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Douglas R. EwartOffline


    Composer, musician, visual artist, writer, craftsman, and inventor


    "If you have, you have enough to share."

    Grandmother Rebecca Ewart


    Crepuscule in Guelph 2016

    Crepuscule began in 1993 in Minneapolis, Minnesota as a commissioned work, called “Wondrous Waters,” based on a composition with an enormous group of people performing music, inspired by the sounds, acoustical properties and possibilities that playing on land and water provided. Douglas R. Ewart modified the idea from being just an orchestra with a relatively passive audience into an “orchestra of community and activities,” and an active audience, a microcosm of society where many disciplines could converge. As a visual artist, composer, musician, craftsman, inventor, philosopher, educator and community worker, Ewart recognized the link between art appreciation, self-expression, community expression and success in other areas of life. He himself was guided by his grandmother’s encouragement that "There is room at the top for you if you apply yourself.” Crepuscule extended the idea to the youth, stressing that the arts can open doors to other subjects and pursuits, such as botany, history, social studies, creative writing, mime, martial arts, science, mathematics, etc.


    During the summer of 1996, the President of the Bartram Village invited Ewart, Art in Different Places and the Tenants Coalition to work with the children of Philadelphia’s Bartram Village 4H Club to make musical instruments. They would perform on their instruments during an event that brought together a large variety of Philadelphia’s performing groups and individuals to Bartram’s Garden. During the following two summers, Ewart returned to Philadelphia to conduct numerous workshops at three different sites. The festival had become a “constellation of stars” for residents of culturally underserved areas. Crepuscule (pronounced kre’-pu-skewl) provides a space for artists and laypersons/novices of all ages and skill levels to perform all kinds of creative art forms and disciplines, including music, dance, storytelling, karate, Tai Chi, theatre, poetry, and other art forms from many cultures.


    Building on the momentum created by the Minneapolis and Philadelphia projects, Crepuscule united more children along with neighborhood adults and professional artists in the city of Chicago. Responding to a lack of activities for youth, economic infrastructure and a lack of venues for public performance, Ewart began collaborating with the Chicago Park District and the Jazz Institute of Chicago in 2000 to offer workshops to participants of after school arts and education programs in Chicago’s Southside. Programs and activities continued to expand and to address community needs, providing greater opportunities for different voices to speak and to sing about their lives in the community in which they lived. Performances included percussion, saxophone, Shakere, Capoeira, Ta’i Chi, children’s theatre, African dance, Aikido, spoken word, murals and maritime skills. Throughout the day, performers and audience participants reflected upon ancient proverbs “One small wind can raise much dust” “I love myself I love the human spirit,” and “We are the present future.” Crepuscule also honored community elders, paying tribute to those who made significant contributions to their families and communities.

    About Me

    Douglas R. Ewart

    Douglas R. Ewart playing his own hand crafted bass transverse double/two flutes in one and palm flute,

    Douglas R. Ewart, Professor Emeritus at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1946.HHis life and his wide-ranging work have always
    been inextricably associated with Jamaican culture, history, politics, and the land itself.

    His father, Tom Ewart, was one of cricket’s most internationally celebrated professional umpires, eventually earning induction into the Cricket Hall of Fame. His aunt, Iris King, was a leading member of Norman Manley’s People’s National Party, and later, the first
    woman mayor in Jamaica.

    Professor Ewart immigrated to Chicago in 1963, where he studied music theory at VanderCook College of Music, electronic music at Governors State University, and composition at the School of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. The AACM is renowned for its wide-ranging experimental approaches to music; its
    leading lights include Muhal Richard Abrams, Joseph Jarman, Fred Anderson, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Lester Bowie, Kalaparusha Ara Difda, George Lewis, Malachi Maghostut Favors, Roscoe Mitchell, Amina Claudine Myers, Henry Threadgill, and many others, including Professor Ewart himself, who served as the
    organization's president between 1979 and 1987.
    Professor Ewart’s extremely varied and highly interdisciplinary work encompasses music composition (including graphic and conceptual scores as well as conventionally notated works), painting and kinetic sound sculpture, and multi-instrumental performance on
    virtually the full range of saxophones, flutes, and woodwinds, including the flutes, pan-
    pipes, rainsticks and percussion instruments of his own design and construction for which he is known worldwide.

    Professor Ewart’s work as composer, instrument maker and
    visual artist has long reflected his understanding of the importance of sustainable and natural materials, particularly bamboo, which serves not only as primary physical materials for many of his sculptures and instruments, but also crucial conceptual elements of some of his most important recordings, such as the widely influential Bamboo
    Meditations At Banff (1993) and Bamboo Forest (1990). His visual art and kinetic works have has been shown at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Ojai Festival, Art Institute of Chicago, Institute for Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), Contemporary Arts
    Museum Houston, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, and many others.
    His graphic/conceptual instrumental work Red Hills (1979), an homage to his native Jamaica, is very widely performed, and his work as performing instrumentalist has been presented in the Caribbean (Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti), Europe (France, Germany, Italy,
    Holland, UK), Japan, Bali, South America, Scandinavia, and Australia, as well as the United States and Puerto Rico, and recorded on numerous labels, including his own Aarawak recording company. Professor Ewart is the leader of such important musical
    ensembles as the Nyahbingi Drum Choir, Orbit, Quasar, StringNets, and the Clarinet Choir, and in addition to his AACM colleagues, Professor Ewart has performed with Cedric I Am Brooks, Ernest Ranglin, Cecil Taylor, James Newton, Anthony Davis,
    Robert Dick, Jin Hi Kim, Alvin Curran, Von Freeman, Yusef Lateef, Richard Teitelbaum, Mankwe Ndosi, Edward Kidd Jordan, Wadada Leo Smith, Steve Lacy, and others.

    Professor Ewart’s highly communitarian work as a conceptual artist is best represented by Crepuscule (1993-present), a massive participation performance coordinated by hisensemble, Douglas R. Ewart and Inventions. Strongly informed by the Jamaican
    Jonkunnu tradition, Crepuscule is an all-day event that is collectively created by scores of musicians, dancers, visual artists, poets, capoeira, puppeteers, martial artists, activists,
    elders, children and more, in streets and parks in Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Paris, France, Guelph Canada and more. Moreover, this communitarian orientation has long included educational work in underserved communities, such as his work since 1992 in Minneapolis’s ArtStart, summer interdisciplinary arts program since its inception in 1992 and his work since 1980 at Chicago’s Urban Gateways Center for Arts Education,
    which was documented in the 1992 British telefilm On the Edge: Improvisation in Music.

    Among his many honors, Professor Ewart was personally presented with the Outstanding
    Artist Award by Chicago's first African American mayor, Harold Washington. He has received two Bush Artists Fellowships (1997, 2007), three McKnight Fellowships (1992,
    1994 and 2001), among others, as well as the U.S.–Japan Creative Artist Fellowship
    (1987), a year-long residency in Yokohama where he studied Japanese techniques of instrument building. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and others.