Thursday, March 2, at 6pm, the newly released documentary “America Rising: The Arts of the Gilded Age” will screen in the Helmerich Research & Learning Center on the third floor of the Custom House Museum. Following the film, which highlights 87 classic American artworks from the post-Civil War period described by Mark Twain as “The Gilded Age,” Connecticut-based independent film-making team Michael Maglaras and Terri Templeton of 217 Films will participate in a Q&A session with viewers from a remote location.
“America Rising: The Arts of the Gilded Age,” which premiered on January 20 in Richmond, Virginia, focuses on how the rise of the middle class and the even greater rising of industrialists such as Henry Clay Frick contributed to an America poised, through its art, to commemorate its past and invent its future.
Following the Civil War, American arts and American artists came into their own on the world stage. In painting, in sculpture, in architecture and in music, America found its artistic soul and voice in the work created from the end of the Civil War through the first decade of the 20th century. Using the work of painters as diverse as Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, Maurice Prendergast, and John Singer Sargent, as well as film footage of the era, “America Rising” creates a portrait of an America reinventing itself as a major artistic force after the tragic events of the Civil War.
The Maglaras/Templeton team’s 217 Films is an independent film company devoted to the American artistic experience. “America Rising: The Arts of the Gilded Age” is their seventh film in twelve years and their sixth “essay in film.” Also among their numerous projects is “Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA” which was the Key West Art & Historical Society film series debut presentation in 2015 and included insights on the WPA (Works Progress Administration) influence of local environmentalist and composer Joel Biddle’s cousin, George Biddle, a painter, muralist and school-mate of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The ‘Sacramento Bee’ called Michael Maglaras a filmmaker of “Bergman-like gravitas.” His films have been described as “virtuoso filmmaking” (National Gallery of Art) “alive and fresh” (Art New England) and “elegiac and insightful” (Naples Daily News).
Templeton, who is executive producer of 217 Films, is also a musician, singer, songwriter, and actress.
“Cinema illuminates the paths that go beyond borders and reveals past and present treasures that enrich our futures. This film gifts us with a vision of the arts in America at a critical historical period,” said Society board member and cineaste Michael Shields, who is director and host of the film series made possible in part by the generosity of the Helmerich Trust. Seating is limited; advance tickets recommended. Tickets can be purchased online at kwahs.org/education/filmseries; $5 for members, $10 for non-members. For more information contact KWAHS Director of Education Adele Williams at 305.295.6616 extension 115. Your Museums. Your Community. It Takes an Island.
“The Avenue in the Rain,” 1917, Childe Hassam. Courtesy of the White House.