April 2013

Mary Wilson: Come See About Me

Art of Life — Produced by Karen Smyles

In the 60’s, The Supremes were the most commercially successful singing group at Motown Records, and to date, are the most successful vocal group in America, with twelve number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. During the Civil Rights movement they became the “Cross-over group” that made it possible for future R&B musicians to find mainstream success. It all began with the dreams of three little girls who grew up in a project in Detroit, Michigan. Mary Wilson was one of the founding members along with Florence Ballard and Diana Ross.

The group changed a lot over the years, with several singers coming and going. However, Mary Wilson was there until the end when the group disbanded in 1977. As the last member, Wilson found herself the keeper of all of the fabulous costumes the group had worn over the years and when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame offered to curate an exhibit of the pieces, Wilson thought it was a great idea.

Now through the end of June, Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection will be on display at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Thirty stunning gowns, rare video footage and archival images, will take you back to an era when pop music was truly glamorous.

Friday Arts sat down for a one-on-one interview with Mary Wilson when she was in town to open the exhibit. Wilson shared stories of how the Supremes came together and what it was like being a member of this legendary female singing group. We also take you up-close for a look at the gowns created by some of the biggest names in the fashion industry.

The ExCITe Center

Art — Produced by Michael O’Reilly

The ExCITe Center, at Drexel University, seems an odd jumble of upper and lower case letters. The ExCITe Center is an acronym for “Expressive-Creative-Interactive-Technology” center as Dr. Youngmoo Kim, director of the center, explains it. A university-wide center, Dr. Kim hopes to build on the work he is doing at his own lab and attract participants from artistic and technical disciplines from within Drexel and the surrounding Philadelphia area to explore the intersection between art and technology. The center has produced attachments for pianos that allow a pianist to control magnetic fields that work in tandem with finger movements to generate otherworldly sounds with the lightest of touches. Additionally, they are also working with the largest collection of humanoid robots in the United States (they are called HUBO’s and are on loan to the center from Korea), to explore what it means to be “creatively expressive”. In this segment, we see what it takes to make humanoid robots dance and magnetic pianos play, and how humans and machines work together to make art.

The Perfect Brew

Art of Food — Produced by Monica Rogozinski

Stone fruit, ginger, molasses, apricot and cranberry may not be the first characteristics one would associate with coffee, but amongst coffee experts at cupping events, those are some of the flavors and aromas to be found while sipping a perfect brew. Specialty coffee people are not afraid to call themselves “obsessed” with the art of roasting and brewing coffee. They all started in the business moved by a passion for the drink and a search for the perfect cup. Once they taught themselves to source, roast and brew to perfection, they decided to share their expertise with the public.

In this episode of Friday Arts, the Art of Food segment showcases a few of the local coffee specialists. With the coffee renaissance of the past five years, these local coffee experts stand out from amongst the growing group. We go from a learning lab for professional baristas or home brewers to small batch roasters and to coffee bars in Philadelphia.

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