/> Cornelia Seckel Culturally Speaking Aug online 09

Culturally Speaking

ART TIMES Sept/ Oct 2009

milwaukee Art Museum gallery with sculpture by Harry Bertoia
A visitor at the Milwaukee Art Museum viewing
Harry Bertoia's work in one of the intimate galleries
with a view overlooking Lake Michigan.

In mid-July I drove out to Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my mother for a wedding of her friend’s (of 60 years) granddaughter. The wedding, a fabulous affair, was held at the Milwaukee Art Museum, a museum that has been sending us press releases for many years. Founded in 1888 as the Layton Art Gallery, each year they have over 250,000 visitors. I spoke with their PR department and they kindly set aside information about the museum and their current exhibits. I was interested in their permanent collection, nearly 20,000 works from antiquity to the present housed in 40 galleries throughout the several floors of the museum. The museum is best known for its Georgia O’Keefe (originally from Wisconsin) collection —reported to be the largest collection of her work in the world — Pablo Piccasso’s “Cock of the Liberation”, and for Santiago Calatrava’s Quadracci Pavilion completed in 2001. As I made my way through the various galleries I was particularly struck by The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs, the exhibit American Originals: The Eight and American Modernisms and the Bradley Collection of Folk Art. The path from the large atrium of the museum to the galleries is a long corridor with a fine collection of sculptures and an extensive view of Lake Michigan just outside the windows. The museum, as many museums have, has a delightful childrens’ studio, a place where children and their parents come to explore art. The museum is also known for their extensive education programs. There are classes for adults, teens and children; special programs including video podcasts made by their Chief Educator Barbara Brown Lee; docent programs and many other exciting and rich learning experiences. They have created Art Pack that is filled with family activities and a fun way to connect with the world through art and literature. I just wish I had more time to explore. www.mam.org •  Gallery Night and Day! has grown in 22 years to a two-day event with nearly 60 venues to explore. Held four times a year, it is sponsored by the East Town and Historic Third Ward Associations. As I had a wedding to attend, I didn’t get to any of the galleries but I did get to the 5th Annual Milwaukee Artist Marketplace held just outside of the entrance to the Museum. The Museum and a coalition of Milwaukee-based artist organizations provide this opportunity for over 80 emerging and established artists to display and sell their work. Artists must be chosen by the organization of which they are a member in order to participate. I was intrigued with Michael P. Nolte’s sculptures called Extreme Recycling — old tools that have been worked into identifiable little critters. The pastels of Diane Richards were equal to many of the pastels I see each year at the Pastel Society of America (coming up, incidentally, in September at the National Arts Club, NYC).

Bertha Rogers and Cornelia Seckel in the Literary Workshop at Bright Hill Center, Treadwell, NY
(R)Bertha Rogers and Cornelia Seckel in the Literary Workshop, Bright Hill Center, Treadwell, NY

           Raymond was asked to give a reading from his novel The Mountain at Word Thursday at the Bright Hill Press in Treadwell, NY, a bi-monthly program with invited guests and an open mike. The other invited guest was Melanie Maria Goodreaux of NYC, a poet, playwright, actress, director and a delight to meet. She read some of her poems, many of life in New Orleans and the aftermath of Katrina. It must be well over 10 years that I have been receiving information from founder and director Bertha Rogers about Bright Hill Press so I was particularly pleased to go with Raymond and learn more about the organization. Bertha Rogers relocated to Treadwell from NYC (free lance work could be done from anywhere!) and missed the gathering of writers and readings she had been attending. Thus began Word Thursdays founded in 1992 and housed in Bertha’s home up until a few years ago — it is all about Literature: preserving, encouraging, and nurturing. Bright Hill Literary Center is a place where Literature lives and writers come from around the country to take part. Bright Hill publishes fine poetry and prose and has Poetry Chapbook and full-length Poetry Book Competitions. Guidelines are available on their website www.brighthillpress.org. There is a Word and Image Gallery (words are part of the images) and while we were there, New Yorker Cartoons & Graphic Novels by David Borchart were on view and, coming up, Aimee Lee’s work will be on view. There are also Speaking the Words Festivals and Tours featuring more than 400 writers; Writing and the Visual Arts programs that serve hundreds of children and adults in the Word Thursdays Literary Workshops, for Kids and Adults housed in what was the garage; Sponsorship of the Share the words High-School Poetry Competitions for hundreds of regional youth;  Radio by Writers and the production of audio and video programs of established and emerging poets and writers who have participated in the BHP/WT programs and home for the New York State Literary Web Site and Map, developed and administered by Bright Hill Press in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts. This site (www.nyslittree.org) has every library, literary group, book store, small press, living and deceased writers, literary magazines and literary organizations in New York State. The site, visited by over 40,000 visitors a month, is literally the Gateway to Literary New York and there is a Literary Map of New York State distributed throughout the state and available from Bright Hill Press. Their new location is a writer’s dream. A home built in the mid 1800’s, there is an area for readings, a kitchen with floor to ceiling books that are on sale, 2 rooms for overnight guests, office space, and the newest addition is the 1,500 sq. ft. Library, built in 2004 and filled with books (including a large collection of Art Books) donated to the Center as well as Literary Journals from the past 30 years all awaiting cataloging — so if you are interested give them a call. The gardens are quite elaborate: a Shakespearean herb garden, a secret garden amongst the flowers, trees and bushes. Treadwell is on the outskirts of Oneonta and a beautiful part of the state to visit and learn more about this Literary Garden.

Tracy Baisden, Szanne VanWagenen, Jaimie Barthel at Lotus Fine Art Design, Woodstock, NY
(L toR)Tracy Baisden, Suzanne VanWagenen, Jamie Barthel at the launching of Lotus Fine Art Design, Woodstock, NY — as they celebrate the addition of interior design service to the established gallery which also features Jaime’s painted glass.

Early in August I was invited to Kent Art Association in Kent, Connecticut to give a talk about Getting the Attention of the Media / or How to Get Your Work Noticed. Alexis Lynch, President of this 86 year-old organization, while introducing me expressed appreciation for my work for artists. There was a good-sized group who listened attentively as I spoke about press releases, web sites, do’s & don’t’s in dealing with the press etc. The Kent Art Association was founded in 1923 by nine artists who knew each other when they lived in New York before moving to Kent; six were National Academicians. At first, the nine held an annual show in which only their work was exhibited. Later, more artists were accepted and others were invited to be associates. By 1935, there was a formalized membership and Association's By-Laws were established. Up until 1956, the KAA held exhibitions wherever space was available in Kent. In that year the Association acquired a two-story colonial house on South Main Street (Route 7) where they have done considerable renovating to create the intimate gallery spaces on both the main and top floors that are in full use today. The President’s Show was hanging and I was pleased to see so much fine work. The top prize— The Dines Carlsen Medal of Merit for Best In Show, went to Scott Bricher for his oil painting "Slant Six". Congratulations to all the winners and participants.

I was pleased to see the world premier of Take Dance Company’s Footsteps in the Snow at the Dance Theater Workshop in NYC. The dancers are so exuberant and playful as they move with music – running, flying and leaping across the stage. The house was nearly filled and seeing the performance with one of our dance writers, Francine L. Trevens (See Dance in June ’09 issue of ART TIMES), was a particular treat.

Puccini's Gianni Schicchi at Altamura Summer Music Festival, Round Top, NY
A scene from Puccini's “Gianni Schicchi” at the Altamura Summer Music Festival, Roundtop, NY

Founder and soprano Carmella Altamura welcomed her guests (as she calls us) to the Tribute to Puccini held at the Altamura Summer Music Festival (www.altocanto.org) in Roundtop, NY. Tucked into the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, this annual festival brought listeners richness beyond what anyone expected — unless you are at one of the world’s top Opera Houses. Conductor Anton Coppola, two piano accompanists, a dozen opera singers (all had to audition for the festival) gave a sampling of Puccini’s arias and his one act opera, Gianni Schicchi. The singers performed in this relatively informal setting (some in jeans, others in formal wear) and Leonard Altamura, co-founder, gave commentary about the opera and aria we were about to hear. Maestro Anton Coppola has been the musical consultant, juror, conductor and principal teacher of the “Encounter with the Masters” program designed by Carmella Altamura. In 1987 the Altamuras founded Inter-Cities Performing Arts, Inc in order to bring opportunities for aspiring young musicians and other artists and for the past 20 years has held the International Voice Competition. On October 31, a world-premiere of Edgar — now renamed La Coupe et Les Lèvres, conducted by Anton Coppolawill take place in NYC at the Kaye Playhouse. Cappuccino and deserts followed the performance of the delightful Gianni Schicci a light comedy with some excellent music including “O mi babbino cara”. The season at Roundtop lasts just a month so mark your calendars to check the schedule for the 2010 Season.

Remember that our next issue is for November and December. Calendar and Opportunity listings must be in by October 12; Advertising reservations by October 15. Let us know cs@arttimesjournal.com how you like the new website and look for the upcoming forum to make comments about events & exhibits you’ve attended.

See you Out and About!