James Baldwin's Enduring Brilliance

4.22.2014

By Alex Panisch

A festival celebrates the man of many talents.

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VISUAL ART INSTALLATIONS 

HANK WILLIS THOMAS (Video installation) 
This innovative video installation, A person is more important than anything else…, will be driven by the cadence and intonation of James Baldwin’s voice, for Baldwin was also an orator whose delivery was almost as forceful as his ideas. Artist Hank Willis Thomas will weave audio, images, and video together in a fluid-moving, digital stream of consciousness that connects Baldwin’s 20th century discourse with the concerns and urgencies of the 21st. In recent years Thomas’s career has been surging throughout the world; in New York City he is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery.

Dates:  Ongoing throughout the festival
Times:  Ongoing throughout the festival
Tickets: FREE


WALL MURAL OF NEW YORKER  “LETTER FROM A REGION OF MY MIND” 
The November 1962 issue of The New Yorker magazine (in which the piece Letter From a Region of My Mind first appeared later to become the basis forBaldwin’s great book The Fire Next Time) will be reproduced as a mural by visual artist Samantha Holmes: the text, often a single streaming column, is flanked on all sides by advertisements incongruously hawking all manner of luxury goods.

Dates: Ongoing throughout the festival
Tickets: FREE

READINGS, LECTURES, PANELS & CONVERSATIONS

“JIMMY AT HIGH NOON” (A Series of Five Daily Readings)
Presented in partnership with Columbia University School of the Arts, this noon-time series features poets, actors, musicians, essayists and scholars reading from a range of James Baldwin’s classics, as well as discussing his impact on their lives and thinking. Speakers include poet Nikky Finney; writer Darryl Pinckney; actors Jesse L. Martin and André De Shields; musician Vijay Iyer; and playwright Marcus Gardley, among others to be announced at a later date. “Jimmy at High Noon” will be overseen by director Patricia McGregor, with dramaturgy by Columbia faculty member and Baldwin scholar Rich Blint

Dates: Every day, April 23-27
Time: Noon
Tickets: FREE
Location: New York Live Arts Studios


BALDWIN’S CAPACIOUS IMAGINATION & INFLUENCE
Roberta Uno, former artistic director of New WORLD Theater which staged a ground-breaking Baldwin production, in conversation with playwright  John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation and A Free Man of Color), moderated by Live Ideas curator Lawrence Weschler

Date: Wednesday, April 23
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15
Location: New York Live Arts Studios


OPENING KEYNOTE CONVERSATION
Featuring Bill T. Jones, renowned choreographer and Executive Artistic Director of New York Live Arts in a conversation moderated by James BaldwinThisTime! co-curator Lawrence Weschler with visual artist and MacArthur Fellow, Carrie Mae Weems and celebrated novelist and essayist, Jamaica Kincaid(Autobiography of My MotherLucyA Small Place). Approaching Baldwin from a range of disciplines, these highly accomplished cultural figures shareBaldwin’s commitment to the necessary excavation of the dense, complex and contradictory history of the nation. From the stunning visual imagery of Weems, to the startlingly honest and demanding prose of Kincaid, this conversation reaches across genres to address issues of importance to Baldwin, but crucial for our own transformation--this time!

Date: Wednesday, April 23
Time: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $60
Location: New York Live Arts Theater


BALDWIN & DELANEY
Rachel Cohen, whose critically acclaimed A Chance Meeting braids a sequence of seminal encounters across American cultural history, includingBaldwin’s with both Richard Avedon and Norman Mailer, will read from a third chapter, focusing on the young writer’s life-transforming encounter with the sublime painter Beauford Delaney, at the latter’s Greenwich Village apartment. Following her reading, Cohen will engage Diedra Harris-Kelley, Co-Director of the Romare Bearden Foundation and Baldwin and Delaney biographer David Leeming, in a conversation about Delaney’s enduring importance in Baldwin’s life.  Two original Delaney paintings will be on view during the program courtesy of Jim Levis Fine Art.

Date: April 24
Time: 2 p.m.
Tickets: $10
Location: New York Live Arts Theater


JAMES BALDWIN THIS TIME 
Newly appointed Counsel to Mayor DeBlasio, Maya Wiley moderates a conversation on what Baldwin might have made of everything from the burgeoning prison-industrial complex and the recent gutting of the Voter Rights Bill through the Barack Obama presidency. Distinguished panelists include Lawrence WeschlerThe Grio’s Managing Editor Joy-Ann Reid, Civil Rights Activist Five Mualimm-ak, and Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams

Date: April 24
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15
Location: New York Live Arts Studios

 

AFTER GIOVANNI’S ROOMBALDWIN and QUEER FUTURITY 
This multi-disciplinary conversation examines James Baldwin’s mid-twentieth century novel as an opportunity to consider the possibilities for a liberating “queer” future on the horizon, but not yet in sight. The importance of Giovanni’s Room does not simply stem from its status as Baldwin’s sole novel on homosexuality but, also its subterranean yet searing indictment of the dangers of an enduring American innocence. The program will feature a rare original recording of James Baldwin reading an excerpt from Giovanni’s Room (1956). Taking its cue from the late thinker and theorist José Esteban Muñoz, this panel seeks to envision “the then and there” of a not-yet-realized progressive future as one way to negotiate the often devastating realities of the “here and now.” Panelists include Kyle AbrahamRich BlintMatthew BrimLaura Flanders and Bill T. Jones.

Date: April 25
Time: 2 p.m.
Tickets: $10
Location: New York Live Arts Theater


BALDWIN’S NEW YORK 
Author, educator and niece of James BaldwinAisha Karefa-Smart discusses her Uncle Jimmy’s New York roots in conversation with Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem; Patricia Cruz ,Executive Director of Harlem Stage; author, editor and curator Steven G. Fullwood; and authors Michele Wallace (Black Macho and The Myth of The Superwoman) and Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (Harlem is Nowhere). 

Date: April 25

Time: 5:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15
Location: New York Live Arts Studios


JIMMY’S BLUES: DISCUSSING THE POETRY OF JAMES BALDWIN
Co-presented with The Poetry Society of America, this poetry event will feature conversations about and readings from Jimmy’s Blues by renowned American poets Nikky FinneyEdward HirschYusef KomunyakaaEd PavlićMeghan O’Rourke and Nathalie Handal

 

Date: April 26

Time: 5:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15
Location: New York Live Arts Studios


A CONCLUDING CONVERSATION: LEBOWITZ & TÓIBÍN
Writer, sardonic provocateur and New Jersey émigré Fran Lebowitz (Metropolitan Life, Social Studies, etc.) and award-winning Irish novelist and essayist, Columbia Professor Colm Tóibín (The MasterThe Testament of MaryNew Ways to Kill Your Mother, among many others) discuss Baldwin’s legacy and his remarkable and enduring impact on their own lives and vantages, with a special introduction by Bill T. Jones.

Date:  April 27

Time: 6 p.m.
Tickets: $15, $40
Location: New York Live Arts Theater

 

 

DANCE & THEATER EVENTS 

“NOTHING PERSONAL”
Not the least improbable aspect of Baldwin’s life was the fact that he and the photographer Richard Avedon attended high school together at Dewitt Clinton in the Bronx (class of 1942), and were members of the editorial board of the school’s literary magazine, The Magpie. A bit over twenty years later, the two joined forces once again in an exceptionally powerful melding of images and text, the 1964 volume Nothing Personal. Now, in a world premiere production, director Patricia McGregor, working with actor Colman Domingo (Passing Strange and Lee Daniel’s The Butler) and renowned American visual artist Sanford Biggers on scenic décor and design, brings the Baldwin/Avedon collaboration to life in a wrenchingly original stage adaptation.

Date: April 23 at 5 p.m.; April 24 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15, $40
Location: New York Live Arts Theater

CARL HANCOCK RUX: STRANGER ON EARTH
A preview of a new work, Stranger on Earth imagines a chance meeting between writer James Baldwin and singer Dinah Washington at a Harlem jazz club in 1963. Drawing from Baldwin’s essays including Notes of a Native SonNobody Knows My Name and The Fire Next Time -- combined with Rux’s original dialogue and performed by Rux and Marcelle Davies-Lashley -- the work addresses issues regarding race, identity, music and the future of a world both artists are struggling to understand. This showing will include a talk back with the artists. (Stranger on Earth will premiere in February 2015 at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse.)

Date: April 26

Time: 2 p.m.
Tickets: $15, $35
Location: New York Live Arts Theater

 

 

STEW ON ‘NATIVE SONG’
In a dynamic and intimate evening, Tony Award (Passing Strange) and Obie Award winning artist Stew will share his creative process and his lifelong journey into the world of Baldwin for his new work Notes of a Native SongThis insightful evening will engage audiences through fragments of work in progress: songs, poems, sermons and projections, using the work of James Baldwin and the locale of Harlem as filters through which to view the role of black artists in America, as well as springboards from which to leap into future questions of black art. Notes of a Native Song investigates, at times interrogates, the relationship between art and the black community, and asks what exactly a black American artist owes to this notion of community. (Notes of a Native Song will premiere in June 2015 at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse.)

Date: April 25

Time: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15, $35
Location: New York Live Arts Theater


BALDWIN THROUGH DANCE:  Charles O. Anderson and Dianne McIntyre 
New York Live Arts presents the New York City Premiere of Charles O. Anderson’s Restless Natives. Infused with a stunning sound score and original texts by poet Ursula Rucker, this work has been inspired by James Baldwin’s seminal work Another CountrySet in a fictional speakeasy called “Home,” the piece is a physical manifestation of a kinetic story about emotional and spiritual longing, saturated with rhythm and blues. 

Dianne McIntyre’s new work, Time is Time, commissioned for the Live Ideas Festival, James BaldwinThis Time! explores the emotional soul ofBaldwin’s poem “Song (for Skip).” With the foundation of Baldwin’s language, and “Time is Time,” a recurring theme in the poem, choreographer McIntyre weaves a tapestry of dance, song, instrumental sounds and contemplation. Ms. McIntyre will be performing in this celebratory offering joined by four fellow artists including a live score composed by legendary pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs. The movement, vocals and music will be propelled by Mr. Baldwin’s words - which are at times like a whip, at times like a lullaby - never holding back the “truth” of the times.

Apr 26 Stay Late Discussion: Translating James Baldwin into DanceCharles O. Anderson and Dianne McIntyre in conversation with scholarNadine George-Graves, President of the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD), and Professor of Theater and Dance at the University of California, San Diego.

Apr 27 Stay Late Discussion: Reflections on the Baldwin Era of Jazz and Dance, Charles  O. Anderson and Diane McIntyre in conversation with scholar Brenda Dixon-Gottschild, Professor Emeritus, Temple University.  
 

 

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