See the USA: Letter from the Executive Director

One of the great pleasures of my job is traveling widely across the United States each year. Summer is always a wonderful time to be on the road because so many brilliant artists are invited to participate in outstanding annual programs, and this summer was no exception. In the last few months I got to connect with several visiting artists including some USA Fellows working at marvelous summer festivals.

The season kicked off in New York City when Elaine Wynn, mother of USA Board member Gillian Wynn, hosted a beautiful event in her home for the Host Committee for the 2010 USA Fellows Celebration. Good friends joined us to hear about our exciting plans for the upcoming event which will take place at Jazz at Lincoln Center this December.

Leonard Nimoy, a longtime friend to USA, opened an exhibition of his photography at MASS MoCA, one of the largest centers for contemporary visual and performing arts in the country. Located in North Adams, Massachusetts, the campus features 25 buildings on the site of a restored nineteenth-century factory. The museum recently completed a breathtaking restoration of one of these buildings, which is dedicated entirely to the work of the late artist Sol LeWitt.

The Nimoy show—images of people posing as their “Secret Selves” —looked fantastic in one of the complex’s few intimate spaces. I also got to catch up with fashion designer Yoehlee Teng, a longtime friend of the Nimoys, who has served on a USA Design and Architectural Panel. Performances held during the opening included the group Bang on a Can, featuring USA Walker Fellow Evan Ziporyn. The Nimoy exhibition is open through the end of the year, so if you find yourself in western Massachusetts, don’t miss it!

Next I headed up to southern Vermont to visit two terrific arts leaders. Frank Salomon of the Marlboro Music School and Festival welcomed me to their beautiful mountain campus, located at Marlboro College. The festival is devoted to developing new musical leaders who illuminate all areas of music today. Expert classical musicians work alongside talented students throughout the summer, rehearsing and performing together. The energetic concert I enjoyed there on a Sunday afternoon was one of the highlights of my summer.

Sara Coffey heads the Vermont Performance Lab, and we spent a great morning visiting many of the sites she utilizes for the program. The Lab supports the creation and development of new works of contemporary dance and music. Each year they select artists to participate in a creative residency where choreographers and musicians have access to studio spaces in a small rural Vermont community.

My now annual trip to Penland School of Crafts was again a special experience. Each August the school hosts a series of events that attracts friends from around the world, including two silent auctions offering beautiful work contributed by current and past Penland students and residents. It was exciting to learn that this year the school raised over $500,000 to support its annual operations.

Then Andrew Glasgow, a new member of the USA Board of Directors, spent a few days driving me across the state of North Carolina. Along the way we visited the studios of several of the top studio ceramists living in the Seagrove community, including Mark Hewitt, Fred Johnston and Carol Gentithes, Ben Owen, and David Stuempfle. I am grateful to these talented artists for taking the time to share their work and practice with us.

Andrew and I ended our time together visiting with Lawrence Wheeler and his partner Don Dosey in the Research Triangle community. Larry is the Director of the North Carolina Museum of Art, which recently completed an $86 million capital campaign to expand their facilities. It was a special treat to see their new 127,000-square-foot building. This fully “green” complex creates a beautiful home for their permanent collection with dramatically expanded exhibition space filled with natural light. The exterior is surrounded by exquisite outdoor gardens showcasing large-scale sculpture. Dozens of new art acquisitions are on view for the first time. If you are visiting the Raleigh area, make sure to see the newly expanded North Carolina Museum of Art.

— Katharine DeShaw

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USA Board member Gillian Wynn and Elaine Wynn

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Leonard and Susan Nimoy at MASS MoCA

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Don Dosey, Katharine DeShaw and Lawrence Wheeler in Chapel Hill

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Marlboro Music School and Festival

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USA Board member Andrew Glasgow at Mark Hewitt’s studio in Pittsboro, NC