THE ART IN POLITICS

  

   

The Art in Politics

I know it sounds silly, but that doesn’t make it not true. Art engenders empathy in a way that politics doesn’t and in a way that nothing else really does.  

Whether it’s a photograph, play, television show, movie, or lyrics in a song – it doesn’t matter. Art has a way of changing things that most factions don’t or can’t. 

Art can bring the conversation to the forefront when politics on sensitive issues builds walls and divides. We can dissect, digest, debate and appreciate Art in whichever form it is delivered and ruminate the message we take away. 

Without malice we can disagree, but Art spawns conversation and changes the temperature of how we talk about divisive issues. 

  

   

The books and plays; To Kill A Mocking Bird, Look Who’s Coming To Dinner, Bird Cage, West Side Story, Schindler’s List, Hamilton (now on Broadway) and, of course, Shakespeare. The list is long. I’m sure you can add to this with some that might have influenced or changed your thoughts about a social issue.

  

Photographs by Robert Capa, Eddie Adams and others that have evoked conversations and changed the world forever. Visuals of events frozen in time that provoke and will stimulate discussions for generations to come. 
  
Lyrics of Dylan, Springsteen, RAP, and, if I might add, the 90’s generation Dylan songwriter, Emerson Hart. These and many more creative or controversial writers bring sensitive issues – war, racism, poverty, dysfunction, mental illness into conversation. 

Art creates change in people’s hearts. It happens slowly, but it does happen. As the wheel of creativity turns, so does the world.

Copyright Sandra Hart© All Rights Reserved

DOLLY PARTON-HATS OFF TO YOU!

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If there’s any woman in the music business that I really admire, not only for her talent, but for all of her accomplishments, you may be surprised at my answer. It’s Dolly Parton. When you see Dolly, the book cover that you’re looking at is not really what you get.

This year she is celebrating 50 years in the music business. She is smart beyond brilliant, an excellent musician and lyricist and savvy businesswoman. Dolly has it all rolled up under her big curly wig. With Dolly, if you think she’s a Tennessee back woods woman you better think again. In her industry she is a force to be reckoned with. That’s for sure.

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Dolly has sold more than 100 million records and written more than 3,000 songs, has 17 Grammys and has been inducted into the country music Hall of Fame and as icing, she received the Kennedy Center honors in 2008. Not bad for a Southern country girl I would say.

And if that accomplishment is not enough for one entertainer, in 1986 Dolly became co-owner of a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee that was renamed Dollywood. It has doubled in size since she bought it. She also has an interest in a waterpark and dinner theaters in three different states.

Please bare with me, we don’t stop there. She’s co-owner of Sand Dollar Productions which produced Father of the Bride, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Common Threads: Stories from Quilts and a documentary about AIDS that won an Academy Award.

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My having been in the entertainment field on a less important level most of my life, a truly testosterone dominated industry, getting respect is a hard earned task. In the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter, the advice that she gave for women going into any business, I just love. It kicked me upstairs.

She said, “If you really believe in what you’ve got to say, or got to offer, what your talent is – and if you believe, that gives you strength. In my early days I would go in and I was always over made with my boobs sticking out, my clothes too tight, and so I really looked like easy prey to a lot of guys – just looked easy, period. But I would go in, and if they were not paying close attention to what I was saying, I always said, ” I look like a woman, but I think like a man, and you better pay attention, or I’ll have your money and I’ll be gone.”

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When asked by the interviewer if she was familiar with Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In she asked what it was. When told Lean In is a book, her reply was just as simple and honest as can be.

“I’ve leaned over. I’ve leaned forward. I don’t know what “leaned in” is. Lean in to God.”

That is pure Dolly. You have to love and respect that woman.

Sitting here at my computer and writing on a daily basis, I realize it’s women like Dolly Parton who have always felt free to be who they are and comfortable in their own skin – they are the women who have paved the way for the rest of us creative types to say it like it is. The freedom to be ourselves. The final truth is, the older I get, the easier it is to be the real me.

Hats off to you Dolly Parton and thanks!

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This nine to five girl hard at work.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

Hits and Misses

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The other day I went to see Woody Allen and John Turturro in “Fading Gigolo”. I have worked for both of these actor/directors, so in spite of the fact that Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 55% Green Tomatoes, I gave it a chance. And you know what? I liked it. I very rarely have allowed myself or my tastes to be dictated by the critics. If I like the actors, I always have been curious to see for myself. Fading Gigolo.

Well I have a story to tell about that if you are willing to read on. Proof that, sometimes, unfortunately, the critics are right.

Fall of 1996…………..

ILLUMINATA

I did a small scene while sitting in a fake loge in The Paramount Theater, a grand old abandoned movie theater in Newark, New Jersey that was built in 1895. Illuminata was a period piece so I was dressed in a long black corseted ball gown appropriate for theater going in the era. The problem was, since the loge was only for decoration there were no steps leading to it. I had to climb a high ladder to get to the space with the crew holding it steady and my underwear in full view. In any other circumstance I would have been mortified, but work is work, and the reality is, well, reality. And,of course, since it was a fake loge, there were no seats for my fellow actor and I. It was just a dark, dirty area that had never been used- ever- for anything except for architectural appeal. Naturally, on a movie set there is an answer for everything. The problem was solved quickly by wooden orange crates being hauled up and placed just far enough apart to look like seats and to keep the scene realistic.

Take one. Take two. Take three. In the space of an hour we were carefully descending the ladder to the safely of the theater floor. It was at that point after the adrenaline of working subsided that I felt a severe itching and burning on my back. Naturally would it be anything else but in a spot beyond my reach. I gave up trying to feel it with my hand and decided as uncomfortable as it was, it probably was a stave in the corset pinching my back. So with a ‘show must go on’ attitude, I took my place in the regular balcony seats as instructed by John, so that he could get a close up of my clapping hands to be used for a stage scene audience reaction with Susan Sarandon who was playing an actress.

Finishing and still in pain, I headed into the wardrobe area to be undressed by the wardrobe assistants. Underneath everything I removed, they discovered an inflamed area that looked like a spider bite. It was. The nurse on set gave me some antihistamine and ointment.

It took about three weeks for the bite to heal, but much longer for the movie to be released. Usually, movies come out a year after they have rapped. Not Illuminata. It was at least about two years before I saw a tiny ad in the movie section of the newspaper with Susan Sarandon’s name so small it was almost invisible. That alone should have hit me over the head as an omen of what was to come.

I excitedly, finally, was going to see the movie, see me, and enjoy the fruits of my hard work and spider bite. Well, the movie was so bad, for the first time in my life, I didn’t stay to see if my scenes were in the movie or not. It was such a disappointment. It was awful. To this day, I still haven’t revisited the film.

So, I guess the moral of or lesson in this experience, is that in life, none of us is immune to hits and misses. Even creative geniuses like John Tuturro.

(Actual review: Turturro tricks you into thinking there’s magic realism streaming through this ode to art and commited love – despite there being little magic and not a trace of reality to speak of.)

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