Fellows Friday News: Ten Years of Martha Graham Cracker, New Publications, Multimedia Exhibitions, and More

1/8: Dito van Reigersberg. Promotional photo for Pig Iron Theatre Company’s I Promised Myself to Live Faster. Photo by Jason Rothenberg.
2/8: King Britt. Photo courtesy of the artist.
3/8: Jenn McCreary, 2013 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.
4/8: Pattie McCarthy, 2011 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.
5/8: Frank Sherlock, 2013 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.
6/8: Robert Matthews, 2009 Pew Fellow. Still from Matthews’ Pew Fellow short film, directed by Glenn Holsten.
7/8: Jamaaladeen Tacuma, 2011 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.
8/8: Jennifer Higdon, 1999 Pew Fellow. Photo by Candace di Carlo.

In this month’s Pew Fellows news highlights, The Philadelphia Inquirer celebrates ten years of Martha Graham Cracker, the alter ego of theater artist Dito van Reigersberg. Poet Major Jackson has published a new book with W.W. Norton & Company, and visual artist Gabriel Martinez opens a solo show at The Print Center this fall. DJ King Britt and performance artist Kate Watson-Wallace will co-curate a new music series as part of the 2015 Fringe Festival in September.


Marking Milestones

The Philadelphia Inquirer marks ten years of theater artist Dito van Reigersberg’s (2002) performances as Martha Graham Cracker, praising “a set of powerhouse pipes that might win a nod from Patti LaBelle.”

Poet Trapeta Mayson (2002) is recognized in The Philadelphia Tribune for her role as Historic Germantown’s Executive Director. In her first year in this position, Mayson has “moved to make the nonprofit more accessible to the entire Germantown community, regardless of race or socioeconomic class,” says the Tribune, with a focus on the arts including Elephants on the Avenue, which received a 2015 grant from the Center.


Literature and Conversation

Poet Major Jackson’s (1995) newest book, Roll Deep: Poems, has just been released by W.W. Norton & Company. The collection “appropriates the vernacular notion of ‘rolling deep’ to explore human intimacy and war,” says W.W. Norton.

Novelist Beth Kephart (2005) will speak at the Free Library of Philadelphia this October, in conversation with Marciarose Shestack. The two will touch on Kephart’s new book, Love: A Philadelphia Affair, which the Free Library describes as “an ode to all things Philly.” Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library, October 7, 7:30 p.m.

Poets Jenn McCreary (2013), Pattie McCarthy (2011), and Frank Sherlock (2013) were featured in conversation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House, for the Jacket2 podcast series “PoemTalk.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed DJ King Britt (2007) and asked him about the items he requests from promoters while on tour: paperback books.


Pew Fellows’ Work on View

The Print Center will present Gabriel Martinez: Bayside Revisited this September, incorporating several major new commissions from visual artist Gabriel Martinez (2001). The multimedia exhibition addresses issues around the gay male experience, specifically focusing on the iconic gay mecca Fire Island. The Print Center, September 18–December 19; opening reception September 17, 5–7 p.m.

Visual artist Rob Matthews (2009) is part of The University of the Arts’ group show Drawing First + Last: Drawing as Primary Practice. The show includes site-specific drawings, works on paper, animation, and more. The University of the Arts, Hamilton Hall, now through September 18. Closing reception September 17, 5–7 p.m.


Performances across Genres

FringeArts has announced a new music series, “Late Night,” co-curated by DJ King Britt (2007) and performance artist Kate Watson-Wallace (2007), part of the 2015 Fringe Festival. The series will “represent a global celebration of music and art,” said Britt to WXPN’s The Key, and include performances by guitarist and composer Chris Forsyth (2011) and Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret. FringeArts, September 4–19, start times vary.

Bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma (2011) will perform with his trio as part of the 3rd annual Philadelphia United Jazz Festival. Festival Main Stage, Broad and South Streets, 5 p.m.

Composer Jennifer Higdon’s (1999) new opera, Cold Mountain, continues to garner press in the wake of its Santa Fe premiere. The Washington Post called the work “proof that we are living in a Golden Age of American opera,” while Opera Today said the music “hit the audience directly in the solar plexus.” Higdon also spoke with NPR about the process of writing the opera with librettist Gene Scheer. Cold Mountain will premiere in Philadelphia in February 2016, with Opera Philadelphia.

The Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance is an evening-length autobiographical dance, the culmination of Philadelphia-based breakdancer Raphael Xavier’s 30 years of experience in hip-hop genres. Xavier, a 2013 Pew Fellow, plays with the rhythms of rap, break dancing and narrative to draw parallels between the performer’s body and the stage itself.

Grants & Grantees

The Philadelphia Ceili Group is an educational organization with an interest in Irish culture, founded in 1958 to preserve traditional ceili and set dancing.

Grants & Grantees

In 1993 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 16 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 13 dance organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

Since 2011, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage has provided recent Pew Fellows with opportunities to take sojourns outside of the Philadelphia area, for residencies intended to push their artistic practice and expand their horizons.

The Winter 2013 issue of Trust, the official magazine of The Pew Charitable Trusts, features The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage’s artist residency program, established with arts colonies throughout North America.

Grants & Grantees

Peter d’Agostino is a multimedia artist and a 1992 Pew Fellow.

Raphael Xavier presents Raphstravaganza, a contemporary circus-style performance featuring street performers, extreme BMX riders, acrobatic contortionists, and live music.

Grants & Grantees

Caribbean-American dancer-choreographer Tania Isaac (Pew Fellow, 2011) fuses choreography with personal documentary and social commentary.

A 2012 Pew Fellow and Leeway Transformation Award winner, Waselchuk is interviewing and photographing Philadelphia block captains for Them That Do, a project which reveals the individual and shared histories of the city’s diverse citizenry.

Grants & Grantees

In 2010, with Center support, Philagrafika—an organization dedicated to contemporary printmaking—organized a massive multi-venue festival.

Grants & Grantees

Alex Da Corte (Pew Fellow, 2012) scans grocery stores, street corners, and IKEA showrooms to find materials for his assemblages and videos, which utilize everything from food to hardware.

Grants & Grantees

In 2005 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 66 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.