Thursday, May 6, 2021

Congratulations to The 2021 Clifford Brown Jazz Award Winners

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

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and Cultural Affairs Director Tina Betz congratulated the winners of the 2021 Clifford Brown Jazz Awards presented at Cityfest, Inc.’s inaugural Clifford Brown International Jazz Day Concert on Friday, April 30, 2021. 

This year’s awardee for the Clifford Brown Top Jazz Presenter Award is the True Blue Jazz Festival; of the Clifford Brown Advocacy, Volunteerism, & Philanthropy in Jazz Award is Hortense Priest (bestowed posthumously); for the Clifford Brown Young & Swingin’ Award is Maya Belardo; and for the Clifford Brown Legacy Award is Tony “Big Cat” Smith

The Clifford Brown Festival Band, led by Gerald Chavis.
Photo by Moonloop Photography.
The awards ceremony and concert, held virtually and in person at the Delaware Theater Company, featured performances by trumpeter Terell Stafford and the Clifford Brown Festival Band led by Gerald Chavis as part of the City of Wilmington’s International Jazz Day Festivities.

“We believe that music and the arts are extremely important contributors to recovering from the personal, artistic, and economic pandemic-related stressors of this past year,” said Betz. “With that and the continuing loosening of COVID restrictions in mind, we are planning to return to Rodney Square on August 4-8, 2021 for the 34th Annual Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. It is important to note that the dates are subject to change or the Festival cancelled in response to changing State public health mandates.”

Clifford Brown Year Round is presented by Cityfest, Inc. and the City of Wilmington with generous support from The Delaware Theatre Company, The Delaware Division of the Arts, WRTI 90.1 FM, The Kenny Family Foundation, Delmarva Power, An Excelon Company, Gerald Chavis Music, Flux Creative Consulting, The Christina Cultural Arts Center, and The Delaware Contemporary.

Proceeds from the Clifford Brown Year Round series support programs like the Urban Artist Exchange, the Arts Work Summer Youth Apprenticeship Program, and the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Rebecca Wisniewski Named Delaware Poetry Out Loud Champion

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

Rebecca Wisniewski of Milford, Delaware's Poetry Out Loud Champion
From a field of 10 Delaware high school students, Rebecca Wisniewski, a senior from Milford High School, earned the title of 2021 Poetry Out Loud Delaware State Champion at the state finals held virtually on March 2, 2021. The first runner-up was Lia Dougherty from Sanford School in Wilmington, and the second runner-up was Janelle Carter of Delaware Valley Classical School in New Castle.

Rebecca is a member of the school drama club and has acted in plays and musical for years. She unexpectedly found that learning poetry has made her a better performer in general, stating, “...you have to put yourself in the background – while you are forming a deeper connection to the pieces. Reciting a poem means you have to pull from your emotions. It’s about being self-aware, even while forming a deep connection to the voices in the poems.” Ms. Wisniewski also took part in Poetry Out Loud previously in her junior year.

Wisniewski chose poems this year with very different energies. “Domestic Situation” by Ernest Hilbert, which Wisniewski calls “a tricky poem,” challenged her with its seeming sarcasm about a somber subject – domestic abuse. “I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain” by Emily Dickinson felt manic and mournful, and “has so much room inside it to perform.” Her favorite, “How to Triumph Like a Girl”, by Ada Limon, was, in Rebecca’s words, “fun, upbeat and has a positive message.” All of the poems scored high marks with the judges.

For her winning presentation, Wisniewski will receive $200 and will compete at the National Semifinals which will be held virtually on Sunday, May 2nd beginning at Noon on the National Endowment for the Arts website, arts.gov. Milford High School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials for its school library. Lia Dougherty, the first runner-up will receive $100, and Sanford School will receive $200 for its school library.

The Poetry Out Loud state competition, sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

First State Ballet Theatre Hires Molly Rooney as New Managing Director

First State Ballet Theatre has announced that Molly Rooney will be joining the company as Managing Director, effective March 15. Prior to joining First State Ballet Theatre, Molly was an Account Manager at Dandelions Digital. Molly has served as Director for the National Ballet Competition for the past three years.

As the creator of National Ballet Competition, Molly will be bringing her unique skills in communications, digital marketing, fundraising and community relations, as well as her passion for ballet, to First State Ballet Theatre. Molly is a former professional ballet dancer and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Communications.

“I am beyond excited to join First State Ballet Theatre, a company dear to my heart, as their Manager Director. As a former dancer, I am excited to be on the administrative side and be a part of developing this wonderful organization,” says Molly. “We are super excited about bringing Molly on to the First State Ballet Theatre team. She shows a lot of enthusiasm and passion and we think she will bring great things to the organization,” says Kristina Kambalov, Executive Director.

“Molly is an exceptional person in all aspects of her life. She is very detailed and precise and can provide exactly what is needed,” added Paige Obara, Business Manager.

ABOUT FIRST STATE BALLET THEATRE
First State Ballet Theatre (FSBT) was founded in 1999 with the mission to present professional ballet performances throughout Delaware, offer high-quality ballet training and performing experiences to aspiring dancers, and educate the Delaware dance audience of the future. 

Founded in 1999, FSBT is Delaware's only professional ballet company and this season employs professional dancers under the artistic direction of Pasha Kambalov, a graduate of the esteemed Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. FSBT presents classical ballets and commissions contemporary works from both local and internationally-recognized choreographers. 

FSBT is based in Wilmington's Grand Opera House and attracts thousands of patrons to the City of Wilmington each season, in addition to performances statewide. The School of First State Ballet Theatre enrolls over 100 students ages 3 and up, and offers classes six days a week in its studios in the Grand Opera House and at its satellite location at the Dupont County Club. FSBT students have won awards in international ballet competitions, been accepted at some of the country's elite ballet schools, and danced professionally all over the world. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Exhibit at The Sold Firm Features Works of Incarcerated Artist

Starting this month, Wilmington gallery The Sold Firm 
— headed by owner/gallerist, Nataki Oliver  presents a solo exhibition from artist Sakana Walls. 

Walls, 49, is a Philadelphia visual artist currently incarcerated in a Delaware correctional facility. 

Walls actually began his creative path in the culinary field. He has been incarcerated since 2006 with three years left on his sentence. Walls began drawing seriously in 2010 and painting in 2016, starting with his first piece, “Weathering The Storm,” which is featured in the exhibit.

The exhibit, entitled STORM, opened on February 19 and will run through April 24, 2021. During points in the exhibit, Sakana will be present on video from the correctional facility.

With Oliver's assistance, we were able to connect with Walls and ask him a few questions about his exhibit. Check out our discussion below...

*How long have you been creating? What is your medium of choice and why?
I've been creating for about 11 years now. I started sketching with pencil and charcoal, but I found it more liberating to work with acrylic. I use to observe other artists painstakingly mixing colors, trying to produce a hue that was considered "acceptable," and I didn't see any freedom in the practice. I treat each color as I would any individual: Accept it for its truest form/essence. If we can embrace who we really are, maybe we could come together and create something beautiful.

*Why did you choose the title "STORM" for this exhibit?
It was something that was discussed between Nataki and myself. when I told her my story, we agreed that "Storm" would best describe the exhibit. The pieces that were chosen for this exhibit represent hope, spirituality, and consciousness. All things needed in this trying time.

*What do you want your work to "say" to patrons? 
I really do not want the pieces to say anything. Rather, I want the pieces to act as a defibrillator...to allow the numbness (that has developed over the last couple of years) to diminish. I also want people to think about what happened in the last couple of years with our government, the pandemic, and within our communities.

*What is your favorite piece in the exhibit and why?
My favorite piece is the hooded man titled Weathering The StormIt's a representation of who I've become. The searchlight in the lower right represents the prison life left behind. The rain and the lightning represent the adversity going on in the world. The jacket represents consciousness, protection from all of the elements.

*How do you feel the arts have helped you during this time and how will they serve you going forward? 
Sitting back and doing the same things day in and out does not promote growth. I refused to succumb to the "Groundhog Day effect," so it was important for me to not become institutionalized. I had to find something to do differently. Creating something new every day allowed me to do time purposefully. Going forward, I see the arts hopefully serving as a vehicle to bring togetherness and awareness within the community and beyond.

*What advice can you give to other justice-involved individuals?
Holding yourself accountable will prove to be beneficial in the growth process. If you're experiencing an injustice, educate yourself and make it a fair fight. Adding other than self to the thought process will produce different results.

*What are your goals 
 artistic and personal  now and post-incarceration?
As an artists, I want to continue to make people feel; personally, I want to educate self before I medicate others. After my release, I want to continue to live life with purpose. 

“We must conquer self doubt in order to weather our own personal storm; then we’ll be able to learn, understand and respect one another.” — Sakana Walls

Reservations to attend the exhibit must be made online. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, masks are required while in the gallery. For more information and reservations, visit thesoldfirm.com.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A Number of New Artist Opportunities Opening at The Delaware Contemporary

The content of this post comes from a release from The Delaware Contemporary...

The Delaware Contemporary today announced a number of exhibit and engagement opportunities for local and regional artists.  The Contemporary is dedicated to supporting the careers of emerging and established artists through exhibition opportunities and professional development. Active onsite artist studios, complemented with a vibrant and rotating exhibition program, push artists to reexamine and expand the boundaries of their practice. The organization invites and encourages artists of all stages to apply! 

Click the links below for application forms and further info...

The Gallery Shop
  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, January 29, 2021
  • SHOP SEASON: March 1 - August 27, 2021
  • APPLICATION FEE: $10.00
Starting March 1, The Gallery Shop will display a new collection of featured artists with a curated selection of art and craft alongside new exhibitions in our gallery space. Seeking a fresh selection of products as we continue to promote contemporary craft and to support local and regional artists. Submit your work to be considered for this eclectic assortment of contemporary art, crafts, and handmade products. ALL forms of art are encouraged. If your work is sellable for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or birthdays, the Spring/Summer season is for you!

Submission Requirements:
  • Submit the following information as a single document (.DOC, .PDF) to lhoward@decontemporary.org with the email subject line "Gallery Shop Submission":
  • Short Bio: Brief summary of your artist resume
  • Product description and pricing
  • 5-10 images to showcase variety of artwork attached to submission email Optional: Artist digital links (Instagram, Etsy, artist website, Facebook, etc.)
  • Pay submission fee and include the order receipt number in the body of the submission email.
Call for Exhibit Entries - Natural Movement: Unapologetic Conversations of Hair & Nonconformity
  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: February 15, 2021
  • APPLICATION FEE: $25
The Contemporary is accepting submissions for a group exhibition based around the central ideas of hair and the CROWN Act, a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination; namely the denial of employment, recreational, and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles. How has rhetoric and politics alienated people of color? How does public discourse about hair and micro-aggressions play out in opportunities of advancement? How can contemporary artists and museums move this dialogue forward? 

Summer 2021 Exhibition Opportunity
  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: February 15, 2021
What does it mean to assimilate within accepted cultural norms? How is conformity questioned in contemporary society and what does it mean to “fit in”? The Delaware Contemporary seeks applicants to showcase works that engage in conversations about identity, acceptance, and conformity or non-conformity. Submissions may consider concepts such as religion, ethnicity, culture, gender, and race. Artists are encouraged to discuss any range of these topics as appropriate to them and their work. Artworks submitted may be any media, but must be prepared for museum exhibition.

2021 Artist-in-Residence
  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: February 15, 2021
The Contemporary's redesigned Residency Program extends to all types and forms of creative producers for a 12-month residency. Residents will have the opportunity to fully engage with the community and produce a comprehensive body of work for exhibition and documentation. In support of the museum’s ongoing efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community as well as the organization, The Contemporary has placed emphasis on providing the Residency Program to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and is driven to provide equitable access to career development and capacity-building opportunities for underserved populations and strives to contribute to diversifying the nonprofit and museum industries.

THE STUDIOS @
  • Applications are now open
Join the community of creative individuals at The Studios @ The Delaware Contemporary! Currently, The Contemporary has two vacant studios available. The 26 artist studio spaces are a place where proactivity, public engagement, diversity of ideas, perspectives, and artistic practice are honored, respected, and achieved.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

2021 Individual Artist Fellowships Awardees Announced by the Delaware Division of the Arts

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

The prestigious Individual Artist Fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts recognize artists in a variety of disciplines for their outstanding quality of work and provide monetary awards.

This year 121 artists applied and 25 were awarded fellowships in the following categories: one Masters; 14 Established; and 10 Emerging. Because of limited programing due to COVID in some of the Division’s regular grant categories, the Division was able to allocate additional funds to the Fellowship categories, thereby enabling the Division to recognize more artists this year. 

Awards are given in three categories: $10,000 for the Masters Award, $6,000 for the Established Professional Award, and $3,000 for the Emerging Professional Award. Fellows are required to offer at least one exhibit or performance during the upcoming year, providing an opportunity for the public to experience their work. Additionally, the work of the Fellows will be featured in a group exhibition, Award Winners XXI at the Biggs Museum tentatively set for June 4-July 25, 2021.

“Individual Artist Fellowship grants provide the recognition and exposure that artists need to successfully promote their work,” said Paul Weagraff, director of Delaware Division of the Arts. “The financial award allows them to pursue advanced training, purchase equipment and materials, or fulfill other needs to advance their careers. The Division was pleased to be able to allocate some additional funds to the Fellowship categories this year, thereby enabling the Division to recognize more artists this year.”

Masters Award ($10,000)
  • Jennifer Margaret Barker, Newark, Music: Composition
Established Award ($6,000)
  • Fostina Dixon (Bear), Jazz: Performance
  • Howard Eberle (Lewes), Visual Arts: Painting
  • Knicoma Frederick (Wilmington), Folk Art: Visual Arts
  • Mara Gorman (Newark), Literature: Fiction
  • Eliezer Gutman (Wilmington), Music: Solo Recital
  • Harold Kalmus (Arden), Visual Arts: Crafts
  • Kim Klabe (Rehoboth Beach), Visual Arts: Works on Paper
  • Jack Knight (Long Neck), Visual Arts: Sculpture
  • Cassandra Lewis (Wilmington), Literature: Playwriting
  • Jame McCray (Smyrna), Dance: Choreography
  • Terry Miller (Milton), Literature: Creative Nonfiction
  • Jane C. Miller (Wilmington), Literature: Poetry
  • Richard Raw (Wilmington), Folk Art: Music
  • Eric Zippe (Wilmington), Visual Arts: Photography
Emerging Professional Award ($3,000)
  • Ann Marie Brzozowski (Wilmington), Literature: Fiction
  • Shari Dierkes (Clayton), Visual Arts: Crafts
  • Siobhan Duggan (Lewes), Visual Arts: Works on Paper
  • Denise Eno Ernest (Newark), Visual Arts: Painting
  • Jason Jellick (Wilmington), Visual Arts: Photography
  • Carrie Sz. Keane (Milton), Literature: Creative Nonfiction
  • Todd Kilgoe (Bear), Jazz: Composition
  • Jack Mackey (Rehoboth Beach), Literature: Poetry
  • Theresa Taylor (Dover), Folk Art: Visual Arts
  • Njideka Wiggins (Wilmington), Literature: Playwriting