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American Academy of Arts and Letters

The American Academy of Arts and Letters is a 250-member honor society. Located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City, it shares Audubon Terrace, a complex on Broadway between West 155th and 156th Streets, with the Hispanic Society of America and Boricua College; the academy's galleries are open to the public on a published schedule. Exhibits include an annual exhibition of paintings, sculptures and works on paper from contemporary artists nominated by its members, an annual exhibition of works by newly elected members and recipients of honors and awards. A permanent exhibit of the recreated studio of composer Charles Ives was opened in 2014; the auditorium is sought out by musicians and engineers wishing to record live, as the acoustics are considered among the city's finest. Hundreds of commercial recordings have been made there; the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters was formed from three parent organizations. The first, the American Social Science Association, was founded at Boston.

The second was the National Institute of Arts and Letters, which ASSA's membership created in 1898. The qualification for membership in the NIAL was notable achievement in music, or literature; the number of NIAL members was at first limited to 150. The third organization was the American Academy of Arts, which NIAL's membership created in 1904, as a preeminent national arts institution, styling itself after the French Academy; the AAA's first seven academicians were elected from ballots cast by the entire NIAL membership. They were William Dean Howells, Samuel L. Clemens, Edmund Clarence Stedman, John Hay, representing literature; the number of NIAL members was increased in 1904, by the introduction of a two-tiered structure: 50 academicians and 200 regular members. Academicians were elected over the next several years; the elite group were called the "Academy," and the larger group was called the "Institute." This strict two-tiered system persisted for 72 years. In 1908, poet Julia Ward Howe was elected to the AAA.

In 1976, the NIAL and AAA merged, under Institute of Arts and Letters. The combined Academy/Institute structure had a maximum of 250 living United States citizens as members, plus up to 75 foreign composers and writers as honorary members, it established the annual Witter Bynner Poetry Prize in 1980 to support the work of young poets. The election of foreign honorary members persisted until 1993; the Academy holds a Congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code, which means that it is one of the comparatively rare "Title 36" corporations in the United States. The 1916 statute of incorporation established this institution amongst a small number of other patriotic and national organizations which are chartered; the federal incorporation was construed as an honor. The special recognition neither implies nor accords Congress any special control over the Academy, which remains free to function independently. Active sponsors of Congressional action were Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts and former-President Theodore Roosevelt.

The process which led to the creation of this federal charter was accompanied by controversy. Sen. Lodge re-introduced legislation which passed the Senate in 1913; the Academy was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York in 1914, which factors in decision-making which resulted in Congressional approval in 1916. The Academy occupies three buildings on the west end of the Audubon Terrace complex created by Archer M. Huntington, the heir to the Southern Pacific Railroad fortune and a noted philanthropist. To help convince the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, which were separate but related organizations at the time, to move to the complex, Huntington established building funds and endowments for both; the first building, on the south side of the complex, along West 155th Street, was designed by William M. Kendall of the firm of McKim, Mead & White; this Anglo-Italian Renaissance administration building was designed in 1921 and opened in 1923.

On the north side, another building housing an auditorium and gallery was designed by Cass Gilbert an Academy member, was built from 1928-30. These additions to the complex necessitated considerable alterations to the Audubon Terrace plaza, which were designed by McKim, Mead & White. In 2007, the American Numismatic Society, which had occupied a Charles P. Huntington-designed building to the east of the Academy's original building, vacated that space to move to smaller quarters downtown; this building, which incorporates a 1929 addition designed by H. Brooks Price, has become the Academy's Annex and houses additional gallery space. In 2009, the space between the Annex and the administration building was turned into a new entrance link, designed by Vincent Czajka with Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Members of the Academy are chosen for life and have included some of the leading figures in the American art scene, they are organized into committees. Although the names of some of the members of this organization may not be well known today, each of these individuals was well known in their own time.

Greatness and pettiness are demonstrable among the Academy members during the first decade du

Peninsula Fine Arts Center

The Peninsula Fine Arts Center is an art center located in Newport News, Virginia and is associated with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It is located at 101 Museum Drive on the grounds of the park surrounding the Mariners' Museum and is accredited with the American Alliance of Museums, it was formed in 1962 as the Peninsula Arts Association by a group of Hampton Roads art supporters. The first official exhibit, staged in 1962, was a visit from a Virginia Museum Artmobile, it has moved and grown in size over the course of its 57 years to become one of the premier arts advocates in the area. It's one of less than 15 non-collecting art centers accredited by the AAM; the Peninsula Fine Arts Center offers innovative approaches to creating and presenting the arts to students of all ages. In addition to providing an outlet for art exhibitions and performances, PFAC offers studio art classes and a variety of educational outreach programs to schools and throughout the community; the Peninsula Fine Arts Center maintains a permanent "Hands On For Kids" gallery designed for children and families to interact in what the Center describes as "a fun, educational environment that encourages participation with art materials and concepts."

The PAA was housed in downtown Newport News in the former John W. Daniel School Building; the first official exhibit was staged in 1962. Before having venues, founders shared works of art hanging from clothes lines in their backyards. In 1964, PAA was moved onto the campus of Christopher Newport College before moving again to Hilton Village and Newmarket South Shopping Center. Major exhibitions that were too large for these venues were held in the Mariners’ Museum; the PAA received a significant gift in 1975 that would prove to shape its future and help it establish independence when Newport News Shipbuilding donated its former hydraulics testing laboratory. The lab was located on two acres of land in Mariners’ Museum Park across from the Mariners’ Museum. Following an intense renovation financed by community supporters, the PAA opened its new doors on November 5, 1978. Further remodeling provided studios upstairs for the use of the Art Magnet Program of the Newport News Public School System; the program allowed talented students an opportunity to develop their artistic potential.

This educational model would develop into workshops for students that include informative sessions and portfolio reviews that are still in place today. In 1983, the PAA became The Peninsula Fine Arts Center and was named an Affiliate of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; as the Center started receiving more attention, David L. Peebles was named Chairman of the Capital Campaign in 1985 to raise $1.5 million for a new wing for Pfac. With the successful commitment of the private and public sector, the ground-breaking ceremony was held March 14, 1988. Award-winning Williamsburg, VA architect Carlton Abbott designed the new addition; the expansion and renovation provided an addition to triple exhibition space and to develop a suitable entry area, classrooms and art handling areas with provision for security, barrier-free accessibility and state-of-the-art temperature and ventilation systems. Usable floor space increased from 4,000 square feet to over 15,000 square feet with three galleries, a hallway gallery, video gallery, four art classrooms and a meeting room.

The official Grand Opening celebration of the Fine Arts Center was held on the weekend of April 30, 1989. The reception was marked by the opening of an exhibition called "TRIBUTARY: 3,000 Years In the Course of Art," an impressive display at the new facility that would come to hold 15-20 exhibitions a year. In total, Pfac has featured nearly 500 exhibitions in its history, including annual juried shows, holiday invitationals, high school and college competitions, as well as curated shows. By 1992, as the Center celebrated its 30th Anniversary, the museum had grown into one of the most influential contemporary art organizations in Virginia. An 3-Dimensional exhibition in 1990 was praised as the most important contemporary art exhibit in the region in nearly a decade by local art critics. In 1993, the Center earned accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, an effort that took nearly two years of self-evaluation and an in-depth report, analyzed for months by the AAM; this is a status. PFAC is unique because it does not own a permanent collection.

This is great because it allows the organization to be ever-changing, exploring new facets of art and attracting different audiences with each exhibition. The Center celebrated its semicentennial in 2012 with several exhibitions, they included a national exhibit, "Art and the Animal," and a celebration of regional artists who have either taught or displayed work in other exhibitions at Pfac called "The Artists: Who We Are Past and Present." The latter was a photography exhibit illustrating the history of the Center and Virginia Peninsula with a juried photo exhibition. In the summer, Pfac held its nationally-recognized "Biennial" exhibition; the anniversary year culminated with the exhibition "50 Great American Artists". Virginia Tourism site on Center Peninsula Fine Arts Center Official Site Pfac on Facebook

Kalman Bloch

Kalman Bloch was principal clarinetist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for more than 40 years. Bloch studied with a notable clarinetist for the New York Philharmonic; as recounted by Dorothy Lamb Crawford in her 2009 book "A Windfall of Musicians: Hitler's Émigrés and Exiles in Southern California," Bloch was hired at the age of 21 by music director and recent Jewish emigre Otto Klemperer just before the onset of World War II. Bloch performed on several film soundtracks, including those of John Williams, Walt Disney's Fantasia, Sunset Boulevard, For Whom the Bell Tolls, North by Northwest, The Wizard of Oz, Chinatown, he was a prolific collaborator in Southern California, playing for and recording with conductors such as Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky upon their move to Los Angeles along with many other Jewish artists and intellectuals during and after World War II. Bloch appears on multiple classical recordings with composers and conductors Zubin Mehta, Carlo Maria Giulini, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Otto Klemperer, Alfred Wallenstein.

As recounted in the April 21, 1956 Los Angeles Times article "Spectators Stir Uproar at Red Probe," Bloch was forced to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee for his and his wife's progressive activities in Southern California after World War II. Evoking the 1st and 5th Amendments, he refused to answer any questions regarding his membership in the Communist Party, instead telling the committee that he "abhorred violence." His passport was taken and he was refused travel for the Philharmonic's Asian tour that same year. Bloch lived and taught in his home and studio in the Franklin Hills neighborhood of Los Feliz for over 50 years, he taught clarinet at Pomona College and Cal State Fullerton and wrote several books on symphonic repertoire for clarinet. Until his death at the age of 95 in 2009 he was active in progressive and leftist political causes, an active clarinet teacher, member of the Los Feliz Woodwind Ensemble along with famed member of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Bunk Gardner.

Kalman Bloch is related through his wife Frances to violinist Jascha Heifetz. His son, Gregory Bloch played violin and mandolin for It's a Beautiful Day, the 1970s experimetal-rock band String Cheese, the progressive Italian rock group Premiata Forneria Marconi from 1975 to 1978, the Saturday Night Live Orchestra in 1978, on Gilda Live on Broadway in 1980, Montezuma's Revenge and Jazz group Django in the mid-1980s, his daughter, Michele Zukovsky, is an acclaimed clarinetist and served as principal clarinetist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1961 to 2015