Westobou Festival chips art into Augusta mix in October

Golf may be the first thing that pops to mind when most of us think of Augusta, but organizers of the city’s Westobou Festival hope that their annual event is adding art to that picture, as well.

Slated for Oct. 2-6 and taking place in venues across Augusta, the Westobou Festival brings notable artists and exhibitions to the city for five days of music, film, dance, readings and visual arts. Highlights include:

  • Kim Gordon, formerly of Sonic Youth, performing her live score for the silent film classic “The Passion of Joan of Arc” along with collaborator Bill Nace on Oct. 2 at the Sacred Heart Cultural Center.
  • An appearance by Southern humorist Roy Blount Jr. on Oct. 6 at the Imperial Theatre.
  • A performance by the Mark Morris Dance Group at the Imperial Theatre on Oct. 5.
  • A luncheon and screening on Oct. 2 with the creators of the new documentary “Versailles ‘73” about a coup by American designers over their French counterparts at a 1973 fashion show.
  • A concert by folk-soul duo Johnnyswim on Oct. 3 at the Old Academy of Richmond County.

The festival also includes a free chamber music series, a “Color Run” on Oct. 5 in which participants are doused with vibrant colors along a 5K course, and a gallery crawl aboard a trolley.

Modeled after Charleston’s Spoleto Festival, Westobou launched in 2008, funded by the Porter Fleming Foundation.

Many events are free, with ticketed events starting in the $25 range. Festival passes: $100. 1-706-755-2878, www.westoboufestival.com.



Leventhal to lead Woodruff project plans

Alliance Theatre general manager Max Leventhal has been appointed to a new position with a unique title, Owners’ Representative to the Woodruff Arts Center. Leventhal will oversee capital project planning that is intended to transform the performance and public spaces in the Memorial Arts Building over multiple phases.

“Revitalizing the performance and public spaces of the Woodruff Arts Center is paramount to the future of the Alliance Theatre and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,” Leventhal said in a statement released by the Alliance, where he served for 12 seasons and oversaw, among many other areas, facilities development. “Work on these spaces will allow greater access and engagement with our patrons and community.”

What this means for the 25-year Woodruff master plan announced in 2009 is unclear. Billed at the time as a “road map for the future,” that plan most notably called for the construction of a new ASO concert hall on the Woodruff campus, at the corner of Peachtree and 15th streets, as well as a Peachtree entrance for the Alliance.

The 2009 plan for a new Symphony Hall on the Woodruff campus came about after the drive for a $300 million Symphony Center complex on 14th Street, designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was abandoned due to insufficient fund-raising.

No time frame for construction was given in 2009, and the recession and the ASO’s mounting debt, now at $20 million, made progress impossible.

The 25-year master plan was a project of Joseph Bankoff, predecessor of Woodruff President and CEO Virginia Hepner, who assumed the job last year.

So does that mean that the idea of building a new Symphony Hall on the Woodruff’s crowded campus is toast?

No, said arts center spokesman Randy Donaldson, clarifying that the master plan’s “important possibilities” are “still on the table.”

Donaldson added, however, that four years of change at the Woodruff and in the economy has changed the picture.

“New ideas have come forward that could be more fiscally attractive approaches,” he said in an email to the AJC.

“The bottom line is that no final decisions have been made about changes … Those require dedicated and knowledgeable management. That’s the role we have asked Max Leventhal to play.”

The ASO already was amid the replacement of Symphony Hall’s acoustic shell that has served since the 1960s. The new shell will be in place when the orchestra opens its 69th season on Sept. 26.

Soiree previews Emory University offerings

Kicking off a busy 2013-14 Arts at Emory season, the Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts will hosts the sixth annual Creativity & Arts Soiree at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. This free arts sampler will include a 6:30 p.m. ceremony for the Creativity & Arts Awards, recognizing significant contributions to the arts. 1700 N. Decatur Road, Atlanta. 404-727-5674, www.creativity.emory.edu.


High shows Arab Spring work

Julie Mehretu’s “Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts)” is a 2012 cycle of four monumentally scaled (each 15 feet by 12 feet) artworks on canvas. But they also seem to be something of a personal news chronicle, the Ethiopia-born artist’s response to the Arab Spring series of protests since late 2010.

So it makes sense that the High Museum, which acquired “Part II” of “Mogamma” earlier this year, wasted no time in putting it on view in the Wieland Pavilion’s Skyway Level galleries.

The artist interested in the intersection of architecture and cultural and political change, her series title referring to the government building just south of Tahrir Square in Cairo. The High painting includes overlapping architectural renderings of buildings in Tripoli, Cairo and other Middle East and North African sites of uprising.

Mehretu’s layers of marks in ink (which could be read as migrating birds or people) over the architectural drawings evoke turbulence and suggest the collective power of social movements. She also added sweeping lines and silkscreened patterns based on the region’s architectural ornaments, adding to the sense of urgency.

1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-4200, www.high.org.

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