Ellyn Barham-Pruitt: Keeping Gumboot Dance and Its History Alive in Bloomington

BY SOPHIE BIRD When Ellyn Barham-Pruitt moved to Bloomington just 10 days after graduating from high school, she didn’t expect to be introduced to a style of dance that would come to mean so much to her. She still remembers the thrill she felt when she saw the IU Gumboot Dancers take the stage at Indiana University’s annual CultureFest. Although she didn’t have much of a dance background, that experience inspired her to begin practicing with the group nearly every Sunday while at IU. “I found it so intriguing and empowering to watch them dance,” she says. “They loved what they were doing and I wanted to be a part of it.” The gumboot dance is performed wearing Wellington boots, […]

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Introducing Tomás Lozano: A Rare Hurdy-Gurdy Player

BY RODNEY MARGISON Hurdy-gurdy players are rare in the United States, but considering Bloomington’s musical milieu, it’s not too surprising that one of them, Tomás Lozano, resides here. A native of Spain, Lozano’s love for the hurdy-gurdy began in his youth. “When I was a teenager, I went to a festival in Barcelona and there was a group that played folk music,” he says. “One of those guys, he had a hurdy-gurdy … and I was so fascinated by it. I loved the sound.” That sound, and the manner in which it is achieved, is what makes the hurdy-gurdy unique. With one hand the performer turns a crank, spinning a wheel against several strings. At the same time, different tones […]

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Sculptor Amy Brier Collaborates: Like ‘Two Artists with One Brain’

BY TRACY ZOLLINGER TURNER As founder and director of the annual Indiana Limestone Symposium, stone sculptor Amy Brier has taught people of all skill levels how to rough out ideas and carve them from local bedrock. In 2000, student Sharon Fullingim came from New Mexico to learn, then returned every summer, eventually becoming the symposium’s director and an instructor of adult hand carving, as well as Brier’s collaborator. The two women collaborated on two pieces that were installed in the summer of 2016, including a major work — Millersville Marker — in the Fall Creek Preserve of Indianapolis’ Millersville neighborhood. The other, titled Constant Gardener, now resides in the community garden of Bloomington’s Arden Place neighborhood. “It’s like we have […]

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Joe LaMantia Creates Community Art With Volunteers, Using Found Objects

BY SUSAN M. BRACKNEY Collaboration and inclusivity just might be Joe LaMantia’s most important art supplies. The 70-year-old artist has worked on community art installations in Bloomington and beyond for more than 20 years. “When I approach working with a school or community organization, I listen to what people have to say about what they’re looking for or what they’d like to have,” LaMantia says. “Then I take all those ideas and synthesize them.” LaMantia has long seen value and possibility in everyday castoffs. “As a kid I used to roam the streets, picking up things that were just beautiful. Things that were crushed. Metal things. Plastic things. I just enjoyed looking at them,” he says. Decades later, he routinely […]

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Voces Novae Celebrates 20 Years Of Keeping Classical Music Alive

BY TRACY ZOLLINGER TURNER Two decades ago, the Bloomington-based community chamber choir Voces Novae was born from loss. After experiencing the death of a friend and fellow choir member from cancer in Boston, new Bloomington resident and founding artistic director Aaron Kercheval wanted to create a lasting choral and poetic recorded exploration of life and death. During its early years, Voces Novae was cultivated through concerts centering on astronomy, mythology, and meditation. At the same time, Kercheval pursued recording permissions and solicited voice talent from actors like Blythe Danner and Julie Harris for a project that resulted in a book and two-disc recording titled Meditations on Life~Death. The compilation of readings, music, and artwork, completed in 2001, was donated to […]

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