Loading...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Art Means What You See – An Interview with Artist Joel Pinkerton


By Keith Waits

Copyright 2013 by Keith Waits, all rights reserved. Published in conjunction with Pure Uncut Candy.



Artist and musician Joel Pinkerton tells us about his new work and his journey from tinkerer to found object artist.
Upstairs Galley at Zephyr.
Arts-Louisville: Tell us about the work in the new show, “More or Less,” currently at Zephyr Gallery.

Joel Pinkerton: The work is what I call “3-D drawings” – welded steel rods constructed, using simple tools, into 20 or so human figures in various poses. They are covered with a masking film, which I found, abandoned, on a curb…my work always involves found materials. This kind of “drawing,” if you will, goes between medical charts of muscular structure, vascular pathways and skeletal structure to a human figure bound with this plastic film and heat-fused to encase it.

AL: You are known for, as you say, using found objects in the past, and it was often figures made from pots and pans and other random metal pieces.

JP: I think the thing about found materials is that it always gives me a line or the volume that the materials may have. This is maybe quite a bit different from what people are used to seeing. I’ve done similar figures with this steel and they were like drawings with just a few lines done in kind of a relief fashion, and the steel material kind of comes from the curb as well, being the kind of steel rods used for political yard signs that you might find in the alleyways every May and November.

AL: Looking at this work, it seems there is something more elemental or basic about them, as if they were gestural studies in a life drawing class.

JP: Yeah. With drawing you ask yourself, "Is it ever really finished? Do you erase the lines you don’t like?" So this is, in a sculptural way, that same process. They were inspired by a drawing mannequin but brought into a different context and given emotion, which is what I believe I’ve always been know for. You bring out the gestures and make real characters out of them. All my work is rooted in that.

AL: Zephyr has two floors and, somewhat unusually, you will be using both levels?

JP: Downstairs, when you walk in, I will have a figure like these, that is positionable, but it will be three-times the size (of a normal human), whereas these are three-times smaller. The viewers will find themselves in the middle, imposing on a smaller figure just like the single large figure will impose upon them.

"More or Less" installation in progress on the
ground floor of Zephyr. 
AL: So the viewer becomes a part of the exhibit?

JP: He does, whether he likes it or not (laughing). I intend to have a video surveillance element so that when there is movement it will record those reactions; not faces…I’m looking for bulk. Once I’ve recorded enough material, I may cull some of that out and show it in the gallery. I’ve also experimented with stop-motion and hope to have a short film showing some of these figures going through a range of motion as if they were one.

AL: So people who come to the opening should come back later to see the video you’ve added.

JP: They should. One of the things I’ve encouraged in the announcement is, whether you’re a student or, for anyone who likes to draw and is looking for figures who can sustain a pose, there are some choices here. So bring your drawing materials and spend a little time in Zephyr.

AL: What has inspired this group of work?

JP: I’m always changing. I’ve used this material before and the steel is small enough that I don’t have to use special equipment. This goes back to classical figures from the 20th century, and the large one will be along the size of the David statue at 21c. I had this idea before that was placed there, but one of the future ideas for the large piece is a photographic project where it’s placed in public and photographed to play off the reaction from the public. Kind of the same “wow” factor of that golden David statue.

AL: Is there sort of a subculture of artists working with found or reclaimed materials?

JP: Yes, there are, and I’ve heard many art students say they wish they had worked more with found objects because of the cost today of canvas and paints, or stone and marble, any of those things, with any artist who is struggling. I do see more and more trained artists working with found materials. I’m self-taught – I took an art appreciation course and I think I slept through most of it [laughing].

AL: You say you do not have formal training in art, how did you get started?

JP: I was tinkering in the basement about 20 years ago, tinkering to the point to where it became something of an obsession. I was in a corporate management position but, unfortunately, the company I was working for was not that great, so we parted ways. So I put a plan together to make sell art any way that I can, and I’ve been doing that for about 13 years now. It’s been a lot healthier than the corporate position.

AL: Did the kind of artists' community we have in Louisville help you or inspire you?

JP: I had friends who were artists and knew other artists. I had always been a tinkerer and a salvage person. I was the youngest of four kids, and there were always broken GI Joes and other toys, so I would fashion something together. I can remember a Christmas when I was 8 or 9, and I got a pedal car, a U.S. Navy jeep (my dad was U.S. Navy), and about three days later I had the whole thing taken apart. We managed to get it put back together, but he was pretty mad. Building go-carts or scooters, in my day, were a busted pair of roller skates and a plank, so we made do as kids and throughout life had handy skills or carpentry skills.

AL: So your instincts as an artist were developed in your childhood?

JP: I think so. This exhibit about 3-D drawings? I was asked by a friend if I was going to include schematics or drawings of my vision of how the show should look. That sounds like a good thing to do, but I don’t draw very well; I don’t practice it or have the patience for it. I like that tactile quality of getting it in my hands, or looking at it, feeling it, seeing the shape of it, where that takes me. It’s a series of parts and how the parts flow together in my mind. The other pieces that I do kind of stretch the boundaries of the imagination: inanimate objects come to life. People recognize these objects, but they are stupefied seeing them used differently. I’m always trying to put life into the pieces.

AL: Some of these things you talk about: the lack of a formal art education, the instinctual approach, is characteristic of folk art or so-called “primitive art.” How do you define yourself as an artist?

JP: There are 21st century folk artists who are a different generation using what the last two generations have left, or the things that haven’t decayed or been lost or recycled or buried. I work intuitively. I rarely have any set thing I’m looking for, just a general idea. In the case of these new pieces, one kind of bred another, which all of my figurative work tends to do:  related but uniquely different. Everybody sees things differently. People are afraid of art sometimes. “What’s that really mean?” and it means what you see.

AL: Do you feel like viewers tend to overthink art a lot of the time?

JP: Actually, I hope they do, because not enough viewers spend enough time with visual art. Unlike the music industry where a song gets listened to repeatedly, with visual art you really have to put yourself in front of it. It's not just streaming in the background. I hope people will spend time and not just rush in. First Fridays are very social, but there’s not a lot of careful thought given, so they should come back on Saturday!

Artist Joel Pinkerton.

More or Less: New Work from Joel Pinkerton

March 29 – May 11, 2013

Zephyr Gallery
610 E. Market St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Hours 11-6 p.m., Thur.- Sat., or by appointment.

"Urinetown" Is Highly Appealing, Despite the Title, in a Spirited Production from As Yet Unnamed Theatre Company


Josh O'Brien, Elaine Hackett, Carrie Cook & Carrie Chastain in
Urinetown, The Musical
. Photo – As Yet Unnamed Theatre Company.


Urinetown, The Musical

Music by Mark Hollmann, Lyrics by Mark Hollmann & Greg Kotis
Book by Greg Kotis
Directed by Sandy Richens Cohrs

Reviewed by Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2013 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

For a musical conceived from a desire to put onstage what would not normally be allowed onstage, Urinetown has proven to be surprisingly durable and broader in its appeal than its creators might ever have imagined. After more than ten years in the canon of American musical theatre, it has moved decidedly from the fringe to the mainstream, a tuneful and engaging satire that is both intelligent and easily accessible to most all audiences.

It is also an apt choice for a local group like the As Yet Unnamed Theatre Company. Although they enjoy a reputation for good production values realized on a budget, Urinetown is a show that benefits from a low-rent approach in the trappings, with shabby costumes appropriately adorning much of the cast to reflect their poverty, and no overwhelming need for elaborate settings. It is a show that makes a virtue out of economy.

The story is a dystopian fantasy about a drought-stricken land in which the lack of water has led to changes in society that include a strict control on public restrooms. There are, in fact, no private restrooms, only public facilities that cost money to be used and are owned and operated by Urine Good Company, an evil corporation run by Caldwell B. Cladwell, played with oily, dapper charm by Larry Chaney. As the rate hikes to pee keep coming (always approved by the legislature, connecting government and big business in a cozy relationship we know all too well), the populace grows more and more discontent. Eventually, open rebellion springs up, under the leadership of young Bobby Strong, played with boyish naiveté by Josh O’ Brien.

It is all quite silly, and the fact that the show never takes itself too seriously is no small part of its appeal. The satirical targets are no less satisfying for being so obvious and include other famous musicals such as Les Miserables and Evita. When a very nimble Kathy Todd Chaney leads the ensemble, in league with the intense yet disciplined Brad Lambert in “Snuff That Girl,” any resemblance to the legendary “Cool” number from West Side Story is pure parody.

Other very good work comes from Jeff Ketterman, who gives Officer Lockstock more edge and swagger than I have seen in other productions, so that his narration with Little Sally is sharper in its irony. As Little Sally, Carrie Cooke is effectively cast against type, rendering the part with pinpoint comic timing, full-throated vocals and certain understanding of the character. As Penelope Pennywise, Carrie Chastain delivers a brassy, streetwise romantic that in her costume and posture is an unmistakable homage to the Rosie the Riveter icon from World War II. As the ingénue Hope Cladwell, Lauren LeBlanc makes an auspicious debut in the Louisville theatre scene, with a fine voice and an offbeat comic attack that is most effective.

Not one member of the ensemble falters in any significant way, and all sing and dance with surety of purpose. Director Sandy Richens Cohrs stages and choreographs with care, and the vocal arrangements of the chorus are particularly strong. Some of the singing lacks projection, but the delivery for the most part shows commitment and sturdy style. The second act stand out is “Run, Freedom, Run” – a great, gospel-tinged number that is justifiably famous. It can challenge any company who has not properly tended to the vocal arrangements, but the reading this company gives it does not disappoint.

This is a perfect show for the As Yet Unnamed Theatre Company, highlighting their strengths as a company that can deliver a quality musical theatre production, if on more modest terms than what usually occupies the auditorium one level down. Opening night enjoyed a full house, so they must be doing something right.

Urinetown, The Musical

March 29, 30, April 5, 6, 2013 @ 8:00 p.m., March 31, 2013 @ 7:30 p.m.
and April 7, 2013 @ 2:30 p.m

The As Yet Unnamed Theatre Company
The MeX Theatre, The Kentucky Center
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
502-584-7777



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hadley Prize Honors Legacy of Mary Alice Hadley by Providing Opportunity for Local Artists



Fred Meyland-Smith, Susan Barry & Shannon Westerman
at the announcement ceremony.

Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Arts-Louisville. All rights reserved.

On March 21, Shannon Westerman, Executive Director of the Louisville Visual Art Association (LVAA), and Susan Barry, President & CEO of the Community Foundation of Louisville, announced that the application for the Mary Alice Hadley Prize for Visual Art is now available. 
  
This prize is a $5,000 award for one local visual artist to participate in enrichment experiences that will help them pursue their personal ambitions and achieve their full artistic potential. This award is a partnership between the Community Foundation of Louisville and the Louisville Visual Art Association, which is managing the application and selection process.

"We are absolutely thrilled to introduce this award for visual artists in Louisville," said Susan Barry. "Mary Alice already has such a tremendous legacy in our community because of Hadley Pottery. We wanted to build on that legacy and support her passion for visual art in a fresh way, so we created this award to honor the past while enriching the lives of artists for the future."

To be eligible, applicants must be members of the Louisville Visual Art Association living in the Louisville Metro area, including Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, Bullitt, Nelson, Meade, Trimble and Henry Counties in Kentucky; and Clark, Harrison, Floyd and Washington Counties in Indiana. Artists seeking more detailed information on the application process are encouraged to attend one of two information sessions scheduled for Wednesday, March 27, at the Community Foundation of Louisville, 325 West Main Street. There will be a morning session at 9 a.m. and another at 3 p.m.

The $5,000 M.A. Hadley Prize is awarded from the George and Mary Alice Hadley Fund at the Community Foundation of Louisville. This endowment was established in 1991, and it supports the arts and humanities, particularly visual arts, crafts, theater and the Louisville Free Public Library. Mary Alice Hadley established one of Louisville's most iconic and well-known potteries and was renowned for her unique paintings as well as clay ware.

The application is available on LVAA's website: http://www.louisvillevisualart.org/HadleyPrize.html. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2013. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Unique, Experiential Theatre in "Oh Guru Guru Guru"


Rebecca Hart in O Guru Guru Guru. Photo by Alan Simons.


Oh Guru Guru Guru, or why I can’t go to Yoga class with you

By Mallory Avidon
Directed by Lila Neugebauer

Review by Rachel White

Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Rachel White. All rights reserved.

I’m not a big fan of lectures in the theater as a device, even a poetic emotionally charged lecture like the one that opened Oh Guru Guru Guru the other night at the Humana Festival. The lecture feels long, and it is long; and there is no program to assure you, the audience, that no, this is not a one-woman lecture about a woman’s childhood adventures in yoga. I am here to assure you:  it’s worth it. Just relax. Lila’s lecture is about why she can’t go to Yoga class with you (me, us). Lila grew up immersed in the world of Yoga in an ashram in India. Her parents were Yogis. She loved Yoga, and she wanted to be like Gurumayi, the spiritual leader of the Siddha Yoga path. The lecture is peppered with stories about her life in the ashram.

Then the stage opens on a yoga session in India where the women wear beautifully colorful saris and chant to sitar music. The audience is invited to remove their shoes and sit on the stage, where they are taken through the yoga process led by a confident calm instructor. Young women share the lessons they have learned from the guru. The audience becomes a part of the session in which Lila is in attendance. There is a performance of shadow puppets. The visuals of the piece are theatrical and out of the ordinary. Everything seems a little too nice, however – a little too separated from the real world to feel genuine.
 
Then, the set shifts again, to the movie set of Eat, Pray, Love, a Julia Roberts film. Lila is an extra in the film and meets Ms. Roberts and admits to an existential crisis. She no longer believes in the things she was taught as a child, but she doesn’t really feel she has anything else. 

The shape of this play is what’s unique and cool about it. It makes sharp turns, without stopping to explain itself. It’s like the unfolding of a mural, frame by frame, as it doesn’t really make sense as a whole until that last piece is revealed. I wish I had trusted the author a little more. I found myself slightly uneasy, as I couldn’t quite grasp the direction of the piece. Maybe that was the job of the author, or maybe not. What comes full circle, however, is surprising and lovely and very modern in its sensibilities. Rebecca Hart as Lila is deceptively vulnerable while appearing at first confidently together. She does such a graceful salute to the sun for Julia Roberts, in one particular moment, that I’m still thinking about it two days later. 

The themes of Mallory Avidon’s play are simple and universal:  a young woman has become disillusioned with her heroes and her passions, and so has to find a way to move forward. There is a deeply felt irony in the story of a childhood spent searching for enlightenment only to emerge into adulthood in a state of complete confusion. Most of us arrive there with no experience in Yoga to speak of. What was the point, Lila wonders? If her heroes too must fall so hard, where does that leave her? 

This play is fun, modern, but not alienating. It's experiential, but in the best sense. And there is tea in the lobby at the end after you put your shoes back on. 

Oh Guru Guru Guru, or why I don’t want to go to yoga class with you

Part of the 37th Humana Festival of New American Plays

March 22-April 7, 2013

Actors Theatre of Louisville
Victor Jory Theatre
316 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 584-1205


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Waking Dream Takes Four Years to Realize: Behind the Scenes of "Sleep Rock Thy Brain"




By Kathi E. B. Ellis

Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Kathi E. B. Ellis. All rights reserved.

You’re sitting at your breakfast table and you share, out loud, an idea. Once it’s been said, it becomes “A Thing.” Then you have to figure out how to bring it into being. That’s what happened with Amy Attaway at the end of her first season as Associate Director of ATL’s Apprentice/Intern Company back in 2009. This week, Sleep Rock Thy Brain becomes a reality: a Humana Festival anthology play for the A/I Company, performed at Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School, in a partnership that also includes the University of Louisville and ZFX Flying Effects.

ZFX is the original impetus for this sprawling project, the kernel having been sown during an end-of-season flying workshop for the A/I Company at the internationally renowned company located in the Greater Louisville area. The 2008-09 apprentices loved the experience, the ZFX flying directors got the opportunity to create sequences for the apprentices, and Amy was left wondering, what next?

“What if" is always a powerful question in theatre, and Amy’s what if questions included: “What if playwrights would be interested in creating scripts that integrated flying for the A/I Company?” and “What if it was possible to use flight choreography in a new way, not just as spectacle, but also as a fundamental way to advance the storytelling?” With these ideas fomenting, her next step was to get a buy-in from Actors Theatre of Louisville. Then-Artistic Director Mark Masterson was interested, and at that point the project began to expand. In addition to the preliminary work of ATL’s Literary Department in determining what might be the theme of the play and who might be approached to write this anthology, Masterson was interested in reaching out to the University of Louisville.

Obviously, part of the determination of the theme was the role of flying in the story. Literary Manager Sarah Lunnie had a personal interest in the science of sleep. She and Amy began to explore this idea, including at a retreat at the Kentucky Foundation for Women’s Hopscotch House. And the juxtaposition of how we talk about sleeping and dreaming, and the chemical reality of what happens within the brain while sleeping, began to parallel the visual experience of experiencing flight choreography – which looks effortless to an audience, while there is actually a lot of hard work being expended by the unseen operator. With that theme floating to the top of the brainstorming, UofL became a logical partner with the Medical School’s Sleep Center. Masterson approached Provost Shirley Willinghanz and a comprehensive partnership came into being.

The UofL partnership grew to include not only opportunities for the A/I Company and playwrights to observe an overnight lab, but an immediate second production of the eventual play with the UofL Theatre Department and a campus-wide commitment to an interdisciplinary focus on sleep. This last component includes spring 2013 semester activities:  an exhibit of sleep-related artwork by students; a theatre department-sponsored ten-minute play festival; two classes, one focusing on sleep references in Shakespeare and the other on the science of sleep; and two campus-wide forums on the topic. 

But all of this postdates the logistics of determining the needs of the production. At the Hopscotch House retreat in the summer of 2010, Amy and Sarah made the decision to approach three playwrights – a significant change from previous anthology plays that have typically used a larger number of scribes, each writing short scenes. This time there were only three playwrights writing one piece each, allowing each to fully introduce the world of flying within a longer script. Rinne Groff, Lucas Hnath and Anne Washburn all said "yes" to writing this unique anthology play. Another layer of this complex project was in place.

What would become the most complicated aspect of the project was location. An initial assumption that one of the ATL theatres could be used proved untenable in terms of all the rigging that would be required for the flying, which could not share space with all the lighting instruments required in a space in which multiple plays are produced. And so began Amy’s quest. As she states, all she needed was “an empty room with a tall ceiling.” Amy visited traditional theatres, empty warehouses, buildings in process, spaces that were not quite right, and more throughout the summer and fall of 2011. ATL colleague Steven Rahe mentioned the soon-to-be-opening Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School. Her initial reaction was skepticism. But she went to look at the skeleton black box, found her empty room with a tall ceiling, and this critical piece of the puzzle was in place.

Over the four years of bringing this production to the beginning of the rehearsal process, there were personnel changes at ATL, UofL, and LPAS, but there were enough people invested in the idea that the project stayed in the plans, even as it was pushed back from year to year. Budgeting was also an issue as funding was sought from various sources. A key moment in the development of the production was when ATL Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein stated, “We’re doing this.”

Jeff White and Samantha Beach as Astronauts
 in Lucas Hnath's nightnight. Photo by Bill Brymer.
Unlike previous anthologies, two of the three plays were written before the playwrights had met the interns. And the multi-year development process also meant that several A/I companies were part of the process. So for this year’s apprentices, the rehearsal process was more like a traditional new play process rather than having short plays set on them. The playwrights began working in December 2011, observing at  ofL’s Sleep Center. They returned at the end of the season to be present during the now-annual A/I Company workshop at ZFX. First drafts arrived over the summer. By early this season, flying and the text came together in a weeklong workshop. By January the rigging was installed in the Lincoln space, and rehearsals moved there.

Sleep Rock Thy Brain opens during this weekend’s College Days. The unique aspects of flying integrated into the scripts, the late-night curtain time, and the energy of several hundred college students promises to make this dream fly high.

If you want to learn more about the process and production, check out http://sleeprockthybrain.com/.  When you see the production, be sure to check out the student artwork by LPAS students, exploring dreams of flying, that is hanging in the school lobby.

Sleep Rock Thy Brain


Cast of nightnight by Lucas Hnath. Photo by Bill Brymer


Sleep Rock Thy Brain

By Rinne Groff, Lucas Hnath and Anne Washburn
Conceived by Amy Attaway and Sarah Lunnie
Directed by Amy Attaway
Flying effects by ZFX, Inc., lead choreographer Brian Owens
 
Review by Keith Waits

Copyright 2013 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

For the past few years the Humana Festival has included a showcase for the Apprentice Acting Company, an evening of original material developed around a theme or idea. As the title makes clear, sleep – or more accurately, the elusiveness of sleep – is this year’s theme, and some unusual staging is provided by ZFX, Inc., the Louisville-based theatrical effects company that “flies” people.

As dreamed up by Amy Attaway and Sarah Lunnie, the show consists of three short plays with some transitional material in between. In Comfort Inn, by Rinne Groff, three squirrelly participants in a sleep study are monitored by a couple of techs: one a seasoned, cynical rule-bender, Angela (Tamara Del Ross); the other, a neophyte named Sylvie (Madison Welterlen) who is infatuated with the supervising scientist, Dr. Abramovitch. The premise is off to a good start as the dynamic between the highly eccentric subjects and the conflicting techs is established. But when the lab, located on one floor of a hotel, is invaded by newlyweds and a few of their drunken wedding party, the energy is thrown out of focus, even if the plot thickens.

Still, there is good observation to the playing among much of the cast, and the humor engages the audience. By the time a moment of fantasy is introduced, in which Sylvie and Dr. Abramovitch gracefully dance hand-in-hand above our heads, the story has won us over.

In Anne Washburn’s Dreamerwake, a large cast plays young actors training to work with the flying system featured in all three stories. Although they are all playing fictional characters, the merging of fiction and reality is obvious enough to invite the audience to believe they are witnessing a nearly improvised reenactment of what we could easily imagine was the experience of rehearsing Sleep Rock Thy Brain. References to the actual flight choreographer and the Main Street location of the Lincoln Performing Arts School reinforce the illusion of behind-the-scenes drama. A muddled opening seems to establish the succeeding action as occurring within a dream. But whatever the context, this second script never seems fully formed, with too much Meta and not enough meat. It serves as an effective primer on the flying system employed in delightful service to the entire evening, but it suffers from being sandwiched between two more interesting stories.

The evening closes with Lucas Hnath’s enigmatic nightnight. The story of one insomniac astronaut and what his profound fatigue means for his fellow astronauts and their mission is a compelling and cryptic tale that also seems not fully developed. The structure of the text is vividly made manifest in the staging, and the presentation of the weightlessness in a zero gravity environment is easily the most dramatically effective use of the flying system that dominates the action in all three plays, not only because it logically emulates the expected reality of the experience of spaceflight, but for how it evokes the alienation and entropy in the story. The script is the most fully realized of the three, although it promises so much that I could not help but wonder if the concept could not be pushed a bit further. It also features some of the best performances of the evening from the three actors playing the astronauts – Samantha Beach; Ethan Dubin; and, most especially, Jeff White, whose somnambular tone seems just right.

The Apprentice shows during the Humana Festival are typically high energy, crowd-pleasing affairs, and there was much to like about this production. Yet the reliance on the ZFX system, while fascinating, seems to become too much the focus, sometimes overwhelming the intent of the action within the text. Still it prompted this worthwhile collaboration of Louisville theatre arts groups and is brilliantly employed in the final piece. And let‘s not ignore the appropriateness of a theatre experience about sleeplessness that boasts an 11:00 p.m. curtain time.


 
Sleep Rock Thy Brain

Part of the 37th Humana Festival of New American Plays

March 22 – April 7, 2013

Actors Theatre of Louisville at
Lincoln Elementary School
930 East Main Street
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 584-1205

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Louisville Orchestra Leads “Music Unwound” Festival Next Week


Composer Aaron Copland

Copyright 2013 by Arts-Louisville, all rights reserved.

At a time when the Humana festival might seem to have exclusively captured the spotlight in Louisville, the Louisville Orchestra, the University of Louisville School of Music, and the Louisville Visual Art Association are participants in another festival entitled “Music Unwound” that focuses on Mexico, music and photography.

Curated by music scholar and author Joseph Horowitz, the program is an adventurous collaboration among five American orchestras to bring humanities content into the concert hall.  Louisville is the first participating city to host the heady combination of concerts featuring Aaron Copland’s tone poem El Salón México and an exhibit of photographs by Paul Strand.

El Salón México was composed between 1932 and 1936 while Copland was in Mexico and was first performed by The Mexican Symphony Orchestra in 1937. The often forgotten subtitle, “A Popular Type Dance Hall in Mexico City,” reflects the populist grounding of the material, which was, in fact, based on the sheet music for four Mexican folk songs that the composer obtained while there.

In the same period, seminal American photographer Paul Strand was also working in Mexico, and some of the images from this period are part of a collection entitled “The Mexican Portfolio.” The 20 photogravures are currently on display at PUBLIC, the new Louisville Visual Art Association gallery space located at 131 West Main Street in the Whiskey Row Lofts building. Joseph Horowitz will present a lecture on the portfolio on March 26 in The Baron’s Theatre, also located in Whiskey Row Lofts.

Photographer Paul Strand. Photo-Walter Rosenblum.
The Orchestra’s concerts next week will conclude with a live presentation of a 1936 black-and-white film entitled “Redes” (The Wave) scored by composer Silvestre Revueltas, who was an important influence on Aaron Copland’s work, and with cinematography by Paul Strand. The film is also a part of the Strand exhibit at PUBLIC.

Other guests will appear from Mexico City and Los Angeles as part of the week’s activities. Jorge Mester reflects, “The Copland project is especially meaningful for me. Copland originally visited Mexico to absorb its art and culture. This experience resulted in his popular El Salón México. Later, on a subsequent visit to Mexico, I had the pleasure of spending time with him and even taking him to the movies.”

Music Unwound Schedule of Events:

March -April :
  
Paul Strand:The Mexican Portfolio Presented by the Louisville Visual Art Association • 
Location: PUBLIC,  W. Main St. • Time: Gallery hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 
: am-: pm

March 
: 
Panel Discussion, Paul Strand and Mexico, presented by the Louisville Visual Art Association • Location: The Baron’s Theatre at PUBLIC,  W. Main St. • Time: reception at : pm, discussion at : pm

March : 
Pre-Concert Panel Discussion, presented by the Louisville Orchestra  
Location: Kentucky Center for the Arts, Mary Anderson Room,  W. Main St. • Time: : am

Coffee Concert, presented by the Louisville Orchestra  
Location: Kentucky Center for the Arts, Whitney Hall • Tickets $- • Time: : am

Student/Faculty Convocation, presented in partnership with University of Louisville School of Music   Location: Cardinal Blvd and S. st St. • Time: : pm

University Chamber Players Concert, presented in partnership with University of Louisville School of Music • Location: Comstock Concert Hall, University of Louisville • Time: : pm

March 
: 
Magic of Music: Luncheon & Lecture, presented by the Louisville Orchestra • 
Location: Gingerwoods Event Hall,  Rose Island Rd. • Tickets $ • Time: : pm

Pre-Concert Panel Discussion, presented by the Louisville Orchestra • 
Location: Kentucky Center for the Arts, Mary Anderson Room • Time: : pm

Classics Concert, presented by the Louisville Orchestra • 
Location: Kentucky Center for the Arts, Whitney Hall • Tickets $- • Time: : pm