The Salon Series: A Smorgasbord of the Arts and Scientific Inquiry

Thank you to Publisher Emeritus, Mike Clark, for this blog post on the LPR Salon Series.  

If you have any interest in mythology, jazz, classical Indian dance, folklore, the Big Bang Theory, the fate of the Whooping Crane, a refugee’s escape from a war-torn country, Baroque music performed on reed instruments, the historic mission to Pluto, an expanding universe, the practices of world religions, ceramics, how food has influenced film, and protest art then I may have seen you at a salon.

Sponsored by Little Patuxent Review, a journal of literature and the arts, and the Columbia Association Art Center, the salons typically occur on a scheduled Monday night September through June.

The regular attenders say they find salons food for the mind, the senses and the spirit.

With the salon series entering its ninth year, Little Patuxent Review and the Columbia Art Center strive to bring in local artists, scientists and authors and engage with them in dialogue.

Salons have a unique history. In early 18th century France, they usually took the form of intellectual discussions where wigged, powdered French aristocratic men and women assembled in a drawing room. Closer to home is Chautauqua in southwest New York where 100,000 folks gather in the summer to enjoy a diverse cultural program. The salon series in Columbia typically draw 30 to 60 patrons.

The concept of initiating a salon series at the art center was first discussed in February 2008, when the literary journal staff members Susan Thornton Hobby, Tim Singleton, and I met with Liz Henzey, director of the Columbia Art Center and her deputy Trudy Babchak.

Liz Henzey pointed out in our early discussions that the art center would prove a welcoming artistic environment. “We would be using our space in a better way for all the different arts in our community,” she said.

At our first salon event, Tim Singleton expounded on haiku, a form of poetry tracing its imagistic influence to 17th century Japan and resonating with the Beat poets of the 1960’s. “Haiku,” he told the audience seems “very little (in verbiage), but it does big things” to stir our imaginations.

From there we reached as far as the stars. Nobel Prize winning NASA scientist John C. Mather told us about the story of the universe. Hubble Space Telescope Astronomer Thomas M. Brown let us know that astronomical sightings indicate that our universe is expanding. Alice Bowman, New Horizons Mission Manager, told us of the ten-year mission to Pluto with a spine tingling challenge the mission faced in the last minutes before reaching its goal.

Recent salons included a demonstration of classical Indian dance, a jazz performance, Tom Glenn’s bitter memories of the fall of Saigon, and Professors Mike Giuliano and Marie Westhaver exploration of how food has become a vibrant theme in movies that not only makes our mouths water but also affects human relationships.

The schedule for the 2017-2018 salon series is being put in place with the assistance of Columbia Art Center staff members Liz Henzey and Monica Herber along with Little Patuxent Review’s supporters– Liz Bobo, Phyllis Greenbaum, Sabina Taj , Tim Singleton and Kimberley Flowers. The first salon for the 2107-2018 series will be held at the Columbia Art Center on September 18, 2017, at 7:00pm and will explore the first 50 years of Columbia’s history. Featured presenters, Robert Tennenbaum and Prof. Sidney Bower, will present a talk entitled “The Book, Columbia, Maryland: A 50 Year Retrospective of a Model City.”

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