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Mary B. Martin School of the Arts has full lineup this year

Rex Barber • Jan 4, 2013 at 9:26 PM

The fourth season for the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts will continue to bring unique artists of all kinds to Johnson City.

Anita DeAngelis, director for East Tennessee State University’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, said the school has seen success by showcasing artists like Spyro Gyra, the Juilliard String Quartet, the Miami String Quartet, Emmy award-winning actors like Anthony Zerbe, Grammy winner Kathy Mattea and icons like the late Doc Watson.

“We’re growing all the time,” DeAngelis said. “There’s much more awareness in the community, I think. Our attendance numbers are increasing all the time.”

Local philanthropist James C. Martin has given $5 million to the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts.

Martin established the school by gifting a $1 million endowment in the name of his late wife in January 2009. The school brings all the arts at ETSU under one umbrella and allows for various artists to visit ETSU.

This year there are several intriguing artists coming to campus, DeAngelis said.

She just arranged Thursday morning for Frank Vignola, a notable guitarist who worked with the likes of Ringo Starr and Madonna, to visit ETSU sometime this coming semester.

Violinist Brian Lewis will perform with pianist and ETSU faculty member Chih-long Hu Feb. 14; Diane Edgecomb, an award-winning storyteller, will appear Feb. 28 and tell of her travels to remote places around the world and the stories she has heard; and in April, Jerry Saltz, an art critic and columnist for New Yorker Magazine will speak. The school also will host the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers that will include the films “Eating Alabama,” a documentary story about how food has changed over the years and “Follow the Leader,” a coming-of-age story about three 16-year-olds who develop differing political views.

Also scheduled for this spring is a symposium and public panel discussion for the visual arts.

Nearly everything the school brings to ETSU is open to the public.

“Without the kind of funding we have because of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, there’s no way ETSU would be able to have these kinds of activities,” DeAngelis said.

She said having these performances helps bring a bit of New York or Los Angeles to the Tri-Cities. She said art helps understanding on different levels.

“I think that the arts bring us a lot of value in terms of entertainment and just joy as well,” DeAngelis said. “So I think those things, we miss that in our culture just a little bit today. But I also think that the arts teach us about many different lessons. We’ve had artists come in here who have told us stories about experiences living through the 1967 war in Jerusalem, you know, things that the students probably don’t have much comprehension of. But when you actually get to talk to somebody who was there and now doing artwork about their experiences or interpreting things in a little bit different way, I think we get a much better idea of the world around us.”

For information on the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts and its spring events, call 439-8587 or visit www.etsu.edu/cas/arts.

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