2007: The Year in the Arts

by Amy Kingsley

Before I start this best-of list, I’ve got some explaining to do. For the past year, it’s been my duty to report, from all corners of the Triad, everything that touches on theater, art, crafts, literature or dance.

Which is a lot to wrap your pen around. I tried, but came up short.

With apologies to everyone I left out this year, I give you my summary of 2007.

In January, I met Karola Lttringhaus, the founder of Alban Elved Dance Company. The modern dance ensemble relocated to Wilmington soon afterward, depriving the Camel City of one of its most unique cultural resources. I hope the company enjoys its new home and comes back once in a while for a visit.

A month later, Winston-Salem native Ramin Bahrani returned to the Triad for the Carolina Film and Video Festival at UNCG. Bahrani, a film director, screened his award-winning film, Man Push Cart and took questions from the audience. The film concerns a Pakistani immigrant who runs a coffee cart in New York City, and it lit up the international film festivals. Bahrani said he’d be returning to the area soon to shoot a new movie.

Joe Nierle renovated a retail space on Market Street last spring, transforming it into the Open Space Caf Theatre. A New Jersey native and retired drama teacher, Nierle moved south to be near family. His theater, which produces musicals and Broadway hits, is winding up its first full season. For the holidays, Open Space hosted the Triad premier of Plaid Tidings.

Greensboro author John Hart had a good year. First, his debut novel, King of Lies, received an Edgar nomination. His second book, Down River, has earned glowing reviews and a place atop the bestseller lists. I’m looking forward to reading more of Hart’s work and sharing it in these pages.

During the summer, I visited the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, which was holding a giant exhibition of Black Panther memorabilia. Winston-Salem had the first active chapter in the South, and several old Panthers who turned out for the opening complained about their lack of representation. Nevertheless, the art was awesome, the artifacts amazing, and the whole experience highly educational.

The founder of the National Black Theatre Festival, Larry Leon Hamlin, passed away in June, two months before the 2007 edition was scheduled to start. The festival went on without him. Tributes to the champion of African-American theater came in from all corners of the globe. Hamlin left the festival in good hands, and the gears are already turning for 2009.

Filmmaker John Waters brought his peculiar brand of heartwarming raunch to Greensboro for one night in September. The Carolina Theatre hosted the event, and although I didn’t make it to his show, I did a phone interview with Waters earlier that week, when he instructed me in the proper grooming of a pencil mustache.

In early November, artists from across the Triad joined forces for the first-ever Bricolage. The organizers paired participants across disciplines and county lines and staged performances across the region. I saw two, a film project and a dance concert. The next Bricolage is scheduled for 2009 and promises to be an even bigger event than the first.

The final notable incident comes from Greensboro, where Two Art Chicks closed its door to make way for a pizza joint. The artists associated with the gallery have already started two new ventures, Winter Light Gallery and Focal Points. Look for more news from them in the coming year.

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