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Two Exhibits on Display Now

Two Exhibits on Display Now

Bitter/Sweet: Over the Edge of the World by Margaret Berry
Gordon Gillingham, Backstage Pickin', January 7, 1955, Grand Ole Opry
Monday, April 28, 2014

The Willa Cather Foundation is pleased to be hosting two intriguing exhibitions at the Red Cloud Opera House, Grand Ole Opry and Bitter/Sweet: Walking with Willa Cather. Both exhibits will be on display during the month of May and are open for public viewing free of charge. Stop by the historic Opera House anytime Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. to see them in person!

In the gallery is the exhibition Bitter/Sweet: Walking with Willa Cather featuring the artwork of Lincoln artist, Margaret Berry. Berry specializes in encaustic painting, which is created by combining beeswax, hardened tree sap and an oil pigment. This combination is applied while it is still hot to a wooden surface creating incredible texture and depth.

The former executive director of the Lincoln Arts Council and past education director at the University Place Arts Center (now the Lux), Berry has exhibited coast-to-coast and has taught her Hot Wax/Cool Art workshops across the U.S.

Accompanying Berry's artwork in the exhibit is the poetry of Glenna Luschei. Publisher of the poetry magazines Café Solo, Solo, and Solo Café for fifty years, Luschei is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a D.H. Lawrence Fellowship in Taos, an honorary Doctorate of Literature from the St. Andrew's Presbyterian College, and a Master of Life award from her alma mater, the University of Nebraska. In 2000, she was named the Poet Laureate of San Luis Obispo City and County.

Luschei has also published several books of poetry and had her work published in the journals Blue Mesa Review, New Mexico Quarterly, New Mexico Review, Kenyon Review, and Parnassus.

Luschei and Berry worked together to create this exhibition that showcases ekphrastic poetry, which is poetry inspired by works of another art form. Luschei will be the featured instructor for the 7th annual Prairie Writers Workshop scheduled for May 14-18. Bitter/Sweet: Walking with Willa Cather is on view now through May 30. A reception will be held on Sunday, May 18 for both Berry and Luschei beginning at 4 p.m. The exhibition and writers' workshop are made possible through the support of Humanities Nebraska, the Nebraska Arts Council, and Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

The Opera House auditorium features the exhibition, Grand Ole Opry, which consists of thirty gelatin silver prints by Gordon Gillingham, a commercial photographer hired to photograph the Grand Ole Opry between 1952 and 1960.

In 1925, the Grand Ole Opry, an American institution and the longest radio show in the country, began broadcasting on WSM, radio station of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company. The idea was to broadcast a show of old-time music performed by amateur musicians as a way of promoting the insurance company in and around Nashville.

The show, still broadcast today on WSM, grew to become the radio home of some of the most prominent and influential artists in the country music genre, including Minnie Pearl, Chet Atkins, and Ernest Tubb, and it was an important and enduring chapter of radio history. It brought country music to the masses and created superstars out of a little-known genre of singers.

In 1954, Good Housekeeping published an article that proclaimed, "The mecca of all country and Western music lovers is Nashville, Tennessee, where the famous radio program Grand Ole Opry originates."

The images that make up this exhibit document the radio show and the country music business during the zenith of country music's postwar boom, and wonderfully capture the spirit, energy, camaraderie, and sheer joy of performing that permeated both musicians and fans of The Opry in its heyday. From a photo of country music legend, Johnny Cash, signing autographs for fans backstage to five-year old Hank Williams, Jr. being helped to the microphone by Little Jimmy Dickens and June Carter, legendary musicians and entertainers are captured in endearing and memorable Opry moments.

Today, The Opry is an American icon that continues to honor and showcase country's longstanding legends like Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton, as well as contemporary crooners like Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, and Blake Shelton. The Opry stage presents multiple concerts each week and draws thousands of music-lovers each year.

The Grand Ole Opry exhibition is on view now through May 22 and is supported in part by an award from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Nebraska Arts Council, and foundations, corporations and individuals through Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.