It's All About Nylon

Hagley Museum and Library is displaying a portion of its fashion collection for the first time in its newest exhibit, “Fashion Meets Science: Introducing Nylon.” This exhibit shows how nylon revolutionized the fashion industry and influenced how people have dressed since its launch in 1938 by the DuPont Co.. “Fashion Meets Science: Introducing Nylon” opens on April 6 and runs through March 31, 2014. The exhibition celebrates the 75th anniversary of nylon’s introduction to market. On Oct. 27, 1938, the brand new material was announced to the public, then quickly replaced silk in the ladies hosiery industry. Nylon was so popular that its early sales created near riots. The highlight of the exhibit is the early development of nylon and its impact on the fashion industry, but it includes other uses for the discovery such as parachutes, toothbrushes and carpet. “Fashion Meets Science: Introducing Nylon” highlights “firsts” of this discovery from pure science. Visitors will be able to view the first polyamide fiber sample (basis of nylon) and first souvenir sample of nylon thread, first all-nylon woven fabric, one of the first pairs of stockings manufactured at the Experimental Station, and the first pair of seamless stockings. The first wedding dress made of nylon (1942), first dress made of 100 percent spun nylon (1949), and first nylon football pants will also be on display. in addition to other nylon “firsts.” Nylon and other related synthetic fibers made clothing that was durable, washable, stretchable, stain-resistant, and affordable. Visitors can see the first nylon overlay lace dress (1940) and a prototype black nylon nightgown from Vanity Fair (1947). Clothing made from Qiana, a silky nylon fiber that debuted in the late 1960s and influenced fashion of the disco era, will also be displayed. Featured Qiana items include a Bill Blass Qiana Boudoir Robe (1968-1969), William Travilla Qiana evening gown (1968-1969), Oscar de la Renta Qiana wrap dress (1968-1969), and a Charles Kleibacker Qiana cocktail dress. Whether a science geek or a fashion fan, you’ll love this exhibit. 658-2400,


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The Biggs Museum of American Art will host an opening reception for a temporary exhibition entitled “Points of Juxtaposition” on April 5, which features works by seven local artists. Carl Williams, Tony Burton, Seldon Dix, Ernie Satchell, Kennie Jones, Alex Gamble and Michael Morris, all members of the regional artist critique group called Points of Juxtaposition, will display artwork within a gallery along the museum’s timeline display of the fine and decorative arts. These artists have directed their brushes, styles, camera lenses, and graphic design at the social ills, beauty, history, and place of African-Americans in this country. Each artist will represent his own contemporary African American artistic perspective. The exhibit as a whole is visually unified by elements of color, pattern, history and spiritual awareness. Works include oils, watercolors, prints, mixed media, photography, sculpture and ceramics. All are invited to attend. See it through May 26.  674-2111,

Bring on the Night

Clear Space Theatre Company calls it Stephen Sondheim’s most romantic and luminous play—“A Little Night Music,” winner of six Tony awards. Based on Ingmar Bergman’s film “Smiles of a Summer Night” and set in 1900 Sweden, the plot revolves around a middle-aged lawyer and his teenage bride, whose marriage has not been consummated after nearly a year. Their problems are complicated by the lawyer’s teenage son, a seminarian who is only a year older than his stepmother. Enter Desirée Armfeldt, a famous actress who the lawyer once had an affair with, then toss in Deisree’s current paramour and his wife, as well as a quartet of singers who appear as a Greek chorus to comment on the action. Rumors, love, and lust are all on parade. “The entire score is a waltz—some multiple of 3/4, though a good deal of the score is straight-forward waltz,” says director Doug Yetter. “The lyrics are incredibly witty, and the score produced Sondheim’s only pop hit, ‘Send in the Clowns.’” The production continues Yetter’s long association with the work, which began in 1974, when he played in the pit orchestra at the Denver Center for the national tour. Almost two decades later, he served as musical director for the 1991 production in Annapolis. And now his Clear Space takes it on. Performers include James Davis, Donna de Kuyper, Steve Givens, Jeff Haslow, Liane Hansen, Greg Jones, Lauren McLane, Susan McMullen, Carolyn Robinson, Lorraine Steinhoff, Marian Sunnergren, Ed Teti and Abby Toomey. Actress Donna de Kuyper confesses that she had happily sung “Send in the Clowns” for 30 years without knowing it was part of the show. “Now I feel Desirée in my bones,” she says. “Who wouldn’t want to play a washed-up actress who wears lovely gowns, sings a fabulous song and sleeps with everyone else’s husband?” Jeff Haslow, portraying the lawyer, says “This show was how I discovered Sondheim when I was younger, and it has always had a place in my heart. The show is so brilliantly written; the libretto and the score are both remarkable and perfectly meld together.” See it March 29-April 14. 227-2270,

“Curtains” Calls

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The highly successful songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb had their last collaboration on the musical comedy whodunit “Curtains,” which will be performed by the Possum Point Players April 19-28. Kander—the music—and Ebb—the words—won their greatest acclaim for “Cabaret,” which won a Tony Award and eight Oscars. Their “Chicago” has become the longest-running revival in Broadway history. Other Kander and Ebb Broadway successes include “Woman of the Year,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and, of course, “Curtains.” The story:  Boston’s Colonial Theatre is host to the opening night performance of a new musical. When the leading lady mysteriously dies on stage, the entire cast and crew become suspects, investigated a local detective who just happens to be a fan of musical theater. Directed by Jim Hartzell of Georgetown with musical direction by Liz Messick of Laurel and choreography by Deni Robinson of Lewes, “Curtains” is sure to be a hoot. 856-4560,

Big Fun at the Freeman

The good people at The Freeman Stage at Bayside have announced a stellar lineup of entertainment for the stage’s sixth season. How’s this for a tease? Lyle Lovett & His Acoustic Group on July 10, nine-time Grammy award-winner Sheryl Crow on July 14, country superstar Darius Rucker on Aug. 8, five-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald on Aug. 10, and Pat Benatar with Neil Giraldo on Aug. 13. Wow. Freeman Stage, an outdoor performing arts venue located off Del. 54 in the Bayside community of Selbyville, has attracted more than 120,000 audience members since 2008, with a diverse offering of dance, theater, live music, and children’s performances—more than 250 different performing artists, including both local and national acts. The 2013 season will include more than 50 shows between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Among them are such favorites as the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Clear Space Theatre Group, Jesse Garron’s tribute to Elvis, First State Ballet and the Morgan State University Choir. Also returning in 2013 are the Arts & Jazz Festival, Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, local artist John Donato, and Tommy Edward as Sir Rod. New performers include Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience, the Official Blues Brothers Revue, Classic Albums Live, Hits of the Great White Way with Franc D’Ambrosio, Cherish the Ladies, the Doo Wop Project, Bruce in the USA, and many others. Also new this year: two nights of Locals Under the Lights, when local artists get to perform at Freeman. We love it. Tickets for all paid performances will go on sale April 1 at 10 a.m., so book your favorite shows soon. 436-3015,

Behind the Ides

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Andrew Wyeth painted most of his significant paintings in egg tempera, which he described as having “no limitation.” Enjoy the exhibition “Andrew Wyeth’s ‘Ides of March:’ The Making of a Masterpiece,” on view now through May 19. The exhibition includes “Ides of March,” a rarely seen tempera painting, plus more than 30 of the studies that were instrumental to Wyeth’s development of the composition. 610-388-2700,

Cities and People

For the first time in world history, more of us now live in cities than in rural areas, and whether we realize it or not, we make our cities as much as they shape us. Hence, “imPERFECT CITY” now at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts in Wilmington. Funded under the theme of Radical Participation by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the exhibition empowers non-artists, with DCCA Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art Maiza Hixson, to help curate a show that represents their ideal city. Some content changes daily to reflect the life of a real city. The culmination of the exhibition will be on June 8 during the 2013 Gretchen Hupfel Symposium, when the project will be discussed along with other Utopian topics in conjunction with University of Delaware’s “Earth Perfect? Nature, Utopia and the Garden symposium.” Also at the DCCA, “An Implied Narrative” is a group show of contemporary figure drawings that touch on themes of cultural and personal narratives such as celebrity, gender, political affiliation, and anonymity. The compositions are sparse, with few or no contextual clues to the type of space the figures inhabit. By removing extraneous elements, focus is directed toward the signifiers of facial expression, body language and dress to decipher what is presented. According to curator J. Gordon, Sean Lyman and Mark Stockton take two different approaches to the themes of identity and cultural narrative. Artist Mark Stockton presents the idea of the celebrity, a public identity constructed by the media, and consumers’ expectations. Sean Lyman addresses his subjects’ anonymity. Bridging the gap between anonymity and celebrity are Jason Maas’ drawings inspired by the media’s depiction of social unrest. Using journalistic images as a starting point, Maas carefully edits his drawings to explore how clothing and costume function “to establish our sense of order … and designate positions of authority.” Seeing it will force you to ask, who are these people? For that matter, who are we? See it through June 16. 656-6466,

Truly Unique

“The Projectionist,” a nationally acclaimed exhibition, will be on view at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover through June 23. “The Projectionist” is a documentary, book and multi-media exhibition that explores one man’s lifelong fascination with the golden age of film and, in particular, the grand movie palace. The exhibition features a fully operational 1920s-style movie theater that was created in the basement of Middletown native Gordon Brinckle. A documentary, created by Kendall Messick, provides a penetrating gaze into the life of this self-taught artist. The narrative follows the course of Brinckle’s life, revealing the profound desire, frustration and motivation that propelled him to create such a distinctive outsider art environment. Original works on paper by Brinckle such as blueprints and floor plans and fine art photographs by Messick of Brinckle operating the theater will also be on view. 674-2111,

Imagine This

Straight from the Delaware College of Art and Design to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, professor Alexi Natchev has his work exhibited in “Imagined Places: The Art of Alexi Natchev.” The illustrator was born and educated in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since moving to the United States in 1990, he has illustrated 17 children’s books, collaborating with major authors and publishers. His work has been shown in many international exhibitions and he has received several national awards. His illustrations conjure up an imaginary world of playful creatures, fairy-tale places, folktales and more. “Imagined Places” features over 60 works by Natchev, including paintings and prints representing the range of his career as an artist and illustrator. See how he researches the art and literature of a region for his illustrations in order to create a sensitive balance between fantasy and believability. “Alexi Natchev is deservedly celebrated for his colorful and imaginative children’s books and is an accomplished printmaker with impressive fluency in various techniques,” says Mary F. Holahan, curator of illustration. “We are thrilled to be able to display the whimsical and sometimes enigmatic illustrations of such a distinguished artist of our region.” 571-9590,

Blue Screen, Blank Canvas

What digital information floats in cyber space, and what of it is worth your time? Find out as The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington presents “This Space Is Intentionally Left Blank” by Texas artist Kerry Adams, on view through April 21. Adams’ installation integrates traditional installation art and technology through the use of tablets that display live Twitter feeds. The installation encourages the viewer to engage with the exhibition by posting comments to Twitter with the hashtag #leftblank while within the installation. The exercise creates a literal dialogue with visitors about the ubiquitous nature of technology and the role of individuality and community in daily life. Introducing text, electrical cords, and tablet computers as aesthetic, sculptural elements, the exhibit hinges upon social media and physical engagement. According to the artist, being able to tweet to her exhibition “will allow you to add to the dialogue about attempts to communicate, failed communication, and the moments we miss right in front of us as we search for what is out of reach.” Ironically, as viewers approach the tablets to read the messages, a motion sensor forces the Twitter streams to turn off, metaphorically enabling us to unplug from the screen-based chatter and to re-engage with our present surroundings. According to Pear Analytics, most tweeting includes spam, self-promotion and babble. Only 3.6 percent of tweets are considered newsworthy and 8.7 percent of pass-along value. In “This Space,” Adams’ work would seemingly suggest the gallery as a test site for face-to-face conversation. 656-6466,

A Picture of Today

The year 2012 might have been Delaware Art Museum’s 100th anniversary year, but the celebration continues with “State of the Art: Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle” through June 1. The exhibition features more than 60 works from eight of the most important contemporary illustrators. In 2011, the museum launched its centennial celebration with a major retrospective dedicated to illustrator Howard Pyle. “State of the Art” marks the celebration’s end and reflects on Pyle’s legacy. In the century since his death in 1911, American illustration has diversified into a wide range of art forms, including animated films, computer-generated images to graphic novels and conceptual art. “No single exhibition could possibly do justice to the noisy, rambunctious history of illustration over the past century,” says curator David Apatoff. “I’ve chosen instead to feature eight individuals whose diverse talents demonstrate that illustration is no longer the singular profession it was in Pyle’s day. It pervades our culture, reaching out to us from billboards, television, store windows, and computer screens.” This is one cool exhibition, with something for everyone in the family. 571-9590,

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