ULTIMATE GUIDE TO “INDIAN COUNTRY:” Tim Giago, writing in the March 20 Native American Times, recommends “a hefty, 1,120 pages book named ‘Tiller’s Guide to Indian Country.’ The book was first published in 1996, but with the fast changes taking place in Indian country the second and expanded version came out in 2005. It was edited and compiled by Veronica Tiller, PhD, and a member of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe of New Mexico. Using websites and shoe leather, Tiller set out to publish the most comprehensive list of Indian tribes, nations, villages, pueblos, and rancherias ever put into one book. Pick any tribe in the United States or Alaska and if you want to know the size of the tribe, how many of its members have college degrees, what are its main sources of economy or what its basic language is, you will find it all in 'Tiller’s Guide to Indian Country.’ As a publisher of a newspaper for many years I found this book to be the bible of my business. Just helping my writers find the correct spelling of an Indian tribe can be most difficult because many of the tribes spell out their names in their own language. I would highly recommend it to anyone working in Indian affairs, to every high school and college on and off the Indian reservations of America, and to all public libraries. BowArrow Publishing Company of Albuquerque, N.M. publishes this book.” It’s distributed by the University of New Mexico Press. Cost is $199 per book or CD, $250 for the set. ISBN: 978-1-885931-04-7. FMI: UNM Press, 1-800-249-7737.
IDAHO CELEBRATES BOOKWORKS: I eagerly await the Idaho Center for the Book newsletter that celebrates the biennial “Booker’s Dozen” exhibition. It’s supervised by ICFB head honcho Tom Trusky. As always, he throws readers a little gift (or maybe a challenge) in the way the newsletter is constructed. In the April issue, readers are asked to assemble a Booker’s Dozen catalog from the newsletter. Since this involves cutting with sharp scissors and stapling, I will have to be supervised. The Booker’s Dozen this year features some wonderful bookwork creations by Idahoans. Amy Nack’s Book takes the form of “a small scroll rapped around a wooden dowel and placed inside the operating mechanism of a silver lipstick tube to resemble the 55-gallon drums that contained the [Agent Orange] chemical.” The title of the piece is “Agent Orange: The Lingering Kiss.” Scott Samuelson “commemorates my father’s war” with color illustrations of his father’s World War II bomber flights over monuments such as Stonehenge and medieval French cathedrals. The handsewn book has a military blue kangaroo leather cover embossed with an image of Stonehenge. Vanessa Franklin made "a guidebook for personal rites of passage" with "Greater Vedauvoo," a title that celebrates the rock formations in the Laramie Range near Cheyenne. Says Franklin: "The endless accordion shape reflects the cyclic journey detailed in the essay." Carrie Applegate’s “The Altered States” celebrates “big letter” souvenir postcards of the 1930s. Wyomingites might want to catch the exhibit when it steers close to our borders in Pocatello (September and October), Idaho Falls (November) and Rexburg (December).
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006
When writing the NEA Literature Fellowships 40-year history, Amy Stolls added a splash of Wyoming color. Writes Stolls: “In his final report at the completion of his FY 1999 grant, poet Dainis Hazners from [Story] Wyoming recounted the following anecdote:
At the feed store, buying grain for my goats and chickens, I was introduced to the new owner as Our Local Poet. “He’s the one got that big award. Quite the honor.” “I was…shocked,” I offered. “You mean that NEA outfit back East?” the new guy asked. “National Endowment for the Arts,” I said meekly. “Washington.” “That’s it. I’m proud to know you!” he grinned.
“It’s amazing to me,” wrote Hazners, that “even after a year, people remember. I belong to them, in a funny kind of way – like the mountain and the bad weather, I’m out there somewhere.”
The 60-page report was released March 1 by the NEA. It features Stolls’ history and the long list of recipients. The literature fellowships survived the budget cuts of the Newt Gingrich era ten years ago and are the only remaining discipline-based fellowships at the Arts Endowment. Order a print copy of the report here.
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Monday, March 27, 2006
ON STAGE: Diane Wolverton’s play, “Bring Back My Body to Me,” will be presented at the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice on Friday, March 31, in the UW Union Ballroom in Laramie. The Shepard Symposium is free, and you can register here. Diane’s collaborator, Kayne Pyatt of Rock Springs, will be on “Speaking of Writing” with host Harvey Hix, on Thursday, March 30 at 4 p.m. Tune in at 93.5 FM in Laramie. Harvey is director of the UW creative writing program and Kayne runs M.O.T.H.E.R. Publishing and is directing this summer’s conference for Wyoming Writers, Inc., in Rock Springs.
LIBRARY SLAM APRIL 4: I'll again be one of the judges at the April 4 poetry slam for students in grades 7-12 at the Laramie County Public Library in Cheyenne. I may be a tougher judge this time after attending a March 11 performance by the hometown Austin Poetry Slam Team at the AWP Conference in Austin, Texas. The slammers, most in their twenties, were the best I've ever seen in person. The team was filmed for a new documentary called "Slam Planet: War of the Words" which debuted March 12 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin. The documentary follows the Austin and New York City slam teams as they prepared for the 2004 national finals in St. Louis. While at the March 11 performance, I snagged a free CD sampler of "Slam Planet" performers, which I hope we can play for the Cheyenne teens prior to the April 4 event, which begins at 6:30 p.m. (Photo from the film shows Austin's Andy Buck.)
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Saturday, March 25, 2006
WYO WRITERS WIN SPURS: From Candy Moulton: Writers from Saratoga and Encampment won Spur Awards and a Thermopolis writing team picked up a finalist award from Western Writers of America in this year’s competition that recognizes the best Western literature published in 2005. Winners in 15 categories were announced March 18 by WWA President Rita Cleary during the National Festival of the West. Lori Van Pelt of Saratoga will receive the Spur Award for her short story, "Pecker’s Revenge,” the lead story in her collection Pecker’s Revenge and Other Stories from the Frontier’s Edge, which is published by the University of New Mexico Press. Candy Moulton of Encampment will receive the Spur Award for her biography, Chief Joseph: Guardian of the People, published by Forge Books of New York in the American Heroes Series. W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear of Thermopolis are finalists for their Novel of the West, People of the Moon, published by Forge Books. This is their second year of recognition in the Spur Awards. Last year they took home the Spur for their novel People of the Raven. Paul Hutton, Bill Kurtis and Jamie Shenck won the Spur for their documentary Mountain Massacre which was filmed near Encampment, Wyo., in August 2004. It first aired on the Investigating History series on the History Channel in February 2005. A number of Encampment and Saratoga people participated in the filming. Spur winners and finalists will be honored June 13-17 at the WWA Convention in Cody.
ROSS BIOGRAPHY ON BOOK TV: A WyomingStateMuseum presentation by Colorado author Teva Scheer on her book “Governor Lady: The Life and Times of Nellie Tayloe Ross,” will be aired on CSPAN2’s “BOOK TV” (channel 21 in Cheyenne) at , Saturday, March 25. In the presentation, taped during a blizzard Feb.15 at the State Museum, Scheer discusses Ross’s life as wife of Wyoming Governor William Bradford Ross, her role as first lady, her election as governor, her appointment as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee in 1928, and finally her time as the first woman director of the U.S. Mint. Autographed copies of Scheer’s book are available at the Wyoming State Museum Store located in the BarrettBuilding, 2301 Central Avenue in Cheyenne. FMI: Beth Miller at 307-777-5320.
As Wyoming gears up for the EqualityState Book Festival Oct. 19-21 in Casper, its planning committee keeps an eye on other regional bookfests. Here’s info on two coming up in the next four months.
HOW THEY DO IT IN FLAGSTAFF: From a press release: The ninth annual Northern Arizona Book Festival April 21-23 will welcome 40 fiction and non-fiction writers, poets, scholars, illustrators, students and musical artists to Flagstaff, including U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, Ishmael Reed, Terese Svoboda and Naomi Shihab Nye. There will be three days of readings and panel discussions, as well as book-making and poetry workshops, events for children, and an all-day Sunday "Localsfest" celebration that honors Flagstaff's own great talents and the talents of our community's young writers. Most events will be held at the Orpheum Theater, extending to Heritage Square downtown, Bookman's, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and CoconinoCommunity College. Many events -- including all children's book events, events held at Bookman's, and the all-day Sunday "LocalsFest" downtown on the Square -- are free and open to the public. Students from Kayenta, TubaCity, local elementary, middle and high schools, NAU and CoconinoCommunity College will be featured all day Sunday the 23rd at various locations. Admission for some individual events is $3 for panels and $5 for readings. A weekend ticket is $25, and a "Friend of the Festival" ticket, which includes a weekend ticket, a Book Festival poster, and entry to the Festival's Authors' Reception, is $50. Festival proceeds benefit the work of the Literacy Volunteers of Coconino County. FMI: Rebecca Byrkit, 928-380-8682.
AND IN BILLINGS: On July 22-25, the fourth annual High Plains Bookfest will be held in Billings, Mont., in conjunction with Lewis & Clark Signature Days. The fest will feature readings by numerous poets, fiction and non-fiction writers, panel discussions and book sales. Ivan Doig will be the featured speaker with a reading set for Saturday, July 22, at the Alberta Bair Theater. FMI: Corby Skinner at 406-294-2390.
DANIELL TO SERVE AS POETRY JUDGE: Rosemary Daniell, known as one of the finest writing coaches in the country, has agreed to serve as judge for the 2007 Wyoming Arts Council creative writing fellowships in poetry. She will read with the winners and also conduct one of her distinctive Zona Rosa writing workshops as part of the Casper College Literary Conference/Equality State Book Festival Oct. 19-21 in Casper. Rosemary, author of The Woman Who Spilled Words All Over Herself, founded Zona Rosa, which began as a series of creative writing workshops in Georgia and then expanded to locales worldwide, including a two-week retreat she leads each September in the south of France. Her new book, set for a May release by Owl Books (a Henry Holt imprint), is Secrets of the Zona Rosa: How Writing (and Sisterhood) Can Change Women’s Lives. Erica Jong, author of Fear of Flying, has called Rosemary “am enormously gifted poet, novelist, and non-fiction writer…She is one of the women by whom our age will be known in times to come.” Rosemary began as a poet, publishing three books of poetry, the most recent, A Sexual Tour of the Deep South. She worked as a poet in the schools in the 1970s, and compiled the chapbook Joy to the World: Writing Poems with Children in Georgia, published by the Georgia Council on the Arts. She has received both poetry and prose fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her revolutionary memoir, Fatal Flowers, won the 1999 Palimpsest Prize for a most-requested out-of-print book. That book and her second memoir, Sleeping with Soldiers, were forerunners of the current memoir craze. She is the author a recent essay collection, Confessions of a (Female) Chauvinist. Her features and reviews have appeared in Harper's Bazaar, Mademoiselle, New York Woman, Mother Jones, Travel & Leisure, and The New York Times Book Review, among others. She has been profiled in People and Southern Living magazines, and has appeared on TV and radio shows such as CNN Health, The Diane Roehm Show and Larry King. Rosemary has been a resident writer at Wyoming’s Ucross Foundation. She lives in Savannah.
WRITING THE RANGE: The Sheridan Range Writers seeks entries for its annual writing contest. There are four categories: fiction, nonfiction, traditional poetry, and free-verse poetry. Prizes are $10 for first place and $5 for second place. Postmark deadline is April 30. Entries in the fiction and nonfiction categories must not exceed 1,000 words and poetry entries must be no longer than 40 lines. Works must be original and not winners in any previous contests. Entry fees are $2 per piece for adults and $1 per piece for students under 18. Contestants are limited to three entries per category. Please submit two copies of each work, one with no identification and one with the author's name and contact info on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Attach a cover sheet with the author's name, contact info, and titles and category of each work. Mail entries to Amy Lee, at 1636 North Heights Avenue, Sheridan, WY82801. FMI: Rose Hill at 307-674-4180.
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Monday, March 20, 2006
FANTE ON FILM: There may be good news for all of us looking for a movie to match “Chinatown.” Writer-director Robert Towne has adapted John Fante’s novel “Ask the Dust” into a film that was screened last week in Denver. It stars Colin Farrell as Fante’s alter-ego Arturo Bandini, who travels from Colorado to L.A. during the 1930s to write the great American novel. Fante made the Boulder-to-Hollywood trip during the Depression and wrote novels and film scripts. He ended up becoming friends with Towne in the 1970s. Towne wrote the “Ask the Dust” script in 1993, ten years after Fante died, but it took more than a decade to get the movie made. Towne has written blockbusters such as “Mission Impossible” and won a screenwriting Oscar for “Chinatown.” So he knows that in Hollywood small movies “like ‘Ask the Dust’ need to struggle to come to life. They must beg, borrow, or steal to get money.” (The quote comes from a 3/17/06 Denver Post article.) In the March 5 L.A. Times Magazine, Towne chronicles his relationship with the legendary Fante and his decades-long struggle to make the film.
CONNECTING READERS AND WRITERS: Virgil Suarez and Robert Michael Pyle will conduct a free writing seminar on Friday, April 28, 1-4 p.m., at Laramie County Community College’s Center for Conferences and Institutes in Cheyenne. Suarez is a Cuban-American poet and essayist who teaches Latino literature and creative writing at Florida State University. His newest book is 90 Miles: Selected and New Poems. Pyle is the Washington-based author of Where Bigfoot Walks and Chasing Monarchs. He has co-edited a new edition of Nabokov’s Butterflies. Space is limited for the seminar so so pre-registration is required (call 307-778-1285). This event is part of the Literary Connection sponsored by the LCCC Foundation. On Saturday, April 29, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Suarez and Pyle will join Connie May Fowler, Rita Gelman, and JR Moehringer for a series of presentations about writing and publishing at the Hitching Post Inn, 1700 W. Lincolnway. Lunch is included in the $55 fee ($65 after April 7). A book signing will follow.
THE WYO-COLO CONNECTION: Chris Ransick, whose book "Never Summer" was first published by Wyoming’s Pronghorn Press, has been named Denver's second poet laureate by Mayor John Hickenlooper and the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs. He replaces Albelardo "Lalo" Delgado, who was named to the position posthumously in September 2004. The appointment will be made official at a public reception Wednesday, March 22, at the Vida Ellison Gallery of the Denver Public Library. Ransick’s “Never Summer” won a Colorado Book Award in 2003, and has since been reprinted by Denver’s Ghost Road Press, which also published his book of stories, “A Return to Emptiness.” Give Annette Chaudet of Pronghorn Press plenty of credit for recognizing Ransick’s talent early on. She was working on the poet’s book at the same time she was producing our “Deep West” anthology. I first met Chris at the diner in downtown Buffalo where Annette staged a rendezvous for her new authors (and editors). All of us are grateful for small presses such as Pronghorn and Ghost Road (my publisher). The conglomerates have deserted poets and short story writers. Who would publish us if it weren’t for the small presses? One other note: John Hickenlooper is a stalwart arts supporter. Besides naming a new poet laureate, he plans other initiatives for poets and visual artists. Some of you may recall that Hizzoner hosted a fund-raiser in his LoDo digs for the Wyoming Arts Council’s “100 Days of Arts” campaign in January of 2004. That effort helped the WAC campaign raise $130,000, more than the $100,000 match required by the Wyoming State Legislature. That $30,000 “bonus” went into WAC Individual Artist Professional Development grants for writers, artists, musicians, and performers.
The University of Wyoming celebrates Women’s History Month with a free reading by writer Emily Hammond on Thursday, March 23, , in UW’s Hoyt Hall Mathison Library in Laramie. The event is co-sponsored by the UW Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program. Hammond is the author of a critically-acclaimed collection of short stories, Breathe Something Nice, and a recently-published novel, Milk. The Ft. Collins, Colo., native has been awarded a Colorado Creative Writing Fellowship, the Katherine Anne Porter Prize, and fellowships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and the Ucross Foundation. She has published fiction in several magazines including Ploughshares, New England Review, Colorado Review and Alaska Quarterly Review.
AWP POST-MORTEM: I go to writing conferences to meet with old friends and to learn new things, not necessarily in that order. Friends and colleagues were in abundance at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) in Austin, Texas, March 8-11. During my first stroll through the Austin Hilton Thursday evening I ran into poet and one-time Wyoming Arts Council board member Len Edgerly, nature writer Kurt Caswell who deserted Cheyenne last year for a job at Texas Tech, Jason Shinder, poet and YMCA Writer’s Voice guru, Colorado State University colleague Wendy Rawlings who now teaches at Crimson Tide U, and one-time Sheridan resident Aurelie Sheehan, now head of the University of Arizona’s writing program. Sharon Dynak of the Ucross Foundation on hand for a panel about artists’ communities. I could drop some other names into the mix, but you get the idea: lots of people. AWP wasn’t always that way. When the organization last met in Austin in 1987, it conducted 16 events with 35 authors for 300 conferees. Wasn’t much larger when I attended my first conference in Denver in 1990 (or maybe it was ’91). This time, thousands of attendees had a choice of 15 concurrent panels per 90-minute session from 9-to-5 for three straight days. Not to mention the evening readings and the book fair in a cavernous hall at the convention center. The dreaded book fair. All those excellent books and journals, yet such a tiny balance on the credit card. Veteran AWP-goers and book vultures know to hit the book fair at on closing day to snag as much free swag as can be toted on to Frontier Airlines. While I did this on Saturday, I ended up spending even more, signing up for a two-year subscription of Georgia Review and buying Jon Balaban’s two new books from CopperCanyon. I plunked down ten bucks for a forthcoming anthology of up-and-coming Colorado fiction writers by Boston’s Black Ocean Books. Then I fled to the conference’s final sessions, which included a talk by Tim O’Brien. It was a good enough speech, but made more entertaining by the print version scrolling across a giant screen. Mrs. Malaprop must have been taking dictation, as every tenth word was a mangled version of itself. O’Brien, one of my favorite writers, didn’t even stay around to sign books. An odd thing. For three days, writers were bending over backwards to sign their books (and if you think that’s easy, try it some time). The book fair had dozens of signings, and enterprising readers mercilessly tracked down writers at receptions and even in restrooms to get them to sign books. That night, I waited awhile near the Book People table to see if perchance O’Brien might return and help put books into the hands of his readers. But he didn’t.
BREAKING CLEAN: From a NWC press release: Judy Blunt, author of Breaking Clean, an award-winning memoir of ranch life in Montana, will talk about her work at Tuesday, March 28, in the Nelson Performing Arts Center Auditorium at NorthwestCollege in Powell. A book signing will follow the reading. The Chicago Tribune describes her prose as "Breathtaking….Blunt's writing is visceral, yet never without humor and a raw, fierce honesty." Blunt wrote the book's title essay in one evening to fulfill a class assignment at the University of Montana in Missoula. The remainder of the book was written over the course of 10 years in what she calls "a frustrating jumble of stolen hours and fragmented weeks." Breaking Clean won the 1997 PEN/Jerard Fund Award for a work in progress, as well as a 2001 Whiting Writers' Award, the 2003 Mountains and Plains Book Award and the 2003 Willa Award for memoir/nonfiction. The memoir was also listed as a New York Times Notable Book.In 2004, Blunt received a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship. Blunt's poems and essays have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, with recent short pieces appearing in Oprah magazine, New York Times, Big Sky Journal and others. She teaches courses in creative nonfiction and western women's memoir at the University of Montana. FMI: Nickie Proffitt, NWC, 307-754-6033.
BONFIRES AND BOOKS DON’T MIX: Most Wyomingites won't make it to the Oddfellows Hall in Enterprise, Oregon, tonight (March 13) for gala “Big Read” program. Too bad, because this Fishtrap-sponsored event focuses on “censorship of books and newspapers and the rights and responsibilities of open discussion in a democracy.” It will feature a discussion by Bob Caldwell, editorial page editor at the Portland Oregonian; MaryKay Dahlgreen, children's literature coordinator at the Oregon State Library; and Christopher Zinn, director of the Oregon Council for the Humanities. Guest speaker will be Amy Stolls, writer and assistant director of the NEA Literature Program, main sponsor for “Big Read.” This event is the culmination of a month-long program in which residents of Wallowa and UnionCounty read and discussed Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel “Fahrenheit 451.” During that time, high school students read the book over local radio station KWVR and some 250 people attended a viewing of the 1966 movie based on the book. The local film club also screened "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "Brazil," and "Handmaid's Tale," all movies that address government intrusion into people’s lives. Tonight’s events will close with a bonfire, and an open invitation for people to recite poems and stories they remember from childhood or have learned for the occasion. Those who have read “Fahrenheit 451” know that in portrays a future in which all books are burned by “firemen” and a few dedicated souls keep important literature alive by memorizing it and passing it on to following generations.
MAGAZINE REVIEWS MORRIS BOOK: Check out the March issue of “Western Horseman” for a review of “My Cowboy Hat Still Fits: My Life as a Rodeo Star” by Abe Morris, a champion bull rider and former University of Wyoming rodeo great. The book was published last year with Pronghorn Press of Greybull. Morris was the first African-American on the UW rodeo team. He got the rodeo bug growing up in New Jersey, where he attended the Cowtown Rodeo in Woodstown, billed as “the nation’s longest-running weekly rodeo.” Morris lives in Denver but treks often to WYO. He’ll be a presenter at the Equality State Book Festival Oct. 19-21 in Casper.
SUMMER ARTS CAMPS FOR KIDS: It’s not even spring yet, but some of us already are plotting ways to get rid of our teens for a few weeks this summer. Wyoming boasts the excellent Young Writers Camp near Story, for teens 15-18. The camp will be held June 17-24 this year. The Bauen Camp, for “young people from around the world to grow their art and life skills for the purpose of building stronger communities and a better world,” will conduct three week-long sessions near Parkman this summer. Start dates are July 16, Aug. 6, and Aug. 20. Young musicians (grades 6-12) can go to University of Wyoming Summer Music Camp June 11-17 in Laramie. Other music camps are in Powell and Evanston. Budding thespians and playwrights can attend the WyomingSummerTheatreAcademy June 19-Aug. 15 in Lander. The Wyoming Shakespeare Festival Company puts on the camp, and attendees will participate in performances of “As You Like It” around the state. Contact Diane Springford at firstname.lastname@example.org. PALS also conducts summer arts programs for kids in Lander. For info, call Amy Skinner at 307-332-0425. Goshen County Community Theater and Cheyenne Little Theatre Players hold summer performance camps. The CLTP camp begins June 6. Young dancers can take in the Snowy Range Dance Festival in Laramie July 19-30. There are many kids activities in the Jackson area, through The Arts Association and in the national parks. In surrounding states, Writers at Work held June 19-23 in Salt Lake City has sessions for teens. At CampShakespeare in Boulder, Colo., July 24-Aug. 12, kids ages 11-18 work with Colorado Shakespeare Festival professionals. Many of these camps offer scholarships. If it’s impossible to dislodge the kids from the couch, you might want to think about escaping to one of the many adult-oriented summer writing workshops in the West. More about those next week.
NEWBOX STORIES PUBLISHED: Usually I’m promoting C.J. Box’s novels on these pages (and the next one’s due this spring). But Chuck’s latest e-mail newsletter talked about his newly published stories. Here’s the straight dope (as a Hammett character might say): An exclusive limited-edition short story featuring Nate Romanowski (with an introduction by two-time Edgar winner T. Jefferson Parker) called ‘The Master Falconer’ will be published in spring of 2006 by ASAP Publishing. Contact the press at email@example.com. The short story “Pirates of Yellowstone” has been selected for inclusion in the tenth volume of Houghton Mifflin's “Best American Mystery Stories 2006.” Editor Otto Penzler and guest editor Scott Turow ("Presumed Innocent") made the announcement Feb. 2 in New York. The anthology will appear in the fall of 2006.
WELLING ON STAGE: The “Writers Showcase” at the Teton County Public Library in Jackson will feature local author Tina Welling on Tuesday, March 21, She will read from her upcoming novel “Crybaby Ranch.” Welling’s novel explores the relationship between a daughter and her mother who has Alzheimer’s disease. Welling will also discuss the connection between art and healing, and how it can move artists from a personal to universal perspective. FMI: Juli Smith, 733-2164 ext. 229.