- "Welk Star Loves Exhibit"
- Mixed-media art display
pays tribute to champagne music king
Lawrence Welk show regular
Ralna English gives an enthusiastic review to the tribute to
Welk at the G2 Gallery in Scottsdale. Amy Romanin's exhibit can
be seen through Feb. 2. Photo Mike Rynearson/The Arizona Republic
- by Diana Balazs
- The Arizona Republic
- January 25, 2002
- Singer Ralna English zeroed in on a rectangular
panel of hand-painted images of the late bandleader Lawrence
Welk, his face shown in shades of red, yellow, green and blue.
- It's the Welk star's favorite piece of
the champagne music maker in an exhibit, "Lawrence Welk
Revisited," at the G2 Gallery in Scottsdale.
- "It's his face. People would recognize
that," English said.
- The exhibit by Valley native and mixed-media
artist Amy Romanin can be seen through February 2 at the gallery
4200 N. Marshall Way.
- It has drawn a diverse crowd, said Trent
Guerin, G2's director, who runs the gallery with his brother,
- "We have had a lot of older people
who maybe don't come out to the Scottsdale art scene who come
down here specifically to look at the work," he said.
- There also have been younger visitors.
- "To them, the show is more of just
a quirky show," Trent Guerin said. "It's a little humorous,
so they get something out of this as well."
- Romanin, who isn't a Welk aficionado,
acknowledges that after a 50-year run in prime time and syndication,
Welk's show remains popular throughout the country.
- In fact, it is the longest-running TV
show still in production.
- "I obviously like it enough to do
something like this," she said of the exhibit.
- English said she's thrilled with the results,
calling it "Americana."
- Welk would have been proud, she added.
- "Absolutely. He wouldn't understand
it," she said, "but he would think it's great. It makes
me cry. He never got what he deserved, you know, as far as being
recognized for what he's done, for what he created."
- Generation after generation continues
to watch the show, which airs at 7 p.m. Saturdays on Channel
- English joined the show in 1969 and continues
to perform along with other Welk stars, including with her former
husband, Guy Hovis. The couple divorced in 1984. Hovis, who works
for U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, lives in Jackson, Miss.
- The show, known for its wholesomeness
and patriotism, featured music from big band to polka, and lavish
sets and costumes.
- "I think it just stayed on the air
because it's family entertainment," English said. "You
rarely find this on television anymore. The whole family can
sit down and watch it. It's beautiful. It's colorful. It's entertaining."
- English also is excited about the exhibit
because it is in downtown Scottsdale. She wants the area to thrive.
- "This is unique," she said.
"It's history, even though the city is only 50 years old.
This is Scottsdale."
- She moved to the city from Los Angeles
in June 1994 with her daughter, Julie Hovis. Welk dancer Cissy
King also has a home in Scottsdale.
- Julie, who plans to be a teacher, is a
graduate of Arizona State University. She now is pursuing a master's
degree from the University of Phoenix.
- In addition to her singing career, English
has been an ambassador since 1978 for Scottsdale-based Childhelp
USA, an organization dedicated to the treatment and prevention
of child abuse.
- Looking back on her career, English said,
she had no intention of being on The Lawrence Welk Show.
The Texas native was in a rock and roll band in high school.
She wanted to become a major recording star.
- It was her 90-year-old grandmother who
encouraged her to audition for the show. Thirty-two years later,
English remains in awe of Welk.
- "He was charming," she said.
"A charismatic man. One of the greatest performers on stage
that I'd ever seen."
- Welk died in 1992 at the age of 89. Today,
reruns of the show are seen on 276 PBS stations and by millions
of viewers. New segments update viewers on the lives of Welk
- Last year, 47 of them got together for
an emotional reunion show titled "Milestones and Memories."
- "We see each other all the time.
We are a family," English said.
- The Welk phenomenon isn't going away any
time soon, English said. Her schedule includes a national "Live
Lawrence Welk Show on Tour" and a March 21 appearance with
Welk musician and hoofer Jack Imel at Harrahs' Phoenix Ak-Chin
- "I don't know how long it's going
to last," English said. "As long as the people want
to see us and I can get out there and do it."