Sunday, March 29, 2009

Laramie events this week feature the arts, film, social justice and Elton John

Great series of events this week in Laramie.

First up is the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice, sponsored by the Matthew Shepard Foundation. It gets under way on Wednesday, April 1, 7 p.m., with the Wyoming debut of the film "Straightlaced: How Gender's Got Us All Tied Up," which includes a talk by director Debra Chasnoff. Following the film at 9 p.m. is a hip-hop event with Rosa Clemente.

Keynote speaker at the Shepard Symposium is Elizabeth Birch on Thursday, April 2, 7:30 p.m. in the UW Education Dept. Auditorium. She's one of the most recognized leaders in the gay and lesbian civil rights movement, and served as executive director of the Human Rights Campaign for nearly a decade.

Elton John wraps up the Shepard Symposium on Friday night with a concert benefiting the Shepard Foundation.

The Public Art & Community symposium (UW just lousy with symposia all of a sudden) gets started with a 5-7 p.m. reception at the UW Conference Center in Laramie. You have to register for the symposium (and pay the fee) to get into the reception and avail yourself of the foodstuffs and drinkstuffs. But a free "Art Slam" follows at 7:30. This features artists and symposium presenters Jesus Moroles (winner of a 2008 National Medal of Arts), John Henry and Ursual von Rydingsvard. Another free event follows from 10 p.m.-midnight. "20:20" features 20 artists who each will "flash" 20 images of their work for 20 seconds each while they provide the illuminating narration. This should be a fun, fast-faced event.

For a full schedule, go to the Wyoming Arts Council web site at

The arts symposium features scores of professional artists and sculptors talking about their work in 15- to 30-minute sessions. I'm looking forward to Lawrence Argent's talk about copyright issues at 8:45 a.m. on Friday. Not only good info for artists but for writers, too.

The registration deadline for the arts symposium is Tuesday, March 31. For info, call the WAC at 307-777-7742.

In case this isn't enough stimulation for the creative side of you, you can take in one of these other events:

"Awaken/Shift," the Department of Theatre and Dance's final dance concert of the season, College of Arts and Sciences auditorium, April 1, 2 and 4, 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $14 for the public, $11 for senior citizens and $7 for students. To get tickets, stop by the Fine Arts Box Office, call 766 6666, or go online at

On Friday, April 3, noon: Mary L. Keller, adjunct professor in the Religious Studies and African American Studies programs, presents "Heart Mountain as Home: Foretop's Father in the 21st Century." Room 316 College of Agriculture Building. For more information, contact Ramesh Sivanpillai at

On Saturday, April 4, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., the Kappa Sigma Fraternity will host its first chili cookoff in Fraternity Mall. Tickets cost $5. To enter or for more information, contact David Steinberg at or (720) 238-2462.

I wish there was something to do in this wind-scoured, tumbleweed-ridden state.

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