Monday, August 24, 2020

Wilmington’s Cultural Street Art Program Opens with Art Installation at Peter Spencer Plaza

The content of this post comes from a City of Wilmington press release...

The City of Wilmington, which supports Black lives and the ongoing effort to promote racial justice reforms locally and nationally, today (Monday, August 24, 2020) opened a community designed and executed cultural street art program. Organized by community activist and artist Vanity Constance and managed by City Cultural Affairs Director Tina Betz, the first of a series of cultural street art installations is underway beginning this morning at the King Street entrance to Peter Spencer Plaza.

“This new art program is a community expression that comes from people’s feelings about the current state of racial justice and racial relations,” said Mayor Mike Purzycki. “This effort has the wholehearted endorsement of City government because it is also about supporting better things to come for all of us who live in, work in, and visit Wilmington. Council President Hanifa Shabazz and I, respectively representing the Executive and Legislative Branches of government, embrace the colors, images, themes, and individual artistic efforts of this program and thank Vanity and all of the participating artists for helping us appreciate art while we learn and heal.”

Monday’s opening cultural street art installation was organized by the Local Street Art Group, a non-profit founded by Vanity Constance. The lead designer and artist facilitator on Monday’s project is local artist JaQuanne Leroy who created the image to be painted entitled “Freedom and Justice.” The work, pictured at the beginning of this news release, features African tribal patterns and symbols. It is expected that this initial artwork will be completed by Tuesday.

The section of sidewalk that is being decorated crosses the western entrance to Spencer Plaza, named for Peter Spencer (1782-1843), who founded the Mother AUMP Church (African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church) on the site of the plaza in 1813. The church was the first independent Black denomination in the country. The plaza was also the site of the first Big Quarterly (or August Quarterly), which was started by Spencer in 1814. The plaza statue, "Father and Son," was erected in 1973 and depicts a Black male figure cradling a sleeping child in his arms. Larger-than-life and dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, the man is not a direct representation of the religious leader but rather a symbol of the hope for the future that he inspired. The remains of Peter Spencer, his wife Annes, and ten of his followers are interred in a vault beneath the statue. After Spencer’s death in 1843, there was a split in the church. The African Union Methodist Episcopal Church (AUMP) and the Union American Methodist Episcopal (UAME) both trace their history to the original church at 819 French Street.

Vanity Constance and Tina Betz said the first art installation site that was originally selected — crosswalks at 4th and Market Streets — could not proceed because of a series of technical problems such as needing to prep the asphalt for a few days before paint could be applied. Instead, it was decided that the Spencer Plaza sidewalk artwork would be an appropriate way to start the program.

Betz and Constance said other art installation sites will be announced soon, which will include a new mural in Freedom Plaza, the courtyard and public meeting space in between the Louis L. Redding City/County Government Building and the Elbert C. Carvel State Government Building on French Street. The mural will replace a sky and cloud patterned mural that graces a side wall of the Redding Building and serves as the backdrop for a stage that is used for music performances and other community-related events.

On August 13, a community-led ceremony was held in Spencer Plaza to unveil the permanent home of the Pan African RGB Flag. The date of the flag-raising — August 13 — is significant because it marked the 100th anniversary of the signing in 1920 of the Declaration of the Rights of the Negro People of the World by the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) chaired by Marcus Garvey. This document is one of the earliest and most comprehensive human rights declarations in U. S. history.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Delaware Artist TAHIRA Set to Release First Single, "Freedom Call"

Delaware-based songwriter and storyteller TAHIRA is excited to release her first single, Freedom Call
which will be available worldwide on Wednesday, August 5.

Freedom Call is an anthemic song written by TAHIRA and executive produced by Darnell K. Miller. This single is sure to become a part of the soundtrack of this time period of protest and demand for social justice. 

TAHIRA and Miller gathered the First State's premier soulful vocalists to come together on this rousing single, in a artistic collective known as The Delaware Artists for Change.

In addition to TAHIRA (yup, her legal name is spelled in all capital letters) and Miller, The Delaware Artists for Change include:
  • Maya Berlardo
  • Nihkee Bleu
  • Jahiti
  • Nadjah Nicole
  • Noelle Picara
  • Jea Street, Jr.
  • Donna Tucker
Better known for her national work as a professional storyteller, TAHIRA wanted her first song to be the byproduct of the talents within the Small Wonder state. Subsequently, all components of the single were created in Delaware, including the engineering, which was done by Ishmail Abus Salaam at King Creative, a studio which opened in Wilmington last year.

Members of the funky, soul band The Soulidaires make up the rhythm section on the song, joining TAHIRA on guitar and Miller on lead guitar. 

TAHIRA, says, "Tapping homegrown talents was imperative. Do not sleep on Delaware. This group of artists is not only gifted but each is dedicated to using their craft to speak to the times they live in and uplift their community."

Look for the single released online wherever music is available.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Sold Firm Art Gallery Celebrates Grand Opening in Wilmington's Creative District

Content of this post comes from a City of Wilmington press release...

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and City Cultural Affairs Director Tina Betz congratulate Nataki Oliver, owner and operator of The Sold Firm, on the modern art gallery’s official grand opening held Saturday, August 1, 2020. 

The gallery, located at 800-B North Tatnall Street in the City’s Creative District, was founded by Oliver in 2019 to exhibit emerging modern and contemporary artists who tackle diverse subjects such as beauty, sexuality, emotions, and current culture.

“We are very happy to officially welcome Nataki Oliver and The Sold Firm to the Creative District,” said Mayor Purzycki. “This intimate space is an important addition to Wilmington’s cultural life and we are a better, richer City for the incredible talent assembled here. With Art Loop on hold for the foreseeable future, Oliver’s gallery provides a welcome refuge for art lovers from all over the City and the surrounding region.”

“The Sold Firm adds a contemporary newness to its surroundings,” said Oliver. “Fine art, culture, love, and support are our core elements to injecting vibrancy into Wilmington. Residents and visitors are welcome to immerse themselves in this modern art gallery. The collections of modern art displayed here have been carefully curated to represent multiple creative styles that complement our bright, simplistic aesthetic.”

At Saturday’s event, which included a ribbon-cutting and timed gallery tours, two black youths with an interest in the visual arts were presented with complete art kits and private art lessons at The Sold Firm this fall by local artist, James Wyatt. This initiative was funded by proceeds from the sale of OVOW (Our Voices Our Way) T-shirts. The grand opening was also celebrated by Council President Hanifa Shabazz and 4th District Council Member Michelle Harlee.

The Sold Firm’s current group exhibit, “Pendulum Swing,” also kicked off with the gallery’s sold-out grand opening ceremony on Saturday. The exhibit brings together 15 black artists from as far away as Florida to allow their voices about the current climate to be heard through visual art, each with a unique expression that conveys pain, triumph, and optimistic views of their feelings.

All of the “Pendulum Swing” artists will receive a 100% commission on any artwork sold during the public exhibit, which continues until October 30, 2020.

Tickets are available on the gallery’s website at www.thesoldfirm.com. You can also follow @thesoldfirm on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Pacem in Terris To Host Virtual Youth Art Exhibit


Pacem in Terris is continuing their annual Visionary Peace Youth Art Exhibition -- with a virtual gallery! If you work with children or know others who would be interested in participating, please share this information.


Deadline extended to August 31, 2020!

 

Youth in Grades K-12 are invited to CREATE ART by painting or drawing images that answer the questions: What does peace look like? What does peace mean to you? 


These “Visions of a Peaceful World” will be displayed in an online gallery (take a look at last year’s submissions here). A number of pieces will be selected and framed to join their Traveling Peace Youth Art Exhibition, which goes on display at various locations throughout the state, including a scheduled exhibit at The Grand Opera House in downtown Wilmington!

 

Here are the general guidelines:

  • Artwork can be created on any type of paper or canvas, any size up to 12” x 16”
  • Each piece must be accompanied by a 1-3 sentence statement describing the artist’s vision.
  • The artist’s name, age, group, and statement should be written on a separate paper (index card) and attached to the artwork by paper clip.

Your organization will be recognized in the gallery. They will accept up to 30 pieces per site. Include contact information for a teacher/counselor to receive future updates about the exhibition, and coordinate artwork pickup and returns at the end of the year. 


To submit your artwork, or ask any further questions, please contact Carolyn Bitzer at submissions@depaceminterris.org.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Delaware's Poets Laureate (Twin Poets) Receive $50K Award for Community Poetry Project

The content of this post comes from a press release from the Delaware Division of the Arts...

The Academy of American Poets announced today that the Delaware Poets Laureate, Representative Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills, also known as the Twin Poets, have received $50,000 to launch Write Now!, an art-based community building and engagement series, including workshops, readings and service projects, focused on youth in communities impacted by gun violence and fellow veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The series will culminate with the Write Now! Poetry Festival and will take place in April 2021.

The brothers and identical twins are Licensed Master Social Workers and founders of Art For Life – Delaware, a non-profit youth and community development organization rooted in the arts. The Twin Poets were the subjects of award-winning documentaries: Why I Write and Art For Life; which chronicle their artistic social change efforts. Al is an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD and Nnamdi is a State Representative and professor at Delaware State University.

The Delaware Poets Laureate are two of the 23 individuals that were announced as 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows. These 23 individuals serve as Poets Laureate of states, cities, counties, and the Navajo Nation and will be leading civic poetry programs in their respective communities in the year ahead. They will each receive $50,000 (the Twin Poets will receive $50,000 in total) for a combined total of $1.1 million. In addition, the Academy will also provide $66,500 to 12 local 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that have agreed to support the fellows’ proposed projects.

“As we face the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage. We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward,” said Jennifer Benka, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets.

Through its Poets Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy has become the largest financial supporter of poets in the nation. The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which, in January of this year, awarded the Academy $4.5 million. The award will fund the program in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

“We are gratified to support the poets laureate fellows as they engage their communities around the unprecedented challenges of our moment, making work that provides meaning, brings beauty, and helps us, in Lucille Clifton’s words, ‘sail through this to that,’” said Elizabeth Alexander, poet and President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows and the communities they serve are: Honey Bell-Bey (Cuyahoga County, OH), Tina Cane (Rhode Island), Tina Chang (Brooklyn, NY), Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills aka Twin Poets (Delaware), Rosemarie Dombrowski (Phoenix, AZ), Beth Ann Fennelly (Mississippi), Angelo Geter (Rock Hill, SC), Margaret Gibson (Connecticut), Rodney Gomez (McAllen, TX), Elizabeth Jacobson (Santa Fe, NM), Stuart Kestenbaum (Maine), Susan Landgraf (Auburn, WA), Maria Lisella (Queens, NY), Porsha Olayiwola (Boston, MA), Alexandria Peary (New Hampshire), Emmy Pérez (Texas), Mary Ruefle (Vermont), Janice Lobo Sapigao (Santa Clara County, CA), John Warner Smith (Louisiana), Laura Tohe (Navajo Nation), Amie Whittemore (Murfreesboro, TN), and Assétou Xango (Aurora, CO).

Additional information about the Academy of American Poets 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows and their projects is available on the Academy’s website.

About the Delaware Poet LaureateDelaware’s Poet Laureate is an honorary position appointed by, and serving at the pleasure of, the Governor. The Poet Laureate serves as an advocate, educator, and presenter of poetry throughout the state. Delaware’s Poet Laureate program is managed by the Delaware Division of the Arts. The Division promotes the Poet Laureate’s events and activities and manages the calendar of appearances and provides a stipend to the Poet Laureate for appearances at nonprofit organizations. More information about the program is available at: https://arts.delaware.gov/poet-laureate/.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Art Museum Announces Major Reinstallation of Permanent Collection

The content of this post comes from a Delaware Art Museum press release...

The Delaware Art Museum is excited to announce the reinstallation and reinterpretation of eight main-floor galleries housing its permanent collection. This project encompasses the Museum’s spaces dedicated to American art and illustration, Howard Pyle, John Sloan, and the Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art. Between April and November 2020, over 8,000 square feet of exhibition space will be renovated and rehung. Working with community and professional input, gallery layout and interpretation have been completely reimagined to connect better with today’s visitors and conserve the collections for future generations.

According to Chief Curator and Curator of American Art Heather Campbell Coyle, “This isn’t just fresh paint! We’ve been working behind the scenes for over two years. There are new works to show and new stories to tell. Entire collections are being relocated to improve visitor experience.”

This will be the first comprehensive rehanging since the Museum opened its renovated building in 2005. Since then, thanks to significant study and audience feedback, the collections have grown to include key pieces by women and artists of color that introduce new narratives and tell a more inclusive story of the visual arts. 

These new works, including a bust of Frederick Douglass by Isaac Scott Hathaway, and Botticelli’s Studio, a painting by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale on loan to the Museum, will join masterpieces by Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Raphaelle Peale, Frederic E. Church, George Inness, John Sloan, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Violet Oakley, and Frank E. Schoonover. This reinstallation will also bring focus to the role of local artists and collectors in the narrative of national art.

As part of the Museum’s strategic vision for community engagement, the Museum embarked on this project with an inclusive and visitor-centered approach. Community collaborators who participated in focus groups and left responses in our galleries have been integral to helping design a better Delaware Art Museum.

“Our local community’s input at every step was critical to this project,” says Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement, who worked closely with curators on gallery reinterpretation strategies. “We are grateful to those who helped guide us in early focus groups, as well as to visitors who responded to the prototyping of new ideas in our galleries. Direct feedback from our audiences helped us create bridges between the collection and the contemporary experiences of Delawareans. We look forward to learning what fresh connections our visitors make with the art as galleries reopen later this year.”

The Museum will remain open during these changes, with galleries closing and reopening on a rolling basis. Starting in early April and running through mid-July, a limited selection of works by Howard Pyle and his students will be on view; these galleries will be closed entirely from July through late November. Galleries dedicated to American art before 1900 will be closed from April 20 through the end of June. The Pre-Raphaelite Collection will be off view from July 6 through mid-August. Please check delart.org for details and updates.

The Museum’s reinstallation is fully funded by generous foundations including an anonymous donor, the Starrett Foundation, the Richard C. Von Hess Foundation, and the Sansom Foundation. To transform the galleries, the Museum is working with exhibition designer Keith Ragone Studio and local and regional fabricators.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Student Playwrights Honored in Playwriting Competition at Delaware Theatre Company

This post's content comes from a release from Delaware Theatre Company...

Delaware Theatre Company (DTC) is pleased to announce the five finalist plays and playwrights in the 2019-2020 Delaware Young Playwrights Festival (DYPF):
  • Distant Shores by Melody Fritz (Appoquinimink High School)
  • Fortunes by Zach Hitchens (Cab Calloway School of the Arts)
  • Coffee Shop by Nikolas Mandalas (Dover High School)
  • The Lost Kids by Lauren McAllister (St. Elizabeth School)
  • The Mind's Eye by Bridgette A. Rivers (St. Elizabeth School)
The five finalists will participate in a series of playwriting workshops with professional theatre artists to further refine their writing and ready their works for a public showcase performance on March 12, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. on the DTC stage.

This year's DYPF began in September 2019 with a kickoff workshop for Delaware teachers and students in Grades 8-12. From there, 55 students representing nine schools from all three counties throughout the state submitted their original plays for the first round. 

Each playwright received feedback about his or her play from a teaching artist of the DTC staff. Student playwrights then had the opportunity to revise their plays. Playwrights resubmitted their work for the second round, also known as the "competition round." From these entries, the five finalist plays were selected for additional development under the guidance of DTC’s team of theatre artists and educators.

Though not selected as finalists, six other plays and their playwrights are recognized with an honorable mention for the merits of their work. They are: The Vinyl by Asjah Brown (MOT Charter High School); Composition by Kylie Daisey (Cape Henlopen High School); Coffee and Confidants by Skylar Hass (Smyrna High School); A Glass Mask by Trinity Hunt (Cab Calloway School of the Arts); More Than an Eye by Hylea Lisenby (Cape Henlopen High School); and Wondering Goodbye by Katelyn Mock (Sussex Central High School).

Now in its ninth year of the relaunch of this acclaimed program, DYPF invites students in Grades 8-12 to write a play based on a theme inspired by one of Delaware Theatre Company's productions. This year's theme was inspired by a quotation from the Patrick Barlow adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, produced by DTC in December 2019. 

The quotation reads, “And so I say ‘Open Sesame,’ Bob. To all the real treasures of the world. All the true treasures!” These words, spoken by the character of Ebenezer Scrooge after his transformative night, served as a springboard for the DYPF theme: Write a play in which a character seeks, finds, or identifies his or her version of treasure as a result of life circumstances.

Through the use of a standards-based writing rubric, students created and shaped their original plays with regard to characters, conflict, dialogue, theme, and other dramatic criteria. Delaware Theatre Company celebrates the work of all 55 students in adding 51 new plays to the world of theatre through their participation in the 2019-2020 Delaware Young Playwrights Festival.

The mission of Delaware Theatre Company's DYPF is to provide students with an authentic audience for their creative writing and teachers with an innovative literacy program. Guided by passion and professionalism, DYPF uses educational resources, interactive workshops, personal feedback to every playwright, and public performances to engage students in the art of theatre through the act of writing a play. Both competitive and cooperative, DYPF fosters, respects, and celebrates the voices of young writers.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Serafin Ensemble Welcomes Cellist Jacques-Pierre Malan

Newest Serafin Ensemble member, cellist Jacques-Pierre Malan.
This post content originates from a release from Serafin Ensemble...
The Serafins add Jacques-Pierre Malan, South African cellist, soloist, chamber musician, teacher and music entrepreneur, to the roster of artists. 


Malan has received international acclaim for his unparalleled performances and innovative projects. Malan joins the Serafins for performances in January and April this year, as well as Serafin Summer Music festival in June.

“Joining the Serafin Ensemble roster is a thrilling addition to my musical path,” comments Malan. “We have more exciting opportunities this season to create magic together for the audiences we encounter, and I am confident we will enjoy a long and healthy partnership.”