Archive for the ‘AF40’ Category

Alexandra Anthony: a Filmmaking Tale Worthy of Myth

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

When she won a state fellowship in 1987, Alexandra Anthony thought her personal documentary Lost in the Bewilderness was nearly complete. But real life doesn’t have a neat ending. Like a journey out of Greek myth, the film project searched for decades before finding its way home.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council is celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships by sharing video interviews with some of the extraordinary artists who have received Artist Fellowships since the program’s inception in 1975.

  • On MCC’s YouTube Channel, experience the stories of some of the amazing artists we’ve funded over the last 40 years.
  • If you’re a past Fellow or Finalist of the program, sign our Alumni Book to get back in touch and share your own story.
  • Contact us if you have ideas for the project.

Video Credits: all film footage courtesy of Alexandra Anthony (Film & Video Fellow ’81, ’87, ’07); title animation by Basia Goszczynska (Film & Video Fellow 2013); intro music by Laura Andel (Music Composition Fellow 1999), “Sao Dao,” music by Laura Andel, BMI ©1997, performed by the Laura Andel Orchestra; montage and closing music by Deborah Henson-Conant (Music Composition Fellow 1984, ’87), “Merceditas” and “996” from “Invention and Alchemy” © 2006, performed/recorded by The Grand Rapids Symphony, David Lockington, Conductor.

Composer Lewis Spratlan: Long Journey of a Dream

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

American composer Lewis Spratlan won an Artist Fellowship the first year the grants were offered, in 1975. He had just begun working on an opera, Life Is a Dream, whose journey spanned five decades, from near-abandonment to the one of the highest honors in American music.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council is celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships by sharing video interviews with some of the extraordinary artists who have received Artist Fellowships since the program’s inception.

  • Visit MCC’s YouTube Channel to find more intriguing stories from past Fellows.
  • If you’re a past Fellow or Finalist of the program, sign our Alumni Book to get back in touch and share your own story.
  • Contact us if you have ideas for the project.
  • Use #YayArtists to follow the project in Twitter.

Video Credits: music by Lewis Spratlan (Music Composition Fellow 1975, ’88), “Hesperus Is Phosphorus” (Innova Recordings 2015), performed by Network for New Music and The Crossing, conducted by Donald Nally, in 2012; video footage of “Hesperus Is Phosphorus by Meg Sarachan; photographs courtesy of Lewis Spratlan, Samuel Masinter/Amherst College, and Santa Fe Opera Theater; title animation by Basia Goszczynska (Film & Video Fellow 2013); intro music by Laura Andel (Music Composition Fellow 1999); “Sao Dao,” music by Laura Andel, BMI ©1997, performed by the Laura Andel Orchestra.

Why Fund Artists?

Friday, August 7th, 2015

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been supporting artists for 40 years through the Artist Fellowships Program. To help illuminate why, the Massachusetts Cultural Council has asked past awardees going all the way back to 1975 to share their personal stories of receiving the state award for artistic excellence.

The following gallery compiles of some of those stories, which tell of much-needed funding to expand projects, encouragement to take artistic chances, and the gift of time and space to grow into new directions. The reminiscences range from the ’70s through to recent years.

Watch for future galleries from the history of the Artist Fellowships Program, and if you’re a past awardee, visit our Alumni Book to tell us your story.

Sculptor Niho Kozuru: Structure & Flow

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships by sharing video interviews with some of the extraordinary artists who have received Artist Fellowships since the program’s inception in 1975.

We were excited to visit with Niho Kozuru (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow ’09) during her solo exhibition at the Hess Gallery at Pine Manor College, in Winter 2015.

Descending from four generations of Japanese ceramicists, Niho Kozuru has an unmistakable connection to wheel-thrown forms. But she’s given the tradition a fascinating turn, creating brilliant cast and layered sculptures that balance structure and flow, control and happenstance.

See her work at the solo show Inter/Dimension at the University of Maine Museum of Art (thru 9/19/15) and the Boston Sculptors Gallery at Chesterwood exhibition (thru 10/12/15).

Participate in 40 Years of Fellowships:

Video Credits: still images by Niho Kozuru, courtesy of the artist and Miller Yezerski Gallery.; title animation by Basia Goszczynska (Film & Video Fellow ’13); music by Laura Andel (Music Composition Fellow ’99), SAO DAO, BMI ©1997, performed/recorded by the Laura Andel Orchestra on March 12th, 1997, Boston, MA. Full credits on the video’s YouTube page.

Choreographers Diane Arvanites and Tommy Neblett: A Prolific Collaboration

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

We’re celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships by sharing video interviews with some of the extraordinary artists who have received Artist Fellowships since the program’s inception in 1975.

Many “perfect match” collaborations have helped Diane Arvanites and Tommy Neblett, aka Prometheus Dance, receive six Artist Fellowships since 1994, making them the most highly awarded artists in MCC’s Artist Fellowships history. We were thrilled to chat with them at The Dance Complex in Cambridge.

Participate in 40 Years of Fellowships:

Video Credits: interview taped at The Dance Complex; photographs and performance footage courtesy of Prometheus Dance; title animation by Basia Goszczynska (Film & Video Fellow ’13); intro music by Laura Andel (Music Composition Fellow ’99); “Sao Dao,” music by Laura Andel, BMI ©1997, performed by the Laura Andel Orchestra; montage and closing music by Shirish Korde (Music Composition Fellow 1979, ’01, ’07, ’11), “Svara-Yantra” Neuma ©2006, Joanna Kurkowicz, violin, Samir Chatterjee, tabla, National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Rubén Silva, conductor.

Melinda Lopez: A Soaring Theatrical Voice

Monday, July 6th, 2015

We’re celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships by sharing video interviews with some of the extraordinary artists who have received Artist Fellowships since the program’s inception in 1975.

For playwright Melinda Lopez (Dramatic Writing Fellow ’03), several opportunities came together in short succession, which opened doors, which led to other opportunities… All the while, her theatrical voice soared higher.

We were thrilled to chat with Melinda in her office at the Huntington Theatre Company, where she is Playwright-in-Residence. Melinda’s new play-in-progress Yerma will have a free public reading on Saturday, July 25, 2015, 3 PM, at the Calderwood Pavilion of the Boston Center for the Arts, as part of the Huntington Theatre Company’s Summer Workshop. RSVP here.

Participate in 40 Years of Fellowships:

Video Credits: interview taped at Huntington Theatre Company; photographs courtesy of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Huntington Theatre Company, Melinda Lopez, and Williamstown Theatre Festival; title animation by Basia Goszczynska (Film & Video Fellow ’13); intro music by Laura Andel (Music Composition Fellow ’99), “Sao Dao,” BMI ©1997, performed by the Laura Andel Orchestra; montage and closing music by Deborah Henson-Conant (Music Composition Fellow ’84, ’87), “Merceditas” and “996” from “Invention and Alchemy” ©2006, performed/recorded by The Grand Rapids Symphony, David Lockington, Conductor.

Fellows Page to Screen

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

The Massachusetts Cultural Council is celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships by delving into the Commonwealth’s history of support for Massachusetts individual artists.

We have awarded many superb literary artists since 1975, and one fun sidenote to this history is the number of past Artist Fellowships awardees who’ve gone on to have novels adapted into films.

Here are the page-to-screen adaptations we know of:

Andre Dubus (Fellow ’76) wrote Finding a Girl in America (1980). One of the stories, “Killings,” is the source material for the 2001 movie In the Bedroom.

Tim O’Brien (’76) wrote the short story “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,” included in his seminal book The Things They Carried (1980). “Sweetheart” was later adapted into the movie A Soldier’s Sweetheart (1998), which starred Kiefer Sutherland.

Rita Mae Brown (’77) is the author of the Mrs. Murphy “cat” mysteries, and she adapted her novel Murder, She Meowed (1996) into the 1998 TV movie Murder She Purred: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery. (Fun fact: Brown has written a number of other screenplays and teleplays, including the script to the 1982 film Slumber Party Massacre. According to IMDB, she wrote the script as a parody, but the producers decided to film it straight-faced!)

Denis Johnson’s (’83) Jesus’ Son (1992) became a movie of the same name in 1999. Johnson himself has a cameo as a man who arrives at an emergency room with a knife in his eye.

Sue Miller’s (’84) novel The Good Mother (1986) was made into a movie in 1988; same goes for Inventing the Abbotts (1987) in 1997.

Stephen Dobyns (’85) wrote the novel Cold Dog Soup (1985), which was adapted to an American film of the same name in 1990 and a 1999 French film called Doggy Bag. Also, his novel Two Deaths of Senora Puccini (1988) spawned the film Two Deaths in 1995.

Tom Perrotta (’98) published Election (1998) while the movie version was being made (it was released in 1999). Little Children (2004) became a movie, too, in 2006.

Michael Downing (Finalist ’08) wrote the book Breakfast with Scot (2000), which was adapted into a 2007 film starring Tom Cavanaugh. Read about this process.

Other Literary Adventures in Film
Mary-Louise Parker is connected to a proposed TV series adaptation of the life and writing of Mary Karr (’87). Rumor has it that Parker, the former Weeds star, would not only executive produce, but actually portray the past Massachusetts Poetry Fellow!

Sabina Murray (’02) wrote the lauded short story collection The Caprices. While her books have yet to be adapted to the screen, film director Terrence Malick commissioned her to write the screenplay for the film Beautiful Country.

Regie Gibson (’10) and his poetry appear in the 1997 movie Love Jones. According to a Taunton Daily Gazette interview, the film was actually loosely based on events from Regie’s life.

Steve Barkhimer (’11), along with being an award-winning playwright, is an accomplished actor who has appeared in feature films such as The Fighter.

Are there other Fellows-to-film stories we’ve missed? Tell us.

Images: Cover art from the original edition of BREAKFAST WITH SCOT (Counterpoint, 2000); cover art from the movie tie-in edition (Counterpoint, 2008).

Photographer Rania Matar: Telling Women’s Stories

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships by sharing video interviews with some of the extraordinary artists who have received Artist Fellowships since the program’s inception in 1975.

We’re thrilled to share our first interview, with Rania Matar (Photography Fellow ’11, ’07).

“Every single person here has a story.” Rania Matar tells women’s stories through exquisitely personal photography, and we were honored to discuss her work and career in the making of this video. Stay tuned for future videos in the 40 Years of Fellowships project.

In the meantime, here’s how you can participate:

Video Credits: all photos by Rania Matar, courtesy of Carroll and Sons Gallery; title animation by Basia Goszczynska (Film & Video Fellow ’13); music by Laura Andel (Music Composition Fellow ’99), Sao Dao, music by Laura Andel, BMI ©1997, performed by the Laura Andel Orchestra. Recorded on March 12th, 1997, Boston, MA. Full credits on the video’s YouTube page.

Celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Film reels from LOST IN THE BEWILDERNESS by Alexandra Anthony (Film & Video Fellow '81, '87, '07)

In 1975, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts awarded its first Artist Fellowships for excellence. This year marks the 40th anniversary of those initial state-funded grants to artists. We at the Massachusetts Cultural Council are pleased to say that the program is still going strong.

Why does that matter? Forty years of public support of artists is worth noting not just because of the impact it has on those artists – more on that in a moment – but because of what it says about the Commonwealth: that we value artists. Not just those social, educational, environmental, or other benefits that might accompany their work (though we do value those things), but also, the artists themselves. Most often, artists work in challenging circumstances. They balance art with day jobs, family, health – with already full, complicated lives. When artists find a way to excellence despite all obstacles, that’s an accomplishment we value.

Janet Echelman (Fellow '99, '09), SHE CHANGES, NET NO. 2 (2008) Polyester fiber, steel, 50x150x150 meters

When a community values artists, what is the impact? We know that, on an individual level, it can be profound. No award can take credit for the success of an artist, of course, but Artist Fellowships can be catalytic. Past Fellows have gone on to win prestigious awards from the Guggenheim, MacArthur, and Pulitzer foundations. They have been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Awards, the Sundance Film Festival, the Whitney Biennial, the Smithsonian Institution, TED, and the Academy Awards. They’ve been U.S. Poet Laureates, they’ve been Oprah’s Book Club Picks, they’ve been on PBS, HBO, in Time Magazine and Off-Broadway, they’ve been in galleries, stages, institutions, and publications throughout the Commonwealth, the U.S., and the world.

We’re taking this opportunity to explore what can happen when a community values artists. In the days and months ahead, we’ll be sharing videos, blog posts, and other stories from these past four decades, as part of the 40 Years of Massachusetts Artist Fellowships project.

Melinda Lopez (Dramatic Writing Fellow '03) meeting with MCC staff in her office at the Huntington Theatre Company

Here’s what you can do:

Images: film reels from LOST IN THE BEWILDERNESS by Alexandra Anthony (Film & Video Fellow ’81, ’87, ’07); Janet Echelman (Fellow ’99, ’09), SHE CHANGES, NET NO. 2 (2008) Polyester fiber, steel, 50x150x150 meters; Melinda Lopez (Dramatic Writing Fellow ’03) meeting with MCC staff in her office at the Huntington Theatre Co.

Fellowships History Project

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Sachiko Akiyama (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow '05, Finalist '15), WHERE DO WE COME FROM? WHO ARE WE? WHERE ARE WE GOING? (2014) wood, metal, paint, resin, 46.5x46x24 in

We at the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) are working on a history project. We want to highlight and celebrate the storied history of Artist Fellowships funding in Massachusetts.

If you are a past awardee of the Artist Fellowships program, please help us illuminate this history by submitting a response to our Artist Fellowships Alumni Book. The Alumni Book is our way of staying connected (or reconnecting, as the case may be), and giving you a chance to tell your story of the award’s impact.

In the weeks and months ahead, we may ask to share your story here on ArtSake as a way of growing support for artists in Massachusetts.

Visit MCC’s Artist Fellowships Alumni Book.

Image: Sachiko Akiyama (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow ’05, Finalist ’15), WHERE DO WE COME FROM? WHO ARE WE? WHERE ARE WE GOING? (2014) wood, metal, paint, resin, 46.5x46x24 in.


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