Monday, January 22, 2007

A Deaf Artist in Early America: The Worlds of John Brewster

PORTLAND, MAINE.- The Portland Museum of Art presents A Deaf Artist in Early America: The Worlds of John Brewster, Jr., on view January 25, 2007 - March 25, 2007. The first comprehensive exhibition on the important American painter John Brewster, Jr. (1766-1854), this show features 50 outstanding paintings illustrating the full range of Brewster’s long and successful career. Brewster was not an artist who incidentally was Deaf but rather a Deaf artist, one in a long tradition that owes many of its features and achievements to the fact that Deaf people are, as scholars have noted, visual people. The exhibition and companion book provide a major assessment of Brewster’s life and art within his four worlds: his artistic influences, his distinctive painting style and techniques, his elite clientele, and the world of the Deaf in early America. He is particularly noted for his portraits of children, who are depicted with an angelic innocence rarely achieved in portrait painting.

The exhibition was organized by the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, and is funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the American Folk Art Society, Robert and Katharine Booth, and Jon and Rebecca Zoler. This exhibition has been made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the American Masterpieces program.

The Portland venue has been generously sponsored by Norton Insurance and Financial Services. Media support has been provided by WCSH 6 and Port City Life.

You can find more information about John Brewster's life and work by visiting Antiques and the Arts Online.

Image credit: John Brewster Jr, "One Shoe Off,” 1807, possibly Connecticut, 34 7/8 by 24 7/8 inches. Fenimore Art Museum.

Friday, January 19, 2007

VSAVA Charlottesville Art Exchange 2007

The annual VSAVA Charlottesville Art Exchange exhibition opened January 12, 2007 with about 200 people in attendance. Sales were up and a good time was had by all!

The show remains at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center from January 12, 2007 through March 9, 2007.

The art may be viewed after January 12 during all performances at the Performing Arts Center and by calling: (434) 979-9532, Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to set up a time to view it.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center is located at 1400 Melbourne Road,
Charlottesville, Virginia

You can also have a look at the opening snapshots here.

All artists are local and purchases of the art for sale may be made by cash or check at the show. Money goes directly to the artist. The first ever Charlottesville/Albemarle District 2007 Calendar featuring local VSAVA Charlottesville artists will be available for a donation to VSA arts at the opening.

VSAVA Charlottesville local partners include: ARC of the Piedmont, Charlottesville and Albemarle Parks and Recreation Departments, the Community Based Instructional Program, Independence Resource Center, Piedmont Council of the Arts, PREP/Parent Resource Center, Post High, Region Ten Community Services Board, and WorkSource Enterprises and community volunteers.


In Case You're In New York

A Dancer's Hard-Won Debut

In a sunlight-infused studio at the Baryshnikov Arts Center one recent afternoon, Lisa Bufano sat in a corner, attaching her prosthetics. Ms. Bufano, a 34-year-old performance artist whose legs are amputated just below the knee, worked methodically to attach what she called her "running legs," a pair of coil-like springs. The task was made more difficult by the absence of Ms. Bufano's fingers; they too were amputated in 1994, in one of 20 surgeries undertaken to save her life.

The Boston-based Ms. Bufano was in New York to rehearse for the upcoming premiere of "Five Angry Mouths," her first dance performance. An untrained dancer, Ms. Bufano asked the choreographer (and former Bill T. Jones dancer) Heidi Latsky to create the solo for her - and to coach her in performing it. Ms. Bufano's solo, along with a new companion solo for Ms. Latsky, will debut at Judson Memorial Church on January 19 and 20.

Jogging around the studio in close-fitting lycra to the driving rhythms of Japanese pop, Ms. Bufano looked fit and sleek. When she struck a pose, the eye was drawn not to the shiny prosthetics but to her steely gaze. Despite the missing fingers, her fists looked tough and strong when she held them above her head. Intense yet unmistakably groovy, she suggested a cool, confident downtown woman.

Even later on, when she removed the prosthetic legs and slid to the floor, she carried herself with authority. When traces of vulnerability did appear, they were superseded by images of strength - sitting bolt upright, a sudden snap of the head, or one of those arresting stares.

Ms. Bufano's first dance solo shows the iron core of a woman who has been challenging herself ever since a raging staph bacteria infection made her an amputee at 21. Even while still hospitalized, the former art school student began painting, holding the paintbrush in her mouth. But it would be years before she went back to school in her late 20s. After graduating, she re-entered the work force as a web designer, then quit her job in 2005 to pursue art full-time.

This fall, when Ms. Bufano received a $4,000 Franklin Furnace Grant for Performance Art to stage a major work in New York, she knew it was time to work with a choreographer. "After I became an amputee, I spent a lot of time hiding behind a camera, doing animation and video," Ms. Bufano said during a break from rehearsals. "But this fall, I felt I had to pursue dance as a way to be more comfortable in front of people. Because it terrified me."

A friend recommended Ms. Latsky, who was struck by Ms. Bufano's potential from their first meeting. "Her body made such beautiful shapes," Ms. Latsky recalled. "And she has such a rich interior life that is so alive in her dancing - which is actually something that can be hard to discover in trained dancers."

Ms. Bufano relocated to New York for a few months to work closely with Ms. Latsky on technique and choreography. The two were determined to make an unstintingly physical piece. But it was clear that the process would involve more than steps. A key breakthrough came one day in rehearsal, the product of a simple request. Ms. Latsky turned to Ms. Bufano and said simply, "Tell your story."

Ms. Bufano chose to tell the story of one significant day during her illness. "It was one of the rare days when I was alone in the hospital," Ms. Bufano recalled. "I had known that they had taken some of my fingers, but I didn't know how much they had taken, because the bandages were there. I noticed one of the bandages was loose, so I started unraveling it, not knowing. And my hand inside the bandage was getting smaller and smaller. Then I saw my hand. I saw the five incisions where my fingers had been. They looked like five open mouths to me."

To Ms. Bufano, "That was a good sign. The fingers were bleeding and healthy - whereas the last time I had seen them, they had looked really bad."

When she told Ms. Latsky the story, it was, she said, "a big crying day." It was also the beginning of a more honest, vulnerable way of working.

"We really tied the meaning to the movements," Ms. Latsky said. The process was often emotional, marked by creative battles. A piece of music that Ms. Latsky loved was rejected by Ms. Bufano, who saw the song as the work of a tragic figure. "I didn't want people to see me as tragic," Ms. Bufano emphasized.

Ms. Latsky evidently agreed, for the figure that emerges in "Five Angry Mouths" exudes strength - even at her most defenseless and exposed. Ms. Bufano, who professes an admiration for "extreme" dance forms like Butoh, commands the stage by sheer force of personality. At times, the way she articulates the distinctive choreography is even somewhat reminiscent of Ms. Latsky's own movement style - fierce, compact, direct.

Ms. Bufano, who has performed the solo in local workshops, looks forward to showing it to its first large audience. For now, however, she can't bring herself to watch video of herself performing it. "I felt so emotional, seeing myself like that," she said, shaking her head. "The moments of vulnerability versus the moments of strength. It's really scary to be seen like that. But I also really want it to be seen."

Begins January 19 (55 Washington Square South at Thompson Street, 917-929-6985).

January 15, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Outside the Lines 2007 Entries

The 2007 entries for Outside the Lines exhibitions have been received and we are currently viewing, choosing and curating art. Artists will be contacted in the next few weeks about the status of their entries.

Thanks for sending your entries! We're looking forward to an exciting new exhibition year!

VSA arts/Williamstown Theatre Festival Apprenticeship

Deadline: February 23, 2007

VSA arts has partnered with the renowned Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts to establish the VSA arts Apprenticeship for students with a disability, ages 19 – 24, who are interested in expanding their theater education and knowledge. The VSA arts Apprenticeship provides a talented student with a unique insight into the world of a professional theater.

“I am living in a theater lover’s utopia and I don’t want this experience to end.”

Christopher Imbrosciano
2006 apprentice

Every summer, the Williamstown Theatre Festival Apprentice Program offers 70 promising students classes in acting, voice, and movement. Discussions and master classes with notable professionals are also a part of the apprentice experience. Apprentices also learn about the different aspects of running a professional theater company by working in each of the various departments at the Festival on a rotating basis. Many former apprentices have gone on to successful careers in the professional theater.

Download APPLICATION here.

Download GUIDELINES here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Positive Vibe Cafe's 2nd Birthday Celebration

Saturday, January 13 Positive Vibe Cafe celebrates their 2nd birthday with live music all day. They welcome the following musicians who are graciously donating their time and talent for a special day to benefit the GLMD Foundation and the cafe's training program for people with disabilities:

1pm Offering
3pm Carol Covell Trio
4pm Marna & Macy
5pm The Taters
6pm Gary Gerloff
7pm Page Wilson
8pm Janet Martin Band

Please call 560.9622 for more information!