I only want impossible things.
The others don't matter.
Sometimes it is amazing what small towns can do, and the growth of the foundation's mission over the 60 years of its existence is an amazing success story.
My husband and I visited Red Cloud not long after the Opera House had been restored. Built in 1885 and restored in 2003 after having been closed in 1920, the Opera House is the heart of the collection of buildings in Red Cloud that were important to Cather's life and her writing.
|Christine Lesiak, Andrew Jewell & Janis Stout|
The current exhibit in the Opera House is Regional Works of Grant Reynard, a Nebraska artist who met Willa Cather at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. He was a familiar illustrator to those who read The Saturday Evening Post, Redbook, Ladies' Home Journal, Harper's Bazaar, McCall's, and Scribner's Magazine.
|This blogger somewhere among the crowd|
We arrived in time to hear high school senior scholarship recipients reading their winning essays. That was followed by a wonderful panel discussion, "Awakening Young Artists: Arts Education Then and Now." The Cather Conference always attracts outstanding scholars, but this panel was exceptional. The informal conversations among attendees are also an interesting part of every conference and seminar. After lunch we enjoyed an excellent lecture by Kenneth Be, art conservator, on the subject of restoring damaged art, with an example of a restored oil painting mentioned in one of Cather's novels on display.
|Co-Chair Jay Yost & new Cather Center|
Next came another one of those "impossible things"...worth doing!--the dedication of the nearly complete Cather Center. We had the privilege of walking through the building with Jay Yost and his sister at a previous conference when the construction project was just beginning. It certainly seemed like a monumental, if not impossible, undertaking. Yet, with the support of 463 individuals, businesses, foundations, and public grantors the Willa Cather Foundation raised $6,390,060 to establish the National Willa Cather Center in the restored Moon Block Building. Jay's co-chair is Ruth H. Keene, and the Honorary National Chair is Ken Burns, whose television programs have done so much to bring history to life.
|Toasting the Cather Center!|
As wonderful as the programs and exhibits at the Cather Conference and Seminars we have attended are, the thing that draws us back year after year is meeting such wonderful people. If you love Cather and you attend once, you will want to attend every year. You will be welcomed into a large circle of interesting and accomplished people, and as my husband said as we drove home, "The Cather gatherings have become like an annual family reunion!"
You may learn more by visiting www.willacather.org and you may keep up with current happenings at The Willa Cather Foundation on face book.