Monday, September 28, 2009

Reserve Now: Follow the North Star

Make your reservations now for Follow the North Star, Conner Prairie's outstanding program that simulates the journey of runaway slaves. Upcoming dates are Nov. 5-7, 12-14 and 19-21.

I reviewed the program last April; it's not exactly a fun way to spend the evening, but it is certainly eye-opening and worthwhile. You'll experience shame, uncertainty and fear, but you'll also meet friendly people who are willing to help you on your way. Will your group successfully escape, or will you be returned to the harsh slave traders from whom you fled? You'll have to go to find out.

(Photo provided by Conner Prairie. Thanks!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Shakespeare: American Players Theatre

One of these days, I'm going to start a separate blog about Shakespeare-related road trips. After all, this blog is supposed to be about classes in Indianapolis, not theater gems like the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. For the moment, however, please bear with me.

This past weekend, I checked another theater company off of my list: the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin. This is a unique outdoor venue, situated on top of a heavily wooded hill in the Wisconsin River Valley. Here, you can watch Shakespeare under the stars while listening to the crickets and sipping hot chocolate spiked with peppermint schnapps.

Even better, each weekend you can catch a lecture in the Bard Talks series, which is all about understanding, acting and directing Shakespeare's work.

I saw all three of the company's Shakespeare plays for the season: "A Winter's Tale," "Henry V" and "Comedy of Errors." All three were very well done, although I must admit that I prefer the "Comedy of Errors" done in Stratford two seasons ago.

Spring Green truly has something for everyone, from outdoor activities like canoeing to one of the world's craziest tourist traps. The area is also home to architectural gems like Taliesen, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright. Or, you can tour one of the dozens of dairies and wineries in the area, such as the Wollersheim Winery near Prairie du Sac. My husband killed some time at the local batting cages, and he's planning to play some golf on our next visit.

The APT attracts a lot of repeat business, and it was difficult to find a hotel room on short notice. So, I'm planning ahead for next year, and I'll be making a hotel reservation as soon as the 2010 season schedule is announced. Spring Green isn't as enchanting as Stratford; it lacks the cute boutiques and incredible restaurants. But the theater itself is worth the drive, and I'm looking forward to being there again.

WTHR Teacher Profile

WTHR is running a profile about Bonnie Ramirez, the welding instructor at Boca Loca Beads. It seems that her interest in welding was sparked by a community-education class, so she's one of us! Learn more about the self-proclaimed "Torch Queen" on her Web site, or visit Boca Loca for a schedule of upcoming welding classes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Open House: Boca Loca Beads

I promised you an update on Boca Loca's 20th anniversary party, and here it is. I'm going to let owner Jari Sheese tell you about the event in her own words:

I opened Boca Loca Beads in the summer of 1989. My daughter, Bianca, was two months old. There is something to be said for being young and not knowing any better. Luckily I had the cutest baby in the world and didn't mind asking my customers, "Do you mind holding my baby so I can count your beads?" Now my baby is 20 years old and so is Boca Loca Beads.

You are warmly invited to celebrate this momentous occasion on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Share in the festivities with good food, drink and fellowship. The teaching studios will be open, the torches will be fired up with local lampworkers. This special night will feature a bead bazaar highlighting the talent of the many local lampworkers. Come and shop for these one of a kind art glass beads.

In addition, come and meet our wonderful instructors, Jerry Day, our talented silversmithing teacher, and Bonnie Ramirez, our wild and crazy welder instructor. Bonnie is to be featured on Channel 13 WTHR's special program, "Women You Should Know." It is to air on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 5:30 p.m.

I have met so many wonderful people over the last 20 years, many of whom have become my dear friends. I have traveled to more than 20 different countries in search of unique treasure for my special customers. I have tried very hard to offer unique beads over these last 20 years. Times are hard, and I am glad to have made it this long. Please come, I want to tell you all how much I have appreciated you and your support.

Much love,

Monday, September 7, 2009

Art Center Open House

When I'm in Wisconsin this weekend, I'll be missing what might be the busiest weekend ever for Indy's arts scene.

Among the events I'm missing is the Indianapolis Arts Center's open house, which sounds like an incredible event. From 6-8 p.m. Friday, the center's classrooms will be abuzz with demonstrations and opportunities for hands-on projects.

Among the activities: creating a print in the print-making studio, painting with watercolors, fusing and forging a piece of jewelry, and making a ceramic piece in the pottery studio.

Of course, if you don't want to make art, you can buy it instead. Student-made ceramic bowls (filled with fresh Yats chili) will be sold for just $5 (or $10 for faculty-made bowls). You can also order a custom purse, purchase a variety of student and faculty artwork, and browse discounted items in the center's gift shop.

I'm pretty excited about seeing some Shakespeare at the American Players Theatre in Wisconsin, but missing this event is a heavy price to pay. If you go, please send a comment and let us know what you thought!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Washington Township Community Education

Since the recent demise of Lawrence Township Community Education, I've been looking more closely at Washington Township's adult-education program. The fall 2009/spring 2010 catalog is now available, and it contains a wide range of classes.

In the arts category, you can choose classes on precious metal clay, painting, drawing, photography, knitting and jewelry making. You'll also find a wide range of fitness and aquatics classes, and the usual offerings in the computers and business categories.

I'm sure that some of these classes are worthwhile, but none of them are unique. The beauty of Lawrence Township Community Education in its heyday was that it offered classes no one else in town offered (like that tarot-card reading class). In contrast, every class on Washington Township's list is also offered somewhere else in town, and in most cases I'd prefer the alternative. (If I want to learn to knit, for example, I'll head to the Knit Stop or Mass Ave Knit Shop.)

On the plus side, if you live in Washington Township, you're probably closer to the J. Everett Light Career Center than to alternative venues. At the moment, that's the only argument I can muster in favor of Washington Township's program.

It's true that I'm probably being too hard on the program. I'm in mourning for LCTE, and I expect the surviving school-district programs to fill the gap of vibrant, ever-changing, always-surprising programming. So far, Washington Township isn't doing it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A That'll Teach Me Milestone

Big news! A few weeks ago, when I wasn't paying attention, That'll Teach Me found its 5,000th reader. Thanks to all of you who continue to send tips, ask questions, post comments and otherwise make this blog so successful. I'm having tons of fun, and I hope you are, too!

Some Pretty Cheesy Classes

If you've ever read my blogger bio (it's over there on the right), you know I love four things: alphabet flashcards, my hometown of Indianapolis, Shakespeare and cheese. So, I was pretty excited when Indianapolis Monthly's Dish newsletter included an article on upcoming cheese classes.

The first class mentioned -- a cheese boot camp at Petite Chou -- is already sold out. Drat.

For a more serious cheese education, you can sign up for Capriole Farm's farmstead cheese workshop on Oct. 9. The full-day class will cover milking, cheese-making and business planning; a farm tour and lunch are included. Drawbacks: You'll have to drive to Greenville, and the class will set you back $550.

I'm not really satisfied with those options, so I've been hunting for an alternative. My first guess was the Cheese Shop in the Fashion Mall, but it doesn't offer classes (which makes absolutely no sense). I also checked Vine & Table, Goose the Market and all of the usual cooking-class spots -- no upcoming cheese classes. There's nothing at Traders Point Creamery, either, although you can always stop by in the afternoon to watch the milking.

Unfortunately, I'm out of ideas. I'll just settle into a comfy chair with Steven Jenkins' Cheese Primer and try not to get too hungry.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Conner Prairie's Arts & Arms-making Workshop

Fall is a busy time at Conner Prairie: the Headless Horseman is roaming the village, the Apple Store is selling those yummy cider slushies, and some of the nation's best craftsmen are gathering for the annual Arts & Arms-making Workshop.

This year's workshop, Oct. 10-16, marks the 20th anniversary of this unique education vacation. You can register for five-day classes, half-week classes or weekend workshops in a variety of disciplines, from "Knife and Axe Making" to "Coopering" to "Basket Making."

The weekend classes (Oct. 10-11) seem to be the most accessible for casual students. Would you like to learn the art of hearth cooking? Silver wire inlay? Basic blacksmithing? I must admit, I think it would be really satisfying to make my own fireplace poker.

A few one-shot evening classes are also available, including "Spinning Basics" (6-9 p.m., Oct. 8, $40) and "Pottery Decorative Techniques for Redware" (7-9 p.m., Oct. 12, $60).

(Photo supplied by Conner Prairie. Thanks!)

Tree Identification Class

The Indianapolis Museum of Art offers a wealth of horticulture classes, but they're usually a bit beyond my skill level. ("Luscious Landscaping with Fruiting Plants"? I'm lucky if I remember to water my house plants.)

On Sept. 26, however, the museum will offer a class that's more my speed: "Tree Identification." According to the museum's class description, you'll learn to "distinguish an oak from a maple, or a pine from a spruce." I spend enough time in Canada to know what a maple leaf looks like, but that's where my tree knowledge ends.

The three-hour class includes a lecture and a tour of the IMA gardens. Cost is $50, and registration is requested by Sept. 12.