Arts and culture

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

When best-selling novelist Joshilyn Jackson first walked into prison, she was scared. This was despite the fact that she would be able to leave any time.

Jackson was there as a volunteer for the nonprofit Reforming Arts, which works to provide a liberal arts education to women in prison. On this edition of “Writer to Reader,” Jackson shares the reservations she had about the possibility of teaching inmates.

Looking back on her lesson plan, Jackson says that her book choice, “To Kill A Mockingbird” was “the worst, best choice.”

Bob Galbraith / Associated Press

Wednesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

National Black Arts Festival Spotlights Theater

10 hours ago
Allen Weeks

The National Black Arts Festival holds quite a title, from its website: “it is the oldest multidisciplinary arts organization in the United States focused exclusively on the arts and on artists of African descent.”

The nonprofit organization is based here in Atlanta, but it draws people from across the country to participate in its expansive programming from visual arts to dance to the literary arts.

Myke Johns / WABE

When we think of our city's long-lived arts institutions, we often think of the Woodruff, with the Atlanta Symphony, the High Museum and the Alliance Theatre. Organizations such as Eyedrum or WonderRoot may come to mind, too. Here is another one: Art Papers.

This bi-monthly magazine covering the arts in Atlanta and internationally is celebrating 40 years, making them the longest-running nonprofit arts publication in the country. They are also the only internationally distributed arts magazine to be based in Atlanta.

Courtesy of the Vega Quartet

Tuesday on "City Lights with Lois Reizes":

Vega Quartet Celebrates 10 Years Of Emory Residency

Sep 13, 2016
Courtesy of the Vega Quartet

The New York Times heralded the Vega Quartet for its intoxicating playing, and the group has toured extensively across the world to major cities, venues and festivals.

But the quartet members are also educators. This season marks their tenth as Emory University’s Quartet in Residence. With Emory, they have created the Youth Chamber Music Program, host master classes and ensure the next generation of chamber music lovers.

Brittany Lauback

Gabrielle Fuentes' debut novel “The Sleeping World” arrives on the shelves today. The novel is set during a tumultuous time in Spanish history.

It’s 1977, and Spain is transitioning from the brutal Francisco Franco regime to an uncertain democracy. Elections are on the horizon, and protests erupt throughout the country.

Al Such / WABE

Thomas Mullen’s biography opens with the confession that while his neighbors near downtown Atlanta “suspect not a thing, he commits murders, spins wildly convoluted conspiracy theories, travels through time, [and] reinvents the past.”

Atlanta History Center

When it comes to fashion, Atlanta has yet to reach the heights of New York or Paris, but throughout its history, Atlanta has had its fair share of fashionable women and designers.

An exhibit at the Atlanta History Center’s Swan House highlights some of those women. “Fashion in Good Taste” is an exhibit currently on view through Oct. 10 and features 28 pieces, illustrating Atlanta’s haute couture from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Ben Rose /

Monday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Ben Rose /

The Black Mafia Family was one of the largest drug-running organizations in U.S. history. It formed in the late 80s in Detroit and operated its distribution hub in Atlanta through the 90s and early 2000s. Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory ran BMF’s distribution here, and his brother, Terry "Southwest T" Flenory, handled supply from Mexico into Los Angeles.

Eight years ago, on Sept. 12, 2008, the brothers were sentenced to 30 years in jail. Though they're behind bars now, the BMF brand survives in music and pop culture.

The Beach Boys are pictured performing on stage in Essen, West Germany, October 30, 1966.
AP Photo/Klaus Schlagmann

Friday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Courtesy of Morehouse College


One of Atlanta's historically black colleges is highlighting historical, black music. Morehouse College will host "How Sweet the Sound: 2nd Ecumenical Celebration of Music in the Black Church" on Friday, Sept. 9, and Saturday, Sept. 10.

  It's partly a conference -- with workshops to help musicians brush up on their skills. It's also part celebration -- since it seeks to connect attendees with the legacy of African-American Christian music.

City Lights: 'Henry The VI'; Pearl Cleage; And More

Sep 8, 2016
Atlanta Shakespeare Company

Thursday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Photo by Albert Trotman

Many years ago, local celebrated playwright Pearl Cleage entered Charis Books & More and picked up a book seemingly for children, but within its pages were powerful messages of love and peace.

“The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering: A Story for Anyone Who Thinks She Can't Save the World” by Sharon Mehdi explores what would happen in grandmothers all over the world stopped, gathered and stood for peace.  

Atlanta Shakespeare Company

Beginning this Saturday at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse, the Atlanta Shakespeare Company returns to the 15th century and the War of the Roses. They are performing all three of Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays.

Those plays are rarely performed today but were wildly popular in Shakespeare’s own time.

“These are the plays that made Shakespeare’s career. This is how he got his name, how he won his position in Elizabethan theater world,” said Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s artistic director Jeff Watkins. He is also directing the three plays.

John Hayes / Associated Press

The Lady Chablis, the transgender performer who became an unlikely celebrity for her role in the 1994 best-seller "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," died Thursday in Savannah. She was 59.

Chablis' sister, Cynthia Ponder, confirmed she died at Candler Hospital. A close friend, Cale Hall, said Chablis died from pneumonia and had been in the hospital for the past month.

BreeAnne Clowdus / Aurora Theatre

Wednesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Stungun Photography / 7 Stages Theatre

London’s most notorious criminal has hit Atlanta … or one of Atlanta’s stages, at any rate.

7 Stages Theatre is opening their 38th season with Bertolt Brecht’s groundbreaking work, "The Threepenny Opera." Directed by 7 Stages’ co-artistic director Michael Haverty with musical direction by Bryan Mercer, the show incorporates elements of late 1920s Berlin with 21st century touches like live video feeds and an opening credits sequence.

Bryan Meltz

Tuesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Artist, Fahamu Pecou, currently a Ph.D. student in Emory University's Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA), stands in front of his artwork at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Ga.
Bryan Meltz

Fahamu Pecou is here to re-define black masculinity.

Pecou’s paintings are in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection and have even been seen on the hit TV series, “Empire.” The Atlanta artist and scholar took time from his new major exhibit opening at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, S.C. to talk with Lois Reitzes on “City Lights.”

Photo by Rob Latour/Invision/AP

Actor Omar Dorsey has appeared in several Academy Award-winning movies, but his recent success has been on a smaller screen.

“Queen Sugar” is a new television series created by Ava DuVernay with Oprah Winfrey as the executive director. The story centers on three siblings, who must return to their family’s rural Louisiana farm after their father passes away. Dorsey plays Hollywood Desonier, the siblings' aunt’s boyfriend, who provides wisdom and support to the other characters.

Don Ryan / Associated Press

You don't have to know anything about opera to enjoy reading "The Queen of the Night," the recent novel by Alexander Chee. If you do love opera, there will be that much more to relish.

Set in the late 19th century, the book centers Lilliet Berne, an orphaned American girl who winds her way through the Parisian underground, taking on work as a circus performer, a prostitute, a courtesan and a spy. And though she never imagines ending up as a living legend, her voice propels her to stardom with the Paris Opera.

Donald Glover, creator/executive producer/director, participates in the "Atlanta" panel during the FX Television Critics Association summer press tour on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

The TV show "Atlanta" debuts Tuesday night on FX. Filmed and set here, its creator is Atlanta native Donald Glover.

Glover was previously an actor on the TV program "Community," he was a writer on "30 Rock," and he raps as Childish Gambino.

He grew up in Stone Mountain and went to DeKalb School of the Arts

Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

Thursday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Matthew Mead / Associated Press

Wednesday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Marie Muravski

Author Edith Stubbs teaches us that ambition has no age limit.

She’s 12 and has already written a children’s book, “The Adventures of Amelia the Crazy Jumping Hedgehog,” under her pen name Speedy McGruffin. Russian artist Marie Muravski illustrated the book, and it’s the first in a projected trilogy.  

Stubbs wrote the story when she was 9 while on her family’s boat.

SCADFILM Looks To Put Atlanta Filmmakers In Charge

Aug 31, 2016
Walter Attenni / Associated Press

At this point, we all know that Georgia has a growing film industry. Maybe you've seen Helen Mirren exiting a restaurant or stumbled across the cast of "Stranger Things" in the woods. Productions are hiring more and more people based in the South.

But Georgians are still trying to find a way to dominate all aspects of the filmmaking process. The Savannah College of Art and Design recently launched a program called SCADFILM to do just that.

Meg Chase

Atlanta's claim to reality TV fame has been "Real Housewives of Atlanta," but a new show delves into the lives of real drag queens.

"Atlanta's A Drag" features five Atlanta drag queens as they navigate their lives in and out of drag. The cast includes a generational mix of Bubba D. Licious, Mr. Charlie Brown, Wild Cherry Sucret, B***** Puddin’, and Violet Chachki of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fame.

Lauren Cribb and Andrew McDonald are the producers of the series and are currently pitching their pilot episode to networks.