Author: Kevin Lee

‘Posing Beauty’ stirs internal journey

Questions of power and resolution will resound through the Mobile Museum of Art (4850 Museum Drive) through Jan. 21. They stem from the “Posing Beauty in African-American Culture” exhibit, and their answers dwell in the observant. Initially curated by Deborah Willis, Ph.D., chair of the New York University Department of Photography, the shots cover more than a century of the black American experience. Their specific analysis? Aesthetics and its place in cultures large and subsumed. Maybe no American city is more appropriate for this exhibit than the one that received the last shipment of African-born slaves smuggled into the...

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Scandalous opera at Temple

Mozart was never one to skirt the daring. So a tale of buddies coaxed into a wager they can woo each other’s fiancees certainly tickled his fancy and the result was another of his operatic masterpieces. “Così fan tutte” (“Thus do they all”) is more than just an illustration of the tenuous human heart, but its acceptance of swapping lovers gave it a risqué and scandalous reputation in the Victorian era. It was too often “adapted” for the sensibilities of the times. Modernity has brought it back to its Viennese form, and Mobile Opera brings it to Azalea City...

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Cultural nexus on the verge of new life

Now I know at least one person reads this column. Good thing that reader has foresight and capital. In mid-August, Artifice discussed a unique cultural nexus of art and history in downtown Mobile: Gulf City Lodge at the corner of State and Warren streets. A building that began as another post-Reconstruction, two-story abode became a brothel for decades, until the city finally outlawed its red-light district in 1918. It was repurposed and expanded when the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World bought it in the early 1920s. Under their guidance, it was the parade-day hub for...

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Beautiful questions at MMoA

Cultural pressures on standards of beauty fluctuate from era to era, group to group. In the United States, they vary among ethnicities as well. With “Posing Beauty in African-American Culture,” historian Deborah Willis, Ph.D., explores those definitions through photography, film, video, fashion, advertising and pop culture. The exhibit spans the 19th century to the advent of the internet. Subjects range from Huey P. Newton to Lil’ Kim, Fannie Lou Hamer to Grace Jones. Artists in the exhibition include Anthony Barboza, Sheila Pree Bright, Renee Cox, Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, Charles “Teenie” Harris, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Gordon Parks, Mickalene Thomas and...

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Ballet lawsuit fallout still echoes

When lawsuits against individual board members and the development director of Mobile Ballet were dismissed by Mobile County Circuit Judge Jay York in an order signed Sept. 6, matters didn’t end there. A separate claim for injunctive relief against Mobile Ballet Inc. was allowed to stand, and a status conference on possible mediation is in the works for early October. The individuals named in the now-dismissed suits were Becky Tate, Sandra Parker, Jim Parker, Jill Reingold, Liz Kirby, Chris Burgess, Mary Byrd, Leslie Johnson, Julee Waldrop, Barbara Corte and Mobile Ballet Director Karen Kennedy. Lagniappe contacted defense counsel for...

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New director tops MAC news eruption

There’s a lot of good news at the Mobile Arts Council these days and at the top of the list is the top of the staff. The umbrella arts organization recently named Shellie Teague as its new executive director. The 32-year-old owner of Teague Branding Strategies fills a spot that has been vacant since previous executive director Bob Burnett stepped down in January 2015. She joins Program Director Lucy Gafford and Administrative Coordinator Angela Montgomery on the MAC staff. “I’m honored and humbled to serve the Mobile arts community in this new role. We’ve already got a lot of...

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My lunch with Ramon

I turned a corner in downtown Mobile and found Cuba on a side street, leaning against a wall and drawing from a hand-rolled cigarette in the breezy late summer sunshine. The occasion was lunch, with art the main course. Ramon Vargas Artiz was 630 miles from his island home and living for three weeks in a second-story walk-up while his work was being installed at Alabama Contemporary Art Center. He is one of a dozen artists in ACAC’s “Back to Havana” exhibition, in place through June 2018. My friend introduced me to his Latin American houseguest as we ducked...

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Judge narrows ballet lawsuit

In a Sept. 6 court order, Mobile County Circuit Judge Jay York upheld motions to dismiss lawsuits against specific Mobile Ballet employees and board members while allowing the action against the entirety of Mobile Ballet to go forward. Of plaintiffs Rhea Mostellar, Beverly Davis and Monty Thull, Judge York said Mostellar had no grounds for action since she was a former rather than current board member. All claims by Mostellar are void. York also said by virtue of Davis and Thull’s respective term expiration and resignation, their claims against specific board members had no standing. That includes board members...

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