Monday, September 12, 2016

World Premiere Screening: America Rising: The Arts of the Gilded Age

The Avenue in the Rain, 1917,
Childe Hassam.
Courtesy of the White House.
    
I'm delighted to announce that the world premiere screening of “America Rising: The Arts of the Gilded Age” will be held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on January 20, 2017.

Terri and I had been fielding inquiries for the premiere’s location ever since the press release went out over ten months ago…however, after consultation with Trent Nicholas we determined that VMFA was the ideal location for the premiere of this, our seventh film on the arts of America.

Why VMFA?...well, to being with, it houses one of the finest collections of paintings anywhere in the country; and the American works in the VMFA collection, and in particular the McGlothlin Collection of American Art, are matchless. We’ll be using art from the collection of more than fifty museums nationally and internationally as well as many private collectors, but the VMFA collection has at least eight works that we’ll be using throughout the film.


Isles of Shoals, 1912, Childe Hassam.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund.
    
For example, in America Rising we devote a long section to the work of the American Impressionist Childe Hassam, and we’ll be using the VMFA’s Isles of Shoals, 1912 as a prominent part of the Hassan section; we’ll also be using Moonlight, New England Coast from 1907 to actually end the section on Hassam’s devotion to these islands off the coast of New Hampshire.

For the opening of our section on John Singer Sargent, we will use Julius LeBlanc Stewart’s Yachting the Mediterranean from 1896 as a way to illustrate the importance of the expansion of travel to Europe by cultured Americans throughout the years of America’s renaissance.

I’m a particular fan of the work of Everett Shinn, and fell in love with his Horsedrawn Bus from 1899, which I think will work particularly well, juxtaposed with a photograph on the same subject, from the same era, by Alfred Stieglitz.

Moonlight, New England Coast, 1907, Childe Hassam.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
The James W. and Francis Gibson McGlothlin Collection.
    
Of course, I haven’t gotten to the second reason why we chose the VMFA for the world premiere of this new film. Simply put, it’s the audience. Our last screening there was completely sold out. At the Q&A afterwards, Terri and I took perceptive questions and listened to so many comments that indicated clearly that among the membership of the VMFA are many thoughtful people, who can be counted on not only to support the arts through their VMFA membership, but can support filmmakers who bring films about the American artistic experience to Richmond.

I won’t bore you with what it’s like these days in our studio as we make may editing changes to the film, and work through the hundreds of works of art that we are considering…but I will tell you that what sustains us through this process is looking forward to being in Richmond again and, in particular, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where it is clear every day of the week that “art matters.”

- Michael Maglaras



Horsedrawn Bus, 1899, Everett Shinn.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
The James W. and Francis Gibson McGlothlin Collection.
    

Saturday, June 18, 2016

WPA Film to Screen in Fredonia, New York

On September 23, 2016 at 7:30pm the 1891 Fredonia Opera House will screen our film on the arts of the WPA. 

Life of Action by Carl W. Peters, 1937Life of Action by Carl W. Peters, 1937
Featuring Filmmaker Michael Maglaras
General Admission $13, $10 Students
Purchase tickets at this link.
In May 1935, as part of the great return-to-work effort known as the Works Progress Administration, President Franklin Roosevelt put Americans to work in the service of rebuilding a society staggering under the weight of the Great Depression.
Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA celebrates the 80th anniversary of this epic undertaking and the Federal Arts Projects that using art, theatre, writing and music, reignited the soul of an America caught in the Depression's grip.
Featuring more than 70 works of art from this period, including notable works by Rockwell Kent, Dorothea Lange, Stuart Davis and Reginald Marsh, as well as rare footage of WPA artists at work, this film tells the story of how Roosevelt and his New Deal moved art in America out of the rarified atmosphere of the elite and brought it directly to the American people as an inspiration and catalyst for change and recovery.
(One such work, a mural titled The Harvest by painter Arnold Blanch, was installed in Fredonia's Post Office in 1937.  It was cleaned and restored in 1972 and remains on exhibit today.)
Filmmaker Michael Maglaras will introduce Enough to Live On and also will lead a talk-back and Q&A following its screening. 
Michael MaglarasMichael MaglarasOriginally trained as an opera singer in the U.S. and Europe, Maglaras performed widely as a singer and opera director.  He is now the principal of a well-respected international risk management and insurance consulting firm headquartered in Ashford, CT.

He founded 217 Films in 2003 with the aim of introducing a new audience to the rich history of the art of the American experience. His first project was a film about the American painter Marsden Hartley called Cleophas and His Own, which was based on a forgotten personal narrative by the iconic and seminal Modernist.

Since then, he has produced the first ever documentary film about Hartley, entitled Visible Silence: Marsden Hartley, Painter and Poet, which was followed closely by the first feature-length documentary about Hartley's contemporary and friend, the painter John Marin, entitled Let the Paint be Paint.
Maglaras has been called a "filmmaker of nearly Bergman-like gravitas."  His work with producer Terri Templeton has been called "comparable to that of the widely acclaimed Ken Burns."
Enough to Live OnThe Arts of the WPA was released in May 2015.  It is his sixth film.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Tour of New WPA Documentary Continues

You have three more chances to see "Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA" in the next month:

May 9, 2016
Private Screening 
Sponsored by the International Women's Forum
University of Southern Maine
Portland, Maine

May 10, 2016
7:00pm
Warwick Public Library
Warwick, Rhode Island

May 17, 2016
7:00pm
Milford Center for the Arts
Milford, Connecticut

June 15, 2016
8:00pm
Old Greenbelt Theatre
Greenbelt, Maryland

Following that, our final screening for this film has been scheduled for September 23 at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House.

The DVD can be purchased on Amazon at this link.

More about the film: In May 1935, as part of the great return-to-work effort known as the Works Progress Administration, President Franklin Roosevelt returned Americans back to work in the service of rebuilding a society staggering under the weight of the Great Depression.

Enough to Live On: The Art of the WPA” celebrates the 80th anniversary of this epic undertaking and the Federal Arts Projects that using art, theatre, writing and music, reignited the soul of an America caught in the grip of the Great Depression.

Featuring more than 70 works of art from this period, including notable works by Rockwell Kent, Dorothea Lange, Stuart Davis, and Reginald Marsh, as well as rare footage of WPA artists at work, this film tells the story of how President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal moved art in America out of the rarified atmosphere of the elite and brought it directly to the American people as an inspiration and catalyst for change and recovery in the 1930s.  Running Time 94 Minutes.  Not Rated.  2015.

Written, directed and narrated by Michael Maglaras.  Executive producer is Terri Templeton.   217 Films is based in Ashford, Connecticut. 

Excerpts from the film can be viewed at this link


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Film Chronicles WPA Art in Norwalk







Film chronicles WPA art in Norwalk
By Silvia Foster-Frau Updated Apr 22, 2016
  

NORWALK -- Eighty-one years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt decided to save his country from the Great Depression by arming it -- with artists.

And the remnants of that effort can be found in more than 30 murals around Norwalk.

“He believed that he had to bring America together. He believed that you have to keep artists off the streets and using their talents and skills and he was determined to do that. And as I show in this film, by 1939 we were essentially out of the Depression,” said Michael Maglaras, a documentary filmmaker of 217 Films from Ashford.

The Norwalk Arts Council, Historical Society and Westport Historical Society will be screening Maglaras’ film “Enough to Live on: The Arts of the WPA” at 6:30 p.m. May 4 at Norwalk Community College’s PepsiCo Theater.

Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, which commissioned thousands of artists across the country, funded more than 50 murals in Norwalk. With 31 murals in City Hall alone, the town is considered as having one of the highest concentrations of restored Depression-era art in the country.
“When we look at a piece of WPA art, we remember something fundamental of America: the breadth and depth of our artistic heritage,” said Maglaras.

The event starts with a 5:30 p.m. meet-and-great with Maglaras, producer and director, and his co-producer and wife, Terri Templeton. It’s part of NCC’s monthly film series. It’s free and open to the public.

“I’m hoping to give a hardworking filmmaker an audience,” said Gary Carlson, English Professor at NCC and founder of the NCC film series program. “Especially when he’s telling the story of a time when the government thought the arts were important enough to sponsor.”

The Norwalk Historical Society and Arts Commission reached out to Maglaras after finding out that his team had been scoping out Norwalk art to potentially include in the documentary.

Though the art was not featured in the end, a Norwalk native was. Robert Reynolds, 91, whose father lost his job during the depression, speaks in the film about seeing artists at the post office painting federally-commissioned murals and explains how that affected him.

“It shows the value that art had been and always has to ground us, to center us, to remind us that there are things greater than our particular trouble on that particular day,” said Maglaras. “The one thing that the WPA federal art project did, it gave someone a chance to look at a work of art… and for a moment, by grounded in something lasting and important.”

He spent 14 months working on this film and has shown it at a handful of locations around Connecticut. Maglaras said he and Templeton are the only American filmmakers that have been asked four times to screen their work at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.


“It’s easy to despair, to say ‘How can we make it right? How can we make it better?’” said Maglaras. “… But what I hope this does is make people feel upbeat about America’s future. We are not down, we are not out. We endlessly come back, we are America.”