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Susan Stamberg

Nationally renowned broadcast journalist Susan Stamberg is a special correspondent for NPR.

Stamberg is the first woman to anchor a national nightly news program, and has won every major award in broadcasting. She has been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame and the Radio Hall of Fame. An NPR "founding mother," Stamberg has been on staff since the network began in 1971.

Beginning in 1972, Stamberg served as co-host of NPR's award-winning newsmagazine All Things Considered for 14 years. She then hosted Weekend Edition Sunday, and now reports on cultural issues for Morning Edition and Weekend Edition Saturday.

One of the most popular broadcasters in public radio, Stamberg is well known for her conversational style, intelligence, and knack for finding an interesting story. Her interviewing has been called "fresh," "friendly, down-to-earth," and (by novelist E.L. Doctorow) "the closest thing to an enlightened humanist on the radio." Her thousands of interviews include conversations with Laura Bush, Billy Crystal, Rosa Parks, Dave Brubeck, and Luciano Pavarotti.

Prior to joining NPR, she served as producer, program director, and general manager of NPR Member Station WAMU-FM/Washington, DC. Stamberg is the author of two books, and co-editor of a third. Talk: NPR's Susan Stamberg Considers All Things, chronicles her two decades with NPR. Her first book, Every Night at Five: Susan Stamberg's All Things Considered Book, was published in 1982 by Pantheon. Stamberg also co-edited The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road, published in 1992 by W. W. Norton. That collection grew out of a series of stories Stamberg commissioned for Weekend Edition Sunday.

In addition to her Hall of Fame inductions, other recognitions include the Armstrong and duPont Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Ohio State University's Golden Anniversary Director's Award, and the Distinguished Broadcaster Award from the American Women in Radio and Television.

A native of New York City, Stamberg earned a bachelor's degree from Barnard College, and has been awarded numerous honorary degrees including a Doctor of Humane Letters from Dartmouth College. She is a Fellow of Silliman College, Yale University, and has served on the boards of the PEN/Faulkner Fiction Award Foundation and the National Arts Journalism Program based at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Stamberg has hosted a number of series on PBS, moderated three Fred Rogers television specials for adults, served as commentator, guest or co-host on various commercial TV programs, and appeared as a narrator in performance with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra. Her voice appeared on Broadway in the Wendy Wasserstein play An American Daughter.

Her late husband Louis Stamberg had his career with the State Department's agency for international development. Her son, Josh Stamberg, an actor, appears in various television series, films, and plays.

I just met Henry Ossawa Tanner. Nice trick, since he died in 1937. Tanner was the first African American artist with an international reputation. His paintings are in many museums, but I've walked past them countless times. Now, preparing for this column, I got to know a bit about his life and times (as well as new revelations about his artistic thinking) and thought I'd make the introductions.

This is not a photograph. Looks like one, right? Nope. Artist Robert Longo used maybe the oldest medium known to man/woman to create it. It's a drawing he made with ... charcoal.

Would you buy a headband from this woman? Lee Miller took the picture for a fashion article. A pretty woman could sell lots of headbands to avid photo magazine readers. And Lee Miller (1907-1977) was certainly pretty.

That's Adelyn Breeskin's nude. Well, actually it's Matisse's. He painted it for a rich collector in Baltimore. The collector bequeathed it to the Baltimore Museum of Art. Breeskin (the staff called her "Mrs. B") was museum director. Thanks to the director's wooing of the rich lady, the BMA ended up with the most Matisse's in any public institution in the world!

Not only did Breeskin get Baltimore the Matisse nude up top, among a total of some 730 Matisses, she got this one, too.

What's your guess? Is that a photograph? The face is so close and specific. Did the photographer hold the camera in one hand, and an umbrella in the other? Maybe want to hold the umbrella over the woman so she wouldn't get any wetter? Not a bit of that. It's a drawing. A most remarkable, painstakingly created drawing. I'll tell more about it later, but since drawing is the subject of this essay — and a New York exhibition — that includes Alyssa Monks' gorgeous example, let's linger a while on the many faces that drawing can express.

A dream of a day at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. We'd come out of a huge David Hockney exhibition, and my family and I were pooped. So granddaughters, their mother Myndy and I sat on a rim of the Stravinsky Fountain to rest a bit, while my son Josh took our picture.

The fountain makes me smile four years later, as it did the first time I saw it decades ago. It's a 1983 collaboration between sculptors Jean Tinguely (he did the black mechanical parts) and Niki de Saint Phalle (the puffy colorful figures — something/someone in a crown, serpent, heart, lips).

What more is there to say about Frida Kahlo?

She died in 1954 at age 47. By now she's a cottage industry. Her face (that unibrow, the red lips, the scores of self portraits) reproduced on mugs, matchbooks, pandemic masks, of course tote bags.

Fans can recite her story: The terrible accident when she was 18 — a bus/tram collision in Mexico City smashing her body, and creating a lifetime of surgeries and pain.

This is Emma Amos' moment. Her themes — gender and race — press on our minds now. For six decades Amos explored them in prints, paintings and fabrics. She died May 20, just months before a retrospective of her work, "Emma Amos: Color Odyssey," is to open at the Georgia Museum of Art, in Athens. Complications from Alzheimer's took her at age 83, but she knew the show was in the works.

That picture above is a self-portrait. Here's her photograph.

Dwight David Eisenhower was one of the towering figures of the 20th century: A five-star general, he led the D-Day invasion and helped defeat the Nazis. A two-term president, he brought stability to postwar America.

Since his death in 1969, memories of the man called Ike have faded. But this week, the dedication of an Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., will bring him vividly back to mind.

This memorial is not like any other presidential monument in Washington. No sky-piercing white obelisk (George Washington), no massive, looming statue (Abraham Lincoln.)

It's raining statues all across America. Artworks that have stood in public places for generations are being defaced or deposed, destroyed or relocated, as Americans confront attitudes on race and stereotyping.

Years ago, when artist John Sonsini began approaching Spanish-speaking day laborers in Los Angeles to ask if he could paint their portraits, he had some communication problems. "My Spanish was so poor," Sonsini admits.

First, he was introducing himself as an artista, a word that many Spanish speakers associate with a singer or dancer. But when he switched to pintor that didn't necessarily clear up the confusion — the men thought this professorial-looking, Italian-American with a salt-and-pepper beard was offering them a job painting houses.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

In his last years, as he was dying of complications from syphilis, artist Édouard Manet was in agonizing pain — but you'd never know it from his art. As he neared the end (he died at just 51) Manet was painting exquisite flower bouquets and vibrant portraits — vigorous, life-affirming canvases. The J. Paul Getty Museum recently collected paintings from the end of Manet's life in their exhibition Manet and Modern Beauty.

For decades, I've managed to sneak my family's controversial, Pepto-Bismol-pink cranberry relish recipe onto the air, and 2019 will be no exception. This year I went straight to the source: Bobby J. Chacko, President and CEO of Ocean Spray.

To start off, I want to know: Has he ever stood in a bog? "Absolutely," he answers. "It's one of the most exciting feelings when you're in waders and in water and all you have around are cranberries."

Standing in a sea of crimson, up to his hips in berries and cold water, Chacko says he feels like a kid again.

A 10-minute drive from the White House — where immigration has a top spot on the President's "to-do" list — a museum has filled three of its floors with artists' reactions to displacement, relocation and flight.

Legend has it that when Jacopo Tintoretto was 12 years old, he was so good at drawing that he rattled Titian — the master artist of Venice, 30 years his senior. Young Tintoretto was an apprentice in Titian's workshop and — as the story goes — the old master gone away for several days, and when he came back he found some of Tintoretto's drawings.

André Previn, a celebrated musical polymath, died Thursday morning; he was a composer of Oscar-winning film music, conductor, pianist and music director of major orchestras. His manager, Linda Petrikova, confirmed to NPR that he died at his home in Manhattan.

Sam Gilliam found inspiration for his signature artworks in an unlikely place — a clothesline. In a Washington, D.C., studio that was once a drive-through gas station, the 84-year-old artist works surrounded by yards of vividly-painted fabric, hung like laundry from a line. The sheer, silky polyester puddles to the floor, catching light on the way down. The idea, he explains, is "to develop the idea of movement into shapes."

It's not often that a parent and child become masters of two different art forms, but an exhibition at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia proves it's possible: Renoir: Father and Son explores the work of 19th-century Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his 20th-century filmmaker son, Jean Renoir.

Like many fathers and sons, they had a loving, but complicated relationship. Take, for example, the fact that in 1920, the year after his father died, Jean married his father's last model.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I fell in love recently — with Mel Brooks. It was my almost-next-to-last day in Los Angeles, and I'd gone with my producer, Danny Hajek, to interview the great writer-director-producer-composer-lyricist-mensch, whose movies include Young Frankenstein, Robin Hood: Men in Tights (my favorite film title ever), Blazing Saddles and other knee-slapping hilarities.

Rufus Hale was just 11 years old when artist David Hockney painted his portrait. Rufus' mother was making a movie about the prolific, octogenarian artist, and brought her son with her to work one day. He was sketching in the corner of the studio when Hockney asked, "Why don't I paint you?"

Now Rufus' portrait is among 82 currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in an exhibit titled "82 Portraits and 1 Still-life."

Margery Simkin is a casting director. Her job is to look at thousands of faces, and her gut reaction — how she feels about what she sees — can lead to movie and TV roles.

But for this story, she isn't looking at a headshot — she's looking at a painting. "This wouldn't be somebody that could be a bad guy," she says. "There's a softness. There's a kindness in his eyes."

A lot of very hard work is going on at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

A muscled guy in an undershirt tightens a big bolt with his wrench; a farm worker bends almost in half, filling his sack with cotton; Rosie the Riveter rolls up her sleeve to tackle her factory job. They're all part of an exhibition called "The Sweat Of Their Face: Portraying American Workers."

But not all the laborers are big and burly.

For the past almost-50 years, I've been sharing an old family Thanksgiving recipe with NPR listeners. Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish comes from my late mother-in-law Marjorie Stamberg, who served it in Allentown, Pa., when I was brought there to be inspected by my future in-laws.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A big blue rooster has appeared on top of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It's part of the museum's renovated East Building, which recently opened to the public with several new exhibitions — including a handful of pictures by the highly regarded German art photographer Thomas Struth.

Twentieth century painter Romaine Brooks introduces herself in a 1923 self-portrait: She wears a narrowly cut, long, black riding jacket with a white blouse. She has short cropped hair, and her eyes are shadowed by a black high hat. There's the slightest smudge of maybe pink on her lips — otherwise the whole portrait is black and various shades of gray.

In Paris, a really old dress has sold for more than $150,000. Now, if that sounds like an unreasonably high price tag, keep this in mind: The 1730s dress is in mint condition, it might have been worn at Versailles, and it was part of a fashion revolution.

Known as a robe volante — or flying dress — the long, luscious yellow brocade gown is patterned with silver thread. It's loose-cut, with soft pleats in the rear, a deep V in front and graceful flow-y sleeves.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper and George Bellows were very different artists, but they did have at least one thing in common: They all studied with painter William Merritt Chase. Now, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., is marking the centennial of the artist's death with a retrospective.

"You walk around these galleries and the paintings are gutsy and bold and scintillating and brilliant," says Dorothy Kosinski, director of the Phillips.

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