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High Museum announces major Nellie Mae Rowe Exhibition

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\Nellie Mae Rowe (American, 1900 - 1982), Happy Days , 1981, crayon and pencil on paper, 18 x 24 inches, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, T. Marshall Hahn Collection, 1997.105. © Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

For the last 15 years of her life, self-taught artist Nellie Mae Rowe (1900-1982) lived on a busy thoroughfare just outside of Atlanta and welcomed visitors to her “Playhouse,” which she decorated with found-object installations, handmade dolls, chewing-gum sculptures and hundreds of drawings.

This fall, the High Museum of Art will present “Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe” (Sept. 3, 2021-Jan. 9, 2022), featuring nearly 60 works drawn from the Museum’s leading collection of her art. The exhibition is the first major presentation of her work in more than 20 years and the first to consider her practice as a radical act of self-expression and liberation in the post-civil rights-era South. “Really Free” marks the Museum’s first partnership with the Art Bridges Foundation, an organization dedicated to expanding access to American art, which will allow the exhibition to travel nationally into 2023.

“The High was among the first American museums to establish a department dedicated to self-taught art, and today we hold the foremost collection of work by artists without formal training from the American South, including Nellie Mae Rowe,” said Rand Suffolk, the High’s Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director. “We are incredibly proud of this distinction and honored to celebrate Rowe’s life and work through this exhibition. Her art has been a fixture in our collection galleries for decades, and this exhibition allows a much-needed deeper look into her bold artistic production.”

Katherine Jentleson, the High’s Merrie and Dan Boone curator of folk and self-taught art, added, “The exuberant color and imaginative design that characterize so many of Rowe’s drawings—which comprise most of her surviving work—is so aesthetically pleasing that her work is often taken at face value. This show will really explore her drawing practice, tracing its emergence and relationship to the installations of her Playhouse, as well considering the artistic path she blazed for herself as a radical act undertaken at a time when Black, women and self-taught artists struggled for respect and visibility.”

Rowe began making art as a child in rural Fayetteville, Georgia, but only found the time and space to reclaim her artistic practice in the late 1960s, following the deaths of her second husband and members of the family for whom she worked. Although she did not speak much about politics or social movements, she purposefully embraced her creativity and devoted her life to making art during a time when civil rights leaders and Black feminist politicians and artists were igniting great change across the country. 

As she filled it with drawings and sculptures, Rowe’s Playhouse became an Atlanta attraction, which fostered her growing reputation and public reception. She began to exhibit her art outside of her home, beginning with “Missing Pieces: Georgia Folk Art, 1770-1976,” a bicentennial exhibition that brought attention to several Southern self-taught artists, including Rowe and Howard Finster, and traveled to venues across Georgia. In 1982, the year she died, Rowe’s work received a new level of acclaim, as she was honored in a solo exhibition at Spelman College and included as one of three women artists in the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s landmark exhibition “Black Folk Art in America: 1930-1980.” 

Nellie Mae Rowe (American, 1900 -1982), When I Was a Little Girl, 1978, crayon, marker, colored pencil, and pencil on paper, 19 x 24 inches, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with Folk Art Acquisition Fund, 2002.73. © 2021 Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The High began collecting her drawings in 1980. Between 1998 and 2003, major gifts totaling more than 130 works from trailblazing Atlanta art dealer Judith Alexander, a friend and ardent supporter of Rowe, solidified the High’s holdings as the largest public repository of Rowe’s art. Recently, the Museum announced another major gift of 17 drawings by Rowe from Atlantans Harvie and Charles Abney. Selections from this gift, as well as recent gifts and pledges of Rowe’s drawings and photographs of the artist and her Playhouse taken by Lucinda Bunnen and Melinda Blauvelt, will be presented as part of the exhibition. 

“Really Free” will feature the colorful, and at times simple, sketches Rowe made on found materials in the 1960s and reveal their relationship to her most celebrated, highly complex compositions on paper of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Other sections of the exhibition will explore themes in Rowe’s work such as depictions of women, her childhood, images of her garden, and her experimentation with materials, including recycling cast-offs to make handmade dolls and chewing-gum sculptures. The final galleries will focus on her career breakthrough and ruminations on death and the afterlife. 

In addition to works on paper and sculptures, the exhibition will feature photographs as well as components and footage from the experimental film on Rowe’s life to be released by Opendox in 2022, “The World is Not My Own,” which includes an artful reconstruction of her Playhouse. Through these elements, visitors can experience the lively art environment she created in and outside of her home. 

“Really Free” will be presented in the lower level of the High’s Wieland Pavilion. 

Exhibition Publication
“Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe” is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue co-published by the High and DelMonico Books that reproduces the High’s vast Rowe collection and features a lead essay by Jentleson with contributions from documentary producer Ruchi Mital, scholar Destinee Filmore and award-winning artist Vanessa German. The High also will publish a suite of online content, including author videos, a virtual tour and additional interpretive material, as part of a new library of collection-focused digital resources that launches with “Really Free.” 

Source: High Museum of Art Atlanta Press Release

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Titanic: An Immersive Voyage To Set Sail On 30-market World Tour

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Images courtesy of Titanic: An Immersive Voyage

Exhibition Hub in partnership with Fever and a collaborative of Titanic collectors announced today the launch of its latest exhibition Titanic: An Immersive Voyage.

The companies also announced that Milan, Italy and Atlanta, Georgia have been selected as the initial host cities for the next generation experience. Titanic: An Immersive Voyage is scheduled to open in Atlanta on Friday, July 19.

Titanic: An Immersive Voyage will feature more than 300 artifacts from Titanic and its sister vessels the Olympic and the Britannic, as well as objects from Carpathia and Californian, two additional ships key to Titanic’s story.

Items to be showcased in the experience were curated from multiple collections including treasures from Kevin Saucier, the owner of one of the largest private collections of Titanic memorabilia in the world. Priceless artifacts from the collection of Spencer Knarr will also be featured in the all-new Titanic experience. Mr. Knarr started his collection at the age of 12.

“Titanic is the most enchanting ship of all time and is revered by many as an iconic gem,” said John Zaller, Executive Producer at Exhibition Hub. “We’re delighted to tell this immortal story in our signature humanistic and immersive style, and to share it with guests around the world. We could not be more appreciative of the collectors who have joined us on this journey.” 

Titanic: An Immersive Voyage represents an entirely new approach to the story of the world’s most famous ocean liner. The experience features more than 300 artifacts, and dramatic room re-creations from the ship, along with advanced theatrical techniques and breathtaking technological overlays that place guests inside the story of the celebrated Titanic.

“Titanic: An Immersive Voyage engages the Titanic story like never before,” said Zaller. “Our expertise in exhibition design and immersive storytelling creates an unforgettable emotional connection to Titanic.”

“The mold for a Titanic exhibition was in need of a refresh,” said Mr. Knarr. “And, Exhibition Hub, with its success in creating immersive experiences, was just the company to do it. I’m really excited to have been invited to participate.”

Knarr’s fellow collector echoed those sentiments.

“One meeting with John Zaller and Exhibition Hub was a lock,” said. Mr. Saucier. “It’s a great way to break away from the traditional exhibit case and create a worldwide touring show. There are collectors who keep their treasures hidden and there are those of us that want to share with the world.”

Titanic: An Immersive Voyage uses cutting-edge storytelling technology to create a powerful emotional connection between visitors and those 2,200 souls onboard. The experience also features hands-on activities, in-depth learning opportunities, projection mapping, a detailed audio tour, educational materials, a special selfie zone, a unique green-screen photo opportunity and an expansive retail store with items from Titanic and her sister ships for sale.

More Information – The waitlist for tickets is now open and tickets will officially go on sale on June 17.  Visit expo-titanic.com/atlanta to join the list.

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Sneak Peek at The Westin at The Gas South District

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The 348-room, 11-story hotel opens March 21

The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is eagerly counting down to its grand opening this week on March 21st, marking a significant milestone as the hotel prepares to redefine hospitality in Gwinnett County. Located in the dynamic Gas South District, this cutting-edge 11-story hotel features 348 rooms and over 27,000 square feet of flexible event space across 14 rooms. As part of Concord Hospitality’s portfolio, the establishment is poised to become a game-changer in the area, offering unparalleled service and amenities.

General Manager Mark Castriota, with Russell Stewart, Sales and Marketing

Under the leadership of General Manager Mark Castriota, with Russell Stewart steering the Sales and Marketing efforts, the hotel is set for a successful launch. General Manager Mark Castriota expressed excitement about the imminent opening. He lauded the dedication and hard work that has paved the way for this moment. Castriota emphasized the hotel’s commitment to providing unmatched hospitality experiences in Gwinnett County. The Westin aspires to fill the hotel with skilled individuals who deliver The Westin’s signature quality service to all guests.

The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is more than just a place to stay; it’s a retreat for wellness and relaxation. The property boasts signature wellness initiatives, sleep-enhancing features, and breathtaking floor-to-ceiling windows. Modern conveniences are standard in every room and suite, including high-speed Wi-Fi, 55-inch smart TVs, ergonomic workstations, and mini-fridges.

One of the hotel’s highlights is its rooftop bar, Overstory, which offers stunning 360-degree views of North Georgia. Here, guests can enjoy locally brewed beer, a nod to the hotel’s commitment to supporting local businesses. Additionally, the hotel will feature SweetSong Kitchen & Bar, a full-service restaurant that emphasizes locally sourced and sustainable ingredients.

A unique architectural feature of The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is its 25 preset lighting configurations. It can be adjusted to reflect various events and holidays, adding a vibrant and dynamic touch to the hotel’s facade. This, along with amenities like a full-service Starbucks, an indoor pool, and the Westin WORKOUT Fitness Studios, ensures guests have everything they need for a rejuvenating stay.

The Westin Atlanta Gwinnett is set to become a cornerstone of luxury and wellness in Gwinnett County, inviting visitors to experience a new level of hospitality.

A more in-depth feature will appear in Southwest Gwinnett magazine May/June issue.

Photos by Bruce Johnson

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Broadway Director Joins Production of Beauty and the Beast in Sandy Springs

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City Springs Theatre Company brings the legendary Broadway musical, Beauty and the Beast to Sandy Springs from March 8 to 24.
Exterior of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center

City Springs Theatre Company (CSTC) brings the legendary Broadway musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast to metro Atlanta with performances from March 8 through 24.

“City Springs Theatre Company is exceptionally proud to bring this modern classic to Atlanta audiences this spring,” said Tony Award-winner and Atlanta native Shuler Hensley, who serves as CSTC’s artistic director.

“For three decades now this ‘tale as old as time’ has been delighting audiences of all ages, across the globe. With its colorful characters, dazzling musical numbers (“Be Our Guest”, “Gaston”) and the Oscar-winning title song, Beauty and the Beast promises to be family theatre at its finest,” added Hensley.

Directing and choreographing City Springs Theatre Company’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is renowned Tony Award-recipient Baayork Lee, who has performed in some of Broadway’s biggest musicals.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will be performed in the Byers Theatre at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, located at 1 Galambos Way in Sandy Springs.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the most family-friendly show we’ve ever produced, and it’s the perfect outing for groups of any kind looking for a truly memorable theatrical experience,” noted CSTC Executive Director Natalie DeLancey.

Disney’s take on the classic story tells of Belle, an idealistic young woman trapped in a provincial town, and The Beast, who is himself a prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress.

If The Beast can learn to love (and be loved), the curse will end, and he will be transformed back into his former princely self. But time is running out. If The Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast features a book by Linda Woolverton (author of the original animated film’s screenplay), with music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

Performance schedule

Friday, March 8 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 10 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 14 at 8:00 p.m.

Friday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 16 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 17 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 21 at 8:00 p.m.

Friday, March 22 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 24 at 2:00 p.m.

Cast

Belle – Diane Phelan (Broadway: School of Rock, The King And I, Into The Woods)

The Beast – Christian Magby (TV: “The Flash”)

Mrs. Potts – Candice Song Donehoo (Broadway: The King And I, National Tour: Jekyll and Hyde)

Gaston – Stanley Allyn Owen (National Tour: CATS)

Lumiere – Nick Walker Jones

Cogsworth – Luke Grooms

LeFou – DJ Plunkett (National Tour: Wicked)

Maurice – Russ Williamson

Babette – Maggie McCown

Madame de la Grande Bouche – Grace Choi

Chip – Cece Fields and Michael Wood

Silly Girls – Grace Arnold, Hannah Morrison, Emma X. O’Loughlin

The Ensemble: Ian Blanco, Emmanuel Cologne, Sammy Fossum, David Grindrod, Imani Joseph, Ben Ohnemus, Meaghan Paetkau, Javar La’Trail Parker, Ryley Perry, Zac Pritts, Caitlyn Savage, Wendell Scott, Amanda Fallon Smith

Creative and production teams

Director/Choreographer – Baayork Lee

Associate Choreographer – David Grindrod

Music Director – Griffin Strout

Conductor – Greg Matteson

Lighting Designer – Mike Wood

Sound Designer – Anthony Narcisso

Scenic Designer – Kelly Tighe

Costume Designer – Ryan Moller

Production Stage Manager – Shay Holihan

The production will also feature students from City Springs Theatre Company’s acclaimed pre- professional program, who will appear as additional ensemble members in the show.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is included in current subscriber season packages. Individual tickets (from $38 to $98) are on sale now, with discounts for seniors, students, groups and active and retired military personnel.

Visit www.CitySpringsTheatre.com or call 404-477-4365 for more information. Discounts for groups of 10 or more are available by calling the box office at 404-477-4365. Gift cards are also available by calling the box office. CSTC’s Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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