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A chill in the air means pumpkins, apple cider, and watching the leaves change into beautiful colors of orange, yellow and red. And the perfect place to celebrate the autumn season has to be Canada.
For people feeling that pull of the changing season driving them to take a vacation, there are dozens of fun cultural festivals for music lovers, foodies, art aficionados and basically anyone from any walk of life. Even if you’re looking for the whole family, your significant other or a few friends, you can find the perfect trip — and the perfect excuse to get away.
Plus, if you’re in love with fall, Canada has the best vistas North America has to offer for people who want to chase the changing foliage. If you’re going to do some nature sightseeing, you have to do it right.
Grab your cozy knits and get ready for some pumpkin carving.
Beakerhead Festival in Calgary - Sep. 13-17
Calgary celebrates this unique smashup of engineering, art and science that takes place across the city for five years running. The 2017 event will transform the city into a giant game of Snakes and Ladders, where attendees can explore more than a dozen sites of engineered artworks and interactive experiences.
Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, Okanagan Valley - Sep. 28 – Oct. 8
Guests can discover Canada’s famous wine valley and take in the beauty of the fall season at the 37th annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival. Go on tours along the Fab Five Wine Trail and the Lakeshore Wine Route, enjoy British Columbia’s largest wine tasting and farmers market, indulge in daily three-course pairing menus, and attend a Young Chef's competition, where local apprentice chefs compete to create unique small plates that pair with their partner winery’s offerings.
World’s Largest Scavenger Hunt, Ottawa - Sep. 10
Brush up on your detective skills before heading to Ottawa for The World’s Largest Scavenger Hunt. Hosted by Escape Manor, the hunt will begin at Marion Dewar Plaza, where teams of four will begin the search for clues that will lead them through downtown Ottawa, all while learning about the history and culture of the city and Canada. Progress will be tracked through social media posts, trivia answers and other accomplishments to determine which team will claim the top prize. Tickets for the event, part of Ottawa’s official Ignite 150 events, are available until August 28.
Jasper Dark Sky Festival, Alberta - Oct. 13-22(Courtesy of Tourism Jasper)
Gaze at the night sky in all its splendor at Jasper Dark Sky Festival. Designated a Dark Sky Preserve in 2011, Jasper’s limited light pollution creates ideal conditions for stargazing in the dark sky. Attendees can also enjoy a Symphony Under the Stars, photo tours and a keynote speech by space science power duo Brian Cox and Phil Plait.
Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival - Oct. 13-14 in Calgary, Alberta; Nov. 10-11 in Edmonton, Alberta(Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival)
For 20 years, the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival has been the premiere destination for Canadian foodies. Guests can enjoy an array of delectable dishes and sip on delicious wines, beers, and spirits. The festival only admits friends over 18, so it’s the perfect day out for adult groups.
Rifflandia, Victoria, British Columbia - Sep. 14-17
For the 10th year in a row, four-day festival, Rifflandia, a multitude of events celebrating the art and music of British Columbia, has returned to the area. Discover local food, beverage, art, music and design companies including a diverse lineup of internationally renowned rock, pop and indie musical acts. This year’s lineup includes: Moby, Zeds Dead, Bonobo, Hot Chip and more.
Country Music Week, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Sep. 7-10
Ending with the Canadian Country Music Association Awards broadcast on Sunday, Sept. 10, this four-day annual event is part music festival and part industry conference. Country fans can attend multiple events like a songwriter series, a discovery showcase, a tribute to legends show.
Vancouver Island Blues Bash, Vancouver Island - Sep. 2-4(Courtesy of Vancouver Island Blues Bash)
Canada loves a good music festival, and Vancouver Island has one of the best, blues festivals for music lovers to catch. Lineups for 2017 includes The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, Matt Schofield, The Villanovas, the Maureen Washington Blues Band and more.
Oktoberfest, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario - Oct. 6-14(Premier of Ontario Photography via Flickr)
The world's largest Oktoberfest celebrations outside Germany take place in these twin southwestern Ontario cities. The festival attracts over 1 million visitors each year, celebrating all things good about Oktoberfest: drinking, dancing, food and culture.
Celtic Colours International Festival, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia - Oct. 6-14
Nova Scotia is famous for being proud of its Celtic culture, and the best way to discover the best of Nova Scotia is at Celtic Colours International Festival. Throughout the island, you’ll find different communities and spaces where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant, rich Celtic culture and history. Enjoy music, food, art and plenty of things to do.
Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, Gatineau (Québec) Canada - Aug. 31-Sep. 4( via Flickr)
The Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival is the fifth largest in the world and rapidly becoming the most important hot air balloon gathering in Canada. Relax and watch colorful hot air balloons fill the sky as you listen live music from every genre. If you’re feeling brave, take a ride yourself and gase at Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, from above.
Nuit Blanche, Toronto, Ontario - Sep. 30(Sam Javanrouh via Flickr)
From sunset to sunrise, you can discover Toronto as you’ve never seen it before as over 90 contemporary art projects transform the city. The project has often been described as an “artistic playground.” Attendees can roam the streets, grab a late night bite, and see how art can bring light to the darkness of a chilly, autumn night. And best of all, it’s free.
Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival, Prince Edward Island - Sep. 14-17(Courtesy of Niagara Wine Festival)
Prince Edward Island is known for its beautiful landscapes, gorgeous lighthouses and, most of all,delicious seafood! During this four day festival, visitors can dance, and enjoy some incredible treats from the sea. When you’re not imbibing, you can also catch some live cooking demos and authentic island experiences.
Niagara Wine Festival, Ontario - Sep. 8-24
Canada has plenty of wineries to sip and enjoy your chosen vino, but none are so large and accessible as Niagara Wine Festival. With more than 100 events, including winery tours, tastings, concerts, places to eat, artisan shows, seminars, entertainment and one of Canada's largest street parades, Niagara Wine Festival is not to be missed. It’s also conveniently located by Niagara Falls, which is the perfect stop on a family vacation.
Pumpkinfest, Wellington, Ontario - Oct. 14
There’s no better way to celebrate fall than with pumpkins. The adorable town of Wellington in Prince Edward County seeks out the largest pumpkin around with an huge contest, and the competitors rarely disappoint. On top of the contest, attendees can enjoy a parade, contests, games, food and entertainment.
Mont Sutton Fall Festival, Sutton, Quebéc - Sep. 16 - Oct. 15
One fall festival celebrates the number one best thing about fall: foliage. At the Mont Sutton Fall Festival, attendees can celebrate the beautiful turning of the leaves with guided hikes, live jazz, outdoor barbeques, chair lift rides, and many more amazing outdoor activities. The gorgeous scenery is not to be missed, so get ready to overload your Instagram.
Culture Days Manitoba, Manitoba - Sep. 29 - Oct. 1(Courtesy of Culture Days Manitoba)
The northern province of Manitoba has a lot to explore, and the fall season is the perfect excuse to do it. The Culture Days festival is celebrated across the province and includes a wide variety of events, experience, exhibitions and more. Culture days is especially dedicated to the vibrant arts scene in Manitoba, so there are museum tours and art experiences galore, including a Nuit Blanche Winnipeg.
Tremblant Symphony of Colours, Mont Tremblant, Quebéc - Saturdays and Sundays in Sep. through the first week of Oct.(@Tremblant)
One of the best places in the world to watch leaves change color is Mont Tremblant in Quebéc. In fact, tourists from all around the world have been flocking to the town to see its Symphony of Colors in September and October to enjoy the view and also some fall concerts, hiking, shopping and unique dining experiences in the tiny, pedestrian village.
Canadian Finals Rodeo, Edmonton, Alberta - Nov. 8-12(Courtesy of Northlands)
Canada’s western heritage comes out during the beginning of November in the form of a thrilling rodeo. Canada’s elite rodeo athletes gather for six performances at The Canadian Finals Rodeo in order to be crowned the best of the best.
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In 1906, visitors enjoyed touring the nation's capitol in this sightseeing bus, which was manned by guides with megaphones.
The 1914 Chevrolet Series H roadster, marketed as the Chevrolet Royal Mail, is an open car with a folding top and folding windshield. Like many "streamlined" cars of the day, its styling is smooth and uninterrupted and flows from front to back without projecting hardware or accessories. The gasoline tank is external, but it has a pleasing elliptical shape that complements the body. The hand-cranked engine has four cylinders and an overhead valve design.
Eben Cate was a rural mail carrier on a route through several villages near Lake Winnipesaukee. He earned two weeks of vacation time per year. In 1936 he saw this trailer in a showroom in Laconia, a few miles from his home, and purchased it for pleasure trips. Eben and Vernie and their children, Rudolph and Virginia, made one trip to Florida in their new trailer in 1937, staying one night in many different locations. Every summer during the 1940s, they spent a week at Decatur Motor Camp at York Beach on the southern coast of Maine. They kept house in the trailer, went for walks, and swam in the Atlantic Ocean. Vernie did the housekeeping — not much of a vacation for her, but a change of scenery nonetheless. The Cates also visited Vernie's relatives in East Corinth, Vermont and parked the trailer "out near the barn" with an electrical hookup. The wooden trailer came equipped with a bedroom, sofa beds, table, kitchen, closets, and cupboards.
House trailers were so appealing that thousands of itinerant people lived in them full-time in the 1930s. But early residential trailer camps had poor sanitary conditions and no landscaping. Some observers believed that traditional communities were threatened by the existence of these ad hoc, transient communities. Trailers created contradictory feelings of pride and disapproval —a far cry from the euphoric autocamping outings of the 1920s.
Requested from Photographic Services Division by Office of Special Events.
Luncheon and tour of the Maryland section, with Barbara Oberfeld Mandel (wife of Governor Marvin Mandel), and Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland.
Requested from Photographic Services Division by Office of Special Events.
Luncheon and tour of the Maryland section, with Barbara Oberfeld Mandel (wife of Governor Marvin Mandel), Congressman Gilbert Gude, Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland, Secretary S. Dillon Ripley, and Mary Livingston Ripley.
Requested from Photographic Services Division by Office of Special Events.
Tour of the Labor section by Secretary S. Dillon Ripley and Secretary of Labor James D. Hodgson.
In March 1962, James Webb, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, suggested that artists be enlisted to document the historic effort to send the first human beings to the moon. John Walker, director of the National Gallery of Art, was among those who applauded the idea, urging that artists be encouraged "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race."
Working together, James Dean, a young artist employed by the NASA Public Affairs office, and Dr. H. Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art, created a program that dispatched artists to NASA facilities with an invitation to paint whatever interested them. The result was an extraordinary collection of works of art proving, as one observer noted, "that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company." Transferred to the National Air and Space Museum in 1975, the NASA art collection remains one of the most important elements of what has become perhaps the world's finest collection of aerospace themed art.
The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.
In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)
In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.
Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)
David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.
An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.
While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)
Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.
The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.
The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.
The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.
"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)
For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)
In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.
The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.
(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)
(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).
(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.
(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.
(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.
(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.
(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.
Tom D. Crouch
Senior Curator, Aeronautics
National Air and Space Museum
July 26, 2007
Twenty years ago today, Shawshank Redemption opened in theaters. Since then, it has become on of the most well-known films to ever come out of Hollywood, despite a rough start at the box office. The movie’s stars, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, went on to fame and fortune. Two decades later, the prison used as a set for the movie has also improved its lot, becoming a major tourist attraction in Ohio.
The Ohio State Reformatory had closed in 1990 after nearly 100 years of operation, and at the time the film was shot in 1993, the building had fallen into disrepair. But now the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society has turned the derelict former prison into a tourist attraction, funneling funds from tours, events celebrating the 20th anniversary of Shawshank Redemption and all-night ghost hunts back into the restoration of the building.
The society bought the building in 1994 for $1 with the promise to restore it and has managed to draw 80,000 visitors a year to the site, all eager to experience the prison for themselves.
But the tourists do have to be careful not to accidentally get a more authentic experience than they bargained for. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Visitors are warned from the start that they can enter the cells, even sit in the dark, damp confines of solitary. Just. Don’t. Shut. The. Door.
“To be honest, we don’t have keys for some of these,” Pastor Puff said, noting that locksmiths have to be called. “We have ’get out of jail free’ cards that we hand out, but they know if they get stuck and we have to call someone in here to free them, they’re paying for it."
The Ohio State Reformatory is currently closed for the season (self-guided tours are available daily between April 1 and September 1 with some exceptions) but will re-open this Friday, September 26, as the Haunted Prison Experience, which will terrify people Thursday through Sunday until November 1.
She wears a black appliquéd mini panel that reads “Handmaidens of The Quilt,” making it easy to identify which woman in the room is Gert McMullin. Gert is a living legend in AIDS Memorial Quilt lore for likely having touched nearly every single panel in it. In many ways, Gert is the inspiration behind the Folklife Festival’s re-creation of the original AIDS Memorial Quilt workshop, which was located in San Francisco from the late 1980s through the 1990s.
The goal for building this historic space in the 2012 Creativity and Crisis Folklife Festival program area was to evoke the same kind of spirit that existed in that workroom twenty-five years later; a spirit that made no judgment and drew in those desperate for a place to talk about the ways in which AIDS was devastating their lives.
Ironically, Gert herself has a plethora of names. As she recounted the years she has been the keeper of The Quilt for The NAMES Project Foundation, I learned that she has made up five different names to fit the imaginary personas she adopted when “Cindy,” her given name, could no longer cope with the trauma of watching so many friends die. “At times, I’ve been Lorelei, Olivia, and then there is tough, old Gert,” says McMullin. Gert’s the kind of person who doesn’t flinch in the face of life’s bitterest tragedies and keeps fighting.
It was April 1987, when Gert first got information about creating an AIDS memorial quilt, after Cleve Jones created the very first panel in honor of his close friend, Marvin Feldman. In June 1987, she attended a small meeting with a core group of early organizers.
“It was extremely difficult emotionally and politically to make those first few panels—I was angry my friends had died. I felt no one cared and that there was nothing I could do about it. But I could sew.”
The earliest panels were often spray painted on bed sheets, made “quickly and out of anger” on fabric measuring three by six feet, the approximate size of a human grave.
“When you think of quilts, you think of our grandmothers taking care of us when we’re sick, of warmth and comfort, which is the opposite of how the AIDS community was being treated,” says Mike Smith, one of the co-founders of The NAMES Project Foundation. “We wanted to lay the equivalent of bodies of the dead at the feet of our government. We’re a traveling cemetery.”
Smith remembers, “We covered the Castro neighborhood with posters: ‘Let’s start an AIDS memorial.’ But we needed a physical place for people to sew. I signed the lease on the space at 2362 Market Street for a decade or more on June 10, 1987, and it immediately developed into an emotional community center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual community. ”
“The original workshop was the heart of The Quilt,” says McMullin. “It’s hard to explain, but it’s where every idea, every art inspiration was built, and how we dealt with AIDS. Everyone needed a place to tell their stories, to comfortably say the names of their friends, to talk about the frustrations, the anguish, and the heartbreak. We needed a place to tell bad jokes, to dance. We held onto that building—it was the only place that was safe for us, and every emotion you could possibly feel was felt through those doors.”
Roddy Williams, The NAMES Project Foundation director of operations and project manager, toured me around the configuration and design of the tent in the 2012 Folklife Festival. He pointed out that the tent featured hardwood floors where Gert could continue bundling panels into larger blocks, a disco ball for illumination, and a few, cherished sewing machines, all bearing names like Big Bitch, Mother, and Connie Consew. The 2362 Market Street workshop is the prototype for all of the panel-making workshops that continue all over the country today.
“The history of The Quilt is absolutely important,” says Mike Smith. “We’re in such a different place now, and so many young people don’t realize the cost of HIV, the struggle we went through to get here today. They see the compassion, but they don’t see that this quilt was made in anger and enormous frustration. People involved in the early Quilt were fighting for their lives, we all thought we were going to die soon.”
In the Summer of 1986, Proposition 64 was introduced in the state of California with the idea of restoring AIDS to the list of communicable diseases and even quarantining people who were HIV-positive. NAMES Project Foundation activists were angry and frightened and unsure of what to do, especially with all of their documentation. “There was talk of having people turn over names of lovers for quarantine,” says Smith. “We had two copies of the database—Cleve was to go to Oregon, and I was to go to Las Vegas. It was all set to go the night before, but the bill died late at night. It was a very scary time.”
Smith says that it wasn’t until The NAMES Project Foundation began receiving panels from other victims like children with hemophilia and heterosexual women that Americans began to realize that AIDS affects everyone. The Quilt slowly evolved from a protest banner into a medium for talking to the nation.
On May 9, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama publicly voiced his support of same-sex marriage, recognizing that our civil rights laws and principles are at the core of our nation. Smith believes this is of significance and acknowledges the work of The Quilt in this announcement: “Essentially, the President said that Gay and Lesbian people deserve equal rights and should be treated as full citizens of this country. Ronald Reagan would not have done that. It shows how far we have come as a nation. Our government and other leaders have taken up the call, that sets the tone that impacts our culture.”
“The Quilt is made by the people for the people and is the most democratic memorial, both homage and harbinger,” says Julie Rhoad, president and CEO of The NAMES Project Foundation. “It’s about civil rights and social justice and issues surrounding public health and public health response. It’s global, it’s personal, it’s domestic, it’s intimate, and totally epic.”
Gert McMullin thanks The Quilt for keeping her alive, and she believes she was formed from birth to become the keeper of The Quilt. “There were points in my anger and grief where I wasn’t sure if I was going in the right direction, although suicide isn’t really an option for me. My friends were the ones who told me, ‘We’re going to get through this. We’re going to march.’ “All of Gert’s friends who died are in this room. They fought with her, marched with her, and as she reminds me, they are the people we should be thanking for getting us here together.
Today, there are over 93,000 names on The AIDS Memorial Quilt. The Quilt was displayed for the first time on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on October 11, 1987, during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. “I made my first panels thinking about taking them to D.C. for the march,” says Gert.
“I liked the idea of throwing them down in front of the White House, embarrassing the government. I’ve got my own list of three hundred people that I marched down the streets with, carried The Quilt with around the world. They continued when no one would listen. To me, it’s not history. To me it’s still going on.”
From July 22 to 27, 2012, the International AIDS conference 2012 will be held in Washington, D.C., the first time in the U.S. in over twenty years. For this occasion, the entire AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed on the National Mall and in over fifty locations around the region from July 21 to 25. During this time, there will be a total of 35,200 panels –8,800 different panels per day–on display from 8th to 14th streets on the National Mall. Find out more about the upcoming Quilt displays in July.
Patricia Wakida is a writer and historian based in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
Obverse Image: Bust of Sekou Toure facing right.
Obverse Text: REPUBLIQUE DE GUINEE / 1962 / SEKOU TOURE
Reverse Image: Denomination within wreath.
Reverse Text: LE PREMIER MARS 1960 / 25 FRANCS GUINEENS / TRAVAIL - JUSTICE - SOLIDARITE
25 Millennials Just Crossed the United States By Rail Hoping to Leave Their Marks in Cities Along the Way
Two weeks ago, Patrick Dowd was in downtown Los Angeles listening to Compton community leader and social entrepreneur Haleemah Nash tell a story about poverty and lack of opportunity. Compton, which is unfortunately best known for its high concentration of gang activity, is just a few miles from the Pacific. Yet young people from Compton can spend their entire early lives within a 10-block radius and reach adulthood without ever seeing the ocean.
For Dowd, there’s a message in that sobering truth that can be applied to many young people’s lives, no matter their background or opportunities. “There’s a direct connection between whether you have had exposure to a broad range of geographies and the way to envision opportunity for yourself,” he says.
With that in mind, Dowd, a former J.P. Morgan investment analyst, founded the nonprofit Millennial Trains Project in 2012. The seemingly simple cross-country train trip boasts the rather sizable goal of trying to bridge the geography of the United States and help a select group of Gen Y-ers learn how to lead on a national scale. The 10-day whistle-stop tour through six cities across the United States introduces the group of 25 young innovators to large swaths of the country and a diverse cross section of people along the way.
The third MTP journey, which ended yesterday, began on May 21 in greater Los Angeles and included stops in Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans and Atlanta, before culminating in Washington, D.C. In addition to the youth participants, a cadre of mentors rode along, including Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Amy Wilkinson, author of The Creator’s Code: The Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs. A fourth MTP tour is slated for summer 2016.
Dowd was in India on a 2010-11 Fulbright scholarship when he learned about a 15-day train tour that would become the inspiration for the MTP. Founded in 2008, the Jagriti Yatra (in Hindi, “journey of awakening”) tour takes 450 young people to 12 stops on a 5,000-mile loop around India.While they’re on the train, everyone aboard meets with MTP mentors and in groups to cross-pollinate ideas. (Millennial Trains Project)
To get a ticket to ride the Millennial Trains Project, applicants, ages 18 to 34, must submit an initial $50 application fee, and then pitch an idea for a project to pursue on the trip that crosses geographical boundaries. Candidates prove the viability of their projects and their commitment to them in crowdfunding campaigns through IndieGoGo. While they’re on the train, everyone aboard meets with MTP mentors and in groups to cross-pollinate ideas and collaborate to help one another. When the train stops, participants sometimes only have a few hours in a particular city. There are meetings with local government and community leaders, plus time for participants to meet with contacts they’ve made in advance of the trip to further their projects.
In the same way Jagriti Yatra produces measurable results, the work started and connections formed on the Millennial Trains Project don’t end when the train stops. Past participants have gone on to do impressive work by leaning on networks of people they met along the way. For example, after meeting energy innovators across the nation, former MTP-er and policymaker Matthew Stepp founded the Center for Clean Energy Innovation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to clean energy, and co-authored congressional legislation based on research and insights from his week riding the rails.Clara Ritger worked on a six-episode documentary video series about the role of restaurants in revitalizing communities in transition. (Millennial Trains Project)
This year’s crop of recently minted MTP participants demonstrates similar promise. During the journey, Washington, D.C.-based producer, journalist, and filmmaker Clara Ritger worked on a six-episode documentary video series about the role of restaurants in revitalizing communities in transition. Before arriving in each city, she diligently delved into the region’s history and connected with local chefs and restaurant owners to find important stories to tell. After she wraps editing, she’ll post the pilot episodes on YouTube this summer.
Despite rigorous preparations, Ritger was surprised by some of the stark contrasts she encountered along the route. She had read about the 1928 city plan that divided Austin along racial lines, designating the eastern side for African Americans and actually relocating many people living in neighborhoods in the western side there. Expecting more progress by 2015, she was nevertheless startled by the disparity that persists. On the east side, a single well-known establishment, Franklin Barbecue, sits right up against the freeway. The traffic roars along, but the actual street is eerily quiet and mostly empty. Down the block, two BBQ food trucks support the row’s fledging food scene. “I went to one,” Ritger says, “and they suggested the other truck, too. They all know and are promoting each other.” When she crossed I-35 to interview chefs in another up-and-coming neighborhood, she hit a wall of sound on historic Rainey Street, which has a number of newer establishments under construction. The two neighborhoods, situated close together and part of the same town, are at “completely different stages of revitalizing,” she says. “I can’t wait to juxtapose that with all of the different places across the country.”
Ritger’s thoughtful approach to her project is apparent. “This was something that I’d been thinking about for a really long time but in terms of actual work, [the Millennial Trains Project] was my first opportunity to dive deep into this,” she explains. She hopes once the first episodes air, a news organization or production company might be interested in funding a longer series on the same topic.
Another project is specifically aimed at enriching the Millennial experience in post-industrial Midwestern cities. Nicole Behnke grew up in Manitowoc, Wisconsin and moved to Milwaukee for college. “I was convinced I had to move to Los Angeles, New York City or Chicago to experience life,” she says. But in Milwaukee, she found a vibrant culture and what was then a fledgling organization, NEWaukee, dedicated to reenergizing the city and engaging young people in its development. After interning with the organization for 18 months, she was promoted to the events and communication director a year and a half ago.
Joining the MTP journey is a natural extension of Behnke’s work to help Milwaukeeans consider staying put. After NEWaukee booked MTP founder Dowd as a speaker several years ago, Milwaukee became a destination on the second MTP journey. When this latest trip was announced, Behnke knew she wanted to hitch a ride.
Behnke is creating a checklist of factors that Millennials look for when deciding where to live, and she wants to inspire people to think critically about the role they really want to have in their community. In cities and boroughs full of young transplants, like Austin and Brooklyn, young people move in and participate, she explains. But in Milwaukee, for example, “You can actually create culture, access the people you want to get a hold of, be in the city and create change you want to see in it,” she explains. “You can leave your mark.”When the train stops, there are meetings with local government and community leaders. In New Orleans, participants met with Mayor Mitch Landrieu. (Millennial Trains Project)
The train is full of big dreams to improve urban farming techniques, to compile a database of nutrition information for cancer patients and to foster trans-religious dialogue. Dowd admits it can be an insular place at times. But with three trips under his belt, he also knows the value of that week confabbing and collaborating on the way across the country. “The conversations are real. We can be in a bubble on the train, but it’s a really diverse bubble,” Dowd says. Behnke adds, “I refer to the train as an incubator of awesomeness.”
Additionally, Behnke enthuses that the trip is a way to push back against negative stereotypes that Millennials are entitled or unmotivated.
“We’re all really wanting to make change, and we’re driven and innovative,” she says of her fellow MTP participants, and of her generation more broadly. “We might bite off more than we can chew and fail, but we’re optimistic. We want to change our communities.”
Since 2001, Jazz Appreciation Month (popularly known as "JAM") has encouraged people around the world to spend April celebrating the music form's history and heritage and participating in jazz in some way—listening, playing, or learning. As the original home of JAM, the National Museum of American History selects a jazz musician each year to feature on the annual JAM poster as a salute his or her contributions to jazz. Past posters have featured Billy Strayhorn, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and others.
This year, we've chosen performer, bandleader, and composer Benny Carter (1907–2003) as our featured musician for the 2016 JAM poster. Carter, a titan of jazz in many ways, is mainly remembered for his role in promoting the alto saxophone as a lead solo instrument in jazz bands. But his work and multiple instrumental talents have often been overlooked in the larger story of jazz history.
Carter donated his archives to the museum in 2000—and this year's poster features a photograph from the Benny Carter Collection, now housed in the museum's Archives Center. We've dug through his archives, notes, and photographs to bring you three interesting facts that you should know about Benny Carter, just in time for Jazz Appreciation Month.
1. Benny Carter may be the only musician to have recorded music on a horn in the 1920s and surfed his own website in the 1990s.
Carter recorded, composed, and performed music for eight decades. His mother taught him how to play piano at an early age, but he was quickly drawn to the trumpet. Aiming to buy a trumpet, the young musician saved for months. But when his first weekend with the instrument didn't make him a trumpet pro, he decided to trade it in for a saxophone.
For the most part, Carter taught himself to play, but he made rapid progress. He went from playing dime dance palaces in New York to sitting in on performances in Harlem nightclubs as a teen. He would later return to and master the trumpet, as well as the trombone, piano, and clarinet.
Carter made his first documented recording in 1928 with bandleader Charlie Johnson. He would continue to produce several records every decade until his last album, Tickle Toe, in 1997. For the first half of his career, Carter played in orchestras, starting in New York, before moving to tour in Europe in 1935. With World War II looming, he returned to New York in 1938 to play regularly with his big band orchestra at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. In the early 1940s, Carter moved out to the West Coast and transitioned to smaller groups and started his septet with Dizzy Gillespie. In the later decades of his life, he toured as a soloist nationally and in the Middle East and Japan.
Carter was also a celebrated arranger and composer, regarded as one of the principal architects of the big band swing style for his work in the 1920s for the orchestras of Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, Chick Webb, and many others. His composing and arranging work followed him to the West Coast, where he arranged and conducted for film and television, and for almost every major popular singer, including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong.
2. Benny Carter's work broke many racial boundaries for future generations.
When Carter began his musical career in the 1920s, white musicians would occasionally play at African American nightclubs, but African Americans were not allowed to even visit the white nightclubs of New York. For Carter, however, the color of skin did not matter; what mattered was a musician's quality of music. In 1936, Carter became a bandleader for the first interracial, multinational band.
"The point was," he observed, "getting the best musicians available who were interested in doing this gig."
He spent three years touring Europe with this orchestra, which helped spread jazz across the continent. In the 1940s, Carter took his composing and arranging talents to Hollywood, becoming one of the first African Americans to enter the industry and paving the way for others to follow him.
Beyond music, Carter attempted to free himself and other African Americans from racial restrictions. In 1944, Carter and his wife, Ynez, purchased a home in Los Angeles from owners who had signed an agreement to prevent the home from being owned by any non-white person. In a lawsuit on the matter, Carter's neighbor, Edythe Davis, testified that she did not object to having "colored people" as domestic workers in her home, but did not want them as "social equals" in her neighborhood. Carter won the case and in 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that restrictive covenants, such as discrimination in housing practices, were unenforceable in Shelley v. Kraemer.
3. Benny Carter was one of the first African Americans to work in the film industry, producing soundtracks for hit films and TV shows.
In 1943, music publisher Irving Mills was co-producing a film called Stormy Weather, and asked Benny Carter to be the film's music arranger. Carter agreed and would wake up early to write for the studio, and then work nights performing and writing songs for his band.
With increasing demands from movie studios, in 1946 Carter disbanded his orchestra to work full time on scoring for motion pictures. He would continue to write for popular shows and movies, including The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), The Five Pennies (1959), and Buck and the Preacher (1972), and for the televisions series M Squad, Ironside, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and Bob Hope Presents. By bringing jazz into film soundtracks. Carter helped pave the way for other African American music arrangers, such as Quincy Jones, to gain respect in film and television music production.
We're honored to feature Benny Carter on the poster this year and feature his music in a special evening performance and in four free daytime concerts right here at the museum. As Duke Ellington once wrote, "the problem of expressing the contributions that Benny Carter has made to popular music is so tremendous, it completely fazes me."
Want to learn more about this giant of jazz? Interested in the JAM 2016 poster? Stop by the Jazz Appreciation Month page to listen to Benny Carter’s oral history, request your own copy of the poster for Jazz Appreciation Month while supplies last, and mark your calendar for our concert series.
Regan Shrumm is an intern in the Division of Culture and the Arts. She recently finished her master's degree in Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Victoria.
Meg Salocks works with the jazz and food history programs at the museum. She recommends you sign up for the Smithsonian Jazz Newsletter to learn more and see the upcoming concert schedule.