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Thursday, Sept. 2, 2004 08:53 pm

Arts harvest

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From dance performances to art shows, from theater productions to Halloween fun, the Springfield arts scene bursts with offerings this fall.

In Chicago, the Art Institute is featuring an exhibit centered on the Georges Seurat masterpiece A Sunday on La Grande Jatte -- 1884. Springfield boasts its own Seurat-related exhibit: Visitors to the Que Sera, Seurat show at the Hoogland Center for the Arts will be invited to place their own dots (in the pointillist fashion of Seurat) on a large canvas and to attend the Stephen Sondheim production of Sunday in the Park with George. There's even a trivia night and a ghost tour to enjoy.

Here's a sampling of local cultural fare this fall.

Illinois State Museum
Spring and Edwards streets, 217-782-7387, www.museum.state.il.us

The newly renovated Changes exhibit makes the Illinois State Museum a must-see this fall. In addition to pullout drawers, interactive exhibits, and artistically displayed flora and fauna, including a mastodon, the museum offers special free art exhibits.

Through Oct. 31, the museum features Where Animals Dance: Art of Africa, an exhibit showcasing animal-inspired sculptures, textiles, and jewelry from 12 African nations. Noteworthy pieces include a Do-society mask by the Bobo people, a Baga shoulder mask, and a pair of carved tusks given by the Masai of Kenya to the U.S. State Department.

Don't miss the annual Halloween gala, "Where the Wild Things Are." This year's event runs from noon until 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 30 and 31.

From Nov. 21 through Feb. 27, two special exhibits run simultaneously at the museum: Carolyn Plochmann: Between Two Worlds spans the 60-year career of this southern Illinois painter, and A Tone Poem in Photographs and Verse pairs museum-owned photos with works by famous poets.

Springfield Art Association
700 N. Fourth St., 217-523-3507

The association exhibits Place of Perception, featuring handwoven rugs by artist Grace Eckert, Sept. 4 through Dec. 11 at Edwards Place. A reception on Sept. 24 and a lecture by Eckert on Oct. 16 are both free and open to the public.

On Oct. 22 and 29, the association holds its annual ghost tour at Edwards Place, the former residence of Gov. Ninian Edwards. Guides will lead visitors through the house, stopping to greet actors portraying Edwards, his wife, and other Springfield notables.

Illinois Symphony Orchestra
217-206-6160, www.ilsymphony.org

The symphony offers the Masterworks Series, the Pops Series, and the Chamber Orchestra Series, each with four performances during the 2004-05 season. Tickets may be purchased for an entire series or for individual performances. Masterworks Series performances include works by (Copland, Gershwin, and Ives) (Sept. 11) and Dvorák and Sibelius (Nov. 20). The Pops Series includes an Oct. 2 "Gershwin Gala" featuring Chicago singer Spider Saloff. The Chamber Orchestra Series includes "Bach Meets Mozart" at the First Christian Church, 700 S. Sixth St., on Oct. 22.

Springfield Ballet Company
420 S. Sixth St., 217-544-1967, www.springfieldballetco.org

The Springfield Ballet Company marks the 10th anniversary of its popular Rock Ballet Oct. 16 and 17 at Sangamon Auditorium. This popular production features the "Top 10 Rock & Roll Artists of All Time," chosen by WYMG (100.5 FM) listeners who made their choices from a list of 75 artists. The winning artists who will be featured through choreographed ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance are the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Queen, U2, Eric Clapton, the Dave Matthews Band, Elton John, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd.

Prairie Art Alliance
420 S. Sixth St., 217-544-2787, www.prairieart.org

From Sept. 1 through Oct. 30, Springfield will have its own Georges Seurat exhibit, Que Sera, Seurat. According to Springfield artist Jim Edwards, who came up with the idea for the exhibit, Que Sera, Seurat provides "a hands-on approach and a unique way to experience art."

Nov. 3 through Dec. 23, works by area university and college faculty will be featured in a special exhibit.

Springfield Area Arts Council
420 S. Sixth St., 217-753-3519, www.springfieldartsco.org

Even trivia contests have encroached on the world of the arts. The Arts Council's "Americana and Route 66 Trivia Night" takes place at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. Come answer questions about the '50s, '60s, and Route 66.

Lincoln Park comes to life each year for the Children's Art Festival. This year the festival, geared to children ages 3 through 12, will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19.

Prairie House
3013 Lindbergh Blvd., 217-546-1770

From 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, Missouri glassblower Brendan Bayless and local photographer Gale Myers will be featured in an all-day show and reception.

The Hoogland Center for the Arts
420 S. Sixth St., 217-523-2787, springfieldcenterforthearts.org

Several arts organizations join forces to produce Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George (Sept. 17-19, 24-26).

Other theatrical performances at the Center this fall include Singin' and Swingin' at the Center with the Sound Celebration Chorus Sweet Adelines (Oct. 9), Side by Side by Sondheim (Oct. 15-17, 22-24), and On My Way Home, a one-act drama featuring God and a woman recovering from the death of her husband and child (Nov. 19 and 20).

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