Director's Welcome

Greetings one and all,

Here’s wishing you a healthy, happy, and invigorating new year—while hoping for the planet all the peace, justice, compassion, and sanity we can muster. At the Wex, we look forward to an array of exhibitions, performances, films, and conversations meant to illuminate and underscore our shared humanity, even amidst increasingly complex and fractured times. As ever, the arts offer a rich and incisive lens on human nature and on the world—as it’s been, as it is, and as it might be. Just a handful of examples among many, here are a few upcoming programs you won’t want to miss:

Starting January 10 we celebrate the unique vision of filmmaker Luchino Visconti with early works that helped to launch the Italian neorealist movement in mid-20th-century cinema and would later come to exert a profound influence on such masters as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Bertrand Bonello. Also in January, the Wex presents three screenings of Shoplifters, winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and enthusiastically cited on numerous top-10 year-end lists by critics internationally.

On January 26, we celebrate the world premiere of 400: An Afrikan Epic by composer and musician Mark Lomax II, this year’s Artist Residency Award recipient in performing arts. Mark’s ambitious 12-album cycle tells the story of black America stretching from precolonial Afrika through the 400 years that have elapsed since the transatlantic slave trade began in 1619. We couldn’t be more honored or thrilled to inaugurate the ever-expanding national tour of this monumental opus.

February 1 marks the opening of two new exhibitions that are at once shamelessly provocative and achingly empathetic. John Waters: Indecent Exposure features photographs, sculptures, audio, and video works from the last three decades—all as humorous and affectionate as they are shocking and transgressive. Juxtaposed with Waters’s witty yet wicked worldview is the exhibition Peter Hujar: Speed of Life, which spans four decades of photographic portraits hailed as “aesthetically fierce, historically informative, [and] strangely tender” by the New Yorker. As it turns out, among Hujar’s portraits of accomplished artists, writers, and performers is one of John Waters himself!

From February 7 to 9, choreographer and dancer Netta Yerushalmy presents Paramodernities, a series of “lecture-performances” that reinterpret landmark works by such acclaimed figures as Martha Graham, Vaslav Nijinsky, and Alvin Ailey.

All of which is to say, there is a dizzying array of artistry about to unfold at the Wex in 2019. And, come March 1, new director Johanna Burton takes the reins. She is sure to chart a bold and visionary course for the center’s future, and I encourage you to welcome her with the warmth, encouragement, and generosity that you’ve extended to me over my 25 years at the Wex.

With abundant thanks and good wishes,