Paul Robeson: Here I Stand

Posted: October 22, 2014 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized

Paul Robeson: Renaissance Man of the 20th Century:


Key, clockwise beginning upper left corner: Paul Robeson, All-American football player at Rutgers University; Robeson, Phi Beta Kappa laureate, Rutgers, 1919; Robeson as Othello in New York production, 1943; Robeson leading Anti-Lynching Campaign in front of statue of Abraham Lincoln, Washington, D.C., 1946; Robeson leading Civil Rights protest in front of the White House, Washington, D.C., 1948; and the cover of The Undiscovered Paul Robeson, Vol. I, by Paul Robeson, Jr., published 2001

A significant portion of class filled in the context of Robeson’s life by discussing what you were asked about in the Daily: information about underlying reasons for the persecution of thousands of artists, teachers (and by the way, scientists such as Albert Einstein as well) by the US Congress during the McCarthy period; the Spanish Civil War; the Cold War; and more. To what extend was this information new to you? Do you think you might be more inclined to learn more about contextual historical or present-day events and ideas in the future to further either your academic or personal pursuit of ideas?

What emotional reactions did you have in this class? What do you find most compelling or surprising about Paul Robeson’s life? What does it say about our country that Paul Robeson, who in my opinion, was one of the most important Americans who ever lived, has been erased from American history? Are you able to make any connections to material we’ve covered so far this semester? Any and all other comments are welcome. Please made your comments as personal as you are able.

Here’s one more question: Think of the artists you know something about, alive or dead, American of from any other country – from any time in history. What artist or artists would you place alongside Paul Robeson and feel confident saying that they were in some way equals in terms of what they accomplished creatively and in what they gave to a people or a culture? This is simply a question I’ve been asking myself recently and I am interested to see what you come up with. I’d be especially interested if you first have a chance to discuss this with someone else: a friend, a parent or other relative, another teacher – anyone.

This post will remain open until the Sunday at about 5 pm. 


Posted: October 15, 2014 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized

The post for Cymbeline remains open for comments about the performance. New questions were posted below at 11 pm Thursday night.


From what Melissa Sparks and I noticed, many of you were very engaged in the story despite what seemed to some – at least at times, a long evening. In the concluding moments of the play, one could hear some people sniffling with tears that had come to their eyes. This seemed to say that you were deeply involved emotionally – perhaps more than you realized and had experienced a catharsis. Others were bored. Some, in the back rows in particular, were rude to the actors and those around them in their impatience.

So – what about the play?

To what extent were you able to use your imagination to feel you were in the various locations in which the play is set? What were you favorite characters and why? Which characters did you have trouble believing, and why? Director Ben Reigel mentioned that the actors would ‘break the Fourth Wall’ and speak directly to the audience, removing the ‘wall’ between the actors and audience. Did this enhance or detract from the story? How did the lighting affect your ability to feel involved in the story? Feel free to comment on any and all aspects of the play. Please use your program when making reference to characters, actors, etc.

Parsons Dance @ DEARTS

Posted: October 13, 2014 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized


Christina Ilisije of Parsons Dance with the DEARTS afternoon class. Monday, October 13, 2014

This post is open for your comments on Monday’s class with Parsons Dance. You are also welcome to post comments on the concert itself. Here are some things to consider:

Parsons Dance in Concert: What surprised you most? Why? What most excited you, and why? What disappointed you? Why? In discussing the concert please use your program and mention the dances by name.

In DEARTS we attempt to introduce you to aspects of ALL the arts, stretched out over thousands of years, around the globe. With such ambitions, a semester is a short time to help you attain expertise, but you have had a good introduction to some aspects of dance. Parsons Dance is a type of contemporary dance that borrows from ballet, jazz dance, modern dance, post-modern dance, and social dancing. Some of you have had enough experience to know which elements in the Parsons concert was most influenced by one of the major types of dance. If that’s you, please use your knowledge in your comments. All of you have already learned enough to be able to comment on some of the following: What storylines did you perceive in any one of the dances? Be very specific. How, specifically, did color affect the stories, and your perception of the dances? What kinds of movement did you find most beautiful? Why? What did you notice about the way the dancers were lit? (Lighting design will emerge as an important topic in the weeks ahead.) Did you like the music? What? Would you prefer to have seen the dancers move to other music? Be specific. What about costumes? Do you have a specific opinion? What might you do differently? What did you find humorous in the concert? Were you surprised by the humor? What was the source of most of the movement? That is – where would you see, in ordinary life, some of the movement that was most repeated? What did you think of the interplay of men and women in the concert? Be very specific. What else did you like or dislike about your experience in Miller Auditorium? Very exacting in your answer? If you have a lot of dance knowledge and experience, please feel free to compare this concert to others. Again, and as always: Be specific please! Last: did you experience a catharsis during the evening? Be sure you know what the word means!

FYI: This blog post is a good time for you to experiment with hitting the REPLY button on other people’s comments – and create a discussion.

The post will remain open until Friday, October 17 at 5 pm.

The post closed not until 7 pm on Friday with 130 comments.

Within the Kinesphere: Dance Today

Posted: October 8, 2014 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized

Think over what you learned about King Louis XIV. He was also known as Louis the Great, and as the Sun King. You might also consider that he was responsible for the world renowned palace of Versailles. If you know about Versailles, or if you do some quick research, what does that say, together with what you learned in class about this man; the supreme ruler of France at that time? Compare his goals in utilizing the arts of dance and of architecture to what you learned about the Roman emperors. Make as many specific comparisons as you can. If you do some research, tell us where please.

The film clip we screened was from Le Roi de Danse (The King Is Dancing), directed by Gérard Corbiau. Relevant scenes are online:  Examine the  fictionalized king’s performance, and the costumes, scenery, and lighting, as well as what you can see of the reactions of other characters in the scene. How might these elements add to our understanding of Louis XIV?

As discussed in class, the telling of stories is fundamental to our human need to connect with one another. The telling of stories is basic to learning to appreciate the unique attributes of all the arts. What connections or comparisons are you able to make between otherwise very different topics discussed throughout the 11 DEARTS classes of the semester, to date?

What understanding did you come away with from class as to what the significance and meaning of art is? Preferably answer using your class notes from today.

We had a special opportunity to become acquainted with David Parsons in class, in advance of his visit here this coming Monday. What questions that did not get asked in class today, might you want to ask him? In what way was David Parsons different than what you expected – if indeed you had expectations?sun_king


DEARTS morning class, October 8, 2014. David Parsons, with Rebecca Josue, General Manager and Stage Manager, in conversation with DEARTS student Kianee Truvillon.

This post will remain open until Sunday, October 12 at 5 pm.

The post closed at 5:10 pm Sunday, with 84 comments.

Shakespeare and Globalization

Posted: October 6, 2014 by Melissa Sparks in Uncategorized

Class focused on theatre, and it’s evolution from ancient Greece through Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance time periods,  and to William Shakespeare. In Greece, theatres were built into hillsides, sometimes near medical centers and government buildings. Roman engineers successfully appropriated the basic qualities of Greek theatres. At this time, theatres assumed most of the features we see to this day. In the Medieval period, audience members were excommunicated from the Church if they attended theatre instead of Mass on a Sunday.  Actors were forbidden to partake of Christian sacraments. In the Italian Renaissance, the rebirth of the classical values emphasizing humanism, brought stock characters to life.  The second portion of class focused on William Shakespeare and his now global influence.

Questions ahead: NOTE! When questions are provided, they are simply ‘sample’ questions. You may choose to answer one of the questions below, or come up with your own question or topic. It is best for you to pick (or write) ONE question only. It is better to write CAREFULLY, THOUGHTFULLY on one topic, than jump from one to another.

Possible topics/questions: Highly sexualized comedies such as Lysistrata filled Greek stages. Pick one current or recent TV show or film that uses sexuality, pop culture references, and depictions of power struggles to tell a meaningful and comedic story. Give details illustrating the connections to Greek comedy. In class we discussed the importance of theatre to Greek, Roman, and English Renaissance society. Why do you believe theatre has fallen out of importance in today’s American culture? How do you perceive theatre? If you have a very good knowledge of theatre – what changes in this art form would you like to see? As mentioned in class, Shakespeare is required reading for many students around the world. IF you have studied Shakespeare in some depth, do you think Shakespeare should be required in American public schools, and if so, at what grade levels?


Top: Epidaurus Theatre, Greece. Bottom left: Pompey Theatre, Rome. Right: Recreation of the Globe Theatre


Top: contemporary drawing symbolizing the story of Lysistrata. Bottom: Etching showing what the Greek theatre named in honor of the god Dionysus may have looked like.


Left: Portrait thought to be of William Shakespeare. Right: Photo of a South African production of Venus and Adonis, a story in the form of a poem by William Shakespeare, based on writing by the Roman poet Ovid.

This post closed at 8 am on Wednesday October 8 with 97 comments.

Image Processing: The Occipital

Posted: October 1, 2014 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized

The overwhelming emphasis in this class was on VISUAL information; how ideas are communicated by artists; how the context in which we see images affects their meaning; and how efforts to control or censor or manipulate visual art and artists themselves can affect us. All of these concerns can be understood as part of the definition of “visual literacy,” a phrase defined more succinctly in the Handbook. We also looked at some techniques for making art, including lost-wax casting, and (in scenes from the film Artemisia), inside a painting studio of a successful Baroque period painter. What do you think about the work and the issues raised by the artists referenced in the images below? What about other work we looked at including the following: Sally Mann’s photograph “Candy Cigarette,” 1989; and Francisco Goya’s paintings “Clothed Maja and Unclothed Maja,” 1800. (Both these works can be easily found online.) As a student at Western, what is your reaction the story of the ‘Bronco’ statue? Did you relate to aspects of Artemisia Gentileschi’s story as you learned of it in class today? If yes, please be as specific as you can in explaining how. blog_occipital_1.001-001 L -R: Cropped portions of the following: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King sculpture by Lisa Reinertson, in Kalamazoo, MI; The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC,  by Master Lei Yixin, sculptor (part of a large creative team); The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius by unknown artists in Rome, erected in 175 CE; and the sculpture called Mare Jumping Up, by artist Veryl Goodnight (also known as “Untitled” (on official WMU website), and informally as “The WMU Bronco.” occip_blog_2.007-001 L: diagram of a camera obscura. R: a dagguerreotype circa 1840 of a child, already deceased, posed as though sleeping. occip_blog_3.011-001 L – R: portions of The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, a painting by Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio, 1601 – 1602; Apollo and Daphne,  a life-sized marble sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1622-1625; Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting, by Artemisia Gentileschi, 1638-39.

This post closed Sunday, October 5,  at 9 pm with 77 comments.

Lost and Found/I’ve Got a Gal In Kalamazoo

Posted: September 29, 2014 by Paul R Solomon in Uncategorized

This post is available for comments about the Wednesday, Sept. 24 class AND the second Walking Tour, held Monday of this week. Class began with themed music about Kalamazoo and continued with a big assist from return guest Lynn Houghton, with an introduction to more Kalamazoo art and architecture. A few questions you may want to respond to: How many of your senses did you use while walking around Kalamazoo? In addition to sight, how did you use your sense of hearing, touch, smell and taste? You might want to choose one location such as the Kalamazoo Mall, or the park dedicated to Dr. King, for example, to answer the questions. Other comments are also welcome. By the way, Lynn Houghton will be reading your comments on this post and will respond if you have questions. As one student said about the tour on Monday, the sunshine gave us a chance to store up Vitamin D for the winter that will surely follow.


Bronze statue by California artists Lisa Reinertson. 1989. She was selected as the winner of a nation-wide competitive process to locate an artist with the talent, vision and technical skills sufficient to do justice to Dr. King. By chance, it turned out that she is the daughter of a minister who marched with Dr. King from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

This post closed on Wednesday, October 1 at 9:10 am with 111 comments.