Area artists play show and tell at Cape library

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Some guys get together once a week to watch a football game or play poker or bowl. For the past year, Herb Taylor and Arthur Wilhite have dropped by Max Cordonnier's home each Thursday night to talk about poetry and art and drama. Eventually the talk gave way to the need to perform for each other.

"Basically it's an arts show and tell," Wilhite said.

Taylor reads his poetry, Wilhite gives comic readings and monologues and Cordonnier shows them his latest digital paintings. Monday night, they decided to go public. They responded to "the need for some audience, however small," said Taylor, a retired professor of mass communications at Southeast Missouri State University and the founder of radio station KRCU.

The three men presented a "microfestival" of the arts at the Cape Girardeau Public Library. Seventeen people came to see what they were up to.

For the past decade, Cordonnier has been up to creating his own art gallery on the Internet at The retired Southeast English professor's richly imagined paintings combine drawings and photographs manipulated with computer programs.

Some of his art is symbiotic with his poetry. Some is inspired by the literature he loves: Chaucer, Faulkner, Cervantes, William Blake and others. One series of paintings is based on Lady Ashley, a fictional character Cordonnier created. She is from St. Louis, taught French to a young man, and married another young man who was killed in World War I. All this history can be found in the haunting paintings.

With Taylor, he also has a site called

Taylor recited poems about a discarded paint-by-numbers portrait of Jesus he rescued, another giving three views of the AIDS virus, a poem titled "My Lady of I-55" and another about his own affliction, "Beguiled by Angina":

"She interrupts my dreaming with long-fingered squeeze of my essential muscle; Clutched me awake to know the feel of flame-tongue lapping at my heart."

Wilhite is a Southeast graduate and longtime participant in community theater productions. He produced chuckles reading James Thurber's imagined solution to Duncan's murder in "Macbeth" and rattled the roofing with a 10-minute reading called "The Naz" by the late comic Lord Buckley. The piece is a hipster retelling of the life of Christ.

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