Examining one of the most important chapters in the history of contemporary art, “Dancing Around the Bride” is the first exhibition to explore Marcel Duchamp’s American legacy by tracing his interactions and exchanges with four postwar masters: composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham and visual artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.
The exhibition will feature over 100 works, including more than 60 by Johns and Rauschenberg and more than 40 by Duchamp, as well as prerecorded and live music by John Cage and live performances of choreographies by Merce Cunningham. Many of these works will be seen together for the first time and reflect the artists’ multiple levels of engagement across the disciplines of art, dance and music.
“This exhibition is about the relationship between art and life,” said Carlos Basualdo, exhibition curator and the Museum’s Keith L. and Katherine Sachs curator of Contemporary Art. “It tells the story of five extraordinary artists and what happened to art and culture when their lives and work intersected. Their mutual interactions redefined the language of contemporary art in the 1950s and ’60s.”
“Dancing around the Bride” will be organized into four thematic sections. The first section titled “The Bride” will look at the central figure in Duchamp’s painting “Bride (1912).” The second section explores the theme of chance in works that share this Duchampian attitude, and charts the development of chance procedures in the music of Cage, the choreography of Cunningham, and the paintings and prints of Rauschenberg. In a section titled “The Main Stage” visitors can explore the collaborations and stage sets created by Rauschenberg and Johns for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, with one of the exhibition’s centerpieces. As the game of chess was significant to Duchamp, the final section takes chess as both a literal motif and as a metaphor for exchanges among these artists.
The exhibition will highlight formative moments such as Johns and Rauschenberg’s 1958 visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915–23),” one of the Museum’s greatest masterpieces and the source for this exhibition’s title.
“As the Philadelphia Museum of Art holds the world’s largest and most significant collection of works by Marcel Duchamp, it is only fitting for the Museum to present this first exhibition juxtaposing works by Cage, Cunningham, Johns, and Rauschenberg with one another and exploring their complex and vitally important relationship to Duchamp,” said Timothy Rub, the Museum’s George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer. “This multidimensional and interdisciplinary show will enable visitors to experience and more fully appreciate one of the most exciting and momentous periods in the history of modern art.”
The Museum’s renowned Duchamp gallery (d’Harnoncourt Gallery 182) and two neighboring galleries (180 and 181) will be reinstalled on the occasion of Dancing around the Bride. Following it’s PMA debut, the exhibition will travel to the Barbican Centre in London where it will be on view February 14 – June 9, 2013.
“We are delighted to be working alongside the Philadelphia Museum of Art to present this important exhibition that includes such a rich selection of influential works,” said Jane Allison, senior curator of the Barbican Art Gallery.
In conjunction with the Philadelphia-based performing arts organization Bowerbird, the Museum is presenting a festival celebrating the centennial of John Cage’s birth. The festival, titled “Cage: Beyond Silence,” will focus on Cage’s early music, his Song Books of the mid-1970s, and his Number Pieces composed late in his lifetime, and will take place at the Museum and other locations in Philadelphia. Visit www.philamuseum.org/bride for information on both the dance and music performances and cagebeyondsilence.com for full Cage festival information.
Throughout the ages, mankind has intrinsically used the drum (or skins) and voice (songs) to communicate cultural significance and to express the heartbeat and spirit of a people.
Coupled together, drums and vocals possess the ability to represent humanity authentically as an organic whole. One can only contemplate the compositional possibilities, imagine the new musical horizons which are about to be discovered for the first time with Skins & Songs.
This week’s Philadelphia Music Project brings together two large ensembles — Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra and Philip Hamilton’s Voices — and over 33 music traditions from around the globe to deliver a ground-breaking body of compositions and arrangements live on stage.
Since 1996, Spoken Hand has championed the natural unification of four distinct music culture tradition: North Indian tabla, Brazilian samba, West African djembe and Afro-Cuban batá to present an unprecedented sound to the modern world of music.
Co-directed by Philly legendary drummers Daryl Burgee and Lenny Seidman, the natural interplay among the four drumming traditions illuminates the authenticity of the group’s unique sound.
“The focus of the ensemble is to honor both the secular and sacred elements of each drumming tradition for its uniqueness and to unify these traditions with fresh vision and composition,” explained Seidman. “The core of the process lies in the innovative arrangements and orchestrations linking and merging the different batteries.”
Led by Hamilton, Voices is an a cappella performance ensemble of eight accomplished vocalists from around the world and an array of international vocal tones and techniques.
Tuvan throat singing, Congolese mouth-clicking, Balinese monkey chant and hip-hop’s beat boxing are accompanied by the rich sounds of diverse a cappella singing styles including doo-wop, Bulgarian choirs, barbershop quartets, work songs and South African miners’ songs as well as Gregorian chants. Compared to productions like Stomp, Bring in da Noise and Def Poetry Jam, which showcase the urbanization of the world and combine the contemporary with the traditional, Voices celebrates the versatility and diversity of a common human instrument, the voice, while bringing cultures together.
The Painted Bride Art Center presents “Skins & Songs: Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra meets Philip Hamilton’s Voices,” a world premiere concert engagement taking place May 10 – 13.
Single tickets to each performance are $25 in advance and $30 on the day of show. Students and seniors with ID receive a 25 percent discount.
For more information or to purchase advance tickets, call (215) 925-9914 or visit paintedbride.org. The Bride is located at 230 Vine St. on the northern edge of Old City, Philadelphia.
The region’s premier horticultural wonderland, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Chester County, rambles over 1,050 acres of gardens, woodlands and meadows. During this holiday season, Philadelphia-area travelers will have a more convenient way to explore the majestic Brandywine Valley. Philadelphia Hospitality, Longwood Gardens and the Brandywine River Museum have teamed up to offer visitors a relaxing way to explore the countryside via “Beyond Philadelphia” bus tours. Motorcoaches leave Center City and visit both Longwood Gardens and the Brandywine River Museum, known for its collection of Wyeth paintings and illustrations. An on-board, expert guide will lead the group through the beautiful Brandywine Valley located about 30 miles west of Philadelphia.
“We want all visitors to Philadelphia to have the opportunity to experience the major attractions located in the Brandywine Valley, and this tour makes it easy and convenient for them to visit some of them,” said Bill Mifflin, executive director of Philadelphia Hospitality. “We are also finding that local residents who don’t have cars or don’t want to drive out there are taking advantage of these tours.”
On land that Quaker settler George Peirce purchased from William Penn, Peirce’s grandsons planted an impressive arboretum. The presence of a sawmill on the property prompted industrialist Pierre Samuel du Pont to buy the land in 1906 to save the trees. Today, Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s great horticultural displays, encompassing 1,058 acres of dazzling gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ and 4.5-acre conservatory. Longwood continues the mission set forth by du Pont to inspire people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education and the performing arts, through programming that includes exhibitions, musical performances by leading artists, renowned horticulture education programs, horticulture research, environmental stewardship and cultural and community engagement. Christmas is spectacularly celebrated with carillon concerts, poinsettias and thousands of lights. Outdoors, illuminated fountains dance to holiday music while 500,000 colorful lights create holiday magic. Music also fills the conservatory with special holiday organ concerts and other holiday entertainment.
Passengers will initially have the opportunity to spend time at the Brandywine River Museum’s holiday display, “A Brandywine Christmas,” which includes a 1,220-square-foot model railway; a “step-in” dollhouse, featuring a collection of antique dolls; and a tree full of whimsical critter ornaments made from items found in nature. In addition to the indoor display, a selection of artisans will exhibit and sell their work in the museum courtyard.
Beyond Philadelphia full-day holiday guided tours are on Dec. 3, 10 and 17; depart at noon from 6th and Market streets (outside of the Independence Visitor Center) and returns to Philadelphia at 6:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $69.95 per person and include a lunch voucher for the Brandywine River Museum Restaurant. For more information, call (800) 537-7676, (215) 965-7676 or visit www.beyondphiladelphia.org. For information about Longwood Gardens, including a calendar of special events, visit www.longwoodgardens.org.
For years, multi-platinum performer Ray J was an infamous celebrity playboy. Relationship after relationship came to a well-publicized end because Ray wouldn’t stay away from the Hollywood hotties. His cheating ways spawned two hit TV series but made Ray J miserable.
Now, to turn over a new leaf, he wants to learn why men cheat. So he turns to relationship expert Maxwell Billieon. In “Death Of The Cheating Man: What Every Woman Must Know About Men Who Stray” (Simon and Schuster, $24), Billieon shows Ray J how to change his ways.
“I’m happy that Maxwell Billieon was able to encourage me through this process,” said Ray. “When you first see the book, you don't really know how it's going to be laid out. But once you start to read it and understand it, you realize that we wrote it kind of like a case study; it’s a journey that I’m on.”
A former cheater himself, Billieon has taught thousands of men to stop cheating. He reveals that the reason many men cheat is that they are born conquerors who need to be taught how not to cheat. In this fun, informative book, the two men reveal myths about why men cheat and what goes on in a cheater’s mind. As he teaches Ray J to overcome his addiction to infidelity, Billieon teaches women how to spot a cheater, how some women enable cheating and how to keep a man faithful.
“I felt it was good for me to put out a book like this because it will help other young people read, and this book is a great read, but it has a lot of substance behind it,” said Ray. “Right now, I’m going through a growth process in my life, and I felt like in order for me to take this process to the next level, I had to reflect on things that I have been through in my past and in my relationships.”
Deceitfulness is causing the demise of the human family, Billieon cautions, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As Ray J (and the reader) learns the Six Virtues of the New Man, he finds out how both sexes can evolve beyond cheating and find fulfillment in faithfulness.
“See, some people think I’m a lot younger than I am,” explained Ray. “For me, turning 31, I mean just going into my 30s, things start to hit you different. You start to surround yourself with different people, at least I have, more positive people. I’ve been through a lot last year, at least in my life, with some of the mistakes that I’ve made. My grandma getting sick, and me just kind of shutting down and spending time with her and looking at life in a whole different way after that. So I think certain things that happened to me in my personal life have got me here to make new adjustments and move forward in a positive way.”
Ray J, whose sister is singer Brandy, became a household name as his public relationships with a bevy of beautiful Hollywood starlets made pop culture headlines all over the world. As a cheater, his playboy persona spawned the hit television shows, “For the Love of Ray J” and the spin-off, “Brandy & Ray J — A Family Business” on VH1, adjoining his string of hit albums “Raydiation” and “All I Feel.” Ray J has appeared on “Jay Leno,” “Regis & Kelly,” “Good Morning America,” “George Lopez,” “Wendy Williams” and a host of other top shows, and is one of the Web’s top trending personalities worldwide.
“I love producing shows,” said Ray. “I had a great time creating and executive producing ‘Family Business,’ but I won’t do anymore dating shows to that extent. I mean, we had some of the highest ratings on VH1, we had fun, but I feel like we’ve done that, so I don’t want to go backwards in my life. If I do do reality, it would be something catering around where I am in my life now. For me, I’ve always been on the forefront of my business, but the bad boy character I have I more so saturated that and put that out there more than me as an executive producer of my TV shows or creating my shows, or putting out all of my albums independently on my own label or showcasing the business side; it was more so all about the fun. But it’s a new day and time for change. God is good. God is working with me. I’m under construction, but I’m still living my life and I’m still having fun, just in a whole different light.”
There continues to be a lot of conjecture in regards to the orgins of April Fool's Day and it's fuzzy history has even lead lauded news agencies to get taken in by a fabrication.
Nearly 20 years ago, the Associated Press (AP) was on the receiving end of a self-imposed Fool's Day hoax when it reported in 1983 that Boston University history professor, Joseph Boskin, had discovered that the holiday was first celebrated under the Roman Emperor Constantine.
When contacted by the news agency, the professor explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire.
Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.
"In a way, it was a very serious day,” said Boskin. “In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor."
After the article was published in several hundred papers, AP realized that they themselves had been the butt of a good-natured joke.
Fred Bayles, the AP reporter taken in by Boskin's initial story noted: "Be very, very wary of what someone, particularly someone talking about April Fools' Day, tells you. It also illustrates a professor's responsibility not to screw around with someone's career — and the integrity of a university."
Although historians cannot pinpoint the exact origins of this light-hearted day, also called All Fool's Day, some believe it sort of evolved simultaneously in several cultures at the same time, from celebrations involving the first day of spring.
The current thinking is that it began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved from April 1 to Jan. 1.
Prior to that year, the New Year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25. Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later.
Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1.
These backward folk were labeled as "fools" by the general populace. They were subject to some ridicule, and were often sent on "fools errands" or were made the butt of other practical jokes.
This harassment evolved, over time, into a tradition of prank-playing on the first day of April. The tradition eventually spread to England and Scotland in the eighteenth century.
It was later introduced to the American colonies of both the English and French. April Fool's Day thus developed into an international fun fest, so to speak, with different nationalities specializing in their own brand of humor at the expense of their friends and families.
In Scotland, for example, April Fool's Day is actually celebrated for two days. The second day is devoted to pranks involving the posterior region of the body.
It is called Taily Day. The origin of the "kick me" sign can be traced to this observance. Practical jokes are a common practice on April Fool's Day.
Pranks can range from the simple (like telling someone their shoe is untied) to the elaborate (such as the faux BBC April Fool's Day documentary about "spaghetti farmers" and how they harvest their crop from the spaghetti trees).
Whatever the joke, the trickster usually ends it by yelling to his victim, "April Fool!" So, remember to be observant as the month of April begins.
Or, as Mark Twain famously quipped: “The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.” For an entertaining list of the top 100 April Fool's Day dupery, visit the Museum of Hoaxes online at http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/.
Martin R. Delany (1812–1885) has been called the “Father of Black Nationalism,” but his extraordinary career also encompassed the roles of abolitionist, physician, editor, explorer, politician, army officer, novelist and political theorist.
Despite his enormous influence in the 19th century and his continuing influence on Black nationalist thought in the 20th century, Delany has remained a relatively obscure figure in U.S. culture, generally portrayed as a radical separatist at odds with the more integrationist Frederick Douglass. Moonstone Arts Center Director Larry Robin is leading the local commemoration of Delany’s 200th birthday in May.
“He is just the most amazing character to have been ignored by history,” Robin said. “He is incredibly important because while there were lots of people that were anti-slavery, he’s the first person, I think, who challenges the thinking behind it. He says the thinking is wrong. The whole paradigm of white supremacy, of race, is wrong. What he does, and the reason why he is the ‘Father of Black Nationalism,’ is that he embraces his Blackness.”
Delany was one of the first Black men to found a Black newspaper; be admitted to Harvard Medical School; negotiate a treaty with the Yoruba chiefs so African Americans could emigrate to Africa; write a novel and be an officer in the Union army.
“The arch of the idea of these 20 programs is here is a guy who is neglected by most history books,” Robin said. “But there’s more than that because now with DNA research we know there’s no biological basis of race, so what does that do to those definitions? What does that do to the concept of white supremacy? What does that do to the concept of Black Nationalism — if there is no race? But there is racism, and we still need to confront that.”
Moonstone Arts Center hosts Martin Delany Week which begins May 3. The “150 Years Challenging Racism” program speakers include Molefi Asante, Bill Ayers, Erica Armstrong, Robert Levine, Frank Meeink, Alondra Nelson, Ewuare Osayande, Clarence Page, Sonia Sanchez, Linn Washington and Tim Wise. Details on all this and more about Delany is available at www.moonstoneartscenter.org/martindelany or (215) 735-9600. There is also printed material at the Philadelphia Free Library.
Patrice Evans is The Assimilated Negro (TAN), a hyper-observant, savagely pop-savvy instigator devoted to turning modern racial discourse on its head. For the past half decade, ever since the debut of his popular “Ghetto Pass” column for Gawker.com, Evans has occupied a prime spot in the middle of the highbrow-lowbrow, Black-white matrix of today’s America. In other words, Evans has been the rare voice capable of speaking to junkies for both White Castle and Colson Whitehead with equal insight and aplomb. His first book, “Negropedia (Three Rivers Press, $14)” is a wide-ranging, deeply idiosyncratic tour through the tricky racial landscape of the Obama era, aimed at pop-culture consumers at the intersecting fan bases of “South Park” and “Chappelle’s Show,” “Scott Pilgrim” and “The Boondocks.”
The book echoes the tones of his popular blog and reflects a background honed by his formative years as the beneficiary of New York City’s Prep for Prep program, where he was plucked from the South Bronx, and sent to a predominately white boarding school and liberal arts college.
“In prep school and college I always used the word ‘Negro’ in a jokey irreverent way,” Evans recalled. “Then sometime after the blog started, I often saw folks on the Internet using the ‘pedia’ suffix for content — Wikipedia most famously. And, at some point in brainstorming ideas for a title ,‘Negropedia’came up and just stuck. For a while we though it might be too controversial and the title was ‘The Book of Black,’ but then we went back to ‘Negropedia,’ which I think is the best. The name of the blog itself, ‘The Assimilated Negro’ has become a cultural Rorschach test of sorts. Some people laugh and immediately wink and tell me they ‘get it.’ Some people get upset, and don’t like the irreverent and/or reckless tone. Some people are confused. Some people get stuck on assimilated. Some get stuck on Negro. Some say I’m a sellout, some say I’m too ‘Blackcore’ — it runs the gamut.”
Evans has written about the intersection of race, class and pop culture for “Time Out New York,” Gawker.com, “McSweeney’s” and CollegeHumor.com, as well as “What Was the Hipster?,” an essay collection published by the literary journal “n+1”. In addition to writing for print and online, he also writes rhymes and stand-up bits for fun and profit and says there is a difference in him and his persona.
“It morphs a bit,” Evans explains. “Sometimes I thinks I’m still working it out. Of course, Patrice Evans is a full, living, breathing person and probably doesn’t talk or think about race and culture as much as his persona TAN would have you believe. I think it takes a lot more work, and also courage to be a full, living person talking about their life and ideas online — one, to be interesting, and two, not to have the hazards of online ephemera impose in your actual life. I started with TAN and Patrice having a lot more overlap on the Venn Diagram, but increasingly I’ve removed the Patrice Evans circle from the picture. I think the Internet culture is a little more settled, and you can let people in now with less risk. It was a little wild wild west there for a while, and you were advised to keep your personal self out of harm’s way. Now I think we can compartmentalize a bit better.”
Whether deconstructing rapper Lil Wayne’s “no homo hypocrisy,” outlining the all-important Clair Huxtable code for finding a mate, or assessing Susan Sontag’s street cred, Evans provides a stream of daring outsider anthropology.
“As a humor book dealing with issues many people take seriously, you’re trying to find that thin line where you can be provocative, but not overly offensive, and you want to be careful about just having something present for shock value,” said Evans. “I orginally concieved the book right before Obama got into office, and now he’s about to run for his second term. It’s amazing how a Black president can change the tenor of the conversation on race in America, for bad and for good. And with so may intelligent people writing immediately online, you also miss some topical windows. Ultimately, I do think there’s a huge void for this sort of book, a satirical take on the community of Assimilated Negroes, along the lines of a hipster handbook, or preppy handbook, and so I hope ‘Negropedia’ can be the start of a trend. The Assimilated Negro is dead, long live The Assimilated Negro — we are Assimilated Negroes, hear us roar. Let’s go get it!”
This month marked the 43rd anniversary of radio talk show host Bev Smith’s long-time media career. It also marks the end of her popular program, “The Bev Smith Show” heard on the American Urban Radio Networks, where she is fondly known as “The Queen of Late Night Talk.”
While she has hosted the eponymous show since 1998 — and is the only African-American woman radio talk show host who has a nationally syndicated show in the country — Smith was informed in August that her show would be canceled due to poor ratings. Initially, Smith was scheduled to continue her live broadcast until the end of October. Yet Smith’s daily live broadcast was silenced three weeks ago when the original deal switched to only pre-recorded shows until her end date.
Over the years, Smith has received nearly 300 awards, citations and trophies for her contributions in radio and television. For the past five years, Smith has been selected by Talkers Magazine as one of the one of the most important radio talk show hosts in America, she currently ranks as one of the top 50 in the nation.
“It came out of the wilderness,” recalled Smith. “And in my book, I’m going to call it ‘The Last Supper’ ... they took me to lunch and told me they were discontinuing my show because of money and that I attract old people. The people that have responded, most are under the age of 50, but what is wrong with people over 50? Baby Boomers are the largest contributors to our consumer base. I have not seen an individual study on our show in 13 years. In 13 years, we went from five markets to 40. In 13 years we went from no visibility to being called one of the top 50 shows in the country by Talkers magazine. This is crazy.”
Never afraid to tackle issues, Smith has lived with the homeless, walked the streets investigating prostitutes, raised money for babies with AIDS and talked with inmates on death row. She has interviewed personalities such as Bill Cosby, Vice President Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, Al Sharpton and a host of guests, many of whom she now refers to as her “special 20 friends.”
In Philadelphia, 900AM WURD served as Smith’s radio home. Currently, WURD is the only Black talk radio station in Pennsylvania. “We will miss Bev’s voice on the air,” said WURD programming consultant, Barbara Grant. “We’ve been carrying her for years, and she has been a real important part of the dialog in terms of issues that we are facing. She’s been a strong voice.” Grant added that the station would be happy to consider any new endeavors from Smith.
Smith began her television and radio career in 1971 when she was named Pittsburgh’s first African-American Consumer Affairs Investigative Reporter for WPXI Television. In 1975, she was named News and Public Affairs Director for Sheridan Broadcasting and hosted a lively talk show on Sheridan’s flagship station, WAMO. Since then, Smith has taken her “fire brand” style of talk shows to KDKA and WTAE Radio in Pittsburgh, WNWS in Miami, WKIS in Orlando and WRC in Washington, D.C. Bev also worked at Black Entertainment Television for over 13 years, as the host of the popular national television talk show “Our Voices.”
“I think that Black radio lost it’s mission when it decided to be an imitator instead of an innovator,” noted Smith. “When Black radio had it’s programming in the ‘40s, ‘50s, and the ‘60s era that I came up in, and I worked both in the ‘70s and the ‘80s, it had a mission, and that mission was to serve the Black community — no apology. Much like Spanish-speaking radio is today, whose mission is to serve the Spanish-speaking community and it makes no apologies for that. But in the ‘80s as progress came — and I don’t like to use the word integration, because I don’t think we have integration — but as we thought we were integrated and substituted that word for equality, Black radio gave up its mission and became just another place for music to be played. And that’s when the quality of the music and the programming went down. That’s when radio started imitating other cultures and went mainstream, and so African Americans lost a voice. Our radio was our griot — it was were we met, where we laughed, where people could earn a decent living and serve a community; it was where activities were. That’s why we only have two networks and the Hispanics have 40 or more. They know what their mission is.”
“The Best of Bev Smith” will continue to broadcast online at www.bevsmithtalks.com while she looks for a new broadcast home. “I’ve had several incarnations,” said the radio legend. “I’m going to miss it. I already do.”
The Art Sanctuary’s 28th Annual Celebration of Black Writing is the nation’s only literary festival of its kind, offering 13 days of literary discussions and workshops, music showcases and film screenings. Writers and artists will discuss their work with up to 2,000 students, and another 3,000 people will participate in panels, workshops and other events. The celebration features 75 professional and aspiring writers, editors, publishers, scholars, spoken-word artists, performance artists, playwrights and filmmakers. This year, selected panels and workshops will be streamed live for the first time online, and will also be archived so that new and enthusiastic readers and writers can access them anytime.
The Celebration of Black Writing brings acclaimed authors, scholars and performance artists from across the U.S. to meet, teach and interact with festival attendees through lectures, readings, workshops, panel discussions, family activities and performances. It connects established authors, emerging talent, novice writers and performance artists, with avid readers and local audiences spanning race, gender and background. The festival offers family-friendly events as well. Independence Blue Cross (IBC) and the AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies are the presenting sponsors for the program which runs from May 21 to June 2.
“We take great pride in our support of the Celebration of Black Writing festival, and in partnering with Art Sanctuary,” said Daniel Hilferty, president and CEO of IBC. “This exceptional and innovative organization educates and nurtures so many aspiring writers and other artists, and it improves the lives of thousands through promoting the arts.”
One of the major highlights of the festival is the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony to be held Friday, June 1. With Art Sanctuary’s year-long theme of “Growing from Good to Great,” the organization will honor JET and Ebony magazines, with JET’s editor-in-chief Mitzi Miller accepting on behalf of both, and Marita Golden of the Hurston/Wright Foundation.
“We’ve got to hold (Black writers) in the light,” noted Lorene Carey, executive director, Art Sanctuary. “There is great value in holding the critical mass of African-American creative talent in the light — to use that Quaker phrase ‘to hold it in the light’ — there is great value in that. It’s valued for our own community. These are our griots. These people are telling a narrative about the Black experience — and the white experience, by the way — and they are narratives that are nourishing, necessary and sometimes very challenging for the growth of the African-American community. They are telling narratives that are necessary and nourishing to our larger community. ... They are some of the strongest explorers of questions that America needs to learn and to pose and challenge it and argue about. These people are doing it, and we have them here year after year. To keep it going year after year means that we relieve the pressure that’s on African-American artists, or the Black creative, to represent our amazing diversity in one shot.”
The Art Sanctuary’s 28th Annual Celebration of Black Writing takes place at several locations around the city, including Art Sanctuary, the Historic Church of the Advocate, the Kimmel Center and Temple University. The all-day festival taking place at Temple University on June 2 is free. Some events taking place during the 13-day festival, May 21 to June 2, are offered at a low ticket price. For more information and to get a full listing of the festival’s line-up, visit www.artsanctuary.org or call (215) 232-4485.
It is said that the right man in the right place at the right time can make the difference between victory and defeat. “Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc The Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way Across Europe” (Da Capo Press, $26) is the dramatic story of 68 soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion, D Company — Dog Company — who made that difference, time and again. “Dog Company” is their unforgettable story — thoroughly researched and vividly told by acclaimed combat historian Patrick K. O’Donnell — a story of extraordinary bravery, courage and determination.
From D-Day, when German guns atop Pointe du Hoc threatened the Allied landings and the men of Dog Company scaled the 90-foot cliffs to destroy them; to the thickly forested slopes of Hill 400, in Germany’s Hürtgen Forest, where the Rangers launched a desperate bayonet charge across an open field, captured the crucial hill, and held it against all odds. In each battle, the men of Dog Company made the difference.
“‘Dog Company’ contains a cast of characters worthy of a movie,” explained O’Donnell. “For instance, the unit included a five-foot-three professional tap dancer who doubled as Dog’s dead-eye sniper; a company commander who has the looks, bravado and presence of Lee Marvin; prankster Larry Johnson, who is always playing practical jokes on his comrades; and the defiant, cocky, courageous L-Rod Petty, who waddled like a duck after breaking both legs in a parachute training exercise, but had one of the greatest hearts of all and never lost his humanity in battle. Epitomizing all these men was Herman Stein, the ultimate Ranger. At 63-years-old, the master climber and successful roofer scaled the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc with modern day Green Berets. He actually beat the young soldiers to the top, where he was greeted like a hero by Ronald Regan, just before the president delivered his famous Pointe du Hoc speech.”
America had many heroes in World War II, but few can say that, but for them, the course of the war may have been very different. “Dog Company” is an epic World War II story of valor, sacrifice and the Rangers who led the way to victory in Europe.