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Theatre in the Park Preview: Georgia Is an Intimate Musical Portrait of American Artist Georgia O'Keeffe

September 5, 2003 - Raleigh, NC:


Written and performed by internationally renowned opera singer Karen Melander-Magoon of Middletown, California, Georgia: A Musical Portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe is an operetta about the trailblazing artist who became one of America's foremost 20th-century painters. Melander-Magoon, who also is a winegrower and partner/owner of Guenoc and Langtry Estate Vineyards and Winery in Lake County, California, will perform Georgia one time only tonight as a $30 per personor $50 per couplejoint fundraiser for Theatre in the Park and The Frankie Lemmon School. The admission price includes complimentary wine-tasting samples of Guenoc and Langtry wines during intermission and after-show port and dessert.

Originally chartered in 1947 as The Children's Theatre of Raleigh, Inc., Theatre in the Park is one of North Carolina's foremost community theaters. It assumed its current name in the early 1970s to reflect its expanded artistic mission.

Started in 1965 at Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, The Frankie Lemmon School is currently located at the Hayes Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh. The school is the oldest kindergarten serving Wake County children with developmental disabilities.

Born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, on November 15, 1887, and educated at the Art Institute of Chicago (1904-05) and the Art Students League of New York (1907-08), Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) started out as a commercial artist. From 1912 to 1916, she taught art at a number of schools and colleges in the South.

American photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), who became O'Keeffe's husband in 1924, discovered and exhibited her drawings in 1916. He took hundreds photographs of O'Keeffe. After meeting Stieglitz , she moved to New York City to be near him. She later spent considerable in New Mexico, where she moved after her husband died in 1946. O'Keeffe died on March 6, 1986, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford presented the Medal of Freedom to Georgia O'Keeffe. President Ronald Reagan presented the Medal of the Arts to her in 1985.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "O'Keeffe's early pictures were basically imitative, but by the early 1920s her own highly individualistic style of painting had emerged. Frequently her subjects were enlarged views of skulls and other animal bones, flowers and plant organs, shells, rocks, mountains, and other natural forms. O'Keeffe delineated these forms with probing and subtly rhythmic outlines and delicately modulated washes of clear colour. Her mysteriously suggestive images of bones and flowers set against a perspectiveless space inspired a variety of erotic, psychologic, and symbolic interpretations. The precision and austerity of her works owe something to the Precisionist paintings of Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth, but her ability to invest biomorphic forms with an abstract beauty was entirely her own. Her style is typified in such paintings as Black Iris (1926) and Cow's Skull, Red, White and Blue (1931)."

A TIP spokesman says, "Karen Melander-Magoon brings the life of beloved American artist Georgia O'Keeffe to life with a passionate telling of the artist's desires and struggles to have her life's work accepted and appreciated in America's 20th century art community. Karen's voice along with her skilled acting ability makes for an evening of music and storytelling not to be missed."

Born Karen Melander in Dubuque, Iowa, Melander-Magoon is a graduate of Indiana University in Music. She earned her master's degree from Boston University. She married Orville Magoon in August 1988.

Pianist Siegried Tepper will accompany Melander-Magoon, using piano arrangements by Frank Fanning.

Note: Theatre in the Park will present The Faraway Nearby, playwright John Murrell's poetic drama about the final decades of Georgia O'Keeffe's life, from Sept. 19 to Oct. 5.

Theatre in the Park presents Georgia: A Musical Portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe Friday, Sept. 5, at 7:30 p.m. at TIP, 107 Pullen Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina. $30 ($50 per couple), which includes complimentary wine-tasting samples of Guenoc and Langtry wines during intermission and after-show port and dessert. 919/831-6936. TIP: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/. Georgia: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/frames/frame_2003_2004_georgia.html [inactive 3/04]. Karen Melander-Magoon: http://www.guenoc.com/kar-f.htm [inactive 1/04]. Guenoc and Langtry Estate Vineyards and Winery: http://www.guenoc.com/ [inactive 4/04]. The Frankie Lemmon School: http://home.nc.rr.com/fls/.