College of Visual and Performing Arts
College of Visual and Performing Arts

John O'Connell,  Dean

Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne
2101 E. Coliseum Boulevard
Fort Wayne, IN 46805-1499

  • Office: Visual Arts Building
  • Room: VA102
  • Hours: Mon-Fri, 8 am-5 pm

  • Phone: 260-481-6977
  • Fax: 260-481-6707
  • E-mail:


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Fine Arts | Music | Theatre | VCD

Expressions Archive: February 2012

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IPFW Features John Hrehov

Professor John Hrehov from the Department of Fine Arts was celebrated in February as one of four 2012 IPFW Featured Faculty. Each year, several IPFW professors are honored as featured faculty for their outstanding performance in the areas of research, scholarly activity or creative endeavor.  Professors selected by the university illustrate the range and significance of their intellectual contributions that help distinguish IPFW as a center of excellence in higher education.

Hrehov received a B.F.A. from Cleveland Institute of Art and his M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champagne.  He came to IPFW in the fall of 1989 to teach painting and drawing for the Department of Fine Arts and is quick to praise the campus community. “I feel the support faculty have for their research makes IPFW a wonderful place to teach,” he says. “The university is very serious about research and has high standards in this area.”

Hrehov recently exhibited a series of charcoal drawings in the IPFW Visual Arts Gallery in September that were extremely well received. The drawings – most created within the past four years – explored the development of his signature allegorical realist mode, a meditation on the natural and spiritual world, infused with surrealism and mystery.  The technique is slow and deliberate, working to create an optical mixing of values using charcoal on paper.
Hrehov’s work frequently is displayed in museums and galleries across the country and critiqued by national publications. He fondly recalls receiving an award from the prestigious National Academy in New York in 1992 as a highlight of his career in particular. He is represented exclusively by Denise Bibro Fine Art, New York, New York.

On February 3, as part of the Featured Faculty Series, Hrehov spoke about his work during a lecture at Helmke Library titled “From Inspiration to Image; The Artwork of John Hrehov.”  In 2012 the university has honored not only Hrehov, but also Todor Cooklev, associate professor of wireless communication; Talia Bugel, assistant professor of Spanish; and Yifei Pan, professor of mathematics.

The Arts Embrace Technology

Teachers all across IPFW are finding new and innovative ways to bring technology to the classroom and VPA is leading the way.  On April 24 at 7:30 p.m., the newly formed IPFW Multi-Media Ensemble will present its first performance in Rhinehart Recital Hall.  

The ensemble is a collaboration of associate professor Christopher Rutkowski’s Sequencing class, visual arts assistant professors Allen Etter (film and video) and Andres Montenegro (animation) and #MobileEDU (the IPFW iPad Cohort).  Live electronic music will be performed using a wide variety of computer programs and electronic instruments, as well as live video and animation and live dance.  iPads will serve as virtual instruments and controllers.

Re-imagining IPFW’s Academic Future: Project #MobileEDU is a campus-wide program that challenges professors to find new and innovative ways to discover ways that technology can change and enhance their teaching methods using the iPad and Blackboard Mobile.  There are currently two dozen VPA instructors who are members of the IPFW iPad Cohort, discovering creative ways to enhance the classroom experience.

WBOI and IPFW Present Jazz Festival

The spotlight once again will be focused on northeast Indiana’s live, local jazz talent during the 12th annual WBOI Jazz Festival presented by IPFW on Friday, February 17 from 7 – 11 p.m.  Renowned saxophonist Eric Alexander will headline an exciting evening of jazz offered in the Rhinehart Music Center on the IPFW campus.  According to  Bill McKinney, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs for IPFW, “We are proud to be the centerpiece of a great collaborative effort between NIPR and IPFW.”

The Rhinehart Music Center is exactly that, a music center offering more performance areas and more great jazz offerings in one place than ever before.  Seasoned veterans and newcomers to the annual jazz festival will be thrilled with the spacious venues and exceptional line-up. Guests travel throughout the building enjoying different genres of jazz performing at the same time. Whatever it is you are looking for - straight ahead jazz, piano, blues, fusion or a sound yet to be realized - we have it.  

A direct descendant of competitive, no-nonsense tenor saxophone titans such as Sonny Stitt and George Coleman, headliner Eric Alexander plays the tenor saxophone with a decidedly assertive temperament and style. He possesses a truly unique voice within this illustrious bop-based jazz tradition and is widely regarded as one of the top saxophonists in the world.  Eric Alexander has appeared on more than 100 albums and released more than 20 as a leader. His latest, Chim Chim Cheree with Harold Mabern, Joe Farnsworth, and John Webber, focuses on the music recorded by Coltrane's "classic quartet" of the early and mid 1960s.

Guests will choose between 14 different jazz bands and combos and five separate performance areas, culminating with a stellar performance by Eric Alexander and the IPFW Jazz Ensemble in the 1500-seat Auer Performance Hall.  Food and drink by Club Soda will be available for purchase, one of Fort Wayne’s favorite establishments. The evening is sponsored in part by Midwest America Federal Credit Union. Enjoy the jazz and meet the voices you hear on WBOI 89.1 FM.

Pre-Sale Ticket Prices

  • $10 - 18 and younger
  • $15 NIPR members and IPFW students
  • $20 general admission
  • All tickets at the door $25

Purchase tickets at the IPFW Larson Ticket Office in the Athletics Center Monday - Friday 12:30 – 6:30 p.m, order by phone 260-481-6555, email, or online at

Arts Complex Completed

The opening of the new, technologically savvy $15.5 million parking garage on the north end of main campus means the completion of the  IPFW arts complex is a reality.  The arts complex encompasses the Visual Arts Building, Williams Theatre and the Rhinehart Music Center.  “We not only have the entire College of Visual and Performing Arts in one central location,” explained Dean Charles O’Connor, “we now have the additional facilities we need to entertain and enlighten hundreds of patrons in the most professional way possible.”

Located across from the  Rhinehart Music Center, the garage has the capacity to hold 1000 cars and will tell drivers entering the facility on which floors they will find open spaces.  The garage features an improved ramp configuration on the northwest corner allowing motorists easier access to those available spaces.  The columnar ramp configuration allows patrons to quickly exit the garage and a new traffic flow pattern allows patrons quicker access to St. Joe Road.

Haines Joins VPA

Melinda Haines recently took the helm as the new Director of the Community Arts Academy (CAA), and Assistant to the Dean for Community Engagement. Registration for the spring semester for CAA has been very successful and she is currently working with teachers planning a wide variety of camp experiences for the summer.  “I’m excited to continue the fine programming for which the CAA is known, but also increase the scope of the classes over time as well as increase the number of students participating,” explained Haines.

Haines holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Kenyon College and has an extensive career working in community relations, graphic design and marketing. She has served as a freelance designer for the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, Fort Wayne Ballet, Northeast Indiana Public Radio, WFWA/PBS39, Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Three Rivers Festival.

As Assistant to the Dean, Haines will bring the college’s informational and educational programming in the arts to the community. “The College of Visual and Performing Arts at IPFW offers some of the best cultural programs in the area!” said Haines. “I am excited to help promote VPA so that we can recruit talented students and enrich and entertain the community at large with the depth and breadth of our fine arts classes and performances on campus.”

The college also provides several other community outreach projects, most notably Arts Weekly, a weekly arts television program on WFWA PBS 39 and CATV, and operates the Continuum Art Gallery in downtown Fort Wayne.
For more information on college outreach activities or current enrollment for Community Arts Academy classes call 481-6059 or contact Ms. Haines at

O’Connor Accepts Position in Nebraska

Chancellor Michael Wartell has accepted with reluctance the resignation of Charles “Chuck” O’Connor as Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), effective June 30, 2012.  O’Connor has accepted the position as Dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), effective July 1, 2012.  O’Connor will be returning to a familiar place, as he taught theatre arts at UNL from 1993 to 2003.  “My time at IPFW has been truly extraordinary and I am thankful to have had the chance to serve this special university.  I am very proud of the accomplishments of the students, staff and faculty over the past four years.  Being part of this community has been one of the happiest experiences of my life," said O’Connor.  

Wartell said IPFW and Fort Wayne will miss O’Connor.  “Chuck brought a renewed energy and life to our College of Visual and Performing Arts—and to the arts community as a whole.  We will miss his enthusiasm and talent. We wish Chuck and his wife, Pilar, the best of luck as they return to Lincoln.”

O’Connor has always been a strong advocate for the arts, and at IPFW he spotlighted his energies on the changing role of the arts in higher education as wells as in the community.  He is credited with developing a partnership with Sweetwater Sound that brought about an endowment that funds a new music technology program at IPFW.  Chuck Surack, president and CEO of Sweetwater, said O’Connor has been a great partner for his company.  “His work in helping to establish a very strong Music Technology program at IPFW will further put Fort Wayne on the map as a destination for learning how music is made and recorded today.  His tireless efforts to promote and grow the arts scene in our community made a significant impact, including his weekly TV show, his work for Arts United and his contagious enthusiasm for the arts on many other fronts.  We at Sweetwater wish him all the best in his new endeavor.”  

He brought the arts into everyone’s home throughout the academic year, with the idea for and production and hosting of Arts Weekly, seen on WFWA-PBS39 and CATV, the college access channel, housed at IFW.  Bruce Haines, president and general manger of WFWA, said “Chuck understood how collaboration could increase our community's connections to the arts. Chuck developed Arts Weekly for broadcast on CATV and in partnership with PBS39. He also approved the production of the first live broadcast of the IPFW Holiday Concert on PBS39 last month from Auer Performance Hall. Chuck helped make the local arts more visible. I'm sure such initiatives will encourage more local arts on the public television stage via PBS39 in the months to come.”

Members of the arts community were quick to praise O’Connor on hearing the news of his imminent departure.  “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Chuck since he came to Fort Wayne. He immediately became a close partner in advancing both The Phil and IPFW’s goals for our community. He has made a significant impact on the arts community over just a few years and his absence will certainly be felt throughout the Fort Wayne arts community,” said J.L. Nave, president and CEO of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. 

Jim Sparrow, executive director of Arts United said, “Chuck was great to work with. He was collaborative and focused his community efforts on helping establish greater visibility and purpose for the arts in creating a dynamic downtown and community. The Continuum Gallery and his help with the formation of the Cultural District Management Consortium and City recognition of this effort helped make a huge impact on the momentum of downtown development through arts and culture. It was a pleasure working with him.”

Likewise, members of the VPA faculty are also sad to see O’Connor leave.  Barbara Resch, associate dean of VPA said, “Dean O'Connor has guided the College's engagement with both local and global communities in broad and meaningful ways.   He supports excellence in teaching, artistic production and research, and his perspective on the importance and role of the arts in contemporary society has been refreshing and inspiring for our faculty and students.  While we congratulate Chuck on his new position, his leadership will be sorely missed.” 

“It has been an honor to have Chuck work with us because he has a real sense of duty to our students and a commitment to getting our message out about the quality of our education and quality of our students.  He was a GREAT trumpet in the community heralding all of the achievements of students AND faculty,” noted John O’Connell, chair of the Department of Theatre.   

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs William McKinney says IPFW will begin the first steps in finding a replacement for O’Connor soon. “We will conduct an internal search for an interim dean so that VPA has a smooth transition. We will begin a national search for his replacement in September.”

Expressions Archive


Soprano Molly Bock, graduating senior voice major, was the regional winner for the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artist Competition.  She will participate in the national competition in March during the MTNA National Convention in New York City. 

Arts Education alumni Karrie Detwiler (’06 B.F.A. Metals) was named Sandhills South/Central Regional Teacher of the Year in North Carolina on December 12, 2011.  Detwiler teaches art at J.W. Turlington Alternative School. This prestigious honor positions her to compete for North Carolina Teacher of the Year

Theate alumni Aaron Mann (’09 B.A.) recently completed a national tour of A Christmas Carol for the Nebraska Theatre Caravan.  The lavish production has toured nationally since 1979 and featured lavish costumes and special effects for the four fantastic spirits who visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve. Mann also is featured on the original cast album. 

Music major and guitarist Justin Zych continues to receive international requests for his Metallica medley for classical guitar, arranged in collaboration with Laura Lydy, continuing lecturer in guitar.  He recently was contacted by a guitar ensemble instructor in Melbourne, Australia for permission to perform the piece.  The work appears on the Department of Music YouTube channel that has been viewed more than 46,000 times, making it a significant source of international communication for the department.  Listen

Seven IPFW music majors were selected to participate in the Indiana Music Educators Associate (IMEA) Intercollegiate Honor Band during the recent convention in January at the Grand Wayne Center.  VPA would like to congratulate Trever Curry, Neil Cindrich, Ben Essick, Kenny Woods, Chris Adamisin, Laura Tomlinson and Katie Hillyer for this prestigious honor.

More Successes

VCD alumni Karrine Moreno (’11 B.F.A. Photography) has landed the plum assignment as the photographer for Don Ayres Honda.  Moreno will photograph new vehicles that arrive on the lot for sale.  The gallery of photos will be online for customers to browse through their stock. 

VCD photography majors again are participating in Using Photography as Language, a gerontology practicum for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD).  CSD students, through practical experience, learn to help geriatric clients with compromised communication to more effectively communicate using photographs that are meaningful to the client.  VCD students Brittany Wilcoxson and Sarah Slatton, along with continuing lecturer Jim Gabbard, will work directly with the CSD students to increase their skills in photography as an effective way to communicate.