State of the Arts

S40 E3 | FULL EPISODE

December 2021

Go behind the scenes of Night Forms, an immersive after-hours experience at Grounds for Sculpture created by Philadelphia-based Klip Collective that has to be seen to be believed. NEA honoree, Jazz Advocate Dorthaan Kirk and her long history in Newark, NJ. Robert Beck paints his community in the Lambertville/New Hope area and in Maine. Plus, artist Kimberly Camp on why she makes dolls.

AIRED: December 17, 2021 | 0:26:46
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TRANSCRIPT

Male Narrator: Jazz innovator Rahsaan Roland Kirk died young.

In the years that followed, his wife, Dorthaan Kirk,

became a driving force in the jazz world.

Female Narrator: Artist Robert Beck documents

the world around him,

including the 30 years he spent

in the Lambertville/New Hope area.

[ Music plays ]

Male Narrator: Painter, museum director, arts advocate,

and dollmaker Kimberly Camp

in her Collingswood gallery.

Female Narrator: And an after-dark,

immersive exhibition

of digital light and music

transforms Grounds For Sculpture

into a landscape that has to be seen to be believed.

[ Music plays ]

Male Narrator: "State of the Arts"

going on location with the most creative people

in New Jersey.

[ Music plays ]

Announcer: The New Jersey State Council on the Arts,

encouraging excellence and public engagement in the arts

since 1966,

is proud to co-produce "State of the Arts"

with Stockton University.

Additional support is provided by

the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

and these Friends of "State of the Arts."

[ Jazz music plays ]

Ottenhoff: Over the years,

she probably dealt with every jazz luminary

who performed in the '70s

and the '80s and the '90s,

It's a who's who

of the music world.

Male Narrator: In 2020, Dorthaan Kirk,

often described as Newark's First Lady of Jazz,

received one of America's highest honors,

the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Advocacy.

Williams: Well, you know, she's always been an advocate,

but an active advocate.

I mean, she's with WBGO.

You know, she really promoted the music.

I remember seeing her at concerts all the time.

Anderson: I always say it's not whose number you have.

It's who will pick up the phone when you call.

and everybody will pick up the phone for Dorthaan Kirk.

Kirk: ...wonderful, but my favorite one...

Male Narrator: Dorthaan married

the legendary jazz multi-instrumentalist

Rahsaan Roland Kirk in 1971.

She spent eight years with him, often touring on the road,

before he died at the age of 42.

Kirk: He was unique because

he played three instruments

simultaneously,

in harmony.

[ Jazz music plays ]

And that was pretty much

unheard of.

But he always said

it was a gift from God

because he dreamed

about those instruments.

And he went out to an antique store

and actually found them.

Schreiber: Rahsaan Roland Kirk was a multi-instrumentalist,

really one of the great modern jazz artists

of the last century.

He died too young.

Nobody sounded quite like him.

Kirk: I think I first met

Chick Corea, Benny Carter,

Art Blakey, and some others,

because they all had

the same agent Rahsaan had.

[ Jazz music plays ]

Anderson: It was a love story.

A great partnership

Male Narrator: When Rahsaan died,

Dorthaan was still in her 30s

with three children and without a career.

Bob Ottenhoff hired her

to help start Newark's WBGO jazz radio station,

now considered one of the world's best.

Ottenhoff: Dorthaan was our ambassador

to the music world.

So she could call her musician and say,

"Hey, there's this brand-new station.

You haven't heard of him before,

but would you come over and do an interview?"

Chestnut: She's one that truly looks out for you.

Any place you play on the scene, you know,

"Hey, baby, how you doin'?"

You know?

[ Piano plays ]

Kirk: I knew all the musicians.

I knew all the record company people.

In my head, I had no idea.

"What does all this have to do with radio?"

But later, I learned.

Williams: I think that WBGO would not have existed,

certainly in the way that it exists today,

had it not been for Dorthaan's

persistence and passion and energy for WBGO.

She was a catalyst.

Anderson: WBGO 883 FM.

WBGO.org.

And on your mobile device.

I'm Sheila Anderson. This is "Weekend Jazz After Hours,"

and we're about to hear "Dorthaans Walk"

from Rahsaan Roland Kirk's recording "A Standing Light."

And Dorthaan Kirk is one of the founders of WBGO,

who we call, fondly call, Mother Kirk.

So take a listen to "Dorthaans Walk."

[ Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Dorthaans Walk" plays ]

Kirk: Rahsaan died before

his last album

was released.

And on that album,

he recorded the tune he wrote for me,

"Dorthaans Walk."

And so his real creative producer, Joel Dorn,

he called me up one day

and said he wanted

to record my footsteps.

And if you have a really,

really good stereo system,

you can hear them quietly

at the very end of their composition.

It's kind of...

eerie for me.

[ Footsteps ]

Male Narrator: Dorthaan has organized monthly jazz concerts

at her church, Bethany Baptist,

for the past 20 years.

The great bassist Buster Williams

recently played there.

Buster performed on Rahsaan Roland Kirk's 1976 album

"The Return of the 5000 Lb. Man."

But this was his first appearance at Bethany.

[ Jazz music plays ]

Kirk: He performed with Dakota Staton, Benny Carter,

Sarah Vaughan, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock

and a multitude of others.

Please welcome

Buster Williams.

Williams: She called me on the telephone

and asked me, "Could we do this?"

And without hesitation, I said, of course,

because of who she is, you know?

And because it's about time.

It's been going on for 20 years, and I'm just now getting here.

You know, I'll have some words with her.

[ Laughs ]

[ Jazz music plays ]

NJPAC's John Schreiber

enlisted Dorthaan to produce jazz brunch concerts

at the Performing Arts Center's James Moody Festival.

She's done it for the past 10 years.

Kirk: He is one of the nicest people

I've ever met.

He was one of the first people

to perform at this brunch

in 2012.

So please welcome

Cyrus Chestnut.

[ Applause ]

Schreiber: I've known Dorthaan for 45 years.

She is always looking

for ways to advance the music

because she believes and understands

that it is a music of joy

and a music of cooperation

and great fun.

[ Jazz music plays ]

[ Jazz music plays ]

Female Narrator: Later in the show,

dolls made by an artist.

But first, Klip Collective

transforms Grounds for Sculpture.

Rivera: What we do is site specific.

That's really our nature.

We don't make it in a room

and then show it to the world.

We make it in the space.

We use the space. We use the sculpture.

we use what we're looking at

to inform the content

and the vision.

And that's kind of the puzzle

we kind of create and put together.

[ Music plays ]

Through projection mapping on the surface of these works,

McClellan: We're creating this really unique dialog

between the work of the collective

and the sculptures in the collection.

Female Narrator: Grounds for Sculpture

in Hamilton, New Jersey,

has 42 acres open to explore in the daytime year-round.

Night Forms,

a special exhibition by Klip Collective,

is open after hours.

It's a magical new way

to experience the art.

[ Music plays ]

McClellan: The idea for trying to activate the grounds at night

started with our founder, Seward Johnson,

who was really interested in trying to find a way

to engage visitors

in the nighttime experience

at Grounds for Sculpture.

So he presented that challenge to us.

And after a few years of research,

we kept coming back to Klip Collective.

[ Whirring ]

[ Music plays ]

Female Narrator: Philadelphia-based

Klip Collective has created digital events

for commercial brands

and immersive environments

at places like Longwood Gardens

in Pennsylvania

and Desert Botanical Garden in Arizona.

But Grounds for Sculpture

offered a different kind of opportunity.

Rivera: One of the coolest things we do

is project on plants

and illuminate nature in interesting ways.

But I'm looking around here, and I'm like,

"Man, I really want to projection map

these sculptures."

I remember when I saw Bruce Beasley's "Dorion,"

I kind of lost my mind.

And I was like, "Oh, my God.

I know exactly what to do with this."

There's so much movement inherent to it

just sitting there,

and it has the scale and the angles

and the sharpness and the shininess.

[ Music plays ]

So much of the inspiration

comes from the actual work.

[ Music plays ]

Female Narrator: Bruce Beasley and other artists were asked

if their sculptures could be used as a kind of canvas

for Ricardo's digital art.

They all said yes.

Then the Klip Collective team got to work.

Rivera: I have trouble even just saying

that I'm an artist sometimes

'cause I'm more of, like, a director.

And it's my vision, of course,

but there's so many people that are on this team

that we're bringing in from all over.

Female Narrator: One of Ricardo's longtime collaborators

is Julian Grefe.

Julian is the music director

in charge of all aspects

of the sound for Night Forms.

Grefe: The middle.

Female Narrator: Here, he's working on Radiant Ring.

Grefe: It's circular, you know, the ring.

So Ricardo wanted to explore that language.

The center of the ring is a sculpture,

a table, and benches.

Around that, a ring of bushes,

and around that, a ring of trees.

So we extended the ring upwards.

At that location, the Radiant Ring,

the music is by Jeff Zeigler.

He is, I would say,

probably most known for his work

with that band The War on Drugs.

Jeff and I worked together to create this piece

and design sounds

that would circulate around the space.

The animation team would then take those cues

and develop an animation

that would reflect

those movements in the piece.

[ Music plays ]

Sound is integral to Ricardo's process.

So, it is really part of the experience

that he wants to bring to people.

Rivera: Sound. Sculpture.

Two totally different things, right?

And then we go from there.

We then scan and create

3D models of these objects.

So then we get into the tech of it.

Then we have the 3D model, and then I bring in an animator.

And then we start interpreting

the actual physical part and animating things onto it.

But we use the music

as our script.

Female Narrator: Night Forms takes existing sculptures

in surprising directions.

There's also a new sculpture in the park,

designed by Ricardo Rivera.

It was fabricated in the nearby Johnson Atelier,

where Seward Johnson's works,

like this one featuring Abraham Lincoln,

continue to be produced and repaired.

Rivera: It's so exciting to be working with the Atelier here.

I have so much respect for them.

This is a forced perspective piece.

So this circle that's behind me

will be closest to the path, which is this circle.

And if you stand in front of it

and look at the piece...

at perspective,

it'll make...

a really cool shape.

Female Narrator: Klip Collective created 13 sites to explore

at Grounds for Sculpture...

each one leading to the next in a dream loop.

Grefe: We depend on the reveal, as it were,

when you're going around the path and you see it,

and there's that sense of --

that moment of curiosity and wonder.

Rivera: And the fact that it's at a garden.

You're in this beautiful,

manicured space at night, which is different,

and you're exploring it,

and you're like, "Whoa, what is this?

What is this?" And you're looking at it.

And then you're like, "Oh, I guess I should move on.

I hear something over here. Let me go over there."

And then you're like, "Whoa, what is this?"

You know, and so it's like

all these kind of pieces kind of cascade over you.

So, I'm definitely taking people on a journey.

That's kind of how I describe it.

It's more like a kind of weird trip

that you're going on,

and you're driving home.

You're like, "Whoa."

That's what I want. [ Laughs ]

[ Music plays ]

[ Music plays ]

Male Narrator: Later, documentary painter Robert Beck.

But coming up first, artist Kimberly Camp

explains why she makes dolls.

[ Music plays ]

Camp: That's why I painted her head

this lovely flat white color.

Female Narrator: After leading major institutions

such as the Barnes Foundation,

the Smithsonian Experimental Gallery,

and the African-American Museum in Detroit,

Kimberly Camp, always an artist,

opened her own gallery

in Collingswood, New Jersey.

[ Music plays ]

Camp: The gallery is a place where people can come

and buy things that are handmade,

whether they have $5 in their budget

or $5,000.

I also sell my work in the gallery,

my paintings...

[ Music plays ]

...and dolls.

[ Music plays ]

And I try to encourage people

to become collectors of original work.

Kevin is just a rabbit.

The Paganini is a...

phenomenon.

Whenever I'm making dolls,

I always start out with the body, faces, heads --

the hard parts, the plastic parts.

So I always have,

when I get ready to sort of assemble things,

an array of faces and things

sort of looking at me from the table.

And I will take a head,

and then it tells me what it wants to be.

And from there, I'll decide what the body should be.

And I go and cut it out.

I don't use patterns for anything.

For me, the dolls are fun.

I consider them to be play.

When people look at them and smile,

I'm happy.

One of the jurors at Peter's Valley

when I got this gold medal said,

"Your artwork makes me smile."

That's the best compliment that I could have.

The dog in the silk chiffon,

his name is "Some Enchanted Evening."

[ Laughs ]

Olin: The difference between dolls,

which are toys that you play with,

and dolls in my collection is

that most of the dolls in my collection

were made by artists.

Artists have a long history of making dolls

in the same way that they paint or sculpt.

And so I have dolls made

by a number of contemporary women artists

and other other kinds of cultures

besides the United States.

I'm very fortunate to have a soft sculpture,

a pair of soft sculptures

by Faith Ringgold,

which she made in 1975.

This pair is beautifully decked out in brocade clothing.

Female Narrator: The internationally renowned

American artist Faith Ringgold,

famous for her story quilts, also made dolls,

also called soft sculptures,

in the 1970s.

Camp: Faith Ringgold saw my dolls

and fell in love with them

and asked if she could buy some.

And I, of course, tacky, had some stuck under the bench.

I said, "Sure. I have a bunch right here."

She bought all of them.

And a few months later, I got a call from Faith Ringgold

saying thatEssence Magazine was doing a story on dolls,

and she told the editor that she had to call me.

So initially, the dolls were called Brown Babies.

[ Music plays ]

In 1989, I started doing one-of-a-kind pieces.

My mother came down with septicemia,

and it was pretty bad.

She was in the hospital for almost two months

and one day, I grabbed a needle and scissors and some thread

and an old leather coat,

and I just sat there

while I was, you know, talking to her,

and I started cutting this coat and sewing,

and I really liked the way the leather felt.

And then I became more enchanted with this idea.

So then I started using suede.

[ Music plays ]

There's some collectors I have that collect my paintings

and never knew that I made dolls.

And some people that collect my dolls

and are surprised when they realize I paint.

And then there's some people who know me

as a museum president and CEO

and didn't know I was an artist, which I think is funny

because I was doing it at the same time

I was doing this other stuff.

But when I got to the Barnes Foundation

as first director and then president and CEO,

I wasn't surprised at this notion

that Barnes and John Dewey

who was first director of education of Barnes,

said the lines between fine art and craft are artificial.

By segregating out craft,

you segregate out populations of people.

You eliminate cultures of people,

and you discount their aesthetic.

And so it allows you to still stay within this frame.

that suggests that the only real work,

real art work comes from Western Europe,

which is ridiculous.

That's what Barnes was saying,

because the Barnes Foundation underpinning

is about racial justice.

WOMAN: [ Sings indistinctly ]

Camp: Beads that people think of

as African trade beads...

are all from Europe.

So Europeans would take these and trade them for gold,

palm oil,

other raw supplies.

But definitely people.

You're looking at the physical remnant of the enslavement.

A lot of the shackles are gone.

A lot of the ships are gone.

All that other stuff.

Beads.

WOMAN: [ Sings indistinctly ]

Incredible hubris....

...combined directly

with the same power

as horrific self-doubt,

and from the center of that

is born creativity.

WOMAN: [ Sings indistinctly ]

WOMAN: [ Sings indistinctly ]

Female Narrator: Last on the show today,

an artist and his connection to the community.

Male Narrator: Lambertville, New Jersey,

is nestled along the Delaware River

right across from New Hope, Pennsylvania,

another small river town.

It's an area that's been attracting artists

for well over a century,

including painter Robert Beck,

who moved there in the 1990s.

Beck: The initial reason I came

to the Lambertville/New Hope area

was the art community and all of that,

but when I made friends with the people in the community

and they opened their doors

and they allowed me to paint

pretty much everywhere,

I became part of the fabric of the community.

Rago: There was a spaghetti dinner

on North Union Street,

one long table of several hundred people, as I recall,

and Bob was on the roof

of one of the houses overlooking,

and he was painting the spaghetti dinner

from the roof of that house.

To show that you are of this community

and in this community,

you want to capture and memorialize it --

That was clearly the statement. It resonated with me.

And then with a lot of other people

that collect Bob's work.

Male Narrator: Robert is best known for his plein air

or documentary paintings,

done right on the spot.

Beck: In my painting, I'm trying to...

describe the things

that anyone would first see

when they come into the room.

You will see something immediately.

In the first eighth of a second,

you'll see just about everything that you need to know

to identify the situation you're in.

And that's -- that's what I'm chasing.

A lot of things interest me,

and I found that if I --

if I were to introduce myself as an artist and say,

"Can I paint here?"...

...very often, I'd get get a positive response.

And it would be my ticket into some interesting places.

[ Music plays ]

I'd get to see things I wouldn't see.

McGuirk: Tiles are made here the way they were made

120 years ago.

The Tileworks is a living -- a working history museum,

and it's a national historic landmark.

I was not surprised that this place spoke to him.

The lighting,

all the reflection,

lighting, and tonality

just was right up his alley.

Beck: I wanted every painting to be different.

Woman: Oh, wow.

Beck: It became this record

of what was happening in my life,

record of what was

going on around me

trying to record this event

in front of me.

Male Narrator: Through his work,

Robert has documented scenes out West...

in Senegal, Africa...

and for many years in Jonesport, Maine.

Beck: I had found this town on the Maine coast

that was old world.

Essentially, the fishing village

that every painter wants to find.

I've been there 10 or 11 times so far.

When I go up, I say,

"What do I want to make sure I have

in this great body of work?"

Because there's a lot of paintings now from up there.

But I also say, what does it mean to me

now in my career

and how do I portray that?

[ Music plays ]

Wright: His paintings are fresh.

It's as if the moment just happened.

When I first knew him,

almost all of his work was plein air,

and he would stand for between four and five hours

and paint a painting nonstop.

Well, you know, as he got older,

as he became more graceful,

he began to spend more

and more time in the studio.

But even that, I feel that

there's an immediacy to the painting.

Male Narrator: Robert Beck's paintings

capture place,

but also the passage of time.

Beck: It's been 30 years for me,

and I've known so many people that have helped me

who I've spent time with.

We've laughed.

We've worked on projects together,

and they make up a town.

It's the people that make up a town,

and we've cycled through a generation-plus.

I have conflicting emotions

when I watch these changes.

I'm supposed to be nonjudgmental

when I'm painting,

but my heart's affected in all of this.

Female Narrator: That's it for "State of the Arts" this week.

Visit us online for more.

Thanks for watching.

[ Music plays ]

[ Music continues ]

[ Music plays ]


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