Monday, November 8, 2010

And the Verdict Is…Excellent Collection!

(photo at left: Floating Forms (detail) by Bob Goodnough)
Sometimes, there are less-appealing reasons to visit the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington. I can offer one positive cause to head to 500 N. King, with a warning: do NOT bring your cell phone! (By law, no cell phones are permitted in courthouse buildings. And they’re not kidding.)

Last month, fellow Arts enthusiast and advocate Bill Shea invited community members on a guided tour of The New Castle County Courthouse Art Collection. While I arrive late to the start (again: DO NOT BRING CELL PHONES), I was thankfully not alone. Three tardy comrades (the cell phone thing again) and I made our way to the 12th floor for a "self-guided" adventure, hoping to catch the group.

The indoor and outdoor collection, acquired by the Courthouse Art Committee, contains works of 10 artists--both local and national--with four pieces specifically commissioned for this endeavor.

My favorite pieces included Untitled (2002; acrylic on board) by Tom Bostelle; photographs detailed with watercolor overlay by Richard K. Hermann; Kinetic Sculpture (2007) by Tim Prentice which hangs in the main lobby of the courthouse; and several by Daniel Teis, whose diverse works of abstract textures and colors can be found on nearly every floor of the building.

Artist Margaret Winslow, an active member of the New Wilmington Art Association, served as curator for the tour, which ended outside at the brillant steel & neon sculpture entitled Beacon by Brower Hatcher.

I asked Margaret about her favorite piece in the collection: Gregor Turk's Con/Text, a rubbing of wax & oil on paper, which wasn't featured in our tour catalog but is a must-see on the list.

Next time you're out & about downtown, take some time to view this fantastic collection. But P.S. Did I mention: DO NOT bring your cell phone!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Film Brothers Movie Co-op Opening November 13

Gordon and Greg DelGiorno of Film Brothers Productions

 Brothers Gordon and Greg DelGiorno have been running their production company, Film Brothers, since 1999. They started with a focus on making feature films, but found that it was their special events brought in much of the revenue. They run the annual Film Brothers Festival of Shorts (which has been held under the umbrella of Fringe Wilmington for the past two years), and have branched out into areas such as online video commercials for small businesses, and their newest venture, the Film Brothers Movie Co-op.

The first thing Gordon wanted to make clear about the Movie Co-op -- about to inhabit the space at 205 N. Market Street -- is that it's not just for filmmakers. "It's for all kinds of artists, musicians, writers," he says. The space, a combination gallery, lounge, office and screening room (with additional adjacent space for bands) is not just the 10-year-old production company's home base, it's also going to be a space for the arts in the community.

Maybe you need a place to show and sell your artwork or put on a performance for one night -- through the Co-op, you can essentially rent the space for a reasonable fee and use it to suit your needs. Seating can be added, parts of the room can be sectioned off, wall space can be utilized. By day, the space will be open from 11-4, so artists can find information, network, work on their laptop and help the co-op run smoothly.

The arts is only one part of the picture, though: the co-op is also about brings businesspeople together with artists. "Art is about doing business," Gordon says. Both businesspeople and artists sometimes fail to recognize the importance of the other, to the detriment of both.

"You have people who have creative ideas, but they don't know business," says co-founder Greg DelGiorno. "Business people know that creativity is important, but they might not be that creative. We want to bring businesspeople and artists together."

They also want the local  politicians to commit to supporting the arts in Wilmington. At Wednesday's grand opening of the LOMA Coffee Shop a few doors down, Gordon issued the politicians, including ribbon-cutter Governor Jack Markell, a challenge: "What can you do to help art grow and function?" -- a challenge that was received optimistically: "The governor stepped up."

 In the coming months, Film Brothers plans big events such as a movie-themed Battle of the Bands in March, and a Street Festival on Market to help raise funds and create business opportunities next June. In the meantime, they hope for plenty of involvement, and a full calendar, starting with the Movie Co-op Opening on Saturday November 13, featuring local arts and the opportunity to learn more.

Find Film Brothers on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chicago at the Wilmington Drama League

The orchestra was perched on a rooftop in a brilliant set design by Kurt Kohl which let the audience see them and made them part of the show. As soon as we were seated, Chris Tolomeo and his jazz orchestra started some warm-up numbers from his CD to set the feeling of 1920s speak-easy. Then Kitty (Leeia C. Ferguson) came out in a gangster’s raincoat to do the house announcements in a well-written 1920's patois – letting those dancer legs peak out through the thigh-high slits.

Lights down, then up again showing back of a dancer who starts 'All that jazz' using the brilliant choreography created by Jody Anderson - whose 2007 Candlelight Theatre production of Chicago won the Philadelphia Theatre Alliance Barrymore Award. Not only were all the dancers top quality, but the production on opening night was as tight as anything I have seen in Delaware. Yet it was Barbara Wright's perfect cold stare/warm smile combination as Velda Kelly that made the show for me. I had seen Catherine Zeta-Jones in the film but I was even more captivated by Ms. Wright's dancing and her ability to give that "I'll-smile-when-I-murder-you" look throughout the show.

Watching a few clips of the movie showed me that although the fade-ins and technical gloss give it polish, there is a dimension missing on film that you get with live theatre that I could hardly describe. When Billy Flynn, the shyster lawyer (Jeffrey Santoro) does his shtick with the dancing girls and feathers - your mouth is still hanging open and asking: can this be Delaware? The well-seasoned musical backbone of the Tolomeo orchestra gave a tremendous boost to the smoothness of entrances and dancing.

Music Director Steve Weatherman and Choreographer Jody Anderson deserve much praise for this well-rehearsed show, but credit for coordinating the entire production goes to Director Matt Casarino who said he had never had a show so ready on opening night. The casting, the music and the dancing are so good that I highly recommend you catch a show during the run concluding November 13.