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September 2006

Kenny Leon

How did theater director Kenny Leon go from role-playing with the homeless to directing award-winning shows on Broadway? State of the Arts looks at the extraordinary career of Kenny Leon, who began as an actor and then found his true calling when he became artistic director of Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 1990. Over the next eleven years he would direct ground-breaking plays, including Ms. Evers' Boys by David Feldshuh, and master-works by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. Passionate about the ideals of diversity, cultural inclusion, and the preservation of black theatrical classics, Leon founded the True Colors Theatre Company in 2001, which has a dual base in Washington, DC and Atlanta.

State of the Arts got a chance to watch Leon at work as he directed the world premiere of the musical Rejoice during the July, 2006 National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta. We talked with some of Leon's friends and colleagues about his meteoric rise to the top, including Tony-winning actress Phylicia Rashad, Theatrical Outfit's artistic director Tom Key, and Rejoice playwright Cheryl West.

Visit the True Colors Theatre Company's website.

Shawn Mullins

Sometimes a big hit early in a musician's career can be a hard act to follow. Singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins ran this risk after his 1998 international hit "Lullaby." But life after "Lullaby" has been anything but downhill.

Fresh off a tour for an album recorded in New Orleans, 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor, the charismatic Shawn Mullins pays a visit to our studios at GPB. Backed by guitar/mandolin virtuoso Clay Cook, Mullins performs his latest hits and shares stories from his life as a musician.

Visit Shawn's website.

Hambidge Center

The Hambidge Center for the Arts and Sciences was founded in 1934 by Brunswick native Mary Hambidge. A free spirit, early feminist and fabric designer of genius, Hambidge achieved international fame for her unique creations beginning in the Depression years and lasting until her death in the 1970s. Mary Hambidge's legacy would be the Hambidge Center, a 600-acre artist community located in the mountains of northeast Georgia's Rabun County.

The Hambidge Center today serves as a refuge for artists seeking to renew their creative spirit away from the fast-paced demands of our high-tech world. State of the Arts visits the Hambidge Center to take a closer look at its visionary founder, its rich history, and the artists who explore and expand their talents in this beautiful setting.

Visit the Center's website.

Kevin Young

One of the nation's greatest poets has recently joined the faculty at Emory University in Atlanta. Born in Nebraska and educated at top Ivy League schools, Kevin Young is a poet who finds meaning in the bittersweet history of Black America and inspiration in the essence of its spoken language.

Young also believes in the musical power of poetry, and in this segment for State of the Arts, he performs his works against a backdrop of evocative images, set to the rhythms of jazz and the blues.

Visit his website.

Marianne Lambert

Veteran arts patron Marianne Lambert has been described as a cornerstone of Georgia's contemporary art scene. Through the force of her enthusiasm and passion for art, she has helped to launch the careers of dozens of Georgia artists.

State of the Arts spends time with the effervescent Lambert, viewing her extensive private art collection and visiting galleries where she is always on the lookout for the next great artistic talent. We also talk with some of Lambert's proteges, who discuss her influence on their work and how she helped propel their work into the local and national art scene.

The Swan Coach House is a thriving tearoom, gift shop and art gallery whose proceeds benefit the Forward Arts Foundation.

George Skaroulis

George Skaroulis began playing the piano at the age of five without formal training in either music theory or notation. He showed a fascination for music as he sat on the piano bench next to his mother while she played classical pieces and would often improvise and play along. Recognizing his interest and natural talent, his parents encouraged piano lessons. In five weeks, the lessons were over. The teacher could only be fooled for a short while and soon realized "little George" was playing the lessons by ear.

Today Skaroulis is fast earning a reputation as one of the best pianists in contemporary instrumental music – and he still plays by ear! With several internationally distributed albums to his credit, Skaroulis' music is effortless and emotionally uplifting. He fuses classical, New Age, and Mediterranean influences to produce a fresh new sound. The composer for State of the Arts, Skaroulis creates works that are timeless, marking his compositions with his own distinct ambient style.

Visit his website.

Louvre Atlanta Exhibit at the High Museum of Art

Louvre Atlanta, the ground-breaking exhibition of great artworks from the Paris museum, opens mid-October at the High Museum in Atlanta.

State of the Arts talks with the High's chief curator David Brenneman, who provides a sneak peek of what art lovers can look forward to during the first of a three-year, revolving exhibition.

The High Museum of Art