Oz-inspired artist extends trip to Kansas

Due to popular demand, artist Vincent Myrand will be extending his visit to Kansas, remaining in the Sunflower State through October 9th, 2017.

Myrand is an internationally acclaimed artist whose primary subject matter is characters and scenes from and inspired by L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” series.

“Kansas is where it all began,” said Myrand. “Longing to journey ‘over the rainbow,’ Dorothy Gale’s adventure began when a cyclone lifted her from her hum-drum life on the prairie to a land filled with adventure. In the end, however, Dorothy desired nothing more than to return to the plains of Kansas. I’ve wanted to come to Kansas for quite some time. This is a special opportunity for me.”

Myrand initially made the trip to Kansas to attend a private birthday reception for Representative-Emeritus J. Basil Dannebohm. During the reception, Myrand debuted a series of paintings he created especially for the celebration. The exhibition entitled, “Kansas, She said, is the Name of the Star,” was well received.

“In addition to some of my favorite paintings, I created nine new paintings for the event,” said Myrand. “About 70% of the paintings sold and I had several people ask me about doing commissions. Sticking around a bit longer allows me to complete those commissions, create new pieces, and hopefully enjoy the opportunity to interact with more Kansans.”

Extending his visit also affords Myrand the opportunity to attend the Oztoberfest celebration held annually in Wamego, Kansas. The event draws Oz enthusiasts from all across the nation to the small town in the flint hills.

Hailing from Lewiston, Maine, Myrand is self taught. He primarily works with oil paint, though he also enjoys mixed media work. His passion for art was inspired by his love of reading and the artistic works of Titian, Rembrandt, Tintoretto and Gustav Moreau.

For more information about Vincent Myrand’s art, to schedule a visit, or inquire about a commission, please email info@dannebohm.com.

Basil’s Remarks at his Birthday Reception

(The following is a transcript of the remarks Representative-Emeritus Dannebohm gave to attendees of his birthday celebration on September 9th, 2017. Nearly 100 people from as far away as Colorado, Missouri, Maine, and Texas attended the birthday celebration including past and present elected and appointed officials, gubernatorial candidates, university presidents, family, and friends – old and new. The Molly Neeley Trio, Internationally acclaimed Oz artist Vincent Myrand, author Christianna Rickard (niece of Ray Bolger – the scarecrow and cousin to Christopher Reeve – Superman), and Jane Albright who is the President of the International Wizard of Oz Club were all on hand, making it a truly special occasion.)

Good evening. We’ve heard some wonderful words this evening so I’ll keep my remarks brief.

One can’t help but notice the uptick of hatred and division that seems to be taking a grip on our world. I’m not certain why it exists. I think part of the problem is that the internet made some people comfortable hiding behind a vague username, degrading one another – when I was in office, I referred to them as ‘armchair politicians.’

Over the past few years, that has evolved into a deranged sense of confidence and a delusion that it’s somehow okay to take an agenda of hatred and falsehoods to the streets – sometimes literally.

Some people wonder how this increase in hatred happened, I’m more concerned with doing my small part to ensure it ceases. That’s why I host receptions such as this. In truth, this event is less about my birthday and more about bringing people together.

At this, and every other reception I host, all are equal, all are loved, all are friends. No matter your race, creed, color, origin, sexual orientation, gender preference, political views – all guests are welcome. At these gatherings, our differences are set aside and our humanity is celebrated.

It’s a sad situation that many of us communicate more with our neighbors via instant messenger than the front porch swing. It’s my hope that receptions such as this foster a renewed sense of communication and understanding.

Nowhere will you find a better example of strangers casting aside their differences and helping one another on a journey than in L. Frank Baum’s literary masterpiece, “The Wizard of Oz.”

Whether reading the book or watching the movie, young and old alike can take away a valuable lesson from the timeless classic. That’s why I chose to have a Oz inspired cocktail reception for my birthday.

If Baum taught us anything from this work, it’s that separately brains, a heart, and courage are powerful tools. However, when used for the good of others on life’s journey they become phenomenal building blocks of friendship and solidarity.

Like Dorothy Gale, I found a couple of strangers, turned friends, to help me in my mission – and I’m grateful to them for traveling many miles to be here with me for this special occasion.

Vincent Myrand, Christianna Rickard, and I firmly believe that the lessons we learn from Oz are vital and incredibly relevant. Using Baum’s work as a guidebook, each of us seeks to make the world a better place. We seek the diversity, love, and understanding that can be found in the characters or Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Cowardly Lion.

This evening, by reconnecting with a classic from our childhood, may this celebration remind us that with love as our guide, we can set aside our differences and truly make this city, this state, this nation, and this world a beautiful place. I encourage you, this evening, to be love and light to the world. A friend to the stranger on life’s journey.

Thank you for being with me on this special occasion. Humbly, I ask that you remember me in prayer. Be assured of mine.

Peace.

‘Oz’-some birthday

(This article originally appeared in the Salina Journal on September 9th, 2017. Click here to view the original story.)

Salinan to celebrate with lavish ‘Wizard of Oz’ party

By Gary DeMuth

For his 36th birthday, J. Basil Dannebohm is bringing Oz to Kansas, and he doesn’t even need a tornado.

The Salina resident and former member of the Kansas Legislature will be hosting a “Wizard of Oz” themed birthday reception today at his east Salina home, where he has invited a variety of people to celebrate what he called the diversity and humanity championed by the book and movie.

“I take pride that all kinds of guests are welcome at this and at every other reception I host,” he said. “Rich, poor, gay, straight, black, white, Republican, Democrat — at these gatherings, our differences are set aside and our humanity is celebrated.”

As a child, Dannebohm was enraptured by the adventures of Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, both in the 1939 movie musical and in the many books set in the magical land of Oz by author L. Frank Baum.

Now Dannebohm sees “The Wizard of Oz” not only as a timeless fantasy adventure for children, but a timely story for adults — one that embraces inclusiveness, tolerance and compassion, attributes sorely lacking in today’s polarized social and political climate.

“If Baum taught us anything from this work, it’s that separately brains, a heart and courage are powerful tools,” he said. “However, when used for the good of others on life’s journey, they become phenomenal building blocks of friendship and solidarity.”

At his invitation-only reception, Dannebohm has invited several special guests, including Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court Lawton Nuss, who will provide a birthday toast; Jane Albright, the president of the International “Wizard of Oz” club; and members of the Kansas Legislature.

Special guests for the evening will be “Oz” artist Vincent Myrand and author Christianna Rickard, the niece of the movie’s Scarecrow, Ray Bolger.

Bonded over Oz

A self-taught artist from Maine, Myrand works primarily with oil paints to create original pieces depicting scenes from the movie version of “The Wizard of Oz,” Baum’s books and other Oz-inspired works. When Dannebohm discovered Myrand’s “Oz” paintings online, he commissioned the artist to create two original oil paintings: a 16- by 20-inch piece entitled “If Ever, Oh Ever a Wiz There Was: The Imagination of L. Frank Baum,” which depicts the author sitting in contemplation while “Oz” scenes swirl around him, and “Optimistic Voices,” a 48- by 60-inch rendition of the famous movie shot of the Emerald City at the far end of the yellow brick road.

Myrand also will be exhibiting nine original “Oz” oil paintings during the reception under the title “Kansas, She Said, is the Name of the Star.” He was introduced to “The Wizard of Oz” movie at a young age by his mother. Together, they watched it on a black-and-white TV set while his mother described all the color scenes in great detail.

“The movie was our conversation piece, the way we could relate,” he said. “It was our way of bonding.”

Myrand said he probably wouldn’t be a successful artist today if it hadn’t been for the “Oz” books.

“It’s opened so many pathways for me,” he said. “I’m so happy to be here in Kansas, Oz’s spiritual center.”

Watched together

Rickard, who grew up in Los Angeles and now lives in San Angelo, Texas, said this is her first visit to Kansas.

I’m excited, because Kansas is still this mythological place to me,” she said.

Rickard, 64, is the author of the memoir “Remembering Oz: My Journey with the Scarecrow,” soon to be re-released under a new title, “A Legend in Straw: The Amazing Dance of My Uncle, Ray Bolger.” In the book, Rickard shares memories of her late uncle, as well as insights from “The Wizard of Oz” to help readers survive the storms and challenges of life.

Rickard said she has fond memories her “Uncle Ray,” whom she said was a talented, creative, incredibly intelligent man.

“He was huge on attention,” she said. “Tour buses would come by his house, and he’d get up from the lunch table, go out and do a kick for them or a dance on the front lawn. He was also a great family man. We’d watch ‘Oz’ together every year.”

Dannebohm said he doesn’t want the “Oz” reception to focus on his birthday. Instead, his goal is to bring people together “to foster a renewed sense of communication and understanding.”

“Nowhere will you find a better example of strangers casting aside their differences and helping one another on a journey than in L. Frank Baum’s literary masterpiece,” he said.

“Oz inspired” author, artist to visit Kansas

Author Christiana Rickard and artist, Vincent Myrand will be traveling to Kansas in early September. While this will be the first time both Rickard or Myrand have visited Kansas, their fondness for the state runs deep.

Rickard is the niece of the late Ray Bolger, an actor, perhaps best known for his role as the Scarecrow in the MGM film, “The Wizard of Oz.” Myrand is an internationally acclaimed artist whose primary subject matter is characters and scenes from and inspired by L. Frank Baum’s Oz series.

“Kansas is where it all began,” said Myrand. “Longing to journey ‘over the rainbow,’ Dorothy Gale’s adventure began when a cyclone lifted her from her hum-drum life on the prairie to a land filled with adventure. In the end, however, Dorothy desired nothing more than to return to the plains of Kansas. I’ve wanted to come to Kansas for quite some time. This is a special opportunity for me.”

Hailing from Lewiston, Maine, Myrand, a self taught, world renowned artist, primarily works with oil paint, though he also enjoys mixed media work. Inspired by his love of reading and the artistic works of Titian, Rembrandt, Tintoretto and Gustav Moreau, Myrand masterfully paints pieces depicting scenes from the Wizard of Oz, Return to Oz, and other Oz inspired works.

“When Vincent called me and told me about this opportunity, my reaction was a bit giddy, ‘I get to go to Kansas,’ I thought to myself,” said Rickard. “For a fan of “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy Gale’s home is our home. Kansas is a special place.”

In her book, “Remembering Oz: My Journey with the Scarecrow,” Rickard, who resides in Texas, re-lives vivid memories of her uncle, Ray Bolger, and the lessons he taught her that gave her courage and direction when one of life’s “twisters,” in this case, cancer, nearly blew her life off course. Rickard offers insights and tools from her uncle and from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to help readers survive the storms of life.

The two decided to make the journey to the Sunflower State upon receiving an invitation to attend a private birthday reception for their friend, Representative-Emeritus J. Basil Dannebohm. Pianist Curtis Sander and The Molly Neely Trio will perform at the celebration. Myrand will debut a series of paintings he has created especially for the celebration. The exhibition will be entitled, “Kansas, She said, is the Name of the Star.” Jane Albright, President of the International Wizard of Oz Club will also attend.

Dannebohm, an Oz enthusiast who briefly served in the Kansas Legislature, now spends the majority of his time writing. As a public speaker who has enjoyed the opportunity to present in numerous states, among his subjects is the long lasting legacy of Oz.

During their visit to Kansas, Representative-Emeritus Dannebohm has arranged for Rickard and Myrand to visit the Oz Museum and other Oz attractions in Wamego.

Dannebohm urges other organizations to take advantage of the opportunity to work with Rickard and Myrand during their visit.

“These are two incredibly talented individuals who are traveling many miles to enjoy our great state,” said Dannebohm. “Moreover, they come with a wonderful message and mission. They’re willing to share that message with schools, organizations, galleries, and libraries. I’m truly honored they are coming to celebrate with me but I hope they will have plenty of opportunities to meet my fellow Kansans during their visit.”

For more information on Rickard and Myrand’s visit to Kansas, please email info@dannebohm.com.

Happy Trails, Grandpa

My definition of the great American cowboy has never been like those I’ve seen on television, and bears no resemblance to a country western singer. No, the great American cowboy looks nothing like Festus and has nothing in common with Keith Urban. For me, the great American cowboy was my grandfather.

Early this morning, he entered into eternal​ life.

In his book, “Cowboy Philosophy in Rhyme,” Jack DeWerff pays tribute to my grandfather in a poem entitled, “Buster.”

Buster weren’t nothin’ but a cowboy,

    Just an old cow-poke.

He was good at breakin’ colts to ride

    And handy with a rope.

He was kind of an ornery rascal

    Back in his younger days.

Some folks liked down their noses at him

    Because of his cowboy ways.

He liked pretty girls and fast horses.

    A shot of bourbon now and then. 

He never did cheat nobody

    Treated everyone like a friend.

The neighbors would all get him to help ’em

    To doctor, and brand, and such. 

‘Cause he knowed a lot about cattle,

    And never did charge ’em much.

He’d scratch out a livin’ on an old sandhill farm

    Where he lived with his kids and his spouse. 

And I ‘spect he gave away more stuff than he had,

    ‘Cause his heart was a big as a house.

Fame and fortune both passed him by;

    He had no silver or gold.

And his prospects for ever havin’ much were slim.

    ‘Cause like me, he was gettin’ old.

But it never did seem to bother him much,

    Not havin’ what he couldn’t afford.

But I think maybe someday up yonder

    He’ll receive his deserved reward.

‘Cause I ‘spect when he gets to those Pearly Gates,

    St. Peter will say with a grin, 

“We can always use another good cowboy.

    Welcome, old friend, come on in.”

Though Parkinson’s disease and old age slowed gramps down a bit, his smile was still infectious and his heart was indeed still, “the size of a house.”

While I don’t wear a cowboy hat and have never ridden a horse, my grandfather and I had a lot in common. I was “kind of an ornery rascal” growing up. Goodness knows I enjoy the occasional shot of bourbon. Though I think what we shared most in common is our love of people and the desire to treat “everyone like a friend.”

“Someday up yonder,” has come.

Today, St. Peter greets him, “with a grin.”

I’m sure Gramps is grinning right back.

So as I bid him a fond farewell, I raise a glass and figuratively tip my hat to the great American cowboy, my grandfather.

Happy trails. I’ll miss you, Buster.

‘Til we meet again.

April 13th, 2015, 10:45 a.m.

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Everybody’s had one of those days they wish would have never happened. For me, it was April 13th, 2015. One year later, the pain of her death still stings. While part of me wishes I could just sleep through the anniversary of this sorrowful day, I wouldn’t trade a single moment I have to reflect on her life and the memories.

Leona “Lonie” Klein was born on September 16th, 1932 in Liebenthal, Kansas. The daughter of Stephen and Anna (Kreutzer) Herrman and the great-granddaughter of Jacob Herrman Sr. (one of the founding fathers of Liebenthal).

In 1961, she and my grandfather, Irvin, moved to Ellinwood, Kansas, where they ran the C.O. Mammels Grocery. After the store was sold in the mid 1980’s, grandma worked for 27 years in the day care business.

She loved her faith and her community. Grandma was a member of the Daughters of Isabella, the Altar Society, and she was the first female elected to St. Joseph’s Catholic School Board. She was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and shopped local.

Grandma was a child care provider for more than 100 children over her career. Lonie loved caring for children and did so up to age 82 when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lung Cancer. It was a dark day that I’ll never forget.

Cancer was a disease she knew all too well. Her sister, Ruby, who lived with her and grandpa, passed from the disease on away January 15th, 1995. I remember the final days leading up to her passing. Grandma stayed up day and night by Ruby’s bedside. You could see the immense sadness in her eyes as she watched helplessly as her sister suffered. She hoped she would not witness the horrible affects of cancer again.

Then only about a year or so later, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. Recent memories of Ruby’s battle flooded her mind. She was once again filled with sadness as cancer came back to haunt their household.

In 1997, while most people were getting ready for the holiday season, grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer.

On December 10th, 1997, just a couple of days after her surgery, my Grandfather passed away after a battle with lung cancer.

Grandma was not going to let cancer defeat her in the same way it claimed her beloved husband. Only a few days after grandpa’s funeral, she was back to work, determined that she would not allow the disease to do any more harm. By the summer of 1998 grandma had indeed defeated cancer.

Life was good. She was a spunky, straight-forward, lover of life. Her favorite holiday was Christmas and dessert was her favorite food group. More than anything she loved her family and her “extended family” of daycare children.

Life changed in an instant. In December of 2014, Grandma went to the doctor for bronchitis. Some tests revealed that perhaps there was more to be concerned about than simply bronchitis. It didn’t seem possible. She was perfectly healthy. She spent most of the summer accompanying me on the campaign trail, at 81 years old, she was still working as a child care provider, she still went out to dinner every Saturday night with her friends.

I’ll not soon forget pacing the hallways of the University of Kansas Medical Center as we waited for the tests to be complete. When the nurse informed my mother and me that grandma’s lung had collapsed during the procedure we too collapsed in shock and sadness. But Lonie was a strong-willed, often times bullheaded Volga German. She pulled out of the procedure wanting nothing more than a chocolate malt and to return home so she could start cooking in preparation for Christmas.

Then it happened. A cloud, filled with grim memories of a holiday season filled with sadness, once again returned. On December 17th, 2014, Grandma was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer.

We went back for another round of tests on December 24th, Christmas Eve, the day before her favorite holiday. I remember the trip home. It will remain the best road trip I’ve ever taken. Grandma and I sang every possible Christmas carol we knew, enjoying desserts and laughs.

The diagnosis scared her. She shared with me that when nobody was around she prayed her rosary, cried, talked to God, talked to my late grandfather. Though she was shaken, she was determined to fight the disease once more. She had people who needed her.

Just before Holy Week, grandma was feeling down. Year after year, she always filled the coffee table with easter grass, eggs, and goodies, creating an enormous easter basket. She didn’t have the strength. So, while she was resting, I went to the store and returned with the supplies to recreate grandma’s signature easter table. When she woke up from her nap, she was thrilled. We sat there, eating goodies and singing, “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.” For a wrinkle in time, it felt like everything was going to be okay.

On April 2nd, 2015, I was having lunch with the Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court when I received a text that grandma requested to be admitted to the hospital. I knew something was seriously wrong. Grandma hated hospitals.

When I arrived at the hospital, I found grandma watching Holy Thursday Mass on television. She cried in front of me. That never happened. I knew something was wrong. But it was too soon. After that, I didn’t sleep much for nearly two weeks.

Stage 3 Lung Cancer is a serious disease. For a woman in her 80’s she gave it one hell of a fight quite literally to her last breath.

I’ll never forget that moment. With her family surrounding her, praying the Litany of the Saints, grandma took her last breath.

At 10:45am on Monday, April 13th, 2015, cancer took the greatest person I’ve ever known, my grandmother.

We completed the prayer. Then we all just stood there in silence. The moment none of us were ready for had arrived. Our matriarch was gone.

Her birthday came and went with no cake, no ice cream, no joy.

Christmas came and went with no caroling, no celebration, no cheer.

By Easter, I found myself clinging to the hope of the Resurrection. Singing “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” alone. Wishing she was here.

A year has passed. A day hasn’t gone by that I haven’t thought of her.

Somebody asked me, “If you could bring her back, would you?”

No.

While I would love more than anything to have my grandmother here again, by my side, I would never want to take her from the splendor of eternal life, where there is no pain, no sickness, no suffering.

When I was a child, she was, as one of her sweaters read, “World’s Greatest Grandma.” As an adult, she walked parade routes with me on the campaign trail, she attended every event I ever hosted, she was my biggest supporter, my most loyal friend.

Everybody’s had one of those days they wish would have never happened.

I refuse to let April 13th be one of those days. While it brought me unspeakable sorrow, it was the day my grandma entered into eternal joy. Today isn’t about me, it’s about her. For that reason, I give thanks for this day.

“Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)

I love you, Lonie.

Kansas House of Representatives declares April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

  TOPEKA, Kans. March 23, 2016 — For the fourth consecutive year, the Kansas House of Representatives formally declared the month of April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.

The proclamation took place on the house floor on Wednesday, March 23rd. This year, the resolution was introduced by Representative Troy Waymaster (R-Russell), Representative J.R. Claeys (R-Salina), Representative Ramon Gonzalez (R-Perry), and Representative Pete DeGraaf (R-Mulvane).

“Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in our nation,” said Waymaster. “Sadly, not enough people are acquainted with the disease, the symptoms, and who it affects. My thoughts and prayers are with those who suffer. It’s my honor to introduce this resolution.”

The proclamation has special meaning to Rep. DeGraaf, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2015.

“It’s a personal honor to be co-sponsoring this proclamation. Being a Parkinson’s patient, this effort is very important to me,” said DeGraaf. “While I cannot control the fact that I have the disease, I can control how I respond. A positive attitude on my part and the support of my wife, family, and friends are essential as I move forward.”

Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month was first proclaimed by the Kansas House in 2013 when it was sponsored by Representative Ronald Ryckman (R-Meade). In 2014, the resolution was once again sponsored by Ryckman and co-sponsored by Representative Marshall Christmann (R-Lyons). In 2015, the resolution was co-sponsored by Representative Fred Patton (R-Topeka) and Representative Gail Finney (D-Wichita).

“For four years, the House of Representatives has commemorated Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Each year we do this proclamation we are that much closer to a cure,” said Rep. Ramon Gonzalez. “Every time we have the opportunity to bring awareness to this disease is time well spent.”

During the ceremony, Gonzalez announced that he too suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

“My handwriting has gotten a lot worse, and I’m really starting to notice my tremor,” said Gonzalez.

Each year, the resolution has been coordinated by former Representative J. Basil Dannebohm (R-Ellinwood). In the summer of 2012, Dannebohm was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Since that time, he has been an advocate for Parkinson’s Disease research, treatment and awareness.

“I am incredibly grateful to Speaker Merrick, Representative Waymaster, Representative Claeys, Representative Gonzalez, Representative DeGraaf, and the Kansas House of Representatives for once again taking time to recognize Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month,” said Dannebohm. “The Kansas House joins with individuals and organizations from around the world who are committed to promoting awareness and working toward a cure.”

Dannebohm joined his former colleagues on the House floor for the ceremony. Others in attendance included: Michelle Haub, co-creator and Director of the Parkinson’s Program of Manhattan at Meadowlark Hills in Manhattan, KS; Parkinson’s patient, Matthew Schindler and his wife, Susan; Parkinson’s patient, Lisa Reser and her family; and Courtney Blankenship, a supporter of Parkinson’s disease awareness.

In 2005, an estimated 5,500 Kansans suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. By 2014, that number had increased to an estimated 14,000.

“Parkinson’s affects far too many Kansans. These folks aren’t a statistic, they’re our friends and neighbors and the attention they are bringing to this issue will someday lead to a cure,” said Representative J.R. Claeys.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly one million people in the US. Although promising research is being conducted, there is currently no cure for or definitive cause of Parkinson’s disease.