Monday, September 5, 2016

Two Programs Back-to-Back: Dennis Stroughmatt and Paul Umfleet

As part of the Smithsonian Water Ways Traveling Exhibit, the Lawrence County Historical Society is proud to present two programs- one on Sunday afternoon, Sept 11 and one on Monday evening Sept 12.  

Dennis Stroughmatt, and his River Music, will entertain the public at the Lawrenceville High School (James Street)  on September 11, 2016 at 2 pm.                 

In a time almost forgotten, the Midwest and upper South were home to thousands of Americans who lived and worked along, or on, the rivers as sharecroppers, fishermen, mussel shellers, button cutters, traveling minstrels, and even moonshiners.  Work was their lives, and the work was hard.  Although they were the backbone of industry in cities like Muscatine, Iowa, and Cairo, Illinois, they played too, enjoying the music of Memphis and St. Louis along their way.

Musician and cultural historian Dennis Stroughmatt will lead a voyage of discovery incorporating artifacts, photographs, folktales, and performances in river-based musical styles passed down from his mussel-shelling and river-working grandfather, Chancy Stroughmatt’s generation.  He invites audiences to visit the history of early-20th-century Illinois and even sing along to the music of the age at the Lawrence County Historical Society’s program on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm.  The program will be held at the Lawrenceville High School auditorium, 2200 James Street.  Admission is free.   


Paul Umfleet, local woodcarver and 'lover of all things Audubon', will educate the public with his program, Audubon on the Water Ways, 7 pm  Monday evening, Sept 12 at the Lawrenceville Public Library (12th Street). 


Since 1989 Paul Umfleet has concentrated his artistic efforts on creating decorative woodcarvings. Behind Umfleet’s home, his small studio is nestled in a lovely flower garden that is his wife’s chief project. Here Paul has turned a hobby of carving Santa’s, duck decoys, and birds of all kinds into a livelihood. Starting with local craft fairs Paul quickly expanded to fine art shows in Indiana and Illinois where his carvings have won several awards. His carvings have been shown in art galleries around Illinois including the Illinois Artisan Shop in Chicago and the Illinois State Museum Store.


Umfleet’s Audubon Collection is based on John James Audubon’s paintings in his Birds of America portfolio.  Each bird carving is posed in the position that Audubon used in his painting of that particular bird. Umfleet has used basswood with distressed paint to capture the essence of each bird. All Umfleet’s work is hand-craved, hand-painted, numbered and signed. His program, Audubon on the Water Ways, will feature the life and work of the artist, with a special emphasis on the time he spent in this area.  The program will be held on the lower level of the Lawrenceville Library at 7pm September 12. Admission is free.