois: Old School And Future Forward

Feb 24, 2016
Sound of Illinois

The Sound of Illinois Chorus is hosting a concert this weekend at the BCPA.  For 74 years, the barbershop chorus has maintained strong harmony.  On the eve of their diamond anniversary, members of the group say the current popularity of a cappella  singing is helping to bring barbershop back into the musical mainstream.

Judith Valente

Several surprises await those who visit The Legacy Project exhibit  on view at Illinois State University's Milner Library until next Friday. The project pays tribute to the contributions of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender individuals throughout history.

Charlie Schlenker

There are a couple major interpretive strains of thought regarding the famed Violin Concerto of Samuel Barber, an austere spare one, and a lush romantic sound.

New Route Theater

The mission of New Route Theater, is to produce professional quality productions using artists who represent the community in all of its diversity. The company's new offering is a festival of three works "Black Voices Matter."

And The Oscar Goes To...

Feb 18, 2016
Mark Gray / Flickr via Creative Commons

The 88th Academy Awards is coming up next week. There'll be celebrities in designer duds, splashy production numbers...and, once again this year, there'll be controversy.  ISU's Shari Zeck analyzes the Academy's issues with race, and speculates on who might take home an Oscar this year.

* Shari Zeck says The Academy is just a big club and that its demographics stack the odds against minorities getting nominated for the Oscar.

*The Oscar telecast is the granddaddy of all award shows and has a higher measure of glamor than any other award show.

Gov Mansion Repairs Continue

Feb 12, 2016
Teemu08 / Flickr via Creative Commons

The organization leading efforts to renovation the Illinois governor's mansion says it received $1 million in donations last year. The mansion has fallen into disrepair in recent years with a flooded basement, leaky roof and peeling paint. The Illinois Executive Mansion Association says it also received $280,000 in free services last year and completed the first phase of work on the mansion roof. The association estimates renovating the 160-year-old home will cost between $8 million and $12 million and take two years. It's the third-oldest state governor's residence in the U.S.

A Genius Divided

Feb 12, 2016
Walter Rimler / Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trusts

A new biography of George Gershwin highlights the life of one the most important figures in American music.  Author Walter Rimler's book reveals a man torn between two worlds of music.

Lovable, Quotable "Romeo and Juliet"

Feb 11, 2016
Jeff Golden / Flickr via Creative Commons

Love is in the air as Valentine's Day approaches. The Illinois State University School of Theater is getting into the spirit of things with a new production of  Shakespeare's  Romeo and Juliet.  Not only is it one of The Bard's most popular plays, it's also delightfully quotable, as director Kevin Rich explains.

Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts

The Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts is staging a production of the award-winning Broadway musical, "Ragtime" on Thursday evening. Based on the popular novel by E.L. Doctorow, "Ragtime" blends fictional characters with historic figures and actual events.

Tina Salamone, executive director of the BCPA, says "Ragtime" deals with subject matter that could have been ripped from today's headlines and presidential debates.

Staff / WGLT

Editors note: this interview is part of a special edition of Sound Ideas celebrating WGLT's 50th anniversary.

Sandberg Auditorium For Sale

Feb 4, 2016
Loco Steve / Flickr via Creative Commons

An auditorium with $3 million in renovations is for sale for $100. The Carthage City Council has approved buying the structure from Carl Sandberg College in Galesburg. The college board will vote on the matter this month. The school received the Charger Auditorium in 2008 as a donation from Pairieland Investment Group. It wanted to create a multi-building partnership that fizzled in large part because of the recession. Sandburg president Lori Sundberg says after $3 million in renovations, the school spends up to $35,000 a year to maintain it.