Memorable May

According to the Library of Bizarre May Holidays at thinkquest dot com, last month was Better Sleep Month, National Good Car Care Month, National Photo Month, National Salad Month, National Egg Month, National Barbecue Month, Revise Your Work Schedule Month, Date Your Mate Month, National Hamburger Month, and Fungal Infection Awareness Month.
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According to the Library of Bizarre May Holidays at, last month was Better Sleep Month, National Good Car Care Month, National Photo Month, National Salad Month, National Egg Month, National Barbecue Month, Revise Your Work Schedule Month, Date Your Mate Month, National Hamburger Month, and Fungal Infection Awareness Month.

More importantly, May was the month of Memorial Day, celebrated on the last Monday, making for a long holiday weekend of barbecues, family get-togethers, parades, and ceremonies all over the country commemorating the sacrifice of the men and women in our armed services throughout our history. Such observances these days are particularly sobering, as an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq drags on, and US combat deaths climb toward 3,000.

But May also brought forth happier festivals: at the beginning of the month Edmonton, Alberta, celebrated May Week with a Labour Arts Festival; Norton Park Elementary in Cobb County, Georgia, produced Cultural Arts Day on May 11; on the last Saturday the Woodstock Arts Consortium opened all the arts venues in town for Arts Day, which included a play slam by the notorious Woodstock Fringe.

You can probably also figure out what unofficial holidays are associated with the month of May by counting up the number of your friends and relations who have birthdays in February.

At Arts Hub, the month of May was a long one — not only because it had the maximum number of days for a month in the Gregorian calendar, but also because the weekends arranged themselves in such a way as to provide for ten “issues” of the e-bulletin all subscribers receive twice a week from Arts Hub US, and so for an extra week of features and news.

The month’s features began with an interview with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, surveyed choreography preservation efforts by the NEA in the US and ad hoc choirs around the world; reported on the future of electronic literature and the perceived necessity of a post-graduate degree in the arts; introduced Annie Leist, who will be writing a column for us on the business of being an artist, as well as new feature writers Joel Simpson and Connie Anthes, who reviewed important exhibitions in New York, one in Brooklyn, the other in Tribeca; and considered the work of a glass artist who is also an extremely successful businessman.

In the news, we found a rapper who does Canterbury Tales, regressed to childhood and went back to Disneyland, visualized the numbers on American consumption, contemplated the chaos of English spelling, visited some online artists collectives, examined an Americans for the Arts report saying that art is good business, cheered a funding increase for the NEA, and slipped over the border to take in an auction in Canada.

For me, much of the first half of the month was taken up with multiple events: the first two weekends comprised the 100th Festival of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, which inolved a performance of the St. Matthew Passion on Friday and the B Minor Mass on Saturday of each week, plus a recital with the Paul Taylor 2 dancers and the Bach Festival Orchestra and a good long visit to the Gallery in Lehigh University’s Zoellner Arts Center, where 100 years of Bach Choir memorabilia were on display.

In the middle of all that, I made a trek out to my hometown of Pittsburgh, where I retraced my elementary school steps on countless field trips to the “cultural” east end of town, where I took in Dale Chihuly’s Gardens & Glass exhibition at Phipps Conservatory, taking tens of photos on my new camera phone that I now can’t figure out how to retrieve — working on it.

When I wasn’t dashing between engagements or chained to my computer cranking out the news, I read some wonderful hypertexts in the Electronic Literature Collection, the last of seven stories in the Award Science Fiction Reader, an antique anthology of tales of yesterday’s tomorrows from the 1960s, and Jonathan Lethem’s hot-off-the-press You Don’t Love Me Yet. And, after a tortuous series of negotiations, I finally got a date with my daughter on the last day of the month, when we visited the exquisite exhibition Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan at the Japan Society.

Coming up in June at Arts Hub: Ellis Finger surveys the big-time opera situation in New York, where its two major organizations have undergone regime change in the past year. Following his masterful examination of the Global Feminisms exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, Joel Simpson will do the same for the Greek and Roman wing that just reopened after being a coffee shop for 30 years at the Met. Allexandra Collier will follow on her intro to the MFA scene in the arts by comparing the careers of established artists who followed different paths after college. And this month we’ll introduce two gentlemen through our Artist’s Voice feature: Domenic Salerni, a young violinist from a musical family (his father Paul just won a National Opera Award), and Everett Quinton, a veteran actor-director-writer whose credits include the late lamented Ridiculous Theatrical Company.

We look forward to seeing you in June!

Bill Bly
About the Author
Bill Bly is the Editor of Arts Hub US. He is an author and musician who lives in New York City and Bethlehem, PA.