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Archive for April, 2010

Georgia Council for the Arts facing elimination

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

The $17.8 billion budget passed by the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday night calls for the elimination of the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA). Georgia would become the only state in the U.S. without an arts agency if that plan holds as the budget works its way through full House and Senate before going to Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The GCA, which awards highly competitive programming grants that touch all corners of state, was slated for a 79 percent funding cut in the governor’s proposed budget. It recommended $890,735 for the state arts agency, down from $2.32 million this year and $4.18 million as recently as fiscal 2008. Even before the latest cut, Georgia ranked 44th among states in per capita arts appropriations in fiscal 2009, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

All that would remain now is $250,000 in granting funds that would be transferred to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to administer.

But …

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Recognizable, new on Ferst Center ‘10-’11 season

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

The just-announced 2010-’11 season at Georgia Tech’s Ferst Center for the Arts offers an interesting mix of well-established star power, including Debbie Reynolds and Michael Bolton, and rising stars.

The biggest “get” among the latter is New York choreographer and media artist Jonah Bokaer, one of six artists who will be making Atlanta premieres starting in the fall at the 1,159-seat Ferst.

The April 2, 2011, performance by 28-year-old Bokaer will be the culmination of ARTech, a year-long dance residency program being launched by the Ferst. In fact, Bokaer will create one piece, “Filter,” during his time on campus. It will be premiered at Ferst.

Throughout his residency, Bokaer will explore the use of motion capture in performance, working with Georgia Tech’s interactive computing department and the school’s College of Architecture and Music Technology program.

In his first year as Ferst director, George Thompson is trying to extend the …

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High gets ‘transformative’ gift of European art

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. La Clownesse au Moulin Rouge. 1897. Crayon, brush and spatter lithograph in six colors on paper.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. La Clownesse au Moulin Rouge. 1897. Crayon, brush and spatter lithograph in six colors on paper.

47 works include major pieces by Toulouse-Lautrec.

The High Museum of Art will announce a gift of 47 European works of art today, including prized pieces by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, that the Atlanta institution counts as among the most significant donations ever to its permanent collection.

The works — including important prints and drawings by Pierre Bonnard, Honore Daumier, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin and Paul Signac — are being given by Atlanta collectors Irene and Howard Stein. The Steins also are contributing sculptures by Charles Cordier, Jules Dalou, Martin Desjardins and Pieter Xavery.

The Toulouse-Lautrecs include major works by the French master such as “La Clownesse au Moulin Rouge” (1897), a rare color lithograph, and “Miss Loie Fuller” (1893), a ghostly image of the famed American dancer that incorporates powdered gold.

High Museum European …

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3 Georgians pen perfect summer reads

Book Reviews
Fiction
“Fireworks Over Toccoa” by Jeffrey Stepakoff. Thomas Dunne Books. 272 pages. $22.99.
“Hold Up the Sky” by Patricia Houck Sprinkle. NAL. 432 pages. $15.
“Magnolia Wednesdays” by Wendy Wax. Berkley. 448 pages. $15.

It may be a little early to start thinking about beach books, but these three novels by Georgia writers are great choices for summer reading — if you can wait that long.

Fireworks Over Toccoa‘Fireworks Over Toccoa’

When you begin “Fireworks Over Toccoa, ” be sure to have a large box of tissues handy. This impressive debut novel by Jeffrey Stepakoff, a veteran television writer and former co-executive producer of “Dawson’s Creek, ” is a heart-rending love story with echoes of “The Bridges of Madison County.”

Set in the northeast Georgia town of Toccoa during the summer of 1945, the novel is an account of five days in the lives of Lily Davis Woodward and Jake Russo. Lily is from a socially prominent Toccoa family with roots as deep as kudzu in the red Georgia clay. …

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Prof devotes another book to Georgia’s pottery tradition

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

By the time John Burrison’s exhaustively researched book “Brothers in Clay: The Story of Georgia Folk Pottery” was published in 1983, his head was spinning like a potter’s wheel.

“I was just worn out,” saidadmits the Georgia State University folklore professor, whose sequel and companion book, “From Mud to Jug: Folk Potters and Pottery of Northeast Georgia” (University of Georgia Press, $29.95), is just out.

For “Brothers in Clay,” the Philadelphia native had spent 14 long years chronicling Georgia’s uncharted ceramics tradition, making countless road trips and spendingstudying microfilm for the equivalent of a solid year at state and federal archives studying microfilm.

For the most prominent pottery families, he even compiled geneaological trees, which were as tangled as a hillside of wisteria vines due to frequent intermarriage among the clans. That was particularly tough “for someone with no inherent interest in geneaology,” he saidallows …

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Michael Rooks, new curator of the High Museum

By Catherine Fox

When Michael Rooks, the High Museum’s new curator of modern and contemporary art arrived in January, a full plate of responsibilities awaited him.

For starters, he became point person for the High’s multi-year collaboration with New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and co-curator of the contemporary art exhibition to be drawn from MOMA’s collection.

Michael Rooks

Michael Rooks

He also took on what might be, in the long run, a more important task: to mend the museum’s frayed relationship with the contemporary art community. Indeed, it might be something of a calling.

“Artists, teachers and collectors are the front lines, ” he says. “It’s important to support them. I want to use my post and relationships to help build excitement for the community. It’s good for everybody.”

He’s done it before. John Koga, chief preparator at the Contemporary Museum Honolulu, says Rooks galvanized a community that was fractured and stagnating before his arrival in 2003.

“He has an amazing ability …

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‘Lookingglass Alice’ at the Alliance Theatre

Theater review
“Lookingglass Alice”
Grade: B-
8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays; 7:30 p.m. Sundays (except April 25). Through May 2. $20-$50. Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-5000, www.alliancetheatre.org.

Doug Hara and Lindsey Noel Whiting. Photo: Greg Mooney.

Doug Hara and Lindsey Noel Whiting. Photo: Greg Mooney.

By Wendell Brock

Back in 1988, with Lewis Carroll as their muse, a group of Northwestern University students created Lookingglass Theatre Company, famous now for first producing Mary Zimmerman’s exquisite “Metamorphoses.”

Known as a test tube of imaginative ideas and playful physicality, the influential Chicago ensemble has brought its signature piece, “Lookingglass Alice, ” to the Alliance Theatre for a run that coincides with Tim Burton’s Disney blockbuster film, “Alice in Wonderland.”

The shows have as much in common as a raven and a writing desk. Written and directed by David Catlin, “Lookingglass Alice” is a tangled ball of philosophical yarn that can make grown men …

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Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts scales back organization

The nonprofit alliance of metro-wide performing arts organizations and professionals, perhaps best known for AtlanTIX, its same-day, half-price ticket sales operation, has fallen prey to economic times. The good news is that AtlanTIX will remain operational, but the organization’s other programs and services are under review.

The following letter was sent to ACPA members just moments ago:

Dear ACPA Member,

Thank you for being a part of Atlanta’s vibrant and resilient performing arts community. Your work inspires us all to be our better selves. We are proud to note that for 26 years, the Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts (ACPA) has served along side you to support and enhance our shared community.

It is no secret that the arts are feeling the incredible squeeze of the current, very challenging, economic environment. Like many of you, the ACPA has been directly impacted. The board of directors has made some very difficult decisions in an effort to ensure the …

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Trey McIntyre Project at Rialto Center for the Arts

Dance preview
Trey McIntyre Project.
8 p.m. Saturday, $32-$56, Rialto Center for the Arts, 80 Forsyth St. N.W., 404-413-9849, www.rialtocenter.org

By Pierre Ruhe

He was already hooked at age 5, playing a pint-sized party guest in a local production of “The Nutcracker.” But growing up a male ballet dancer in Valdosta, John Michael Schert soon faced more than his share of jokes and hazing.

That is, until he enrolled in a summer ballet camp at 12 and left home at 14 for the North Carolina School for the Arts, a college in Winston-Salem with a boarding school component.

“When I came home, I noticed the shift. After I moved, they saw how hard I worked, how I was traveling around the country, how I was dancing already at a pretty high level. My older brothers, the community, they respected that kind of dedication and hard work.”

Schert, now 28, has added another career element earning him respect at a national level: he’s a top dancer and also the founding executive director of Trey …

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‘South Pacific’ Presented by Broadway Across America-Atlanta at the Fox Theatre

Theater review
“South Pacific”
Grade: B+
Through Sunday, April 11. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.  $18-$57. Presented by Broadway Across America-Atlanta. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 1-800-982-2787, www.ticketmaster.com.

Anderson Campbell and  Sumie Maeda, in "South Pacific". Photo:  Peter Coombs.

Anderson Campbell and Sumie Maeda, in "South Pacific". Photo: Peter Coombs.

By Wendell Brock

Emile de Becque pours Nellie Forbush a snifter of cognac, swirls it around and makes love to her with his eyes. Time stops. But the music doesn’t.

Moments like this are rare in theater. And in all my years of covering the craft, I’ve never seen an image where the score, throbbing and eager, is so gloriously in touch with the heartstrings of the characters.

For most of the night, it’s this kind of magic that sweeps over director Bartlett Sher’s impeccable Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific, ” which won seven 2008 Tony Awards and plays the Fox Theatre through Sunday.

Luminous as the island …

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