Delegate Terri Hill, who went on to become an Ivy-League-educated plastic surgeon, asked me if I was going to write about dance teacher Anne Allen, with whom she danced when she was growing up in Columbia.
Former Business Monthly publisher Carole Pickett wondered if I would be discussing the Columbia Film Society. She’s a subscriber.
My copy editor mentioned I had neglected the African art museum, the institution created by Claude and Doris Ligon.
So many people, groups and organizations get left out in the limitations of time, fairly arbitrary but sensible limitations of space, and the need to create a narrative that keeps readers interested.
That has been true in most of these essays, but I feel it especially so in this piece about the arts. So many Columbians throughout these 50 years have started organizations to perform drama or song, so many have produced music and dance, so many have picked up brush and clay to shape the visual world.
Dance: Carolyn Kelemen, long-time dance writer at the Flier, does a much more complete run-down of arts organizations, particularly the many dance groups, in her “Sisterhood of the New City” blog. She chronicles both the home-grown and the visiting stars who graced the stage at Merriweather and Slayton House. Kelemen also is on top of the visual arts.
Slayton House: The Wilde Lake community center was not only Columbia’s first gathering place and home to its first worship services. It also has been a continuing home to community theater and dance classes, and its gallery displays the work of local artists.
Columbia Orchestra: Like Pro-Cantare, with whom it has partnered, the Columbia Orchestra began 40 years ago with volunteer musicians, and since 1999 has been under the musical direction of Jason Love, who won the American Prize for Orchestral Programming in 2013. Its audience numbered 11,000 last year, and it includes the Columbia Jazz Band and chamber concerts as well. The Jim Rouse Theatre is its most frequent venue.
Film: Begun in 1971 at Bryant Woods Elementary School, the Columbia Film Society has been going almost as long as Columbia itself, which has a mixed history on cinema. The Smith Theatre at HCC’s Horowitz Center is now the home for its series of nine independent and foreign films. It sold out its season this year.
The original Columbia cinema with three screens was briefly the home of independent movies beginning in 1999, but was eventually torn down for condominiums.
We are now left with two huge cineplexes — AMC Columbia next to the mall, and United Artists Snowden Square behind Home Depot. Both have 14 screens, comfortable stadium seating (reserved recliners at Snowden), and a wide array of food — but almost always the same mainstream films, with occasional live sports and opera.
Columbia’s only museum, the African Art Museum of Maryland, began in 1980. It stayed in town as it grew through 2011, building on the collection of the Ligons. It is now located in the Maple Lawn community south of Columbia.