Detainees, military families, scholars, interrogators, and refugees offer perspectives of the controversial United States Naval Base at Guantánamo — also known as GTMO or Gitmo — through the final weekend of an exhibition at Burton Barr Central Library.
The 13-panel Guantánamo Public Memory Project exhibit, arranged on the library’s second floor, scratches the surface of a historical debate that continues to resonate with current issues of borders, indefinite and preventive detention, and foreign relations.
Established as a Caribbean base on indefinite lease in 1903 despite Cuban protests, and later made notorious as the purgatorial site of incarceration for thousands of Haitians and Cubans, GTMO is now infamous as an internment camp for war prisoners.
The exhibit explores Guantánamo’s history, the many roles of the base, and its potential closure through video testimonies, interactive discussions and activities, and complementary films at Phoenix Art Museum (Dirty Wars on Nov. 24 and Zero Dark Thirty on Dec. 8). Related topics include the progression of detention from the Japanese concentration camps in Arizona to refugees and enemy combatants at GTMO.
Initiated by Columbia University, the Guantánamo Public Memory Project continues to grow through collaboration and support from universities, organizations, and individuals, and solicits new narratives via its website and its traveling exhibit.
Although the second-floor exhibit runs through Sunday, November 24, the companion first-floor @Central Gallery photo exhibition Cuba: Through Each Others Eyes [sic] continues through December 1, displaying the work of five photographers from a 2002 Phoenix-Havana exchange.
- Guantánamo Public Memory Project at Phoenix Public Library’s Burton Barr Central Library
- Witness to Guantánamo website
- Recent news about the potential closure of GTMO
- The American Civil Liberties Union’s “Guantánamo by the Numbers” infographic
- A brief history of GTMO from Paul Kramer in The New Yorker
- Further reading recommended by Phoenix Public Library staff
A professional design team working on an updated vision for downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park will present their first concept design to the public this week.
After a lengthy RFQ process, the city of Phoenix contracted with a multi-disciplinary design team to conduct an exhaustive public process to gather input on what residents, neighbors and other stakeholders envision for a renovated Hance Park and then develop a conceptual Master Plan design.
The team, led by primary consultants Weddle Gilmore and !Melk, has incorporated the extensive public input into a design concept that it will unveil at public meetings on Nov. 20 and 21, 2013.
The first meeting is 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, 122 E. Culver St. in downtown Phoenix. The public also can view the designs at the regularly scheduled Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board monthly meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 W. Jefferson St.
After decades away from Arizona, baritone and Grand Canyon University alumnus Mark Delavan returns to the Valley in the title role of Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman (Der Fliegende Holländer). Arizona Opera’s production continues this weekend at Symphony Hall and closes next Sunday in Tucson.
Starting in 1966, Delavan spent 14 years growing up in Phoenix while his father Macon served as chairman of the music department at then-Grand Canyon College, which gained a stellar reputation under his leadership and that of Mark’s mother, fellow professor Marlene Delavan.
“My father and mother brought…the Westminster Choir College school of vocal teaching here,” says Delavan, “and we had some amazing choirs. And I had the unique privilege of being…raised on it.”
He remembers touring in Europe with one of those choirs at the age of 17. “My opera career probably directly correlated to my Choralaire experience, because we got five days a week of choral training, of vocal training, of assisted vocal pedagogy.” Delavan qualifies his description. “It wasn’t listed that way, but my father was giving voice lessons all the time. He’d stop and have the bass section go through one thing…a passage…and say, ‘Support that! Come on! Put the shout in the voice.’”
He chuckles. “It was my dad, you know? I didn’t know what I was getting — I had no idea. It was just Dad. And now that I’m in my 50s and I’m looking back on it…he was pretty gifted.” Delavan continues, “But you don’t know what you are at 17…nobody knows what they are at 17. So I…went on my merry way.”
Delavan played football at Scottsdale Community College — where he says he learned about “ego and team play” — and earned a degree in art with a music minor before singing in his first opera, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief. “This is not his best work,” says the singer, “but I had a really cool aria in it, and it’s like the bug bit.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in music at Oral Roberts University, Delavan worked in Arkansas and North Carolina before continuing on to the now-defunct Western Opera Theater tour and an Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera, also placing as a national finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions.
Delavan moved to New Jersey in 1990, and, by his own account “kind of crashed and burned” between 1992 and 1993. But thanks to the intervention of great Metropolitan Opera bass Jerome Hines, he says, “I started pulling myself together.”
The role of John the Baptist in Hines’s opera I Am the Way led to a year of work with New York City Opera and eventually Delavan’s Met Opera debut as Amonasro in Aida with an all-star cast of Luciano Pavarotti as Radames, Deborah Voigt as Aida, and Olga Borodina as Amneris. “It was a wrecking crew,” Delavan recalls with a smile. “It was like the ‘90s Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan — if you get on the court you’d better pass, shoot, or get out of the way.”
“And…for all of my faults,” he continues emphatically, “when you put that kind of pressure on me, I will go with reckless abandon. And it worked out really well…I worked there for seven seasons in a row.” After performances throughout Europe at the Edinburgh Festival, the Bavarian State Opera, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, and recently with Deutsche Oper Berlin, Delavan returned to the Met to critical acclaim as Gianciotto in Francesca da Rimini and Wotan in Wagner’s epic Ring cycle.
Delavan’s signature roles include villains like Otello’s Iago and Tosca’s Scarpia as well as the title characters in Rigoletto, Falstaff, and The Flying Dutchman, written in 1841 by a 28-year-old Richard Wagner as one of his first mature works. The composer based his libretto and music on the legend of a sea captain who swears to conquer a storm even if he must sail forever. Hearing his oath, the Devil condemns the captain to sail until Judgment Day unless he find a woman who will love him faithfully until death.
In his quest for redemption, the Dutchman is allowed to make landfall once every seven years to find and woo the bride who will break his curse, ultimately ending the perpetual existence of the immortal captain and his crew aboard their ghostly ship.
Wagner, who identified with his tortured hero, emulated Beethoven’s symphonies in The Flying Dutchman and used musical motifs so effectively memorable that scholars have compared them to advertising jingles — the famously popular “Spinning Chorus” and the Dutchman’s theme are two examples.
“It’s one of his earliest pieces, and he wrote it in the Italian style,” says Delavan. “You have set pieces, you have duets…you have repeated words.” He continues, “Now admittedly the Dutchman’s monologue is a piece of genius writing.” Delavan sings a bit of the motif, and compares it to a theme from Wagner’s later opera Götterdämmerung. “Both of them are very eerie.”
“And it’s very short,” the baritone adds with a chuckle. “The duration [of Dutchman] is just right under the pain threshold.” Wagner’s later operas are renowned for lengths greater than five hours, a challenging proposition for audiences and singers alike.
“But here’s what it has in common [with Wagner's other works],” Delavan says. “It has a mythological theme and…redemption. And one could make the argument that poor Richard [Wagner] desperately needed redemption of some kind, because he was one tortured soul.” He laughs. “I mean, it’s common knowledge.”
The singer overcame his own struggles with this opera when he learned it years ago. “The first role that I did after my father died in 1995 was my first Flying Dutchman,” Delavan says, “and I’ve got to tell you — I couldn’t remember ‘come to Jesus.’” He continues, “Memorizing this role was the equivalent of trying to memorize…all of Shakespeare’s pieces. It was impossible…I had no ability to retain anything.”
He recalls a particularly difficult section of text, which translates as “Could you possibly be moved by my suffering with this deep pity?”
“That line I think I memorized ten times until it finally stayed. So that line…I go by it — I kind of close my eyes and move on.”
The Flying Dutchman is sung in German, with English supertitles projected above the stage. Arizona Opera revisits the large-scale projection techniques used in last season’s Il Trovatore to augment the production’s scenery and otherworldly atmosphere. Brought out of the pit and arranged onstage behind a scrim, the orchestra shares the majority of the space with the chorus. The main cast performs in a small area downstage on the raised floor of the orchestra pit, near the audience.
Delavan cheerfully anticipates better reviews for these performances than one he recalls from his last appearance with Arizona Opera, as Escamillo in 1989’s Carmen. “I got the worst review of my entire career in The Arizona Republic, and I probably had it coming, truthfully,” he says with a self-deprecating laugh. “Painful.”
For this production, Delavan shares the stage with soprano Lori Phillips as Senta, the heroine who redeems him, and bass Raymond Aceto as her father Daland. Joseph Rescigno conducts, and Bernard Uzan is the director.
If you go:
Practice your chicken dance, don your favorite walking shoes, and gather your fowl-loving friends for the Valley Permaculture Alliance’s Sustainability Festival and fifth annual Tour de Coops this Saturday at PHX Renews.
Organized in partnership with Keep Phoenix Beautiful at a 15-acre vacant land repurposing project at the northeast corner of Indian School Road and Central Avenue, the free festival features live music, food trucks, raffles, kids’ activities, and sustainability classes along with contests for best chicken call, best chicken dance, and coop design. Bring your mesquite and carob beans for milling into nutritious, tasty flour (continues on November 17).
Visit Valley chicken coops and talk with urban farmers about their feathered flocks and sustainability ideas on the self-guided Tour de Coops. Tickets are $20 for adults ($15 in advance; free for kids 14 and under with adult ticket-holder), and the tour includes a printed guide and map to participating coops throughout Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert, and Glendale, along with a bike tour option.
Past tours have featured friendly, helpful chicken owners willing to discuss everything from feed to coop construction to flock-friendly gardening and water harvesting.
All photos courtesy Tour de Coops.
If you go:
- Tour de Coops (adult tickets $15-$20; free for kids 14 and under) and free Sustainability Festival
- Saturday, November 16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at PHX Renews and coop sites around the Valley
- Visit tourdecoops.vpaaz.org or call 602-325-1230
- Resources for poultry information and supplies:
On Wednesday, November 5, the Downtown, Aviation and Redevelopment Subcommittee of the Phoenix City Council was given an update and preliminary recommendations on a new vision for activating Adams Street between Central Avenue and 2nd Street. The purpose of the study, conducted by Gensler, a global architecture design, planning and consulting firm, was to identify ways to enhance both the pedestrian and the economic vitality along this section of Adams Street.
Adams Street was chosen as the focus for the study for several reasons, according to Eric Johnson, Economic Development Program Manager at City of Phoenix. “With two major downtown convention hotels nearby [Hyatt and Renaissance] and the opening of the light rail, Adams provides a natural gateway into the city for visitors,” said Johnson. “And so many events are already happening on Adams, it just made sense.”
The study relied heavily on community input, which included over 30 meetings with individual property and business owners on the street, as well as four interactive community meetings (pictured above) at the Phoenix Convention Center. The community meetings engaged more than 100 stakeholders, including downtown residents, workers, business people, nonprofits and community advocates.
The Community’s Concepts
While still in a very preliminary stage, the renderings that Gensler Managing Director Beth Harmon-Vaughan and city staff shared with the sub-committee clearly embraced the input they had received from the businesses, property owners and community members. Harmon-Vaughan said that the overarching directive from the outreach was to “think big.” She emphasized that the renderings are not intended to be designs, just a way to conceptualize the feedback that the space serve a multi-purpose function.
“The community agreed that the street activation should create a memorable destination with a distinct identity that is built on a platform of street improvements,” said Harmon-Vaughan. “The consensus was to keep Adams open to traffic during regular business, but to make it easier to close it off for special events.”
Suggested street improvements include reconfiguring parking from the current angled parking to parallel; adding shade elements that include both trees and overhangs; finding ways to incorporate art throughout the area; improving lighting and signage; adding event infrastructure; and streamlining the process for temporary street closures.
The sub-committee members provided enthusiastic input, which included reiterating the need to create a distinct identity for the area, along with a recommendation by the subcommittee chair, Councilman Michael Johnson, that the renderings be improved to “clearly show Adams as open to traffic.” He noted that “the current rendering shows cars parked, but it is important to see the street in use.” Read detailed summaries on the staff recommendations.
Councilmen Michael Nowakowski and Daniel Valenzuela noted the amount of public input that went into the study as they voted unanimously to send the study along to the full council for approval.
Guidelines for Moving Forward
So what happens next? Eric Johnson, Economic Development Program Manager with the city explained that once the city council approves the study, the next step is to create policy guidelines for the council to follow once funding is available.
He clarified that there are essentially three areas for recommendation: low cost things that the city can do in the near term like activating the tenant space where the Matador restaurant used to be and encouraging increased cultural activities; developing the Adams Lot (the southeast corner of Adams and Central); and working with the two hotels in a public/private partnership to improve and activate the public right-of-way.
The city will determine what will work best from a tenant management perspective in the old Matador space and will incorporate those needs into an RFP (Request for Proposals), which should be issued in the first half of 2014. A second RFP will be created and issued in early 2014 to develop the Adams Lot with a midrise property that incorporates restaurant/retail space on the ground level with residential or hotel space on the higher levels.
The third category for recommendation will be to develop a public/private partnership between the city and the two convention hotels to improve the public right-of-way. Achieving this part of the vision will necessitate investment from the city on street improvements, such as accessible electricity; sleeves for temporary bollards for street closures; event lighting; rolled curbs; improved signage; and reconfigured parking. The partnership will also involve investment from the hotels to renovate ground floor spaces; create structural shade elements; incorporate more art into their facades; and to activate the sidewalk with seating, restaurant patios and the like.
The Adams Street Activation Study is step one in the process of revitalizing this section of downtown, which provides such a critical first impression to visitors. There is a lot more work to be done to plan and implement the vision expressed by the study participants. The hope is that the ideas that are ultimately implemented will be replicable elsewhere, which will add to the overall vibrancy of the downtown core.
Images provided by City of Phoenix.