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'Tikvah': Artists Draw On Hope, Darker Emotions

August 17, 2000|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Tikvah," the Hebrew word for "hope," has inspired a series of moving new illustrations by some of children's literature's most esteemed artists. "The Art of Tikvah," an exhibition of 40 artists' original works exploring war, racism, religious intolerance and education, opens Saturday at the Every Picture Tells a Story gallery in Los Angeles.

The family-friendly opening reception will feature a performance by the Reader's Theater Project of the Los Angeles Children's Museum, which will include a musical adaptation of Maya Angelou's poem "Life Doesn't Frighten Me," plus guest speakers including Norman Stevens, director of the Northeast Children's Literature Collection at the University of Connecticut's Dodd Research Center.

The artists have expressed feelings that range "from dark to uplifting and positive," said Lee Cohen, co-owner of the gallery. "They all have their own moods and their own takes, and each one has written a statement as well that accompanies their work."

The illustrations and the artists' statements were created for "Tikvah, Perspectives on Human Rights," a new book conceived by the Dodd Research Center. Among the "Who's Who" of artists participating are Eric Carle, Tomie DePaola, Michael Hague, Lillian Hoban, William Joyce, Hilary Knight, Anita Lobel, Barry Moser, and Gloria Jean and Jerry Pinkney.

"I think it's a great show coming at the end of the conventions, with all the talk about human rights issues and tolerance and education, because that's exactly what these people are showing in their art," Cohen said. "They're demonstrating all of these aspects from an artistic point of view."

BE THERE

"The Art of Tikvah," Every Picture Tells a Story, 7525 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. Opening reception: Saturday, 5-8 p.m. The exhibition runs through Sept. 15. Free. Gallery hours: Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (323) 932-6070.

Family plight: A 9-year-old girl's dream for a better life clashes with her father's fear that dreams only bring pain in "Darlin'," a thoughtful Depression-era play for children and families by Charlotte Samples at the Autry Museum's Wells Fargo Theatre on Sunday at 2 p.m.

The girl, nicknamed Darlin', lives with her migrant farm worker family--her father and her 14-year-old brother--in the San Joaquin Valley. The arrival of a government photographer to document life in their community is the catalyst that sparks the little girl's vision of something beyond the abject poverty of her life, a vision symbolized by a treasured dress that belonged to her late mother, Samples said.

Darlin' remembers her mother wearing that dress and dancing to a weekly radio show that invited listeners to "glide on the sweet cloud of melody," but her father's rigidity, and his misguided attempts to discourage her from looking for that "sweet cloud" in her own life, drives both his children away.

"Because he is so fearful," Samples said, "he doesn't want his children to be hurt in any way, but by doing what he's doing, he in fact is hurting them emotionally.

"I would like people to take away from the show the value of opening up your vistas, to take away from it that dreams are an important part of being alive. Dream those dreams," she said.

The family play is being performed as a semi-staged production, with live music, by the Native Voices Theatre Company, the museum's Native American Theatre Initiative. The initiative was created to cultivate and support new work for the stage by Native American writers--Samples is a member of the Choctaw tribe--and to provide opportunities for Native American actors, directors and other theater artists to practice their craft.

BE THERE

"Darlin' ," Wells Fargo Theatre, Autry Museum of Western Heritage, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, Sunday at 2 p.m. Free. (323) 667-2000.

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