Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Critic's Notebook: Landmark to screen David Lynch's 'Eraserhead'

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 10:30 AM

"That was the weirdest movie," is a phrase that likely gets tossed around whenever a film ends strangely, abruptly, or unpredictably, but that distinction undoubtedly belongs to David Lynch's Eraserhead. The 1977 film will get a rare Atlanta screening at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema next week. Although the film is available on Criterion Blu-Ray and DVD, the opportunity to see the film as it was meant to be seen — projected onto the big screen in a darkened movie theater — is not to be missed.

Lynch's first feature film, Eraserhead tells the story of Henry Spencer (played by actor Jack Nance, who went on to perform in many of Lynch's later films), who lives in a bleak post-industrial landscape and is left to care for the nightmarishly malformed baby he's recently fathered. Simply describing the strange plot or saying the film is "dreamlike" or "surreal" never quite captures the experience of watching it. The brain's ability to process projected film is closely, even literally, connected to the brain's capacity to dream and have nightmares, and it's in this strange realm where Lynch sought to plant his freak flag. Eraserhead makes the director's later work like "Twin Peaks" and Mulholland Drive seem positively tame in comparison. One searches for the right words: a reviewer for the Village Voice once wrote that Eraserhead is "an intergalactic seashell cocked to the ears of an acid-tripping gargantua." Well, yes. That's it. Precisely.

David Lynch's Eraserhead screens at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema on Tues., March 3, at 7 p.m.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund announces Arts Capitalization grant recipients

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 2:53 PM

Horizon Theatre
  • Scott Chester
  • Horizon Theatre

In October of 2013, the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund confidentially invited six arts organizations to submit ideas for how they would use a major capitalization grant. After extensive training and consultation, three of those organizations augmented their original concepts into specific, donor-ready capitalization proposals. On May 1, 2014, the plans were presented to the Arts Fund Advisory Committee: the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center was to be the single, happy recipient of a $200,000 grant to sustain a strong, long-term financial foundation and strategic plan.

Until three days ago, this was the only known recipient.

On Feb. 23, however, the Arts Fund announced that the remaining two finalists, Atlanta Celebrates Photography and the Horizon Theatre Company, would also receive capitalization grants of $160,000 and $180,000, respectively. The idea behind the Arts Capitalization program is to encourage the long term financial stability of arts organizations — not just keep them above water.

“Historically, many small-to-midsize arts groups have thin financial resources and little if any cushion,” Arts Fund director Lisa Cremin said in a statement. “The Foundation’s capitalization initiative advances a healthier, more sustainable business model, not only for individual organizations, but for the region’s small and midsize arts organizations overall. Being ‘well capitalized’ means that an arts organization has the resources to meet its artistic mission; build reserves for stable operations; has access to cash for artistic programs in their strategic plan; pays staff leaders fair salaries; and is able to take care of facilities and fixed assets.”

By providing these monetized resources, the pilot program facilitates stable operations: fair salaries, well maintained facilities, and the cash necessary to meet artistic missions. In other words, if something unexpected were to happen, these organizations would have the liquidity required to recover.

The program is the result of years of research and education, during which the Arts Fund worked with the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), based in New York. A leader on nonprofit financing, NFF has provided educational programs on capitalization to regional Atlanta art groups and donors — in addition to training nonprofit consultants in developing capitalization plans. Funding for the capitalization program came from the Zeist Foundation, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, and R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation. Other supporters include the Coca-Cola Company and PNC Bank.

“Our intent all along has been to create a groundswell rather than just make a single grant,” Cremin said. “All of this won’t happen overnight. There is tremendous work to be done. But everything about the pilot encourages us to push ahead.”

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Friday, February 20, 2015

'Loose Change' announces 5.1 issue release party

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 12:45 PM

Loose Change, a literary arm of the non-profit organization WonderRoot, is about to — and we mean RIGHT about to — release its newest Winter 2015 issue of the Loose Change magazine. The publication, which showcases both literary and visual art across genre and discipline, will feature work by Eric Baus, Timothy Liu, Miranda Mellis, Keith Waldrop, and others.
Loose Change's 5.1 Winter 2015 - COURTESY LOOSE CHANGE
  • Courtesy Loose Change
  • Loose Change's 5.1 Winter 2015

Other featured artists are Loose Change write- in-residence Laura Carter, Bruce Covey, and Megan Volpert, who will also be doing readings of their work at the release event. All three contributors are Atlanta-based powerhouses — with laundry lists of published work and professional achievement. Based on the Eastside of the city with her cats, Carter published two works last year, Chaos Provisions and Beginning of Way. In the same year, Covey published his sixth book of poetry while continuing to publish and edit Coconut Books and Coconut magazine — in addition to curating the online poetry reading series, What’s new in Poetry. Volpert, the current Teacher of the Year at her high school for teaching English, has also authored five books on communication and popular culture.

And these are just the ones reading at the release event.

Free and open to the public, the Loose Change 5.1 Issue Release Party will be held tonight, Fri., Feb. 20 at 8 p.m. at the Highland Inn Ballroom. There will be a bar! It will be a blast!

If you are interested in contributing to the Loose Change 5.2, submissions will be accepted here until March 1.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

'The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl' gets personal

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 12:03 PM

Issa Rae named her debut book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, after her YouTube workplace comedy, where she also waxes wry about interracial dating and not being able to dance. The show was proof that Rae could do TV her way, after Hollywood rejected scripts about awkward black people in the past. (Just ask Pharrell, who tried to pitch such a show before he hosted "ABG"'s second season on his YouTube channel, i am OTHER.)
DEAR DIARY: Issa Rae says her book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, reads like a "series of journal entries." - KAT CONTRERAS
  • Kat Contreras
  • DEAR DIARY: Issa Rae says her book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, reads like a "series of journal entries."
Don't mistake Rae's book, though, for a sequel of sorts. Here, she confesses to assuming false identities in AOL chat rooms, cheating on men she used to date, and hating her father because of his own infidelity. She shows how she became the awkward black girl that inspired her series. Of course all of this comes on the heels of HBO green-lighting a pilot for "Insecure," a show she co-wrote with "The Nightly Show"'s Larry Wilmore.

Before Rae stops by Atlanta for her ABG tour, she talked to CL about how her new book gets personal.

You read Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) before you wrote your book. What did you like most about Mindy's?
I just loved its honesty. While I didn't go through what she went through specifically, I could still relate and that element really inspired me, because she's so good at that. I just loved that relatability factor, and that she had so much fun with it.

Before you landed your book deal, had you tried writing about your life before? Did you keep diaries?
I still am writing in a journal all the time, but of course it's not for anyone. This book felt like a giant series of journal entries – I mean, other than the fact that people were going to read it. When I saw the manuscript, I was like, “Oh my god, this is real.” I've never tried to write about my life for the public before, no.

Why name this book after your YouTube series?
One, the familiarity of it. Two, because I'm still the awkward black girl. Even though I'm not J specifically, J is an extension of me. I felt like this was an opportunity to tell more about myself and what makes me awkward. That title just felt the most appropriate.

The first chapter, “A/S/L,” is about how you tried out AOL chat rooms. Why write about it?
It was the genesis of my Internet creation, in that I was creating characters, I was exploring the communities of the web and I grew up online in a way that a lot of other kids didn't at the time. So much of that shaped my childhood and informed my identity in the future.

Did you have to dig deep to, say, remember the screen names of dudes you IM'd?
I definitely made up the dude's screen names – I cannot remember those for the life of me – but those first conversations were pretty easy to remember. I just remember cringing. Every single time someone brings up “A/S/L?” I just get rapid flashbacks to that time. I can't believe I did that. I can't believe I got away with that. I could have been the victim of a child predator; my mom was always in fear of that. I'm not sure if she's reading it now or if she's finished reading it, but she hasn't mentioned that chapter, so I guess she's like, “I'm just glad you're alive.”

Which was more awkward to write about, yourself or your family?
For sure, my family. They didn't ask to be in the book. Actually, writing about them wasn't awkward – it was bringing it to my dad. He was like, “Whoa. Is this going to be out there for people to read?” but it really forced us to talk about it. It turned an awkward situation into something that was fruitful for our relationship.

Which did you need to get off your chest more: “Connecting with Other Blacks” or “When Coworkers Attack”?
I feel so bad about “When Coworkers Attack” because I single out a coworker. She was talking shit, and that was why I even wrote that chapter: “Really, bitch? You want to talk shit?” Now I'm dreading the fact that she may read it. “Connecting with Other Blacks,” I felt, was necessary to get out there, just to show the types of blacks I love and the types of blacks I try to avoid as an awkward black person.

It was nice to see those types laid out, showing that there's more than one type of “black.”
Exactly. That was my whole hope – to show that we're not all the same.

Issa Rae reads from and discusses The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Free with RSVP at ASPIREscreening@aspire.tv. Mon., Feb. 23, Woodruff Arts Center — Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E. 404-733-4570. www.high.org.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Goat Farm and Hambidge Center partner for FIELD EXPERIMENT

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 11:51 AM


The Goat Farm Arts Center and the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences have joined forces to create FIELD EXPERIMENT, a public action initiative aimed to help realize the project of an individual or collaborative creative talent. The program, which seeks interactive, cross-disciplinary, and community driven ideas that would be accessible to the public, hopes to remove limitations for both artists and the public alike. The final winner of the initiative will be given not only a $20,000 commission, but also a two week residency at the Hambidge Center. This is on top of administrative, production, and technical support given to facilitate the actualization of the project.

By not only eliminating the winner’s financial obstacles, but also by pushing viewers outside of a traditional space, like a gallery, the initiative plans on breaking barriers in expression and perception.

“Art in customary exhibition space is detached from routine life where we go to be with others that have similar expectations,” Goat Farm Co-Founder Anthony Harper said in a statement. “Art in space where routine life does take place gets stumbled on with others that have no expectations at all.”

To be clear, the project needs to be imaginative and original, but not necessarily artistic in a traditional sense. The Hambidge Center and the Goat Farm are looking for all types of talents, which include visual artists, yes, but also architects, scientists, and other members of the creative gray area. If you find yourself in one of those categories, you should hurry and get your ideas on paper — proposals are due on Tues., Feb. 24. From there a group of panelists, including Teresa Bramlette Reeves, Ben Golman, Jamie Badoud, Anthony Harper, and Mark DiNatale, will select five finalists. The five contenders will receive $2,000 and the opportunity to showcase their projects at The Goat Farm in late spring. The final winner will be announced on Friday, June 5, only to begin work for the presentation of their work Fall of 2015.

The goal is of course to reward a deserving creative mind, but as Harper points out, the project is also there to provide “something vigorously kick ass for Atlanta.” As far as what that "something" is, only time — and competition — will tell. For more information on how and where to submit your proposal, visit the FIELD EXPERIMENT website.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Critic's Notebook: February's Top Five

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 10:45 AM

A monthly listing of critic Andrew Alexander’s picks for the top five arts events in Atlanta: 

5. Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Feb. 5-7, Emory’s Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.
Bill T Jones / Arnie Zane

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Critic's Notebook: Last call for the paintings of Winston Churchill

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 10:26 AM

“You have a medium at your disposal which offers real power, if you only can find out how to use it, wrote Winston Churchill about painting in 1921. A temporary exhibition in Atlanta exhibits Churchills work, some of which is being shown for the first time.
  • “You have a medium at your disposal which offers real power, if you only can find out how to use it," wrote Winston Churchill about painting in 1921. A temporary exhibition in Atlanta exhibits Churchill's work, some of which is being shown for the first time.
This is your last week to see the paintings of Winston Churchill in Atlanta, an interesting exhibition many art and history buffs in town may not have even known about because it's in a somewhat unusual place. I also imagine many may not have even known that Churchill painted.

But Churchill was a painter. He called it a "hobby" and a "distraction," though he obviously approached the pastime with seriousness, concentration, and dedication across many years. Churchill first turned to painting in 1915 after resigning in shame as first lord of the Admiralty after a disastrous military operation during World War I. Over his career, he befriended many of the great English artists of the day, and he wrote a book about painting in 1921. Most tellingly, he stuck with the hobby during very dark political times — his own, his country's, and Europe's — creating about 500 paintings in his lifetime.

The small exhbition of about 30 works is especially fascinating for the way it traces the links between Churchill’s political life and his hobby. Many of the paintings look like the work of a stressed out politician using painting as a way to cope (read: not so hot) but several are truly accomplished and lovely, and all are worth seeing for the way they give insight into the inner life of a celebrated historical figure. Several artifacts and a video help connect Churchill to Georgia, where he and Franklin D. Roosevelt visited and viewed American soldiers from Fort Benning during World War II.

Winston Churchill's paintings are being exhibited in Atlanta at the bottom of the Millennium Gate in Atlantic Station. The exhibition The Art of Diplomacy: Winston Churchill and the Art of Painting runs through Feb. 1.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Meet the four Hudgens Prize finalists

Posted By on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 1:27 PM

FINAL FOUR: Bethany Collins is one of the finalists for the Hudgens Prize

The Hudgens Center for the Arts has announced the four finalists for the $50,000 Hudgens Prize. After carefully going through the submissions of Georgia artists, the 2015 jury panel selected Atlanta's Bethany Collins, and Scott Ingram, along with Rylan Steele and Orion Wertz out of Columbus. The finalists will be part of an exhibition at the Duluth gallery from April 7 to June 27.

Here's some quick biographical info on the four artists, with their accompanying statements:

Bethany Collins Well, They Just Dont Match Up II, 2014 chalk and charcoal on chalkboard

Collins is a mixed medium conceptual painter and was CL's 2013 Best of Atlanta Critic's Pick for "Best Emerging Visual Artist."
Collins' statement:

“I am interested in the unnerving possibility of multiple meanings, dual perceptions, and limitlessness in the seemingly binary. Drawing repeatedly allows me to fully understand objects in space, while defining and redefining my own racial landscape.

For me, racial identity has neither been instantly formed nor conjured in isolation. Rather, identity entangles memory: actual and revisited, cultural and historical, individual and collective. Through the dissolution of dichotomies and exploration of language, this work recalls moments in the formation of my racial identity as Black and Biracial. And each re-worked mark is yet another attempt to navigate the binary paradigm of race in the American South by grasping invisible limitations and grounding myself within the collective African American visual narrative.”

Scott Ingrams Float, 2012
  • Courtesy Scott Ingram
  • Scott Ingram's "Float," 2012
Ingram specializes in painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, furniture, and design. Ingram was born in Drumright, Okla., and grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. Since 1995, he has exhibited throughout the United States, Spain, and Canada.
Ingram's statement:
“My work sits in a space between documentation, conceptualism, and Abstract Representation. It most often makes commentary on our built environment as expressed through art, architecture, and design.

I like to think about my work in terms of a conversation of curiosities and observations, not a message of intent. I liken it to two old men sitting on a porch telling the same stories for so long they’ve forgotten the truth. It just becomes who they are.”

Rylan Steeles Morning
  • Courtesy Rylan Steele
  • Rylan Steele's "Morning"
Steele is a documentary photographer, and assistant professor of art at Columbus State University. Since arriving at CSU Steele’s work has been featured in numerous regional and national exhibition spaces. His primary research interests include looking at adaptations of interior work environments and investigated the history and use of Florida’s master planned communities.
Steele's statement:
“[I have] an ongoing interest in how community is defined in contemporary society. I grew up in Florida and I am fascinated by the landscape, not living there has made it possible for me to photograph it. I find it curious that someone would build a community [Ave Maria- a catholic inspired community in south Florida] that is philosophically and geographically isolated from most of the population.”

Orion Wertzs Untitled Portrait, oil and acrylic on canvas
  • Courtesy Orion Wertz
  • Orion Wertz's "Untitled Portrait," oil and acrylic, on canvas

Wertz is an associate professor of fine art in painting (also at CSU). He has exhibited paintings, drawings and sculptures in a variety of venues and has produced several comic books.
Wertz's statement:
“Why do we enjoy imagining the end of the world? How do we read trash? How do we project ourselves into the worlds we fantasize about? These are some of the questions that fascinate me, and which have driven my explorations in painting and drawing.

I am developing a mythology suitable to a consumerist era. With this recent body of work, I have pursued this goal by borrowing visual idioms from early renaissance panel painting and combining them with idioms common in video game renderings of figures and landscapes. Themes of desire and apathy compete with each other as I attempt to define something sublime.”

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Critic's Notebook: The Atlanta Opera gives it 24 hours

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 12:00 PM

The Atlanta Opera is giving artists just one day to write an entire opera. It doesn't seem like enough time, but really: who am I to judge?

The fifth annual 24-Hour Opera Project gives caffeinated contestants just one 24-hour period in which to compose, stage and rehearse an entire short opera. Creative Loafing arts writer Kate Douds has the full story in this week's Loaf about how the composers, librettists, stage directors, singers, and accompanists will be divided into randomly selected teams this Friday night to create new works that will be performed just one day later. The final competition is free and takes place at Theatrical Outfit in downtown Atlanta on Sat., Jan. 24 at 8 p.m.

I'll be one of the judges at the event on Saturday evening (while contestants are toiling away on Friday night, I plan to rest up in preparation for judgment). The contest awards a prize for both a judges' favorite and an audience favorite, so you can join me in making a final decision at the free event on Saturday night.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Critic's Notebook: The ASO starts 2015 back on track

Posted By on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 11:17 AM

EY PLAYER: Daniil Trifonov was the soloist at the Atlanta Symphonys first concert of 2015.
  • Dario Acosta Photography
  • KEY PLAYER: Daniil Trifonov was the soloist at the Atlanta Symphony's first concert of 2015.

It may sound odd to say that in a crowd of 1,700 people you spot some new faces, but that was actually the feeling last Thursday night as the Atlanta Symphony performed its first concert of the new year. Although the band technically got back together late last November after its long and grueling lockout at the beginning of this season, last Thursday's was the first concert—after all that holiday fare—with the truly 'back on track, back to business' feel of a regular season concert.

A widely-noted, somewhat ironic outcome of the challenges that many orchestras across the nation have been facing seemed to hold true for the ASO, as well: strangely enough, the problems may serve to make potential audiences more aware and supportive of their orchestras, something that I would say was visible in both the number of attendees at the nearly sold-out performance and in the general enthusiasm and rapt attention of the crowd.

And what a thing to pay renewed attention to! The ASO performed a fantastic show with young Russian pianist and rising star Daniil Trifonov as soloist. It was especially fascinating to watch the physical transformation of Trifonov, who walked on stage — young, slim, and handsome with the stylish, cool, and somewhat diffident air of a 1960s chess champion — and who played hunched over the piano at an impossibly gnarled, unglamorously contorted angle, his face nearly touching the keys during intense passages, as he gave an incredible performance of Rachmaninoff’s "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini." It was a brilliant show from Trifonov and from the ASO, which also performed works by Liszt and Strauss under the baton of guest conductor Asher Fisch on the same program. It was an evening that promised great things — and a smoother year — ahead. Bravo, ASO. More, please.

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