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    "All sculpture that I'm interested in knows that death is the inevitable conclusion." Award-winning artist Antony Gormley sees art as the expression and generation of hope. Hear how he and five other artists work with sculpture.

    One of the oldest artistic traditions, sculpture has been defined for centuries as the medium that operates in three dimensions. In this anthology, five very different sculptors shed light on their work. See American sculptor Richard Serra's minimal incisions into nature, British artist Phyllida Barlow's large-scale installations and British Turner Prize winner Antony Gormley who states that all the sculpture that he is interested in "knows that death is the inevitable conclusion."

    Also featured in this video are American artists Doug Aitken and Sarah Sze.

    Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bageshirin Lærkesen
    Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern art, 2016

    Supported by Nordea-fonden

    Watch the full interview with Doug Aitken:

    Watch the full interview with Phyllida Barlow:

    Watch the full interview with Antony Gormley:

    Watch the full interview with Richard Serra:

    Watch the full interview with Sarah Sze:

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    By Miles Harter, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, January 23, 2017

    Who wouldn't want to start their day frolicking around the Metropolitan Museum of Art before opening hours to such lively standards as "Staying Alive" and "Dance to the Music," all the while taking in the Met's beautiful spaces and magnificent works of art?

    The MetLiveArts has commissioned a new work entitled, The Museum Workout, whereby participants are able to exercise within the confines of the museum while also experiencing all the splendid art throughout. The routine is both physical and interactive, and is led by two enthusiastic and athletic dancers, choreographer Monica Bill Barnes and dance partner Anna Bass, both wearing elegant brown and gold sequined dresses with matching New Balance workout shoes. At the session I attended, the engaging dancers introduced themselves, told us about the program, and instructed everyone to follow their moves closely.

    Leading the group of about twenty through a workout to the memorable tunes of such fabulous artists as the Bee Gees and Lionel Richie, Robert Saenz de Viteri (creative producing director of Monica Bill Barnes & Company) followed us around with a laptop broadcasting the selected soundtrack to our workout, which included jogging, brisk walking, and dancing. For brief intervals, we stopped before classic sculptures and lovely paintings, and were led in stationary calisthenics. At one point, moving forward during the exquisite "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," it was as if we had turned into the Von Trapp children (sans the play clothes made from drapes) from The Sound of Music as they sang "Do Re Mi," biking and dancing through Salzburg. We all became the stars of this "performance art" piece. At various stops throughout the museum, we heard the recorded voice of another collaborator of the work, writer/illustrator Maira Kalman, offering her thoughts about the Met and perspective of the experience.

    The actual workout consists of a two-mile walk/jog/dance, lasting 45 minutes, and leading the participant through various wings and exhibits of the museum. Both Monica and Anna moved gracefully, and as we followed their motions, we received the full benefit of a workout. As a certified personal trainer and endurance athlete accustomed to running the 6.1 mile loop around Central Park, I was cheerfully surprised by this light cardiovascular interval workout. Especially gratifying were the arm routines, as we frequently moved our arms in harmony with Monica and Anna's maneuvers. The interactive workout concludes in The Charles Engelhard Court, offering an expansive view of Central Park and its joggers. Although it was a beautiful morning outside, this was one time I was glad to be having my workout inside the museum.

    The Museum Workout takes place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, Thursdays - Sundays through February 12; sessions begin at 8:30am. For more information and to buy tickets click here.

    Cover: The Museum Workout; photo: Paula Lobo

    Miles Harter, a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc, writes about theater performance and lifestyle events.

    For more features from ZEALnyc read:

    Dance as Social Commentary at the Joyce

    Art Break: Where to go this week on your lunch break

    'The Present' is a Gift to New York Theatergoers

    Miho Hazama Leads Her Superb m_unit Ensemble in a Wonderland of Energetic Jazz

    The Best and Worst Musicals of 2016

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    Her name is Florence Rebecca Wade Bush.

    She is 90 years young. A Baptist Reverend’s widow, mother of three sons, each his own force of nature. She found her voice and became a minister after her husband suddenly passed away. Her church dubbed her “sainted” with a wooden plaque. She is stopped on the street by people who are anxious for her wisdom and effortless grace.

    I have known and adored her for many years, the mother of one of my great loves and best friends. She is petite in stature and enormous of spirit — she is imbued with her love of the Lord, and she speaks of him as a companion and her closest friend. Her God is everyone’s God, “We all love the same God; Muslims, Baptists, Jewish people, Christians...” Sparkling eyes and a wide smile that calmly envelops her gentle, yet strong, face — her boundless energy and enthusiasm are infectious. She bounces out of her recliner to her feet in moments of pointed excitement.

    Yet I never knew till this week that she had picked cotton and tobacco leaves when she was six years old down in South Carolina. She would start at the beginning of daylight until she could continue no more as evening fell. She used to pray to God each day that he deliver her from this never-ending fate and tedium.

    When she was 19 in 1946 her older sister sent her a ticket to NYC — she took the train up north and blossomed remarkably from there. In a mere five years, she found employment, had met her first husband who died within the year of their marriage, and she was left an inheritance with which she bought a house as an investment. A second marriage with children and a bustling life as a pastor’s wife then filled her days. She was known for her fresh apple pie with its perfectly browned, crosshatched crust on top... and an always positive, shining spirit. Considerable obstacles and hardships came her way in her life but she has navigated them with an unruffled certainty in God’s will and love for her.

    The white landowner from her childhood servitude did an exceptional thing. He gifted Florence’s family with his land — they paid a small sum to satisfy the court and the land is theirs to this day. The Wades from South Carolina still reside there.

    Her story is an American story. THIS is America. This is America. Something we need to keep repeating to ourselves in the days ahead.

    If we remember where we have come from — each with our respective, interconnected stories — we will figure out where we are headed together.

    It is up to us to remember, remind each other, and live that truth every day. And love one another along the way.

    She didn’t expect to see me the other day — she embraced me and said, “You should be a Bush, you’re supposed to be a Bush!” And I said, “I am a Bush already!”

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    The Tel Aviv Woman's Demonstration on 21 January...

    ...before the fortress that is the U.S. Embassy...

    ...activated Lilith Risen, full awakened and ready to fight for her equal stature...

    ...just as the 20 January Trump Inauguration astrological chart predicted with the Moon contacting Lilith in the occult sign of Scorpio twenty-four hours later, during the Woman's March on Washington..

    Mixing Jewish songs, prayers and chants, the crowd called for a world unity that includes Palestinians.

    "Nasty Girls" sums up the biblical character known as Adam's First Wife who flew off to the Red Sea after refusing to lay under him...

    This iconic figure of Jewish mythology triggers an awakening as fierce as she is bold...

    ...made evident with the sheer audacity of Israeli artist Mira Maylor's "Selfie Edition: Lilith".

    Dr. Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a cultural critic based in Berlin.
    Demonstration images copyright Lisa Paul Streitfeld.
    Mira Maylor's "Lilith" image is courtesy of the art.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    Okay, music lovers: here's a riddle for you.

    What orchestra conductor is both down-to-earth and up in the air?

    If you answered Jim Orent, music director of the Brockton Symphony Orchestra and frequent guest conductor of the Boston Pops, you'll be exactly right.

    What makes Orent down-to-earth? Unlike many people in his field, he sidesteps the cult of personality that many conductors create for themselves. He's a musician's musician--a regular guy who happens to be a world-class violinist, singer, and, of course, conductor.

    "I'm a lifelong student of conducting from the instrumentalist's and singer's perspective," Orent says over dinner prior to a Brockton Symphony rehearsal.

    "Decades of direct feedback from my world class colleagues have guided me in honing my craft. It works for them, and it works for me."

    Okay, that's the down-to-earth part but what's this business about up in the air?

    Orent doesn't just conduct for a living. He's also an airline pilot who has flown for decades and a dedicated skydiver with more than 300 jumps to his credit.

    "The parallels between flying a plane and conducting an orchestra are endless," Orent says. "For example, if you get off-track, in both cases you've got to simultaneously figure out where you are right now and get back heading in the right direction, while at the same time keeping the bigger picture, of your final destination, forefront in your mind."

    Orent says fate guided him toward conducting and flight, both vertical and horizontal, as a combined career path.

    These are simply the things he loves to do, so he does them.

    A decade ago, Orent was guest conducting for the Brockton Symphony, which had just embarked on a multi-year program to replace its prior music director. After just one concert, however, the orchestra administration offered him the role of primary conductor.

    He accepted, and has never looked back.

    Brockton, Massachusetts is a former manufacturing town damaged economically when the shoe industry left New England in search of cheaper labor. Nevertheless, Brockton's orchestra, founded almost 70 years ago, survived, and offers residents and any interested parties an opportunity to hear great music without making the drive into Boston.

    The prices are a lot cheaper, too.

    "You can buy a ticket to the Brockton Symphony Orchestra for less than it costs to park your car near Symphony Hall in Boston," Orent notes.

    Indeed, the top ticket for the Brockton Symphony Orchestra is $25, but if you're 18 or under, stroll right in--no charge.

    Orent frequently guest conducts the Boston Pops, which is always a deeply meaningful experience, because he "grew up," as he puts it, in Symphony Hall.

    "Stanley Benson, my violin teacher and a Brockton native himself, played for the BSO," he says. "So when I conduct the Pops, I often point to the seats in the first balcony where I used to sit when I was a kid. The people in those seats always love it when I do that.

    "And I ask our audience, which young person in those balcony seats will be joining us on stage here in Symphony Hall, as a member of the orchestra, as a singer, or perhaps as a conductor?' And I'm completely serious about that question."

    Shuttling between the two orchestras makes Orent aware of how difficult it is for his Brockton group to get things done on a relative shoestring budget.

    "Our Brockton musicians come to me and they'll name a piece they want to perform," he says. "While I admire them for thinking big, they often don't know the cost of performance rights, performance materials (sheet music and score), personnel fees for hiring extra musicians, or how much it will cost to rent specific instruments that we'll need for that piece. We do what we can."

    They do a lot, actually. Most community orchestras--at least the ones that still exist, because many have folded in recent years--simply cannot pull together to do some of the major symphonic "war horses"--the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto or Brahms First Symphony, to name two. At Brockton? No problem--those pieces constituted the first program of the current season.

    "It's an opportunity for audience members to hear great works right in their own hometown," Orent says. "It's also an opportunity for musicians to play some of the great pieces that they might not otherwise have a chance to perform, so everybody wins."

    The next performance of The Brockton Symphony Orchestra takes place on Sunday, March 12th at the Christ Congregational Church in Brockton and features the American premiere of composer William Perry's Two Dance Pieces For Trumpet and Orchestra, featuring Wayne King, the beloved principal trumpet of the ensemble.

    "Wealthier towns than Brockton have lost their community orchestras, primarily due to funding issues," Orent says. "It's phenomenal that Brockton's musical heritage lives on, and we could not be more proud as its caretakers, steering community efforts to preserve this cultural treasure."

    So there you have it--a conductor at once down-to-earth and up in the air.

    Only in Brockton.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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  • 01/23/17--13:07: Fact-Checking the WSJ
  • The Wall Street Journal has made an egregious error. I'm not talking about their coverage of Donald Trump, Russian hacking, or any other such ephemera. This concerns something much more serious: classic literature.

    Mark Twain, ca. 1907. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

    In his column of Jan. 7-8, Sam Sacks wrote of "Twain's now out-of-copyright masterpiece, 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.' " Decades ago, the scholar Philip Young pointed out the error, writing that "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has no definite article in its title, though one is usually put there...Huck ends his book with anticipations (never fulfilled) of further goings-on in the West. For this reason, very likely, Twain hesitated to call the job he had done definitive." Ironically, Sacks makes this error in noting a new book by Robert Coover that purports to be a sequel to Huck Finn.

    The ending of Huck Finn is famously - or notoriously - open. In closing, Huck tells of his plan "to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I been there before." Few great novels end with a preview of coming attractions (Twain began a sequel, but never finished it), yet it is unlikely that this lack of resolution bothered Twain, because for him the essence of art lay in the voyage rather than the destination: as Huck said in his first chapter, "All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't particular." When Huck Finn's open ending became a target for criticism, no less a commentator than T. S. Eliot defended it, contending that Huck, like the Mississippi River, could have no discrete beginning or end: "Huck Finn must come from nowhere and be bound for nowhere."

    Mark Twain did not write his novels with a conclusion in mind, but discovered his plots as he wrote. He once remarked that "I have noticed...that as the short tale grows into the long tale, the original intention (or motif) is apt to get abolished and find itself superseded by quite a different one," and his good friend William Dean Howells observed that "So far as I know, Mr. Clemens is the first writer to use in extended writing the fashion we all use in thinking, and to set down the thing that comes into his mind without fear or favor of the thing that went before or the thing that may be about follow."

    Twain often put his novels aside when he could not see how to continue their narratives: Huck Finn was written over an elapsed period of eight years, in at least four discrete phases, as Twain encountered unanticipated problems, and responded to each after taking time to think about a solution. He always found endings problematic, and the ending of Huck Finn has been considered a glaring weakness ever since the book was published.

    Twain's struggles with endings were in fact not idiosyncratic, but are typical of experimental writers. So for example on Sept. 5, 1926, Virginia Woolf recorded in her diary that she was "within sight of the end" of To the Lighthouse, but she confessed that she was "casting about for an end...I am feathering about with various ideas." Yet after agonizing over the problems to be resolved, she conceded that "I shall solve it somehow, I suppose." And so she did, as eleven days later she wrote the novel's final paragraph.

    Nor is difficulty with endings unique to writers: it appears equally among experimentalists in many other disciplines. Celebrated examples include Paul Cézanne revising a single canvas for months, or years; Alberto Giacometti beginning a sculpture anew each morning, and tearing it apart at the end of each day; and Frank Gehry revising his designs even after a building appears to have been completed. These and many other great experimental artists have only a vague sense of what they are trying to achieve, so they are reluctant to call a halt to their search for their ever elusive goals.

    In his column, Sam Sacks notes that Mark Twain resented anyone who tried to profit from his works, and so it is now amusing to imagine the insults he'd aim at Robert Coover for his sequel to Huck Finn. But Twain's pride in his achievements was great, and he equally resented anyone who misrepresented them. So it is perhaps not fanciful to imagine that Twain might also have had at least a few choice words of abuse for Sam Sacks' error in referring to his masterpiece.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    By Joanne Sydney Lessner, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, January 23, 2017

    With eighty concerts a year, a roster of impressive guest artists, a summer residency at Caramoor, and a sparkling new home at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, the Orchestra of St. Luke's has come a long way since its founding in 1974 as the resident chamber ensemble of The Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village. This season, the twenty-one-member St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, still the nucleus of the larger Orchestra of St. Luke's, returns to its namesake church for the first time since 1997, with a two-program Baroque Series that includes additional performances at the Brooklyn Museum, a longtime partner.

    "We wanted to present our musicians in their core repertoire, in the place where the orchestra was born. Also, the acoustics are unrivaled," says Executive Director James Roe. "We're excited to reintroduce ourselves to the community of Greenwich Village, who first recognized and loved us. Because of their nurturing four decades ago, the orchestra went on to be noticed. For the players, it will feel like coming home."

    The two programs are designed to delight first-time concertgoers as well as aficionados. "Bach and Vivaldi" (January 29-30, 2017) showcases soprano Anna Dennis in Bach's Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten, BWV 202, aka the "Wedding Cantata," and the less well-known Vivaldi motet O qui coeli terraeque serenitas. Principal flutist Liz Mann provides the virtuoso fireworks in Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 2, and Vivaldi's "La Folia" Variations round out the program. Regarding the juxtaposition of the latter with the "Wedding Cantata," Roe says, "We wanted to open up that dialogue of connection between marriage and folly, but we'll leave it up to the audience to decide privately if there's a direct progression."

    British soprano and celebrated Baroque interpreter, Anna Dennis, guest soloist.

    "Bach and Telemann's Coffeehouse" (April 2-3, 2017) conjures both a historical moment, when Baroque was still brand new, and a specific venue, the celebrated Café Zimmermann in Leipzig, where Georg Telemann founded his Collegium Musicum before passing its stewardship to Bach. Composers sought out Gottfried Zimmermann's coffee house for its inviting atmosphere and first-rate musicians. Bach premiered many of his secular cantatas there, including his famous "Coffee Cantata," a satirical jab at the audience, who were spared a cover charge, but were required to buy coffee. Women, normally verboten in a coffee house, were granted dispensation to attend the concerts. Another draw was the host's extensive collection of the most up-to-date musical instruments, which he made available to the players.

    As Roe points out, "Pre-electricity, musical instruments were the equivalent of high tech. Woodwinds and keyboards in particular were advancing year by year. Zimmermann's collection allowed composers to push the limits of music as far as they could."

    Celebrating this virtuosity, the St. Luke's program includes Telemann's Sonata à 4 in A Major and Gigue for Solo Violin, featuring concertmaster Krista Bennion Feeney, as well as Bach's Sonata in G Minor, BWV 1029, and W.F. Bach's Overture in G Minor.

    Individual tickets are $40 and a two-concert subscription is $68 are available. For more information click here.

    Cover: Members of the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble; photo: courtesy of Orchestra of St. Luke's


    Joanne Sydney Lessner, a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc, is a writer, singer, actor, whose published works include The Temporary Detective, Bad Publicity, and And Justice for Some.

    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    A 'Thrilling Start' to a Bruckner Symphony Cycle with Barenboim at Carnegie

    'Albatross' Brings New Perspective to a Classic English Poem

    Art Break: See Historical Examples of the Downtown Art Scene

    BroadwayCon Returns Bigger and Better Than Ever

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    ZEALnyc, January 24, 2017

    Do you ever think 'where can I get a great glass of wine, good food AND hear great music?' Well, City Winery has got you covered. In 2008, Michael Dorf (founder of the Knitting Factory) opened City Winery (155 Varick Street) as a way to showcase two of his passions -- wine and music. The result has been a booming success, with satellite locations opening in Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, and one to open shortly in Boston. City Winery has been so successful that the SoHo establishment opened a smaller offshoot this past summer--City Vineyard at 233 West Street, Pier 26 on the Hudson River.

    Since its inception, City Winery has regularly been hosting scheduled performances of jazz and pop performers, and now as a special treat they are instituting a wintertime concert series--Voices on the Hudson--where every Tuesday and Wednesday from January 24th through mid-April, the City Vineyard will transform into a cozy, intimate music venue where acclaimed national touring artists will perform in the glass-enclosed eatery against the gorgeous background of the Hudson River and the downtown NYC skyline. The series will feature such artists as John Hammond, Diane Birch, and Shawn Mullins, to name only a few.

    The shows will be limited to 100 guests who will also be able to enjoy a special winter bistro menu and a full bar before, during and after the show. Tickets are $20 per show with general admission seating -- first come first served. City Vineyard opens at 4pm (Happy hour is open to the public from 4-6pm) and shows begin at 8:30pm.

    For more information and to purchase tickets click here

    For more features from ZEALnyc read:

    Virtuoso Pianist Marcus Roberts Uplifts the Art of Jazz With His Simpatico Trio at Miller Theatre

    Miho Hazama Leads Her Superb m_unit Ensemble in a Wonderland of Energetic Jazz

    Start Your Day with a 'classic' experience--The Met's 'Museum Workout'

    Art Break: See Historical Examples of the Downtown Art Scene

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    Who was Rumi and why was he notable? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

    Answer by Brad Gooch, Poet, Novelist, and Biographer, and author of Rumi's Secret, on Quora.

    Rumi is one of the greatest and most popular poets writing of love and mystical spirituality in the world. The ecstatic love poems of this Persian poet and Sufi mystic born more than eight centuries ago are beloved by millions of readers in America--he is often described as "the best-selling poet in America," and his poems have been favorite readings at weddings for decades--as well as around the world. He has been compared to Shakespeare for his outpouring of creativity and Saint Francis of Assisi for his spiritual wisdom.

    Rumi underwent a remarkable midlife transformation when he met the itinerant mystic Shams of Tabriz, who encouraged him to reorient from a path of knowledge and a life as a respected Muslim teacher, preacher, and jurist, to a path of love and of the heart, and to include music, poetry, and a whirling dance as part of his spiritual practice. When Shams disappeared, Rumi coped with the pain of separation by composing joyous poems of reunion, both human and divine.

    A great legacy of Rumi's over the centuries has been as an interfaith icon, as he articulated a notion of a "religion of love," and wrote that "Since we worship the one God/ Then all religions must be one." Remarkably at his funeral in Konya, Turkey, in 1273, the procession included not only singers and dancers, besides the traditional chanting from the Quran, but in the procession as well were Christian priests chanting the Gospel and Jewish rabbis reciting Psalms.

    Relevant, too, was his status most of his life as a refugee and a migrant, as his family escaped the destruction of his homeland of Central Asia by Genghis Khan the the Mongols, the terrorists of his time. He worked his way to poetic and spiritual wisdom during a time of political turmoil comparable to our own.

    This question originally appeared on Quora. - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

    More questions:​

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    August Wilson's Century Cycle chronicles the lives and fortunes of African-Americans in the 20th century. Jitney, set in 1977 in Pittsburgh's Hill District, is among his best -- and it's making an impressive Broadway debut.

    Now at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, Jitney, which had a run off-Broadway in 2000, is set in a gypsy cab company. Because regular taxi cabs won't go to the neighborhood, residents utilize jitneys, like Becker's car service.

    A character-driven drama, Jitney focuses on the lives of working men and their domestic travails -- men and women, fathers and sons. Wilson is a naturalistic writer; he captures their quirks and tensions in distinct rhythms of speech.

    A microcosm of a changing America, the ensemble is presented with sympathy and the occasional moment of grace. It's like a jazz riff; each person strikes a singular chord in a larger symphony.

    Becker (John Douglas Thompson) is the dignified cab owner trying to save his crumbling building from urban renewal. A respected man in the community, he notes: "It's not what you want, it's what you need. Black folks always get the two confused."

    Indeed, responsibility is a recurring theme, as the men grapple with their fates. The gossipy Turnbo (Michael Potts) often tangles with Youngblood (André Holland), a Vietnam vet with a girlfriend (Carra Patterson) and child. The drunk Fielding (Anthony Chisholm) lives from one drink to the next, while Doub (Keith Randolph Smith) tries to keep the peace.

    But when Becker's son Booster (Brandon J. Dirden), returns from prison, the play shifts into high gear.

    Aided by Jane Cox's moody lighting, Toni-Leslie James' colorful costumes and David Gallo's perfect set, director Ruben Santiago-Hudson delivers the Broadway debut Jitney deserves. His strong, beautifully directed cast and Wilson's poetry click.

    Together, they drive a memorable, heartfelt production.

    While August Wilson chose Pittsburgh, his hometown, as the setting for his plays, Jason O'Connell's The Dork Knight looks to Hollywood. Specifically, the many movie renderings of Batman, his ultimate superhero, grab his youthful attention. 2017-01-24-1485286204-9880820-Json.jpg
    A one-man show off-Broadway at the Dorothy Strelsin Theater, Dork Knight is O'Connell's homage and obsession with Batman. A lonely kid from Long Island, he parallels his troubled real life with that of Bruce Wayne, a tormented orphan who saves Gotham.

    All relationships -- familial and romantic -- are gleaned through the prism of the Batman movie experiences.

    True, O'Connell doesn't aspire to superhero status, but he lives for the film releases, dissecting them with fervor. Indeed, one of the best parts of the show is his villain imitations, including The Riddler, Joker and Penguin.

    Memoirs are tricky, and solo shows need engaging, sustaining monologues. While his story is touching and he mines the clever premise for humor, it drags a bit in the middle, then picks up at the end.

    O'Connell assumes everyone shares his encyclopedic knowledge of the Batman movies. For those who don't, a few graphic projections would work wonders. If you critique visuals, it helps to show them.

    On the plus side, his sound design works, while his sincerity and love of subject shines through. O'Connell isn't afraid to be honest and vulnerable, little wonder his younger self was first captivated in 1989 by the tall, dark and laconic Michael Keaton as Batman.

    Photo credit: Jitney/Joan Marcus; The Dork Knight/Ben Strothmann

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    I have followed the career of the Canadian saxophonist Michael Blake ever since I first heard him on the 1998 album Slow Poke at Home, a brilliant, raw and bare bones record made in the basement of bassist Tony Scherr's home, with the slide guitar virtuoso Dave Tronzo and the drummer Kenny Wollesen. I continued tracing his path with the bassist Ben Allison on the fine album Man Sized Safe from 2008.This originally Montreal born, Vancouver based musician calls New York his home since 1986. He was a member of John Lurie's ground breaking Lounge Lizards in the mid to late nineties. He and cohort trumpeter Steven Bernstein, also a Lurie alumnus, were members of Blake's progressive group Hellbent, where Tuba, trumpet, violin and saxophone created some very eclectic music.

    As with any creative artist, Blake's musical vision has constantly shifted as his muse takes him, often into unknown territory. In the early 2000's he and his Danish cohorts offered his Blake Tartare with a foot into the experimental free-jazz theater. His Elevated from 2002, found the saxophonist in a more traditional ensemble that featured his gorgeous sound with Allison on bass and the pianist Frank Kimbrough adding their musical gifts to the mix. But in the last few years Blake's search has led him deeper into the past and the music of the masters that have come before him. You can hear it in his warm, lustrous tone when he lets you. He has clearly listened to and respects those who have given so much to this music we call jazz. In 2006 he recorded The World Awakes - A Tribute to Lucky Thompson and in 2014 he gave us his homage to Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young the fabulously retro Tiddy Boom.

    In 2016 Blake wrote and recorded Fulfillment, an album inspired by a shameful incident in British Columbia's history back in 1914. The Komagata Maru was a Japanese ship that came to the port of Vancouver bearing East Indian Sikh immigrants trying to take economic asylum in Canada. They were turned away by the Canadians in a shameful act of xenophobic exclusionism. Blake's music is used to great effect to raise awareness of this blot on Canadian history.

    On his latest album, Red Hook Soul, Blake returns to history, this time his own personal history, as it relates to the music of his formative years; the music of pop, R and B, rock and roll and especially soul. He takes songs by Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Ben Webster, Gladys Knight and Lana del Rey, mixes them into a gumbo with his own originals and comes up with a thoroughly entertaining recipe for down home cooking of the partying variety.

    Blake's band for this outing include his old stalwart Tony Scherr taking up the lead guitar work here, Avi Bortnick on rhythm guitar, Erik Deutsch on piano and electric keyboard, Tim Lunzel on electric bass, Moses Patrou on percussion and Tony Mason on drums.

    The opener and title tune, "Red Hook Soul," is a rollicking, joyous bounce that is buoyed by Blake's ebullient soprano saxophone and a freewheeling rhythm section. Red Hook is a reference to the tip of Brooklyn and the home to many dive bars that Blake and company have played at one time or another. The music just cruises like a partying group of friends barreling down a highway in an open convertible on a sunny day. Break out the beer!


    "Volunteered Slavery" is a Rahsaan Roland Kirk composition that has an infectious, funky lope to it, with Blake's raw tenor leading the way over some laid-back percussive work by Patrou and Mason and some very raw, static-laden slide work by Scherr. This one will have you bopping your head up and down. A fine tribute to the master Rahsaan, an underrated jazz musician as ever there was; an exceptional artist whose work was sometimes dismissed because he chose to play multiple instruments at once, which some viewed mistakenly as more trickery than talent.

    Blake's "Nitty Gritty" features Bortnick's driving rhythm guitar licks that move the song behind Mason's deft shuffle and Lunzel's pulsing bass. Deutsch uses electric keyboard on organ mode, sustaining his notes as the band rocks on. Blake's tenor wails with his own brand of funk and grit, employing some snarky screeches and snarly honks, but all the while maintain the song's fun vibe.

    Lana del Rey's "Video Games" is a dark, foreboding tune, with somber piano chords and echoed guitar riffs in the background. Blake uses this backdrop to explore his more pensive side. He never "overplays," letting his tone and space deliver the emotional impact of what he is trying to portray. The band sets the drone of this march and Blake delivers his eulogistic cry, ending his solo in a beautiful breathy finale.

    In another of his homages to his saxophone elders, Blake enshrines the robust, uplifting playing of "King Curtis." The honk-tonk feel of this romp is authentic, with Deutsch's piano sounding a bit Leon Russell -like and Blake playing his full-bodied tenor is in fine form, buttressed by Scherr's on-point guitar work

    The music of Blake's formative years, would not be complete without a slow Otis Redding emotion drenched, R & B tune that was emblematic of an era when slow dancing in high school gymnasiums mixers was not the bump and grind of today's scene, but a more intimate affair. "I Love You More Than Words Can Say" finds Blake's tenor evoking just the right blend of earnestness and poignancy following the great Redding's lead.

    With Blake, there is always a way to bring the masters to the table and here he takes tenor titan Ben Webster's "Did You Call Her Today" and steeps it in R & B. With a fifties rock backbeat from Mason and some raspy slide work by Scherr, Blake transforms this gem from the early sixties into a rally call to party on down. His sensuous tenor solo is wonderfully fluid and commanding, but more importantly joyful with no pretense.

    "Everybody Need Love" was the title song from a 1967 album by R & B songbird Gladys Knight and the Pips. Blake plays this one true to its original easy swaying vibe. Bortnick's rhythm guitar strumming the repeating chord structure as Blake handles the melody line with an unfettered looseness. We need a little more of this uncomplicated sentiment today.

    The album ends with the Ray Charles classic "That Lucky Old Sun." Blake has claimed that hearing Charles sing "America the Beautiful" before the famous Ali/Frazier fight "The Thriller in Manilla" brought him to tears as an impressionable ten-year-old. Blake's high register tenor work at the opening, paired with Deutsch's piano, is enough to evoke similar emotions. The song is true to Charles original slow tempo and Blake's tenor is strong, emotional and plaintive.

    Red Hook Soul is yet another side of the artistry of saxophonist Michael Blake. Besides being just plain fun to listen to, to the uninitiated, it's probably his most accessible album to date.

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  • 01/24/17--14:35: Winter, Art, and Hope
  • As New Yorkers we are quick to jump into action when the heat in our apartments unexpectedly turns off or the water won't get any warmer. As New Yorkers we are also adept at becoming active to help someone in need. While we are able to look the other way in, say, the subway, we know, for the most part, when we need to drop our guard. As New Yorkers we are also willing to rally for a cause, especially during this time when civic engagement is a good way to channel simmering (or burning) frustrations.

    So here's a wonderfully timely proposition for how to channel our own experience of a winter's harsh conditions, our ability to step out of our comfort zones, and our willingness to take action. This Saturday evening, January 28, you have the chance to experience preeminent artists perform in an intimate setting at Mana Contemporary, and help an urgent cause that seems to defy a solution anytime soon: helping Syrian refugees in camps in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Those in the know agree that Syrian opera singer Lubana Al Quntar is a legend. And, yes, she will perform with musicians from the New York Arabic Orchestra, with Eylem Basaldi playing the violin and April Centrone on oud and percussion.

    Winter - Millions of Syrians were forced forced to leave their homes during the brutal and seemingly never-ending civil war. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4.8 million have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and 6.6 million are internally displaced within Syria. Most found themselves in refugee camps. Many of these camps were initially set up several years ago, and already have transformed into quasi-cities with their own self-initiated economies.

    Other camps are much less fortunate, including one particularly isolated camp in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, located about 19 miles east of Beirut. It is situated between Mount Lebanon to the west and "Anti-Lebanon" mountain range to the east. This camp resides within an isolated part of mid-Bekaa, close to the Syrian border, and being out of the way, it not only receives little to no aid and outside assistance, but is also hidden from any media awareness.

    That's where Nisreen Nasser steps in. Last year Nisreen co-founded the grassroots charitable initiative "Solidarity Through Humanity," with a deep-rooted belief in the power of empathy and compassion to connect with and provide aid to people around the globe who've been displaced due to war or poverty. The Bekaa Valley is known for its treacherous winters, and many living in this camp, mostly young children, have needlessly and senselessly passed away due to extreme weather conditions this season. Without fuel, families often resort to burning shoes and garbage to produce heat, resulting in the production of toxic fumes, and making a seemingly impossible situation even worse.

    Art - Lubana Al Quntar, the revered Syrian opera singer joins forces with "Solidarity Through Humanity," together with the New York Arabic Orchestra, Eylem Basaldi, and April Centrone. The voice is a dramatic instrument capable of producing emotional transcendence. The locus of transition, voice mediates feeling from the body of the performer to the body of the listener. Lubana Al Quntar's art delivers emotion and is able to reach even those who are not easily enthralled. She is an acclaimed Syrian vocalist of both opera and traditional Arabic song, and became the first Syrian opera singer to attain international recognition. Her achievements include heading the Department of Opera Singing and founding the Department of Classical Arabic Singing at the Syrian National Conservatory. This was a groundbreaking event because, for the first time, students could study both operatic and traditional singing at an accredited institution. Moreover, she also established the Arabic Music Singing Ensemble, which performed across the Middle East. After the outbreak of the war in Syria she came to the United States in 2012.

    Hope - The evening will include remarks from "Solidarity Through Humanity" founder Nisreen Nasser, who will be present at the event via Skype from Lebanon. The audience will also hear from Issam Khoury, a respected journalist and political activist from Syria with more than 15 years of experience in writing and conducting research in politics, governance, Islamic groups, human rights, arts, and culture for major news outlets in the Middle East and North Africa. Whether focused on war zones or refugees crossing borders for safety, his writing always focuses on telling the truth, which has often brought him into face-to-face confrontation with those opposing freedom of expression and the press in the Middle East. As a disruptor, and the first journalist to report on the revolution while still in Syria, Khoury has been arrested, had his novels banned, and his travel restricted.

    Our help and compassion can mean the difference between life and death for the around 600 people in the Beqaa Valley camp. The refugees living in this camp report that they feel isolated and forgotten. Let's give them hope, show them that they are not alone, that we see them, we stand with them. Come on Saturday, donate to the cause, and enjoy the performance. Do so because we all emphatically agree that art is the highest form of hope.

    Home Song
    A Benefit Performance by Syrian Vocalist Lubana Al Quntar and Members of the New York Arabic Orchestra in Solidarity with Syrian Refugees in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon

    Saturday, January 28, 2017, 7-11PM
    Mana Contemporary, 888 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ

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  • 01/24/17--16:34: Red vs. Black & White
  • The weather last weekend seemingly had a nervous breakdown, constantly flipping between stormy downpours and short bursts of sunshine. With huge waves pounding at the shore, driving along the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu, to Pepperdine University, was quite an adventure. So, I was wondering how many people were going to show up for Sunday's opening of Larry Bell's exhibition at the Fredrick R. Weisman Museum of Art.

    Top: Installation View
    Larry Bell: Pacific Red at the Weisman Museum of Art: Malibu, CA
    Bottom: Larry Bell, Pacific Red II, 2017
    Laminated Glass
    Courtesy of the Larry Bell Studio

    It turned out to be quite a large crowd, which shouldn't be a surprise, considering the international reputation of Larry Bell (b. 1939) -- a founder of the California Light and Space movement.

    Upon entering the exhibition --weather be damned-- everyone was greeted with a happy burst of the bright red color that dominates the whole exhibition, which is appropriately titled Pacific Red. In the first gallery, I walked through the imposing red glass labyrinth of the sculptural installation Pacific Red II.

    Left: Larry Bell, C.S. 9.19.15, 2015
    Mixed media on red Hiromi paper
    Courtesy of Larry Bell Studio
    Right: Larry Bell, C. S. 9.19.15, 2015
    Mixed media on red Hiromi paper
    Courtesy of Larry Bell Studio

    And then, in the main gallery, I saw a series of recent mixed media prints of Larry Bell's trademark abstract compositions, evoking either the female body or the stormy sky. The youthful optimism and endless energy of these new works gave me a much-needed reminder that life is good.

    Top: Installation View
    Rachel Lachowicz, Lay Back and Enjoy it at Shoshana Wayne Gallery
    Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery
    Bottom: Rachel Lachowicz at her studio

    Coming to the opening of the Rachel Lachowicz exhibition at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, I was once again happily confronted by the color red. Though this time, it was delivered through the layers of melting red lipstick that cover the large-scale architectural constructions built by Lachowicz, who drew inspiration from the set of Clint Eastwood's 1973 film High Plains Drifter. These two structures -- the Sheriff's Station and the Church -- are completely covered in seductive red lipstick. With its delicate smell, the layers of lipstick not only please the eye but appeal to the nose as well.

    Top: Rachel Lachowicz at her studio
    Bottom: Detail from Lay Back and Enjoy it
    Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery

    It was an extra pleasure to be invited to visit Rachel Lachowicz's studio and to see the "art kitchen" where most of her works from the exhibition were made. The only thing that I regret was not being able to observe the artist as she melted the massive amount of lipstick and then dipped hundreds of pieces of wood into this red concoction. One can be sure that it was a labor-intensive process, but the resulting exhibition comes across as an inspiring, dream-like fantasy.

    Left: Nikolay Rakhamov, September 1st, 1960s
    Courtesy of Duncan Miller Galler
    Right: Grigory Dubinsky, Bread has arrived, 1960s
    Courtesy of Duncan Miller Gallery

    Another exhibition I went to see this past weekend was Soviet Photography: 1930-1985, presented by Duncan Miller Gallery. These works of over 20 photographers has never been seen in the U.S. before. And it took gallery director Daniel Miller several trips to Moscow to find the artists or their descendants and acquire these works.

    A. Egorov, Star on Moscow River Station, 1937
    Courtesy of Duncan Miller Gallery

    Most of the photographs give an intimate look into the everyday lives of ordinary people: a boy proudly walking with two loaves of bread; school children crossing a busy street with the help of a policeman; a construction worker on top of a high-rise installing a gigantic hammer and sickle -- the iconic symbol of the Soviet Union. Upon entering this exhibition, one is greeted by large lettering in Cyrillic that for many visitors might be a mystery. But here's the translation: from Russia with love.

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    By Christopher Johnson, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, January 25, 2017

    He's been our go-to "ascendant modernist" for so long that it's easy to forget that Philip Glass ages just like the rest of us, and thus it may come as a shock to learn that he celebrates his eightieth birthday on January 31. As if to strain credulity even further, Glass will mark the occasion with a concert at Carnegie Hall featuring two premières--the world première of his Symphony No. 11 and the New York première of Ifé: Three Yorùbá Songs, his collaboration with the great Beninese singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo--along with Days and Nights in Rocinha, his luscious tribute to Rio de Janeiro and its samba school, all of it dished up by his longtime collaborators Dennis Russell Davies and the Bruckner Orchester Linz. Glass may not be quite as prolific as Haydn, but give him time--as of this writing, he's still only seventy-nine.

    The concert anchors a year of notable performances and events encompassing every facet of Glass's career--opera, chamber music, orchestral music, dance, theatre works--including a three-day festival at London's Barbican, a ten-day celebration at Carolina Performing Arts, and "Philip @ 80," a year-long series of programs at National Sawdust, beginning on February 24 with Maki Namekawa's performance of the complete Piano Etudes. It also marks the beginning of the venerable Bruckner Orchester's first American tour since 2009, following the opening of their spectacular new music theatre.

    The new symphony, Glass told us in an interview to be published shortly, celebrates "a relationship that any composer would envy," with an orchestra that's heard or done all his symphonies, and that he has come to know intimately. There's no program or story, he says, but the piece is couched in a "late-period style" related to his "more political" operas Appomatox and The Trial. It's more contrapuntal than his other symphonies and enriched by the full capabilities of the modern orchestra, including the contrabass clarinet and Linz's eight percussionists. The Linz players, Glass says, welcomed an extra session where Glass tried "things I'd done with my own ensemble that I hadn't done with an orchestra," and the result was fed into the symphony. "How great is that?" he asks.

    Ifé, based on three Yorùbá songs about the creation of the world (click here for an excerpt), is the fruit of a close and happy collaboration between Glass and Grammy-winner Angélique Kidjo--a relationship that, for Glass, "built a bridge that no one has walked on before." For Kidjo, Glass's music is "hypnotic and creates a kind of trance, like our traditional music. Also it feels like a living organism that is developing over time. A wonderful feeling: You're witnessing life being created." "She's a wonderful performer," Glass replies, "and I'm really pleased that we'll get to do it at Carnegie Hall." Ifé, in turn, is closely related to Days and Nights in Rocinha: Yorùbá culture had a huge impact on Brazil, Glass notes, so the two pieces, in many ways, come from the same place.

    Should be quite a party.

    Cover: Philip Glass; photo: Steve Pyke

    Christopher Johnson writes frequently for ZEALnyc about classical music and related performances.

    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    A 'Thrilling Start' to a Bruckner Symphony Cycle with Barenboim at Carnegie

    Orchestra of St. Luke's Returns to its Roots

    Virtuoso Pianist Marcus Roberts Uplifts the Art of Jazz With His Simpatico Trio at Miller Theatre

    'The Tempest'--O brave new world, that has such theater in't

    Art Break: See Historical Examples of the Downtown Art Scene

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

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    It was in Pittsburgh last October that I first learned of the Colombian architect, Giancarlo Mazzanti. Raymund Ryan, Curator of the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) was giving me a tour of the Building Optimism: Public Spaces in South America exhibit, which was still in the process of being installed. We paused before a drawing of Mazzanti's masterpiece, the Spain Library Park (Parque Biblioteca Espana) in Medellin.

    Ryan first saw Mazzanti's work in various publications. His designs struck Ryan as having "a strong and memorable image, an image directly connected to place and to construction techniques as well as being playful." Intrigued, Ryan visited Colombia to see Mazzanti's work first hand, on a curatorial journey to research the Public Spaces show.

    Several weeks later, as it turned out, I heard Mazzanti give a talk on Current Work: Playing Anomalies at the Architectural League of New York's annual series held in the Great Hall at Cooper Union. The event was moderated by Chris McVoy, a senior partner at Steven Holl Architects, who first met Mazzanti in 2010 at the Colombia Architectural Biennale in Medellin, and it was co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation where Mazzanti was teaching for the fall semester.

    Manzatti began by explaining the context for the Spain Library Park (2007). Historically, Medellin was a tough city, spatially and socially fragmented, and it was also a city known for its poverty, drug wars, and most famous for drug kingpin Pablo Escobar who was shot and killed by security forces in 1993. Although feared by residents of the city, Escobar did much to elevate the political power of the residents of the city's slums or comunas, turning them into agents demanding change.

    With the election of Mayor Sergio Fajardo (2002-2007) who later served as the Governor of the Department of Antioquia (2012-2015), Medellin made radical progress. Underlying the change, was the mayor's belief that addressing security issues alone was not enough: a cohesive architectural strategy was necessary to transform the city. Together with a team of experts including architects and planners, the Urban Development Corporation (EDU) shaped an innovative vision, accomplished by touching base with the community.

    Mazzanti was one of a number of talented architects who took on the challenge of the new social urbanism. Since Medellin was situated in a valley in the mountains, Manzatti conceived of his Espana library as much as a landscape as a building, locating it in the Santo Domingo Savio neighborhood, considered by many as one of the most dangerous places in Latin America. It was patrolled by urban militias and people were rarely on the streets after 5 PM. The opening of the Medellin cable car, three years earlier in 2004, did much to improve the neighborhood and paved the way for his design.

    Mazzanti's concept was to form an open air city library, which could be reached by the Santo Domingo stop of the Medellin Metrocable. People rode the cable car up to the building, a site humming with activity: rooms for kids, where 10 minutes of games alternated with 10 minutes of education. The three interconnected buildings (a library, training rooms, and an auditorium), have small windows, disconnecting users from the neighborhood in which they are located. Nevertheless, they are situated so that they are very visible from the valley. They rise up seemingly, "born of the earth" like three giant boulders, sheathed in black stone. In November, 2016, when I visited the city, the complex was closed for facade repair. All one could see from the Metrocable was a mass covered with scaffolding.

    Elsewhere in Medellin, Mazzanti designed his Four Sport Scenarios for the 2010 South American Games (2009), another project that rises like a mountain. Ribbons of steel support the undulating rooftops of the buildings creating a landscape and the complex works as a large urban space of over 30,00 square meters, with public open spaces, semi-covered public spaces, and indoor sports facilities.

    Mazzanti is very clear on the starting point for all of his projects. He begins by looking at social patterns: at how people use spaces. Once he has done this, he is careful to build programmed spaces and non-programmed spaces where the people themselves shape the usage of the building. "In Colombia, social engagement coexists with architectural experimentation. It is in the air," Mazzanti said.

    Mazzanti does not impose form and materials on the community. Instead, they learn together. To find out what people really want, Mazzanti goes beyond merely asking basic questions. "If you ask Colombians what they want in a park, most would say a soccer field."

    Mazzanti asked people to draw things that were very important in their lives. The result were pictures of the Madonna, family, domestic scenes, plants, orchids, and their relation to agriculture which inspired his Green House project, where the landscape is a mechanism for building community. An aluminum mesh frame with plants hanging from it. Canopies, not just for shade, but as a climate mechanism. Another project, currently under construction, reserves a space under a canopy where people can turn on faucets, "making it rain," a place where architecture can trigger a different atmosphere.

    Mazzanti believes that you cannot control a building. "Buildings are not objects. Architects don't make iconic buildings. People make them iconic." To Mazzanti, architecture is action: "a game for social inclusion." Mazzanti, who won his first public project competition in 1989 when he was only 22, had made his career out of public competitions. This is true whether his firm, El Equipo de Mazzanti, is building schools, libraries, sports facilities, or museums. "Competitions are the most democratic way," he said. "I don't understand another form. I love it. It is better than discussing details with a client who wants a beautiful door."

    Mazzanti's passion for design as a catalyst of an environment, as a positive triggering mechanism is nowhere more apparent than in the Pies Descalzos School in Cartagena, Colombia, completed in 2014. Set on top of the Loma del Peye Mountain, the school can be seen from the airplane, rising above its surroundings. The design of the building is based on a sequence of three intersecting hexagons with covered patios.

    On the dirt road up to the school, you pass a neighborhood that has improved slightly since the school was built said Simon Hoyos, an English teacher in the middle and high school. Children who live in the neighborhood walk up the mountain. Parents and other locals now want to live near the school because it provides services. There is a football (soccer) field for the community and it serves children from pre-school through high school.

    Little ones arrive at 7 AM, often with no breakfast and they are given a small morning meal of bread, milk and fruit. In the middle of the day, at noon, all children receive vegetables, meat, rice, and milk, provided by the government. Colombia is divided into economic areas, strata 1-6 and the neighborhood surrounding the school is 1-2.

    "What you see here," said Daniela Garcia, who spends two hours per week teaching English to 4th and 5th graders, "is definitely not gentrification. You see gentrification in Cartagena but here it is all about positive change in people's lives."

    These words would make Mazzanti very happy. He is determined to use his architectural design "to trigger learning." One technique in his design process is to use the repetition of templates, (the hexagons in the Cartagena school) to call attention to structure, with each unit, although independent, relating to the next.

    "Playfulness is a critical aspect of Mazzanti's work," Raymund Ryan said. "Playfulness in color and form and pattern (as evidenced in the Medellin Sports Halls). And, playfulness in the sense of system--structural elements as modules that can combine to create organic institutions." This design allows for buildings "to grow or contract and for individual units (classrooms in the Pies Descalzos School) to be read as components of a greater whole."

    Mariana Bravo, Communications Coordinator at his Bogota studio shows me a clear plastic vitrine filled with colorful pieces shaped like the modules of Mazzanti's buildings. Viewers were encouraged to put their hands into gloves which were inserted in two holes in the vitrine so that they can move the pieces around, essentially creating their own designs. One such art-design box is currently on display in the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris.

    Mazzanti's emphasis on engaging the public is evident in the project Mazzanti designed for the Milan Triennial in 2016: it was a wall made of cloth that became a shadow theater. "The whole idea was not to be static and rigid," Bravo said. "Some girls even kissed it."

    I saw Mazzanti again at the final design review session for his advanced architecture studio course at Columbia University in New York in mid-December. Together with his colleague, Carlos Medellin, the firm's Research Foundation Director, he was teaching a unique workshop on Space and Programmatic Anomalies: Barranquilla A Dual City: Public Infrastructure As a Strategy.

    The class traveled to Barranquilla, Colombia for nine days where they researched the social needs of their clients, meeting first with officials from the offices of social management, water forum, culture, education, health and sports. Their first exercise was to design a "toy" which could help them interact with the people. One team, for example, created an outdoor veiled confessional booth where people would enter and hang their hopes and fears on strings. While inside, they could also read, in privacy, what other people wanted.

    The play as strategy concept was subsequently to be incorporated into the team's design for Barranquilla, a cultural metropolis, a city where a large number of people were displaced by the drug wars. They were given a site in a low income neighborhood that was near the river and near new developments.

    The teams faced eight tough jurors in addition to Mazzanti and Medellin. A proposal to build a multi-layered traffic circle to house sports facilities to correct a traffic jam generated a lively critical response. What about car pollution, one juror asked? What about public transport, asked another? Why not transform the highway into a horse track, asked a third? Could the river be an actor in the design, asked a fourth?

    Mazzanti sat in the front row listening intently. Finally, he spoke: You've put too many different activities here. In Colombia, people love street soccer. For that, you don't even need a field."

    Words of wisdom from an architect whose current focus is how to rethink buildings for new relations. "The most important topic in Colombia today is how we resolve conflict in a new way. Architects have to stop waiting and assume a more positive role," Mazzanti said. "We must have the capability to propose new programs and building types--buildings that will become symbols of the new Colombia."

    Aerial View Cartagena School. Photo by Sergio Gomez

    Central Courtyard in Cartagena School. Photo by Sergio Gomez

    Side Courtyard in Cartegena School. Photo by Sergio Gomez

    Aerial View Four Sport Scenarios. Photo by Iwan Baan

    Inside Four Sport Scenarios. Photo by Sergio Gomez

    Four Sport Scenarios in Medellin. Photo by Shael Shapiro

    Parque Biblioteca Espana in Medellin. Photo by Diana Moreno

    Parque Biblioteca Espana. Photo by Sergio Gomez

    Parque Biblioteca Espana. Photo by Sergio Gomez

    Wall, Milan Triennial 2016. Photo by Sergio Gomez

    Wall, Milan Triennial 2016. Photo by Gianluca Di Ioia

    Barrancabermejas Canopy. Photo by Sergio Gomez

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    When I first heard her voice, it evoked an image of an Elven queen wandering through the forests of Middle Earth, her song echoing between the trees. Though Peia Luzzi is not a mythical character from a Tolkien tale, her music feels otherworldly as she wields a voice that is both powerful and delicate.

    Based in the hills outside of Ashland, Oregon, Peia is a soft-spoken songstress with swathes of caramel curls that spill over her shoulders. She is gentle and sweet, wrapping herself in earth tones that accentuate her natural beauty. Her wide vocal range resonates with a piercing clarity that can soothe and awaken, like feeling the sunshine after weeks of rain.

    "One of my earliest memories is of sitting in my car seat, waiting for my mom and singing in my own made-up language," Peia recalls. "I was a late talker but an early singer."

    Born and raised in rural Connecticut, she studied singing at the New England Conservatory in Boston where she quickly realized that she did not fit into the classical Western tradition that many of her instructors encouraged her to pursue. While her skill for opera was there, her passion was not and she began exploring alternative vocal outlets.

    Though Peia continued to satisfy her opera professors, she immersed herself in extracurricular classes like klezmer, Turkish, and Indian music. She was enamored with the diversity in sound offered by the music of various cultures and began delving deeper into their history.

    Peia ventured out west in 2007 finding a home in Oregon where she plunged into a world of discovery through travel, slowly harnessing the power of her instrument. "It's been a long and slow process learning how to use my voice," she explains, "finding my way to traditional folk music and songwriting."

    She eventually became enamored with the oral traditions of ancient cultures who shared their stories with future generations through song. In addition to writing her own music, she would also curate some of these cultural ballads which she would seamlessly blend into an album. The combination of her modern compositions mixed with the ritualistic songs of ancient cultures produces a transcendent sound that reveals the roots of humanity.

    "I've been deeply inspired by the many musicians across the ages who have used their artistic platform to give voice to the people," Peia reflects. "It's an incredibly delicate and blessed gift to be able to weave history with the living voice of our times."

    With the release of her sophomore album Four Great Winds in 2012, Peia was whisked away into the exciting and ever-changing world of a touring musician. She traveled across Europe, Australia and the U.S., finally coming up for air three years later to recharge and begin work on her latest album, Beauty Thunders.

    "There is no such thing as a typical day for a touring musician, each day on the road brings something new -- new people, new surroundings and new experiences; the only thing constant is the motion," Peia describes. "However, when I am home, I do my best to find a rhythm and nourish my internal well."

    Beauty Thunders, which was released in November of 2016, was successfully crowd-funded which has allowed her to preserve the freedom that comes with being an independent artist. Through her travels to many lands and her interactions with many cultures, she has gathered their songs as well as her own into a cohesive album that celebrates ancient traditions as well as her own creative expressions.

    The organic sounds of birds twinkle with the steady drone of a harmonium, pulling you into the album like a tractor beam. Peia's voice soars like the wind as she sings a love letter to our Earth and an ode to humanity.

    "I find melodies in the trickling of water and the babble of the birds above me," says Peia, "and I find that songs come when they want and elude me when they wish, but always they require stillness and deep listening."

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    First conceptualizing and then actually hand-making a sign to take to a march is a variant of Street Art – part of the theatrical, political, personal, contentious activation of public space that you individually can take entirely with your own act of creativity. For pros and amateurs alike it can seem enthralling, liberating, even risky to put your artistic skill and opinions out there for others to gaze upon and analyze.

    Still a protected form of speech (so far), the results of your industry can be thrilling, humorous, confusing, absolutely enraging. It depends.

    On the occasion of Donald Trump’s first day as president, January 21st brought an enormous flood of defiant and celebratory art, performance, and chanting to Washington. Also, thousands of pink crocheted ‘pussy’ hats.

    We follow Street Art wherever we go around the world and we are always on the lookout for new, effective, poetic, strident, abstract, in-context messages and techniques. This march met and exceeded expectations.

    With three times as many attendees as the actual inauguration, the Women’s March in Washington D.C. on Saturday may have been the biggest in US history. Reportedly there were hundreds of “sister marches” which it spawned across the world. Just in terms of math that means an unprecedented number of aesthetically inclined people were challenging themselves to make signs, props and all manner of theatrical costumery to get their point across.

    Themes addressed often spoke to subtle and overt misogyny and women’s empowerment and dominion over their health, bodies, intelligence, families; all in direct response to Trump’s cavalier disparagement and violence toward women on the record and alleged in courts.

    Other topics of signs for this least favorite new president skewered Russian involvement in the election, a cabinet of mostly white male billionaires from banking and oil, his mocking of a person with disabilities, racism toward anyone not white, a mocking disregard for all environmental matters, and cats.

    You undoubtedly agree that cats are appropriate for nearly any march, as long as you don’t expect any actual cats to actually march, because that would be beneath them.

    “We will not go away! Welcome to your first day!” was one of many chants that the New York photographer named The Dusty Rebel heard during his two day survey of the streets of the capital.

    A dedicated eagle eye on the streets capturing buskers, beauties, prosletizers, preachers, politicos, and flim-flammers, Dusty says that this visit to DC was an overwhelming experience and sometimes challenging to capture. We’re thankful that he did and that he shares some of his favorite shots with BSA readers today.

    In fact, this momentous series of marches across the world looks like it may have launched a new political movement, possibly sparking an increased level of engagement of citizenry with the wheels of government. It’s hard to tell but at least for now it’s brought more handmade art to the street.

    “Sounds like it’s already time to start coming up with new sign ideas!,” says Becki F. on her Facebook page when it has been announced that the next march is being planned for April 15th – tax day. One possible outcome will be that the President admits that yes, people do care about his tax returns.

    To learn more about the Women’s March On Washington or to get involved click HERE


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    A version of this article is also posted on Brooklyn Street Art here.

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    Subodh Gupta, Terminal, 2010, Brass and thread, Dimensions variable. From "Guests, Strangers and Interlopers," SCAD Museum of Art | POETTER, Curator: Storm Janse van Rensburg. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland and New York.

    The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has developed an enviable reputation for its expansive curriculum on their campuses around the world, from Hong Kong to Atlanta, and they are known for producing successful graduates who took full advantage of the variety of facilities and the distinguished faculty that inhabits the college's studios and classrooms. One of the great advantages of the Savannah campus to students is daily access to the SCAD Museum of Art, which is artfully housed in a former railroad station and surely is amongst the most beautiful and spacious museums in the country that are connected to a college of art. Paula Wallace, president and founder of Savannah College of Art and Design, said, "The SCAD Museum of Art, itself a masterpiece of architecture and design, beckons the world's greatest contemporary artists. The museum is a beacon, the world's preeminent university teaching museum, featuring major career retrospectives, national and world premieres, a long list of spectacular site-specific installations, and a schedule of influential artist talks and events. It is a glorious place, full of wonder and magic. And to think, it's only five years old! For years to come, the SCAD Museum of Art will provide sanctuary for visitors to contemplate, converse, and, most importantly, dream. In this exalted space, we educate the mind and lift the heart." To celebrate and document the fifth anniversary of the SCAD Museum of Art, their distinguished curatorial team has assembled a first-class show featuring five separate exhibits; each has its own identity, along with a common denominator of perceptive foresight and invention.

    Installation of "Pensive," an exhibition by Radcliffe Bailey at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia. Courtesy of SCAD.

    Upon entering the first gallery, it's appropriate to be met by Atlanta-based hotshot Radcliffe Bailey's bronze sculpture of a pensive figure seated on the steps of huge, stacked, rough-sawn fir logs. Portraying W.E.B. Du Bois, the figure has a remarkable spirited grandeur, not unlike Rodin's The Thinker, often used as an image to represent philosophy, or Rockefeller Center's cast bronze Charles Atlas, fearlessly holding up our planet, since appropriated as a symbol of the Objectivist movement. Like the contrapposto, dignified stance of a giant bronze depiction of President Lincoln gazing out on the country he helped change, Du Bois was a leader of the black freedom movement by example, and helped solidify civil liberties through his own courageous determination, strength and conviction. It sets the tone of mixing history, personal experiences and reflection for the remaining works in the gallery. One in particular that stands out is a painted and hand-stitched tarpaulin, with symbols, initials (including one of the artist's grandfathers, Alex Cole) and dashes of paint that provide a literal backdrop for a platform displaying a life-size stuffed alligator staking out its aesthetic territory smack dab in the center of the oversized assemblage. Bailey creates dramatic configurations on the floor as well as tabletops, with elongated remnants of piano keys that may be a clever, subtle reference to the Ivory Coast. The adaptive reuse of wooden fragments conjures up imaginary musical notes referring to the work's title, "Sweet Georgia Brown," where the artist pays homage to his love of baseball and his hometown memories of neighbor and baseball legend, Hank Aaron, accented with the permanent stains of Georgia's famed red clay.

    Michael Joo, Portrait, "Barrier Island," an exhibition at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia, Curator: Storm Janse van Rensburg.

    Complementing Bailey's thinking man's art is Michael Joo's exhibit titled "Barrier Island," a reference to the nearby skinny landmass that is overwhelmed with history and tragedy. However, it is the jaw-dropping innate handsomeness of his six oversized impressive canvases in a row, printed with silver nitrate and sensitized epoxy in a challenging photographic process that accurately illustrates mature trees struck by the bolt of lightning that ended their long, shady life in a millisecond, that are among the most extraordinary images in his exhibit. The tension between recording the damaging lucky strike on burnt timber and the resulting stark beauty is nearly impossible to comprehend unless you are standing in front of each one.

    Subodh Gupta, Known Stranger, 2014, Mixed media, 151 x 65 x 71 in. From "Guests, Strangers and Interlopers," SCAD Museum of Art | POETTER, Curator: Storm Janse van Rensburg. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland and New York.

    Subodh Gupta's lofty, golden-plated forest of shiny stacked round shapes is a perfect fit for a long hall space that originally was a freight train loading dock for mostly cotton and tobacco. These welded forms, which recall Brancusi's soaring carved wooden columns or perhaps Gaudí's Barcelona steeples, make for a fascinating, enchanted path, and might border a yellow brick road en route to the Wizard of Oz. Gupta also cooks up a handsome, hanging conglomeration of discarded and amply weathered Indian pots and pans, which are somewhat foreboding next to the large ancient ceramic jugs adorned with protruding, white plaster wraps that take on an alien futurist personality.

    Installation of "If We Must Die...," an exhibition by Ebony G. Patterson at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia. Courtesy of SCAD.

    Ebony Patterson's drop dead line-up of decorative casket silhouettes offers a sardonic and contemplative view of life and death. These slightly creepy elongated profiles, whose connotations take on the unfortunate realities of our time, are paradoxically festive, as if they could be paraded in the streets as holiday banners held up by their supportive poles. On the opposite side, there is a collection of sewn handkerchiefs, each with a photo transfer that partially blocks the identity of the presumed deceased. This incredibly colorful checkerboard-like composition could serve as a missing person's poster or a commemoration of an unidentified victim of corruption and revolution.

    Saya Woolfalk, Chimera, 2013, Mixed media installation with single-channel video, 13 x 18 x 25 ft. From "To Dream the Electric Dream," SCAD Museum of Art, Curator: Aaron Levi Garvey. Courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Gallery, New York.

    Saya Woolfalk displayed her wares in a dark, mysterious room, where the works took on a curious and unforgettable state of animation. SCAD alumnus Jane Winfield displays handsome, color-based paintings that incorporate geometric forms on large expanses of harmonic, tinted flat backgrounds.


    Jose Dávila, Portrait, "Practical Structures," an exhibition at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia, Guest curator: Aaron Levi Garvey.

    Jose Dávila produced immense, flat slabs of quarried stone, which seem to balance precariously using rigging lines, and have a similar essence of Donald Judd's early works in their assimilation of an earthy, rusted spirit that also is strikingly elegant.

    Installation of "El viaje," an exhibition by Andres Bedoya at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia. Courtesy of SCAD.

    Andres Bedoya's hand-constructed figures, framed by the museum's contemporary, beautiful Savannah brick archway and sidewalk location, was a lovely hint on the outside of what one might expect to see in terms of overall quality on the inside, along with an aroma of ancient Rome. The late Bill Cunningham, legendary New York Times photographer, was honored with a delightful retrospective of his early works, which seemed to cover every aspect of stylish Manhattan nightlife. (Due to copyright restrictions, no images of Cunningham's photographs are available)

    In recent years, there are only a handful of museums attached at the hip to an art school that present this kind of overall quality and distinction. From one room to another, this outstanding fifth anniversary exhibition salutes exceptional vision and ingenuity, and with this level of stewardship and curatorial superiority, expect more of the same to come.

    For more information on SCAD Museum of Art: SCAD Museum of Art

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    What was it like to live in the 13th century in Persia? How did it differ from the Persia of Omar Khayyam by that point? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

    Answer by Brad Gooch, Poet, Novelist, and Biographer, and author of Rumi's Secret, on Quora.

    What was it like to live in the 13th century in Persia? How did it differ from the Persia of Omar Khayyam by that point? Interesting that you should bring up Omar Khayyam, since the translations of his poetry into English in the nineteenth century caused a kind of Khayyam craze on the scale of the interest in Rumi's poetry around the time of the appearance of the translations of Coleman Barks in the mid-1990's. Thirteenth-century Persian culture was highly poetic, and Khayyam lived only a generation before Rumi. Yet the difference in their poetry and stance is telling about a division in schools of Persian poetry at the time. As a boy, when his family was traveling from his homeland in Central Asia westward to their eventual home in Konya, Turkey, they probably stopped at Nishapur, in the eastern part of present-day Iran. A story was told that Rumi as a boy met there the poet Attar, who wrote the beautiful narrative poem "The Conference of the Birds" and that Attar predicted his future greatness as a poet and mystic. "Your son will soon be kindling fire in all the world's lovers of God," he supposedly told Rumi's father, Baha Valad. But Attar was of the spiritual school of poets, who stayed away from writing court poetry and dedicated their work and lives to spiritual wisdom. Omar Khayyam, also from Nishapur, where he is buried, was a poet of doubt and pessimism, and so he was dismissed by the more mystical Attar, and eventually by the adult Rumi, or at least by his companion and teacher Shams of Tabriz, who disliked Khayyam for speaking "mixed-up, immoderate, and dark words."

    Khayyam was buried beside a garden wall a few miles outside Nishapur, where pear and peach trees scattered petals on his tomb. Celebrated as a mathematician and astronomer while alive, Khayyam also wrote seductive, four-line quatrains, compatible with short, pithy observations about life: "Whether at Nishapur or Babylon... The leaves of life keep falling one by one." Yet the bracing wind of doubt and pessimism--including questioning whether an afterlife actually existed--that sweeps through these "robais" disturbed the more visionary and believing Attar. In his "Book of the Divine," Attar imagined a clairvoyant, standing over Khayyam's grave, seeing the great intellectual "bathing in his sweat for shame and confusion," having to admit his error. While stories were popular of Rumi and his father going to visit Attar, as an homage, no story was eve told of Rumi and Baha Valad visiting the grave of Omar Khayyam.

    This question originally appeared on Quora. - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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    Dear Facebook,

    I won’t apologize, because this has been a long-time coming. I’m breaking up with you.

    In the beginning, you were exciting like any other new relationship. At every corner, you revealed a new surprise — a new friend, an interesting article, a funny picture or meme. I approached our relationship cautiously, only logging on every once in a while. Then came the long winter days and I found Farmville. And Words With Friends. You helped me stay connected when I was alone in a new city. You were funny, entertaining and insightful.

    You’ve been like a big brother.

    You watched as I got married.

    When I had my first child.

    And my second child.

    You were there for me during those scary first days of motherhood and helped me stay connected when I was sure there was no one out there. You allowed me to share images of our most joyous and proud moments as our babies grew bigger, allowing family and friends to ooh and ahh over how much they’d grown.

    As technology evolved, I no longer had to access you through a computer. Now I could see what any one of my 750 closest friends were doing at any time! In line at the grocery store. While feeding my babies. Between episodes of “The Wire” or whatever my husband and I happened to be binge watching at the time.

    Direct communication and relationships with friends began to wane. I no longer felt like I needed to pick up the phone and call most people to check in and see how they were doing —I knew what was happening through their Facebook activity. You were great at helping me remember important events, like an upcoming concert or friends’ birthdays. Now I could offer a wish of “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMY!” on her wall instead of a card or an email.

    When I found an interesting article or captured a particularly cute picture of my child, I’d share it and watch anxiously as people “liked” it — each occurrence a validation that I had posted something good. While I didn’t post often, the process always offered a type of high. I’ve always been a “pleaser” of sorts, so shares that generated a lot of likes seemed to grant a type of social currency. It was exciting and I felt loved. Shares that didn’t perform weren’t entirely disappointing, but made me wonder why people didn’t like it. Did they even see it?

    And then the elections happened. And while I have always appreciated how you’ve always brought me views and opinions I hadn’t considered, I began to see something new. You gave rise to a new movement and helped normalize complete falsehoods and “news” that wasn’t legitimate. And on articles from legitimate news sources, I read through countless comments of people “trolling” the media and attempting to undermine what was said.

    As the elections grew closer, “friends” began trolling and attacking one another. It seemed like someone couldn’t post an article supporting one “side” or the other without commentary from an opposing vantage. And most of the time, it wasn’t a substantive comment or counterpoint but just a talking point they’d picked up from the campaign.


    Facebook, you’re no longer fun. You bring me a lot of anxiety. You make me sad and frustrated. Our country is divided, but you magnify it and stoke the fire. And in a country that’s already so polarized, I don’t need to spend my time — my time with my family, my time working, my time I could be focusing on things that make me better — reading through a continual stream of anger. I want to be surrounded by ideas and things and make me better. Not content that fuels my distrust.

    I also don’t want to live in a world of “siloed” information — where you share the type of news and information your algorithms say I want to see. I want to take back my news and identify the media outlets that I find to be the most legitimate. I want to take back my friendships. I want to call my friends and family again to hear what’s actually going on, not just what they choose to share through Facebook.

    Settings –> Security –> Deactivate Account.

    Why am I leaving you?

    “I no longer find you useful.”


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