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bell hooks

Skidmore College kicks off its Black History Month celebration with a lecture by author, scholar, feminist theorist and cultural critic bell hooks. hooks has been writing on matters political and personal for more than 20 years, turning her keen eye on everything from racism in the women’s movement to the ways imperialism reveals itself in the arts.

Lately, though, she’s been examining race, sex, love and society. In her most recent book, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love, hooks traces the stages of men’s lives, and argues that they’re crushed by traditional patriarchal expectations. (The result? Among many other things, they can’t love.) As she recently told an interviewer, “I guess it’s wanting people to understand that patriarchy is about domination—even if it’s domination that’s kindly. . . . That even if daddy is benevolent—if he’s ruling—everybody is usually unhappy in some way.”

Bell hooks will lecture Monday (Feb. 2) in Palamountin Hall’s Gannett Auditorium at Skidmore College (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs). The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call 580-5000.

Hair: Untangling a Social History

Anyone who’s ever missed a school bus, run late for an important breakfast meeting or tested the patience of a date while struggling with a stubborn cowlick or irreproducible salon style, knows exactly how much sway hair has in one’s daily life. The ominous import of the phrase “bad hair day” is so universal that we now market hair-care products to grade schoolers. Disturbing and silly? Arguably. News? Not by a long shot. The new exhibit opening Saturday at Skidmore College’s Tang museum, Hair: Untangling a Social History, will show that cares about the coif are of long-standing concern.

Curator Penny Jolly, a professor of art history at Skidmore, has said, “We—like our ancestors before us—manipulate hair to tell the world who we are. We wash it and dry it, bleach it and dye it. We shave and transplant it, we buy conditioners, wigs and switches, frosting kits, blow dryers, razors, curling irons, powders and sprays. Growth of body hair tells us that we are mature, and its loss signals decline.” And the 125 works on display—from a 16th-century portrait to Bozo the Clown’s scarlet afro—will provide a historical range of illustrations of the other things hair can signal: sexual availability, personal wealth, political affiliation or humorous intent being just a few examples. (Pictured is John Sloan’s 1912 oil on canvas, Women Drying Their Hair.)

The exhibition will also include, over the course of its run until June 6, poetry readings, film screenings, curator’s tours and special lectures—all dedicated to that signifying mess atop your noggin.

Hair opens at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery on the Skidmore College campus (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs) on Saturday (Jan. 31), and runs through June 6. For more information, call 580-8080.

Max Lifchitz: A Retrospective

We showcase so many composers and musicians who visit the area for one-night stands that we have to be careful not to overlook equally notable artists in our own backyard. Take, for example, pianist-composer (and University at Albany faculty member) Max Lifchitz. His talents have been praised from coast to coast. Literally: The New York Times admired his “clean, measured and sensitive performances,” and the San Francisco Chronicle noted that his compositions are evidence of a “brilliant imagination.”

On Sunday, UAlbany is presenting Max Lifchitz: A Retrospective, a special concert featuring a selection of the composer’s chamber music written over the last 25 years. Works on the program will include Ethnic Mosaic (for flute, bassoon and piano), Yellow Ribbons Nos. 2 and 5 (the former for violin, clarinet and piano; the latter for two clarinets and piano) and Affinities and Implications for solo piano.

Max Lifchitz: A Retrospective will be presented on Sunday (Feb. 1) at 3 PM in the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center (University at Albany, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany). Tickets are $5 for the public and $2 for students. For more information, call 442-3997.

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