Wednesday, April 18, 2018

EXTRA, EXTRA - Read All About it!


EXTRA, EXTRA - Read All About it!

  I love that expression. Do you remember it? 

         It dates back to when there were young men (and probably some young women, too) who were hired by the big newspapers to handle the daily sale of newspapers - in New York and other cities. Papersellers, I called them... I actually remember seeing them myself on Baltimore streets back in the late 1990's. Seeing one paperseller standing on a cold and very rainy street corner in 1996 served as inspiration for a painting I created some years later, entitled "Paper Seller."

   I wonder if they still exist...or whether they have become a thing of the past...another story fading off into history.

Elaine Weiner-Reed - "Paper Seller" (Watercolor; ©2000)

  Last week I was reminded of papersellers when I attended the stage production "Newsies" at Toby's Dinner Theatre in Columbia, Maryland. I enjoy going there because the actors and actresses are almost within arm's reach as they act out their roles. Before productions, most of the night's actors also serve as our Waiters and Waitresses. As we are served, we tend to scour the Playbill, seeing if we can find our server so we can read a bit of their bio and see what role they play in this latest production.

  Sometimes, guests get involved in these intimate productions, as happened during Newsies, when one "Showgirl" strolled up to a seated man, singing and smiling ingratiatingly at him as if he were a guest in her men's-only Music Hall. 

Playbill image - Toby's Dinner Theatre

  As with many productions, facts are sometimes changed in the making of what is to be an entertaining production. I knew that Toby's based its dinner theatre production on the Disney Movie "Newsies," and I knew the story was based on historical events in the early 1900's. So, I looked it up...and my research began with the Wikipedia page on "newsies," but did not stop there. 

I learned that

     The newsboys' strike of 1899 was a U.S. youth-led campaign to force change in the way that Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst's newspapers compensated their child labor force of newspaper hawkers. The strike lasted two weeks, causing Pulitzer's New York World to reduce its circulation from 360,000 to 125,000.(A) The strike was successful in increasing the amount of money that newsboys received for their work.(B)

Brooklyn newsboys, 1908 (selling papers on the Brooklyn Bridge)

  Not surprising, in the stage and movie productions, some characters or name representations might not appear accurate. For instance, I imagine that the actual Newsies Strike of 1899 probably did not involve dancing, jumping, or leaping on and off tables...unless of course there were fights that involved some agile, soft-shoe maneuvers! 

  We should not be quick to criticize, for in the pursuit of art, things change to open the gates of creativity. That is known as "artistic license." On that creative note, check out the "Newsies" Production Video to see how Toby's actors and actresses translated the Newsies movie and real-life storyline into their own engaging production, where the characters touched our hearts. Art imitates life...and sometimes, life imitates art.

How does this relate to my Art, you might be wondering?

   Life always relates to art in my world view. I often identify connections or creative parallels between my art and other people's creative pursuits and productions--whether they are plays, books, creative writings, music, or tasty meals served beautifully presented and with panache. My life, personality, vision, style, culture, language, experiences, and history are conveyed in my sculptures and paintings. All of that lies beneath every stroke, shape, color, and figure or scene.

   Human relationships fascinate me and over the years have become the subject matter of many of my paintings. People, life, or current events, and places in our lives inspire us to stretch our imaginations, boundaries, and our goals. Whether positive or negative influences, these influences become a part of who we are and how we choose to lead our lives. 

Elaine Weiner-Reed - "Chance Encounters" (Acrylic on canvas, ©2017; 24"W x 36"H)

   When I enter my studio and am alone in my own realm of creativity, I do so carrying the memories, traces, and remnants of all I have thought and felt, lived, learned, and experienced to date. In essence, History comes alive and becomes the Present in my creations. As my ideas take shape in color and form, I am depicting history in a present or future domain...rewriting it in a way in pictorial, abstract and/or allegorical ways. Slices of life/history join with imagination (+ imagination) to equal my works that seek to convey mystery, inviting the viewer to describe what they think is going on in the scene in a way that relates to their own personal story or history.

   I believe that our stories are being written as we speak... Much as I evolve a painting into the finished work, we evolve in our lives by our decisions and choices. Each new thought and decision takes us further along the path... What choices do we make and with whom do we choose to spend time...doing what? It all becomes part of our story...and eventually our legacy. 

   I wonder...when I and my Art am one day relegated to the annuls of "History," what would be my story were it printed in the newspapers, marketed by current day "Newsies," and read by all...?  Would I be a headliner, and the story be found "above the fold"? Time will tell.

                    EXTRA, EXTRA...

                                                     Yours in Art,

(A) Nassau, D. (1999) "Ch. 3: Youse an' yer noble scrap: On strike with the Newsboy Legion in 1899." in Big Town, Big Time. New York: New York Daily News. p. 9.

(B) Mott, F.L. (2000) American Journalism. New York: Routledge. p. 598.

Artist at Work (2017)

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