Back To School: Art & Music at My Alma Mater

“Back to school….back to school, to prove to Daddy I’m not a fool….” (Quick, name that movie!)

Yes, it’s true. I went back to school…but just for a day! Yes, this weirdo made her way back down to Normal, IL to visit her alma mater Illinois State University.

I have to admit that while I was at ISU I took it for granted in a lot of ways. But one thing I always appreciated was the thriving music and art scene in town. I definitely spent a lot of my Saturdays record shopping, going to shows or gallery drifting.


After being gone for exactly two years, it was nice to revisit some of the old stomping grounds but with fresh eyes. My first stop in town was North Street Records, then Waiting Room Records and then Mother Murphy’s which are all conveniently located right next door to each other!

I spent over an hour in North Street because there were too many cool records I was fan-girling over. I passed up an awesome MC5 record to knab an old school Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders album instead.

When I visited Seattle last year for my birthday, I ate breakfast at a greasy spoon in the Queen Anne district. It was 8am but that didn’t stop the cook in the kitchen from scream-singing old school tunes like “Game Of Love” by the Mindbenders. I just couldn’t not get the album after having such a great memory of that song. 

I also snagged a copy of the eclectic Big Lebowski soundtrack with the hilariously awful Spanish version of “Hotel California.” I’ve listened to the soundtrack digitally for years now so when I saw it on vinyl I gasped and immediately purchased.

My next stop was University Galleries, the art gallery in town where I always give my annual alumni donation to. With beautiful rotating exhibits from artists near and far, I was excited to see what was on display this summer.

The main exhibit was an alumni collection but the Marc Making exhibit showcasing art therapy work from adults with disabilities really stole the show for me.

Below are a few of my favorite alumni and Marc Making pieces.

20170706_145548“Multicolor All-Over Snoopies” by Nina Bovasso

20170706_145724“Children’s Room I” by Wonsook Kim

20170706_151424 (1)Various by Marc First artists

While in town I also got to reconnect with some great friends and nosh at some of my favorite local restaurants (hey McAlister’s and Medici) which was an awesome added bonus.

I think it’s really important to go back to places you once came from. Whether a school or a city. It helps you see how far you’ve come and helps you recalculate where you want to go.

So even though I was alone at the show most of the day, I never felt alone. I was surrounded by great music and food and art and strangers.

-Stacey P.

If you ever happen to visit ISU, check out the Normal Theater. They show obscure documentaries, shorts, cult films, etc. It’s always something super unique and super cool.

My favorites:
The best treats in town are artisan cupcakes from Sugar Mama’s Bakery or a hot chocolate from The Coffeehound. #sugarlover



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