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Published: Saturday, December 30, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
— It’s the perfect weekend for indoor fun.
It’s also your last chance to see this special exhibition at the Dayton Art Institute.
The exhibit “Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau” will be on view through Dec. 31. This is the only Midwest stop for the exhibit.
Drawn from one of the finest private collections of Mucha’s work in the United States, this exhibition features 75 works by the celebrated Czech master, whose varied, expressive, and seductive imagery helped form and later shape the aesthetics of French Art Nouveau at the turn of the 20th century.
We asked Katherine Ryckman Siegwarth, the Dayton Art Institute’s Kettering Assistant Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, to tell us more about an artist she’s admired since childhood.
Q: Who was Alphonse Mucha?
Siegwarth: Mucha was a Czechoslovakian artist who lived from 1860 to 1939 and became known for a distinctive style that established him as a leader of the Art Nouveau movement. His work ranged from paintings, posters and advertisements to jewelry, carpet and wallpaper designs. Mucha’s works frequently featured beautiful young women in flowing, vaguely Neoclassical-looking robes, often surrounded by lush flowers which sometimes formed halos behind their heads. In contrast with contemporary poster-makers he used pale pastel colors.
Q: What is Art Nouveau and how does one recognize it?
Siegwarth: Art Nouveau was a visual, decorative and architectural art style popular from the late 1880’s until the First World War when the Art Deco style gained popularity. Art Nouveau can be recognized by its highly-stylized forms inspired by natural elements. You’ll see a lot of long, curving plants and other sinuous line details. And within the visual arts, you will note beautiful women, or femme fatales, with long, flowing hair and seductive glances — a trademark style of Alphonse Mucha.
Mucha was also interested in spiritualism and Masonic philosophy. He later became a Grand Master of the Freemasons of Czechoslovakia which also influenced many of his later designs. At that point in his career he was trying to elevate the meaning and influence of his designs — no longer seductive women, but figures who represented virtrues such as “truth” and “peace.” There are other symbols within designs that are associated with the Freemasons. Some of the works towards the end of our exhibit demonstrate this change.
Q: What materials did Mucha use in his art?
Siegwarth: As a principal designer for advertisements as well as book and journal illustrations, Mucha made a significant number of lithographs. There were several advancements in printing and color lithography techniques during his time, making it an exciting medium for experimentation.
Mucha’s lithographs reflect the rich texture of modern life in Paris at the turn of the century — this is the opulent Belle Époque and fin-de-siècle. His subject matter ranges from biscuits, perfumes and liqueurs to exhibitions and expositions locations. He also did publicity for leading theatrical celebrities of the era.
Q: How is he best known?
Siegwarth: Mucha is perhaps best known for the “Slav Epic,” his series of twenty monumental paintings depicting Czech and Slovak history. He was an ardent supporter of Czech independence and gifted this series of paintings in 1928 to Czechoslovakia on the 10th anniversary of its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Also, in 1919, he designed the first Czech bank notes, which will be on view in the exhibition.
Q: What would you hope visitors take away from the exhibition?
Siegwarth: With any exhibition, I hope visitors are able to see how the artworks on view were influenced by the time and events surrounding its creation, but also how the visual arts in turn influenced the world around it.
This exhibition is a great example of that. Mucha created singular works that shaped an artistic style, changed advertising campaign strategies, while also showed audiences today the opulent world of turn of the twentieth century Paris.
But most importantly, I wish for visitors to have fun!
WANT TO GO?
What: “Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau, ” an exhibit featuring 75 works from the Dhawan Collection
When: Through Dec. 31, 2017
Where: Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton
Admission: $14 adults; $11 seniors (60+), students (18+ w/ID), active military and groups (10 or more); $6 youth (ages 7-17); and free for children (ages 6 & under) and members.
More info: Visit daytonartinstitute.org/mucha. Use the hashtag #MuchaDAI to join the conversation on social media.
Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2018 @ 12:00 AM
Miami University Art Museum and Sculpture Park is gearing up for its latest exhibition, “Telling A People’s Story: African-American Children’s Illustrated Literature,” which will open on Tuesday, Jan. 30.
The exhibition “looks at African-American cultural and historical identity through the lens of children’s picture books, particularly looking at the illustrations,” said Jason Shaiman, curator of exhibitions, Miami University Art Museum.
The spring 2018 show will feature about 130 original artworks from African-American children’s illustrated literature, produced by some of the biggest names in the field. A few of the well-known illustrators represented include Ashley Bryan, Jerry Pinkney, Jan Spivey-Gilchrist, E.B. Lewis and Kadir Nelson, among others.
“We are doing something positive. We’re doing something that is bringing attention to a world of multi-culturalism in a specific area that has been long neglected for attention,” Shaiman said.
The collection in the exhibition represents 33 different featured illustrators, and the illustrations on display were selected from more than 90 different books. Many of the books will be on display alongside each illustration.
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“The way we organized the exhibition was to look at a chronology of African-American culture and history, and identified books that focused on certain historical time periods, events, and specific people,” Shaiman said.
He and the team that worked on the exhibition originally identified about 600 books to consider for the exhibition, which represented about 14,000 possible works of art.
“We felt that because this is an art exhibit, the artwork needed to come from the visualization of African-American illustrators, and as often as we could, books that were written by African Americans,” said Shaiman.
Works in the exhibition address chronological and historical topics such as slavery, the Underground Railroad with figures like Harriet Tubman, the Civil War and its aftermath, segregation, the civil rights era, and more.
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“But we don’t want to focus that this is all about doom and gloom of the history of African Americans. There’s a lot of attention to the great things that African Americans have done to offer a diverse American identity. It looks at people like Rosa Parks and Dr. King. It looks at people that were involved in innovations…” Shaiman said.
There are works of art featuring Congressman John Lewis from his youth, and other works about Satchel Paige, Dizzy Gillespie, Muhammad Ali, Billie Holiday and many more. There’s even a work pertaining to Oprah Winfrey when she was a child.
The earliest book in the exhibition, “Stevie,” written and illustrated by John Steptoe, was published in 1969.
“It really represents the first book written or illustrated by an African American on an African-American theme that garnered any attention within mainstream publishing and readership,” Shaiman said.
“Telling A People’s Story: African-American Children’s Illustrated Literature” will be on display through Saturday, June 30.
WANT TO GO?
What: “Telling A People’s Story: African-American Children’s Illustrated Literature”
When: Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. The exhibition will be on display through Saturday, June 30. Closed on Sundays, Mondays and University holidays.
Where: Miami University Art Museum and Sculpture Park, 801 S. Patterson Ave., Oxford.
Admission: Free and open to the public. Parking passes are available at the museum.
More info: (513) 529-2232 or www.MiamiOH.edu/ArtMuseum
Published: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 11:13 AM
HAMILTON — Impressed with the “raw quality and sincerity of the sound” of an album Hamilton band The Brotherhood released in 1972, a Spanish record label plans to release a new edition of it in January.
Alex Carretero of Guerssen records, which plans to release the album and CD on Jan. 26, said that as with other self-produced music of that time, The Brotherhood’s album “Stavia” lets listeners “hear the band playing the music they really liked without any interference from a major label or a producer.”
“We especially like the fusion of the soulful voice of John Hurd with the psychedelic/acid-rock instrumentation, where it also shines the superb guitar playing of Jeff Hanson, who was very young at the time,” Carretero added.
The Spanish record label joins two others — Tramp Records in Germany and Shake It Records in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood — in releasing the recording. The album, which was on local jukeboxes but never won radio play, for years has been a cult classic worldwide, and has been bootlegged.
Also reissued this year was the single, Tragedy, which was released by a slightly different lineup of the band, called The Revised Brotherhood.
The Carretero said he believes “a legit, nicely done reissue of ‘Stavia’ was something that somebody had to do it, knowing that the original album is very hard to find.”
“There was a previous bootleg vinyl reissue which was atrocious: They eliminated two songs from the original album and added two other tracks from an unrelated band,” Carretero said. “No wonder John Hurd and the band were really heartbroken about this. So when I contacted John about the possibility of doing a legit Vinyl/ CD/Digital reissue, he was delighted with the idea.”
The recording can be obtained by digital and streaming now, but the official LP/CD release date is Jan 26. Pre-orders can be made via www.guerssen.com. People in this country also can order through their exclusive distributor, Forced Exposure, at www.forcedexposure.com.
Meanwhile, 2017 was a big year for Hamilton music.
Among developments this year, Eric Nally recorded a music video in town. And thanks to a music reviewer’s idea, Hamilton was christened Jam!lton.
Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 12:45 PM
SPRINGBORO — An 11-year-old Springboro girl should be singing and dancing in front of the Macy’s department store in New York City on Thursday during the 91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Lily Nevers said Tuesday during a break from rehearsals in New York for a performance of Irving Berlin’s “This Is A Great Country” during the iconic parade, typically seen by 3.5 million live spectators and more than 50 million viewers.
Nevers, a 6th grader at Incarnation Catholic School in Centerville, is one of 128 kids from 104 cities picked by the Camp Broadway theatre-arts enrichment company for this year’s production.
“I’m very excited for the parade,” she said. “I’m so happy to be part of it this year.”
The Camp Broadway cast is made up of children 9 to 16 years old, representing immediate family members of active duty military personnel, veterans, reservists, wounded warriors and fallen heroes from all branches of United States Armed Forces. They are to march with the parade and perform on Herald Square in front of the store.
Lily is the daughter of David and Lesley Nevers. David Nevers retired little more than a year ago after 21 ½ years in the United States Marine Corps.
Lily has performed at the Town Hall Theatre in Centerville and aspires to a career on Broadway. The family submitted a video audition of her singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” doing the dance moves in the Thanksgiving Day show and a head shot.
The family learned early last month she had been selected.
“I was just over the moon for her,” Lesley Nevers said. “It’s her dream. She’s been walking on air.”
Mother and daughter also managed to find time to shop along Time Square and catch a Broadway show.
Published: Saturday, November 04, 2017 @ 12:00 AM
Creative ideas continue to bloom in Dayton and there’s no better example than the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the first and only annual United States literary award recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace.
What began as one woman’s wonderful suggestion has gone on to become a source of pride and international recognition for our city and for all of the authors, books and publishers who have been honored with the award over the past 12 years.
The elegant and inspiring award dinner and ceremony, which takes place tonight on the stage of the Schuster Center’s Mead Theatre, now sells out within a few days. The variety of related programs and events that surround the award range from book group discussions on the chosen books to university classes and a Sunday morning panel discussion with the honorees that is open to the community.
In the spotlight this year are Colm Toíbín, winner of the Richard C. Holbrooke Award for Distinguished Achievement; fiction winner Patrcia Engel for her book “The Veins of the Ocean” and Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist David Wood for his non-fiction book, “What Have We Done.” The runner-up for fiction is Yaa Guisa for “Homegoing;” Ben Rawlence is the non-fiction runner-up for “City of Thorns.”
A major volunteer effort
Although the award now receives international attention, less well publicized are the dedicated volunteers who make it all possible.
“People think that the Dayton Literary Peace Prize is concentrated in the fall, but planning and executing the plan go on all year,” explains Sharon Rab, the project’s founder and co-chair and the public face of the endeavor. Committees range from marketing and development to transportation and educational outreach. Volunteers also plan specific events including the popular “Sunday Conversations with the Authors,” and the Authors’ Reception the weekend of the event.
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“They plan, they raise money, they drive, they design projects and programs for schools, universities, libraries,” says Rab about her volunteers. “They get out the invitations — addressing them, assembling them, sealing, stamping them.” When the honored guests arrive in Dayton, transportation chair Mark Harmon makes certain members of his committee greet honorees at the airport and escort them throughout the weekend.
“It goes on and on and it never stops,” says Rab. “Whole projects like the Evening for Peace and Justice and the Author Conversations at Dayton Metro Library are totally volunteer driven. The entire prize is dependent upon volunteers.”
One of the most committed volunteers is Mark Meister, President & CEO of the Dayton Society of Natural History, who initially served on the board of “Dayton: A Peace Process,” the precursor of the DLPP. He has been co-chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation since its inception.
“My primary role has always been on the financial and organizational side with Sharon Rab handling the literary and educational portion of the operations,” Meister explains. “The organization has been volunteer-run since its start. While independent contractors have helped with some functions over the years, it was just this year that the DLPP hired its first part-time employee, administrative assistant Emily Kretzer.
When the winning authors come to Dayton for the awards weekend, Meister notes, they are astounded by the size and receptivity of their audiences and “blown away” by the awards event at the Schuster Center. “The beauty of the facility and the unique awards dinner on the stage, coupled with the brilliant comments of the winners and the final chorus from the Central State University Choir, make for an intellectually and emotionally riveting evening,” he says. “For me, and for the other volunteers, it has been gratifying to see how many of the authors have become staunch advocates of the DLPP and are out in the world spreading the word about this event and the reading public in Dayton.”
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It’s an unintended consequence of the awards, Meister says, that the DLPP has created a cadre of authors dedicated to Dayton and what’s is being done here. “And, we’ve inadvertently created a network of authors who meet here and then become friends and collaborators.”
Many former winners return to Dayton to volunteer as award presenters. One of those is Gilbert King, who will serve as tonight’s master of ceremonies. King was the 2013 non-fiction runner-up for his book “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America” which won the Pulitzer Prize.
“I’m returning because this community is the most inspiring group of readers I’ve ever been around,” King says. ” Under Sharon Rab’s leadership, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize brings a remarkable collection of writers together each year, and it’s just an honor to be a part of it.” He says he feels incredibly lucky to count so many folks from Dayton as good friends. “And I would do anything to promote peace and social justice for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.”
Just keeps growing
Meister says Dayton continues to live up to its reputation as a “reading” city. “It has been exciting to see how the community has responded by initiating related programming to supplement our activities,” he says. “Numerous book clubs specifically choose to read DLPP winners, libraries hold special programs on the books, and they are chosen for ‘Big Read’ projects in schools and universities.”
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Another outgrowth of the award is the Author’s Series which takes place in August or September each year and is entirely organized by volunteers. For that event, former winners present at a local high school to an audience comprised of students from multiple schools in the region, and then to a small group of DLPP patrons at a private evening event.
Thanks to Mary Ann Gasior, a former First Reader for the project, a six-week class on the winning books has become one of the most popular courses at University of Dayton’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She’s taught it for the past six years. In addition to discussing each of that year’s winners and runners-up, she shares each author’s acceptance speech and Skypes with the author when possible.
“I continue to teach the seminar every winter because I think these are important books that deal with significant issues, the authors all seem to appreciate the readers of Dayton and every year I learn something new,” Gasior says. ” For anyone who loves to read and wants to ponder the profound issues of our time, you can’t go wrong with the Dayton Literary Peace Prize winners.”
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The main challenges in teaching these books, Gasior says, relates to the length of some of them and the usually gritty subject matter that may include everything from war and poverty to discrimination and all types of abuse. “These are serious themes and I counteract these concerns by focusing on how studying mankind’s problems may help us solve some of them,” she says.