Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It just keeps getting better

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2009 started off like most mornings - woke up before the alarm, drank a couple cups of coffee while I checked email, read online news and blogged. After breakfast I headed to my first Lincoln destination of the day in my continuing Bicentennial journey - a visit to the new exhibit at the Illinois State Museum -From Humble Beginnings: Lincoln's Illinois, 1830-1861. It opened Feb. 6 and runs through Jan. 1, 2010.

I just can't say enough good things about the exhibit. It is absolutely fantastic! It's a brilliantly done history lesson covering all the forces in play in the prairie state in the years Lincoln was here. I was impressed from the first wall plaque I read through the final piece I laid eyes on. I had to leave to attend my next event, but hated to, knowing I'd not savored the exhibit to the depth I would have liked. The good news is that since it will be there all year I can go back - and so can you!

The next event contained one pleasant surprise after another. I attended an afternoon reception at the Vachel Lindsay Home - with Illinois Lincoln poet Dan Guillory, the period muscians, Prairie Chickens, readings of Lindsey poems by a spunky little retired school teacher with a booming voice and powerful rhythm, Marge Deffenbaugh, a brief history lesson by Springfield city historian Curtis Mann, and a monologue by talented Mary Todd Smith presenter Kathey Reed. I ended up finding my own moment in the spotlight at that event, as State Journal-Register writer Pete Sherman interviewed me and featured me in an article in today's paper. Thanks, Pete.

As if the moment of fame wasn't enough, I also had a brush with greatness. Artist Sacha Newley was at the event. Newly is a brilliantly gifted artist who portrays his subjects with a depth that's nearly unsurpassed - and the son of actress Joan Collins and late actor Anthony Newley. This curly-headed gent is not only gifted and good-looking, but incredibly gracious. Meeting him was a pleasant surprise and a true pleasure. I'll write more about Newly and his work in a future blog.

The evening event was a lecture at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum by the poet and biographer Daniel Mark Epstein, whose The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage is surely the most lyrical Lincoln volume since Sandburg's Lincoln works. The imagery in his narrative is amazing, and it's appears from the rhythms in his prose that he surely must read his work aloud as he writes. Epstein, too, is gracious and appreciative of the loyalty of his readers. Watch for more on him in the coming months as I read his books and share my impressions here.

Another pleasant surprise was bumping into Illinois State Represenative Don Moffitt and a couple of his colleagues. When I was back in Galesburg, working as a grocery clerk (also one of Lincoln's former professions), Moffitt was a customer at the store where I worked. It's always good to see him again.

Now, it's off to another Lincoln adventure...

No comments: