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MGM Logo with Leo the Lion

Arts Days: November 19, 1916: Studio Pioneers
Several pioneers of the budding movie industry—Samuel Goldfish and brothers Edgar and Archibald Selwyn—banded together to form a movie production company. They sought to meld their names together to front the new venture, quickly discarding “Selfish Pictures” for obvious reasons. “Goldwyn Pictures” sounded a lot better, and Goldfish legally changed his name to Goldwyn shortly thereafter.

The company had studio space in Fort Lee, New Jersey; remember the concept of Hollywood as the heart of the movie industry had not yet taken root. The company really didn’t fare all that well, and the partners ultimately severed ties. But all was not lost: Goldwyn Pictures later merged with other companies to form MGM, or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Innovators & Pioneers

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Anonymous
"Countless unseen details are often the only difference between mediocre and magnificent."
Innovators & Pioneers

NBC Studios

Arts Days: September 09, 1926: Broadcast News
Noticing that radio stations were popping up all over the place, forward-thinking executives at Radio Corporation of America predicted the new medium was going to be the next big thing. Sales of what were then called “wireless sets” were brisk; and with an average of five people listening to each radio, that meant a potential market of many millions of more listeners.

RCA teamed with General Electric and Westinghouse to purchase a station called WEAF, the anchor station in what became known as the National Broadcasting Company, or NBC. NBC rapidly acquired more radio stations around the U.S., and by the time the Rose Bowl game took place in January of 1927, every play could be heard by radio listeners across the country. With that, NBC became the first major broadcast network in the United States.
Television, Innovators & Pioneers

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Albert Einstein
"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."
Innovators & Pioneers, Education

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Albert Einstein
"If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it."
Innovators & Pioneers, Science

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Albert Einstein
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious, the source of all art and science."
Innovators & Pioneers, Science

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Explorer File
You’ve discovered a new planet. Congratulations! What will you name it? What’s it like there? Draw a picture of it.
Science, Innovators & Pioneers, Space

Kid audience

Article: Taking Kids to Their First Live Show
Family-friendly tips for preparing children for live performing arts events
Music Legends, Popular Culture, Music, Innovators & Pioneers

Lewis and Clark

Lesson: Lewis and Clark: Artful Recordings
In this lesson, students take on the roles of Lewis and Clark, as they explore the original journals and create journals of their own.
America, Innovators & Pioneers, Native America

Sculpture

Lesson: Alexander Calder: Master of Balance
Viewing mobiles created by sculptor Alexander Calder, students learn about the function and form of levers. They build mobiles, experiment with balancing levers, and equilibrium.
Visual Arts, Science, Innovators & Pioneers

Christoper Columbus

Lesson: Explorers’ Experience
Students will learn about world explorers by researching facts and information relating to the routes traveled. They will discuss what motivates people to want to discover and explore new places.
Innovators & Pioneers, Geography, Folklore, World Cultures

Lesson: Rhythm and Art: Elements of Art
Learn about the three elements of art (line, shape, and color) through a study of Torres-García's symbolism, Picasso's emotional use of color and Abstract Expressionism.
Visual Arts, Innovators & Pioneers, History

The Guggenheim

Arts Days: October 21, 1959: The Wright Man for the Job
When Solomon Guggenheim’s personal advisor approached architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a building to house Guggenheim’s art collection, he told Wright, “I need a fighter, a lover of space, an originator, a tester, and a wise man.” Wright was indeed the right man. It took 16 years to complete, but the result is one of New York’s signature buildings, an edifice as iconoclastic as the art it contains.

Wright rejected buildings’ traditional cubical shape; instead, he chose to mimic smooth, round forms of nature. The interior is no less revolutionary. Visitors ride elevators to the top floor, and from there descend a sloping ramp that lets viewers experience the artwork as one continuous series.
Architecture, Visual Arts, Innovators & Pioneers, Art Venues

Apple iPod

Arts Days: October 23, 2001: Music for the iGeneration
Sleek and slim, with a clean white interface and dial that let users spin through hundreds, even thousands of songs on a whim, the iPod’s arrival heralded a huge shakeup in music—how it was played and how it was made. Not only did portable CD players suddenly seem impossibly clunky, but the tiny gadget-y iPod made it possible to also carry videos, photos, and other types of media in your pocket.

Apple's latest invention revolutionized the portable music player, and what’s more, opened the gates to a whole new music industry to meet demands for digital music downloads. Both record companies and artists had to figure out how to market music for the new digital age. Since the first iPod model debuted on this day in 2001, Apple is the leading seller of MP3 players, as well as digital music, which it sells through its iTunes store.
Inventions, Innovators & Pioneers, Music, Popular Culture

Blockbuster video store

Arts Days: October 19, 1985: Movies Come Home
Cold out? Feeling lazy? Or is a trip to the movie theater simply too costly? The Blockbuster video-rental chain solved these problems for movie lovers when it opened the doors to its first store on this day in 1985. All of a sudden, instead of going out to a theater and paying for tickets and popcorn, you could spend a lot less money and watch movies from the comfort of your home, even dressed in your jammies.

All you had to do was visit your neighborhood Blockbuster, browse through hundreds of movie titles, and pick out which films to bring home. You could find everything from obscure documentaries to first-run hits. Blockbuster stores were an instant success and started popping up everywhere. The chain launched a whole new market for the film industry and changed the rules of movie-watching forever.
Innovators & Pioneers, Movies & Movie Stars, Television, Art Venues

Mahalia Jackson

Arts Days: October 26, 1911: An Amazing Grace
Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson had a powerful contralto voice even as a little girl. She would sing around the house, sing at the Plymouth Rock Baptist Church in her hometown, and sing in various choirs or as a soloist. She landed a series of recording deals, starting in 1937 with Decca Records, eventually moving to Columbia Records, where she really hit her stride as a spiritual singer with broad commercial appeal.

Jackson’s appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show brought gospel to a whole new set of listeners, as did her performance at the inauguration of President Kennedy in 1960. This granddaughter of slaves was the first gospel singer to sing at Carnegie Hall, and the first gospel singer to be featured at the Newport Jazz Festival.
Innovators & Pioneers, Music Legends, Music, Blues

Lichtenstein Exhibit

Arts Days: October 27, 1923: Pop Goes the Easel
Roy Lichtenstein challenged many conventions about what constituted art. As a pop artist painting, stenciling, and drawing images inspired by advertisements and comics, then reproducing them closely but not exactly, he found worldwide fame as well as notoriety. Some critics claimed he was merely copying the work of others.

But Lichtenstein believed that his intent—to comment on how the mass media treated the same subjects he painted—separated him from the artists who created the original images. Lichtenstein was among those who experimented with Ben-Day, a printing process that combines two or more different small, colored dots to create a third color.
Cartoons, Comics, & Animation, Innovators & Pioneers, Visual Arts, America

Eugene O’Neill

Arts Days: October 16, 1888: The Playwright Cometh
Among the greatest of American playwrights, Eugene O’Neill had theater bred right into him. His father was a touring actor, so O’Neill and his family accompanied him everywhere. It made for a transient life, but one that fed the young writer’s creativity.

His plays are detailed, realistic portrayals of the complex and difficult relationships among everyday people. O’Neill was also an innovator: He introduced the concept of realism to American audiences, explored simultaneous action on stage, and employed “the aside,” a dramatic technique that allows characters to reveal their true thoughts directly to the audience.

Through his work, he hoped to challenge theatergoers to reflect on their own families, relationships, and conflicts. Among his classic plays are Mourning Becomes Electra, The Iceman Cometh, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Broadway, Theater, Playwrights & Plays, Innovators & Pioneers

Christian Dior

Arts Days: October 08, 1946: Dior Opens His Doors
Before and during his years of service in the French military, Christian Dior—the man who helped revolutionize women’s fashions—was drawn to sketching hats and clothes. He worked for a couple of French design firms before opening his own shop, backed financially by a textile manufacturer named Marcel Boussac. Dior’s feminine designs—dubbed “The New Look” by one observer—captivated everybody who followed fashion trends.

In Paris and New York, editors of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue began to dress their models in his curvaceous creations. Dior’s dresses made women’s waists appear tiny in contrast to the voluminous skirt beneath. Quite often, the designer used hip padding, corsets, and other technical means to exaggerate and celebrate female curves. Decades later, Dior remains a big name in the fashion industry.
Fashion, Innovators & Pioneers, Europe

Nintendo

Arts Days: September 23, 1889: Game Winners
The company launched over a century ago in Kyoto, Japan, is known today as a pioneer in video games and other home entertainment. Nintendo initially, however, made its mark selling other kinds of products before it found its niche in the gaming industry. At its inception, Nintendo made and marketed playing cards called hanafuda; it soon went on to offer cab services, sell instant rice and other foods, and dabble in other products.

But there’s no doubt the company found its sweet spot when it started selling it's first home video game console, the Famicom (called the Nintendo Entertainment System in the US). Since then, Nintendo has released more than 20 consoles, turning Nintendo into the home-entertainment giant it is today.
Inventions, Innovators & Pioneers, Popular Culture, Japan

Crayola Crayons

Arts Days: September 30, 1902: Color My World
Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith were a couple of enterprising cousins who took over Binney’s dad’s company, Peekskill Chemical Works, back in 1885. While Peekskill initially made charcoal and other products, the cousins expanded the product line to include black crayons at first, and eventually a whole rainbow’s worth.

Introduced in 1903, the first box of crayons cost a nickel and included red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and of course, black. It was Binney’s wife who coined the name: “craie” the French word for stick of color, plus “ola,” from oleaginous, a term describing the consistency of the petroleum used in the crayons. Today, the company once known as Binney & Smith is officially Crayola, LLC.
Inventions, Innovators & Pioneers, Visual Arts, Popular Culture

Moon face looking out of a telescope

Arts Days: September 01, 1902: Sci-Fi’s First Flight
This French silent film, which features a now-iconic image of a smiley-face moon with a spaceship poking it in the eye, is widely considered to be the first science-fiction movie. Lasting only 14 minutes, the movie tells a story of astronomers who travel to the moon and fight with bug-like aliens.

Along the way, they get a close-up view of the Big Dipper constellation (with human faces peering out of each star) and a moon goddess sitting on a crescent moon-shaped swing. Le Voyage dans la Lune, its title in French, was directed by Georges Méliès. A true film pioneer, he experimented with special effects, double exposures, fades, and dissolves. His work was incredibly innovative for the times.
Innovators & Pioneers, Movies & Movie Stars, Europe, Science Fiction & Fantasy

A model wearing a mink trimmed peignoir designed by Elsa Schiaparelli.

Arts Days: September 10, 1890: Shocking Fashionista
Elsa Schiaparelli designed the kind of couture clothes you see on the pages of Vogue and on the backs of celebrities. Known for her sometimes startling, often witty designs, including a shoe-shaped hat, she also created garments that responded to news events. For example, after France declared war on Germany in 1939, she debuted taffeta skirts printed with a camouflage look.

Schiaparelli was the first designer to use shoulder pads and to prominently feature hot pink, a color she called “shocking pink.” Collaborating with important artists of the day, such as Salvador Dali, she created a fancy evening gown decorated with Dali’s drawing of an enormous red lobster. This renegade clothier helped elevate fashion to high art.
Innovators & Pioneers, Fashion, Controversial, Visual Arts

Daguerrotype

Arts Days: August 19, 1839: The 19th Century Polaroid
In the early 19th century, Louis-Jacques Daguerre partnered with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce to take the photographic method to the next level. After Niépce died, Daguerre developed a means of printing an image on a mirror-like surface using an improbable list of ingredients: salt water, mercury, iodine, and more. The resulting image produced on the daguerreotype was reversed, as though seen in a mirror.

Because of the way the process worked, people sitting to have their faces captured on daguerreotype had to sit absolutely still. And the image also had to be stored in an airtight box to protect it—oxygen or fingerprints would ruin the daguerreotype. Still, this method of making early photos caught on around the world, until the less complex tintype process succeeded it.
Visual Arts, Inventions, Innovators & Pioneers

Lee de Forest

Arts Days: August 26, 1873: Mister Sound Man
Can you imagine a movie without sound accompanying the action? Lee de Forest is the guy who first gave sound to movies in a synchronized way. Invented in 1920, his Phonofilm process made it possible to link the sound and the images on the screen.

Sure, there had been sound in films before this time, but it might have been, say, a scene of a car driving by and a random horn blowing on the soundtrack. De Forest’s technology made it possible for a car and its beep to be linked together.

Basically, de Forest found a way to use a photocell to “read” light and dark areas on the film, then convert them to an audio track matching the action. For his accomplishment, de Forest received a special Oscar® in 1959.
America, Innovators & Pioneers, Inventions, Movies & Movie Stars

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