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A Season to Savor

Staff Report • Sep 11, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Politics has once again made “change” a buzzword, or at

least a topic for conversation, in America. “Change” and

“variety” are bywords at Mary B. Martin School of the Arts,

which celebrates its fourth season with a fresh slate of events and

artists, but one thing simply will not change: the quality, said

director Anita DeAngelis.

“It’s always exciting to build a new season and experience

high quality artists, and bringing them here to Johnson City is

thrilling,” said DeAngelis, who in 2009 put together the first

visual and performing arts season for Mary B. Martin School of

the Arts at East Tennessee State University.

“We really want to make very high caliber art available and

accessible across our community to different socioeconomic

groups, different cultural groups, different parts of the community

that may not have experienced any arts activities previously. So

all of that is very important to us.”

The fall schedule includes a potpourri of arts, including

contemporary and cultural visual art, dance spanning ballet to

hip-hop, country and folk music, as well as a rousing

turn-of-the-century community band program, a storytelling

series and lectures by artists and critics.

“We’re bringing some artists who are really well-known

regionally and address regional concerns and artists that will

expose us to other cultures and ideas,” DeAngelis said.

New to Mary B. Martin School for 2012-13 is a

multicultural storytelling series titled “When Worlds Collide” that

will feature on Oct. 11 Noa Baum and her “A Land Twice

Promised” tales of her homeland and the Israeli-Palestinian

conflict. Tellers Jay O’Callahan and Diane Edgecomb will

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complete the series in spring.

Bringing regional and arts concerns to the fore, as well as

her signature country/traditional melodies is Grammy Award

winner Kathy Mattea, who will be in concert at Martha Street

Culp Auditorium Nov. 11.

“She is so significant in the country music/bluegrass genres

of music but she is also a huge advocate for Appalachia, for issues

relating to coal mining and a huge supporter of the arts in our

everyday lives,” DeAngelis said. “As a result, she will also be the

keynote speaker at the Artists-in-Education Conference while she

is here. It’s so remarkable to have this opportunity in Johnson

City and at ETSU.”

In a different musical vein and era will be Mr. Jack Daniel’s

Original Silver Cornet Band — straight from Lynchburg, Tenn.

— tooting its horns Nov. 1 at Culp Auditorium.

“We have actually wanted to bring them to ETSU since the

very beginning of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts and they

were not touring for a while,” DeAngelis said. “Their music

reflects back on a time when community bands were really

important. There were literally thousands of community bands

across the United States in small towns in the late-19th-,

early-20th-centuries and you don’t see that anymore, but the

Silver Cornet Band gives us an opportunity to understand what

that hometown feel was about.

“They perform on period instruments, in period costume

and bring a gazebo with them. They have a whole show built

around that tradition, and it’s a tremendous amount of fun and

wonderful period music.”

The first ticketed event of the fall, on Sept. 20, will feature

the much more modern sounds of Afro-jazz and funk fusion as

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accompaniment for the hip-hop gyrations of Philadanco!, the

Philadelphia Dance Company.

The group, celebrated for its athleticism, innovation and

preservation of African-American traditions in dance, will be

performing choreography by Pew Fellow in the Arts Rennie

Harris, commissioned and funded by the National Dance Project,

as well as a diverse program that crosses genres from ballet to

modern dance.

Cultures and styles also will coalesce in two visual art

exhibitions at ETSU’s Slocumb Galleries and lectures

co-sponsored by Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, Slocumb

Galleries and ETSU’s Department of Art and Design. The school

of the arts’ season opened Aug. 20 and runs through Sept. 14 with

a show titled “Day on Fire: Apocalypse in Contemporary Art”

and a Sept. 11 lecture by fantastical painter Christopher Mir.

»» “I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough entries and

there were 147 artists and 483 entries from as far away as

Germany and Canada,” said Karlota Contreras-Koterbay,

gallery director. “That was really amazing. That was the most

entries for a juried show in years, record breaking, and it was

really a very wide range of submissions — printmaking, painting,

sculpture, photography, video art, some graphic design, poster


For most of October, Slocumb Galleries will house a

collection of 40 colorful ceremonial Mexican masks called Masks

of the Michoacán. On Oct. 22, Dr. Marion Oettinger, curator of

Latin American art from the San Antonio Museum of Art, will

present a lecture that will, DeAngelis said, “put the work we will

have in the gallery space into context.”

»» In two lectures, on Sept. 26 and 27, writer and art and

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music critic Crispin Sartwell will turn the topic to not only visual

art, but also bluegrass.

Finally, Mary B. Martin School will be bringing back one

special program from previous seasons — due to popular demand

— the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent

Filmmakers, which each year features independent films in groups

of six that tour the South along with their filmmakers and,

sometimes, actors. “We’re bringing back Southern Circuit Tour,

and while we are not new to the tour, every one of the films is

new to us,” DeAngelis said.

The fall portion of the series begins on Sept. 24 with the film

“Joe Papp in Five Acts,” featuring Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep,

Roscoe Lee Browne and a host of stage and screen stars, who

recall producer Joseph Papp’s impact on making theater and the

arts in New York more diverse and accessible to all.

On Oct. 8, Mary B. Martin School of the Arts will screen

“An Encounter with Simone Weil,” a documentary on the French

philosopher and humanitarian, and on Nov. 5, the film subject

will be a humorous-but-serious ecological look at plastics and the

environment with “Bag It.” Each South Arts film is followed by a

question-and-answer session with someone involved with the film

and a reception in the Culp Alumni Gallery. All films and lectures

are free and open to the public.

“I have friends who say, ‘Isn’t it great to get to meet these

talented performers and artists?’ and it is fun to get to meet them,

but it is also pretty remarkable when I see other individuals from

our community interacting with these artists, whether it be our

students when we do an outreach activity or from a community

organization,” DeAngelis said. “I’m really glad I’m in a position

where I can help share these individuals and events with our


For information about the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of

the Arts, call 439-8587 or visit www.etsu.edu/cas/arts/ or