Thursday, December 31, 2015

217 Films at Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

217 Films is honored to screen our film "O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward" at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum on February 20.  Director Michael Maglaras and executive producer Terri Templeton will introduce the documentary and answer questions after the screening.
David Berona, Michael Maglaras and Robert Dance


















This special film showing is in conjunction with two new exhibitions opening that month, "Wordless: The Collection of David A. Berona" and "Dedini: The Art of Humor."
"Wordless" celebrates a century of wordless books—novels and histories told entirely through pictures—and the life of the late David A. Beronä, who was devoted to studying, collecting, and championing this international tradition.  "Dedini" showcases the work of Eldon Dedini, an absolute master of magazine cartoons.
What:   Special film screening of "O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward."  Introduced by filmmakers Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton
When:  Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 6:00pm
Where:  Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, 1813 N High St., Columbus, Ohio
Cost:  Free
The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is one of The Ohio State University Libraries’ special collections. Its primary mission is to develop a comprehensive research collection of materials documenting American printed cartoon art (editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, sports cartoons, and magazine cartoons) and to provide access to the collections.
More about the film:  Lynd Ward is the father of the American graphic novel and one of the most prolific book illustrators and printmakers in the history of American art. Featuring more than 150 wood engravings, drawings, and illustrations by this important American artist and storyteller, this 90-minute film brings the creativity of Ward to life and illustrates his mastery of narrative without text. His work chronicles American life in the 20th century, and demonstrates his deep personal commitment to social justice and the plight of the workingman surrounding the years of the Great Depression. Written, narrated, and directed by Michael Maglaras of 217 Films. Featuring interviews with Ward's daughter, Robin Ward Savage. 2012.  Available on DVD through Amazon.  
 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

John Greenleaf Whittier Remembered











In December, we always think about John Greenleaf Whittier and his masterful poem, "Snow-Bound."  This essay was written by Michael Maglaras in 2010 and we return to it now in appreciation of Whittier and his lasting contribution to American poetry.  Order the CD recording of this poem at this link.

Maglaras writes:  "I know of no other poet who can seduce the ear like Whittier, and a moment later slam his fist down in front of us, reminding us of how we must do better and why we must not settle for interminable indignities...particularly those perpetrated by men against their brothers."

"Snow-Bound" -- An Appreciation
by Michael Maglaras, 217 Records

John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow-Bound" is his signal work of genius. Whittier wrote many poems of unassailable quality...but "Snow-Bound" is without equal among his poems. It is a work of towering imagination and incandescent beauty. "Snow-Bound" also captures, at once, Whittier's best qualities as a poet and as a man. It is clearly a nostalgic poem. It is, of course, also much more than that. For Whittier's command of lyricism is no better evidence than in this great masterpiece: a poem intended to tug at our hearts, while calling us vigorously to action.


















In "Snow-Bound," Whittier speaks passionately about "the hell of prison torture." Since that particular kind of hell is still with us 144 years after "Snow-Bound" was written, his work can still resonate on many levels and in many ways. When he began the emotional and intellectual journey that culminated with the publication of "Snow-Bound" in February of 1866, he was still mourning the loss of his sister Elizabeth: the two of them had formed a special bond that was hardly understandable by the outside world. (We have dedicated Volume 2 of the Whittier Bicentennial Recording Project to Elizabeth Whittier's memory.)

I know of no other poet who can seduce the ear like Whittier, and a moment later slam his fist down in front of us, reminding us of how we must do better and why we must not settle for interminable indignities...particularly those perpetrated by men against their brothers.

"Snow-Bound" captures a time that we, in the 21st century, only have a hint of understanding. Imagine a two-day blizzard (in the days when we still had two-day blizzards). Imagine a family and their friends brought unexpectedly together, entombed by the snow in a Haverhill, Massachusetts farm house for almost a week, before plows, drawn by teams of oxen, reach them. Imagine a time when a group of persons, forced together by the "shrieking of the mindless wind" in a combination living-dining-and-kitchen area less than 26 feet in length, would have been able to sustain each other, happily, through a week of conversation, fellowship, and mutual understanding...without once having to go "online" to escape boredom. And now, lastly, imagine that experience impressed on the mind of a ten-year-old boy of exceptional talent, sensitiviity, and perception -- this young boy growing into a man able, in his late middle age, to invite us to "stretch the hands of memory forth," so lovingly in "Snow-Bound."

Whittier's hands of memory are more than the hands that reach back into the past; they are also the hands that subtly draw the curtain back and reveal simple lives (or, in the case of Harriet Livermore, a not-so-simple life), and show us how self-sufficient people of intelligence and dignity coped with a storm, the likes of which would most probably reduce us, in our own time, to at best, whining, and at worst, hysteria.

In "Snow-Bound," Whittier's use of language and image is without peer. It is Whittier at his finest...and Whittier at this finest is without equal in the American experience. On Whittier's 80th birthday he was presented with a birthday greeting signed by the President and Vice President of the United States, every member of the United States House, Senate, and Supreme Court. Schools closed in his honor. Streets and towns were being named for him while he was still alive.

Tonight, as we celebrate Whittier's 203rd birthday year, and as you hear "Snow-Bound" read aloud in its entirety (and to hear Whittier read aloud is to take the ultimate joy from his work) and not in some reduced, expurgated edition or performance, I hope you become inspired to take up the cause of Whittier again, so that the depth of his human understanding and the profoundness of his universal message can be passed to a new generation.

~ Michael Maglaras

Copyright (C) 2007-2010 217 Records. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tyler Texas WPA Murals

These photos are of three murals from the Depression era being cared for and restored by the Smith County Historical Society in Tyler, Texas. Tyler benefited in many ways from the WPA, including a state park, numerous buildings and art.  

These murals are true treasures -- capturing scenes from American life. Read more about the history of these murals and the efforts underway to preserve them for future generations at this link.






Thursday, November 12, 2015

Grolier Club Hosts 217 Films in NYC

217 Films' 2012 documentary "O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward" will screen at the Grolier Club in New York City on November 19th.  Ward is the father of the American graphic novel and one of the most prolific book illustrators and printmakers in the history of American art. 

Filmmakers Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton will be there to introduce the film and take questions following the screening.

The Grolier Club is America's oldest and largest society for book lovers and graphic arts fans.  

David Berona, author of “Wordless Books” has said of “O Brother Man” ... “This film is stunning.” 

The Sacramento Bee called Michael Maglaras a filmmaker of “Bergman-like gravitas.” His films have been described as “virtuoso filmmaking” (National Gallery of Art) “alive and fresh” (Art New England) and “elegiac and insightful” (Naples Daily News).  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New documentary film celebrates American art through the faces of her people

Connecticut-based independent filmmakers Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton of 217 Films announce a new film project -- their seventh in ten years and their sixth “essay in film” -- tracing the history of America through the portraits of the American people.

The film is titled “American Faces: Portrait of a Nation” and is scheduled for release in November 2016.

Abbott H. Thayer, Margaret McKittrick, c. 1903.
Oil on canvas. Indianapolis Museum of Art,
Gift of the Friends of American Art.
    
From the beginning of our history as revolutionaries through more than two centuries of triumph and tragedy, “American Faces” reveals how American artists have portrayed their fellow citizens, as well as themselves, in paint, on film, and through the tangible reality of sculpture. The portrait is the most intimate form of art expression, and “American Faces” -- using more than 100 works of American painting and sculpture, as well as photographs and the moving image -- will focus on how Americans have viewed themselves, viewed their country, and understood themselves as both individual citizens and as a part of the greater events of their times.

Caesar: A Slave, ca. 1850. Daguerreotype.
New York Historical Society.
    
Writer and director Michael Maglaras has written, “The richness of our American artistic experience is best understood through the faces of our people, whether it is through the iconography of Gilbert Stuart’s multiple portraits of George Washington, or through Chuck Close’s keen understanding of the composite nature of each of our personalities. The faces of our fellow citizens stare back at us with steadfast resolve and embody a special essence that is uniquely American.” Maglaras continues, “As we have gone through political, social, and financial upheaval and change, what fascinates me as a filmmaker is that a steady point of visual reference in American art is how we portray ourselves, see ourselves, and arrive, through the portrait art of each generation, at a common understanding of what it means to be an American.”

John Singer Sargent,
Mr. and Mrs. I. N. Phelps Stokes, 1897.
Oil on canvas. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Image source: Art Resource, NY.
    
More About 217 Films:  217 Films is an independent film company devoted to the American artistic experience.  In 2005, Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton released their first film “Cleophas and His Own” about the American painter Marsden Hartley's epic narrative of love and loss. Maglaras both directed and played the role of Hartley in this film.  In 2008, they released a second film about Hartley called “Visible Silence:  Marsden Hartley, Painter and Poet” – the first-ever documentary on the life of Hartley. In 2010, with their film “John Marin: Let the Paint be Paint!” they established, through the first full-length documentary on this important painter, that John Marin was one of the fathers of American Modernism. These films, among other distinctions, have been shown to acclaim at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In 2012, they released “O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward.” In 2013, they released “The Great Confusion: The 1913 Armory Show.” Currently on tour is their latest film “Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA” celebrating the ways in which Franklin Roosevelt used the arts to raise the spirits of the American people during the Great Depression.


Chuck Close, Self-Portrait, 1997. Oil on canvas.
© Chuck Close, Courtesy Pace Gallery.    
The Sacramento Bee called Michael Maglaras a filmmaker of “Bergman-like gravitas.” His films have been described as “virtuoso filmmaking” (National Gallery of Art) “alive and fresh” (Art New England) and “elegiac and insightful” (Naples Daily News).  David Berona, author of “Wordless Books” has said of “O Brother Man” ... “This film is stunning.” A recent review in The Dartmouth said of “The Great Confusion” that “Michael Maglaras... brought the drama of the original show back to life.”