Saturday, June 6, 2020
"American Utopia" - David Byrne, Maira Kalman
"American Utopia" embraces the truth of human connection in a richly human way drawing its text from Byrne's hit Broadway show of the same name that is currently scheduled to return to Broadway on September 18th with a Spike Lee documentary also in the works. Kalman's four-color artwork was originally created for the Broadway show's curtain, but here is present in the form of over 150 of Kalman's works.
I'm sitting here in my home on an early June Saturday evening. The eighth day of downtown protests is going on a few miles from my home and at times one can't help but wonder if we'll ever truly get along with one another and build a system that is fair, equitable, safe, and embracing of all.
In a sense, "American Utopia" answers that challenging question with a resounding "Yes!" Kalman's imagery captures a portrait of daily life and the human experience that is both intimate and universal. Byrne's language, simple yet precise, is hope-filled in an honest and meaningful way. "American Utopia" is a call toward connection, a call toward kindness, a call toward the community of our greatest imaginations. It's a reminder that we can create the world that we wish to live in and we simply must do so whether that be as artists or musicians or writers or dancers or however it is to manifest in our lives.
We can do it. And we must.
"American Utopia" is a relatively quick read, though it's a book that will be revisited again and again for those who embrace it. It's a dose of optimism in a cynical world, a beautifully designed immersive experience that will linger in your heart and mind long the book has left your hands.
Richard Propes is an award-winning writer/activist/minister who has traveled over 6,000 miles by wheelchair over the past 30 years raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for children's organizations on his acclaimed Tenderness Tour events. Author of "The Hallelujah Life," Richard is the founder/publisher of TheIndependentCritic.com and has been the recipient of numerous awards for his activism including Indiana's Sagamore of the Wabash, Kentucky's Order of Kentucky Colonels, and Prevent Child Abuse America's highest honor, the Donna J. Stone Award. Richard is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association.