Thursday, September 29, 2011

Making DC Sizzle

Don't Miss the Humanities Council's Annual Distinguished Service to the Humanities Awards

The burner has been turned on, and DC is starting to sizzle! And it's in no small part thanks to this year's Distinguished Service to the Humanities Award winners. DC has always been a hot town, but in recent years, it has gained recognition for its burning and burgeoning art and theatre scene, jazz revival, documentary film production, and academic community. DC nationwide cred is not just political or bureaucratic, these individuals have rocketed it into the cultural stratosphere!

The Humanities Council will bring them all together for one exciting night, for fiery conversation and banter with one another, and with the audience!

Where did Tony Gittens get the idea for an international film festival in Washington, DC, and what did it take for him to make that dream a reality?

DC has always been a hotbed of jazz and art, but find out how Charles Fishman has sent it's popularity soaring with performances all over the city during the DC Jazz Festival, and a host of educational programs for kids!

Philippa P.B. Hughes imagined the Pinkline Project as an invisible connector between Washington's diverse social groups and the city's emerging art scene. Come find out how she unearthed DC's art underground!

Professor Berlin is one of the country's preeminent historians of the African-American experience. Find out how his DC connections have influenced his research!

Sharon Percy Rockefeller has led Washington's flagship public television and radio stations for over 20 years. During that time WETA has produced massively successful documentary films such as Ken Burns' Civil War, as well as works that focus on the history and culture of Washington. Find out how she has contributed to DC's reputation as a documentary film mecca!

Howard Shalwitz has taken The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company beyond the cutting edge! Not content with simply producing extremely entertaining theater, Shalwitz' shows introduce Washingtonians to critical cultural and social issues. This tendency is exemplified in his latest work Clybourne Park!

The evening's conversation will be moderated by the incomparable Kojo Nnamdi, who has gone a long way toward making DC sizzle as host of The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5. 

This intimate evening will offer guests the chance to mingle with the honorees over exquisite Washingtonian fare while listening to live jazz. Don't miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. Tickets are $100 each and can be purchased online at , by emailing elucero[at]wdchumanities[dot]org, or calling 202-387-8391.

Monday, September 12, 2011

DC Humanities Book Reviews: Growing Up in Washington, D.C.: An Oral History

After an Admittedly Long Hiatus... The Book Review Series Continues

The following is Bridget Sullivan's second book review for Human Ties. Sullivan will enter the second year of in the Public History Master's Degree Program at American University this Fall. She has worked extensively this Summer as a liaison to the Humanities Council's DC Community Heritage Project grantees, and on other projects related to District history and culture.

Connors, Jill, ed. Growing Up in Washington, D.C.: An Oral History. The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. (Charleston: Arcadia, 2001) 158 pgs.

This work is the end product of an oral history project completed by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. It is a compilation of quotes taken from the wide spectrum of oral histories collected. The body of interviews is comprised of residents of all DC neighborhoods, and a wide range of ages. This variety creates a picture of a vibrant community, and reflects the changes the DC community has experienced over the last few decades.

The Historical Society grouped quotes around seven major facets of everyday life including, holidays, working in the city, school, and the creation of communities. These categories allow the reader to truly explore many of the unique aspects and historical traditions of the neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. In addition to the breadth of knowledge available in this work, the Historical Society has presented it in an easily readable and simple format.

The strength of this project comes from the gems of knowledge and history within the interviews conducted, which allow these resources to speak for themselves. There is no attempt to force a traditional narrative. Instead, quotations from the oral histories are organized and presented in a way that gives the reader a strong sense of the environment in DC during any given period or event. An introduction to the oral history participants is another warm touch of this work.

The book is designed not only to give a sense of the DC community, but also to welcome the reader into that community. It presents an important, and often overlooked, side of the history of Washington, D.C. Washington as a community as well as Washington as our nation’s capital. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the local history of Washington, D.C.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Midnight Poetry Slam!

Open Call for Slammers!

We would like to issue a small correction (with good news) to the previous post! The National Underground Spokenword Poetry Awards IS accepting entries for the Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC poetry slam which will take place at the Warehouse Theatre on September 24th from 10:30PM-1:30AM.

If you are interested in participating, please contact KaNikki Jakarta at kanikkij[at]gmail[dot]com.

The current list of slammers includes:

Shelly Bell
Mary Bowman
Sarah Lawson
Selina Maria
Roscoe Burnems
Drew Law
Dwayne B
Joseph LMS
Big Homey

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stay Up Late With the Humanities Council

Check Out Our Lineup for the First Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC

Washington art and culture is taking over the night on September 24-25, and the Humanities Council will be doing its part at the Warehouse Theatre, 645 New York Ave, NW, from 7PM to 3AM. The event, called Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC is modeled on similar festivals popular in Europe. The concept has recently been replicated on this side of the Atlantic in Montreal, Toronto, New York, and Miami among others, and starting this year, the nation's capital will begin to get in on the fun!

The Humanities Council's set kicks off with Thomas Sayers Ellis, a poet and photographer who will demonstrate his latest work – a photography exhibition on Go-Go, currently on display at The Gallery at Vivid Solutions, called (Un)Lock It: the Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket. Sayers will project his images, using them to tell the story of Go-Go, the “non-stop, vernacular dance music unique to Washington, DC.”

At 8PM, If Not For Grace, will demonstrate another artistic style unique to Washington, DC – Hand Dance. The organization will offer a lecture, performance, and a participatory demonstration in which the audience will be invited to hand dance in the authentic DC style!

Later, the Humanities Council will bring its popular Humanitini to the stage. The evening's discussion “From Clubs to Pub,” will uncover the unique culture of DC night life, and will explore how it has changed throughout the years. Panelists will include Kate Micheal of K Street Kate, club DJ Adrian Loving, and opera follower-turned-nightlife scene man, Mood Bacho. The discussion will be moderated by Amy Saidman of SpeakeasyDC, and, as always, will turn on audience participation!

Washington, always a center of literary activity, has become a haven for modern poets and spokenword artists, and thus, no celebration of DC culture would be complete without a poetry slam! In partnership with the National Underground Spokenword Poetry Awards, the Humanities Council will offer a $200 prize to the best of the evening's registered participants. Make sure to drop in on the Warehouse Theatre for this one; the slam is set to begin at 10:30PM and will carry us over into the next day, ending at 1:30AM. The poets lined up for the event are seasoned competitors, so count on being impressed. If you think you have what it takes, step up to the open mic after the competition and show them what you've got!

After the poetry slam and open mic, grammy-nominated progressive hip-hop artist, Christylez Bacon will take over the stage until 3AM. As a performer, Christylez multi-tasks between various instruments such as the West African djembe drum, acoustic guitar, and the human beat-box (oral percussion), all while continuing the oral tradition of storytelling through his lyrics. Christylez will close out the evening, sending the audience out into the night, eyes and minds full, looking forward to next year!

Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC will take place on the night of September 24-25th all across the Mt. Vernon Square and Shaw neighborhoods of Washington. Check out the event website for more information on participating artists and event sites.