National Wildlife Refuge Association Announces 2015 Photo Contest Winners

Dennis Davenport of Portland, Ore. Wins Grand Prize for Photo of an American Kestrel at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington

Conducted by the National Wildlife Refuge Association, an independent nonprofit that promotes the Refuge System, the Wildlife Refuge Photography Contest highlights the stunning scenery and wildlife found on more than 560 national wildlife refuges. An American kestrel perched on a cattail at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington was this year’s grand prize winner in a photography contest seeking to highlight the diverse, natural beauty found in the National Wildlife Refuge System, the world’s largest network of conservation lands and waters. Taken by Dennis Davenport of Portland, Ore., the image depicts the kestrel, the smallest North American falcon, gazing directly at the viewer. For his grand prize winning photo, Davenport will receive a check for $1,000.

American Kestrel at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Wash. | Credit: Dennis Davenport, Grand Prize Winner (PRNewsFoto/National Wildlife Refuge ...)

American Kestrel at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Wash. | Credit: Dennis Davenport, Grand Prize Winner (PRNewsFoto/National Wildlife Refuge …)

America’s national wildlife refuges are outstanding places to capture the beauty of nature and the wonder of wildlife,” said David Houghton, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “Nature photography is a growing passion on our wildlife refuges. We’re excited to showcase the skills and talents of the photographers who visit our refuges to visually tell the stories of the wildlife and people that make these places special.

Other top winners in this year’s contest are:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Fla. | Credit: Craig Goettschof, Second Place Winner (PRNewsFoto/National Wildlife Refuge ...)

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Fla. | Credit: Craig Goettschof, Second Place Winner (PRNewsFoto/National Wildlife Refuge …)

Second place: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, photographed by Craig Goettsch of of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Harbor seal pup at Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Ore. | Credit: Steve Dimock, Third Place Winner (PRNewsFoto/National Wildlife Refuge ...)

Harbor seal pup at Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Ore. | Credit: Steve Dimock, Third Place Winner (PRNewsFoto/National Wildlife Refuge …)

Third place: Harbor seal pup at Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, photographed by Steve Dimock of Bandon, Ore.

Gulf fritillary at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Texas | Credit: Freddie Beckwith, Fourth Place Winner (PRNewsFoto/National Wildlife Refuge ...)

Gulf fritillary at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Texas | Credit: Freddie Beckwith, Fourth Place Winner (PRNewsFoto/National Wildlife Refuge …)

Fourth place: Gulf fritillary at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, photographed by Freddie Beckwith of Pottsboro, Texas.

A complete list this year’s winners and those receiving an honorable mention, along with their images, are featured on the 2015 Refuge Photography Contest homepage at: www.refugeassociation.org/people/photo-contest-2015.

The National Wildlife Refuge System is the world’s premier system of protected public lands, encompassing more than 150 million acres of land and water in every U.S. state and territory, plus more than 418 million acres of national marine monuments. The National Wildlife Refuge Association is the only independent nonprofit that promotes and protects the world’s largest wildlife conservation network: the National Wildlife Refuge System. Learn more at: www.refugeassociation.org.

The contest would not have been possible without the tremendous generosity of the following sponsors: Eagle Optics, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Orvis and Wild Bird Centers.

“Fiddler To The World” Itzhak Perlman Awarded 2016 Genesis Prize

World’s Preeminent Violinist Recognized For His Exceptional Contributions As A Musician, Teacher, Advocate For Individuals With Special Needs And Dedication To Jewish Values

The Genesis Prize Foundation today announced that world renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman has been selected as the 2016 Genesis Prize Laureate. The Genesis Prize is a $1 million annual award given to individuals who have achieved extraordinary professional success, have made a significant contribution to humanity, and inspire others through their engagement and dedication to the Jewish community and the State of Israel.

2016 Genesis Prize Laureate, Itzhak Perlman, meets Chairman and Co-Founder of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets (PRNewsFoto/The Genesis Prize Foundation)

2016 Genesis Prize Laureate, Itzhak Perlman, meets Chairman and Co-Founder of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets (PRNewsFoto/The Genesis Prize Foundation)

The announcement of his Genesis Prize award comes on the heels of Itzhak Perlman’s receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 25. President Obama’s announcement noted that Perlman has been the soloist for the musical score in Schindler’s List, which subsequently won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. Two other US presidents – Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton – have previously recognized Perlman, a Warner Music artist, by awarding him the Medal of Liberty and the National Medal of Arts in 1986 and 2000, respectively.

The inaugural Genesis Prize – dubbed by Time magazine as “The Jewish Nobel” – was awarded in 2014 to New York Mayor and one of the world’s leading philanthropists, Michael Bloomberg. Academy-award winning actor, producer and peace activist Michael Douglas received this prestigious award in 2015.

“Itzhak Perlman is the embodiment of everything an ideal Genesis Prize Laureate should be,” said Chairman and Co-Founder of the Genesis Prize, Stan Polovets. “Itzhak has achieved unparalleled professional success, and through his music brings joy to millions of people around the world. A 16 time Grammy award winner, he has been an incredible source of inspiration for individuals with special needs by overcoming tremendous personal challenges after having been severely disabled by polio at age four. And he has given back to society by dedicating virtually all of his free time and significant resources to teaching young talented musicians and to serving as an advocate for individuals with disabilities. We are delighted to have Itzhak as our 2016 Laureate.” (To view Itzhak Perlman’s full biography, visit the Genesis Prize website at www.genesisprize.org/laureates/laureate-2016. ) Continue reading

9 Foreign Language Films Advance In Oscar® Race

Nine features will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 88th Academy Awards®. Eighty films had originally been considered in the category.

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2015 are being determined in two phases. The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 14. The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

The shortlist will be winnowed down to the category’s five nominees by specially invited committees in New York, Los Angeles and London. They will spend Friday, January 8, through Sunday, January 10, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.

The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:

Belgium, “The Brand New Testament,” Jaco Van Dormael, director;

Colombia, “Embrace of the Serpent,” Ciro Guerra, director;

Denmark, “A War,” Tobias Lindholm, director;

Finland, “The Fencer,” Klaus Härö, director;

France, “Mustang,” Deniz Gamze Ergüven, director;

Germany, “Labyrinth of Lies,” Giulio Ricciarelli, director;

Hungary, “Son of Saul,” László Nemes, director;

Ireland, “Viva,” Paddy Breathnach, director;

Jordan, “Theeb,” Naji Abu Nowar, director.

The 88th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 14, 2016, at 5:30 a.m. PT at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

First Retrospective of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, France’s Last Great Royal Portraitist, Opens at Metropolitan Museum in February

Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France

Exhibition dates: February 15–May 15, 2016

Exhibition Location: Special Exhibition Gallery, first floor, Gallery 199

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) is one of the finest 18th-century French painters and among the most important of all women artists. An autodidact with exceptional skills as a portraitist, she achieved success in France and abroad during one of the most eventful, turbulent periods in European history. Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France is the first retrospective and only the second exhibition devoted to this artist in modern times. The 80 works on view at the Metropolitan Museum will be paintings and a few pastels from European and American public and private collections.

All portraits by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, Paris 1755-1842 Paris): Self-portrait, 1790. Oil on canvas. Galleria degli Uffizi, Corridoio Vasariano, Florence (1905)

All portraits by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, Paris 1755-1842 Paris): Self-portrait, 1790. Oil on canvas. Galleria degli Uffizi, Corridoio Vasariano, Florence (1905)

The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, and the National Gallery of Canada, with the exceptional participation of the Château de Versailles.

The exhibition is made possible by the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, and the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund. Corporate support provided by Bank of America. Additional support is provided by gifts made in memory of Parker Gilbert.

Born in Paris during the reign of Louis XV, Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was the daughter of a professional pastel portraitist who died when she was 12 years old. Precocious and largely self-taught, in her teens Mademoiselle Vigée, chaperoned by her mother, was already working independently as a portraitist and contributing to the support of her family. It became necessary for her to join the artisanal guild in 1774, and she exhibited publicly for the first time at age 19 at the SALON OF THE ACADÉMIE DE SAINT-LUC.

All portraits by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, Paris 1755-1842 Paris): Marie Antoinette with a Rose, 1783. Oil on canvas. Lynda and Stuart Resnick

All portraits by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, Paris 1755-1842 Paris): Marie Antoinette with a Rose, 1783. Oil on canvas. Lynda and Stuart Resnick

In 1776 she married the principal art dealer and expert in 18th-century Paris, JEAN BAPTISTE PIERRE LE BRUN, with whom she had a daughter, Julie. Theirs was largely a marriage of convenience, beneficial to both, although his profession at first kept her from being accepted into the prestigious ACADÉMIE ROYALE DE PEINTURE ET DE SCULPTURE. At 23, Vigée Le Brun was summoned to Versailles to paint Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), who was a few months younger than she. The earliest of three full-length life-size portraits of the queen in the exhibition will be Marie Antoinette in Court Dress (1778, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), which was delivered to her mother, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, in 1779. The most important painting of the queen, commissioned as a propaganda piece for the monarchy and shown at the Salon of 1787, is Marie Antoinette and Her Children (Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon), in which she is presented as a regal mother with the dauphin and his two siblings.

The art of painting was fostered in France by the ACADÉMIE ROYALE DE PEINTURE ET DE SCULPTURE, established in Paris in 1648 under the leadership of Charles Le Brun (1619–1690). Women were barred from the school of the Académie because the students learned anatomy and the principles of drawing by studying and sketching from the nude male model. The Académie royale also controlled access to the Académie de France in Rome, where young male artists were afforded the opportunity to study the sculpture and monuments of antiquity. Women were afforded only the most limited access to the Salons of the Académie, where members brought their work before connoisseurs, critics, and potential patrons. (Of the 550 members of that organization during its 150-year history, only 14 were women.) Denied entry to this august organization because her husband was a dealer and association with the trade was prohibited, Vigée Le Brun was able to gain access only when Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI intervened.

All portraits by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, Paris 1755-1842 Paris): Baronne de Crussol Florensac, 1785. Oil on wood. Musée des Augustins, Toulouse

All portraits by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, Paris 1755-1842 Paris): Baronne de Crussol Florensac, 1785. Oil on wood. Musée des Augustins, Toulouse

Vigée Le Brun submitted Peace Bringing Back Abundance (1780, Musée du Louvre, Paris) as her reception piece, becoming one of the Académie’s last four female members, and she exhibited the picture at the Salon of 1783. She flourished, showing close to 40 works in the four Salons to which she had access (1783, 1785, 1787, 1789). Balancing innovation with tradition, she created intimate as well as public portraits, including, for example, the Duchesse de Polignac (1782, Versailles) and Emmanuel de Crussol-Florensac (1787, The Metropolitan Museum of Art). Simply dressed in white with loose, unpowdered hair, several of her female sitters exemplify the move from formality to the newly fashionable mode of sensibility. Vigée Le Brun was remarkable not only for her technical gifts, but for her understanding of and sympathy with her sitters. Continue reading