Today, Milton Rogovin, the internationally known social documentary photographer who has called Buffalo home for more than 70 years, turns 100. Rogovin, whose photographic explorations of the poor and working classes -- in Buffalo and around the globe -- was honored earlier this month with a celebration at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.
Rogovin began his life in New York City, and moved to Buffalo to start an optometry practice in 1938. He was inducted into the army in 1942. In the anti-communist fervor of the 1950s, Rogovin was called before the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee and refused to name names. Because of his silence, Rogovin was effectively forced to give up his optometry practice and turned instead to photography, which he saw as a way to expose social injustices and to tell the stories of the world's oppressed minorities. This turned out to be fortuitous for Rogovin's social causes, and for the field of photography as a whole. His travels took him from Buffalo's West Side, where he still lives, to the factories and neighborhoods of Latin America, Africa and Europe.
The faces of his subjects, though they hailed from different continents, bore the unmistakable mix of strength and discouragement that characterizes the experience of the world's working poor. In this way, his photography became much more than mere documentation, but a link that joined together disparate sections of the world's population and pointed toward a great and painful commonality among all cultures.
Some of Rogovin's work, with accompanying poetry by local professor Eric Gansworth, is now on view at the Burchfield Penney. See a slide show of that work, with narration by Gansworth, below:
Poking around the inter-webs in advance of my interview with "In the Heights" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, I ran across this fascinating video of Miranda's performance at a White House spoken word event in May. It features a glimpse at Miranda's forthcoming concept album based on the life of founding father and treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton written from the perspective of his murderer, Aaron Burr. No lie.
And I thought the year-end list affliction wouldn't strike me. How wrong I was. For whatever reason writers and critics feel compelled to produce yearly retrospectives on their beats (I think it's written into our genetic codes), I have come up with a few of my favorite moments from the art and theater scenes in 2009. Some will appear in Sunday's ArtsBeat column in the Spotlight section. Meanwhile, just for the heck of it, I thought I'd post my brainstorming list of events and trends, in no particular order and with no claim of exhaustiveness, that seemed worthy of note this year.
Read the list after the jump.
I've been doing a little reasearch for a forthcoming piece about downtown Buffalo's architectural treasures and came across this beautifully shot preview for a documentary about Louis Sullivan, one of the most important architects in American history. Sullivan, as many know, designed Buffalo's Guaranty Building (or Prudential Building), widely considered a seminal piece of American architecture and an important prototype for the skyscrapers we know today.
The documentary, called "Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture," according to the YouTube description, is slated for late 2010. Check out the preview:
Kathleen Turner will play the late liberal columnist and firebrand in the Philadelphia Theatre Company production "Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins."
One of the most entertaining radio interviews I have ever heard aired in February of 2007 on NPR's "Fresh Air." It was in commemoration of the life and work of Molly Ivins, the rabble-rousing, unapologetic and unfailingly incisive liberal columnist whose work consistently skewered American and Texan politics.
In the piece, which included Terry Gross's interviews with Ivins from 1991 and 2003, the late columnist talked about growing up liberal in conservative Texas, documenting the absurd lives of that state's legislators and, finally, running afoul of her boss at the New York Times for using the phrase "gang-pluck" in a description of a community chicken-slaughtering event.
The Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, which filed for bankruptcy last month, is presenting a free concert of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as a "thank you" to all the people who have helped them. The orchestra is considering canceling all concerts for the remainder of the season.
JoAnn Falletta, the music director for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, has also served as artistic advisor for the Honolulu Symphony. She will be conducting the Beethoven Ninth, donating her services the same as all the musicians are.
There is a sad state of affairs in Honolulu, is the impression I get from the story I linked to above.
--Mary Kunz Goldman
Federal and state regulators (who are not really the people you want offering up proposals for pieces of architecture), have released five possible designs for Buffalo's fabled "signature bridge."
What's your take? And if you had to pick one, which would it be?
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