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Cygnet Theatre's GEM OF THE OCEAN and Mingei International Museum's Bill Traylor Exhibit Celebrate African-American Artists, Spring 2013


Cygnet Theatre and Mingei International Museum will join forces in 2013 to celebrate the work of two African-American artists. Mingei will present "Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts" from February 9 - May 12, 2013, and Cygnet will premiere August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean from January 24 - February 24, 2013. The partnership between both organizations is designed to build audiences for these two important shows during Black History Month.

Bill Traylor (1854-1949) is one of the best-known and most highly esteemed artists from the American South, while August Wilson (1945-2005) has been recognized as one of America's most celebrated dramatists.

"There is a natural synergy between our organizations in regards to these shows, and we look forward to sharing our art forms with our reciprocal audiences while recognizing these extraordinary African-American artists," said Sean Murray, Artistic Director of Cygnet Theatre.

"We've developed a multi-layered partnership that includes special events, discounts and workshops and performances in an effort to build new audiences for both organizations," explained Jessica Hanson York, Associate Director of Marketing and Development at Mingei International.

Features of the partnership include a Mingei Member Night at Cygnet Theatre, Thursday, February 7, and reciprocal discounts for members and subscribers. Cygnet's production of Gem of the Ocean is supported in part by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA Art Works grant will provide for outreach events including post show forums and a presentation of Walking in The Shadows of August Wilson by Antonio TJ Johnson. In addition, Johnson will present a one-man theatrical performance - Walking in The Shadows of Bill Traylor - at Mingei on Monday, February 11. Johnson is one of the featured actors in Gem of the Ocean.

Set in 1904, Gem of the Ocean is, chronologically, the first of ten plays in August Wilson's acclaimed Century Cycle examining the African-American experience in the 20th century.
This will be Cygnet's third production from Wilson's Century Cycle. In 2008, Cygnet presented Fences at its original Rolando Theatre location. In 2010, Cygnet revisited August Wilson's work with an acclaimed production of The Piano Lesson in its current home.

Mingei's exhibition will feature more than 60 of Traylor's drawings, including human and animal figures and depictions of his memories of plantation life or the urban landscape in Montgomery, Alabama. Traylor's drawings feature complex images in which he often combines several figures with abstract constructions. Although he worked largely in anonymity during his lifetime, Traylor became one of America's most respected self-taught artists after his exposure to a larger public in the groundbreaking 1982 exhibition "Black Folk Art in America, 1930-1980," held at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Ten years since taking flight, Cygnet Theatre has grown into San Diego's fifth largest theatre company and become known for producing adventurous, entertaining and thought-provoking live professional theater year round. Cygnet presents at least six main stage productions annually, ranging from classics and musicals to contemporary works that celebrate the human story at the recently renovated, state-of the-art Old Town Theatre in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Sean Murray and Executive Director Bill Schmidt, Cygnet has won more than 100 local awards for artistic excellence, including Theatre of the Year, Producer of the Year and multiple Best Production awards. In addition, Cygnet Theatre is committed to education outreach, new play development and community collaborations. For information, visit

Located in San Diego's Balboa Park, Mingei International Museum collects, preserves and exhibits "art of the world, art of the people", which includes folk art, craft and design from all eras and cultures of the world. A non-profit institution funded by admis­sion, individuals, and community support, the Museum offers inspiring exhibitions and diverse edu­cational programs to more than 100,000 visitors a year. For more, visit

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