The 19th-century French writer Charles Baudelaire once described the art of dance as “poetry with arms and legs.”
At the launch of the 2019 issue of Artemis Journal, which takes place Friday at the Taubman Museum of Art, poets and dancers will make Baudelaire’s metaphor reality.
Southwest Virginia Ballet artistic director Pedro Szalay has choreographed dances to accompany selected poems from Artemis as they’re read aloud.
“I’m always up for a challenge,” Szalay said. “Reading this poetry has really inspired me.” He plans for the dancers to perform as the poets read their works. Some of the verse will be backed by music.
“One of our goals with our mission is to encourage younger artists and so collaborating with the Southwest Virginia Ballet fit perfectly at Artemis,” wrote editor and publisher Jeri Rogers.
Artemis started in 1977 as a special project of the long-defunct Women’s Resource and Service Center, at the time directed by Rogers. At first the magazine only showcased art and writing by women. It continued publishing after the center closed, going dormant after 2000. Rogers, who lives in Floyd, revived the magazine in 2013.
The 2019 issue features a poem by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, with a photograph by world-famous Lexington photographer Sally Mann on the cover. Mann included the 1992 pastoral image “On the Maury” in her 2018 career-spanning exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
The idea for the collaboration came from Roanoke artist Tricia Scott, whose paintings have appeared inside and on the covers of past issues of Artemis. Olivia Scott, a longtime dancer with SVB, graduated in 2018 and is now a rising sophomore at Butler University in Indianapolis. She has returned to take part in the Artemis performance.
Though the ballet partnership will be a first for Artemis, Szalay has choreographed to poetry before. “It will be beautiful,” Szalay said, referring to the setting provided by the Taubman’s black box theater. “It will be so minimalist.”
Memory painting discussion
Also Friday at the Taubman, Patrick Shaw Cable, deputy director of exhibitions and education, will offer further insight into the recently opened show “Memory Painting: Harriet French Turner and Queena Stovall” by conducting an interview with Roanoke artist Barbara Dickinson, who knew Turner and collected her work, and Sherry Flournoy, one of Stovall’s granddaughters.
Turner, a Giles County native who became a teacher in Roanoke, died in 1967. Stovall, born in Amherst County, died in 1980. Both were self-taught painters who sought to recreate from memory scenes from rural life. Both women received recognition for their artistic accomplishments during their lifetimes.
The discussion takes place at 6 p.m. Admission is $8; $5 for students and educators; and free to museum members. For more information, call 342-5760 or visit taubmanmuseum.org.