Year of the Arts will feature Hop performances and Hood exhibit
By Ashley Ulrich, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2012
As part of Dartmouth´s forthcoming Year of the Arts, which aims to increase the arts’ visibility on campus over the next school year, the Hopkins Center will offer a full season of recognizable and up-and-coming performers, while the Hood Museum will debut its fall show on Aboriginal Australian Art. To initiate the year, the Black Family Arts Center will formally open to students at the beginning of the Fall term.
The Year of the Arts coincides with the Hopkins Center’s 50th anniversary season, which it will celebrate from Oct. 12-16 with a weekend of performances by returning alumni, current students and Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner John Lithgow. The weekend will also premiere “Still Moving: Pilobolus at 40,” a documentary by film and media studies professor Jeffrey Ruoff about the influential modern dance group that was founded at Dartmouth.
“We’re always trying to get the best artists in the world, and we have an extremely diverse visiting artist program,” Hopkins Center programming director Margaret Lawrence said. “The stakes are higher for our 50th anniversary. We wanted to add to the sense of excitement on campus.”
Alumni will also participate in a variety show featuring current students called “Igniting Imagination,” Lawrence said. The event will be hosted by Aisha Tyler ’92 of “Friends” and “The Talk” and will include performances by singer and actor Jennifer Leigh Warren ’77, actor and comedienne Rachel Dratch ’88 and former Dartmouth Aires and Gospel Choir member Michael Odokara-Okigbo ’12.
Odokara-Okigbo said he was excited to come back to campus for the first time since graduation and have the opportunity to work with students interested in the arts.
“The Hop really meant a lot to me and formed what I’m passionate about pursuing, which is music,” Odokara-Okigbo said. “This is going to be a great opportunity for alumni in the arts to come back, and for students to see performers ... pursuing the arts professionally.”
The Hopkins Center’s fall season will also include performances by cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Sept. 13, modern dance troupe Kidd Pivot on Sept. 14-15, puppetry group Handspring Puppet Company on Sept. 21-22 and chamber jazz collaboration Chick Corea and Gary Burton with the Harlem String Quartet on Oct. 18. In addition to performing, many of the visiting artists will engage with students in the classroom, Lawrence said.
“Usually we wouldn’t have so many big names all in a given season,” Lawrence said. “The pace of ticket sales for this season is beyond anything we in our wildest dreams could imagine.”
Beyond the visiting artists, the season will also feature performances by student groups such as the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 7 and Nov. 3, the Gospel Choir on Oct. 21 and Nov. 4, the newly renamed Dartmouth Wind Ensemble on Oct. 23, the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble on Nov. 10 and the Handel Society on Nov. 13.
The Hood Museum will premiere its major exhibit for the year on Sept. 15, titled “Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum.” The exhibit will feature about 100 of the more than the 500 works in the Owen and Wagner Collection, which is the largest such collection outside of Australia. The gallery will run through March 10, after which it will travel to the Midwest for display at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio before the works eventually join the museum’s permanent collection, according to exhibit curator Stephen Gilchrest.
“One interesting aspect are the different forms of knowledge coming out of the art,” Gilchrest said. “An exhibit like this, by staging cross-cultural encounters, brings viewers to understand cultural philosophies, as well as appreciate the aesthetic sophistication of the work.”
Highlighted works that will be on display include paintings by Shorty Jangala Robertson and Danny Gibson Tjapaltjarri that were constructed using dots and a large collection of photographs by Michael Riley, Ricky Maynard and Christian Thompson.
This fall also marks the official opening of the VAC, scheduled for Sept. 14 in a ceremony at 4:30 p.m., according to Amy Olson, senior media relations officer for the College. The official opening will include a dedication of the Ellsworth Kelly work that was installed on the Hopkins Center’s east facade in July. Kelly’s piece, titled “Dartmouth Panels,” features five rectangular, colored panels that extend beneath the rounded roof line of the building.
The lawn and terrace created during the construction of the Visual Arts Center will host other sculptures and installation pieces in the future, including a temporary spider sculpture by contemporary French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. Other works, which could include both student-crafted installations and student productions, may utilize the space in the future, although such opportunities would be weather dependent, according to Lawrence.
In addition to performances, installations and openings, both the Hood and Hopkins Center will begin undergoing expansion and renovation projects this year, according to Lawrence and Hood Director Michael Taylor. The Hood’s exhibition space will expand into Wilson Hall as the film and media department moves into the VAC, allowing the Hood to display more of its permanent collection, Taylor said.
“This is great because currently less than one percent of the Hood’s collection is on view, whereas most museums aim for 10 percent,” Taylor said. “Plus, expanding into Wilson puts the Hood on the Green in way it hasn’t been before. It’s thrilling, great for students and faculty.”
The Hopkins Center currently has plans to “freshen up” its interior by adding new furniture, paint and carpeting, Lawrence said. Further construction and expansion plans may be in the works for the future, but these have not yet been finalized.
“As the elements of the Hop being vacated because of the new [VAC] begin to be understood, we may see temporary uses of spaces that are quite interesting,” Lawrence said. “Hopefully in the future we’ll see some expansion enabling more access to performance areas, rehearsal areas for students and more spaces people can interact in before and after performances. We’re working on a timeline for that for now.”
Even though the Year of the Arts has yet to officially begin, community members have already expressed excitement about the various arts happenings and events, according to Media Relations Coordinator for the Hopkins Center Rebecca Bailey. Compared to the same period last year, the Hopkins Center has had 200 additional new memberships this year, many of which include households instead of just individuals, she said.
“This was already an especially eventful summer, thanks to wonderful visiting artists, more programming, the Hop film series and Hop ensembles,” Bailey said. “We don’t want this bump to go down in future years — we want to sustain it into the future.”