The Front Row, 08/14/2006

We began our series of previews of the upcoming Houston Theater District Open House with a conversation with Barry Mandel, president of the Houston Downtown Alliance. We'll talk with representatives of all nine of the performing-arts organizations that stage musical, theatrical and dance productions in downtown Houston over the next two weeks. . .

Houston's Wortham CenterOn the last Sunday afternoon of this month the nine organizations that make up Houston's Theater District will host the 13th annual Theater District Open House.ξThe participating institutions: the Alley Theatre, Broadway Across America Houston, Da Camera of Houston, Society for the Performing Arts, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony, Theatre Under The Stars, and the Hobby Center's Uniquely Houston series -- will throw open the doors of their facilities for backstage tours, mini-performances, fun activities for young and old, and refreshments.ξ Over the next two weeks, we will pave the way to this year's Open House by presenting our annual series of conversations with spokespeople from each of the Theater District arts organizations.ξBarry Mandel is the President and C-E-O of the Houston Downtown Alliance, the civic association that oversees the District.ξHe toldξDean Daltonξthat, although a lot about this year's Open House will look and feel familiar to those who have attended before, there will be some new wrinkles, too.ξAudio here.ξξ

Norman Rockwell's The Problem We All Live WithDuring the first half of the twentieth-century, Norman Rockwell pictured America the way we wanted to think of ourselves.ξHis warm, photo-realistic paintings -- cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post -- provided nostalgic views of a society that was starting to fade into memory, and perhaps never actually existed at all: barefoot, freckle-faced boys in straw hats, fishing off piers; families in the heartland gathered around the dinner table; rosy-cheeked little girls in crinoline dresses; postmen; barbers and romping puppy-dogs.ξIn the early 60's, however, Rockwell switched affiliations, and started working for Look, a news-magazine.ξThe subjects of his paintings changed, too; they came to reflect the real,ξpresent-day America, and the first work he created under his new assignment has become one of his most revered pieces.ξThe Problem We All Live With is a caring but pointed depiction of a significant event in the struggle for equal rights for African-Americans.ξThe painting is currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, on loan from the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.ξKUHF's Alison Young took a look at it with Emily Neff, the M-F-A-H's Curator of American Painting and SculptureξAudio here.ξξ

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