Birmingham Museum of Art

Founded in 1951, the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, today has one of the finest collections in the Southeastern United States, with more than 24,000 paintings, prints and decorative arts representing a numerous diverse cultures, including Asian, American, Pre-Columbian, Native American. Among other highlights, the Museum’s collection of Asian art is considered the finest and most comprehensive in the Southeast, its Vietnamese ceramics one of the finest in the U. S; the Museum is home to a remarkable Kress Collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings and decorative arts from the late 13th century to c.1750, the 18th-century European decorative arts include superior examples of English ceramics and French furniture. The Birmingham Museum of Art is owned by the City of Birmingham and encompasses 3.9 acres in the heart of the city’s cultural district. Erected in 1959, the present building was designed by architects Warren and Davis, a major renovation and expansion by Edward Larrabee Barnes of New York was completed in 1993.

The facility encompasses 180,000 square feet, including an outdoor sculpture garden. The Museum’s growing collection of nearly 2,000 objects is derived from the major culture groups of sub-Saharan Africa and dates from the 12th century to the present; the collection features fine examples of figure sculpture, ritual objects and household and utilitarian objects, textiles and metal arts, with an Egyptian false door, Yoruba mask, Benin bronze hip pendant, a divination portrait of a king from Dahomey. Spanning the late 18th through mid-20th century, the Museum’s collection of American painting, works on paper, decorative arts features paintings by Gilbert Stuart, Childe Hassam, Georgia O'Keeffe. Considered one of the three most important American landscape paintings, the Museum’s Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California by Bierstadt was chosen by The National Endowment for the Humanities as one of 40 American masterpieces that best depict the people and events that have shaped our country and tell America’s story.

Since its doors opened to the public in 1951, the Birmingham Museum of Art has collected and exhibited the art of Alabama. Among the earliest works to enter the collection were paintings by significant Alabama artists including the miniaturist Hannah Elliott and the landscapist Carrie Hill. Throughout its history, the Museum has continued its commitment to the arts of Alabama. In 1995, it organized Made in Alabama, a groundbreaking survey of artistic production in the state during the 19th century. In addition to collecting the works of academically trained native artists, the Museum has built an impressive collection of folk art, including painting, sculpture and pottery. Thanks to the generosity of Robert and Helen Cargo, the Museum possesses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Southern quilts in the country. Several major private collectors are helping the Museum build the most significant repository of Alabama pottery in the State; the Museum’s Asian art collection started with a gift of Chinese textiles in 1951 and today, with more than 4,000 objects, is the largest and most comprehensive in the Southeast.

The collection hails from China, Japan and Southeast Asia, featuring the finest collection of Vietnamese ceramics in the U. S. as well as outstanding examples of Buddhist and Hindu art, lacquer ware, paintings and sculpture. Highlights include Tang dynasty tomb figures from China. On long-term loan from The Smithsonian Institution is the Vetlesen Jade Collection of 16th- to 19th-century pieces, one of the most important jade collections in the U. S; the Museum has the only gallery for Korean art in the Southeast. The collection features painting, video, works on paper, installation art that illuminate movements and trends from the 1960s to the present, by renowned artists such as Joan Mitchell, Andy Warhol, Bill Viola, Lynda Benglis, Cham Hendon, Kerry James Marshall, Callum Innes, Grace Hartigan, Larry Rivers, Louise Nevelson, Frank Fleming and Philip Guston, as well as works by a younger generation who are defining the new century. Since 2009 a permanent display of Folk art will feature works by Bill Traylor, Thornton Dial, Alabama’s outstanding quilters, other self-taught artists.

Among the highlights of the European art holdings is the Kress Collection of Renaissance Art, featuring Renaissance and Baroque paintings and decorative arts dating from the late 13th century to c.1750, with works by Pietro Perugino, Antonio Canaletto, Paris Bordone. Other strengths include 17th-century Dutch paintings by Jacob van Ruisdael, Ferdinand Bol, Balthasar van der Ast. One of the foundations of the Museum’s permanent collection, the European decorative arts comprise more than 12,000 objects including ceramics and furniture dating from the Renaissance to present day. Notable holdings include the only public collection of late 19th-century European cast iron items in the U. S. and the Eugenia Woodward Hitt Collection of 18th-century French art, including furniture of the Louis

WOW Café

WOW Cafe is a feminist theater space in New York City. In the mid-1980s, WOW Cafe was central to the avant garde theatre and performance art scene in the East Village, New York City. Among the artists who have presented at the space are Lisa Kron, Holly Hughes, Deb Margolin, Carmelita Tropicana, Eileen Myles, Split Britches, The Five Lesbian Brothers; the WOW Cafe began when two of the founding members, Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw were traveling Europe with performance troupes Spiderwoman Theater and Hot Peaches, after seeing women’s theater festivals during their tour were inspired to establish one in America. Shaw and Weaver founding members of the Split Britches theater troupe, described their style, making lesbianism and feminism not issues, but givens: "We didn't make it that clear-- switching roles. We didn't basically mention it," Shaw said of their time teaching at Hampshire. Together with Jordi Mark and Pamela Camhe, veterans of feminist- and street-theater performing, they established the Women’s One World Festival in 1980, setting up in the Allcraft Center in the East Village and using what they had seen at the women’s theater festivals in Europe for structural inspiration.

The organizing women wanted the festival to have what Weaver described as a "multimedia environment," and so in addition to performances, the WOW Festival incorporated things like the social cafe atmosphere, film showings, dancing. Many of the performers came in troupes from Europe, because the WOW festival was self-funded and on a tight budget, they covered their own costs of living and arranged their own housing being taken in by festival supporters; the success of the festival prompted management from the Allcraft Center to allow the women to stay in the performance space and continue to produce women’s performance art, after which the women began hosting performance nights on a weekly basis. The women of WOW had to leave the Allcraft Center due to pressure from the board that funded the center, believed to be at least motivated by homophobic sentiments towards the group's lesbian makeup, had to find a new space in which to perform, ending up at the Ukrainian National Home and adapting a ballroom to their uses.

After hosting a second festival at the Ukrainian National Home and not wanting to dissolve their creative collective, the members of the WOW Festival began plans to establish a permanent performance space/café for the group. Using money they raised through parties, special performances, other benefits, WOW settled on a space at 330 E 11th Street. At first, WOW used the venue as an actual cafe rather than a performance space, selling sandwiches and coffee and serving more of a social purpose than an artistic one while they were getting settled. Before long, the WOW women built a small stage in the cafe and began to once again hold performances for women artists. Early works in the space included Holly Hughes's Well of Horniness. In addition to theatre, the space was home to brunches, art shows, Variety Night, Cabaret BOW WOW, Talking Slide Shows. In 1983 Susan Young became the booking manager for the WOW Cafe and it became more organized as a performance space instead of being managed as a collective.

Young’s influence transformed the Cafe into a more formal space as well, allowing outside groups to organize and manage some of the events that took place there, rather than leaving all production responsibilities up to the Café for every performance. In 1984, WOW moved to its current location on E. 4th St. Finding funding for the WOW Cafe was always difficult. While most bills could be covered by the box office sales, at times the rent and utilities were paid via benefits, paid dances, or begging passersby; the collective's philosophy was "It's easier to get a job than a grant," and many of the founding members contributed their outside salaries to the project. The founders of WOW refused to apply for large grants, preferring grassroots fundraising, donating their own money, getting small grants here and there, they rejected the notion of changing their work to receive or maintain grants, insisting WOW was a place for complete freedom of expression for the outsiders of society. Members participated in sweat equity, meaning that in order to get help producing a show, they were expected to help with others' shows as well.

WOW collective members were aware of the money and publicity received by gay men's theaters, noting that The New York Times had never attended a show and The Village Voice ever came, while both reviewed and praised gay men's theaters. Despite the primary focus of WOW productions on lesbian experiences and subcultures, WOW remains an open space for all women and trans identified people women of color and queer women. Since 2005, WOW has made it a priority to explicitly welcome people of intersecting identities of all ages, religions, ethnicities and gender identities. To maintain the feeling of collective effort and openness, the WOW organizers declined to hold auditions for their performers, believing that requiring an audition to qualify for their performance space would lead to censorship, which they felt they had experienced after being locked out of the Allcraft Center, it was important for the WOW Cafe to maintain its integrity as an uncensored, collective space since the space itself, the performers, performances

Temptation (play)

Temptation is a Faustian play written by Czech playwright Václav Havel in 1985 that premiered in Austria on 22 May 1986 in the Burgtheater in Vienna. The play premiered in Czechoslovakia on 27 October 1990, at the J. K. Tyl Theatre in Plzeň, it premiered in the United States on 9 April 1989, at The Public Theater in New York City. In 1989, Temptation was translated to English by journalist Marie Winn. Temptation takes place at a science institute; the characters, having worked together at the Institute for an unspecified amount of time, are familiar with one another. They have attended office parties together, exist as a "community" of scholars tasked with the advancement of scientific knowledge. Scene 1: the play begins in a room in the Institute. Doctor Foustka, the main character and representation of the Faust character in the play, walks in on his associates, is welcomed and asked about his private studies. Foustka rejects working on private studies, the other characters smile at one another.

The Deputy and Director walk in, the Director explains to the group that the Institute, an institute of science, must prevail against the growing cult/fad of black magic. Scene 2: in his apartment, the Doctor uses black magic to call upon a wizard named Fistula, a cripple, clear representation of Mephistopheles in the play. After a number of odd exchanges, Fistula agrees to help Foustka with his study of black magic in exchange for a testimony that Fistula helped him. Scene 3: at the office party that night, the wizard demonstrates his powers by making Foustka's love interest, fall in love with him and kiss him. Scene 4: Foustka's girlfriend, sees this. In her bedroom that night, Vilma confronts Foustka about his interactions with Marketa. Foustka counters by bringing up the dancer; when the dancer drops off flowers for Vilma, Foustka slaps her to the ground. Scene 5: back in the original room, a replay of the opening scene occurs up until the Director's announcement, he accuses Foustka of betraying the Institute's noble cause of science by studying and using black magic.

Foustka is guaranteed an "innocent until proven guilty" trial. Scene 6: returning to his study, Foustka again meets Fistula and they argue about the "stunt" pulled at the party. Fistula diagnoses Foustka with CDS, a syndrome of looking over one's past mistakes. Fistula tells Foustka that Vilma exposed him, among other things, Foustka seems doubtful. Scene 7: in the original room again, Doctor Foustka's "trial" begins. Foustka is able to convince everyone that his studies of dark magic were for scientific purposes, is subsequently celebrated for his brilliance. Scene 8: back in Vilma's bedroom, Foustka accuses Vilma of revealing his activities to the Director, to which Vilma responds with a breakup. Distraught and upset, Foustka attempts to strangle Vilma; the Dancer dances with Vilma while Foustka sits helplessly and watches. Scene 9: back in Foustka's apartment, Houbova gives her concerns about Fistula to Foustka, all of which Foustka ignores. Fistula accuses Foustka of breaking their deal to keep their meetings secret.

Foustka, resembling his earlier trial, convinces Fistula that he only revealed their meetings to gain the Director's trust and to further the interests of dark magic. Fistula, says that the devil himself wouldn't have tolerated a deal-breaking like that. Scene 10: at the costume party, Foustka fails to gain the Director's attention; when he does, the Director reveals that he was on to Foustka from the start. He states; as the Director makes his speech, everyone from the institute surrounds Foustka, he is set on fire, smoke covers everything and the play ends. Reviews of the play and its elements have been mixed among critics; the repetition seen throughout Temptation, meant to mesmerize the audience and heighten the suspense of the play, has been described as both "meaningful" and "deadening because no new insights are revealed." Performances of Fistula have been praised, his character being described as "terrifyingly mysterious" and "quirky and riveting." Walter Brandes has been praised for his performance of Doctor Foustka, as he "navigates the character's precarious duplicity with expertise" and endures the character's long-winded presence on stage.

Havel believed in the importance of allowing experience to dictate one’s approach to politics and morality. His approach to diplomacy inspired many schools of thought; the programmatic style of government seen in Temptation discouraged the influence of personal experience leading to enslavement. Havel relied on "a ceaseless process of searching and penetration beneath the surface of phenomena." Havel suggested that an open-ended, constant journey for enlightenment was a better philosophy than accepting a system that enforced a thought. Havel believed in the initial good intentions of all politicians. Havel saw the concepts of politics and morality as inseparable, trying to handle each one individually as a travesty. Havel was popular among ordinary Americans for his idea of an inherent connection between religion and politics, he believed that good men are corrupted by the trappings of power and stray from their origi