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In Arts & Entertainment….

The Free Press WV

►  Color-blocking mixes with the stars at Paris couture

Color-blocking mixed with historic silken gowns — and a small dash of star-power — for the final day of Paris Couture. Here are some of Wednesday’s fall-winter highlights.

PICCIOLI’S COUTURE

The recently-solo designer of Valentino couture, Pierpaolo Piccioli, is going from strength to strength.

The long, floor-sweeping organza gowns that evoke the Renaissance— now a staple of the Rome-based couture house — were all there in the Wednesday show’s accomplished designs.

Indeed, Italian painter Titian was even referenced in the program notes and could be felt in the silken hues of the show — that fused gentle whites, blues, reds and yellows. An intarsia velvet plisse dress, which took 960 hours to make, had blown-up baroque motifs.

But Piccioli mixed it up this season.

Graphic shapes were produced with some stylish color-blocking on gowns. One billowing cape in cerulean blue velvet sported a contrasting under garment with white sporty zip up collar.

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VALENTINO’S STARS

Sofia Coppola held court on the Valentino front row beside house-founder Valentino Garavani at his eponymous couture show in the opulent Hotel Salomon de Rothschild.

The youthful-looking 46-year-old, who’s still basking in the glory of her Cannes Best Director Award for “The Beguiled,” looked demure in a black Valentino sleeveless silk gown.

Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson also attended the silken display, alongside actress Kristin Scott Thomas.

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ELIE SAAB’S MEDIEVAL STYLE

Perhaps anticipating this month’s new “Game of Thrones” season, Lebanese designer Elie Saab went in search of the warrior queen for his medieval-tinged couture collection.

Queenly golden head band crowns, Rosary-style hand ornaments, and heavy Romanesque necklaces adorned models with tousled hair — parted in the center.

The gowns, too, harked to a bygone era. The signature Saab silhouette — floor length and cinched-waisted — was given an historic twist with the display’s thick velvets, bands of fur, and intricate golden brocades.

One archetypal medieval gown in deep ultramarine velvet had structured straps diagonally across the bust, leading the eye down to floor length slit sleeves — styles worn by queens in court. A billowing cloak that faded from gray to blue was fastened by a large fairytale black velvet bow.

There were great small details — such as a structured peplum bodice that looked hard, yet was rendered soft by the velvet texture.

Actress Rossy de Palma and socialite Olivia de Palermo applauded in delight.

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COCO ROCHA STEALS THE SHOW (AGAIN)

In 2007, Coca Rocha’s stunned guests at Jean Paul Gaultier— as the then 18-year-old Canadian model opened the show with a dramatic traditional Irish step jig that she danced all the way down the runway.

Ten years later, Rocha stunned again.

This time the 28-year-old — who’s still at the top of her game — capped the snow-themed show from the French designer by cycling down the podium in a strange white, fluffy tricycle carriage in gold leggings. Guests applauded and cheered as the soundtrack boomed out a French version of Frozen’s “Let it Go.”

“It’s never just another runway show with @JPGaultier!” exclaimed the model from her Twitter account.

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GAULTIER’S WINTER WONDERLAND

The ever-unpredictable couturier Jean Paul Gaultier lived up to his reputation Wednesday in a humorous couture treat for guests who included France’s Former First Lady Carla Bruni.

The 61 diverse designs loosely united around one central theme: the winter wonderland. Loosely.

But the display was mainly about fun and veered often into the wacky, harking from different continents and silhouettes. It almost defied definition.

On a snow-white runway, oversize bubble jackets in gray and gold paraded alongside fitted jackets with snow motifs and furry white platforms.

For the head: Gaultier served up gargantuan fur Russian chapkas that competed with wooly bobble hats in blue and white.

Then there were Sarees — that are worn in the sun, not in snow.

“(It’s) childish and exotic… What was funny was a mix of winter. So the snow, and the pullover. And also the saree which is from a country where there’s a lot of sun,” he told The AP.

And where would a winter wonderland scene be without Scandi knits? Inspired by the 1970s craze for Swedish-style cardigans, model Anna Cleveland wore a thick blue and white cardigan with floppy knitted headwear.

Then the couturier seemed to head for the Himalayas with wrapped-up Asian-style silhouettes — with one bright red, floor length, square-shouldered gown reminiscent of traditional Nepalese dress.


►  Pediatric unit built by Madonna in Malawi to open July 11

Madonna says the children’s wing at a hospital in Malawi she has been building for two years completed its first surgery last week and will officially open July 11.

The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, located at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in the city of Blantyre, had a soft opening and is the first of its kind in Malawi. It was built in collaboration with the Malawian Ministry of Health.

“When you look into the eyes of children in need, wherever they may be, a human being wants to do anything and everything they can to help, and on my first visit to Malawi, I made a commitment that I would do just that,” Madonna said in a statement to The Associated Press.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has joined me on this unbelievable journey. What started out as a dream for Malawi and her children has become a reality, and we couldn’t have done it without your support,” she added.

Madonna adopted four children, David Banda, Mercy James, Stelle and Estere from Malawi. The children’s wing was named after 11-year-old Mercy.

The pop star’s charity, Raising Malawi, has built schools in Malawi and has funded the new pediatric unit, which began construction in 2015. Madonna, 58, visited the site last year.

The children’s unit includes three operating rooms dedicated to children’s surgery, a day clinic and a 45-bed ward. It will enable Queen Elizabeth hospital to double the number of surgeries for children and will provide critical pre-operative and post-operative care. It also includes a playroom, an outdoor play structure and inspirational murals curated by Madonna and other artists.

Sarah Ezzy, executive director of Raising Malawi, said the charity has been working with Queen Elizabeth hospital since 2008, helping the hospital’s chief of pediatric surgery, Dr. Eric Borgstein, develop a training program.

“Pediatric intensive care is not something that has formally existed in Malawi. There hasn’t been any training on it. It’s not part of the curriculum in nursing school (or) medical school. People had to leave the country to train ... now people don’t have to leave the country to train,” Ezzy said in an interview. “This facility is attached to the college of medicine and nursing so it will be a learning, teaching hospital.”

Trevor Neilson, who works at Charity Network and has been advising Madonna’s philanthropic efforts for the last six years, said “only someone like Madonna could do this. If you weren’t Madonna, you would have given up a long time ago.”

“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives, will be saved by the hospital in the course of it operating,” added Neilson, who has worked on charity projects with Bill Gates, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Bono and others.

Madonna founded Raising Malawi in 2006 to address the poverty and hardship endured by Malawi’s orphans and vulnerable children.

“Malawi has enriched my family more than I could have ever imagined. It’s important for me to make sure all my children from the country maintain a strong connection to their birth nation, and equally important to show them that together as humans we have the power to change the world for the better,” Madonna said.


►  Kesha returns with lead single from first album in 5 years

Kesha has released her first new music in four years and announced a forthcoming album, her first since a high-profile legal battle with Dr. Luke over a lawsuit accusing the music producer of sexual assault and harassment.

Kesha has debuted “Praying,” the lead single from “Rainbow,” her first album since 2012′s “Warrior.” Co-written by Ryan Lewis, “Praying” features lyrics about overcoming adversity. In an essay for Lenny Letter , Kesha writes that the song is about “coming to feel empathy for someone else even if they hurt you or scare you.”


Dr. Luke, whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald, has denied Kesha’s allegations.

“Rainbow” is due out August 11 and features appearances by Dolly Parton, Eagles of Death Metal and the Dap-Kings.


►  Andrew Garfield says he’s gay ‘without the physical act’

Andrew Garfield is getting criticized for saying he’s gay, but without the “physical act.”

Garfield is starring onstage as a gay man with AIDS in a London production of “Angels in America.” Britain’s Gay Times magazine reports Garfield told the audience at a panel discussion that he’s not currently gay, but left open the door for an “awakening” later in his life.

He says he prepared for the role by watching episodes of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and added that he’s “a gay man right now just without the physical act.”

The comment has sparked criticism from some on Twitter who say the remark is insensitive to the struggles of gay people.

Garfield’s representatives didn’t immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

In Arts & Entertainment….

The Free Press WV

►  MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ sets viewership mark after tweets

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski reached their biggest audience ever when they talked Friday about Donald Trump’s tweets about their show.

The Nielsen company said Wednesday that 1.66 million people watched the MSNBC morning show the day after the tweets. That narrowly beat the show’s previous record, which came the day after Trump was elected last year.

Trump, in denouncing the show last week, wrote that Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a facelift” when he saw them around the New Year.

Friday’s “Morning Joe” proved more popular than Trump’s favorite morning show, “Fox & Friends.” Even Trump tweeted that he watched “Morning Joe” on Friday.


►  Harry Potter, Abe Lincoln books on owners’ reading lists

A book about marketing or managing employees may be the last thing small business owners want to read on vacation. But some say they’ve found insight they can apply to their companies from the subjects of books they cracked just for the joy of reading — Abraham Lincoln, Harry Potter or a young woman in an alternative universe.

Some of their recommendations:

BOOK: “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

RECOMMENDED BY: Corey Nelson, owner of 4C Global Logistics LLC.

COMPANY PROFILE: 4C Global Logistics, founded in 2012 and based in Lakeville, Minnesota, is involved in the distribution of chemical and agricultural products.

WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: “Team of Rivals,” published in 2005, details how U.S. President Abraham Lincoln put together a Cabinet that included politicians like Secretary of State William H. Seward and Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, whom Lincoln had defeated for the Republican presidential nomination. Lincoln encouraged his team to put aside their animosity toward him and each other while the Civil War was being waged.

WHY NELSON RECOMMENDS IT TO BUSINESS OWNERS: “Building and running a business is about relationships and bringing great minds together from all different backgrounds to be successful. Lincoln listened to people, he understood their motives, and genuinely cared. He had passion in everything he did and always refused to quit regardless of others’ actions.”

HOW IT HAS HELPED HIM IN BUSINESS: “When times get tough, which they always do as a business owner, that book helps to keep me going and realize if I stick to the course and treat all people well, good things will come in the end.”

BOOK: “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood.

RECOMMENDED BY: Serafina Palandech, co-owner of Hip Chicks Farms.

COMPANY PROFILE: Hip Chicks Farms, founded in 2011 and based in Sebastopol, California, manufactures organic poultry products.

WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: “The Handmaid’s Tale,” published in 1985, is set in a society where women are subjugated and placed in classes. The main character is in a class called Handmaids, forced to bear children for infertile couples.

WHY PALANDECH RECOMMENDS IT TO BUSINESS OWNERS: “The fact that is set in a dystopian world where women are trophy wives, servants, or of breeding stock provides anyone reading it with a powerful feminist message. I think this message is particularly important to women entrepreneurs, founders, and business owners who have daughters.”

HOW IT HAS HELPED HER IN BUSINESS: “It helps me in business to recognize that my experience and my voice are relevant and important. I might not be saying things the way business folks in my industry are saying them, but that can still be a real asset.”

BOOK: “The Martian,” by Andy Weir.

RECOMMENDED BY: Vernon Tirey, CEO of LeaseQ.

COMPANY PROFILE: LeaseQ, founded in 2011 and based in Burlington, Massachusetts, is an equipment leasing and financing company.

WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: “The Martian,” published in 2011, is about Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded on Mars, and the mental and physical processes he goes through to survive and get back to his fellow space travelers.

WHY TIREY RECOMMENDS IT TO BUSINESS OWNERS: “It makes you think about who you’ve got in your corner, who you can depend on when things get tight — if there are changes in your industry, who’s going to sit down, not get panicky and get things done.”

HOW IT HAS HELPED HIM IN BUSINESS: “Our company was stuck in a small business no man’s land where we had to hang on long enough to show investors that we have a powerful business model with significant potential. In “The Martian,” Watney took help wherever he could find it and had his crew, NASA, and even the Chinese space program lend a hand. So I thought, ‘what the heck’ and followed suit by inviting employees, angel investors, and partners to lend a hand.”

BOOK: “Man’s Search for Meaning,” by Viktor E. Frankl.

RECOMMENDED BY: Christine King, owner of YourBestFit.

COMPANY PROFILE: YourBestFit, founded in 1996 and based in Boynton Beach, Florida, provides health, wellness and fitness services to individuals, organizations and companies.

WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: Published in 1946, “Man’s Search for Meaning” is about Frankl’s experiences in the Auschwitz death camp during World War II and his belief that life has meaning even in the worst circumstances.

WHY KING RECOMMENDS IT TO BUSINESS OWNERS: “Frankl’s message is incredible for overcoming any obstacle, whether personal or in business.”

HOW IT HAS HELPED HER IN BUSINESS: “One low I had was losing a big account. That could have been a litigious situation,” King says. “Frankl says, ‘OK, envision the future and what you want it to be.’ I could go to court and the lawyers would make money, or I could just go ahead and (run my business) and make more money.”

BOOKS: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

RECOMMENDED BY: Paul Finch and Rayan Jawad, owners of Growth Studio.

COMPANY PROFILE: Growth Studio, founded in 2016 and based in London, analyzes companies’ data to help them develop new marketing, sales and other strategies.

WHAT THE BOOKS ARE ABOUT: The books, the first of which was published in 1997, follow the adventures of the young wizard in training Harry Potter and his friends Hermione and Ron as they battle evil and make their way through childhood and adolescence.

WHY FINCH AND JAWAD RECOMMEND IT TO BUSINESS OWNERS: “The three friends get taken through some pretty nasty things, but they overcome the obstacles because they’re together — when you’ve got a partnership or other people working with you, there’s a lot more strength, a lot more success,” Finch says.

HOW IT HAS HELPED THEM IN BUSINESS: “When Harry first meets Sirius Black, his godfather who is in the form of a dog, he’s scared of him, but Harry realizes he’s innocent,” Jawad says. “He reminded us of a client who used to be horrific, used to challenge us and we used to think of him as one of the nastiest clients — but it dawned on us, he always had out best interest at heart.”

BOOK: “Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany,” by Donald L. Miller.

RECOMMENDED BY: Bryan Mattimore, co-owner of The Growth Engine.

COMPANY PROFILE: The Growth Engine, founded in 1999 and based in Norwalk, Connecticut, is a consulting business helping companies become more innovative and creative.

WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: “Masters of the Air,” published in 2006, is a history of the U.S. Eighth Air Force that bombed Nazi Germany during World War II.

WHY MATTIMORE RECOMMENDS IT TO BUSINESS OWNERS: “For the small businessperson dealing with the sometimes-depressing uncertainties and challenges of building a successful business, this book certainly has a way of putting things in perspective.”

HOW IT HAS HELPED HIM IN BUSINESS: “We had done a bunch of proposals, always competing against other companies large and small, and came in second in all of them,” Mattimore says. “Listening to that book (on audiobooks), I realized, these are such small challenges relative to what these guys were going through.”

BOOK: “Fight Club,” by Chuck Palahniuk.

RECOMMENDED BY: Zach Holmquist, co-owner of Teem.

COMPANY PROFILE: Teem, founded in 2013 and based in Salt Lake City, creates software to help companies handle administrative tasks like checking in visitors and booking meeting space.

WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: “Fight Club,” published in 1996, is about dysfunctional men who form a club where members fight; the club evolves into an organization that plans to try to bring down modern civilization through violence including bombings.

WHY HOLMQUIST RECOMMENDS IT TO BUSINESS OWNERS: “‘Fight Club’ makes you think about the words you choose — are they empowering or subtly disempowering? That’s a huge part of the book as I read it.”

HOW IT HAS HELPED HIM IN BUSINESS: “It shows the power of an idea, the impact that one individual can have and when you get more people on board,” Holmquist says. “I have to be careful of the words I choose and the ideas. They can be toxic and can destroy a whole company, or they can be profound, magical and meaning.”

BOOK: “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.”

RECOMMENDED BY: Tobias Glienke, co-owner of Munk Pack.

COMPANY PROFILE: Munk Pack, founded in 2013 and based in Greenwich, Connecticut, manufactures organic fruit snacks and cookies.

WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: The Founding Father, author, publisher, inventor, diplomat, postmaster and scientist began writing his the story of his life in 1771, but it wasn’t published until after his death in 1790.

WHY GLIENKE RECOMMENDS IT TO BUSINESS OWNERS: “Franklin was self-taught. You have to self-teach to work with a small business — there are not enough resources to cover each role, so each employee must wear many hats and learn new skills.”

HOW IT HAS HELPED HIM IN BUSINESS: “He was very big on self-improvement and would grade himself every day,” Glienke says. “I can apply that to myself and to our products, making sure that we are really creating products that our customers appreciate.”


►  Museum exhibits lowrider cars, the artwork they’ve inspired

Lowrider cars these days are far more than tricked-out automobiles with gravity-challenged rear suspensions and ear-rattling exhaust systems that seem to cry out for police to ticket the drivers.

In their finest format, they have morphed into museum-quality works of art, appearing in shows around the world from Paris’ Louvre to Washington’s Smithsonian.

But while museumgoers have learned to appreciate these creatures that sprang from the garages of American teenagers in the years after World War II, lowrider historian Denise Sandoval says the eye-popping, airbrushed paintings, plush interiors and chrome-plated wheels and engines that have come to define them have quietly fomented something more — a new genre of contemporary art.

It’s a genre Sandoval hopes to expose to a wider audience through “The High Art of Riding Low,” a wide-ranging exhibition of lowrider-inspired fine art including paintings, sculptures, serigraphs, photographs, drawings and, of course, automobiles created by the world’s most accomplished Chicano artists.

The show, which opened Monday and runs until next June, is the third lowrider exhibition that Sandoval, a Chicano studies professor at California State University, Northridge, has curated at Los Angeles’ Petersen Automotive Museum since 2000.

Like previous shows, it features its share of some of the finest lowrider cars created, among them Jesse Valadez’s “Gypsy Rose,” which was encased in glass for display on Washington’s National Mall earlier this year when it was inducted into the U.S. Historic Vehicle Register. The long, sleek Chevrolet is bathed in bright pink and covered with intricately painted roses running from front tire to taillight.

Other cars in the L.A. exhibit radiate a rainbow of colors, including some with murals of beautiful women, landscapes and skeletons representing Dia de Muertos, the Latino holiday honoring loved ones who have died.

But placed right alongside these V-8-powered treasures are dozens of paintings and other museum works created by such prominent gallery artists as Gilbert “Magu” Lujan and Frank Romero, who form half of the contemporary art world’s Los Four, the first Chicano artists group to have a showing at a major institution, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in 1974.

“Basically we’re focused on looking at the lowrider car as both artistic inspiration and art object,” says Sandoval, explaining how this show differs from earlier ones. “We’re taking artists from the museum gallery world and merging them with lowrider artists. So we’re bringing these two worlds together.”

It’s an effort perhaps best exemplified by the contrast found upon first coming face-to-face with the late Valadez’s stunningly colorful, intricately detailed “Gypsy Rose,” parked just outside the gallery hall’s entrance, and then entering the hall itself to see the other works.

“That car is like the ultimate zero of lowriding. You know what I mean? It all starts with ‘Gypsy Rose,’” says lowrider and artist Albert de Alba Sr., whose El Rey, three-time winner of Lowrider Car of the Year, is also on display.

Inside the gallery, it all continues with a variety of stunning works in various media.

There is Lujan’s acclaimed “Journey to Aztlan” painting showing a lowrider cruising across California’s desert toward the mythical land of the Aztec people.

Nearby is another large acrylic-on-canvas work, this one by Jaime “Germs” Zacarias and paying tribute to Lujan as it shows the late artist’s own lowrider car ascending toward the heavens as it’s driven by a friendly dog, a character Lujan featured frequently in his work.

The actual car, a 1950 Chevy coupe that Lujan named “Our Family Car” because it really was, is also on display. Seeing it up close allows a view of its contrasting scenes of Aztec-style paintings throughout and the multicolored flames embellishing its sides. The result makes the car appear as a hybrid lowrider-hot rod, something Sandoval says the artist was going for.

The “Gypsy Rose” is also paid tribute to, by mixed-media artist Justin Favela’s colorful, life-sized “piñata” replica constructed from paper and suspended from the ceiling.

Other paintings, drawings, photographs and serigraphs show lowrider street scenes from around the U.S. Southwest, illustrating what Sandoval has long maintained: that while places from Espanola, New Mexico, to East Los Angeles have claimed to be the birthplace of lowriding, it appears to have sprung up spontaneously across the Southwest during the post-war years.

Caught up in the second-generation of that lowriding culture was de Alba, son of a lowrider who learned his airbrush painting skills from his father and applied them to the 1963 Chevrolet Impala he named El Rey.

The sparkling, candy-apple-red lowrider — with its gleaming chrome wheels, gold engine, etched chrome silver manifold and its stunning murals under the hood and trunk lid — is one of the show’s signature pieces.

Although El Rey has been displayed in Japan and Germany, the modest de Alba, who customizes cars for a living, says even he was caught off-guard to learn it would appear alongside works by some of the most prominent contemporary artists.

“That, to me, was mind-blowing,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute.’ And they go, ‘It’s an art form, and you’re an artist.’ It was a very humbling experience.”


►  NPR’s Declaration of Independence tweetstorm confuses some

National Public Radio marked the Fourth of July by tweeting the entire Declaration of Independence, but it seems some Twitter users didn’t recognize what they were reading.

The broadcaster tweeted out the words of the declaration line-by-line Tuesday. Some of the founders’ criticisms of King George III were met with angry responses from supporters of Donald Trump, who seemed to believe the tweets were a reference to the current president. Others were under the impression NPR was trying to provoke Trump with the tweets.

NPR broadcast its annual reading of the declaration for the 29th straight year on Independence Day. This is the first year the tradition has been extended to Twitter.

Spokeswoman Allyssa Pollard says the tweets were shared by thousands of people and generated “a lively conversation.”

In Arts & Entertainment….

The Free Press WV

►  An art lover’s make-it-work moment: Fitting 40 pieces in his basement apartment

When George Dant decided to downsize, he didn’t go far from home. He moved from the upper two floors of his Washington, D.C., rowhouse to the basement.

But when you descend the four steps into his lower-level abode, you don’t feel like you’re heading into darkness. Instead, you find yourself in a light-filled art gallery with a contemporary living space.

“I wanted a clean, open and light home without any clutter that would take attention away from my art collection,“ Dant says. “I had been living in the basement for a year or so to test it out and realized the space would be perfect if I just remodeled it. I especially wanted to put in hardwood floors and get rid of the wall-to-wall carpet, which is just skeevy in a basement.“

Dant, a hair stylist and former salon owner, had previously rented the English basement to a tenant but realized he could bring in more income for his future retirement by leasing the larger upstairs unit. So he hired Anthony Wilder Design/Build of Cabin John, Maryland, to convert the dark and cluttered basement into a sophisticated yet neutral home that functions as a backdrop to his art collection.

“I’ve been collecting art since the moment I left my parents’ home, but I was always looking forward to the day when the art I could afford was worth more than the frame,“ Dant says.

He buys many of his paintings in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which he has visited frequently for decades; he also buys pieces from local artists in Washington and Annapolis, Maryland. His collection now totals about 40 pieces, including a small quintessential painting of Provincetown, by renowned area artist Anne Packard, and two unusual paintings that resemble Russian icons but are really layers of comic strips by Annapolis artist Gail Watkins. Dant’s favorite paintings include the first he purchased in Provincetown, a single house under a purple sky by Robert Cardinal, and a 6-by-6-foot abstract in his bedroom by Washington, D.C., artist Stanley Piotroski.

The centerpiece of the home is a 25-foot-long gallery wall, which combines traditional and modern art. The bulkheads above the wall and ledges along the bottom of the walls (they’re actually part of the home’s foundation) were challenges that Sean Mullin, an architect with Anthony Wilder Design/Build, chose to turn into works of art themselves. The ledges, about one foot above the floor, have natural hardwood on top for consistency with the hardwood throughout the home. Dant uses them to display small sculptures and art books.

The choice to focus most of the art on one wall was Dant’s from the beginning. Keira St. Claire-Bowery, a lead interior designer at Anthony Wilder Design/Build, says that he “wanted the art to stand out even more because it had been just part of the clutter in the apartment. We made it light and bright by adding lighting to the wall and having white walls and light floors so the colors of the art pop.“

That lighting was the biggest challenge of this project, St. Claire-Bowery says, because the bulkheads meant recessed lighting wouldn’t work and the narrow hallway required precise placement of track lighting to avoid hitting the closet doors. “I was skittish about track lighting because I pictured something looking dated,“ Dant says. St. Claire-Bowery was able to find slim rods with small angled lights that can be adjusted and dimmed.

You might think displaying dozens of paintings in a 725-square-foot home could be overkill. But every detail of this space works against that, providing an openness that lets the art shine.

Beyond emphasizing Dant’s art, St. Claire-Bowery says she wanted to address his other priority: creating a stylish, open space for entertaining.

“George dresses very well – he has this amazing shoe collection – but his home didn’t match his personality,“ she says.

Dant, who freely admits that he never cooks, wanted to upgrade the drab galley-style kitchen to create more storage and lighten the space. The new design includes high-gloss lacquered cabinets; the upper cabinets open upward like garage doors to reduce the space they occupy. A white glass backsplash reflects both the under-cabinet and recessed lighting. (For mood lighting, the under-cabinet lights can be turned different colors by a remote control.) The apartment-size refrigerator, dishwasher, pantry and coffee maker are all hidden behind glossy cabinet doors, and a small white convection-microwave oven is tucked below a white cooktop.

The focal point for the kitchen is a dramatic peninsula with a waterfall-style countertop.

“George and I found these amazing pieces of natural striated marble with nearly perfect symmetrical stripes of pale gray running through the white marble,“ St. Claire-Bowery says. “We deliberately mounted the faucet to the side of the sink instead of the front of the sink so that we have a clean look and a wide-open surface that faces the living room.“

The peninsula has room for two white leather bar stools that complement the furniture in the adjacent living space, where Dant likes to sit with his dog, Lola, and his cat, T3, or host friends for cocktails. “My friends love the kitchen because it’s so modern,“ he says, “but the art wall is truly the first thing that catches everyone’s eye.“

As was the curator’s intention.

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DISPLAYING ART IN A SMALL SPACE

—Give it top billing. “Put your art on important walls in the public spaces of your home so your visitors can see it and you can enjoy it,“ says Mullin. “You want the space to be deserving of your art.“

—Plan your display first. Mullin suggests measuring everything before you try to hang your art to make sure it will fit where you want.

—Play with scale. Mixing paintings of different sizes makes it easier to see individual pieces, compared with a row of similar-size frames. St. Claire-Bowery suggests spacing your art evenly but avoiding too much repetition.

—Focus on your lighting. Dant’s home uses a mixture of picture lights over a couple of his larger paintings, recessed lighting in the living area and a rail of track lights that can be adjusted. “Angle your lighting towards your artwork rather than washing it down over the art,“ St. Claire-Bowery says. She also recommends using dimmable LED bulbs that come in multiple color temperatures, allowing you to choose whether cool or warm lighting works best for your artwork. “Make sure neither your art or your lighting overpowers the other,“ says Mullin.

—Prioritize emotional connection. When your display is limited, showcase art that speaks to you personally. Dant has a story for every piece in his collection – about the artist, the scene portrayed or how he acquired the art. For instance, there is the fertility statue he received from the former ambassador of Ceylon.

—Leave room for rearranging. “I occasionally rehang my art and add new pieces,“ Dant says, adding that he places them by feel and uses simple nails. “There are a few pieces in a closet and some large canvases staying with a friend for now, but I do have space for most of my art.“


►  Mormon Tabernacle Choir director mentors inmate music group

The newest students of the director of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir have the talent you would expect to be honed under the guidance of an experienced music teacher. But they come from an unlikely source — Utah State Prison.

Director Mack Wilberg spent months helping members of the prison’s Wasatch Music School prepare for a spring recital in June. The inmates performed with instruments donated by the community and sang gospel, county and rock songs. Many audience members said the recital exceeded their expectations.

The Wasatch Music School began in 2006 with volunteers dedicated to providing resources to inmates so they could learn to play guitar or piano or sing. The group is co-directed by inmate Roland Pitt, who competed with Wilberg in college, and decided to teach music at the prison to atone for his mistakes.

Seeing the potential of the school’s choir, the school’s director, David Aguirre, asked Wilberg if someone from the Tabernacle Choir could oversee a master class. To his surprise, Wilberg himself offered to teach the class regularly.

Wilberg admits he was nervous when he held his first workshop with the inmates in February.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but that first time I ... looked at all these inmates — I know they have had challenges in their lives — and to see them come together (to sing), I was moved by that,” he said.

The group has also responded well to Wilberg’s presence, even though he pushes them harder than they have been used to, Aguirre said. He worked with program about once week after Easter. Pitt would take over during weeks Wilberg could not make it.

“It’s just been phenomenal, the results he has,” Aguirre said. “The men just respond to him. He has such a humble greatness about him. . And that’s good for the men to see.”

Inmate Ron Kelly considers the program a life saver. He has been at Utah State Prison for almost 35 years and calls himself the program’s main recruiter.

“For lack of better terms, I’m kind of the pimp of the music school,” he said. “I’m out there asking people, ‘Hey, have you ever played an instrument?’ . We want this to be a place where people can escape and have peace.”

Wilberg said he was impressed by the inmates’ passion and dedication for music and plans to continue working with the group.

In Arts & Entertainment….

The Free Press WV

►  10 Highest Grossing Films Ever

With Oscars week upon us, 24/7 Wall St. has dug into Hollywood numbers to figure out the highest grossing films of all time. The site used data from Box Office Mojo, and the results reveal that 14 of the 25 films on the list came out prior to 1980. The top 10:

  1. Gone With the Wind, 1939, total adjusted sales: $1.74 billion
  2. Star Wars: Episode IV–A New Hope, 1977; $1.53 billion
  3. The Sound of Music, 1965, $1.23 billion
  4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982, $1.22 billion
  5. Titanic, 1997, $1.17 billion
  6. The Ten Commandments, 1956, $1.13 billion
  7. Jaws, 1975, $1.10 billion
  8. Doctor Zhivago, 1965, $1.07 billion
  9. The Exorcist, 1973, $952.3 million
  10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937, $938.5 million

Click for the full rankings and methodology.


►  Chris Brown’s Ex: He Abused Me

A judge has ordered R&B singer Chris Brown to stay away from his ex-girlfriend after she accused him of physically abusing and threatening her, the AP reports. The Grammy winner was ordered to stay 100 yards away from Karrueche Tran and not attempt to contact her after she wrote in court filings that Brown had repeatedly threatened her since December. Tran also accused the singer of punching her in the stomach and pushing her down stairs a few years ago. Her filing does not offer any additional specifics or note if she reported the events to police. It states that no one was present at the time. The order, which was issued Friday, also calls for Brown to surrender any firearms he has until a March 09 hearing on the restraining order.

Brown and Tran dated after the singer pleaded guilty to felony assault for an attack on Rihanna in 2009 just hours before the Grammy Awards. A judge ended Brown’s probation in 2015, after several missteps that included punching a man outside a Washington hotel and stints in rehab. The singer also underwent domestic violence and anger management counseling. A facility that treated Brown wrote in a 2014 letter to the judge overseeing his probation in the Rihanna case that the singer was being treated for bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and past substance abuse.


►  Tom Hanks’ Debut Book Due in October

Tom Hanks is putting his love of vintage typewriters to good use—his collection of short stories will be published in October, the AP reports. The Oscar-winning actor’s first book, UNCOMMON TYPE: Some Stories, features 17 stories, each in some way involving a different typewriter. It’s due out October 24 from Alfred A. Knopf, the publisher said Tuesday.

Among the stories written by Hanks, who owns more than 100 typewriters, is one about an immigrant arriving in New York City, another about a bowler who becomes a celebrity, and another about an eccentric billionaire. Hanks said in a statement that he began work on the stories in 2015: “I wrote in hotels during press tours. I wrote on vacation. I wrote on planes, at home, and in the office.“


►  Songwriters Hall of Fame Has Inducted Its First Rapper

The man who famously said “H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A; that’s the anthem, get your damn hands up” is now the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Billboard reports. Jay Z was included on the list of 2017 inductees announced Wednesday by Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers. “He has changed the way that we listen to music,“ Rodgers is quoted as saying. According to Spin, Jay Z has 21 Grammys—tied for most ever by a rapper—and he also has 13 No. 1 albums—more than any other solo artist. Jay Z will join Hall of Fame members like Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, and Marvin Gaye. This year’s inductees also include Max Martin—who’s written more No. 1 songs than anyone not involved with the Beatles—and Berry Gordy, who wrote songs for legendary Motown artists.


►  Man Ages 30 Years in 11K Daily Photos

On February 23, 1987, Karl Baden set his 35mm camera on a tripod, stood in front of it with a neutral expression, and snapped a selfie. He’s done the same thing every day since except one—he blames “a dumb moment of forgetfulness” on October 15, 1991—resulting in nearly 11,000 photos. Over the years, the Boston College photography professor has used the same camera and lighting and has avoided growing a beard or mustache as a way to keep his photos constant, yet they show the remarkable progression of a 34-year-old into a 64-year-old man. Baden’s face has become more lined and his hair more grey since beginning the “Every Day” project. But the most dramatic transformation occurs in photos from 2001, reports the AP.

In these photos, Baden is thinner, a result of chemotherapy treatment for prostate cancer. Baden has regained weight with his cancer in remission, but his sparse eyebrows are a lasting sign; Baden says they never quite grew back after treatment. The owner of an art gallery where Baden’s photos have been displayed says they show the need to immortalize oneself. But they’re also so relatable “because we’re all in same boat. We’re all going to die.“ Until death knocks on his door, though, Baden will keep taking selfies, he told Boston Magazine in 2014. And while there’s no chance his will become “duck-faced portraits,“ per Metro, the man dubbed the “father of the selfie” does credit the “selfie craze” with lifting his project from obscurity.

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