Monday, September 17, 2012

You gotta see this! "The Man Who Came to Dinner" Roswell

There is one more weekend to catch "The Man Who Came to Dinner," the brilliant, witty play by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman and directed by Robert J. Farley. Farley happens to be the director in residence of the Georgia Ensemble Theatre, a group he has led for the past 20 years to the applause of many.

This production deserves everyone's attention. The skill of Farley's direction is matched only by the talent of the actors, one after the other, who pull you into the wild and wonderful plot. Sheridan Whitehead is the most obnoxious, outrageous guest who takes advantage of anyone and everyone. He's the character you love to hate. No shame!

Years ago, I was cast as the old lady, the ax murderer, when I was in high school. How very strange to be sitting in the audience listening to the lines and going back in time. This play made its debut in 1942 -- even before I was born. No matter, the fun is still fresh and the story as tight and surprising as ever. The beauty of theater is that a new face, a new gesture, a new prop brings with it new life.

Try to get tickets now! Last Friday was pretty much a full house.

Traffik! A Great Theater Experience!

If anything can rock your boat, this has to be it. Yesterday, I caught the matinee at Four Stages Theater and was thoroughly blown away by the characters onstage. Each one shared a seamy, painful, personal story of how they were connected to the sex trade. Taken from real life interviews writer/director/actor Jacquay Waller conducted before putting the production together, there was the searing ring of truth to all of them.

We shared the experience of a high school girl whose stepfather was selling her and her friends at "parties" while her mother was away on business. A pervert talked about how much he "loved" the two little girls he "entertained" with the permission of their mother who collected $50,000. It makes you want to run to the lavatory and wash just to have listened.

Waller stole the show as a pimp who strutted in his fancy suit and talked about how he "loved" his girls but would kill them -- and had done so -- if they didn't bring the "paper."

In the rest room at intermission, a grandmother confessed to me that she is concerned about her granddaughter and the stepfather who is in the household and "doesn't seem right." Right out of the script.

If the performances on stage were awesome, so was audience participation at the end. Characters paraded onto the stage and the audience was invited to question them -- not as actors -- as the characters they played. Hard hitting comments put them on the spot. Why did they do what they did? Great street language on both sides. There was no fooling around or letting anyone off easy..

Traffik will be going on the road. This was its premiere. The website to follow is
There are also videos out there that The Dreamcatcher Collective, Inc. has created in association with Dreamcatcher Productions.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

About getting famous and loving the paparazzi

This is the whole, naked truth. Sort of. Yeah.

It happened a couple of weeks ago. I struck pay dirt! Appen Newspapers called to let me know I had won the jackpot. I had won a 6-month membership to the YMCA. Whoo-hoo! I drove to their office on N. Main Street and thought, while I'm here, I'll ask if a reporter might be interested in my exhibit at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center.

Pay dirt again! A very arts savvy young man appeared -- masters degree in Architectural Art and Art History. We sat down, talked and --- voila! I am so famous in this town I can barely make it through the paparazzi on my lawn. The dogs are barking all the time. It's crazy.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gangster Squad -- One Hell of a Book!

     I just finished reading this tome and hated that there wasn't more!

     By the time I got to the last page, I felt as if secrets that had been kept for decades has been revealed to me personally. If Mickey Cohen came alive again, I'm sure I could recognize him -- and know him for what he was. With all his idiosyncracies, there was humor and absurdity mixed into the brew. The other gangsters were equally three-dimensional and fascinating.
     Paul Lieberman spent 20 years putting this book together. It was a labor of love by a top notch writer/reporter. He went after his story and chased down every living member of the Gangster Squad -- hard-nosed cops who bent every rule to go after the mob. It was a war of wits. They did whatever it took to find out what the gangsters were doing and risked life and limb to stop them.
     Relatives of the gangster squad filled out details of the past that only family would have known. Lieberman didn't let go of his story. He was clearly in love with the people who cared enough to be good cops. With the tenacity of a born reporter, the author sought out every shred of information, every detail anyone alive might have known about the police and the gangsters.
     What gives the book extraordinary color and richness is the tone of it. It is history, but it doesn't read like history. It is a conversation -- a long conversation -- full of juicy details we might have heard if we were standing behind these guys and listening to them plot and plan. Thanks to Paul Lieberman, their stories will not get lost or buried.
      As a post script, I have to add that I wrote for the L.A. Times a long time ago -- before Paul Lieberman joined the staff. I wish I had been around later and had the pleasure of meeting him. He is an example of the first class people that I worked with at the Times. They were the best.

Friday, June 15, 2012

We need to make our welfare system work!

I just posted a message on the Obama/Biden website. They asked for opinions and I tend to have a few of those. Among the many issues that concern me, one of the most glaring is dealing with poverty in our country. It impacts the future of our children and unchecked recidivism in our prisons.

Sooo, this was the message I sent which is not likely to be read. However, some of us never let that deter us:

We need a drastic overhaul of the way welfare is handled in the U.S. It prevents people from working instead of encouraging it. Get a job, even a temporary one, and the family is off the rolls without a safety net. Have a man in the house? That is usually the kiss of death. No welfare. Families split up. There is no incentive to keep a father and mother in the household to raise their children together. Men are diminished in status and responsibility.

As a social worker in South Central L.A. in 1966, I saw this and was disturbed by it then. If anything, with the limits that were installed under Pres. Clinton, the system became even more horrific for those who live at its mercy.

A change in the welfare system could mean a radical, uplifting opportunity for our underclass. Make it a safety net for those who work, not a walk of shame for those who can't make it. If Pres. Obama wants a legacy, this could be it. In addition, of course, to healthcare reform.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Paper Dolls -- Hands that rock the cradle rock when they paint

Jill Kettles put together "Paper Dolls," the art exhibit that is opening at Defoor Centre this Sunday night, 5-7 p.m. "No one is drawing with their blood, no one is slitting their wrists," she promises. "There is a lot of hope, a nice colorful group in a good mood."

Helen Ferguson Crawford leads the pack of emerging women artists selected to star in this summer show. Her sophisticated work teases the eye with abstract landscapes that are built on wide open spaces and lush, gentle colors. Trained as an architect, there is hardly a building in sight. Perhaps that is the ultimate in escape, open fields where it's okay to run and shout. Pinks and peaches feed her palette and warm the soul.

Casey Olsen, a self taught artist who knows her bayous captures the beauty of, again, the wide open spaces. Hers are more conventional, but also inviting to the spirit of adventure. It is hard to resist the sheer beauty of the scenery she has selected. Her presentation makes you want to be there. Olsen has a definite gift for pairing color and composition.

But it's Terri Levine's work that welcomes you into the centre. Her paintings laugh and sing and shout at you. "Jazz Man" plays loud, wonderful music that you can almost hear. 

And her series of small, almost raucous paintings are conversations and events in themselves. These are another example of how less can certainly be more. The lively, active inventions that Levine shares with us could be acquired separately -- but like separating a flock of ducks -- why would anyone want to do that? They are so wonderful together.


An exotic guest, Adriana Antequera is flying in from Venezuela. She and Kittles found each other on the internet. Paintings she has packed in her suitcase -- landscapes from her part of the world will be part of the show.

Kittles shares that she found most of the participating artists online. And, I found her and this interesting show online, too.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Artists leave something behind when they go...

Maurice Sendak left us this week and I listened to him being interviewed on NPR this afternoon. I was spell-bound by his insights and deeply emotional responses to the world around him. Children at a book signing? He stopped signing their books because he realized he was scaring them. They were told not to write in books and they, essentially didn't want him to mess them up. The old man was taking their books away from them. He understood what it was like to be a child long after most of the rest of us detached ourselves from that concept and moved on to the scary world of adulthood.

Sendak had an imagination that connected with kids. He knew how to reach them and I am so very sorry that he is gone. He was only 83! I would have liked to learn that he had lived to at least 100. Think of how many more books we might have had. I could never get enough of his wild imagination.

Another artist -- Thomas Kinkade -- also died this week. Of the two, this turned out to be the more tragic. He was only 54 and it was a combination of alcohol and Valium that destroyed him. I had always assumed that Kinkade was more of a businessman than an artist, that he had designed his work to hit sentimental collectors in the gut and make himself a fortune. Apparently, that was doing him a huge injustice. It has been said that he was deeply hurt by critics remarks about his paintings. Of course, it might not have been so bitter had his business not gone bankrupt -- it would have at least proved that his fans still cared -- that they were still buying his Points of Life.

Sorry, Thomas.  Goodbye Maurice.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Art and Artists on the Cheap

Taking advantage of artists and their passion for what they do is at the level of pitiful. There is a little advertised program run through the U.S. Department of State called Art Embassies. The ambassadors and curators attached to the embassies put up exhibitions and sponsor programs to bring a few artists overseas to meet and greet. Do they pay the artists for their work? No, how could we expect them to do that? The embassies also "borrow" artists' work for -- maybe -- three years at a time. This is the shocker: They don't even pay the artist a rental fee. If it were a sofa instead of an original creation, of course they would have to pay for it. No one expects a sofa for free! Not unless it's being thrown out. Original art, oh, that's different. Sure.

Just a few minutes ago, I saw an email from a local artist. I won't give you her name because...well...this is a small town. She is advertising for interns -- people to work for free. Again, that really irritating word. However, to apply for the non-paying jobs -- get this -- there is a $10 fee! Wow!

I don't even want to get knee-deep into the subject of artists being asked to donate their work to charity auctions. How glamorous to have the artists there in person, too. They are teased with the possibility of getting "known." Been there, done that, won't do it again. Years ago, an art teacher told me to NEVER give away my work for free. Anything given for free is considered of little or no value. True.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel -- give it a bag of stars

It was one of those nights -- other things to do -- but I had a pass to see a screening of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (also known as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful). It is is a 2012 British comedy-drama directed by John Madden and written by Ol Parker. Based on the 2004 novel, These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, the film stars an ensemble cast, consisting of Judi DenchCelia ImrieBill NighyRonald PickupMaggie SmithTom Wilkinson and Penelope Wilton, as a group of British retirees staying in an elderly retirement hotel in India.

What a sweet movie it is. Pardon the syrup, but it was the answer to a day that had its rough edges. I am the biggest fan of Maggie Smith and she didn't disappoint. Neither did Judi Dench. They are the royalty of English actresses and they brought their usual punch and style to the roles they played. 

The plot has -- with no apologies -- multiple deus ex machinas, the convenient rescues in the nick of time -- but it all works and is a total delight. In fact, I want to see the movie again -- perhaps on a DVD -- so I can slow down the dialogue and catch every nuance. 

There is also a great impression of the color and zest for life in India. The ability to survive comes through and inspired. This is definitely a feel-good movie and I highly recommend it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Is elegance enough?

Yesterday our WCAGA book club looked at Ann Truitt's work. So minimal. She said in her writing that she was expressing her emotions. Whew! That had to be her version of what it was like to be emotional. Elegant?
Yes. Definitely elegant in the simplicity of her lines, the avoidance of a curve or a random spot. But emotional? That emotion could be strength, but a canvas with only off-white paint on it, what is that saying? There was a time decades ago when that was original. It makes me wonder whether original is enough. And, yet, I was not in the majority at this gathering. Most of my friends seemed to think that Truitt's work was powerful and did something for them.

Along these lines -- today is supposedly Shakespeare's birthday. It was a shock to hear that major literary figures like Tolstoy had no respect at all for the bard's work. It's hard to imagine anyone dismissing the author who wrote "to be or not to be..." and making small of him. As an English major, I think I need to cover my ears.

As the collectors of "Points of Light" mourn the passing of their famous and extremely wealthy creator, it does give one pause. Does history really sort it out? Maybe, we all agree the ancient cave drawings were brilliant.

The painting below -- an unfinished escape from the tedium of doing what I was supposed to do today. If it says anything, I'm not sure what it is. All I know is that there is joy in the process and it is my ultimate escape. I don't smoke, drink or do drugs...probably need an addiction of this sort.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Alan Avery and the Buckhead Gallery Reflections

Allen Avery's opening last night was, as usual, a very classy event. I like that he has found Harriet Leibowitz -- another woman-- to represent. Her enormous, fabric-wrapped figures are digitally printed on plexiglass. The result is stunning. It made me want to run home and figure out what I had that could print on plexi! The show, however, was really about Pascal Pierme and his remarkable sculptures, most of them puzzles that are cleverly pieced together to hang on a wall. Wandering the gallery, I found some of the most fascinating views through the windows catching the reflections of a unique group of people who come out to a gallery in Buckhead on a Friday night.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wake up, women!

I am living smack in the middle of a state where women are being denigrated in the Capitol by any number of legislators who would take away our rights. It fills me with a disgust that I cannot even express. Where are the women with backbone who will fight back and take away the offices of these men who do not deserve to be in any position of power anywhere. It is time for women to realize that they have a majority and that they don't have to be humiliated and controlled as if we were, yes, slaves. The slave mentality has not left the South. It has just shifted to women. Bravo, huh? We need to be angry, we need to get involved. This is not just about us. It is about our daughters, our granddaughters and the future. Where is your anger?