Sunday, June 7, 2009

Creative Voices - An Evening With Ruby Dee, Susan Stamberg & Michael York

The Actress Ruby Dee

All Images Copyright 2009 Stuart Pearl Photography

"You have very warm hands." These were Ruby Dee's comments to me when I recently met her at a local PBS function. I had just shaken hands with this grand lady of Broadway, and was thanking her for being such a cooperative photographic subject at this cultural arts event.

On May 27, 2009 WCPN/WVIZ Ideastream hosted a reception in the Idea Center for the 2009 Creative Voices Summit.

Special NPR correspondent Susan Stamberg, actors Michael York and Ruby Dee attended the reception prior to Thursday’s discussion. The panel was charged with discussing how the cultural aspect of a community can be reflected in it's arts.

As a volunteer photographer for Ideastream this was one of my more challenging events. It was like shooting three separate wedding receptions in the brief span of two hours.

Each of these people is fascinating in his or her own way. And each was different in the way they presented themselves to my camera.

Ruby Dee is originally from Cleveland having been born here in 1924. She is a gracious woman with a genuinely warm and friendly smile. Open to easy conversation, I can imagine chatting with Ruby about her early days in the city. She was a pleasure to photograph and very accommodating to my informal poses.

Part of Ruby Dee’s early history includes the Karamu Theater. Karamu House Inc. is the nation’s oldest multi-cultural arts institution. That organization helped launch an acting career which spans over 50 years.

Karamu’s Executive Directory Gregory J. Ashe conversing with Ruby in the Smith Theatre.

Art Falco, President and CEO PlayhouseSquare (left) Michael & Pat York, and Colleen Porter, Head of PHS Education.

Other than the fact that Michael has more hair, better looks, nicer suits, worldwide success and impressive acting talent, he and I are quite similar. Amazing – he’s nine years older than me and yet looks younger. I need to work out more.

Born in 1942 he got his start in theater and now has over 60 screen credits.

Michael York chatting with Susan Stamberg, Smith Studio (Idea Center).

Just a few of his films include Logan’s Run, Cabaret, Murder on the Orient Express and The Three Musketeers. He has also appeared on TV in episodes of Law and Order and The Simpsons as well as other productions.

Former Karamu board member Bracy Lewis (left) and current Artistic Director Terrence Spivey chat with Ruby during the reception.

"Your flash didn't go off." This was my first encounter with Susan Stamberg as she entered the Smith Studio at Ideastream. Sharon Herene of Ideastream (left) during Susan Stamberg’s introduction.

The flash DID go off for my first shot as she walked in with the staff. But I wanted to get a second, closeup image as she began talking with the guests. Unfortunately the strobe hadn't recharged yet.

It was clear by the tone of her comment that she would wait for that second shot, but only if I was quick about it. At least that was my impression of this embarrassing moment.

Susan Stamberg is an impressive and imposing individual. When she enters a room people seem to naturally move in her direction. The want to hear what she has to say. According to the official NPR bio “Stamberg is the first woman to anchor a national nightly news program, and has won every major award in broadcasting.”

Susan was a challenge to photograph in this setting. Anybody she chatted with received her full and focused attention and it was obvious the guests appreciated this consideration. This almost made me the intruder then when trying to have her face my camera. She was friendly and cordial and gave me my shots. But the attendees were her first consideration – as it should be.

Michael York and wife Pat in the WVIZ/WCPN Idea Center May 27, 2009

I can imagine sitting in a coffee shop reading the afternoon paper with Michael York. He just seems like a relaxed comfortable guy. With a quiet and laid back manner he and his wife Pat easily moved about the Smith studio chatting with local supporters of the arts.

Mark Filippell an Ideastream board member, introduced York and joked that even though the actor and wife Patricia live in Hollywood, they've been married for 40 years which is unusual for actors in that city.

Pat York is a very accomplished photographer and writer in her field. She has published several books and her work as been exhibited in museums around the world.

Pat York, photographer/writer with husband Michael York.

Additionally she has worked as a writer and photographer for Vogue, Time, Newsweek and Life just to name a few. Photography credits include portraits of Bobby Kennedy, Timothy Leary, Jack Nicholson, Andy Warhol and many others.

Michael was keynote speaker the following day at The 2009 Creative Voices Summit & Arts Education Day Luncheon in the Allen Theatre. Sponsored by Cleveland State University, the talk further discussed the state of the arts today.

Jesse Rosen, arts panel member and President of the American League of Orchestras.

Preceding the luncheon, WVIZ/WCPN was hosted the Creative Voices at the Idea Center summit in Westfield Insurance studio. Moderated by Susan Stamberg, the panel included Ruby Dee, Jesse Rosen, Tomothy Rub and Sari Feldman. Responding to questions from the audience, the group gave their views on the current state of the arts.

Ruby Dee, Dr. Joanne Schwartz, Dr. Michael Schwartz President of CSU, and Sari Feldman, Executive Director – Cuyahoga County Public Library.

Architect Philip Wasserstrom And Timothy Rub, Director of the CMA

Kit Jensen, COO of WVIZ/WCPN Ideastream with Buffy Filippell President of Teamwork Consulting.

Jonathan Forman and Susan Stamberg.