State Of The Artist

Connie Kuntz interviews artists in the locations that inspire them. Listen to State Of The Artist during Morning Edition on 89.5 and WNIJ.org.










State of the Artist is made possible by Raue Center for the Arts

Ean Miles Kessler

 

Ean Miles Kessler is a Chicago playwright. He's originally from Hamden, Connecticut, but has also lived and worked in New York City and Miami. In 2018, he "made the leap" and moved to the Edgewater neighborhood in Chicago. "It's a great neighborhood in a great city," he said.

Connie Kuntz

Alfred Stark is a woodblock printmaker from DeKalb. He also makes and flies his own kites. I followed him for a day to a couple places that are meaningful to him.

We started at Gordon's Hardware Store, where he has worked for nearly 20 years. "I fix screens and windows and help people," he explained. He said he enjoys helping customers with things they "definitely need" plus he likes his coworkers.

"It's nice working with a small group of people," he said. "We all know each other pretty well." 

Connie Kuntz

The first time I met Nate Woogen, I didn't actually meet the man, I met the man's writing, specifically a scene from his screenplay, "Physical Therapy Massacre." I saw actors performing it at a cold reading presented by Naked Angels. 

Nate's screenplay is about a violent physical therapist who is cruel to vulnerable people. The crimes take place inside a dirty gym that was converted into a clinic for people with disabilities. The setting was inspired by an experience Nate had at an unsafe clinic he visited many years ago for his ataxic cerebral palsy.

State Of The Artist: What's In A Name?

Jan 15, 2020
Connie Kuntz

State of the Artist continues with a Rockford woman who makes decoupage. Decoupage involves gluing and arranging paper cutouts on a variety of surfaces. It's a form of expression that has special meaning for artist Valerie Gibbons. 

I met Valerie Gibbons at the Rockford White House that sits high on the hill at Spring Creek and Alpine in Rockford. It used to be someone's home, but now it's a professional office space, and it's where Valerie founded the nonprofit FootsieStools Ltd.

Connie Kuntz

Christopher D. Sims, aka UniverSouLove, is a poet, spoken word artist, performer, and human rights activist. I followed him for a day in the city where he was born and raised: Rockford, Illinois. I picked him up on a Sunday morning in December at his home in the Jackson Oaks neighborhood. When he got into my car, he had C. L. Smooth playing on his phone.

He said, "He has a very fluid, poetic delivery. I grew up on his music in the late 80's and early 90's. He's very proximate to my musical knowledge, my understanding of rap, and how it's supposed to be done." 

Connie Kuntz

Printmaker and painter Manny Tang comes to Illinois by way of Taipei, Taiwan and New York, New York. Her art is displayed throughout the state in galleries and small businesses, but our interview began at her home in Loves Park. When her husband Don Foster invited me in, it took me a minute to find the woman whose artist name is China Cat. She was in another room, leaning out of a window feeding Gracie, a feral cat who stops by for food and attention.

"She was very skittish at first. It took her a full year before we earned her trust, but now she is here every day."

Connie Kuntz

Playwright Douglas Post was the first guest on State of the Artist. Listen to his interview (audio is above) or learn more about the playwright here.  

This interview originally aired on June 24, 2019 on 89.5 and WNIJ.org.

State Of The Artist: The Devil Is In The Details

Oct 16, 2019
Connie Kuntz

Some people honor Christmas in their hearts all year round. Haunt Mistress Ann-Margret Naber is a little different.

"Halloween is my favorite holiday. I've loved Halloween since I was a small child and ever since I was small, I have loved art," she said.

She shared a memory.

"I was coming home from school. It was just kind of turning dusk. The leaves were falling and I was so anxious to go trick-or-treating. I was a clown. To this day, I still love Halloween." 

To this day, Ann-Margret still loves art, but is afraid of clowns.

State Of The Artist: A Generous Heart And All That

Sep 6, 2019
Connie Kuntz

Kim Schultz is an actor, writer, storyteller, and refugee advocate. She has lived in Chicago for six years.  I followed her to the places that are meaningful to her in and around Chicago. 

State Of The Artist: Here, Go Make Some Stuff

Aug 9, 2019
Connie Kuntz

Every morning at Art Camp, the bell rings at 10:30 and nearly 30 kids from Rockford and Peoria gather in a circle and "sing hello." That means every child is musically greeted by their name so they know they are welcomed, recognized, and loved. After the song, the campers break off into groups organized by age. They learn different disciplines of art including dance, drama, visual arts, gardening and cooking.  This is Ann Rundall's Art Camp. 

Connie Kuntz

Rockford drummer and dancer Blazey Dickenso is 23 years old. He is originally from Kenya, Africa and has lived in Illinois for three months. Though new to the state, the young man is lovingly connected to the land, the water, and his spiritual community. 

I followed Blazey to three locations that inspire him as an artist. We first met at Rockford Baha'i Center. It is a spiritual gathering place for the Baha'i community and it is tucked inside the Highcrest Shopping Centre. 

Connie Kuntz

Mixed Media Artist Norm Knott lives with his partner Steve Beard in Rockford. On a grey day in May, I drove to their neighborhood in northwest Rockford, parked my car, and walked up to their house. From the street, the rambler seemed ordinary, but the closer I got to the front door, things changed.

Delightful statues and artifacts frame the path. With each step, I could feel myself relax. As nice as that was, it was nothing like the moment of stepping into their home. I felt like Dorothy stepping into the magical land of Oz, except Norm and Steve’s house is more vibrant.

State Of The Artist: A River Runs Through Her

Jun 26, 2019
Connie Kuntz

Caitlyn Baylor is the newest executive director for Rockford Area Arts Council. She is also a dancer who specializes in site specific choreography with her identical twin sister, Meghan Baylor. Most hours of the week, the dancer is serving RAAC's mission which is, "Support, promote, and develop the arts for everyone in Winnebago, DeKalb, Boone, and Ogle counties." On a misty day in April, she took me to the places that inspired her creativity early on -- schools.

State Of The Artist: Dance To The Beep

Jun 25, 2019
Connie Kuntz

State Of The Artist features artists in the places that inspire them; the places that put them in a creative state of mind. For Jessica Miller Tomlinson, those places are actions. She preferred to interview when she was in transit because motion is the "place" that inspires her. So Jessica's interview is a reflection of her passion for working or getting to work, or finding ways to improve her work.