Monday, April 20, 2009

The last three stops...

A recap of the last three stops on my Southern Circuit tour...

From Baton Rouge, I drove along the southern edge of Louisiana across beautiful swamps and unspoiled nature preserves to Lake Charles. The point person there is Irene Vandever. Irene is a fun, delightful person committed to maintaining the arts in her corner of the world. (Quick political plug: The state is proposing an 83 % cut of Arts funding. If you call Louisiana home, do everything you can to lobby against such a move.) When the movie started I ran down the street to grab a quick bite of dinner. As I sat at the bar, an elderly couple came in and sat next to me. The woman reached over and tapped my hand and said as politely as the words would allow, "You're not from here." "No ma'am," I said with some trepidation. She then proceeded to welcome me to Lake Charles and tell me all that it had to offer. I found this encounter to be a good representation of the community. The group that watched the film was very affirming, a very nice collection of people.

I then flew from Lafayette, LA to Memphis, TN to Paducah, KY. There is a great deal of artistic promise in the historic river town of Paducah. On the banks of the Ohio even the walls built to hold back flood waters are covered with beautiful murals. It makes sense, Paducah has long embraced the arts. It is the epicenter of quilting. In fact, the American Quilter's Society Quilt Show runs this very week. And with renowned Artist Harvey Sadow ensconced in the community leading the Paducah School for the Arts, the artistic future is quite exciting. The film showed to an enthusiastic audience at the Maiden Alley Cinema. We were then treated to a lovely post-screening event at the downtown home of West Kentucky Community & Technology College President Dr. Barbara Veazey.

The next morning I enjoyed breakfast with Harvey and his lovely wife Sue, also an artist who makes beautiful clothing. Then it was off to Lexington four hours to the east. I arrived early enough to check into the Gratz Park Inn. WOW! This was no Cleveland campground. I don't know how many stars a place can receive but the Gratz Park Inn deserves all of them. Nathan at LexArts put together a triple billing (two films from a local filmmaker), and the final film was ours. It was a beautiful night in Lexington and there was a great deal to choose from: race week at Keeneland, the Harlem Globetrotters, it was even prom night. All of which is to write, we played to a select crowd. Nonetheless, Nathan was great and LexArts has a lot of interesting programs coming up in the next few months.

I returned to the hotel for what I thought would be an early evening. But alas, it was not to be. Between race fans and a large wedding, the Inn was most joyous. In the early morning hours I stepped out of my room to see if folks might keep down the reverie just a bit. The first person I encountered was wearing pink shorts, blazer, bow-tie, and the look of a man who'd down close to 15 mint juleps. "Ain't it great?" he asked. How can you tell a guy in such a state to end the festivities? "Yes, it is," I said and tried to go back to bed.