Timeless Themes, Illuminated

November, 2015
Volume 3, Issue 10

Dear Reader,

Georgian Costume
Safavid, Iran, School of Muhammad Zaman “Young Woman in a Georgian Costume,” 17th century Oil on canvas, Anonymous Lender

Now on display at The Walters Art Museum is a breathtaking exhibition on arts of the Islamic world. The exhibition, “Pearls on a String” (on view through January 31, 2016) contains 125 works of art focusing around three, vivid individuals: 1) Sixteenth century Mughal writer Abu’l Fazl, who stirred up some controversy by depicting his ruler as a semi-divine figure. 2) The 17th century painter Muhammad Zaman, who introduced a radical new, European style of painting to what is present-day Iran, and 3) 18th Century Ottoman Sultan Mahmud, who commissioned priceless versions of gem-encrusted rifles and other, every day objects, which illustrated great enthusiasm for the luxury arts. Each figure jumps from their illuminated pages and beckons us in for a closer look.

The exhibition brings together artworks from the Walters’ collection as well as major loans from internationally renowned institutions such as London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Following its Baltimore run, “Pearls on a String” will travel to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

The exhibition’s title, “pearls on a string,” comes from a Persian, Arabic and Turkish metaphor: It alludes to a collection that, when viewed together, forms a harmonious whole.

Mughal, India Attributed to Anant, “Akbar and ‘Abd al-Rahim, from the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar)”,
ca., 1586-1589,
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (IS.2:7-1896)

But what’s even more fascinating than the sparkling gems or sumptuous object on display is the fact that, three centuries later, we’re still asking the same fundamental questions posed by these artists, patrons and writers.

Take the writer Abu’l Fazl, author of a three-volume biography of Persian Emperor Akbar. Within its pages Fazl writes about a pluralistic community engaged and fascinated by various traditions. He details the geographies and religious customs of the world around him. Sound familiar?

Although Fazl lived in the 1500s, today’s museumgoer can appreciate the risks that the writer took: Fazl didn’t solely immortalize the grand gestures of Akbar, his patron, he focused on Akbar’s weaknesses as well. Because of this, Fazl inspired countless other artists in nearly every medium. In one drawing, recounting Fazl’s story about Akbar’s bout with chicken pox, a manuscript artist depicted worry lines on the brows of courtisans – you can literally feel the tension on each face.

Another drawing was made in response to Fazl’s description of a Jesuit priest, who must have really stuck out in Akbar’s Indian court upon his first appearance in the 1570s. The artist sumptuously details the black vestments the Jesuit wore. This level of detail represents a very human desire to understand other cultures more deeply, says Amy Landau, Associate Curator of Islamic and South Asian Art.

Fazl also translated other works of literature into Persian in an effort to promote understanding among the community. Christian icons are depicted, and there’s even a tiny figure of a baby Jesus on view, sculpted from rock crystal.

“Often, stories about people aren’t so common in exhibitions of Islamic art,” Landau tells the Baltimore Sun. “This exhibit honors the Islamic tradition that holds that works of art are imprinted with human traces.”

Adding to the sensory experience are interactive stations that allow the viewer to hear songs inspired by Fazl’s writings. Lining one wall are intricate sandstone sculptures of complementary Indian gods. Brilliant silk screened images of buildings from each era hang in the galleries and help to locate the viewer in time.

Surprisingly, the anchor of the exhibition is a contemporary artwork. Commissioned by the Walters and created by MICA artist Sarah Shahabi, this large-scale sculpture depicts the title “Pearls on a String” in Persian. Within the sculpture are words that Shahabi describes as being evocative of humanity: “Compassion, love, fear, envy, life and death.” Timeless themes, indeed.

To learn more about the exhibition, click here.

To view events related to the exhibition, click here.

The Walters Art Museum is located at 600 N. Charles Street in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 10 AM – 9 PM. Visit the website for more information or call 410-547-9000.


Upcoming Events In Mount Vernon
Presented in Alphabetical Order


Baltimore School For the Arts
712 Cathedral Street | 443-642-5167 | Website


The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker
Friday, Dec 11 | 7 PM
Saturday, Dec 12 | 11 AM & 4 PM
Friday, Dec 18 | 7 PM
Saturday, Dec 19 | 1 PM

BSA’s beloved Nutcracker, choreographed by Barry Hughson especially for our high school and TWIGS dancers, is returning to the Schaefer Ballroom. Herr Drosselmeyer and his hosts are excited to welcome guests back to their magical party featuring dancing mice, toy soldiers, Mother Ginger, and of course, the Nutcracker prince and Clara!

Tickets $20, $15 (for students and seniors 75+) at Mission Tix.


Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
1212 Cathedral Street | 410-783-8000 | Website



Friday, Nov 13, 2015 | 8 PM
Sunday, Nov 15, 2015 | 3 PM
The Meyerhoff

Jun Märkl, conductor
Lise de la Salle, piano

Revel in the flamenco rhythms, colorful sounds and evocative scents of Spain as Falla, Debussy and Ravel each draw on a Spanish muse. The dramatic crescendo and orchestral textures of Ravel’s Boléro bring the program to a rousing conclusion.

Tickets start at $38 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office at 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Judy Collins

Judy Collins with Ari Hest
Sunday, Nov 29, 2015 | 4 PM
The Meyerhoff

Her voice is shining and true. For over five decades, Judy Collins has been singing and touching the soul. See Judy Collins sing the songs that have inspired three generations. “Both Sides Now,” “Send in the Clowns,” and more. One performance only!

Tickets start at $33 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office at 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.


Center Stage
700 North Calvert Street | 410-332-0033 | Website


Secret Garden

The Secret Garden
Now Thru Nov 29, 2015

Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman
Music by Lucy Simon
Based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“A show about courageous children who show lost adults how to deal with their pasts and embrace their gifts.”
– The Chicago Tribune

Orphaned in a cholera epidemic, 10-year-old Mary Lennox travels from India to her new home in England where she is taken in by her distant and detached uncle, Archibald Craven, who is still grieving from the loss of his wife a decade earlier. Secrets of the past haunt the corners of the Craven manor, and soon Mary can only find refuge in a mysteriously locked garden that becomes her kingdom and her oasis. A lush, Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning musical based on the classic novel of the same name, The Secret Garden is an enchanting story about the pains and joys of growing up, and the beauty that often grows in the places we least expect.

Click here for tickets.


X's and O's

X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story)
Nov 13 – Dec 20, 2015

By KJ Sanchez with Jenny Mercein

“Like the game itself: some of the hits are so hard, they’ll make you uncomfortable, but you won’t want to stop watching.”
– San Jose Mercury News (UK)

Baltimore. Loves. Football. And as the season kicks into high gear, Center Stage brings you a deeply moving, ripped-from-the-headlines play about our love for the game. Based on interviews with players, their families, and their fans, X’s and O’s delves deep into the questions that are being asked around dinner tables across the country: what are the dangers of the game? Should our children play? How do we balance our love for the sport with its potential risks? Co-commissioned by Center Stage and Berkeley Repertory Theater, and developed in part through Center Stage’s Play Lab series, X’s and O’s is a celebration of football that fearlessly tackles the sometimes tragic results of our passion for the sport.

Click here for tickets.



Maryland Historical Society
201 W. Monument Street | Phone 410-685-3750 | Website


Princesses of the Chesapeake

Princesses of the Chesapeake, Family Program
Sunday, Nov 22 | 2 PM

Did you know? We now have Family Programs at the Maryland Historical Society! Designed for kids ages 4-12, they take place on the weekends in our galleries — our next program, “Princesses of the Chesapeake,” includes a royal fashion show, activities and crafts, and takes place on November 22.

Come dressed in royal attire to receive a prize! From 2 – 3:30 we’ll rotate through stations packed with activities and crafts. Learn to speak French, make a tiara, a silhouette, and decorate yourself like the “princesses” of the Powhatan and Yoacomoco. From 3:30 – 4 we will walk the runway for a royal fashion show and test out our royal etiquette over tea and cookies!

This program is geared towards children ages 4-12.

Click here to register for “Princesses of the Chesapeake.”

Sign up here to receive information about all of The Maryland Historical Society’s upcoming Family programs, or share them with a friend.


Spotlighters Theatre
817 Saint Paul Street | Phone: 410-752-1225 | Website


A Tuna Christmas

Nov 20 – Dec 20, 2015

Book: Jaston Williams, Joe Sears,
& Ed Howard
Direction: Fuzz Roark
Stage Management: Ben Kinder

Synopsis: It’s Christmas in Tuna, TX, the third smallest town in Texas. Radio station OKKK news personalities Thurston Wheelis and Arles Struvie report on various Yuletide activities, including the hot competition in the annual lawn display contest and the mischevious pranks of the Christmas Phantom. In other news, voracious Joe Bob Lipsey’s production of “A Christmas Carol” is jeopardized by unpaid electric bills. All the while Aunt Pearl’s chickens are terrorized by an evil Blue Jay. And we all wonder, will Beula’s husband ever come home?

Performance Dates: November 20 – December 20, 2015
Nov 20, 21, 22; 27, 28, 29; Dec 4, 5, 6; 10, 11, 12, 13; Dec 18, 19, 20. Ten Spot Thursday: Dec 10, 2015 – 8 PM.
Purchase tickets by clicking here.

Talk Back with Cast & Director: Dec 6, 2015 immediately following the performance.


Peabody Institute
1 East Mount Vernon Place | Phone: 410-234-4500 | Website


Street Scene

Peabody Opera Theatre / Peabody Symphony Orchestra Present Kurt Weill’s ‘Street Scene’
Friday, Nov 13, 2015 | 7:30- 10:30 PM
Modell Performing Arts Center

Kristine McIntyre, Stage Director
Peabody Symphony Orchestra
Steven White, Music Director
An opera set in 1940s Baltimore, Street Scene portrays the daily life and dramas of a working class American neighborhood.
Kurt Weill: Street Scene

Two performances on Friday, November 13 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, November 15 at 3:00 pm at the Lyric, 140 West Mount Royal Avenue.

Tickets: $25 and $35. To purchase tickets, click here or call 410-900-1150.

Sponsored by Claire and Allan Jensen. Special sponsorship has been provided by Marc von May. Additional support provided by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc., New York, N.Y.

Now Hear This Performs Dennehy, Wolfe, and Grisey
Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 | 7:30 – 9:30 PM
Leith Symington Griswold Hall, The Peabody Institute
17 E. Mt. Vernon Place

Courtney Orlando, artistic director
David Smooke, faculty advisor

The Peabody Conservatory’s new contemporary music ensemble makes its debut performance, with works by Donnacha Dennehy, Julia Wolfe, and Gerard Grisey. Tickets: $15 Adults, $5 Students. To purchase tickets, click here.

Until next month,

Laura Rodini
Executive Director, The Mount Vernon Cultural District

The Mount Vernon Cultural District Is
A Proud Partner of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and Visit Baltimore

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