PHILADELPHIA — In 1946, when delegates from 51 nations convened for the first time as the United Nations, a Philadelphia artist was there to capture the momentous occasion. On view at Woodmere Art Museum from March 30 to June 30, the exhibition The Promise of Peace: Violet Oakley’s United Nations Portraits focuses on this important series of portraits, shedding light on a significant moment in our history: when peace among nations became a worldwide political priority. The Promise of Peace is part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts 2013 (PIFA).
One of the great artists of Philadelphia, Oakley (1874-1961) was an independent, forward-thinking, self-described “pilgrim seeking peace” who achieved great success in a male-dominated profession. These stately portraits showcase Oakley’s lifelong dedication to the promotion of peace and world harmony, and are among the most historically significant works in Woodmere’s collection. Works include a portrait of Trygve Halvdan Lie, the first Secretary General of the U.N., among other distinguished representatives from China, France, Haiti, India, Iran, Lebanon, Mexico and Poland.
Along with the exhibition, Woodmere will host more than 15 special events capturing the essence of the mid-1940s, in partnership with PIFA: the Museum’s Friday Night Jazz series, including “Peace Treaty: Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong” (April 5), “Hope for the Future: Bebop and Jazz of the 1940s” (April 12) and more; the April lecture series “Advocates for Peace,” including a talk by Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella (April 15);andTuesday night movie screenings of The King’s Speech (April 2), North by Northwest (April 16) and more. (Full event listings follow below.)
Also on view at Woodmere this March, Charles Searles: A Focus on the Figure (March 25-June 15) is a focused investigation of Charles Searles’ early works that showcase the acclaimed African-American artist’s interest in the human figure, including portrayals of his family, images inspired by some of the urban characters he encountered in Philadelphia, and his nude model series. A Focus on the Figure is organized jointly with La Salle University Art Museum, Tyler School of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, all of which are also hosting Searles exhibitions this spring.
In addition, at the Helen Millard Children’s Gallery, Inspired: Works by Students from Plymouth Meeting Friends School (March 17-May 5) displays artwork by students who were inspired by the creativity of various cultural communities and the urge to communicate through visual means.
Woodmere Art Museum is located at 9201 Germantown Avenue. Admission to special exhibitions is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and FREE for students, children and Museum members; exhibitions in the Founder’s Gallery and Helen Millard Children’s Gallery are FREE. (Woodmere offers free admission on Sundays, including all special exhibitions, but excluding special events such as Classic Sundays.)Museum hours are: Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.–8:45 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information, visit woodmereartmuseum.orgor call 215-247-0476.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
The Promise of Peace: Violet Oakley’s United Nations Portraits
March 30-June 30, 2013
Open House: Saturday, April 13, 5-7 p.m.
Charles Searles: A Focus on the Figure
March 25-June 15, 2013
Inspired: Works by Students from Plymouth Meeting Friends School
March 17-May 5, 2013
Reception: Sunday, March 17, 2-4 p.m.
Helen Millard Children’s Gallery
Friday Night Jazz:
Peace Treaty: Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong
Friday, April 5, 6-8 p.m., $20 ($10 for members
In honor of the opening sessions of the United Nations, Dizzy Gillespie asked Louie Armstrong for a peace summit regarding the new music of the time — bebop, which Armstrong hated — at Madame JoJo’s, a popular jazz club in 1946 London. Gillespie and Armstrong debated verbally — but mostly musically — about their feelings on bebop and its effect on the music scene. Relive that moment at Madame JoJo’s with the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble and special guests Tony Smith and Michael Burton on trumpet. The song list includes Armstrong’s “Basin St. Blues,” “West End Blues” and “Sleepy Time Down South”; and Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia,” “Salt Peanuts” and “Manteca.” This performance is made possible through the generous support of Chestnut Hill Hospital.
Hope for the Future: Bebop and Jazz of the 1940s
Friday, April 12, 6-8 p.m., $20 ($10 for members
Both the United Nations and bebop were platforms that spoke of freedom of ideas, human rights and hope. The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble presents a collection of popular jazz tunes performed or composed in 1946, including commentary on their relevance to the first sessions of the United Nations in 1946 London. Featured songs will include bebop pioneer Charlie “Bird” Parker’s compositions “Now’s the Time” and “Anthropology,” as well as “Epistrophy” by Thelonious Monk. Performers include Lucky Thompson on drums, Cindy LeBlanc on flute and piano, Will Wright on trumpet, Warren Oree on bass, Rich Tucker on guitar, and vocals by Pat Scott.
This Joint Is Jumpin’: A Victory Day Celebration
Friday, April 19, 6-8 p.m., $20 ($10 for members)
The 1946 Victory Day parade overlooked the rationing, shortages, industry nationalizations and other wartime hardships that persisted in London. Woodmere will re-create the jazz party on the banks of the Thames River and Westminster Bridge as was done when King George VI went by on his Royal Barge. Music will be performed by the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble with guests Harold Watkins on trombone, Monique Canniere on violin and Jim Holton on piano. Songs will include “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” and “Lester Leaps In.”
A United Nations Jazz Jam: Musicians from Around the World
Friday, April 26, 6-8 p.m., $20 ($10 for members)
Just as the U.N. brought together representatives of various countries to share their common beliefs in peace, Woodmere will bring together musical influences and musicians from several of the countries present at the first U.N. assembly. Join us for an international jazz jam session set in London’s Jazz Café. Songs will include “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Duke’s Place,” “Shiny Stockings,” “‘C’ Jam Blues,” “Red Top” and more.
Sunday, April 14, 3-4:30 p.m. $20 ($10 for members)
Pianist Ashley Hsu performs works by Nicolai Medtner and others.
Tuesday Nights at the Movies
Co-presented by the Chestnut Hill Film Group and sponsored by The Chestnut Hill Local
Tuesday nights, 7-9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.), $5 suggested donation
The King’s Speech (April 2)
The Interpreter (April 9)
North by Northwest (April 16)
Mississippi Marsala (April 23)
Lecture Series: “Advocates for Peace”
Preregistration to all Woodmere lectures is suggested, as space is limited. A wine and cheese reception follows all lectures and gallery talks. For more information, visit woodmereartmuseum.org/lectures.
Violet Oakley, Pilgrim for Peace
Saturday, April 6, 3-4 p.m., $15 ($10 for members)
Lecturer: Patricia Likos Ricci, PhD, Associate Professor of History of Art and Director, Fine Arts Division, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
One of Philadelphia’s best-known artists, Violet Oakley (1874-1961) — an independent, forward-thinking self-described “pilgrim seeking peace” — began her career in 1895 and achieved great success in a male-dominated profession. In 1946, the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin sent Oakley to document the first session of the newly formed United Nations delegation. This lecture will explore Oakley’s belief that international government provided the best means of averting war and will include numerous examples of her art that advocated for world peace and international cooperation.
What War Looks Like
Saturday, April 13, 3-4 p.m., $15 ($10 for members)
Lecturer: Kate Brooks, international photojournalist
American photojournalist Kate Brooks uses the camera to document the people and issues of our time. She has covered the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan since September 11, 2001. In 2003, she covered the American invasion of Iraq and the beginning of the insurgency for Time magazine. Brooks has continued her work across the region photographing news, political leaders, and the impact of conflict on civilian populations. Join Brooks as she shares her poignant images and stories from the Middle East.
The United Nations
Monday, April 15, 11 a.m.-noon, $15 ($10 for members)
Lecturer: Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella, U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Ambassador Torsella will offer remarks on the United Nations, highlighting its founding; its charter to reaffirm faith in human rights, social progress and peace; and the contemporary challenges facing the United Nations.
Joseph M. Torsella was sworn in as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations for U.N. Management and Reform on April 26, 2011. He most recently served as the Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. Under his leadership the Board passed a landmark accountability measure implementing rigorous statewide requirements for high school graduation. He was also the founding president and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, a nonprofit museum and education center dedicated to explaining and celebrating American ideas and ideals.
Art Holds Up a Mirror
Saturday, April 20, 3-4 p.m., $15 ($10 for members)
Lecturer: Daniel Heyman, artist
Daniel Heyman’s Abu Ghraib former detainee project contains portraits of Iraqi men who give their first-person testimony about their wrongful imprisonment and torture during the American war in Iraq. These portraits remind us that a work of art has the power to break through the complacency of our lives and bring us vital information that challenges and provokes thoughtful interpretation of current events.
About Violet Oakley
Violet Oakley (1874–1961), born to an artistic family in Bergen Heights, N.J., relocated to Philadelphia in 1895, later settling in the Mount Airy neighborhood in the city’s Northwest region. During her lifetime, Oakley grew to become one of the great citizen artists of Philadelphia, a supporter of the city’s artists, a popular and well-spoken civic leader, and internationally known pacifist. She was also a driving force in the life of Woodmere Art Museum and constant support to her partner, Edith Emerson, who was Woodmere’s director from 1940 through 1978.