Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Luminaries From Worlds Of Theater, Art, Music Honored At Washington College's 2009 Convocation

Event Formally Dedicates New Gibson Center for the Arts

Chestertown – Washington College’s annual Fall Convocation, scheduled for Friday, October 2, at 3:30 p.m., will take place in a very special, and very new, venue: the College’s just-completed showcase, the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts.

The Convocation ceremony and subsequent gala reception will mark the official dedication and public opening of the Gibson Center, a $24 million renovation and expansion of the original structure that was built to house the arts more than 40 years ago.

In its new incarnation, the Gibson Center for the Arts offers several venues in which students can learn, rehearse, practice, perform and exhibit their works, as well as all the latest tools and technology that support professional-caliber theaters and exhibition spaces.

The original 650-seat auditorium, now known as Decker Theatre, has been rescaled and configured to accommodate the addition of the Hotchkiss Recital Hall and the Tawes Theatre.

The renovation also facilitated the addition of the Kohl Art Gallery, an exhibition space fully equipped to mount major works of art, as guests will see during the gala opening-weekend celebration.

In keeping with the threefold functionality of the new facility, notable figures from the worlds of theater, art and music, the three disciplines taught in the new center, will be special guests and receive honorary degrees at Washington College’s Fall Convocation: Broadway director and scriptwriter Mark Bramble, art historian Linda Nochlin and Grammy-winning folksinger Tom Paxton.

Mark Bramble has been involved in the writing, directing and producing of stage musicals all over the world. He attended the McDonogh School, Emerson College and New York University, and began his theatrical career under the tutelage of David Merrick, for whom he worked on 20 Broadway productions.

As author, Bramble’s shows include Barnum, which introduced Glenn Close as a leading actress and garnered and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical in addition to 10 Tony Award nominations (including Best Book and Best Musical); 42nd Street, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical, the Laurence Olivier Award for Musical of the Year, the Evening Standard Drama Award for Best Musical, and other honors); and The Three Musketeers with the music of Rudolph Friml.

Bramble’s collaborations with Michael Stewart include The Grand Tour with songs by Jerry Herman, Treasure Island with songs by Jule Styne, and the off-Broadway opera Elizabeth & Essex based on Maxwell Anderson’s Elizabeth the Queen.

At the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, England, Bramble and Henry Krieger (composer of Dreamgirls) created Fat Pig, a rock-and-roll extravaganza about health. In London Bramble adapted and staged Notre Dame at Saddler’s Wells, and created the first radio musical, In With The Old, for BBC radio.

Bramble directed the 2001 Tony Award-winning Best Revival of 42nd Street on Broadway, as well as productions of the show in London, Sydney, Shanghai, Tokyo, Amsterdam and Vienna.

He is a member of The Dramatist’s Guild, The Society Of Stage Directors and Choreographers and The Association Of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers.

Linda Nochlin is the Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts/New York University, where she earned her doctorate in art history in 1963.

She previously served as Professor of Art History and Humanities at Yale University, as Distinguished Professor of Art History at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York and as the Mary Conover Mellon Professor of Art History at Vassar College, her undergraduate alma mater.

Nochlin is known widely for her work on Gustave Courbet—a painter of interest to her since embarking on her doctoral dissertation, as well as for her seminal publications on Realism, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism and, notably, for her groundbreaking work to advance the cause of women artists, beginning as early as 1971 with her article, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

Sparking a major development in art history and criticism, that early work led to the 1976 exhibition Women Artists: 1550-1950, which Nochlin co-curated with Anne Sutherland Harris for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the show was accompanied by the catalogue of the same title co-authored by both scholars.

Nochlin has written numerous books and articles focusing on social and political issues revealed in the work of artists from the modernist period to the present day. Her books – Representing Women, The Body in Pieces, Women, Art, and Power and The Politics of Vision have directed and expanded the dialogue among art historians on the nature of viewing and have broadened the scope of our interpretation of the role of art and artists in society.

Nochlin is a Contributing Editor of Art in America. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and of New York University’s Institute for the Humanities as well as the American Philosophical Society.

Tom Paxton ranks alongside the likes of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs in the pantheon of American folksinger-songwriters. Emerging from the thriving Greenwich Village folk music scene of the early ’60s, the prolific Paxton quickly made a name for himself, both as a performer and as a songsmith whose works proved wildly popular among fellow artists looking for quality material to cover.

The Chicago-born, Oklahoma-raised Paxton joined the Army Reserve in 1960 and ended up stationed in Fort Dix, New Jersey. While at college a few years earlier, he had cultivated a passion for folk music; so the Army reservist was soon spending his free time in New York City, performing at amateur-night hootenannies in Greenwich Village clubs and mingling with other rising stars of the folk movement.

The city became his home once his active duty was completed, and Paxton’s productivity flourished. The Chad Mitchell Trio gave him a big boost by recording one of his songs – the first of countless acts in the folk, country, pop and rock spheres to do so over the years.

In 1962 Paxton recorded his debut album, I’m the Man Who Built the Bridges. Forty-seven years and nearly 50 albums later, Paxton has continued to write, sing and record, serving up everything from trenchant commentary on current political topics, to expressions of love, to whimsical, popular children’s fare.

Many of Paxton’s songs have enjoyed enduring appeal, including modern standards such as “The Last Thing on My Mind,” “Bottle of Wine,” “Whose Garden Was This?” and “Ramblin’ Boy.”

Paxton’s compositions have been recorded by Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Doc Watson, Harry Belafonte, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Kingston Trio, John Denver, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, Willie Nelson, Flatt & Scruggs, and numerous others.

A perennial “global ambassador” of folk music, Paxton has performed thousands of concerts around the world – in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and all over the United States. His songs have been translated into various languages, and he enjoys a strong relationship with fans throughout the globe.

In 2009 Paxton received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the capstone to a whole host of accolades that have come his way over the course of a long and remarkable career.

In addition to the Fall Convocation ceremony, the gala opening weekend at the Gibson Center features events that bespeak the versatility of the region’s latest and greatest arts venue:

• The Washington College Department of Drama will present “Tick My Box” in Tawes Theatre on Friday, October 2, at 8 p.m.

• Musician Chad Stokes will headline a “Performers’ Showcase” in Decker Theatre on Saturday, October 3, at 8 p.m. Emceed by Comedy Central’s Kyle Cease (10 Things I Hate About You), the show features illusionist Mike Super, winner of NBC’s hit TV show Phenomenon; and poet Gabriela Garcia Medina, 2009 Spoken Word Performer of the Year. The event is sponsored by the Student Affairs Office.

• The 58th season of the Washington College Concert Series will commence with a performance by the Brentano String Quartet in Hotchkiss Recital Hall on Sunday, October 4, at 3 p.m.

• The Kohl Gallery’s inaugural exhibition, “Second Nature: Masterpieces of 19th-Century Landscape Painting,” featuring seldom-displayed masterworks from some of the major artists of the period, will open and be on view through November 15. The exhibition is curated by Kohl Gallery Director and Underwood Chair in Art History Donald McColl.

For more information about the Gibson Center for the Arts and its gala opening weekend, visit

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