Wednesday, September 23, 2009
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) and the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses will recognize the contributions of two outstanding individuals in the visual and performing arts, as well as students pursuing careers and opportunities in those areas from 8:00 -10:00 p.m., during the 13th Annual Celebration of Leadership in the Fine Arts on September 23 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
This year's honorees are Sam Gilliam, internationally celebrated as the leading contemporary African-American color field painter and lyrical abstractionist, and Tyler Perry, the American playwright, screenwriter, actor, director and producer of numerous successful films and stage plays.
The Celebration of Leadership program will kick off the Spouses' activities as part of the CBCF's 39th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC), at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. More than 18,000 people are expected to attend the four-day conference.
Since the early sixties, Mr. Gilliam has been recognized as an original and innovative color field painter. His works have been in the public collections of major museums including Art Institute of Chicago, Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From his first stirring play, "I Know I've Been Changed," to his latest blockbuster film "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," Mr. Perry's sense of humor, combined with a message of redemption and hope, have made him one of the most sought after Hollywood entities.
More than 300 performing and visual arts students applied for this national scholarship program - a 100 percent increase from last year. Twenty students will receive scholarships. "The increase in scholarship applications indicates the importance of the arts programs in schools," said Simone-Marie Meeks, CBC Spouse chair. "The Spouses recognize that students should have a full realm of academic challenges as well as opportunities to explore the fine arts."
For more information about ALC09 or Celebration of Leadership In The Fine Arts ticket information, visit http://www.cbcfinc.org/ or call (202)263-2869.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., was established in 1976 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public policy, research and education institute to help improve the socioeconomic circumstances of African Americans and other underserved communities.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Getting his hot little hands on Ntozake Shange’s 1975 play “For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf," was coup of the year for Tyler Perry. Not only will he produce and direct the upcoming film version, the King of Coonery will also write the adaptation of what may be the most important work about black female identity ever. Ask any black woman, especially the artsy/moody/self-aware type, about “For Colored Girls…” and she will respond with a wistful look and fond memories.
I was Lady in Blue in a high school production and have told more than one sorry dude “insteada being sorry all the time, try being yourself,” quoting the Lady In Red (but playing it off like I came up with it on my own). This is classic material and now we can expect the intentionally stripped-down aesthetic of Shange’s work to be replaced by style choices that only a closeted gay man could make. Even worse, Perry has announced that he’d like to cast the likes of Oprah, Halle Berry, and Beyoncé to tackle the play’s issues, which include love, rape, abortion, and relationships. Beyoncé??? Please pass the Xanax.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Recently, I attended a meeting of Seattle-based funders and Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser. One of Kaiser’s points as he travels around the country on an “Arts in Crisis” tour, is the need for greater competency in management of nonprofit arts organization. His point that we spend a great deal of resources training artists in this country but very little on the training of managers rang pretty true to me.
Having spent much of my career as a technical assistance provider focusing on professional development and in higher education as the chair of a department of fine arts and adjunct faculty for a masters of arts in arts administration program, I’ve long believed that more training opportunities for managers would benefit the field greatly. Even in the largest cities, arts administrators find themselves isolated in their work. Many don’t seek assistance because asking for help reflects poorly on their organization and themselves professionally.
And there’s the time and cost factor. Who has time to go to classes, conferences, and mentor breakfasts while they are trying to run an organization that is understaffed? For most organizations, the professional development line in their budget is the first thing to go. Even restricting travel costs means managers are unable to attend convenings where educational and mentorship opportunities are available. There is a need for consistent, meaningful training opportunities for nonprofit arts managers that are easily assessable and relatively inexpensive.
Over the years, there has been an explosion of arts administration programs in academia. They have had mixed reviews by the field. In my experience, many programs suffer from the “ivory tower syndrome” with faculty that have never operated successful organizations, faced the issues of boards of directors, facility management, artistic directors, community involvement and funding cycles. On-line programs or programs in large cities that pull adjunct faculty from the field seem to be offer some hope for academia to offer practical training. But, it seems that on-the-job training continues to the most likely hope in developing competent, knowledgeable managers.
Friday, September 4, 2009
I am always interested in how people actually live with thier art collections. This is a recent article from www.nytimes.com about collectors and their small space (500 SF, which makes even my house seem large).
GREENWICH, Conn. — Apartment dwellers who worry that they don’t have enough room to display art should take a trip to “The Mouse House: Art From the Collection of Olga Hirshhorn,” at the Bruce Museum here. Ms. Hirshhorn managed to pack some 200 works of art into a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Washington.
Of course, it isn’t her primary residence. Ms. Hirshhorn and her husband, Joseph, whose collection is now housed on the National Mall as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, had art-filled homes in other cities. But after Mr. Hirshhorn died in 1981, she wanted a cozy pied-à-terre as a base for frequent visits to friends in the capital.
The Mouse House began life as a garage built for one of the earliest electric cars. It was part of Argyle House, a Beaux-Arts mansion on Embassy Row. (A stone sculpture of a cat on the mansion’s roof was the inspiration for the smaller house’s nickname.)
Converted by the architect Richard Ridley into a 500-square-foot triplex full of nooks and crannies, the Mouse House, as Ms. Hirshhorn calls it, proved to be an ideal backdrop for the small sculptures, drawings and decorative objects acquired by the Hirshhorns over the years.
Many hold personal as well as aesthetic value. Among the contents are drawings inscribed to Ms. Hirshhorn by de Kooning and Picasso, and minuscule Calders and Giacomettis obtained while socializing with the artists in Paris and on the Riviera.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
"They are exposing African Americans to world-renowned designers that they may not have known otherwise," said Dia-Stevens, who is an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design and an associate professor at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.
And it's coming to an end, at least for now.
After more than 50 years of showcasing the highest caliber of fashion in the industry to mostly African American audiences, organizers of the traveling international fashion show have canceled its fall 2009 installment.
The Philadelphia Cultural Committee Inc., the nonprofit organization that has hosted the program annually in Philadelphia or New Jersey for 50 years, is among 180 organizations that will not put on a show this fall.
"The overall economic climate has presented challenges for many, including our potential corporate sponsors," said Linda Johnson Rice, the chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing Co., in a statement.
The firm, which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines, hopes to bring back a retooled show starting in fall 2010.
"In the coming months, we will develop a new business model to ensure that the show is a mutually beneficial endeavor," said Rice.
As a nonprofit endeavor, the Ebony Fashion Fair show has raised more than $55 million to benefit largely African American groups nationwide, according to Jeanine Collins, a spokeswoman for Johnson Publishing.
The Philadelphia Cultural Committee uses part of its $15,000 to $20,000 in proceeds to give scholarships to college-bound high school students who are interested in the arts.
Each year it gives $1,000 to five or six students who are pursuing higher education in New Jersey, Philadelphia, or Delaware. The remaining money goes to local charities.
"If we do not have the Ebony Fashion Fair show, it's going to be a deterrent to giving scholarships," said Gwendolyn A. Faison, president of the Philadelphia Cultural Committee.
Faison said the committee is meeting to discuss alternative fund-raising.
Over 4,000 shows have been performed to date in the United States, the Caribbean, and London, according to a representative from the publishing company.
The featured clothing includes cutting-edge couture fresh off the runways of Fashion Week as well as ready-to-wear "extravagant" pieces, said Cheryl Washington, a fashion designer and an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design.
"It is a multitude of talent from all over the world," she said.
The show has exhibited the work of several notable African American designers, including Stephen Burrows, James Daugherty, L'Amour, B. Michael, and Quinton de' Alexander.
It was started in 1956 to support the Women's Auxiliary of Flint-Goodrich Hospital in New Orleans by John Johnson, then publisher and CEO of Johnson Publishing.
But Dia-Stevens says the show is more than just a few models strutting the latest fashions on the runway.
"When you see the show, it's like a performance - it's ambience, it's atmosphere," she said. "It is more theatrical than it is anything."
Thinking of her 14-year-old daughter, Dia-Stevens hopes to keep her family's appreciation for fashion alive.
"It is a special event that I would definitely want to experience with my daughter," she said.
Contact staff writer Naomi Nix
at 215-854-2797 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a controversy that has been brewing in the American theater world since this spring when a white director was tapped to stage a revival of August Wilson's "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," which opened on Broadway.
According to the L. A. Times story:
“The American theater has been engaged in a racially charged discussion of who should direct what. Should white artists direct plays that are black in authorship and subject? And by extension, should black -- and Latino, Asian, mixed-race and other -- directors be hired to stage plays written by white authors? Such are the questions being posed.
"I don't think there is a simple and satisfactory answer," says black playwright Lynn Nottage, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "Ruined." "This conversation is part of our cultural growing pains, and it's one of the many steps in the road to defining our creative and cultural identity."
The controversy was ignited when Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher was tapped to helm the Wilson revival. Wilson, who died in 2005, had insisted that only black directors stage his work. But his widow, Constanza Romero, approved the choice of Sher, who is white. This production marked the first time a Wilson play had been directed by a white director on Broadway. And black artists have voiced concern about the precedent.”
Part of the concern for some black artists is that this only further limits their opportunities, which already are few and far between. There was a similar sentiment shared by a few African-American studies professors, lamenting the limited number of slots for professors on college campuses So here’s the question: Does one have to live a certain experience in order to be the best at putting it on stage? Or is an intense love of the subject (and the craft) enough to make it authentic?
(As a novelist, I would hate to be limited only to writing about and creating black characters.)