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Archive for April, 2012

Botanical Garden opens ‘Independent Visions’ sculpture show on Tuesday

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

Today, the Atlanta Botanical Garden opens “Independent Visions: Sculpture in the Gardens,” an exhibit of 19 pieces by sculptors including Red Grooms, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Beverly Pepper, for a run through October. Organized with New York’s Marlborough Gallery, the show includes some works more monumental than the large-scale bronze sculptures in Henry Moore’s 2009 exhibit, including two by Kenneth Snelson that are 24 and 30 feet long. The works are theatrically lit 6-10 p.m. Thursdays during Cocktails in the Garden.

In conjunction with the sculpture show, Atlanta Fine Arts League opens an exhibit of botanical works with a meet-the-artists reception, 6-10 p.m. May 3. The works are on display in a gallery located between the Fuqua Orchid Center and the Edible Garden.

Botanical Garden hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays (until 10 p.m. Thursdays). $18.95; $12.95, ages 3-12; free, under 3. 1345 Piedmont Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-876-5859,

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‘Firefly Brothers’ author Thomas Mullen wins 2012 Townsend Prize for Fiction

By Rosalind Bentley
rbentley@ajc.com

They are 10 strong Georgia novelists, but in the end Thomas Mullen walked away with the 2012 Townsend Prize for Fiction Thursday night during an awards dinner at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

“Sometimes you can get a little jaded when people aren’t reading as much as they did,” said Mullen as he stood behind the podium accepting his award in the packed Day Hall.

But the nearly two-foot long silver Townsend more than made up for it, he said.

Mullen won for his Depression-era noir novel, “The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers” (Random House),  a tale of two bank robbing brothers, who become folk heroes of sorts. His 2006 debut novel, “The Last Town on Earth,” won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction and accolades from critics.

With a Townsend field that included popular authors such as Joshilyn Jackson, Lynn Cull and Joseph Skibell, Mullen said it would have been uncouth of him to have prepared …

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Culture notes: Atlanta wins 9 statewide Preservation Awards; popcorn sings a Broadway medely at Fox

ARCHITECTURE
Metro places, people win Preservation Awards
Five metro places or buildings and three Atlantans were among the 24 statewide honorees at the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s recent 35th annual Preservation Awards ceremony in Roswell.

Olmsted Linear Park received the Marguerite Williams Award, recognizing the project that has had the greatest impact on preservation in the state. The Ponce de Leon Avenue park also received an Excellence in Rehabilitation award, as did the Hinman Research Building at Georgia Tech, Wrecking Bar Brewpub and the Marianna event space and the John C. Godbold Federal Building. The Bitsy Grant Tennis Center was the Excellence in Restoration winner.

Other winners: Mary Gregory Jewett Award for Lifetime Preservation Service to Jeanne Cyriaque of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Historic Preservation Division; Camille W. Yow Volunteer of the Year Award, Rhodes Hall volunteers Bill Underwood and John Turman. HOWARD …

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Culture notes: NBAF to honor Ruby Dee; long-time Arts Papers editor Fortin resigns

ARTS
NBAF to honor Ruby Dee

The National Black Arts Festival will announce its summer lineup on May 24, it’s first edition under new executive director Michael Simanga. But plans for one program are already clear: Actress Ruby Dee will be honored during the NBAF’s annual “A Gathering of Colors” gala. Billed as “A Ruby Evening,” the black-tie event  will be held at 7 p.m. July 14 at the St. Regis Atlanta, and women are encouraged to wear ruby red gowns. Information: Judy Hanenkrat, 404-730-6369, www.nbaf.org. HOWARD POUSNER

ARTS
Long-time Art Papers editor resigns

Sylvie Fortin, Art Papers editor-in-chief since 2004 and its executive director since 2007, has resigned, and Cinque Hicks will take over on interim basis.

A statement from Art Papers’ board of directors said it “is seeking new leadership dedicated to dynamic international coverage of contemporary art while acknowledging the organization’s Atlanta base which has been so important to its success over its remarkable …

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Tennessee Aquarium celebrates 20 years on Saturday with some very big fish

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga celebrates its 20th anniversary on Saturday by opening a big-in-more-ways-than-one exhibit, “River Giants.”

It will be populated by what curator of fishes Thom Demas calls “Goliaths of freshwater,” including giant pangasius catfish that can reach more than 9 feet and a 7-foot beluga sturgeon.

Demas said species including marbled eels, ghostly alligator gar and wallago catfish will add an element of the weird to this new collection. The wallago is a personal favorite: “It has the face of a bullhead and an eel-like body. In Southeast Asia, wallago can grow to eight feet.”

Zeb Hogan of the National Geographic Channel show “Monster Fish” will appear at the exhibit opening, too. “It’s pretty easy to love, and to be curious about, these fish,” Hogan said. “They are really hard to find in the wild and most of them occur in very remote parts of the world.”

Check out this video of the “River Giants” …

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Culture notes: Arts and Culture Coalition CEO leaving Atlanta; Woodruff CEO going to Tech; Kenny Leon honored

Atlanta has lost another arts advocate.

Metro Atlanta Arts and Culture Coalition CEO Flora Maria Garcia is leaving her post to accept a leadership position in Orlando. Garcia’s first day as CEO and president of United Arts of Central Florida will be May 29, according to an announcement on the MAACC website by MAACC board chair Mara Holley.

From Texas where she served as the president of the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Garcia was wooed to the MAACC post in part by former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin in 2007. At the time, cracks in the national economy were just beginning to show and the hope was that Garcia would be able to build greater legislative and private funding for the arts.

Garcia was at the forefront of getting a bill introduced during the 2010 session of the Georgia Assembly that would have allowed counties to use sales tax money to help local arts organizations. The bill has failed twice, but as recently as last winter Garcia was talking about …

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Culture notes: Conference explores Celtic-Southern music connections; Women in the Arts consider Atlanta’s future

CULTURE
Exploring Celtic-Southern music connections

Emory University’s W.B. Yeats Foundation will present a conference and concert series titled “Making Connections: The Celtic Roots of Southern Music,” Friday-April 29. An impressive group of scholars (including Indiana University professor emeritus of folklore Henry Glassie) and musicians will explore the connections between the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland and the American South.

To be held at Cannon Chapel on the Emory campus, the conference will include lectures, demonstrations, panel discussions and workshops. A key feature will be three concerts focused on the Scottish (8 p.m. Friday), Irish (8 p.m. Saturday) and Appalachian (1 p.m. Sunday) musical traditions, featuring Scottish fiddler Jamie Laval, Southern balladeer Sheila Kay Adams, Irish singer Cathy Jordan, harmonica player Rick Epping and Appalachian fiddler Alan Jabbour. The Appalachian concert will feature the Vega Quartet performing “i ain’t …

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Culture notes: Holy Land trip inspires series at B’nai Torah; from the sidewalk to the gallery at Georgia Museum

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

The second annual B’nai Torah Artist Market, on April 29, will feature works from the “Masada Series” by painter Susan Proctor who was inspired during a trip to Israel trip with a group from the Sandy Springs congregation.

While visiting Masada, King Herod’s desert fortress overlooking the Dead Sea and the site of an historic Jewish rebellion against the Romans, Proctor was drawn to the shapes and colors of original frescoes on its bathhouse walls. Peering at the dozens of photos she snapped of the frescoes after returning home, she focused in on forms that became the inspiration for her paintings.

“At first I adhered to what the photos were telling me — an urn, a throne, a figure climbing a mountain,” explained Proctor, an Atlanta artist since the early 1990s who is represented by galleries including Art House in Buckhead and Taylor Kinzel in Roswell. “But the more I painted, the more abstract they became, taking on a life of their …

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Phylicia Rashad, Mekhi Phifer to star in Kenny Leon-directed adaption of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

Phylicia Rashad, who is in Atlanta at the moment working on the remake of “Steel Magnolias,” will appear along with Mekhi Phifer in the stage premiere of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” from July 10 to 29 at Georgia State’s Rialto Center for the Arts.

Both “Magnolias” and “Guess Who’s” are being directed by Kenny Leon. The play is a production of Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, and the script was adapted by True Colors associate artistic director Todd Kreidler from William Rose’s Oscar-winning screenplay. (Tickets and information: 877-725-8849 or http://ticketalternative.com/Venues/336.aspx).

Rashad is no stranger to Atlanta. She appeared in “For Colored Girls,” the film adaptation of the play by Ntozake Shange that Tyler Perry directed. The film was set in New York but was mostly shot here.

Phifer (”ER,” “Lie to Me”) recently starred in the Leon-directed production of “Stick Fly” at Broadway’s Cort Theatre along with Phylicia Rashad’s daughter, …

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Starr’s Mill, Milton, Pebblebrook, Tri-Cities win multiple honors at Shuler Hensley high school musical awards

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

The 15 winners of  the Shuler Hensley Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theatre, announced during a glossy Tuesday night ceremony at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, were fairly evenly distributed among seven metro schools.

Starr’s Mill High School won the night with four awards, but Milton and Pebblebrook high schools were right behind with three prizes. Tri-Cities High School won two, with Woodward Academy, Atlanta International School, and Riverwood International Charter School claiming one each.

Milton scored the night’s biggest prize, best overall production, for “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and David Spearman of Starr’s Mill snared the best direction honor for “Zombie Prom.”

Evan Greenberg of Riverwood International Charter took lead acting honors for his portrayal of William Barfee in “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” and Brittany Dankwa of Tri-Cities was named lead actress for her Celie in “The Color …

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