At the Rita: Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities

about the rita

Since 1968, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside has continued to build a reputation as an outstanding liberal arts institution with particularly strong fine arts programs. With The Rita Tallent Picken Center for Arts & Humanities, our state-of-the-art instructional facilities and stunning performance venues match our award-winning academic programs and provide even greater community access.

The Rita encourages multidisciplinary collaboration within shared spaces and promotes diverse arts programming. As one of the newest and largest facility of this type in the area, we look forward to accommodating students with interest in our fine arts and humanities programs, but also more community members to participate in, and enjoy, outstanding music, theatre, art exhibitions, film, and cultural programs. Join us at The Rita!


FEATURES OF THE RITA

  • Three-level music wing including the 340-seat Frances Bedford Concert Hall, choral and instrumental rehearsal rooms, practice studios, music technology lab, and music library
  • 120-seat Black Box Theatre, renovated Main Stage Theatre, two rehearsal studios, Klopcic Scenic Shops, and impressive props and costume labs
  • Digital Design and Fabrication Lab and well-equipped art studios for drawing, printmaking, and painting
  • Three galleries for both professional and student art exhibitions
  • State-of-the-art instructional studios and expanded classrooms

ABOUT RITA TALLENT PICKEN

1919-2009

Kitty Picken believes her stepmother — and fellow adventurer — Rita Tallent Picken would be quietly pleased to have her name associated with Parkside’s arts and humanities center.

The Rita embodies many of the things Rita strived for when the Kenosha campus was created in the 1960s — and that she helped nurture during the next decade. 

“Rita loved the arts, she loved culture,” Kitty said. “She would be thrilled to know her name is on a building that will host such a variety of artistic and cultural events.”

Rita, along with her first husband, Bernard Tallent, was instrumental in the creation of UW-Parkside. Kitty said Rita was proud when Tallent Hall was posthumously named for Bernard. Tallent led the two-year UW-Kenosha campus and strongly advocated a four-year campus be opened here. Rita’s voice was part of the chorus advocating UW-Parkside’s creation.

Joining the university’s administration shortly after the campus opened, Rita naturally gravitated toward community engagement, making it her mission to bring the campus to people and people to the campus. 
 


Excerpt from an article by Dave Buchanan with contributions by Journal Times reporter David Steinkraus.

Kitty Picken

The naming of The Rita in honor of Rita Tallent Picken was part of a $3.5 million donation made by Kitty Picken. For many reasons, placing her name on the regional center for arts and humanities would have pleased her stepmother and good friend: 


“The important thing is that it’s the arts building, and that it’s a community building, and it’s Parkside. All of those things would have made it very special to her.”

TAKE A VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE RITA


There is no better way to experience The Rita than to visit, so we hope to see you soon. In the meantime, we invite you on a virtual tour of our many performance venues, studios, and labs. Use the links below to jump directly to some of our most popular venues.

BEDFORD CONCERT HALL


The musical highlight of The Rita is the 340-seat Frances Bedford Concert Hall. Enveloped in the warmth of maple paneling on the first level and reflective maple acoustical clouds above, the space is beautiful. What truly sets it apart, however, are the superior acoustics. 

The large volume above ceilings and catwalks helps support strong natural acoustic environments appropriate for musical groups large and small. Combined with adjustable acoustic curtains and quiet mechanical systems, spaces can be altered to effectively accommodate different performance types — from a delicate harpsichord recital to a large brass band concert.

When the Frances Bedford Concert Hall debuted with two sold-out performances of Handel’s “Messiah” in December of 2012, one member of the orchestra was thrilled and a little relieved to have the new performance space open. That orchestra member, the harpsichord player, also happened to be the person whose name graces the venue: Emerita Professor of Music Frances Bedford.
 


Excerpt from an article by Dave Buchanan with contributions by Journal Times reporter David Steinkraus.

Frances Bedford

Professor Bedford’s $500,000 gift ensured that UW-Parkside students would no longer have to present their music in spaces better suited for plays, films, or the spoken word. Music becomes an otherworldly experience when the acoustics are right. According to Professor Bedford:
 

"An acoustically perfect hall lets the sound ‘bloom’ into space and momentarily create the illusion of another dimension. This facet of the hall was the number-one priority for me."

STUDENTS AND THE RITA


Parkside is an exceptional place for students studying the arts and humanities because of the many cultural events at The Rita. Additionally, our ideal location in the Milwaukee-Chicago metro area gives students access to limitless opportunities.

THE LIFE EXPRESSIVE


Next to the main entrance, Wisconsin artist Steven Feren's The Life Expressive celebrates Le Palais Idéal, a wonder of the creative world created over a century ago by Ferdinand Cheval. As a part of the Wisconsin Arts Board's "Percent for the Arts" program, this iconic and symbolic installation was chosen to welcome you in.
 


From the Artist’s Statement
In 1879 Ferdinand Cheval, a retired postman in the south of France, stumbled against a stone on his pathway. It was not just any stone, but “one with guts.” Thus started this postman’s dream of building a “Natural Temple” that would lead visitors to the place where the inner and outer world meet.

For the next 30 years this would be his life’s work. Cheval – armed only with a wheel barrow, bucket, and trowel – created a wonder of the creative world.

The Life Expressive is inspired by Cheval. It embraces the idea that inspiration and magic are available to everyone, and that hard work is the foundation for creativity to flourish. This work is a celebration of the creative act and the work that makes it possible.

In designing the piece I was attempting to create a bold visual marker through color and light that has a day and night “face.” Through this art work, students and visitors to the campus will be able to locate and identify the Regional Center for Arts and Humanities in the day and in the evening when many events will take place.

Box Office

262-595-2564
boxoffice@uwp.edu

The Rita, Ground Floor
900 Wood Rd. 
Kenosha, WI 53144
Parking: Lot B, C

About The Rita

Since 1968, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside has continued to build a reputation as an outstanding liberal arts institution with particularly strong fine arts programs. With The Rita Tallent Picken Center for Arts & Humanities, our state-of-the-art instructional facilities and stunning performance venues match our award-winning academic programs and provide even greater community access. 

Directions to The Rita  |  Download Campus Map

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