Mary B. Martin prepares to celebrate its fifth season
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 14:09
Mary B. Martin School of the Arts will celebrate its fifth season — the wood anniversary — this fall with a public art project by environmental artist ‘Stick Man’ Patrick Dougherty that will involve scores of students and local residents.
This sculpture project is only one element of a season that includes four films, including one about Dougherty, three musical events, comedic theater, a culture-rich visual exhibition and an evening combining health and the arts.
“It’s remarkable to me that we are already at our fifth year of events,” program Director Anita DeAngelis says. “One of the fun things about our fall season is we are playing into the traditional fifth anniversary with the wooden theme. It was serendipitous that we happened to have an environmental artist coming to ETSU this year.”
While many of Mary B. Martin School’s events are free, a few activities each season are ticketed, and this fall’s ticketed events kick off with a mix of musical styles and community collaborations.
“The community interaction, interest and support have grown significantly and I anticipate we will see a lot more growth this year,” DeAngelis says.
“The types of artists we have chosen to come are addressing some community needs and interests. We are now getting a lot of feedback from the community on what they would like to see and that is influencing our choices much more. Community partnerships have been an interest for us from the beginning — and this is growing.”
The first ticketed event of the fall — the Blind Boys of Alabama on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center, Kingsport — is the result of a partnership between Mary B. Martin School and the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts.
Formed in 1939, the ensemble has since earned five Grammys and four Dove awards, been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and performed for three presidents. The New York Times praised the gospel legends’ “close harmonies” that “leap heavenward.”
The musical language will shift from vocal to instrumental on Friday, Oct. 4 when Turtle Island Quartet will bring a program of almost every genre of music, including new age, rock, hip-hop, be-bop, swing, bluegrass and rhythm and blues.
Calling itself a “string quartet for the next century,” Turtle Island has impressed even cellist Yo-Yo Ma for “some of the most creative music-making today.”
The TIQ performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. in ETSU’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium and will be only one facet of the group’s visit, which will also include master classes with the Academy of Strings and local school music programs.
Then on Sunday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. Mountain Stage with Larry Groce will present an array of diverse bands live from ETSU’s Culp Auditorium to be broadcast on National Public Radio at a later date.
Singer-songwriters Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott will headline the show, co-sponsored by the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, with additional performances by Sarah Jarosz, Old Man Luedecke, The Deadly Gentlemen and the ETSU Old Time Pride Band.
“The reason they wanted to come to Johnson City this year is that this year is the 85th anniversary of the Johnson City recording sessions, so there are some other activities, receptions, lectures and an event at the Down Home the night before. If you’ve never seen a Mountain Stage show, they’re a lot of fun. You’ll see a lot of artists all at once.”
Mary B. Martin School has more fun in store, during Homecoming, with comedian Robert Post’s Post Comedy Theatre, Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in ETSU’s Bud Frank Theatre in Gilbreath Hall. Post’s physical comedy show is family friendly, DeAngelis says.
Also in November, the final ticketed event of fall will feature Elizabeth Ellis, telling stories of heroic American and Appalachian women on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Brown Hall Auditorium.
Ellis has been called “one of America’s finest storytellers” by the School Library Journal and will be recounting more edgy stories for this performance, DeAngelis says.
Highlighting the free Mary B. Martin School events are a three-week residency in November by “Dougherty,” a film in September previewing the outdoor art project and a lecture in November by the artist. On Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. in Culp Auditorium, MBMSOTA will screen “Bending Sticks: the Sculpture of Patrick Dougherty,” a new documentary on the environmental artist’s vision, process and work. A regional panel will afterward discuss public art, DeAngelis says.