Sunday, December 05, 2004

From the "Land Through the Lens" exhibit at Lakeview Museum Posted by Hello

It's been a lazy day. A day for reading books and taking walks. If only Sunday morning lasted the whole week through... To make the morning complete, I have the memories of the week's cultural explorations to ponder and share.

Friday night, Randy and I had a date. That's right, a real date that included dinner and tickets to a play. First we stopped at Alexander's Steakhouse, a Peoria institution we'd never experienced before. Judging by how packed the restaurant was on this Friday night, we're the only ones in Peoria who've never grilled our own slab of beef at the Do-It-Yourself Barbeque Pit. Grilling your own dinner seems a fabulous concept for a steakhouse.

Next, we joined the audience at the Corn Stock Theatre's premiere of A Christmas Story. This theatrical reinterpretation of the classic holiday TV movie included everything that made the original great. There was Ralphie and his Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring, the Red Rider BB gun, the kid who licked the lamppost, the insufferable bully, and Ralphie's Old Man who brings cursing to artistic heights. Best of all was the depth and insight our local actors brought to the timeless story. The kid who played Ralphie had all the panache of his predecessor, and his kid brother was a scene stealer. Without a doubt, the best performances were by the two actors who played Ralphie's parents. Together, they gave their characters humor and warmth, that I think went beyond the movie. Most important, these two actors saved the play from all the missteps of the narrator, who tripped over most of his lines.

Corn Stock Theatre recently celebrated it's 50th anniversary. The community theater group is famous for it's outdoor productions. For the winter months, the plays moves indoors to a small lab theater. The best part of Friday's performance was at the end when we walked into the theater's foyer to see all the kids in the play greeting their parents. The kids were beaming with that "I did it!" pride, and so were their folks.

Ah, but our Peoria cultural pursuits did not stop after Ralphie's tour de force performance. Last night, Randy and I visited Lakeview Museum's "Land Through the Lens" exhibit. The display featured landscape photography dating from the early 1870 surveys of the American West to modern photographs of industrial sites. We were quite impressed with the wide variety. Most were black and white, and my favorite were a series of tree photographs along one wall of the exhibit. The tree photographs were all taken by different photographers over a 100 year period. Some were abstract, some were nostalgic. In one photo of a grove of aspen trees you could just make out the metallic glint and straight lines of the Alaskan Pipeline bisecting the distance.

With the holidays coming, Peoria is serving up many more cultural treats. Of course, I don't want to miss the Forest Park candle-lit walk this weekend. The wooded park will have about a mile of trail lit by candlelight this weekend. The ICC choir always puts on a good holiday performance. I'd like to go to a Sing-Along Messiah that will be held next Sunday, but it conflicts with a cookie exchange I positively must attend. Then there's the East Peoria Festival of Lights. Goodness knows I wouldn't mind missing this over-the-top extravaganza, but then what kind of MIdwesterner would I be?

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