GUEST COMMENTARY: Onward, upward with arts in 2012

2012-02-19T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Onward, upward with arts in 2012By John Cain
February 19, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Creative collaborations were a hallmark of the arts last year and continue into this year. The Unity Event brought together 250 teenagers and adults in a performance of "Evita" at Highland High School, a partnership among multiple arts organizations.

A second Unity Event is slated for next fall.

The South Shore Dance Alliance and students from the Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy in Gary ended the year with "Urban Nutcracker," the holiday dance classic with an inner city edge, accompanied by the Northwest Indiana Symphony Youth Orchestra.

On Feb. 24, both the Dance Alliance and Youth Orchestra will be joined by the Southlake Children's Choir at Leap Into the Arts, a gala event benefiting all three of these youth-serving arts organizations at the Halls of St. George in Schererville.

In 2011, the Miller Beach Arts and Creative District emerged as a grassroots force working to revitalize the lakefront community through the arts.

Three Pop-Up art exhibits were presented, attracting more than 1,200 visitors to Lake Street, where the work of more than 75 artists was featured in temporary One Night Only exhibits in empty storefronts. Pop-Ups will resume April 14 and continue every two months thereafter. At the same time, the district is transforming the old Miller drugstore into the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts.

Exciting things are happening in Valparaiso, too. This summer, the Chicago Street Theatre will perform Shakespeare in the new downtown amphitheater at Central Park Plaza.

In the meantime, the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission's Arts Advisory Committee will unveil a public art sculpture in honor of Orville Redenbacher in late August in time for the annual Popcorn Festival. The sculpture will be placed on a bench in Central Park Plaza. The committee also is working with the Midwest Sculpture Initiative on a sculpture walk, featuring numerous artworks in a public setting for an entire year.

Three outstanding exhibits are showcasing the diversity of visual art in the new year. The symbolism that is inherent in what we choose to wear and how this defines our identity will be explored in the South Shore Arts exhibit Uniforms, Outfits and Accessories: Photographs by Joel DeGrand, running through April 8 in Munster. Mindless Mayhem: The Art of Ron Villani runs through March 18 at Valparaiso University's Brauer Museum of Art. And the Smithsonian Institution exhibit Earth from Space will run through March 11 at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City.

The Northwest Indiana Symphony will present "South Shore Glee" on May 17 at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville. Five outstanding choirs and ensembles inspired by the popular TV show will perform in a concert of show tunes and generation-spanning pop hits from the 1930s through today.

Take advantage of these enriching arts events! Visit the Regional Arts Calendar at for up-to-date info on all that's available for you to enjoy.

John Cain is executive director of South Shore Arts and the Northwest Indiana Symphony. The opinions are the writer's.

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