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Archive for April, 2010

Supporters vow to keep pushing on sales-tax-for-arts legislation

By Howard Pousner

Georgians won’t be able to say this year whether they’re willing to support the arts with a small share of sales tax.
That idea, coming in a session that generated headlines about state funding of the arts, died Thursday night in the final minutes of the 2010 Georgia General Assembly.
House Bill 335 would have enabled every county in Georgia to put up for referendum a fractional sales tax of up to 1 cent for arts and culture, including zoos and other nonprofit attractions, and economic development initiatives.
The bill had passed out of conference committee earlier Thursday and was approved by the Senate around 11:45 p.m. But when it hit the House floor at 11:30 p.m., it drew an immediate objection. The legislation had not been on representatives’ desks for an hour, as House rules require, and the midnight deadline for all votes was rapidly approaching.
With that, a bill that had moved quietly since being introduced in early February, but …

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3 Atlantans win Working Artist Project awards

By Howard Pousner

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia has selected Atlanta artists Katherine Mitchell, Micah Stansell and Alan Caomin Xie as recipients of the 2010-11 MOCA GA Working Artists Project.
The winners will receive a $12,000 stipend, a paid studio assistant for up to 300 hours, an exhibition at MOCA GA (with accompanying catalog) and a place in its permanent collection, among other benefits.
The juried awards, supported by the Charles Loridans Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, were launched in 2007 in response to a talent drain of Atlanta artists moving to larger cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
“As a museum that is dedicated first and foremost to supporting Georgia’s contemporary artists, it is our goal to encourage these artists to remain in our city, establishing Atlanta as one of the best cities for launching a viable career in the arts,” MOCA GA director Annette Cone-Skelton said in a statement.
Mitchell …

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Atlanta Botanical Garden grows: Canopy Walk, new gardens opening Saturday

By Howard Pousner

If the original Yankee Stadium was the “House that Ruth Built,” then the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s expansion is the addition that Dale Chihuly propagated.
A suggestion that he has Great Bambino-like clout may come as a surprise even to Chihuly, the famed, eye-patch-wearing Seattle glass artist. But his 2004 exhibit at the Atlanta attraction elevated and repositioned it, seeding a $55 million expansion, Phase 2 of which opens Saturday.
“The Chihuly exhibit was our coming-out party,” said executive director Mary Pat Matheson, who took over in 2002 with a strong grow-the-garden agenda. “It was very deliberate. I knew what the impact would be: tremendous.”
Garden visitation mushroomed from 200,000 to 425,000, memberships from 12,000 to 19,000 households. Tourists came and spent.
Matheson was tilling the soil, trying to show metro Atlantans that the garden was not just a pretty plant place but a major cultural asset. The distinction was important …

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Reviews of ‘Fences’ are mostly positive

By Howard Pousner

The reviews of the Broadway revival of “Fences,” starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis and directed by Atlantan Kenny Leon, are in and mostly favorable. Here’s a roundup:
>Washington’s “Troy, not unexpectedly, is smaller than [James Earl] Jones’ was, but that also means it is on a more human scale and in some ways more intricately drawn.
“Mr. Leon’s expertly fluid direction [can’t] quite disguise the artificial overuse of some fairly tired symbolic motifs, including baseball and the fences of the title. But there are scenes as vivid and heartfelt as any on Broadway now.” — Ben Brantley, The New York Times
>“Washington, last on Broadway in 2005 in a production of ‘Julius Caesar,’ acquits himself well in this blistering revival, directed with a sure, steady hand by [August] Wilson veteran Kenny Leon. It’s a big, bold performance in a big, bold play, rife with emotion-drenched soliloquies for its star about life, love, death and the devil.” …

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Art Competition Deadline Approaching Fast

The entry deadline for The Hudgens Prize visual arts competition and juried show is just one month away, on Friday, June 4. The competition offers one of the largest art awards in the nation, $50,000, and is open to Georgia residents only.

Up to 10 artists will be chosen for a Finalists Exhibition, to be on view at The Hudgens Center for the Arts from November 30 to February 19, 2011. The $50,000 prize winner will be announced at an Award Celebration on November 30, and will have a solo exhibition at The Hudgens in December 2011.

This competition is an unprecedented opportunity for an artist in Georgia to receive both such a large cash prize and the opportunity for a solo exhibit, and will provide great exposure for all of the entrants.

“We are very pleased with the caliber of art professionals we have assembled to serve on the jury panel for The Hudgens Prize,” states Angela Nichols, Director of Programs and Education at The Hudgens. “They are all well known nationally and …

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Report from Broadway: One Atlanta premiere and one that got away

John Selya, Holley Farmer and Matthew Stockwell Dibble. Photo: Joan Marcus

John Selya, Holley Farmer and Matthew Stockwell Dibble. Photo: Joan Marcus

By Wendell Brock

New York — The name is not the only thing that’s changed about Twyla Tharp’s “Come Fly Away,” the dance smash that had its world premiere last fall at the Alliance Theatre and then made a fast-forward leap to Broadway. The “musical” formerly known as “Come Fly With Me,” set to the voice of Frank Sinatra and backed by a wonderful big band onstage, feels like it belongs in New York’s old Rainbow Room. At its best, it will make you feel as giddy and airborne as a trip to the top of Rockefeller Center.

I told a young friend this was a “sexy” night at the theater, and she asked me why I said that. Well, falling in love on the dance floor can be hot. And gone in a minute. And down right ugly, when you throw in some betrayal, anger, jealousy. This is so much about coupling as competing for erotic attention. Recently, there was an impassioned critical argument on the New York Times theater …

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Rialto Pioneer Award bestowed on Ken and Kathy Bernhardt

This just in from Rialto Center for the Arts:

The Rialto Pioneer Award is given annually to leaders who have supported the arts, downtown, and/or Georgia State University. The 2010 award will honor Ken and Kathy Bernhardt, whose contributions to
the arts and marketing in Atlanta have changed the face of the city forever. The award will be presented at the Rialto’s 2009-2010 season closing night featuring Eddie Palmieri, Latin Jazz Legend on May 1, 2010
at 8 PM.

Kathy Bernhardt, a community volunteer, resides in Atlanta, GA. Highly involved in several nonprofits, she serves as the Executive Director for the HAVE Foundation, a 501c3 organization devoted to supporting the
education system in the Agalta Valley in northeast Honduras. Kathy has worked in multiple capacities for the Alliance Children’s Theatre and other nonprofits, working on events and fundraisers, doing everything
from chairing events to cooking to stuffing envelopes as needed. She has chaired the Alliance …

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Hitting Brazilian, African notes, NBAF to head back to Centennial Park

By Howard Pousner /

Featuring some Brazilian rhythms, African funk and a tribute to the socially conscious music of Curtis Mayfield, the National Black Arts Festival will return to Centennial Olympic Park on July 14-18.
Just-announced highlights of the five-day fest include the Afro-Brazilian percussion group Olodum, vibraphonist Roy Ayers and the Common Ground Collective celebrating the legacy of the late Nigerian Afrobeat innovator Fela Kuti, singer Lizz Wright and a to-be-announced slate of vocalists performing “To Curtis With Love” at Symphony Hall.
Another notable show will be trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and a 16-piece band performing Gordon’s score to Oscar Micheaux’s 1925 film “Body and Soul.” That performance will be at the Rialto Center for the Arts. The Rialto, an easy stroll from the park, also will host two performances by Philadelphia-based Philadanco, “By the Way of the Funk,” choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women Dance …

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Q&A with Kenny Leon as “Fences” opens on Broadway

By Howard Pousner /

Kenny Leon has stood outside New York’s Cort Theatre on West 48th Street for the past week and a half as the nightly crowds have wrapped themselves around the block, queuing up to see previews of the revival of August Wilson’s “Fences.” Leon, director of the production starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, says he has been amazed and awed.
Several times, strangers from back home in Atlanta have jumped out of line to introduce themselves and express their support. “That’s just been very rewarding to me,” said Leon, directing for the fourth time on Broadway.
“Fences” previews have been a hot ticket, with strong advance ticket sales. “I’ve been in New York a lot, and to walk around, to go see other plays and to hear your play be the talk of the town, it’s just incredible,” he said in a Friday interview during which he set the stage for tonight’s opening.

Q: You’re about to give your cast your final director’s notes before critics see the …

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‘Till You Hear From Me’ by Pearl Cleage

Book Review
“Till You Hear From Me” by Pearl Cleage
Ballantine, $25, 272 pages

Meet the author,
Pearl Cleage

Barnes & Noble, Camp Creek Market Place
2 p.m. Saturday, May 1. 3685 Market Place Blvd., East Point, 404-349-0359,

Charis Books & More
7 p.m. Friday, May 14. 1189 Euclid Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-524-0304,

Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse
7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 20. 991 Piedmont Ave. N.E., Atlanta, 404-607- 0082, info@outwrite

Till You Hear From MeBy Gina Webb

Ida B. Dunbar’s hard work on the Obama campaign should pay off any day now. A veteran of what was called “one of the most successful grass-roots campaigns the country has ever seen,” Ida is in Washington expecting a call offering her a plum job in the new White House.

But when her phone finally rings, instead of a voice saying, “Please hold for the president,” it’s Miss Iona, a family friend who urges Ida to come back to Atlanta right away before her father, …

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