Professor of Arts and Ceramics Benji Heu spins a ceramic vase. He said there isn’t always a financial incentive to do art, but it can still be rewarding. “You have to get a job. Nobody can do things just for fun!”
Photo by Matt Morey
The Holland College of Arts presented its Celebrate the Arts event on Thursday 5th May, featuring a variety of performances across the arts including opera, ballet, modern dance and country music and an auction lasting through Saturday 7th May , who will help fund the new art addition on Frederick Street.
The new building will expand the River Campus to connect the new ceramics, painting, gallery and drafting facilities with an intermediate sculpture building. According to Emily Denlinger, a professor of art and design who helped organize the event, this is part of the university’s plans to move all visual and performing arts to the River campus. Photography, sculpture, and art and design courses are currently held on the main campus.
“There is an improvement in learning when you have the visual and performing arts together and you can learn from each other and see what the other is creating,” Denlinger said. “We advertised ourselves as having a very special campus for performing and visual arts. I believe we are the only university in Missouri where all visual and performing arts are accredited programs.”
She is raising funds and asking for help from the Missouri governor to help build the new arts annex.
Professor of Art and Design Benjamin Heu, who teaches ceramics, said he thinks people enjoy making clay pots because it’s different from other classes they have to take and it’s rewarding to have a physical object for your efforts.
Although there is no Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in sculpture, most students in the art department take a sculpture class or two, so having the building on campus is convenient. Many sculptures in the city are made by students, such as ones by Melanie Reichert.
Meanwhile, the auction featured art by professors, students and professional artists from outside the university.
Many of the artworks were made from Yamaha guitars. According to Denlinger, SEMO is a “Yamaha Institute of Excellence”. The school will become a Yamaha institute based on students’ achievements, which will come with various amenities, she said. So the pianos, like those on the top floors of Brandt Hall, are Yamaha.
“When a guitar is considered ‘unusable,’ Yamaha drills holes in it to make it even more unusable,” Denlinger said. “They distribute them to various Yamaha institutes so that people can turn them into art objects.”
One of the guitars will be painted by freelance artist Craig Thomas and is currently listed for $110. In 2021 Thomas painted the Flood mural for Cape Girardeau. His guitar features wooden mannequins arranged around the guitar in various poses. Another professional artist, Scott Kelly, donated a guitar to the auction, which started with a bid of $900. The guitar depicts a surreal image in which a bicycle may be descending from a waterfall or the side of a building.
Denlinger said Kelly’s artwork was so expensive because it was “phenomenal quality and a wonderful piece of surreal artwork.” She found that Thomas’ artwork fits the theme of the auction and the Fine Arts building as it expresses all the arts: dance, sculpture, music and painting.
Frames with QR codes were intermittently placed during the auction so people could access the auction sales on their phones.
The event also featured a special example of collaboration in the background of the performances, which started at 7:30 p.m. During each of the 16 sets, video footage of students in class, overlaid with motion graphics, played on a large screen in the background to complement them.
During the clarinet performance of Eugene Bozza’s “Fantaisie Italienne” played by Charles Hrdlicka, a red-orange abstract horizon seemed to shift to the movements of his arpeggios at halting or flowing rhythms.
The footage was collected by students in Denlinger’s video editing class and then sent to Dobbins Conservatory of Theater and Dance assistant professor Chris Haug, who used software to embed graphics in his theater lighting design course.
Another standout performance was a country song by musical newcomer Evie Rodenbaugh, who played acoustic guitar and sang to The Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
Musical theater senior Aliegha Ramos, one of the mistresses of ceremonies, stepped out of her role to sing “Fly Into the Future” from David Kirshenbaum’s “Vanities.”
A photo gallery of the event is available on the Arrow website.