Arts & Culture

Evansville Museum

After two years without a permanent leader, the Evansville Museum has selected a new executive director.  Bryan Knicely comes to Evansville from Florida where he led the Coral Springs Museum of Art.

The Evansville Museum completed a major renovation earlier this year and houses 30,000 objects in its permanent collection.

"This is an exciting time for the Museum. After the successful completion of the capital campaign and building expansion, we are in a period of rapid growth and look to become the number one cultural destination in the region,” said board president Sharon Walker. “We are happy to have Bryan join the staff, as he has extensive experience leading arts and cultural centers across the country.”

Dr. John Streetman III retired at the end of 2012 after nearly four decades with the museum. Mary Bower had been serving as the interim director.

Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

A set of chairs currently on display at The Kentucky Museum on WKU’s campus offers a glimpse at some of the finest pieces of Appalachian art ever created.

The exhibit, “Chester Cornett: Beyond the Narrow Sky” features over 20 chairs made by Cornett, a simple and quiet man from the Appalachian region of Kentucky who possessed an amazing talent. Cornett was born in 1913 in Letcher County, and learned chair-making from his grandfather and uncle. He served in WWII, and then returned to his mountain home in 1945.

Brent Bjorkman, director of the Kentucky Folklife Program at WKU, says Cornett seemed to be at peace when he was creating chairs—a peace that alluded him in other aspects of his life.

“He grew up as a loner,” Bjorkman told WKU Public Radio. “Chester was a mountain kid who had difficulty fitting in with the community. He was also married a couple of times, and I think dealing with people was pretty hard for him. So I think he back again and again to expressing himself through this creative form that he felt was something familiar to him.”

Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt did as much to create 20th-century America as any three people linked by blood and marriage.

Kevin Willis

If the state of Kentucky is looking for an at-large ambassador for its small towns, they’d be hard pressed to find someone better suited for the job than Cory Ramsey.

The 33 year old WKU graduate works as a welder during the afternoons, but is a Kentucky traveler in the morning. In the past five years, Ramsey has been to every county in the commonwealth at least twice. During his travels, Ramsey mostly sticks to the backroads in order to see parts of the state that are off the beaten path.

His passion for exploring the commonwealth’s nooks and crannies led Ramsey to create Map Dot Kentucky, a website and social media venture dedicated to sharing pictures and stories related to Ramsey’s exploits throughout the state. Unlike some tourism websites that focus on large metro areas like Louisville and Lexington, Map Dot Kentucky is a place where small towns are celebrated.

Ramsey told WKU Public Radio that his upbringing in the small western Kentucky town of Hickman helped shape the way he views the commonwealth.

Bringing It Home the Movie

A documentary called "Bringing it Home," which trumpets the benefits of industrialized hemp, was shown before an audience in downtown Hopkinsville Saturday.

The film, by two North Carolina filmmakers spotlights the effort to use hemp as a building material for homes and warehouses.

 “[It’s] a material that is mold and mildew resistant, fire-retardant, pest-resistant and in addition to that, it’s absorbing carbon out of the atmosphere as well as toxins. What they’ve found is that it’s not only breathable but a very good thermal regulating construction material," said film co-director Linda Booker.

Booker has shown the documentary in several states, says the film was well-received in Christian County.

 “It was really great to see such a diverse audience of all ages,” said Booker.   “I know that there were farmers there and people just interested in looking at new job opportunities and new economic opportunities for your state.  And of course we talk about this on a national level as well."

Several industrial hemp pilot projects associated with state universities continue this summer across Kentucky. The mission of those projects is to figure out which types of hemp seeds grow best in the current climate.  The documentary’s co-director is Blaire Johnson.


A former PBS star known as “The Science Guy” and one of America’s most famous jazz musicians highlight the 18th season of WKU’s Cultural Enhancement Series.

Here is the lineup for the 2014-15 Cultural Enhancement Series, released Friday by the university:

Sept. 30: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, 7:30 p.m. at Van Meter Hall. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, comprising 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today, has been the Jazz at Lincoln Center resident orchestra since 1988. (Note: CES Premier Event; tickets available Aug. 25.)

Oct. 15: Bill Nye, 7:30 p.m. at E.A Diddle Arena. The scientist, engineer, comedian, author and inventor is a man with a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. (Note: CES Premier Event; tickets available Sept. 15. Co-sponsored by the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky.)

Oct. 28: National Dance Company of Ecuador, 7:30 p.m. at Van Meter Hall. Performance is part of WKU’s celebration of the International Year of Ecuador. (Note: No ticket required; free seating on first-come, first-served basis.)

Nov. 18: Kentucky Glory: Gospel Music from the Commonwealth, 7:30 p.m. at Downing Student Union Auditorium. Performance will feature John Edmonds, Paul Moseley and The Northern Kentucky Brotherhood. (Note: No ticket required; free seating on first-come, first-served basis. Co-presented by the Kentucky Folklife Program at WKU.)

Popular Bowling Green Guitarist Dies at 56

Jul 22, 2014
Orchestra Kentucky

Joe Roberts, a Bowling Green native who played guitar for more than a decade as a part of Orchestra Kentucky shows, died Monday of an apparent heart attack.  He was 56 years old. 

Roberts was a member of the group The Rewinders. He was a self-taught guitar player who received acclaim for his solos.

“Well he really loves music and you could see that in his playing,” said Orchestra Kentucky music director Jeff Reed. “When he played solos, it was definitely from the heart and it exhibited his love for the music he was playing.”

Roberts’ death came just days before Orchestra Kentucky’s scheduled “Beatlemadness” concert in Bowling Green. Reed says the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” won’t be the same without Roberts’ guitar solo.

“That song has become associated with Joe as he would play the Eric Clapton solo.  You know, Eric Clapton played the original guitar solo,” said Reed.  “He never failed to get a standing ovation whenever we played it in the many places we played around the United States.”

No theme has dominated country radio playlists and charts more in the past couple of years than celebration of the sort of small-town good life that features trucks, beer and scantily clad women as the must-have accessories. The young country duo Maddie & Tae aren't fans of the third element in the "bro-country" trinity.

Master Musicians Festival

Counting Crows, a band which had several hits in the 1990s, is set to perform this weekend at the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset.  The schedule of artists also includes St. Paul and the Broken Bones, a band featured in March on Morning Edition.

Festival president Tiffany Bourne says organizers aren’t restricted to any particular kind of music when they finalize the lineup.

“We just look at any and all genres for musical excellence,” said Bourne. “We try to bring musical excellence to rural Kentucky.  We don’t really have a criteria, we just pick what we think the crowd’s gonna like.”

Bourne says this weekend’s lineup will include some local fare.  Four local singer-songwriters have been chosen to perform in the “Songwriter Social” at Noon Eastern Saturday.

“That’s another great part of our festival is that we have a lot of local bands that get to share the same stage as national artists,” said Bourne.

Larnelle Harris

WKU alumnus Larnelle Harris is among the winners of the 2014 Governor’s Awards in the Arts.  The honorees were announced Wednesday by the Kentucky Arts Council.  Harris has won five Grammy awards and is a member of the Gospel Hall of Fame. 

The City of Danville will be honored with the Government award for its contributions to the arts. Danville hosts the annual Great American Brass Band Festival each June.   

The awards will be presented in a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort in October.