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January 2021

Michael Alexander

Dear Friends:

Happy New Year, or as I have been saying to my friends, "Better New Year." I hope you and your circle of family and friends are all well, and remain so.

The Public Programming staff (including our incredible stage crew and colleagues in the Office of Strategic Communications) all remain committed to providing the quality and caliber of performance arts and science-based programming. We are optimistic for the day when our doors reopen, but are ready to tackle the challenges ahead.

Among our concerns during this time of no public concerts has been how we, as a society, can continue to support artists so they can carry on creating new material and sustaining the excellence of their work. Many touring artists have been forced out of the business by the pandemic as have many of the small clubs, presenters, agencies, and others who make up the touring performing arts ecosystem.

I have been in conversations since Spring 2020 with colleagues (many based at universities and colleges) about what we can and must do to ensure that we have great artists ready and able to tour again once we are all comfortable returning to performance venues.

Like many other presenters around the country, since the pandemic began we have engaged artists to perform using various online formats or participate in online conversations that help all of us learn more about their creative processes. We also continue to share the work of Caltech scientists with a broader public. Here is a quick overview of what we have in store for you in the next few months.

Caltech Signature Lecture Series

We're proud that our Signature Lecture series—Watson, von Kármán, and Science Journeys—has made a seamless transition to the online realm and continues to build worldwide audiences that would not otherwise have access to these fascinating glimpses into the cutting-edge research being done at Caltech and JPL.

There is a new Watson, von Kármán, and Science Journey lecture each month, and all past lectures are available on demand via our web archive. Here is what each series offers:

  • Watson Lectures: These lectures, the oldest in our Signature Lecture series, feature campus researchers and professors sharing their latest work. (January 13 at 5 p.m.)
  • von Kármán Lectures: In these lectures, scientists at JPL (which Caltech manages for NASA) speak about the latest achievements in space exploration. (January 14 at 7 p.m.)
  • Science Journeys: In this new series, Caltech graduate students and post-docs share their path to science and aspects of their research in a lecture geared towards middle- and high-school students. (January 15 at 10 a.m.)

Behind the Book, Caltech's Authors Series:

We premier this new series with biracial author Blake Hill-Saya, whose book, Aaron McDuffie Moore, is a biography of her great-great-grandfather, the first Black physician in Durham, NC. He studied with New England-based white doctors who came south in the late 1800s to help create a medical community to serve the Black community. He also played a major role in the development of Durham's Black Wall Street. The book is published by University of North Carolina Press.

Monique Thomas from Caltech's Center for Inclusion and Diversity will be conducting the interview. (February 1 at 5 p.m. The event is being streamed live so that viewers can participate in the discussion. Register here.)

Performing Arts

  • From our colleagues in Caltech's Performing and Visual Arts department comes Socially Unacceptable, featuring a cast of undergraduates in a play that explores the psychological effects of moderating content for Facebook. (January 21, 22, and 23 at 5 p.m. with limited streaming to follow. See website for ticket details).

  • A Weekend with Pablo Picasso (Film): In March, we will present a filmed version of Herbert Siguenza's highly acclaimed play, A Weekend With Pablo Picasso. Siguenza, a member of the acclaimed Latinx comedic performance troupe Culture Clash, started his career as a visual artist. In the movie, he paints in the style of Picasso while revealing fascinating insights into the famous Spanish artist's thinking and work. We'll have more information about this event in our February newsletter.

We will also be presenting opportunities to engage directly with Siguenza, a major figure in Los Angeles theater. The first, on February 16, will be a special preview program for members of the Friends of Beckman Auditorium and other donors to Caltech. Visit the website to learn more about joining the Friends. Your support helps us produce science and arts programs for young people. Thanks to all our members, who we truly treasure.

We look forward to seeing you virtually for these programs, and cannot wait for the day when we welcome you back in person.

Happy New Year!