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For Immediate Release

Art Institute, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Poetry Foundation Announce the Season of American Perspectives

Robust series of exhibitions, readings, and concerts present diverse viewpoints on the American experience
September 10th, 2007

CHICAGO —The Poetry Foundation, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) are pleased to announce the launch of American Perspectives, a yearlong collaboration that celebrates the rich diversity of artistic expression that defines the American experience. More than 100 exhibitions, performances, lectures, poetry readings, and gallery talks—including the work of some of the country’s most prominent artists, writers, performers, and composers—will be featured, all exploring what American art is and how American art helps define America. The season begins in September 2007 and will continue through June 2008.

“A place, an idea, an identity, America has captivated artists for centuries,” said James Cuno, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute. “American Perspectives brings together the resources of three of Chicago’s leading cultural institutions—the Art Institute, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Poetry Foundation—to present how the American experience has been given voice, cadence, and image by her artists.”

The American Perspectives season kicks off at the Art Institute on Saturday, September 15, 2007, with a full day of activities—beginning with a jazz/rock performance by the Tom Wright Group and remarks from the directors of the participating institutions on the Michigan Avenue steps at 9:45 a.m. Highlights of Opening Day at the museum include poet Edward Hirsch discussing the interaction of poetry and art and reading from his own work; lively music of ragtime virtuoso Reginald Robinson; bluegrass from the Colby Maddox Trio of the Old Town School of Folk Music; and fun family events. Gallery talks on American art will take place every hour beginning at 10:30 a.m.

“We are delighted to work with distinguished partners as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Poetry Foundation to explore art across the literary, visual and musical spectrum,” said Deborah R. Card, President of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. “We are proud to present works at Symphony Center both written and performed by great American masters, some who are shaping today’s musical landscape as well as those who have influenced it in the past.”

“For Walt Whitman, democracy in America was as much an artistic as a political vision,” said John Barr, President of the Poetry Foundation. “American Perspectives shows how American writers, painters, and musicians, by inventing wholly new aesthetics, have brought Whitman’s dream to life.”

Throughout the year a wide range of exceptional programming for American Perspectives—including performances, lectures, poetry readings, and gallery talks—will address how American art reflects and shapes the American experience. The Art Institute, CSO, and the Poetry Foundation have worked together to compile a stellar schedule of special appearances and events—from concerts with jazz and classical saxophone virtuoso Branford Marsalis, to an intimate conversation with legendary composer Philip Glass; from a lecture with Stanford scholar Marjorie Perloff on Jasper Johns, John Cage, and Frank O’Hara, to a symposium exploring the opera John Adams’ Doctor Atomic; and from a film noir series inspired by Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, to a reading with former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.

American Perspectives includes a variety of public poetry events from the Poetry Foundation including, in October, literary icon Helen Vendler on poet Wallace Stevens and artist Jasper Johns, and four prominent poets from the Cave Canem collective introducing their new anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. November features a lecture by the renowned literary critic Marjorie Perloff. In December, scholar Langdon Hammer uses his controversial new book on Hart Crane to highlight aspects of Crane’s life and work that have served as inspiration for Jasper Johns. January includes poetry readings by acclaimed writer Kwame Dawes, and by notable Latino/a poets Francisco Aragón, Brenda Cárdenas, Blas Falconer, and Gina Franco. In March, Robert Pinsky discusses Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, and poet and social critic Peter Sacks comments on Edward Hopper’s sense of isolation. April features a staged reading of Four Saints in Three Acts, the operatic collaboration between Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein. In May, eminent poet Frank Bidart reads from his own work and provides insights into the work of Robert Lowell, and noted poet and critic Edward Hirsch discusses a range of American painters and poets, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Cole, Jackson Pollock, and William Carlos Williams.

The Art Institute will be offering four major exhibitions throughout the American Perspectives season. Richard Misrach: On the Beach opens September 15, 2007, and features monumental sea and sky images from this celebrated American landscape photographer. Opening November 3 is the landmark exhibition Jasper Johns: Gray, the most sustained exploration of the canonical American artist’s use of that color. In February, the works of American masters Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer will be presented in parallel exhibitions. Edward Hopper showcases nearly 80 works from the artist’s most productive period—the mid-1920s through the mid-1950s—and examines in depth the theme of solitude and sense of place for which Hopper is known. Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light, which meticulously explores Homer’s working methods in this exacting medium, can only be seen at the Art Institute and includes more than 100 rarely exhibited watercolors. Exhibitions of contemporary artist William Pope.L and photographer Edward Ruscha will also be on view at the museum through the American Perspectives season. All of these exhibitions will be supported by lectures, concerts, performances, and gallery walks and tours.

Symphony Center highlights American Perspectives with an array of performances, providing a dynamic viewpoint on some of America’s most influential composers and performers and their contributions to symphonic, jazz and chamber music. The CSO’s Chamber Music Series American Perspectives: European Influences—a five-concert Sunday matinee series at the Art Institute’s Fullerton Hall—explores the influences of European composers on America during the past two centuries and includes works by Morton Feldman, Claude Debussy, and Igor Stravinsky. America’s original art form, jazz, is showcased in the Jazz at Symphony Center series with a tribute to the 90th anniversary of Thelonious Monk’s birth by pianist Jason Moran; a program featuring the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra with Irvin Mayfield; and a performance by the Ahmad Jamal Trio and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra. The CSO’s new-music series, MusicNOW, includes the world premiere of Step Team by 26-year-old American composer Nico Muhly; works that blur the boundaries between classical and jazz by American composer Maria Schneider; and a suite from Philip Glass’ score for the film The Hours. The CSO’s main subscription series includes virtuoso saxophonist Branford Marsalis starring in Debussy’s Rhapsody for Alto Saxophone and Copland’s jazzy Clarinet Concerto, on soprano saxophone; and selections such as Ives’ New England Holidays, a colorful symphonic portrait of great American holidays, and Jefferson Friedman’s The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly, referring to the remarkable “assembled sculpture” that was the inspiration for the music. In a special presentation in June, San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas re-creates the lives and times of his grandparents Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, two giants of American Yiddish theater, in the multimedia production The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater.

Visit www.americanperspectiveschicago.org for a complete listing of all American Perspectives events. The Web site will be updated throughout the year with essential information.


About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit www.poetryfoundation.org.

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