Monday, September 11, 2017

Dunes Pageant

“Sandland in shadow or shining in the sun
What care you for the fame of men or what their wars have won?
For Duneland is dearest because no place is there
For echoes of the battlefield or scars its victims wear.
“Song o’ the Dunes,” George E. Bowen
 Frank V. Dudley, "Dunes Pageant," 1917

At VU’s Brauer Museum opening reception for “The Indiana Dunes Revisited: Frank V. Dudley and the 1917 Dunes Pageant,” classical guitarist Peter Aglinskas provided musical stylings, ranging from Bossa nova to doo-wop.  I ran into VU professor Liz Wuerrful and grad student Marla Gee, a friend from when we were in an IUN Sixties class together. Curator Gregg Hertzlieb gave me for the Archives a copy of a beautifully illustrated exhibition catalogue featuring a biographical essay by James R. Dabbert.  Born on a Wisconsin farm to deaf parents, Dudley and brother Clarence opened an art supply store and gallery in Chicago.  Clarence was a chief organizer of the Dunes Pageant.  Four years later, Frank built a Lake Michigan beachfront log cabin residence and studio with north windows and devoted the rest of his life to painting dunes scenes.  His art became part of an effort to preserve the dunes by establishing a national park, something that came about in 1967, ten years after his death at age 88.

Here’s how Thomas W. Stevens, who wrote the script for “The Dunes Under Four Flags: The Historical Pageant of the Dunes, 1917,” summarized the event:
On Memorial Day in 1917, Prairie Club members staged a massive festival on Waverly Beach in the Dunes in an effort to generate public support for a national park. Attracting an audience of more than 40,000 enthusiastic supporters from throughout the region, the pageant represented the pinnacle of early Dunes preservationists' optimism. In an amphitheater of sand, nearly a thousand actors portrayed Indians, European explorers and fur traders, U. S. soldiers, and city planners, while dancers performed the roles of waves, wind, nymphs, birds, and “tree hearts,” in a representation of “the march of civilization to and through the region.” The final scene, in which the developers of City West (a city founded in the 1830s to compete with Chicago) realize that their dream city is doomed to failure, concludes with a clear message on behalf of Dunes preservation. “I never believed down in my heart,” one of City West's developers admits, “that we could tame these sands to city ways . . . They're beautiful, but God made them just to play in the breeze.”
 Frank Dudley

In 2006 Gregg Hertzlieb curated a Frank Dudley retrospective that contained works in possession of Brauer Museum, including the undated “Shadows and Sunlit Silence.” Hertzlieb offered this description:
While savoring the sound of the title in his mind,
the viewer sees the dunes in Dudley's painting
standing beside the unseen lake, impressing
with their mass but also threatening to disappear
at any moment like a ghost composed
of a material both substantial and insubstantial.
For the present exhibition, over a dozen lenders, including the Bernie Konrady family, provided works not commonly exhibited.  On LinkedIn, Konrady Plastics co-owner Bernie Konrady playfully listed his occupation as janitor.  He is a birder and son of Bernard Konrady, 1967 Gary mayoral candidate, whose entry into the Democratic primary enabled Richard Hatcher to win the Democratic primary over incumbent A. Martin Katz.  His company is an outgrowth of a family-run Gary coal company founded in 1919 by former steelworkers John and Andrew Konrady.  Andrew’s wife Julia kept the books.
birders Bernie Konrad and Ken Brock
In Steel Shavings volume 12 (1985) IUN student Dorothy Konrady wrote:
At the outset, Konrady Brothers Corporation almost went bankrupt.  Most coal companies then didn’t deliver much coal.  Instead, peddlers with wheelbarrows went to the coal companies, bought coal, and resold it to consumers.  At first the peddlers all dealt with a competitor.  The brothers tried everything they could to lure them to their establishment.  Finally, for reasons still not known to surviving family members, the peddlers started getting their coal from Konrady Brothers Corporation.
 Walter Becker (left) and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan

Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker passed away.  I saw the jazz rock band live at the Star Plaza a couple years ago.  With Donald Fagen on keyboards and singing most numbers, Steely Dan (named for a strap-on dildo in William Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch”) played the 1977 album Asa straight through as well as such favorites as “Reelin’ in the Years” and “Riki Don’t Lose That Number,” which begins:
We hear you're leaving, that's okay
I thought our little wild time had just begun
I guess you kind of scared yourself, you turn and run
But if you have a change of heart
Rikki don't lose that number
Meanwhile, can’t do everything and missed the Bodeans at Valpo’s fortieth annual Popcorn Fest, where I’ve seen Crackers, Gin Blossoms, Spin Doctors, and Poi Dog Pondering.  I saw the Bodeans live at Valpo University about 25 years ago at VU and have followed the native Wisconsin band closely ever since. Their biggest hit was “Closer to Free” (1993).  The name came from Bo Diddley and James Dean, although the band jokes that they were inspired by Beverly Hillbillies character Jethro Bodine

I attended the Saturday Evening Club at Phil-B’s in Valparaiso as the guest of longtime educator Terry Brendel, whose talk was titled “Broken Bootstraps.”  He lamented the “dumbing down” of higher education exemplified by grade inflation and the reluctance of teachers to criticize student work.  He stressed how low salaries and over-emphasis on standardized test scores are causing talented college students to shy away from the teaching profession.  Citing books about anti-intellectualism in America, he contrasted John F. Kennedy’s advisers (i.e., John Kenneth Galbraith, Arthur E. Schlesinger, Robert McNamara) with the buffoons serving Trump.  Each attendee was expected to participate in the discussion. I noted that Kennedy’s “best and the brightest” were virtually all macho white men who tended to disparage “egghead’ intellectuals such as Adlai Stevenson and admire the type of can-do activism that led to Vietnam.

Old friends Janet and Michael Bayer spent the night after a family function in LaPorte, so I stayed up talking several hours later than normal.  We all knew friends and relatives in harm’s way of Hurricane Irma and next morning kept checking the latest news from the Sunshine State. Celeste and Michael Chirich had us over for an afternoon lunch; his sister Diana and husband Harold Henery are in for their yearly visit to Miller Beach.  Diana was lead soprano for the Volksopera in Vienna, Austria; Harold has an advance degree in Religious Studies and his present interest is art history.  We were expecting a light lunch, but aftertasty au d’oeuvres Diana served a chicken and mushroom gravy dish with rice followed by tiramisu for dessert.  I gave Harold a copy of “Maria’s Journey” and pointed out my Foreword and IU historian John Bodnar’s introduction; he’s planning to start it immediately, having just finished a tome on art.
 Pablo Picasso

Driving to Munster for an Art in Focus program on Pablo Picasso, I took Ridge Road from IUN due to construction on 8-/94, passing Ridge Lawn Cemetery (IUN Professor Gary Martin’s final resting place), Bootleg Liquors, Bone Dry Saloon, a Long John Silver’s near Burr Street where we’d take the boys after a movie (the nearby theater has been long gone), and Wicker Park (where IUN once held faculty/staff picnics).  I reminded Marcia Carson, an Art History professor, about my upcoming 1957 “Dance Party” and told her to bring Jim.  She joked that they almost split up over dancing. I thought it would have been over bridge, I quipped. “He’s much more competitive than I am,” she replied.

Art in Focus hostess Jillian van Volkenburgh announced that she hated Picasso (a notorious womanizer) but appreciated his momentous contributions to modern art. She noted that the Picasso sculpture in Chicago’s Daley Plaza was assembled at American Bridge Company in Gary using steel from Gary Works.  Picasso’s cubism affected fashion, advertising, music, literature, and other aspects of popular culture.  Even the style of his signature has been copied by the Radisson Hotel chain. Active for more than 7 decades, he left behind over 43,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and pottery.  Afterwards, I checked out the South Shore Salon Show exhibition and found an interesting assemblage by Jillian, who listed as Gary as her hometown. 

Arriving early at Gino’s for Brian Barnes’ talk on the evolution of homo sapiens, the manager placed two free chicken wings in front of me when I ordered a draft beer at the bar.  They were spicy but delicious. When I told Ken Anderson about speaking to Jonathan Briggs’ World War I seminar students, he inquired about auditing classes after he retired. Someone said that DNA tests showed that she had Neanderthal ancestors.  I brought up the thesis of Ronald Wright’s “A Short History of Progress,” to wit, every advancement has bad unintended consequences.  The industrial revolution, for example, led to weapons capable of destroying the earth as we know it.  War seemed unthinkable prior to World War I, which produced over 40 million casualties; with Trump in the White House, all bets are off.
 above, Neanderthals; below, Antonio Brown
I am 1-0 in LANE Fantasy Football after beating Pittsburgh Dave by 11 points.  I had expected to lose after a Seattle safety intercepted an Aaron Rogers pass for an apparent pick-six, only to have a referee nullify the TD with a questionable penalty.  My top wide receiver, Antonio Brown, outscored Dave’s (Jordy Nelson) by six points; even though my quarterback, Kirk Cousins, had a mediocre day, his (Russell Wilson) did even worse.  The clincher: my kicker, Baltimore’s Justin Tucker, had 8 points compared to Steeler Chris Boswell’s 3.

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