HBO Films presents “All The Way” red carpet event at LBJ Presidential Library

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HBO Films presents “All The Way” at The Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library on May 11, 2016 in Austin, Texas. Photography used with permission from Jay Godwin.

On May 21, 2016—HBO Films will feature the grand debut of “All The Way” at 7:00 PM CST. Directed by Jay Roach and Written by Robert Schenkkan, “All The Way” is like an immaculate time machine that takes you back to the 1960’s when former President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) came into The Oval Office after the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy. The film begins with a powerful start: reliving the intense aftermath of a deeply tragic situation in Dallas, Texas. The audience sees and hears the bloody mess and the Lincoln limousine. And we feel the intimate conversation between LBJ and his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, while up in the sky on Air Force One. When LBJ gets to office in Washington DC, this is when the story of “All The Way” truly begins. Because the focus of the film is how President Lyndon B. Johnson brought the civil rights moment into legal affect with The Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to HBO: “All The Way” offers a riveting behind-the scenes look at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s tumultuous first year in office after the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy. Staking his presidency on what would be an historic unprecedented Civil Rights Act, Johnson finds himself caught between the moral imperative of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the expectations of the southern Democratic Party leaders who brought Johnson to power. As King battles to press Johnson while controlling more radical elements of the Civil Rights Movement, Johnson navigates the bill through Congress, winning a landslide victory against Barry Goldwater, but causing the South to defect from the Democratic Party. Following its critically acclaimed, award-winning Broadway run, “All The Way” comes to HBO on May 21, 2016. Actor, Bryan Cranston (four-time Emmy® winner for “Breaking Bad”) reprises his Tony Award-winning role as LBJ for the HBO Films presentation, which also stars Anthony Mackie as MLK (“The Hurt Locker”) and is Directed by Jay Roach (“Trumbo”; Emmy® winner for HBO’s “Game Change” and “Recount”) from a screenplay by Robert Schenkkan (Pulitzer Prize winner for “The Kentucky Cycle”; two-time Emmy® nominee and Writers Guild Award winner for HBO’s “The Pacific”), who has adapted his Tony Award-winning play of the same name.”

Last week on May 11, 2016 in Austin, Texas—HBO Films and The Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library hosted a special event and exclusive screening of the film. The delightful cast and crew of “All The Way” strolled the red carpet for the Press before the screening of the film. After the movie ended, a Q&A session took place. (A video of the Q&A conversation is online.) Local Arts and Entertainment Writer for Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, attended the red carpet event and she interviewed Director Jay Roach and Writer Robert Schenkkan. Both audio recordings of each interview are uploaded onto YouTube.

Director Jay Roach discussed the changes and differences between the making of his many comedy films (ie: “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”) and transcending into more serious, political topics like “All The Way”. During the interview Roach also shared his insights on the importance of voting and what he hopes that viewers, especially younger generations, will retain the most from this story about The Civil Rights Act and how one man from Texas made history by striving to give all people equal rights and that every vote counts. Writer Robert Schenkkan talks about what he would’ve liked to ask former President LBJ if he were still alive. And he talks about the writing process as to how he developed this story and wrote it so beautifully.

Also in attendance to this red carpet event was Luci Baines Johnson, the daughter of Lyndon B. Johnson and former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson. There is one scene that made a writer (Nicolette Mallow) in attendance of this film cry and it was one of the only moments in the film we really connect with the daughter. (In fact, there were many scenes that made Mallow laugh and cry, and she was glad she wasn’t wearing eyeliner or mascara, but this one scene hit home.) Nonetheless, in the midst of White House chaos and political war, there is a moment that LBJ watches his daughter Luci passing by and he asks her not to rush off. As they’re talking, he takes a good look at his daughter and says three words: “You’re getting tall”. It’s in that moment we see that time is moving fast, too fast, and that his energy and dedication to politics has sort of taken away some personal time with family, particularly Luci. Any daughter that had a father who worked that hard to provide a better life can understand the bittersweet feeling of being proud and also perhaps wishing there had been more time.

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“All The Way” focuses mostly on LBJ’s struggles and successes as President and the societal and political injustices that were happening in The United States of America. Many problems we are still struggling with today. The movie doesn’t spend too much time in his family life, even if the audience gets to see very intimate dialogue behind closed doors and his ranch in Texas. During the film, we learn (or are reminded) about how LBJ became so passionate about civil rights, beginning his career as a teacher to minority children. The love in former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s heart is undeniable and the film does a perfect job of capturing this innate trait. LBJ’s fiery passion almost seems to come out of the screen and pour into your heart. Every scene in this film evokes something from within. The audience feels the struggle of it all and we are reminded of the horrors that were going on during the 1960’s to African Americans and other minorities. Ultimately, we witness a humanized version of LBJ: his flaws and imperfections, as well as the deep love in his heart and the powerhouse that he was. The power he had to make changes for the highest good of all. “All The Way” should make all Texans even more proud to be a Texan knowing that LBJ (a man from Texas) brought the Civil Rights Act into legal effect because he knew in his heart it was the right thing to do.

“All The Way” will make its grand debut on HBO this weekend on Sat. May 21, 2016 at 7:00 PM CST. For more information about the cast, crew and synopsis: please visit their official website on HBO at www.hbo.com/movies/all-the-way. 

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in May 2016.  

“The stars at night, are big and bright. Deep in the heart of Texas.”

The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece illuminates The Blanton Museum of Art

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“Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece” – The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin.

Showcased by The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin, The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece is a traveling art gallery highlighting an illuminated Medieval manuscript from the 13th century. Traveling to seven different countries in the world over a timeline of seven centuries, this French Gothic manuscript from the Middle Ages is created by seven anonymous artists. Depicting selected stories from the Old Testament, retold in the era and culture of Medieval period, originally this one-of-a-kind manuscript was designed to be a picture-book without any script. These colorful illustrations were intended to portray biblical stories without any annotations, explaining why each drawing is so very graphic, specific and characteristic. However, as the Crusader Bible journeyed seven times from France to Italy, Poland, Persia, Egypt, England and the United States: alterations were made and inscriptions were added in various languages, including Latin, Persian and Juedo-Persian.

Upon entrance into The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece, the rooms of the gallery are glittering with 40 illuminated pages of gold leafs (pure gold that has been hammered down into thin sheets). The gold is still so remarkably shiny that it’s almost hard to believe this manuscript is nearly 1000 years old. Even under dimmed lighting within a museum, the gold leafs on the pages are so prominent and bold that the display cases within the gallery shine similarly to a jewelry display case. Fortunately the Crusader Bible has withstood the tests of time and it comes to no surprise that these handmade manuscripts are very challenging to make, often taking many years to complete. There is a very specific and thorough process to creating illuminated manuscripts, beginning with the preparation of the parchment paper. Parchment paper derives from animal skin and once it’s finished after weeks of preparation. Then scribes would begin inscriptions. Once the scribe had finished their task, the illuminator left its mark on the parchment paper before sending the manuscript over to bindery. An illumniator is the artist whom illuminated the manuscript with silver or gold leafing. They were responsible for lighting up the pages with precious metals.

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Silver, gold and colorful illuminations aren’t the only part of the Crusader Bible that catch the eye. The carbon black inscriptions also carry a dominant presence. Admiring all the various scripts in different languages is quite compelling because it notes the seven foreign locations and cultures the Crusader Bible ventured to. The number seven is believed to be a divine number of truth and mysticism within numerology studies and spiritual texts. Therefore it’s an interesting coincidence that the number seven plays such a predominant and powerful role in the history of the Crusader Bible. Furthermore, the black calligraphy is immaculate in every language and it took scribes endless hours to complete the script; using a quill pen to write the script and a knife to cut away ink errors when necessary. The carbon black ink used by the scribes is referred to as lampblack. And even though most of us cannot read Latin, Persian or Juedo-Persian. With the use of modern technology and an application called Layar, guests can scan the Medieval manuscript and the application translates it for you right that instant.

Additionally, this special exhibit also features European arms and armor, an illustrated book from Persia, and a large display case featuring many of the tools, rocks, metals and pigments used to inscribe, illustrate and illuminate the parchment paper. There is also a video to regard the process from preparing the parchment paper to the final result in bindery. The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece will be on display until April 3, 2016. For more information regarding The Blanton Museum of Art and its hours of operation, admission, upcoming exhibitions or membership, please call 512-471-7324 or visit www.blantonmuseum.org.

“The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin presents The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece, an exhibition of over forty unbound pages from the one of the most celebrated French illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages. The illuminations include some of the most compelling visualizations of the Old Testament, bringing Bible stories to life through vivid images that reflect medieval culture and the world of the Crusades. Designed to resonate with thirteenth-century French viewers, biblical characters are depicted as battling knights, equipped with contemporary arms and armor, and situated within medieval French towns. Loans from the Metropolitan Museum, including a shirt of mail, sword, prick spur, and war hat, will augment visitors’ understanding of the weaponry featured in the Crusader Bible. On loan from the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, the Crusader Bible features Old Testament scenes in medieval settings, with brilliantly colored illustrations attributed to seven anonymous artists. To provide historical context for the Bible, the presentation features medieval arms and armor from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Also included are sixteenth-century Persian illustrations from the Metropolitan and the Ardashīr-nāma, a seventeenth-century Judeo-Persian manuscript of Old Testament stories from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. The history of the Crusader Bible is fascinating, covering seven centuries and multiple continents. Likely created in Paris during the 1240s for King Louis IX of France— famous for building the Sainte-Chapelle and for leading two crusades— the Bible then passed to the king’s younger brother, Charles of Anjou, who took it to Italy. More than four centuries later, the Archbishop of Cracow acquired and offered it as a diplomatic gift to the great Shah of Persia, ‘Abbas I. By the eighteenth century, the manuscript belonged to an anonymous Persian Jew. After its journey from France to Italy, Poland, and Persia, the Bible traveled to Egypt, England, and finally to the Morgan Library & Museum in the United States. The Crusader Bible, which originally had no text, bears inscriptions in Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian. They function as evidence of its changing ownership throughout the centuries and reflect how each owner used his language to lay claim to the book, appropriating its imagery for assimilation into their respective cultures.”

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in December 2015.  

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is immortalized by The University of Texas at Austin

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Pasaporte de Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1969-1976. Photography by Nicolette Mallow.

The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin has become a safe haven of archives in honor of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A magical realism writer that created words of mysticism, beauty, love and tragedy; Marquez, also known as Gabo, had an eternal voice that no other writer will ever replace. When readers begin reading his books, it’s as if all of time stops still and nothing else in the world exists nor matters except his story. Marquez takes readers to another dimension within reality and he is able to evoke heartfelt emotions that linger like the smell of fine perfume in the air that follows like a fragrant, tender kiss on the skin.

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According to the Harry Ransom Center, “More than 75 boxes of documents constitute the archive of the Colombian-born author, journalist, screenwriter and key figure in Latin American history and politics. Researchers will have access to manuscript drafts of published and unpublished works, correspondence, 43 photograph albums, 22 scrapbooks, research material, notebooks, newspaper clippings, screenplays and ephemera.”

Also on display within the library and museum are a few glass encasings for viewers to admire entailing the following artifacts: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s passport, edited transcripts, his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, a letter to US President Jimmy Carter, and edited chapters of his book. Within one of the display cases on the first floor, guests can regard the Smith-Corona 250 typewriter that Marquez used to write so many of his stories. To imagine his hands working on all those keys. Touching all those keys thousands upon thousands of times as he wrote stories that would fill the world with magic. It was a remarkable experience to see the typewriter that he used to write. And it was a delight to see his handwriting in Spanish amongst all the edited transcripts, letters and chapters of his books.

Born the year of 1927 in Colombia, last year in 2014 Gabriel Garcia Marquez died of pneumonia in Mexico City. A great artist was lost that day. The New York Times ran an article soon after the writer passed in 2014 that read, “Mr. García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. His books were translated into dozens of languages. He was among a select roster of canonical writers — Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them — who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience. Mr. García Márquez was a master of the literary genre known as magical realism, in which the miraculous and the real converge. In his novels and stories, storms rage for years, flowers drift from the skies, tyrants survive for centuries, priests levitate and corpses fail to decompose. And, more plausibly, lovers rekindle their passion after a half-century apart.”

In order to view the archives in the reading room, guests make partake in an online orientation video before requesting an appointment to visit. The display cases will be open to the public until November 11, 2015. For more information about the archives, the display cases or The Harry Ransom Center: please visit their website at http://www.hrc.utexas.edu.

“Así termino pensando en él como nunca se hubiera imaginado que se podía pensar en alguien, presintiéndolo donde no estaba, deseándolo donde no podía estar, despertando de pronto con la sensación física de que él la contemplaba en la oscuridad mientras dormía, de modo que la tarde en que sintió sus pasos resueltos sobre el reguero de hojas amarillas en el parquecito, le costó trabajo creer que no fuera burla de su fantasía.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (El Amor En Los Tiempos Del Colera).

“And so she thought about him as she never could have imagined thinking about anyone, having premonitions that he would be where he was not, wanting him to be where he could not be, awakening with a start, with the physical sensation that he was looking at her in the darkness while she slept, so that on the afternoon when she heard his resolute steps on the yellow leaves in the little park it was difficult for her not to think this was yet another trick of her imagination.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Love in the Time of Cholera).

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in November 2015.

‘Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm’ exhibition on display at The Blanton Museum of Art

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“Six Swans III” – Drawing by Natalie Frank. (Photography by Nicolette Mallow.)

Natalie Frank: The Brother’s Grimm is a current exhibition hosted by The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin. Located within five different rooms that are all interconnected, the gallery is adorned with dozens of gouache and pastel drawings showcasing Frank’s hypnotizing and graphic fairy tale art. Make no mistake; the Brother’s Grimm fairy tales are not reflective of the typical happily-ever-after stories that modern authors portray to our children today. Originally, these fairy tales were written for adults, not adolescents. Therefore, stand warned that Frank’s exquisite drawings are not necessarily child-friendly. Viewers with kids are advised to take a stroll before taking their children through the gallery.

“Looky, look, look at the shoe that she took. There’s blood all over, and the shoe’s too small. She’s not the bride you met at the ball,” (Grimm’s Fairy Tales).

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This fairy tale exhibition is a collection of otherworldly, unforgettable stories written hundreds of years ago. Magical, dark, haunting and spellbinding. The illustrations tell the Brother’s Grimm stories of love, lust, death, tragedy and historical folklore. During an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Frank explains how she “delved deeper into the early, unsanitized editions, she saw why so many of the brothers’ story plots contained brutal violence and elements of shape-shifting magic: Their folk tales were actually being told and retold by women who had to navigate a 19th-century social and political world wherein they held almost no power over their fates. Marriages were typically arranged; death during childbirth was common. Suddenly, the princesses, hags and witches in the Grimm’s’ fairy tales felt grounded and complex to Ms. Frank, and she started making drawings that could reflect these characters’ vulnerabilities and strengths.”

Blood, castles, animals, metamorphosis, nudity, genitalia, nature and the supernatural can all be found in the artwork. The use of imagination within Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm is striking, unique, scary and mesmerizing. The imagery is very intense, such as Frank’s drawing “Brier Rose” depicting a woman that almost seems to be drugged or half conscious, missing clothing and unable to resist any advances. A beautiful woman whose story entails a spell-induced, one hundred sleep caused by an evil witch. A young woman whose masked and blindfolded in a blood red veil as a half-man and half-beast creature weighs down upon her as if to approach her in a sexual manner.

These are not images one can easily forget.

Entranced by the images in the artwork, walking through the gallery lures viewers to step out of modern time for a while. To think these stories were told centuries ago, it’s fascinating and a bit disturbing. Frank’s storybook illustrations are also absolutely booming with bold and powerful colors that lighten the heaviness of the stories. The colors are so playful and bright like a children’s room, and yet the symbolism is so dark and grim. The gallery includes almost 20 stories, including the following: Snow White, Brier Rose, The Frog King, Rapunzel, The Juniper Tree, Endpaper, The Devil with The Three Golden Hairs, and Six Swans.

According to The Blanton Museum of Art, “Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm, is an exhibition of more than 30 gouache and pastel drawings by artist Natalie Frank, a New York-based Austin native. Organized by The Drawing Center in New York, this presentation explores the nineteenth-century fairy tales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Drawing upon the history of illustrated books, figuration, and personal and political narrative, Frank’s drawings represent the largest collection of Grimm’s fairy tales ever illustrated by a fine artist.”

The exhibition will be featured at The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin until November 15, 2015. The Blanton Museum of Art is a remarkable university museum full of natural light, tall ceilings, blue tiling, installation pieces, statues and grand stairwells that facilitate the galleries. Over 17,000 works of art have become part of their permanent collection. However, due to the fact this particular gallery in the museum has no windows and flash photography is prohibited: It is strongly advised to visit the exhibition (and Natalie Frank’s website) in order to see her drawings in all their splendor and vivacity. Be sure to also check out storyteller Tom Lee on October 15, 2015 at 6:30 PM at The Blanton Museum of Art to perform selected stories from Frank’s illustrations. For more information regarding the exhibition, the museum or the artist, please visit www.natalie-frank.com or www.blantonmuseum.org.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in this realm is the fairest of them all? … You, my queen, may have a beauty quite rare, but Snow White is a thousand times more fair,” (Grimm’s Fairy Tales).

natalie frank

“Brier Rose III” – Drawing by Natalie Frank. (Photography by Nicolette Mallow.)

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in August 2015.