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    Washington’s Phillips Collection and Its 20th C. Photography Collection: ‘American Moments’

    Amy Henderson

    Phillips cropThe Phillips Collection is a lovely alternative to Washington, D.C.’s massive museums strung along the National Mall. Founded by Duncan Phillips in 1921, this private museum is nestled among row houses and restaurants in the vibrant Dupont Circle neighborhood. Known as America’s first museum of modern art, the Phillips today continues its founding vision to be known as an “intimate museum combined with an experiment station.” xxxxxx (more…)

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    Boston’s ‘Pentalum': Pushing the Boundaries of an Interactive Environment

    Mark Favermann

    www.artesmagazine.comLike some sort of unworldly mushrooms set on the Lawn on D next to Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston, the ‘Pentalum’ (exhibited on May 28 through 31) consisted of equal parts floating fantasy village, contemporary carnival ride, and pop-up environmental art installation. Though it has been seen by over 2 million visitors in 38 countries, the piece had never before been seen on the U.S. East Coast. The popularity is understandable: ‘Pentalum’ is a public art happening for every age. Based upon the physical integration of color and form, this walk-through experience is a very engaging and delightful serving of the light fantastic. It is just a lot of fun.

    Above: An interior view of the Pentalum’ on the Lawn on D in South Boston. Photo: Mark Favermann. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Barrington Stage with ‘Man of La Mancha’: Timeless Paean to the Human Spirit

    Charles Giuliano

    Jeff McCarthy (Don Quixote), Tom Alan Robbins (Sancho Panza). All photos: Kevin Sprague.

    Barrington Stage launches its tenth season in Pittsfield with a stunning revival of the now fifty-year-old musical, Man of La Mancha, directed by Julianne Boyd. Based on the raucous audience response, it is the first hit of what promises to be an outstanding summer of theatre in the Berkshires.

    While it is early to crank up the hyperbole, it is difficult to imagine that anyone will top Jeff McCarthy in the category of leading man in a musical. He has set the bar to an Olympics level with a stunning and career defining performance as the whacko, ersatz knight in tarnished armor, Don Quixote. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Mass MoCA and Anselm Kiefer: Agony’s Chapel

    Stephen Kobasa

    kiefer 1aThe wreckage is confined as if it were a crime scene display, solitary in a warehouse, awaiting the jury’s visit. This the antechamber to the installation of work by Anselm Kiefer now in place at MASS MoCA for the coming decade. The building on the former factory complex that was converted to house it was once a water storage tank for nearby boilers, and there is a sense of a pool having been drained to reveal these still decaying fragments on the floor, now making their long return to dust.

    Above: Anselm Kiefer, Étroits sont les Vaisseaux (Narrow are the Vessels), 2002, concrete, steel, lead and earth, 60 x 960 x 110”. All photos: Arthur Evans. Courtesy Hall Art Foundation © Anselm Kiefer. xxxxxx


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  • Editor’s Letter: June, 2015

    Richard Friswell

    Alfred kappes Tattered-and-Torn_smith colleg art“A voyage of discovery is not   new landscapes, but new eyes.” ~Marcel Proust

    Left: Alfred Kappes, ‘Tattered and Torn’ (1886). Collection: Smith College Museum of Art.

     ‘Uncle B’: A Remembrance

    “The Blues are a simple music and I’m a simple man. But the Blues aren’t a science, the Blues can’t be broken down like mathematics. The Blues are a mystery, and mysteries are never as simple as they look!” ~ BB King Music, color and deepest emotional expression converge in the African-American musical form known as the Blues. Derived from the color blue, the blues, in the plural form, express a wide range of emotions musically. Just as the color blue has wide variety of shades, so do the blues in terms of their intensity. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Ukiyo-e Print Master, Hokusai, Makes Waves at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts

    Charles Giuliano

    hok 15The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is currently displaying 230 works from seven decades by the Japanese master print maker, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). In the custom his era and profession, he was known by many names. Most of the works in the exhibition, organized by Sarah Thompson, the museum’s assistant curator for Japanese prints, are drawn from the museum’s vast collection. The MFA is regarded as having the finest collection of Japanese art of any museum, including those in Japan.

    Above: Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849),Watanabe no Gengo Tsuna and Inokuma Nyûdô Raiun, from an 
untitled series of warriors in combat (c.1833–5), Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection. All photos © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Freer-Sackler Gallery’s Peacock Room REMIX: Darren Waterston’s ‘Filthy Lucre’

    Amy Henderson

    The original Peacock Room (James Whistler, 1876-77), as it currently appears at the Freer-Sackler Museum.

    In 1873 Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner co-wrote a novel satirizing the grossly disproportionate class system that emerged in post-Civil War America. As industrial growth exploded, the Robber Barons/Captains of Industry (take your pick) accumulated vast fortunes that, in years before the income tax, seemed limitless. Inspired by the specter of such greed, Twain and Warner wrote The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. They snagged their title from Shakespeare’s King John (1595), which warned that “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily…is wasteful and ridiculous excess.” Theirs was not a golden age, the authors sniggered, but the less worthy gilded variety, in which a thin layer of gold covered a baser metal. xxxxxx (more…)

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    ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ at Hartford Stage: Not Just “Another Op’nin’”

    Geary Danihy

    Tyler Hanes and Megan Sikora in Hartford Stage production of ‘Kiss Me, Kate’

    With the success of “A Gentleman’s Guide…,” first in Hartford and then on Broadway, one might think that Hartford Stage’s artistic director Darko Tresnjak — given the “That’s great, but what have you done for me today?” syndrome — might take a musical comedy sabbatical. But no, Tresnjak has opted, in association with The Old Globe, to resurrect and re-stage Cole Porter’s 1948 come-back smash, “Kiss Me, Kate,” and he has done so with style, flair and inventiveness, albeit with major assistance from choreographer Peggy Hickey. xxxxxx (more…)

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Diller Scofidio + Renfro Architects

    Boston’s ICA to Expand: Lucky Break after Poor Initial Design Issues

    Charles Giuliano

    After decades of musical chairs with inadequate structures and locations there was short lived celebration nine years ago when the Institute of Contemporary Art relocated to the Boston waterfront in a dramatic building designed by Diller, Scofidio+Renfro.

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    Jill Medvedow accomplished what directors David Ross and Mielna Kalinovska had failed to do. At long last the ICA had a permanent home.

    Above: The cantilevered overhang on the present structure looks like someone took a giant bite out the space-starved ICA.  xxxxxx (more…)

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    Janet Echelman’s Dazzling Aerial Sculpture: for Boston, the Sky’s the Limit

    Mark Favermann

    5519_Janet-Echelman-Sculp 1With this one project, Boston has gone from a public art also-ran community to a serious cultural player.

    One glimpses a surreal vision when driving out of the Route 93 Tunnel at Boston’s downtown Purchase Street exit: a gigantic but benign jellyfish-like apparition is floating up in the sky. This diaphanous sculptural presence, gently dancing and fluttering in space, seems to be swimming on the wind. Artist Janet Echelman’s public art work, entitled As If It Were Already Here and hosted by the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, is a stunning achievement, an indelible image that manages to seem both ephemeral and permanent. xxxxxx (more…)

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  • Rodick, Portrait, crop Frances Rodick (red pearls), 2012, archival pigment print, 100 x 81 cm. Courtesy of the artist-001

    Toronto’s Articsók Gallery: In Conversation with Contemporary Artist, Frank Rodick

    Emese Krunak-Hajagos

    Rodick, Portrait, Frances Rodick, Time, 2012, archival pigment print, 190 x 95 cm. Courtesy of the artistE.K-H: You are an internationally acclaimed Toronto artist with many exhibitions to your credit and numerous articles about your photographs. This is your first solo show in the city. Why have there not been any shows of your work previously? How did you and Articsok Gallery find each other?

    Left: Frank Rodick, ‘Francis Rodick, Time’ (2012), archival pigment print. All images courtesy of the artist.

    F.R: Actually, it’s not my first solo show in Toronto, but it is the “first” in ten years. The simplest reason for that is I’ve been busy with exhibitions outside the country, mostly in the US, Latin America and Europe. I’ve generally shown where I’ve been invited. Articsók Gallery found me through LinkedIn and my website. xxxxxx (more…)

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    America’s Spectacle of Desire: Teresa of Avila Meets Abercrombie & Fitch

    Richard Friswell

    Editor’s Note: In light of the recent sentencing of Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the death penalty, it is timely and meaningful to re-post an essay that appeared in ARTES in 2013, soon after that horrific day that killed and maimed so many. The intention here was not to focus on the events of the day, but to shed light on the dynamics of our American–and by extension– Western European culture. A tradition of conspicuous consumerism has long been a source of alienation and disenfranchisement for many, particularly those new to this way-of-life. Marginalized and angry, many seek out the comforting and enabling message of radical and reactionary groups, in an effort to gain a sense of personal power. Today’s headlines are filled with the narrative of inner city communities struggling with those very issues. Here, an examination of the history and precedent that might lead to dramatic acts against a consumer-centric society are examined, in an effort to attribute motive to an otherwise senseless act of violence… 

    “In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false.”  ~The Society of the Spectacle ~Guy Debord, French philosopher (1931-1994)


    Paris in the 1880s– Streets lined with posters advertising consumer goods

    On the night police intercepted the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, they were on their way to New York City to wreak more havoc—their objective: Times Square. With hundreds-of-thousands of people walking or driving through the square each day, it makes an ideal ‘soft’ target. But that doesn’t fully explain why the locale has been such an appealing destination for terrorists over the last decade. The deeper and more profound answer to the question, Why Times Square? rests with its symbolic value as a blatant manifestation of Western capitalism and fetishistic, material excess. It is the towering and imposing, flashing-neon equivalent of photographer, Eugène Atget’s 19th century photographs of Paris’ poster-strewn walls and jammed merchandise display windows, during its nascent rise as a modernized symbol of urban consumerism. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Goodspeed’s ‘Guys and Dolls,’ Got the Show Right Here

    Geary Danihy

    Scott Cote (Nicely-Nicely) and the cast of Goodspeed’s Guys and Dolls. All photos © Diane Sobolewski

    Goodspeed Opera House, on the banks of the Connecticut River in Haddam, CT, starts its new season under the guidance of executive director Michael Gennaro with the same style, spirit and professionalism that marked the productions of the Michael Price era. Its first offering is Frank Loesser’s “Guys and Dolls,” one of the most successful of the Broadway musicals of the 1950s. It’s easy to see why the original show ran for 1,200 performances, and why this revival will please audiences throughout its two-month run. The show is well cast, artfully directed by Don Stephenson, and boasts an eye-catching set and period perfect costumes. xxxxxx (more…)

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    In the Realm of Spectacle and Dreams: 19th c. Artists and Writers Shape a New America

    Richard Friswell

    639 coverCurator’s Note: This virtual gallery ‘exhibition’ will examine the self-image of America during the Gilded Age, Mark Twain’s derisive term for a period of U.S. industrial and cultural expansion during the last quarter of the 19th century. It offered rich material for some of America’s best-known artists and writers. This exhibition focuses specifically on the cities of the Northeast and their rural environs. The art selected for inclusion in not intended to illustrate the text in any direct or literal sense; any more than the narrative excerpts are meant to be descriptive of the meaning or intent of any painting. Rather, they combine to provide a contemporaneous view of the painters’ visible world and writers’ literary sphere. The pairing of ‘narrative’ painting with a ‘painterly’ narrative yields a multi-sensory experience for the virtual gallery visitor which will hopefully prove larger than the sum of its parts.

    Part I of this ‘exhibition will focus on the late 19th c. New England city. Readers may want to familiarize themselves with the text of William Howell’s The Rise of Silas Latham (1885). In it, the author offer a rich and colorful narrative ‘picture’ of city life in Boston at the turn of the century. His ‘naturalistic’ style of story-telling set the stage for a new brand of novel—one in which everyday events and the interior lives of his characters are central—clearly the way for a new form of ‘modern’ literature in the next century. xxxxxx (more…)

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    At Hartford’s Atheneum: ‘Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008’

    Richard Friswell

    athen LunaParkEntrancelg“The best show is the people themselves.” –Reginald Marsh

    The lights of Coney Island glowed on the horizon like a distant inferno, visible from miles at sea. A modern marvel of the Industrial Age, thousands flocked from the metropolis of New York to this beach-side park to witness the marvel of electricity, a crush of humanity drawn to its magical power like moths to a flame. The trap was cleverly set by its designers, combining the timeless allure of the beach with a garish display of carnival rides and circus-like freak show attractions, pushing the limits of human form and abilities. Towering edifices outlined against the night sky with rows of incandescent light bulbs too numerous to count served as a lure for the curious and seasoned visitor, alike. An acres-long boardwalk traced a line between the natural beauty of the sea and manmade wonders of the park. An ‘island’ in name only, the appellation itself—Coney Island—represented more a state of mind, free from life’s cares, than the physical reality of a narrow strip of real estate tucked along the margins of a sprawling cityscape. xxxxxx (more…)

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    Rochester, NY’s Broadway Theatre League, ‘Kinky Boots’: Nifty Entertainment

    Herbert Simpson

    I saw this national tour of hit Broadway show Kinky Boots on its final performance in Rochester, New York on a Sunday evening; and the biggest surprise for me was that the mostly elderly audience reacted with the screaming enthusiasm of a younger audience at a rock concert. Left: J. Harrison Ghee (Lola) Probably the »more

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    ‘New Country’ at NYC’s Cherry Lane Theatre: High-Octane Entertainment

    Edward Rubin

    Every once in a while a small play – let’s say in this case a trifle, or is it truffle? – ensconced in an intimate, somewhat out of the way theatre, makes a big noise. ‘New Country,’ presented by Fair Trade Productions, in association with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and written by Mark Roberts, is one »more

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    Hartford TheaterWorks’ ‘Good People’: a Roller Coaster of Emotions

    Geary Danihy

    Electricity. The word can be defined in many ways, but for actors, it’s the two-way flow between them and the audience sitting out there in the dark. Anyone who has acted will tell you that when the flow isn’t there, when the collective wattage of the audience wouldn’t power a nightlight, it’s as if you’re »more

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