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Arts in the News: A “Too Tall” Ballerina, A Marriage Proposal at The Met and more

The Life of a Baseball Game Organist

Ever wonder who’s behind those short upbeat organ songs at baseball games? At Boston’s famed Fenway Park, the man behind the music is Josh Kantor, the park’s organist. During games, Kantor sits four level above the on-field action. Despite the old-timey feel of the organ, Kantor and park organists like him rely on a surprising level of technology. Kantor, 44 years old, has worked as Fenway’s official organist since 2003–and he’s never missed a home game. When the park is packed, Kantor is playing for 38,000 people at a time. HIs booth looks less like a traditional organ loft and more like an air traffic control booth; Kantor is constantly in conversation with an entire production staff (his conversations with them in one ear, the organ in the other). Because he is not broadcast–for rights-related reasons–Kantor has a great deal of freedom in what he plays. Recently, he learned the theme song from Game of Thrones; on the 76th anniversary of MLB organ music, he tweeted: “I’m sure Ray Nelson (1st MLB organist) would approve of the Flo Rida jams I’m busting out tonight.” Listening to park organists like Kantor play is exclusively a live experience; fans at the game can even submit requests via Twitter for what they’d like to hear. Next time you’re at a game, make sure to take a moment and think about the person behind those happy notes!

Ballerina Told She was ‘Too Tall’ Not Giving Up

Last year, Sara Michelle Murawski made headlines for being fired from the Pennsylvania Ballet for being “too tall.” At 5′ 10.5″, Murawski had always found her height an asset as a student; teachers complimented her elongated lines. Once she entered the professional world of U.S. ballet, though, Murawski suddenly found her height to be less of a blessing and more of an obstacle to her career. Months later, though, Murawski was the first principal signed to the new American National Ballet, a company in Charleston, South Carolina with the mission of celebrating dancer diversity. In a piece for Dance Magazine, Murawski tells her story, from a young lanky ballet student to professional dancer. She talks about her new position and her excitement over the ANB’s mission to celebrate diversity: “People want this kind of change in the dance world. At ANB they’re after real artists. And they’re going to get better dancers that way. To all the tall, hopeful dancers out there: Please carry your height with pride and joy.” Hopefully, more companies adopt the mission of the ANB so that ballet can celebrate dancers and artists of all shapes and sizes!

The Artists Set to Paint the Portraits of the Obamas

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has commissioned artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald to paint the official portraits of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, respectively. Wiley and Sherald are the first black artists hired by the museum for the painting of a president and first lady. Both artists have been celebrated for their depictions of black subjects. Wiley, 40 years old and based in New York, depicts contemporary male subjects in a style reminiscent of the portraits of the Old Masters. Sherald, 44 years old and working in Baltimore, paints black subjects in a way that blurs reality and fiction. During their time in the White House, the Obamas brought the work of black artists to its halls–they contributed works by abstract expressionist Alma Thomas, folk artist William H. Johnson, and conceptual artist Glenn Ligon. Wiley and Sherald’s paintings will be unveiled and incorporated into the Smithsonian’s collection in 2018–it will certainly be exciting to see how the portraits turn out!

Man Proposes to Girlfriend by Hanging Artwork in the Met

Marriage proposals seem to be getting more and more elaborate over the past couple decades–and the rise of social media means that the most impressive proposals are often shared worldwide. The most recent proposal to go viral comes from Redditor krysxvi (Chris), who went out on a limb to hook his now-fiancee Marybeth. Chris took Marybeth to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and when they entered a room of Picasso paintings (Marybeth’s favorite), among the colorful pieces, a new one was hung: a drawing by Chris which showed the exact proposal scene, complete with the polka dots of Marybeth’s dress (which he had convinced her to wear that day). Marybeth said “yes,” and the couple was ecstatic–but the museum not so much. After Chris rose to his feet, a guard told them to remove the painting and instructed them to leave–though he let them take a few photos first. What a cute way to celebrate the couple’s love of art and the museum–luckily no harm was done to the museum and they didn’t get into too much trouble!

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