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A Little Lunch Music 9/21/2017: Auburn Native Returns to Sing Art Song, Opera, and More

By | Art Experiences, Music, News, Performances, Visiting Artist | No Comments

On Thursday, September 21 from noon to 1:00 pm, the series will present a free concert by soprano Kathleen Buccleugh with pianist Laurie Middaugh. The program will feature music by Joaquín Rodrigo, Gabriel Fauré, Richard Strauss, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leonard Bernstein, and selections from musical theater and popular music. Thanks to gifts from anonymous friends of the series for helping to make this performance possible.

Click here for our calendar event page with more information about the artists.

Buccleugh (pronounced like Buckley) said a recent search into her music collection resulted in a program covering a wide range of styles. Thursday’s music will feature art songs by Gabriel Fauré, Joaquín Rodrigo, and Richard Strauss. She will sing a Mozart aria, selections from music theater, and a song by Joni Mitchell. “I wanted to show as much diversity of repertoire that I could,” she said.

French composer Gabriel Fauré’s song cycle 5 Mélodies is nicknamed “de Venise,” because his ideas for the songs were developed during a vacation to Venice. Buccleugh said the music is full of lush harmonies, and the melodies are about as romantic as you can get. “It’s just pouring romance musically and with the words.” she said.

The duo will present Cuatro madrigales amatorios by Joaquín Rodrigo, four songs that set a darker mood. Written in 1947, the composer used sixteenth-century poems. The songs highlight an intense and sometimes painful side of love.

Buccleugh will sing three Richard Strauss songs including “Morgen!” translated “Morning!” a song she said she has wanted to do since she was a student at Auburn High.

The aria “In uomini, in soldati” is sung by the character Despina in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte. It is a role Buccleugh has played before and will revisit next month in her debut with the Mobile Opera. She has also sung roles with Utah Festival Opera, St. Petersburg Opera, Opera Birmingham, New Rochelle Opera and others.

Buccleugh said singing Mozart is a privilege because his melodies are so beautiful. She said while his musical phrases are exquisite and speak for themselves, that doesn’t mean the text should suffer. “That’s my job as an opera singer, to balance telling the story with serving the music,” she said.

Buccleugh said working in a recital format like this allows her to have fun switching between different styles. She will sing “Will He Like Me?” by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick from the musical, She Loves Me. She said the style allows her some looseness when she interprets the music, even with the option of sometimes speaking rather than singing lyrics. “You can’t sing it like Mozart opera,” she said.

Though Buccleugh said she didn’t have in mind a particular theme for Thursday’s recital, she said love is the theme. But she added that love, in some form or other, is almost always the theme, when it comes to a concert of songs.

These selections show many kinds of love, said Buccleugh. Fauré and Rodrigo’s songs present romantic love in its happy, painful, and sexual expressions. She said Mozart’s Despina sings of a kind of disposable love, fickle and playful.

A song by Leonard Bernstein, “Glitter and Be Gay,” from his operetta Candide, sings of a love of possessions. Buccleugh paraphrased the song, “Times are hard, but I’m being covered in jewels and lavish clothing, so things could be worse.”

soprano Kathleen Buccleugh

soprano Kathleen Farrar Buccleugh

artwork from the film showing a head-covered woman and a dove with olive branch.

Watch the Trailer: “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”

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Watch the official trailer

RSVP for reception and screening

JCSM and the International Women for Peace and Understanding are proud to present a free screening of the award-winning documentary, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” This documentary chronicles the remarkable story of the Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country. Thousands of women–mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim–came together to pray for peace and then staged a silent protest outsident the Presidential Palace in Liberia.

There will be a reception in the Museum Cafe from 1:15 to 2 pm. There will be the movie in the auditorium at 2 pm, followed by discussion.

baritone Matthew Hoch

A Little Lunch Music 9/14: AU Faculty Will Tackle Schubert’s Final Song Cycle

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On Thursday from noon to 1 p.m., the series will present a free concert featuring baritone singer Matthew Hoch with pianist Jeremy Samolesky in the Grand Gallery. The duo will perform music by Franz Schubert. Gifts from anonymous friends of the series are helping to make this performance possible.

Click here for the full schedule for A Little Lunch Music and more about the performers.

In addition to a solo piano piece by Schubert, the duo will perform the composer’s final song cycle. Titled “Shwanengesang” and translated “Swan Song,” the publisher released it a few months after Schubert’s death in 1828.

In 2016, Hoch and Samolesky performed Schubert’s first song cycle “Die schöne Müllerin.” Next year, Hoch said they will learn the composer’s second, “Winterreise,” finishing out the composer’s canon of song cycles. “Jeremy and I view this as a rite of passage,” said Hoch.

Hoch said that Samolesky is a fantastic performer of Romantic music, which he added can be difficult to interpret. He said it has an expressive quality that requires a certain looseness that Samolesky can really pull off. “He just has a great way of communicating a piece to an audience so that it makes sense,” said Hoch.

Hoch said he entered music school in college as a saxophonist, but soon became jealous of the singers’ repertoire. He said as a freshman, he heard a concert by famous Dutch soprano Elly Ameling during her farewell tour. “She sang an all-Schubert recital and I was hooked,” he said. Soon after, he switched to study vocal performance.

“Schubert for me is kind of like Shakespeare might be for the English teacher,” said Hoch. “I just find a richness there that I’m never going to get to the bottom of,” he added.

“Schwanengesang” is a collection of fourteen songs that were unpublished when Schubert died at age 31. Hoch said this has caused some debate on the subject of whether it can, in fact, be called a song cycle. Often, a song cycle is a composer’s musical setting of a collection of the work of one poet. This is true of Schubert’s other two cycles, but “Schwanengesang” includes the poems of three poets.

The song cycle’s poets are Ludwig Rellstab, Heinrich Heine, and Johann Gabriel Seidl. Hoch said though there are different poets, the songs are connected by thematic material. He said many of them are in the voice of a man separated from his beloved. Secondly, the idea of a type of character Hoch calls “the wanderer,” common in Romantic German poetry, appears frequently. He also noted the recurrence of melodic ideas.

Rellstab’s work makes up the first seven songs. This group includes the song titled “Ständchen,” translated “Serenade,” which Hoch said is one of Schubert’s most famous melodies. After Rellstab’s poems, Heine’s work makes up the next six songs. Then the final song is the only setting of Seidl’s poetry. “It’s kind of obvious that the publisher put that in to give it some cyclical unity,” Hoch said.

Hoch defends the publisher’s decision to add the third poet. In his program notes, Hoch uses “sinister” to describe the cycle’s second-to-last song, “Der Doppëlganger,” translated “The Wraith.” He described this setting of Heine’s poetry as delivering “a recitative of thrilling terror.”

In contrast, Hoch wrote that the final song with Seidl’s poem “elegantly reflects a more joyful side of the composer’s spirit.” Hoch said it gives listeners a reprieve from the adventurous harmonic language and dark imagery of “Der Doppëlganger.” He said it nicely ties together the full song cycle, even bringing back thematic ideas from the Rellstab poems.

baritone Matthew Hoch

photo credit: Lesley Foote

Installation of Leo Twiggs at Auburn

Museum Live: Sept. 8, 2017

By | Art, engage | discuss | create, History, Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel, News, Visiting Artist | No Comments

“Immanuel: A Symposium” was recorded and streamed live at JCSM on the afternoon before the opening of “Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel.” The symposium provided the opportunity to discuss the African American church, and its historical and contemporary role as both sanctuary and location for civic and political activism.

“Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree: African Americans and the Church in Southern History”

Presented by Dr. Richard Bailey, Alabama historian and retired research specialist

“We Are Charleston”

Presented by Dr. Bernard E. Powers, Jr. Professor of History, College of Charleston

Following this presentation, there will be a break.

“‘The Most Segregated Hour in America’: Churches and Social Justice Across the Color Line, from the Civil Rights Era to the Present”

Presented by Dr. David Carter, Associate Professor of History, Auburn University, and Dr. Johnny Green, Assistant Vice President for Outreach in Student Affairs, Auburn University

Following this presentation, there will be a panel discussion and a break. 

“Requiem for Mother Emanuel,” Dr. Leo Twiggs, Professor Emeritus, South Carolina State University

Please note that this lecture is sold out. A limited amount of seating will be available in the Museum Cafe for a live-stream of the program.

Dr. Twiggs’s lecture will shed light on his conceptualization and resolution of works in his exhibition of nine batik paintings he made in response to the June 17, 2015 massacre in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and to its aftermath and far-reaching consequences.

Opening reception for Requiem for Mother Emanuel immediately follows.

Taking the exhibition as point of departure, the objective of the symposium will be to explore the history of the black church in the U.S., and to open a discussion about the historical intersections between the Christian conversion of enslaved Africans, and the metaphorical and real church as location and catalyst for spiritual and political redemption. “Immanuel,” the Hebrew word for “God is with us,” gave Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church its name, and the concept of “Immanuel” offers a powerful point of departure for both the artwork of Dr. Twiggs and the broader themes the symposium will explore. The symposium will consist of four talks and a panel discussion leading up to the opening artist talk. JCSM has been deliberate in choosing a scholar who can address the history of the African American church both nationally and in Alabama, a scholar from Charleston, and scholars from the local community.

The symposium has been made possible in part by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Auburn University Special Lectures Fund.

pianist Mary Slaton

A Little Lunch Music 9/7/2017: Mary Slaton Will Open Fall Season

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On Thursday, September 7, from noon to 1 p.m., we will present a free concert as part of our weekly A Little Lunch Music series. The event will feature pianist Mary Slaton in the Grand Gallery, performing her arrangements of popular music going back as far as the 1940s.

Gifts from anonymous friends of the series are helping to make this performance possible.

Click here for the event page with more about the performers and the series’s full schedule.

As the museum reopens after renovations, Slaton will kick off the series’ fall schedule. The pianist has had her own re-construction over the summer, having endured a serious injury last March. She said she broke both bones in her forearm and damaged her wrist. For ten weeks, her hand was immobile.

For decades, Slaton has performed and taught piano. She said she specializes in popular music from the 1940s to the 1970s, but her repertoire includes music from the 1930s to present day.

Musician Patrick McCurry coordinates the weekly series. “I was worried when she said she got hurt,” he said. He has heard Slaton many times, sometimes playing saxophone in her trio. He said when he called to book her for the date, she was still unable to play.

But McCurry said Slaton agreed to perform, saying she would use it as a recovery goal. “She plays these rich, lush chords in her arrangements,” said McCurry, adding that piano music like that requires nimble fingers and hands that can stretch far.

But Slaton said practicing turned out to be a good companion to physical therapy. She said the stretching and exercise it requires helped a lot, and she is now able to perform again. “There are certain chords that I still can’t play,” said Slaton. But she added that she is close to a full recovery, and is ready to play Thursday.

Slaton said she built her arsenal of songs from the gigs she played. “When I started playing, a lot of it happened because people would request songs,” she said. If she didn’t know the song, she would say, “Hum a few bars,” and fake it. Then later she would find the music or the recording and learn the tune.

Slaton said when she was playing the most, in the 1970s and 80s in Memphis and then Atlanta, she would try to keep up with the music that was playing on the radio. After that, the requests at her gigs were mostly from those earlier decades.

“I like the oldies,” she said, adding that she is still learning new songs people want to hear.

Slaton worked briefly for a pest control company in Atlanta and for the IRS in Memphis, the worst job she said has ever had. But her lifetime career has been music. After graduating from the University of Montevallo, she taught piano, chorus, and band at Beauregard School and in Tuskegee before moving to Memphis.

As a single mom with a young son, Slaton was earning her Master’s degree at Memphis State University and playing at the Hilton and Hyatt hotels. She would need babysitters when she played at night, and said she once hired Kerrie McCarver, who would become Jerry Lee Lewis’s sixth wife.

Slaton moved to Atlanta to be closer to family, and played for years there at venues like the Omni Hotel, the Hilton, the Atlanta Country Club, and others.

Now living in Opelika since 1995, she is near the Lazenby family farm where she grew up in Beauregard. She has appeared at venues like the now-closed Terra Cotta, the Saugahatchee Country Club, and the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National among others. She teaches a private studio and plays at churches and events when called on.

Slaton said being in the music business for so long, she has met a lot of famous and colorful characters. She said people ask her, “Why don’t you write a book,” and she answers, “I’m afraid my son would read it.”

pianist Mary Slaton

On September 7, pianist Mary Slaton will return to present classic songs from 1940s and later.

Installation of Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel

Immanuel: A Symposium

By | News, Traveling Exhibition, Visiting Artist | No Comments

On June 17, 2015 when Dylan Roof entered Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina he was entering the oldest African American church in the South, the home of the first independent black denomination in the United States in a city that was central to the slave trade in the United States. Roof, a young white man, murdered nine African American members of a Bible study group, sparking a series of events that brought the city, the state, and the country together long enough to finally drive state governments to take down from public buildings the battle flag of Northern Virginia, more commonly known as the Confederate flag. There were more than just political ramifications. Artist, Dr. Leo Twiggs said, “What I feel is that the tragedy changed our state in a way that I had not seen before. I think for us that was a shining moment where people came together not because of the color of their skin, but because of the humanness in their hearts. I think for the first time we started communicating heart to heart instead of head to head.” Twiggs responded with a series of nine batik paintings that chronicles a narrative of violence and redemption that not only refers to the Mother Emanuel massacre, but also serves as metaphor for the broader African American religious experience in this country.

“Immanuel: A Symposium” will take place at JCSM on the afternoon before the opening of Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel. It will provide the opportunity to discuss the African American church, and its historical and contemporary role as both sanctuary and location for civic and political activism. Taking the exhibition as point of departure, the objective of the symposium will be to explore the history of the black church in the U.S., and to open a discussion about the historical intersections between the Christian conversion of enslaved Africans, and the metaphorical and real church as location and catalyst for spiritual and political redemption. “Immanuel,” the Hebrew word for “God is with us,” gave Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church its name, and the concept of “Immanuel” offers a powerful point of departure for both the artwork of Dr. Twiggs and the broader themes the Symposium will explore. The symposium will consist of four talks and a panel discussion leading up to the opening artist talk. JCSM has been deliberate in choosing a scholar who can address the history of the African American church both nationally and in Alabama, a scholar from Charleston, and scholars from the local community.

The symposium has been made possible in part by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Auburn University Special Lectures Fund.

Auburn University’s Mosaic Theater will perform.

“Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree: African Americans and the Church in Southern History”

Presented by Dr. Richard Bailey, Alabama historian and retired research specialist

“We Are Charleston”

Presented by Dr. Bernard E. Powers, Jr. Professor of History, College of Charleston

Following this presentation, there will be a break.

“‘The Most Segregated Hour in America’: Churches and Social Justice Across the Color Line, from the Civil Rights Era to the Present”

Presented by Dr. David Carter, Associate Professor of History, Auburn University, and Dr. Johnny Green, Assistant Vice President for Outreach in Student Affairs, Auburn University

Following this presentation, there will be a panel discussion and a break. 

“Requiem for Mother Emanuel,” Dr. Leo Twiggs, Professor Emeritus, South Carolina State University

Dr. Twiggs’s lecture will shed light on his conceptualization and resolution of works in his exhibition of nine batik paintings he made in response to the June 17, 2015 massacre in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and to its aftermath and far-reaching consequences.

Opening reception for Requiem for Mother Emanuel immediately follows.

Forth of July Magnet Art Activity post image

DIY 4th of July inspired magnet activity

By | K-12 Education, News | No Comments
Use the template to help measure the length of your stripes. Glue your stripes and the blue rectangle with stars onto your magnets with a glue stick. When dry, cut out your magnets. You can also use colorful foam pieces and other materials in your art supplies to create magnets! (Note: You may need hot glue to adhere some materials to a magnet backing). When finished, assemble your artwork onto a magnetic surface, such as a cookie sheet or a refrigerator.
The flag magnet can help you and your child practice visual literacy with shapes. Start a conversation about how shapes create everything around you…What shapes can you find outside in flowers? Trees? Buildings? After you practice with the magnet and search for shapes in objects around you, create drawings using only shapes like squares, rectangles, and circles. You can also use the flag as a math connection to practice counting in art! Count the stripes and stars together, and then have a safe and fun Fourth of July!

Collection Spotlight: Dale Kennington

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JCSM fondly remembers artist, patron and friend, Dale Kennington, at her passing in this special edition of Collection Spotlight.

Funeral Services will be at: First Methodist Church, 1380 West Main Street, Dothan, AL 36301, Friday May 5, at 11:00 a.m. Visitation will be at the church from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 am.

Dale Kennington
(American, 1935–2017)
A Question of Survival, 2005-2007
Oil on wood panel, skeleton-key lock mechanism, and hidden text in graphite
Gift of Dale Kennington

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

The folding screen is perhaps the best of all possible vehicles for Dale Kennington’s art. Its very nature as a pleated, 3-dimensional object allows subtle and transient visual effects to take place, enhancing the complex objectives Kennington pursues in her “flat” work. Kennington’s narrative tableaus have always operated on multiple levels. She evokes a feeling of certain familiarity with the subjects of her paintings, of identification with a place or group or time. “I’ve been there, I know those people,” are comments often heard uttered before Kennington’s work, even when the painting is a compilation of disparate elements or a recreated private memory of the artist. Yet, it’s not only her compositional details—places, people, objects—that elicit that kind of déjà-vu experience in their viewing. Kennington’s evocative portrayal of light and atmosphere, one of the means by which she summons a mood, brings about a more visceral sense of shared experience. “I’ve felt that” is a response in many viewers. Her images often emerge from pervasive darkness in scattered bits and pieces, with Kennington guiding the viewer’s awareness of the composition’s features through careful choice and placement of colors. She directs a viewer’s perception of a painting through both skillfully rendered realism and deliberate ambiguity.

In A Question of Survival, one side of the six-panel screen presents a desolate landscape distinguished chiefly by an apparently abandoned, yellow automobile in the corner of an empty parking lot. The car’s doors are flung wide open, suggesting a hurried departure by its occupants. The painting’s nearly impenetrable mass of dark green foliage is oppressive and foreboding. Other landscape elements, stormy-blue clouds and blacktop pavement, offer equally negligible cheer. Lines painted across the tarmac and curbing echo the widely scattered, spindly light poles, each contributing to the painting’s overall bearing of forlorn unease. With a stage set thusly, Kennington’s composition on the opposite side of the screen takes on correspondingly ominous overtones. There, a vacant interior’s emerald-green walls now seem grave and obstructive, like their landscape counterpart. Box flaps and yellow closet doors in the room are ajar, revealing the absence of contents. The interior’s gold-hued moldings recall the empty grid plotted across the screen’s exterior vista. And finally, the painting’s solitary figure, a young girl dressed in a sky-blue top and asphalt-black slacks, stands alone in the deserted room. Her attire invokes an association, in color at least, with the troubled landscape.

The screen’s dual or flip-sided nature is all-important. Kennington cleverly weaves the two compositions together, back-to-back, necessitating a playful cat-and-mouse game by the viewer to chase the meaning of the entire work. Were the paired images separated for display flanking each other, as a diptych on a wall, much of the work’s intrigue and challenge would be lost. As a two-sided screen, Kennington proscribes no definite order or sequence for their viewing: no front and back, nor first and last. A viewer might draw a very different reading if he studied the interior scene containing the figure before encountering the landscape. Additionally, Kennington exploits the folded screen façade to produce a result that cannot be appreciated in a flat reproduction on the printed page. It must be experienced dynamically. The screens’ accordion-like surfaces reveal different aspects when approached in the round. Seen from a particular angle, Kennington’s painted figure drops from sight into a fold of the screen, only to reappear with a change in the viewer’s position. Architectural planes such as floors, walls and staircases make similar shifts, transforming perspectives as the observer walks around each screen.

Kennington’s pictures are never what they seem at first glance. They are cagey constructions, reticent to disclose their meaning despite a proliferation of clues. Adding further to their mystery, Kennington incorporates hidden vaults within the screens. She has carved a secret chamber into one panel on each of the works. Therein, behind small locked and camouflaged doors, Kennington placed handwritten notes on paper with comments relevant to each painting. The message hidden away in the clouds on A Question of Survival reads:

I am kind

to animals

He is polite

to strangers

She is distracted

with family

They are convivial

with friends

We are a danger

to ourselves

and to others

Welcome to the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art!

We are excited that you are here with us. Feel free to look around and reach out to us by navigating to our contact page.

Upcoming Events

Thu 21

A Little Lunch Music: Fall 2017

September 21 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Thu 28

A Little Lunch Music: Fall 2017

September 28 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Thu 28

Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers

September 28 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm