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Having won the Pulitzer Prize for his play A Strange Loop, what will he do next? One possibility, move to Wyoming. “I’d get my house somewhere, get my shotgun, if I needed it, and sit on my porch in my rocking chair.” An eastern sophisticate contemplates the West, Tori Amos, and soap opera. Presented with Federal Hall and the New York Harbor Conser…
 
Before embracing a more salubrious life in Los Angeles, he rollicked through a years-long spree back east. “New York is paradise if you’re a drunk, and a very challenging place to be sober.” A slogan inexplicably rejected by the New York Visitors Bureau. This master of electronic dance music talks about religion, wilderness, and David Bowie’s hat.…
 
This actor and singer won a Grammy, an Emmy, and a Tony for The Color Purple. She played Harriet Tubman in Harriet and Aretha Franklin in Genius. Is there anything she can’t do? “I will not be releasing an album of Hawaiian guitar music; I don’t think I can get nearly good enough to do that.” Hey, if she turned her mind to it . . .…
 
He is the writer of Drafted: A Memoir of the '60s and the screenplays for The Boys from Brazil (Gregory Peck) Fort Apache, the Bronx (Paul Newman), and Cocktail (Tom Cruise). “I definitely learned how to deal with people who were tougher than me, smarter than me, stronger than me; I had to find my way in that world.” He means the schoolyard. He als…
 
“I have no interest in completing projects,” says this architect, winner of the Pritzker Prize. “A lot of our stuff just keeps moving; it refuses to have an edge, a boundary; it’s in constant change.” For someone who feels that way, he’s completed an awful lot of them, and to great acclaim. Presented with the Center for Architecture.…
 
Every musician relishes applause — who doesn't? — but the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic also finds value in an audience booing. “To know that someone was infuriated by a performance or a set or something like that is kind of enjoyable in a sick sort of way, too.” The joys of a passionately engaged audience.…
 
She heads New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, safeguarding 36,000 buildings. She loves them all, of course, but one material has a special claim on her heart. “We have terra cotta everywhere in this city, architectural terra cotta. It’s structural, it’s non-structural, it’s ornamental.” That fabulous clay, that magical goo, that stuf…
 
To experience art does not mean to contemplate an immutable exquisite object, but to cultivate a relationship, says this dancer/choreographer. “It’s similar to what you get from long-term friendships or marriage or family.” Maybe not my family, but I see what she means. Introduced by Ralph Farris, violist in the quartet Ethel, and creator of Co-Lab…
 
One way to describe art is to note that it has beauty but not utility. This poet rejects that dichotomy, especially when it comes to everyday objects. “Often, things that are domestic are diminished because they are connected to females.” She loves things that are both beautiful and useful: quilts, fans, teapots. A conversation with the winner of t…
 
Author of The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War, he is as sophisticated an intellectual as any of his colleagues at The New Yorker. The book that set him on his path? A Hardy Boys mystery, The Secret of the Old Mill. “I read this, and my heart was pounding. And I thought, I want to do that. I want to write things that will make people’s h…
 
This actor, perhaps best known as Dan Humphrey in Gossip Girl and Joe Goldberg in the Netflix series You, is modest about his craft. “The only thing that’s ours as actors is how we feel as we say lines we didn’t write, as we wear clothes we didn’t purchase or even choose.” The importance of emotional honesty, the burden of dubious sport jackets. Pr…
 
This terrific graphic designer loves, without nostalgia, the world of print magazines where she began. She cautions her students, denizens of the online realm, “Everything looks cool on screen.” Her prescription: “Buy a printer, buy a printer, buy a printer.” The seductive deceptions of the digital, the bracing revelations of the physical. Presente…
 
When this sculptor creates a statue of a historical figure―Sojourner Truth, Ella Fitzgerald, Teddy Roosevelt―she learns a lot about her subject. While conceiving a more metaphoric project, Victory, she made a disconcerting discovery: there are no Black angels in public art. “Are you trying to say there are no Black people in heaven?” she demanded. …
 
Some scholars toil away their lives, humbly adding their mote to the supply of human knowledge. Then there was Selma Barkham. “She was responsible for finding out something about Newfoundland that nobody had ever known,” says Annie Proulx. A fine writer–The Shipping News, Brokeback Mountain–tells the story of an extraordinary scholar. Presented wit…
 
This sculptor, perhaps best known for a series of piece resembling captured tornadoes, describes how her darker feelings affect her work: “As artists, we are very sensitive to pain, but we don’t just use it as something to whine about, but as a probing tool.” No whining? No wonder I’m not an artist. Well, that and my lack of talent. A conversation …
 
She is as sophisticated as any architect working today, as her glorious Aqua Tower attests, yet she still learns from birds. “Not to build a building that looks like a nest but to consider what’s available, what is nearby, what could be put to use.” She’s also learned from Marcus Aurelius, although he was not capable of sustained flight. Presented …
 
She is a fashion designer whose work is in the permanent collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her guiding precept: “I just like the clothes to be useful, you know? That’s really the basic thing.” What I could use is pants that cook my dinner, but I’m not very sophisticated. I dress for radio. …
 
When he was a boy, his great-uncle Buckminster Fuller often came to the house. “He would clear his throat halfway through dinner, then stand up and talk for three hours.” When Marvel was a young man, he stayed in Isamu Noguchi’s studio. “In return for living there, I cooked for him on Sundays.” (As a young man, I crashed on my cousin Sheldon’s couc…
 
At age nine, he saw a Leonard Bernstein Young People’s Concert featuring Dmitiri Shostakovich and something happened. In a good way. Trauma free. A conversation with the Pulitzer-winning composer, introduced by Ralph Farris, violist in the quartet Ethel and creator of Co-Lab, a virtual conference on collaboration. And these guys have. Splendidly.…
 
The Wall Street Journal’s language columnist plays with our format, offering Word Word Word – and more elegantly still, the same word for each segment: orange. Then he makes a painful disclosure: “I myself am color-blind, and so I’m not completely attuned to all the nuances of it.” Hey, Beethoven was deaf, and he got the job done. Ben, too.…
 
A fine writer and ardent environmentalist, he counts himself lucky to have worked at The New Yorker with (for? near?) William Shawn, “the greatest editor of the twentieth century.” What contributed to his mastery? “Once he had writers in his stable, he was quite interested in what they were interested in.” Professional skill as a manifestation of i…
 
He’s created buildings from Montreal (Habitat 67) to Singapore (Jewel Changi Airport), but Jerusalem -- the center of three Abrahamic religions, where people have lived for 6,000 years – is different: “It takes an act of real arrogance to build in a city like that. It was quite emotionally wrenching.” Presented by the Center for Architecture.…
 
This trumpet player has sold 72 million albums worldwide, including five number ones, and also founded A&M records. Ordinarily we’d talk about his person, place, and thing, but instead we devote our conversation to his person, songwriter Burt Bacharach--73 top-forty hits. One enormously successful musician talks about another, with respect and affe…
 
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