Ella Fitzgerald performed there, so did Duke Ellington and other legends, so it's only appropriate that the Lexington Art League is pairing up with the Lyric Theatre to create a commemorative quilt for the Lyric's reopening - and residents throughout Lexington will participate in Quilting Bees to ensure the job is a community effort.
The Lyric Theatre, situated at the corner of Third and DeWeese Streets, was once a hotbed of East End community activity, hosting first-run films, black films and entertainers like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Redd Foxx and The Temptations. But in 1963, the theater closed its doors, and for almost 50 years, this beacon of African-American history was allowed to fall into the shadows of Lexington’s cultural uniqueness. All of that changes this fall, though, when the newly renovated Lyric Theatre reopens its doors and resumes its post as a cultural hub in Lexington.
In celebration of the Lyric Theatre’s grand reopening, the Lexington Art League and the Lyric Theatre are coordinating the creation of a commemorative quilt that portrays the theatre’s history of community engagement. The quilt, which will be displayed in the lobby of the Lyric on opening night, will be stitched together at numerous quilting bees by community members throughout the city, in collaboration with professional artists.
“The Lyric Theatre fostered a sense of community for Lexington’s African American residents for nearly 25 years,” said Joan Brannon, program coordinator for the Lyric. “We’re thrilled to echo that sentiment through the creation of the Lyric Theatre Community Quilt and are excited for this community-wide visual art collaboration to generate enthusiasm for the grand reopening.”
Public quilting bees, which are open to everyone, are scheduled for:
June 10, 5-7pm, at Gainesway Empowerment Program (1165 Centre Parkway); June 11, 2:30-4:30pm, at Virginia Place (1156 Horsemans Lane); June 19, 10am-12pm, at Shiloh Baptist Church (237 East 5th St.); June 28, 11am-12:30pm at Northside Branch Library (1733 Russell Cave Rd.); and July 8, 12-2pm, at Greater Liberty Baptist Church (330 Chestnut St.). There are also private quilting bees planned, and anyone who would like to be considered to host one should contact Becky Alley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-254-7024.
LAL and the Lyric Theatre are also asking for materials donations, particularly those with some historical significance. In addition to fabric, thread, batting, needles, quilting hoops, craft glue, beads and buttons, donations of photographs from the Lyric’s heyday, ticket stubs, clothing worn to the theatre, church bulletins and other personal notions and small objects that recall aspects of Lexington’s African American history. Donations must be in good condition, clean and ready to use and can be delivered to LAL @ Loudoun House (209 Castlewood Dr.) weekdays 10am-4pm.
“The Lyric Theatre Quilt will be a deeply personal representation of the theatre’s historic importance and the power of art to unify a community,” said Becky Alley, LAL’s exhibitions and programs director. “By bringing members of the community together to stitch together the past, LAL and the Lyric Theatre are using visual art to unite a community and celebrate its cultural richness.”
For more information about the Lyric Theatre Quilting Bees or other LAL community engagement programs, visit www.lexingtonartleague.org.
Concurrent LAL Exhibitions:
LAL @ Loudoun House – Passing: Fashioning Drag and Alternate Selves use visual art to explore identity, investigate transformation and celebrate the courage required for individuality. Drag costumes by Patryq Howell and documentary photography by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova are on exhibit for Passing: Fashioning Drag, and Alternate Selves complements with work that investigates personal identity through disguises, adornment, garments and masks and provides an interesting view of what can be seen even when intentionally hidden.
LAL @ the Mayor’s Office – Visual Dialogue: Lexington as Home, opening June 18 during Gallery Hop, displays artworks that investigate concepts of community and home created by children of families participating in Lexington Habitat for Humanity’s homeowner educational program.
LAL Project Space – Domestic Boundaries, by Siobhan Byrns, uses dirt, grass, and photographic elements to construct an immersive installation piece investigating what the artist describes as “the fragility of nature and the human experience”.